Rome Bitter Rome: The Real Reason Why Scott and Kimberly Hahn Converted to Catholicism
October 8, 2012, 10:59 am
Filed under: Roman Catholicism

by David Bishop

A blurb from the Bishop of Lincoln on the back cover of Scott and Kimberly Hahn’s book, “Rome Sweet Rome: Our Journey to Catholicism”, reads in part as follows:  “The story of the Hahns’ journey of faith into the Catholic  Church is the story of sincerity, integrity, and profound human interest.” It certainly is that.  It is in every sense of the word the story of a couple who sincerely worship in the flesh and place full confidence in their humanism. In fact, Kimberly Hahn reports very early on in her book:

“I heard the gospel in a way that convicted my heart: God loved me and had a desire for me to live with and for Him, but my own sins separated me from Him and those sins had to be forgiven for me to be close to God.  That was why Jesus had come.   I had to acknowledge my own need.  I had to ask specifically for forgiveness for those sins – saying, ‘Jesus, be my Savior.’  And I had to say to Him, ‘I want you on the throne of my life – Jesus, be my Lord.’  No longer held by the hand of my parents, I needed to be grasped firmly by the hand of my heavenly Father.” (Rome Sweet Rome, pg 9)

The cross that Kimberly saw that day was not a death that accomplished its purpose (which was to save all those for whom it was suffered), but rather a death that made the accomplishment of its purpose possible.  It was a death that may have been righteous in its own right, but it was powerless to effect Kimberly’s justification without Kimberly adding the “righteousness” of her acknowledgement of need, the “righteousness” of her request for the forgiveness of sins, and the “righteousness” of her decision to make Jesus the Lord of her life.

What Kimberly heard that day was not the gospel.   What she heard that day was instead a humanistic, self help message designed to teach its listeners how to quickly leapfrog their way up to shared Godhood and thereby prove the serpent right; “you shall be as God.”  Kimberly took the bait, because she believed the serpent’s lie.   She continues to believe the serpent’s lie.  And she does so, because God has not imputed her righteous.

God has not imputed her husband Scott righteous either.  His journey to Catholicism, however, was a bit different.   Scott explains that his journey began with a study of covenants in the Bible as taught by a Papal author.  He goes on to explain that in his study of covenants he began to learn that God’s grace was more than divine favor; that it was in fact, “the actual gift of God’s life in divine sonship.”  Scott writes:

“Luther and Calvin explained this exclusively in terms of courtroom language.  But I was beginning to see that, far more than simply being a judge, God was our Father.  Far more than simply being criminals, we were runaways.  Far more than the New Covenant being made in a courtroom, it was fashioned by God in a family room.  Saint Paul (whom I had thought of as the first Luther) taught in Romans, Galatians and elsewhere that justification was more than a legal decree; it established us in Christ as God’s children by grace alone.  In fact, I discovered that nowhere did Saint Paul ever teach that we were justified by faith alone!  Sola fide was unscriptural!” (Rome Sweet Rome, pg 31)

Setting aside for a moment the ridiculous notion that Paul never taught justification by faith alone, I draw attention first to the fact that Scott believes a work of the Spirit performed inside of a person is the grounds for that person’s justification.  In other words, in his view, God does not declare a person innocent because He has charged Christ’s righteousness to them, but rather because the Spirit has caused them to feel close to God and to want to acknowledge their need of Him to accept them as His child.  Much like Kimberly, Scott believes that although the death of Christ may in and of itself be righteous, it is nevertheless powerless to accomplish its purpose until, with the help of the Spirit, Scott has added the “righteousness” of his feelings of closeness and the “righteousness” of his fatherly need to the death.

What Scott believed was not the gospel.   What Scott believed instead, was an idolatrous, humanistic, self help message designed to teach its listeners how to quickly leapfrog their way up to shared Godhood and thereby prove the serpent right.

It should be noted at this point that both Scott and Kimberly grew up in Reformed households.  Both were Presbyterian, both were well versed in the Westminster Confession, and both were attending Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary when they converted to Catholicism.  Scott notes that after arriving at his conclusion concerning justification by faith and works, “I was so excited about this discovery, I shared it with some friends, who were amazed at how much sense it made.” This does not surprise me.  Nor does it surprise me that he was directed to contact Norman Shepherd, who was at that time teaching at Westminster Seminary.   After all, it is my experience that most Presbyterians and Reformed people do not believe the gospel.  It is my experience that most who rely upon the confessions do not believe the gospel.  They know the doctrines of grace.  They can argue the doctrines of predestination and justification by faith alone with the best of anyone, but they couldn’t say first thing about the righteousness.

Romans 8:10 states the Spirit is life because of righteousness.  Paul states quite clearly in Romans 4:5 “And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.”  If that is not justification by faith alone, then nothing is.

Scott and Kimberly report that they chose to attend Gordon-Conwell because they had been “searching the Scriptures to discover clues as to the whereabouts of real Christianity: Where was the Bible being faithfully taught and lived out?”

To Scott and Kimberly’s way of thinking, a community of authentic Christians meant a community of people who had committed themselves to behave a certain way; to acknowledge their need, to seek to feel close to God, to turn from sin, and to make Jesus the Lord of their life.  They sought a place where behavior modification was in daily practice.  In other words, they sought a community of people who worshiped the flesh and placed full confidence in their self righteousness.

A careful study of the Scriptures however, presents an entirely different picture of what an authentic Christian community is like.  It consists of a community of people who place no confidence in their flesh, for they believe their righteousness is found in Christ Jesus alone.  They are not always the nicest people.  They can sometimes be quite smug and arrogant (Corinthians), flippant and uncaring (James), depressing and emotional (Ephesians, Philippians).  Some are grossly immoral (Corinthians), while others are morally gross (Colossians).   Some are almost cultic in their fascination with eschatology (Thessalonians), while others almost cultic in their fascination with stories of spirits and angels (Colossians).  And yet every one of them are a gospel community, every one of them an authentic, local body of Christ.

But this isn’t what Scott and Kimberly believe.  No, they believe an authentic Christian is someone who proves the righteousness of their flesh by behaving a certain way.   The truth is that Scott and Kimberly never believed the gospel to begin with.  They have always been of the world.  They still are.

27 Comments so far
Leave a comment

A poor refutation using biblical references taken out of context. your zeal blinds you.

Comment by Marc Lecours

So because they don’t mention righteousness thier of this world? I do not see but half hearted attempt to disprove thier universal faith.

Comment by Scott Delisle

Both examples are out of context.
The reference made of Kimberly’s testimony is her profession of faith when she was Presbyterian, not as a Catholic.
Scott’s interpretation of sola fide being unscriptural is correct for the Bible passage quoted to justify this idea was edited by Martin Luther to prove his point. In the original greek nowhere it is stated “by faith alone”. It says by faith we are justified, but faith is not the only source. Furthermore the Holy Spirit is absolutely necessary for it is impossible for a fallen human being to acknowledge God’s deeds if God has not being revealed by the work of the Holy Spirit. Without this there is no justification. Furthermore faith without deeds is dead. Deeds are made evident when a person believes “A good tree bears good fruit.”

This article misinterprets the book and takes the quotes out of context. I invite you to reread it carefully, for evidently you seek the truth and for such reason you desire to know what is right.

Comment by Rema Asteri

What you suggest instead leads to antinomianism — I can live any way I want after accepting Jesus and not do injury to my relationship with HIm.

This is very unscriptural.

Instead we should live lives of grateful gratitude for what Jesus has done in our hearts and lives – living in such a way that we yield more and more to Christ and exemplify fruits of the Spirit.

Our Lord says explicitly “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” He does not say “sit on your duff, do nothing, and wait for my return.” He further says, “By their fruits you will know them.”

Grace must work its way out after it is planted in — it must show forth – -even Protestants have this concept –“sanctification”.

Comment by CJ

PS – Of course Christians will still mess up even after accepting Christ (as you note the Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians, etc.). However the Catholic Church acknowledges this fact so much that it has an entire sacrament devoted to it – Confession. The point is, though that Christians do not “strive” to mess up, they “strive” to bear the fruits of the Spirit, born up out of God’s grace.

Comment by CJ

Your arguments fail on your own simple ignorance to actually know that the book is called. “ROME SWEET HOME”, your simple flaw in that writes you off as a hack and someone that doesn’t do their research.

Comment by kevin Johnson

Pathetic effort to disallow the Hahns’ discovery by the Spirit of all truth that that there is vastly more to full faith in The Way of
our saving LORD than the spiritually anemic and misdirected dogmatism and doctrinalism so typical of Carnal Mind’s ways.

Comment by Balaam's Ass

I do see that you have had all/mostly negative comments, so I will not leave more coals to heap on your head. We in the Catholic Church would love to have more zealous and articulate souls as yourself to help spread God’s love around the world. However, we as Catholics also welcome you to take a second and more objective look at the Catholic Church. Read some of the early Church fathers – Ignatius, for one, but there are more. See what the Church looked like in the early 100-400 years. It is not what you have somehow come to believe it is, nor are it’s teachings what you purport. All the elements fo the Catholic Church – the hierarchy, the Mass, Marian traditions,etc. — all there. Very surprising to Protestants who really take a good look. You sound very well read — I think you would like to read about the lives of the people that gathered early writings and put them all together, saved them, chose the ones to put in that Bible you cherish.

Many, many people, hate the Catholic Church for what they BELIEVE it to be, but there are not that many who hate it for what it truly is. It is universal, the Church our Lord established, and full of Christians sinners and saints — just like whatever ecclesial community you belong to. Yes, Catholics do believe Christ died for our sins, and we are redeemed by that act, not our own works. However, I think you would agree that all of us should strive for holiness in our lives, and their are some that claim to be Christian that are not striving for that holiness, and they pick and choose the “rules” they want to follow, and those they don’t want to follow.

With love and prayers,
Susan Wanke

Comment by Susan Wanke

Amen. This comment is articulated beautifully

Comment by Rebecca

If the Hahns are not what we think they are that would be very sad. I also wonder about the person who wrote this article . Something does not seem right. Why…….

Comment by M

If the Hahns are not what we think they are that would be very sad. I also wonder about the person who wrote this article . Something does not seem right. Why…….

Comment by Mar

Stop talking about Luther and Calvin; they did not seem to be gaining much ground in the Christian world. You got your scriptural knowledge from them, and you all erred.

Comment by Joe Baetolingia

PS Scott and Kimberly are not what you try to describe in vain. They are powerful Catholics having come from a protestant background. They are a wonderful gift from God in re-evangelizing the Catholics, and maybe to evangelize people like you as well.

Comment by Joe Baetolingia


Comment by Cheryl Wendland

This is just more pathetic and sad anti-Catholic rhetoric going after someone with whom you disagree. I have listened and read much of Scott Hahn’s work and I’ve never heard him insult someone the way he and his wife are by this so-called Christian writer.

Comment by Cheryl Wendland

” “And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.” If that is not justification by faith alone, then nothing is.”

You said it, because that’s not justification by faith alone. If it is, then simply provide one single person that was ordained by an apostle, an apostolic father or an early church father who heard that interpretation taught. If you can’t, and no human being has found this evidence so far, then you cannot claim (rationally at least) that your interpretation is apostolic.

Comment by tyson guess

This is a very confusing read. I see attempts at arguments but nothing cohesive to justify the points.

Comment by Penny Herman


Comment by Rebecca

I’m a Roman Catholic, so naturally I am biased towards it but I made sure to keep my mind open and try to look at this from your perspective. I still can find no poignant argument to support why you say Scott and Kimberly are “of this world” because theyve converted to Catholicism.
Interesting that you mentioned Catholics have self-righteousness, even though there are many Protestants who embody self-righteousness by (as you said) not being nice people because they can be smug, arrogant, depressing, emotional. True believers of Christ allow themselves to be perfected by the Holy Spirit. Think about the incorruptible body of the Saints even unto death because of their perfection attained in life through Jesus.
You cannot justify for bad actions just because your mouth preaches Jesus Christ but your heart does not.
I encourage you to open your hardened heart. If you are willing to seek God, then strive to seek the fullness of truth present in the Catholic Church.

Comment by Rebecca

[…] actually quite proud of my comment I left on this article disapproving Scott and Kimberly Hahn coming into the Catholic […]

Pingback by Warrior of faith – Seeking eternal truth

One thing I have learnt in my measly 57 years of life is that opinions come a dime a dozen! So here’s my dime…you must have a lot of time on your hands to have written such untruth’s about the Hahn’s. You sound like a disgruntled protestant and upset that they could have made holy decisions to have left the faith. I am a catholic who is happy to have had them find their way home! You too could be a catholic if you dared to educate yourself the way they have. Most people are born into their religion without ever really questioning why they believe what they do…I firmly believe most would become catholic if they did their homework and got off of this ridiculous notion that Catholic’s aren’t Christian’s! Catholic’s worship Jesus..We also worship the Eucharist…which is the true body, blood, soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ…what a wonderful gift he has left for us along with the one true church….the Catholic church! So I am pleased Scott and kimberly found their way and would be just as pleased if you or anyone else finds their way home.
Susan monteleone

Comment by Susan monteleone

I always have just one thing to say to Protestants who believe in “Faith alone” and not one single protestant in many years has had a logical answer to this— you only see the words “faith” and “alone” together ONE TIME in the ENTIRE bible. James 2:24- “You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and NOT by faith alone” .

Comment by Rei Na

I would say, bro is on. The born again can not become unsaved, (Romans 4:8), and will have a new nature that desires to follow Pastor Jesus, (John 10:27). ~ Morgando

Comment by Morgando

Summary: “The Hahn’s became Catholic and the Catholic Church isn’t Protestant therefore the Hahn’s are wrong.” So? This is literally exactly what one would expect a Protestant to say about people becoming Catholic.

Beyond that there’s no content except the usual, “They try to be saved by doing a works, so I’m going to do a work (write this article) to prove how doing works is wrong.”

Comment by Christopher Cimonetti


I sincerely hoped for better rhetoric, but apart from straw manning Dr and Mrs Hahn’s arguments, you even more poorly distinguish the differences between Catholicism and evangelical Protestantism.

To anyone who clicks on this article, buy the book and study the differences. Don’t let anyone explain it to you, go do the research yourself.

The Gospel is essential, what this man thinks and preaches is not it, not even close.

Comment by Chase.

Rather judgmental article…maybe the author should consider more time praying and less time judging. Stop calling Catholics idolatrous….your ignorance shows.

Comment by Josh

Talking for the Hahns huh? I guess you just cannot accept the reality that they found the one true Catholic Church. You are sour-graping.

Comment by Jim

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: