Wednesday, January 07, 2009
Gerry Matatics Update
I read a lot of Catholic blogs and websites, though I haven't checked in on Gerry Matatics for quite a while. I actually went to one of Gerry's lectures on his "mega tour," probably now about two years ago. It was in a Holiday Inn (if I recall correctly). I was one of a small handful of people, probably, I'd say, maybe thirty people. It was a very small conference room, implying to me that Gerry didn't expect hundreds of people on a Saturday afternoon. When Carrie saw Gerry speak a little while later, she said, "I am not sure if the particular seminar I attended would attest to the size (or makeup) of the sedevacantist following or not, but besides Gerry, there were 5 men and myself in the room."
Well, anyway, Gerry's actually revamped his website, and put more content on it. Under the category, "What's New?" is the following: "Gerry's speaking tours make converts!" So, I clicked on it, and my new computer coughed a little bit, and then opened up an Adobe document called "Winter 2005-2006 Furmanappeal+ response." The document, was actually written in 2005. So for Gerry, "What's New?" back dates four years!
Based on the small attendance of the recent seminars, I had to read about just who was converted on Gerry's mega tour. He states the following story, and I'm almost willing to bet this story happened sometime before Gerry's recent mega-tour:
In even the unlikeliest audiences, God can draw men to Himself by a clear and persuasive presentation of the truth. I’ll give you just one example: halfway through a jam-packed speaking tour of the East Coast some time ago, I gave an official, university sponsored lecture (with academic credit given to attendees!) at Furman University, a large Protestant university in Greenville,SC. (Greenville, “the buckle on the Bible belt,” is also the home of Bob Jones University, the Fundamentalist school famous for its militant anti-Catholicism.) The topic they approved, amazingly enough, was “How the Bible Converted Me to Catholicism: One Protestant Minister’s Personal Odyssey of Faith.”
On that occasion - with the amphitheater filled to double its regulation capacity, and hundreds of students standing in the back, sitting in the aisles, on the floor in front, and even around my feet on the stage - these bright, serious Protestants had sat riveted to their chairs, astounded to hear a Biblical defense of Catholic teaching as well as Scriptural critiques of Protestant errors on salvation, sacraments, Mary, papacy, etc. Thinking neither I — nor any other Catholic apologist — would ever get a chance quite like that again, I told them, charitably but uncompromisingly, that if they remained Protestants they could no longer claim with a clear conscience to be Bible believing Christians, since I had shown them sufficient evidence that the Bible taught the Catholic Faith, not Protestantism.
I told them that if they wanted to be truly Bible-believing Christians, they needed to become Catholics. I thanked them for the privilege of addressing them, for their hospitality and attentiveness, told them that I loved them and that I would be praying for their conversions.
grace, astounded me. Despite my challenging them to rethink their most fundamental convictions, the entire audience of Protestants stood to its feet and gave me a loud, long, standing ovation.
I was flabbergasted. But that was nothing compared to what followed. For though none of the students had to stay for the ensuing question and answer period, over half of them did, only peeling away by ones and twos over the next several hours. Although I had begun speaking at 7 pm and finished my talk proper at 9, the last group of students did not leave the question and answer period until 2:30 am! It was a powerful indicator of just how hungry people are for the truth when God’s grace has its way with them, and how rare they find the opportunity to get clear, convincing, Biblically-based answers to their questions about the differences between Protestantism and Catholicism.
One of those students who stayed to the very end, firing question after question at me, was Jonathan, a student who was, by his own admission, a convinced anti-Catholic. His goal that night had been to “win me back to Biblical Christianity,” and he had prayed much that morning that “by God’s grace eyes would be opened to see the truth and to reject error.” The following is an unsolicited testimony Jonathan posted on the Internet,
unbeknownst to me (initially, soon after our encounter: I had been a Fundamental Evangelical Southern Baptist all my life. I was as anti-Catholic as one could be before I heard Gerry Matatics at Furman. To be blunt, I thought all Catholics were going to hell and had no idea of what Christianity really was. However, while listening to Gerry from 7 p.m. until 2:30 a.m. (when we were forced out by school policy, not because of Gerry's unwillingness to listen to more of my accusations and pedantic questions), I realized that Gerry Matatics was one Catholic who knew the Bible, was a Christian, and had posed questions to me that I could not answer from my “sola scriptura, sola fide” background. He offered both a friend of mine and me ALL of his available tapes for FREE and gave us his e-mail address for any further questions we might have ... While listening to Gerry for 7½ hours I heard nothing but Biblical and historical proofs. I praise the thrice-holy Trinity for working through Gerry Matatics to lead me to the Catholic Church and I now desire to serve Christ's True Church in the Holy Priesthood.
Thanks to that initial conversation and many subsequent ones,Jonathan not only joined the Catholic Church but, after graduating from Furman and studying with me for part of a summer,entered a traditional seminary in Europe so he can spend his life preaching the traditional Catholic Faith and offering the traditional Latin Mass. He was instrumental in getting me to lecture again at Furman on a subsequent trip, despite opposition from so-called “moderate” but non-traditional Catholics there, and he will be a strategic leader in the battle to restore Tradition to the contemporary Catholic scene.
OK, so Gerry's says the guy became a traditional Catholic. I actually found the guy. The story on this link was published February 2002, and they state the conversion story happened "a year ago" placing it in 2001. Perhaps traditional Catholicism was more popular back in 2001! This article from Karl Keating in 1995 addresses Gerry's involvement with the movement. I'm not doubting Gerry filled the place he said he did- I just didn't think that many people cared about "traditional Catholicism ."