Ulf Ekman, founder and pastor of a 3,300-member Pentecostal-Charismatic, prosperity “gospel” megachurch in Sweden announced in last Sunday’s sermon his decision to leave his congregation and convert to Roman Catholicism. He revealed that his conversion has been slowly progressing over the last decade. In his ministry website, he wrote:
We have seen a great love for Jesus and a sound theology, founded on the Bible and classic dogma. We have experienced the richness of sacramental life. We have seen the logic in having a solid structure for priesthood, that keeps the faith of the church and passes it on from one generation to the next. We have met an ethical and moral strength and consistency that dare to face up to the general opinion, and a kindness towards the poor and the weak. And, last but not least, we have come in contact with representatives for millions of charismatic Catholics and we have seen their living faith.
All this has been both attractive and challenging. It really challenged our protestant prejudices, and we realized that we in many cases did not have any basis for our criticism of them. We needed to know the Catholic faith better. This led us to the realize that it was actually Jesus Christ who led us to unite with the Catholic Church.
In the above note, he underlines the major reasons why he and his wife swam the Tiber:
1. “We have seen a great love for Jesus… ” He highlights the bankruptcy of evangelical emotionalism that he finds more aplenty in the mysticism of the Catholic Church.
2. “a sound theology, founded on the Bible and classic dogma… It really challenged our protestant prejudices, and we realized that we in many cases did not have any basis for our criticism of them.” There is danger in Christless, doctrine-less, Biblical illiteracy among evangelicals, that they are tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine. Most evangelicals cannot even distinguish the most basic distinctions between Protestants and Catholics.
3. “We have experienced the richness of sacramental life.” Evangelicals have stooped so low in their sacramental life that it’s practically non-existent and if it exists, it’s sacrilegious. Even worse, evangelicals do not have any idea what the sacraments mean and why they are a “means of grace.” The evangelical “worship celebration” of entertainment, gimmicks and manipulation are no match for the high church rituals of the Mass.
4. “We have seen the logic in having a solid structure for priesthood, that keeps the faith of the church and passes it on from one generation to the next.” This is the worst consequence of the false teaching of “every member a minister.” This low view of ordained ministry has effectively removed doctrine from evangelicalism, resulting in the Christless moralistic, therapeutic deism of evangelical youth. Evangelical churches are mostly one-generation congregations.
5. “We have met an ethical and moral strength and consistency that dare to face up to the general opinion.” Since evangelicals do not know what they believe and why they believe it, they are unable to “contend earnestly for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.”
6. “a kindness towards the poor and the weak.” Since evangelicals are infatuated with being “missional” and “relevant,” they are also focused on the social gospel. Alas! the Catholic Church does these things better.
7. “we have come in contact with representatives for millions of charismatic Catholics and we have seen their living faith.” The faith of Pentecostals and Charismatics are so shallow that the most important thing for them is speaking in tongues, new revelations, prophecies and other unorthodox and unhistorical views.
These reasons are all too commonly-heard among droves of evangelicals who have made the same pilgrimage to the Roman Catholic Church. If you have the same symptoms—finding your evangelical culture and church so inadequate and founded on sand—beware, you might be on the road to the purgatory of Mariolatry, Mass, and other idolatries.
Then, run to the nearest true Reformation church!
(I can’t help but hope that all these megachurch pastors would follow Ekman.)