There’s a Baptist at my door

There’s a Baptist at my door

When I was still in college at Franciscan University of Steubenville, my last two years there I lived in a house with a group of great guys. One’s now a Dominican priest, another is a married father working in Catholic radio, another works for EWTN, yet another is a monk, and oh yeah, another is a Congressman.

They didn’t all live there at the same time. I nfact, in those two year, I think about eight or nine guys lived there at one time or another and almost all of us were studying theology. It was great. I remember late nights debating capital punishment or playing penny ante poker (with Irish accents required for some strange reason) or having our famous “men’s meat dinners” where the only non-meat dish allowed was beans.

We lived off-campus in a nearby neighborhood called LaBelle, which is not pronounced, as Frenchman would, “lah-bell”, but rather like an Ohioan would, “lay-bell”. Anyway, the neighborhood was full of old houses, many of which were housing students, others being home to faculty and staff and their families, and then more with just the regular folk from Steubenville.

One afternoon Kevin answered the front door. I was upstairs studying or writing a paper or, more likely, procrastinating and didn’t pay too much attention to the long time he was kept occupied until he came up to my room, looking excited.

Now, you have to know that Kevin was just rediscovering his faith. He’d been away from the Church for a while and had come back through some amazing and miraculous events. (Too long to go into now, but I blogged it in the past. At the time of that post he was a SOLT, but now he’s OP.)

The missionary

So what had gotten him excited? A chance to witness to his faith to a real-live Baptist missionary. That’s right, this poor fellow was going door to door in a neighborhood of pumped-up Steubie-on-fire-for-their-faith college students. If he continued his trek down our street, by the time he’d stopped at the next three houses he would be guaranteed to be considering crossing the Tiber.

But we were his first stop for the day and Kevin was being challenged to defend his faith. So he asked me, “He asked me how I know I’m saved.” Feeling in a playful mood, I whipped out my brown scapular and said: “Because it says it right here: ‘Those who die wearing this scapular shall not suffer eternal fire.’” (Yes, yes, I know it doesn’t mean that exactly and that it’s not superstitious or magical.) Before Kevin could rush off downstairs to impart this to his apologetics opponent, I stopped him. I could just imagine the guy’s head spinning at the sheer “idolatry” on display in this Catholic house and while amusing, it would not be charitable.

Instead, I offered a few pointers and then not done with my playful mood, suggested Kevin send him down the street to the big house at the end. I thought the fellow who lived there might have some convincing arguments for the budding Baptist apologist. That’s the house where Scott Hahn lives.

Anyway, soon enough my other roommates caught wind of what was going on and joined in on the debate with the Baptist, who was game for going up against multiple debaters. Unfortunately, it all ended when another roommate got home and decided that sheer firepower was better than persuasion and battered the poor guy with verse after verse until he cried “Uncle” and took his leave.

I still wonder whether he kept up his quixotic mission going door to door and if he did how he ended up when he got to the big house at the end of the street.

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
10 comments
  • Dom:

    As a former Steubie U grad who also lived in a Household called Ahim Adonai (St. Francis Dorm at that time) and also lived off campus with 18 guys, I can relate to your experiences. It is a culture in itself where some great friendships, even 27 years later, are some of the most important friendships in my adult life.

    When I was unemployed many years ago, about 3 years into my marriage with a baby girl, it was my Steubie U household brothers who sent me their tithes to help me make ends meet.

    Now, that is brotherhood!

  • Oh my, this is hilarious. First, I laughed at LaBelle. I am something like a tenth-generation Ohioan (not bad considering Europeans have only been here a couple hundred years), so I like to tease people by making them pronounce place names. Here’s a quiz:

    Bellefontaine
    Versailles
    Russia
    Houston

    How do you pronounce those? Do it wrong, and you will be labeled a FOREIGN SPY!!!

    And then I laughed louder when I heard about that poor Baptist. He didn’t know what he was in for. And sending him to Scott Hahn’s house? Hilarious. I’ll have to remember that trick when I’m at Franciscan.

  • What a great story!  I’m afraid I can’t help your curiosity though.  As far as I know he never knocked on our door.

  • I am interested in hearing more about these “men’s meat dinners.”

    Please provide recipes and photos.

  • Sorry, there are no photos that I’m aware of and no recipes either since that violates the spirit of the event. The “recipe” was “Take beef and put it on the grill until done. Take pork product (i.e. sausage or somesuch) and do the same. Open can of beans, pour into saucepan and heat over flame until done.” Combine with beer and conversation and let the fun begin.

  • Megan,
    OK, I think it’s:

    Bell-fountain
    Verr-sales
    Roo-she
    and How-stun

    Is that right?
    (I’m from NY, but that’s “back home” for my Ohio guy.)

  • You never know what the right thing to say is.  I once kept some Mormons at my house till their curfew when I turned the tables on them and gave them a 2 hour + lecture on Catholicism couched in my spiritual autobiography (I think I really got to the one guy).

    Then there was the Saturday morning I spent like a half hour arguing with some teen Baptist missionaries, who only knew one verse of the New Testament, presenting them with various Gospel passages that discredited their readings of St. Paul (e.g., “Not everyone who comes to me saying ‘Lord!  Lord!’ can get into the Kingdom but only the one who does the will of My Father.”)

    Finally, their youth minister came up and talked to me and admonished me like I was some kind of pornographer or drug dealer corrupting these poor children.

  • OH MY! How strange that I happened upon this post tonight. I heard the scapular part of that story from whom I guess must be a mutual friend from FUS, or perhaps he heard it second hand. The funny part is that just yesterday I was sharing that funny reply about the scapular to an Evangelical friend of mine, who got the joke and found it very funny.

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