‘Deep Down, I Knew There Was 1 Truth’
Bryan Kemper: Why I'm returning to the Catholic Church
My first real introduction to the Catholic Church as an adult came with my entrance to full-time pro-life work. While I had been baptized as a Catholic as a child, it was only done for the sake of my great-grandmother and meant nothing to my family.
In 1993 I joined Missionaries to the Pre-Born in California, a ministry of Operation Rescue. My first day in the office I was shocked to find three of the five other people there were Catholic. I actually spent my first few days trying to explain to the Catholics why they were in danger of going to hell and could not possibly be Christians.
The problem I had was that what I had been told about Catholicism was simply not true; it was distorted teaching from Protestants who did not bother to discover the truth. While I was not ready to convert back then, I was extremely happy to work alongside my Catholic brothers and sisters.
Even though I was able to understand that Catholics were truly Christians, I was still convinced that they were just deceived. I thought if I could study the Catholic Church I would be able to use this knowledge to convert them and show them where they were deceived.
In the late 1990s, I met Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life. He was the first priest I really got to know personally. During this time, I was running Rock for Life, a youth pro-life organization. We would have huge youth events during the March for Life week in Washington, bringing hundreds of young people to D.C. for a four-day pro-life training camp.
These groups of kids were split almost half Protestant and half Catholic, a phenomenon that can only really happen in the pro-life movement. Father Pavone would join me every year to help provide leadership and lead prayer for the Catholic kids during the week.
In 2003, when I left Rock for Life and started Stand True: Christ Centered Pro-Life, it was Priests for Life and Father Pavone who helped launch this new ministry. They not only helped us in starting this new pro-life youth ministry — they helped out my family also.
Over the last several years, I have known deep down that the Catholic Church must be more than I thought it was. I fought myself and denied all the signs I was seeing. I was afraid; even though I knew deep down there can only be one truth, I would always find something to dismiss Catholicism.
At this time I had been a member of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church for almost 10 years, as I was so inspired by the liturgy and reverence I found there. I had also been in a constant journey for God’s truth, studying his word as well as church history. The problem I began to see, however, was that my church had no authority for how it interpreted Scriptures. We claimed to be sola scriptura, and yet to hold office in the church you had to subscribe also to the full truth of the Westminster Confession of Faith.
I finally started looking past the Reformation only to find a huge part of history that I was ignoring; it was like a light suddenly switched on and I saw past the 1500s and the Reformation. I started to look at Church authority; there had to be one true authority that Christ established on earth to keep the teaching of his Church throughout time.
Right now, there are tens of thousands of denominations, and every time someone disagrees with another teaching of their church they simply start a new one. The Catholic Church has had its teaching since the beginning of the Church in the Scriptures. There is no way God can be happy with thousands of denominations or so-called nondenominational churches (See John 17:21). The fact is that current Christian teaching can sometimes differ so much between two churches that it really constitutes different religions and different Gods. There must be one established truth that God gave us, one that has remained from the time of Christ.
Another concern of mine that has been eating at me for many years was teachings on pro-life issues and contraception. I have actually followed the Catholic Church’s teaching on contraception since 1993 and have been trying to bring this truth to Protestants. There is only one Church that has been consistent from the time of Christ to today on the teaching of pro-life issues and contraception. Before 1930 there was never a single Christian church in history to accept any form of contraception, and today the Catholic Church is the only one that absolutely has kept this Christian truth.
Another major concern for me was Communion and the way it is mostly dismissed as just a symbol by most churches. I have always believed that Communion was more than just a symbol, and in looking back at early Church teaching, it is crystal clear that this was taught from day one. St. Ignatius of Antioch, a student of John the Apostle, taught on this and clarified it well.
These are just a few of the things that drew me back to the Catholic Church; however, there is so much more. I was baptized Catholic as a child, so the process is not as complicated for me. I will be starting RCIA classes and working towards confirmation.
I am asking my friends to pray for my family’s journey and me as I truly seek to be closer to Christ. My relationship with Christ is the most important thing in my life, and I hope my friends will stand by me as I grow closer to him.
As for the work of Stand True, it will remain focused on educating, activating and equipping young people to stand up for life and Christ. We have always been an organization that reaches out to and works with all Christians, and we will remain true to that.
I also want to thank several influential Catholics who came into my life and loved me into the Church:
Father Frank Pavone and the staff of Priests for Life;
Joe, Ann and Eric Scheidler and the staff of the Pro-Life Action League;
Jimmy, Dave, Martha and the Crossroads teams;
The Ruiz family;
Hannah Raymond and the students at Franciscan University; and
Kate Bryan and all the staff at Youth Defence.
There are many more of you, and you all know how much you mean to me; thanks for the love.
For Christ I stand.