Throwback Thursday: “Rome Sweet Home: Our Journey to Catholicism”

For today’s “Throwback Thursday” installment, we’re revisiting a slightly re-edited post that was first published back on August 15th, 2015.

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Rome Sweet Home: Our Journey to Catholicism
by Scott and Kimberly Hahn
Ignatius Press, 1993, 182 pp.

1 Star

This memoir from conservative Catholic apologist, Scott Hahn, and his wife records a spiritual train wreck.

In this book, Hahn describes allegedly accepting Jesus Christ as his Savior as a teen, attending seminary, marrying, and becoming a Presbyterian minister. Although Hahn boasts that he started off fiercely anti-Catholic, both he and his wife admired and shared Rome’s strong stand against all forms of birth control. Hahn then slowly became enamored with formal liturgical worship. While studying the Bible, he became transfixed with “covenant” theology (referenced ad nauseam throughout), leading him to believe that sacraments and obedience to religious law were essential to salvation and remaining in God’s family. Hahn joined the Catholic church and pestered his wife until she did as well.

Hahn’s journey from an alleged “born-again” believer, supposedly trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone, to a works-righteousness Catholic is unfathomable. Did he ever genuinely grasp that salvation is by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ alone? Obviously not. For Hahn it was just head knowledge; words on paper. Like the emancipated Hebrews in Exodus who wished to return to Egypt, Hahn desired the “security” of legalism, ritualism, and spiritual chains over God’s free gift of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

“I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” – Galatians 2:21

Now Hahn and his family are “happily” attempting to earn their way to heaven. Hahn and his wife revealingly note that they often look around while at Sunday mass and observe the glum faces surrounding them and can’t fathom why their fellow-Catholics aren’t as bubbly as they are about the stultifying legalism of the “one true church.” Catholic research shows that only 20% of Catholics attend obligatory mass every Sunday. The other 80% would rather sleep in and pick up another “mortal” sin every week. After all, pope Francis has said even atheists will go to Heaven if they lead “good” lives, so who needs all of that dreary liturgical rigmarole? But God says there are none who are good and that all must repent of their sin and accept Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone. Only 12% of Catholics go to confession at least once a year which means the other 88% may still somewhat identify as church members, but do not invest personally in their church’s salvation system: A [sacramental grace] + B [merit] might possibly = C [heaven].

Hahn has built quite a career as a Catholic apologist, but I feel sorry for him and his family and anyone who gives heed to Catholicism’s gospel of chains. Reading about Hahn enthusiastically carrying around an alleged “relic” of a Catholic “saint” in his pants pocket every day as a spiritual rabbit’s foot was a disturbingly illustrative passage in a disturbing book.

“They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.” – Romans 1:25

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28 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday: “Rome Sweet Home: Our Journey to Catholicism”

  1. Liturgy appeals to a lot if people and I can understand the attraction. Too bad he didn’t end up in a Lutheran church. It’s a joke that Baptists think Lutherans are Catholic and the Catholics think they are Baptists. I have Lutheran friends and its almost like Baptists with Liturgy. At least on the doctrines of salvation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Wally. After joining a Gospel-preaching, Baptist church immediately after I was saved, I can honestly say I don’t have any attraction to formal liturgical worship. Yes, some people like high-church liturgy because it appeals to the physical senses and to the view that God must be worshiped in formal reverence and ritual. But I do understand that there are remnants of liturgically-based churches that still preach the Gospel like Missouri and Wisconsin synod Lutheranism and even Anglicanism down under in Australia. Yeah, too bad Hahn didn’t end up in the LCMS. At least he would have heard the Gospel.

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  2. Thanks, Tom, good post. I too wandered into Catholicism, attracted by the formality of it all. Candles, kneeling, genuflecting, and all that stuff.
    I often wondered why Catholics don’t enjoy singing. I was a music minister for years, and watched glum faces of people who refused to sing. I cheerfully enjoy singing with another group of Christians now. The gloomy faces of most Catholics at Mass are very telling.

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    1. Thanks, Sally. Yes, Hahn’s passage about looking around at mass on Sundays and observing downcast, gloomy faces (as if the congregants were coerced into attending – which they were) was perhaps the most honest and revealing thing about this book. I’m surprised he included it.

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      1. Yes, that’s what I felt. The only lady who sang really loudly during the Mass while I was music director was a lady who had a tremendously loud voice, but who could not sing in tune. No matter, God loves all our singing.🤗

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  3. This is a very sad book, brother, thank you for reading it. I know it troubles you deeply, but that you do it for the love of the lost, and to edify those of us who don’t know or understand these topics. May God bless your work!

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    1. Thank you, sister! Yes, I can vividly remember reading this book four years ago and being so grieved by its message. I was also quite angry that Hahn was perverting the Gospel by his misrepresentations and half-truths. When Catholics seek to counter the Biblical Gospel, Hahn is often used as a resource. Thank you and may the Lord bless you and your ministries as well!

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      1. If you study the fathers and church history, Hahn’s claims are very easy to debunk. Hahn is really a salesman, not a scholar.

        I’ve had more difficulties discoursing with Muslims than Romanists.

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      2. Thanks, SB. While the RCC will often reference some of the writings of the fathers, they’re selective because some of their writings contradict Catholic teaching.

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      3. Good one!

        Vincent is considered by many to have been a semipelagianist. I occasionally hear Catholic apologist, David Anders, speak critically of semipelagianism, but of course, Catholicism, stripped of its faux sacramental grace, defines semipelagianism and even pelagianism.

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      4. By the way, I checked out Hahn’s CV (on Franciscan University’s website) and noticed that he pads his publication list with articles from the “Letter and Spirit Journal”. On further investigation, I found out that it was a publication of St Paul’s theological center of which Hahn is the founder! LoL

        I skimmed through his other publications and counted a grand total of 5, maybe 6 publications in major peer-reviewed journals. That’s a very sad number for a supposed “academic” of 30 years.

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  4. While I find it baffling and grievous, I experienced this with a close friend with whom I served alongside in ministry. I truly believed her faith was secure but unbeknownst to me she became drawn into Hebrew Roots, a cult.
    Our fellowship ended as she was convinced of the necessity of following Judaic law. I tried everything to refute these ungodly teachings. Watching her fall away was heartbreaking.
    Thank you brother Tom for pressing on in these truths.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Lisa Beth, and I’m sorry about your friend. People are attracted to legalism because it “makes sense” according to our fallen understanding. Even churches where the Gospel is preached can begin to mix in elements of legalism. A few years after my wife and I accepted Christ, we went with another couple from church to a Chinese restaurant for dinner, and egg rolls were brought out as an appetizer. The couple literally spent five minutes pulling apart their egg rolls and removing the small shards of pork with their forks and knives.

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      1. As I mentioned, he talked, talked, talked about “covenant theology,” which I know is popular within Presbyterianism. But Hahn’s version states that the Mosaic covenant was replaced by the New Testament covenant although many of the rituals and ceremonies of the old were only modified in the new. So, baptism replaces circumcision, the sacrifice of the mass replaces animal sacrifice, similarities with priests, vestments, altars, temple and altar instruments, and of course, the erroneous notion of possibly meriting salvation by successfully following a religious code.

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