Friday, September 01, 2006

Crossing The Tiber: "Conversions" To Rome

I came across this recent article from the Christian Century website via a discussion thread found on LutherQuest:

Going Catholic: Six journeys to Rome (August 22, 2006)

From the article:

"All six all have strong connections to mainline institutions, and several were involved in official ecumenical conversation at high levels. They are also relatively young, poised to influence students and congregations for several decades. They more or less fit the description "postliberal" in that they accept such mainline practices as historical criticism and women's ordination while wanting the church to exhibit more robust dogmatic commitments. All of them embrace what Mattox describes as an "evangelical, catholic and orthodox" vision of the church. They could not see a way to be all those things within mainline denominations."

I find irony in this quote. Those "converting" to Rome accept "historical criticism". Now, not all "criticsm" is negative, but i have the feeling that the "historical criticism"implied is negative, destructive, higher criticsm that attacks the sole authority and the perspicuity of the Bible. But, somehow or another, these "converts" can accept Rome's version of Church history uncritically.

16 comments:

Gavin said...

I've never gotten a straight answer from any Catholics regarding whether or not they accept historical-critical "scholarship".

I think that what's really noteworthy is that Rome highlights what you or I might call "bad protestants" converting as though they were real disciples of Calvin or Luther or even Wesley. Sure, there are some people who were once loyal conservative protestants who convert, but for the most part we don't hear of those. We hear of people like Scott Hahn who were never REALLY protestant to begin with.

Ellen said...

The blog mentioned is one that I read daily - I've gotten some insight into the Roman Catholic mind there.

I fully agree with you.

(I'm blogging through "Sola Scriptura" and have found that - on another blog I hang out on - this appears to be the Reformed doctrine that is the most detested by Roman Catholics. (Sorry for the off-topic extra)

FM483 said...

James,

From my perspective, it is really strange that people, like Scott Hahn, leave Evangelical Protestanism in search of the historic, apostolic Church of all ages. According to these concerts to Roman Catholicism(RC), they desperately missed the catholicity of their faith - that their beliefs are not modern, but rather ancient. This is a valid criticism of much of Evangelicalism, which often embraces modern forms of worship, music, and pop-psychology rather than orthodox Christianity. The RCC appears to offer what these people are searching for. What these seekers fail to understand is that there was a 16th century Reformation that addressed heresies and false teachings that had crept into the ancient church, resulting in the Lutheran and Reformed churches of today. These people would be very surprised that the Lutheran Church presents itself as the continuation of the ancient apostolic faith. There are great similarities in the liturgy with RC and the historic church year and saints are recognized and taught. Why these seekers seem to skip right over Lutheranism and proceed to the RCC is puzzling.

Frank Marron

Apolonio said...

Gavin,

You might find this helpful:

http://www.ewtn.com/library/CURIA/PBCINTER.HTM

I'll give you a straight answer. The historical-critical tools are great if they are used properly. However, they have limitations. We also know that we cannot look at the Scriptures in a purely objective way as if the subject does not have a part in it. Using the tools of historical-critical scholarship does not also mean that you have to make a distinction between the pre-Easter Jesus and the post-Easter Jesus (Borg) or historical Jesus and the Christ of faith. I put in the category of "historical-critical scholarship" scholars like Wright, Bauckham, Meyer, Laurentin, and Ratzinger. And these guys are great scholars.

Nutriaboy said...

If Scripture is what it claims to be "theopneustos" - the breath of God, His eternal revelation to man, then it follows that it will be 'in the Word' where the battles will be found.

The earliest lie told to man was that God didn't really say "X". Things haven't changed much.

Conversions to Christianity from Rome involve a realization that what the Vatican says is in contradiction to what God's Word has said leaving the individual with a decision to make - either they obey God or they obey Rome.

Swimming across the Tiber involves an allegiance not to the Word of God, but rather an allegiance to supposed historical significance usually couched in an Early Church Fathers proposal. That predicate is then used to batter plain meanings and proper exegesis into eisegetical trumps and butchered apologetics.

May His Word go forth and bring His people to faith and repentance.

James Swan said...

Hi Ellen,

Welcome back.

The blog mentioned is one that I read daily - I've gotten some insight into the Roman Catholic mind there.

Which blog did you mean?

(I'm blogging through "Sola Scriptura" and have found that - on another blog I hang out on - this appears to be the Reformed doctrine that is the most detested by Roman Catholics. (Sorry for the off-topic extra)

I’ll take a look during the week. Indeed, if one can grasp the simplicity and complexity of sola scriptura, all the issues put forth by the Roman apologists are defeated before they begin. I tend to focus on this issue myself, because it always comes down to ultimate authority.

blessings-
James

James Swan said...

Frank,

According to these concerts to Roman Catholicism(RC), they desperately missed the catholicity of their faith - that their beliefs are not modern, but rather ancient. This is a valid criticism of much of Evangelicalism, which often embraces modern forms of worship, music, and pop-psychology rather than orthodox Christianity.

Since the evangelical world has embraced a worship format that is more like the Johnny Carson show, many who long for a sense of the “sacred” get caught up in joining the RCC or the orthodox church, particularly the Gen Xers. The Lutheran churches I’ve attended have all put forth a sense of the “holy” and “sacred” in their services without the idolatry inherent in the RCC. Kudos’ to many of the solid Lutheran churches out there!

James Swan said...

Nutriaboy-

Swimming across the Tiber involves an allegiance not to the Word of God, but rather an allegiance to supposed historical significance usually couched in an Early Church Fathers proposal.

This was seen very clearly in James White's recent phone conversation with Jonathan Prejan. Prejan couldn't even answer the simplist of biblical questions without trying to qualify it to make the answer say what he wanted it to. The real audio link is here for any of you who haven't heard it:

http://www.aomin.org/dl07.ram

White said of this discussion:

"Three calls on the DL today. First was our sophist, Jonathan Prejean, who actually managed to get me to hang up on him. That's pretty hard to do, but if you want to know how, here's how you do it: when asked simple, basic questions like, "Was the Incarnation a unique event," respond with a lengthy pause, "uuuuhhhh," and then rattle off a non-responsive answer; avoid answering all biblical questions with any biblical material, but always refer to your own (infallible) interpretation of later patristic writings; accuse me of heresy (Nestorianism) simply for not following you down the primrose path of "since the unity of divine and human in Christ does not mean we worship two Christs, but one Christ, that means everything the Bible says about worship can be thrown out, because the created has been joined to the divine," even to the point of claiming that we as the redeemed in some sense "participate" in the hypostatic union; and then, when it is pointed out that you are going backwards (defining the text by your theology rather than your theology by the text), start laughing---that will earn you the instant dialtone every time. A tremendous example of the sophistry of Prejean's form of Romanism."

James Swan said...

Apolonio-

I'll give you a straight answer. The historical-critical tools are great if they are used properly. However, they have limitations.

Quite frankly, i'm not sorry that all the men mentioned in the link I put up went to 'Rome'. I have a feeling they are not using the tools properly.

Anonymous said...

----- Insightful. An exception may be Gerry Matatics. I don’t know a lot about Gerry Matatics during his pre-Rome days, but he did claim to be Reformed previously, and joked one time in debate with James white that if White could prove him wrong, he would cease being Roman Catholic and become a “protestant”- he quickly qualified, “a Reformed Protestant!” -----

Poster boy Matatics is NOW a Sedevacantist. That odd duck of a Catholic that claims to be MORE Roman Catholic than the last six popes, who they consider heretics and schismatic!

Matatics is so pure in his version of Roman Catholicism, that he is on the way to being the ONLY Roman Catholic left, worthy of the name!

{ you really need to follow these name converts, almost all of them turn Tiber swimming into a career, feathered nests with speaches, books, and the fawning adulation of the EWTN groupies. }

Attila the Nun, EX Roman Catholic watching the antics daily...

James Swan said...

Atilla-

Poster boy Matatics is NOW a Sedevacantist. That odd duck of a Catholic that claims to be MORE Roman Catholic than the last six popes, who they consider heretics and schismatic!

Thanks for stopping by- I actually have watched the "New" Gerry:

Gerry Matatics: Catholic apologist for The Last Days

I likewise watch the antics-

Blessings,
JS

Apolonio said...

James,

You said, "There is nothing decisively “Reformed” or “Calvinistic” about his book."

How does this make him not a reformed scholar? If a person believes in TULIP but believes in some Marian dogmas, does this make him non-reformed? Isn't there a pluralism allowed in the reformed community? If so, what are the essential beliefs? This isn't a trick question as if I'm going to argue against sola scriptura or something. I simply want to know what essentially constitutes a person being reformed. Is TULIP it?

James Swan said...

Apolonio-

How does this make him not a reformed scholar? If a person believes in TULIP but believes in some Marian dogmas, does this make him non-reformed? Isn't there a pluralism allowed in the reformed community? If so, what are the essential beliefs? This isn't a trick question as if I'm going to argue against sola scriptura or something. I simply want to know what essentially constitutes a person being reformed. Is TULIP it?

Thurian (a French reformed theologian) was an advocate of ecumenical dialogs, and attempted to advocate a “devotion” to Mary. In doing this, he had to minimize and downplay his very own Reformed confessions. He eventually converted to the Roman Catholic Church. Within the reformed confessions, there is no such thing as “devotion” to Mary. If you want to know what a reformed person believes, I suggest you check out a Reformed confession of faith:

The Heidelberg Catechism
The Belgic confession
The Canons of Dordt
The Westminster Confession
The 1689 Baptist confession

I realize Rome has a wide window of acceptance for all sorts of folly- your theologians are allowed to “speculate” on areas not yet infallibly defined. I would guess you would call this “pluralism”. On the other hand, the Reformed are bound to expounding the Scriptures only, and thus would never be thrust into trying to prove something like “devotion to Mary” or such bogus extra-biblical things like the assumption. Thurian violated a basic issue put forth in the confessions: he opened the door to idolatry, which is not something a Reformed theologian should do. If one wants to have "devotion" to anything other than the true God, Thuian did the right thing by leaving the Reformed community.

On the other hand, this does not mean the reformed don’t have a theological opinion on Mary. Calvin makes enough statements about Mary that one could piece together his thought on who she was and her role in Biblical theology. I took a look at one of the key Reformed theologians and also one of the greatest theologians of the eighteenth century and of Reformed Protestantism in general,Jonathan Edwards, and showed he presented a biblical Mary, quite harmonious with Reformed confessions.

Apolonio said...

James,

What are the "don't's" on Mary? If Max Thurian, for example, believes in the Immaculate Conception but still believes in TULIP, is he still a reformed calvinist? And *is* TULIP the norm?

James Swan said...

"Tulip" would be one aspect of the norm, however, a confession of faith, as described earlier, would spell out what typifies a Reformed Christian. For instance, in The heidelberg Catechism one reads:

Q94: What does God require in the first Commandment?

A94: That, on peril of my soul's salvation, I avoid and flee all idolatry,[1] sorcery, enchantments,[2] invocation of saints or of other creatures;[3] and that I rightly acknowledge the only true God,[4] trust in Him alone,[5] with all humility [6] and patience [7] expect all good from Him only,[8] and love,[9] fear [10] and honor [11] Him with my whole heart; so as rather to renounce all creatures than to do the least thing against His will.[12]

1. I Cor. 10:7, 14
2. Lev. 19:31; Deut. 18:10-12
3. Matt. 4:10; Rev. 19:10; 22:8-9
4. John 17:3
5. Jer. 17:5
6. I Peter 5:5-6
7. Heb. 10:36; Col. 1:10b-11; Rom. 5:3-4; I Cor. 10:10
8. Psa. 104:27-30; Isa. 45:6b-7; James 1:17
9. Deut. 6:5
10. Deut. 6:2; Psa. 111:10; Prov. 9:10; Matt. 10:28
11. Deut. 10:20
12. Matt. 5:29-30; 10:37; Acts 5:29

Q95: What is idolatry?

A95: Idolatry is to conceive or have something else in which to place our trust instead of, or besides, the one true God who has revealed Himself in His Word.[1]

1. Eph. 2:12; 5:5; Phil. 3:19; John 2:23; 5:23; II John 1:9; Psa. 62:5-7; 73:25-26; 81:8-9; Matt. 6:24

The Second Helvetic Confession - Chapter IV

Of Idols or Images of God, Christ and The Saints

Images of Saints. And since the blessed spirits and saints in heaven, while they lived here on earth, rejected all worship of themselves (Acts 3:12f.; 14:11ff.; Rev. 14:7; 22:9) and condemned images, shall anyone find it likely that the heavenly saints and angels are pleased with their own images before which men kneel, uncover their heads, and bestow other honors? But in fact in order to instruct men in religion and to remind them of divine things and of their salvation, the Lord commanded the preaching of the Gospel (Mark 16:15) - not to paint and to teach the laity by means of pictures. Moreover, he instituted sacraments, but nowhere did he set up images.

I would suggest that the "don't's" are those doctrines which serve as the basis for a “devotion” to Mary, and also those doctrines that find no direct clear scriptural support.

The Belgic Confession of Faith, Article VII
The Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures to Be the Only Rule of Faith


We believe that those Holy Scriptures fully contain the will of God, and that whatsoever man ought to believe unto salvation is sufficiently taught therein. For since the whole manner of worship which God requires of us is written in them at large, it is unlawful for any one, though an apostle, to teach otherwise than we are now taught in the Holy Scriptures: nay, though it were an angel from heaven, as the apostle Paul says. For since it is forbidden to add unto or take away anything from the Word of God, it does thereby evidently appear that the doctrine thereof is most perfect and complete in all respects.

Neither may we consider any writings of men, however holy these men may have been, of equal value with those divine Scriptures, nor ought we to consider custom, or the great multitude, or antiquity, or succession of times and persons, or councils, decrees or statutes, as of equal value with the truth of God, since the truth is above all; for all men are of themselves liars, and more vain than vanity itself. Therefore we reject with all our hearts whatsoever does not agree with this infallible rule, as the apostles have taught us, saying, Prove the spirits, whether they are of God. Likewise: If any one cometh unto you, and bringeth not this teaching, receive him not into your house.

Roman Catholic theologian Avery Dulles has pointed out: "The
two dogmas [Immaculate Conception, Assumption] together represent the most problematic examples of
the Catholic magisterium claiming a revealed status for doctrines
having a relatively tenuous basis in Scripture and early tradition."

Anonymous said...

"Conversions to Christianity from Rome involve a realization that what the Vatican says is in contradiction to what God's Word has said leaving the individual with a decision to make - either they obey God or they obey Rome."

Your making a distinction that's not there.It's not God or Rome.It's Jesus AND His Church.Want to know the Catholic 'mind'? Very simple.We see accepting Jesus as accepting Jesus and His Church.It's not a matter of a choice between two.It's a choice of one.
Your also implying Catholics aren't Christian.Catholics were the first Christians.Remember,Luther et al had to have something to revolt against.Meaning there was something there first. They were Catholic because to be otherwise was to not BE Christian.
What has the Catholic Church taught that contradicts scripture?

The problem is that it is the Catholic Church that discerned the canon and inspired books of scripture.Anotherwords,the Catholic Church simply cannot be opposed to sacred scripture or contradict it. Newflash;the Church came before scripture.We could get in a real long discussion on that one.God is the author...don't misquote me and the Church teaches that sacred scripture is inerrant and infallible.However,let's go one step further.The Word of God is not a something(book)it is a somebody and that somebody is JESUS HIMSELF.
God Bless,
p4p(it's a nicname)