Monday, April 14, 2008

Quick Musings on the Journey Home

I just watched about a half hour of The Journey Home. Andy McNutt recounted his journey (he has a blog here). I really don't want to be overly critical, personal, or mean spirited towards this gentleman. I'm sure he's a very nice man. However, I just didn't buy certain aspects of his story.

He stated something to the effect that there were not any good Protestant books to address his particular concerns while he was searching for the truth about Rome. This is just simply false. There are plenty of books, and they are NOT written by Jack Chick, but by qualified men who have presented factual and reasonable materials. I question how deeply he actually sought out materials to answer questions he had about Roman Catholicism. He managed to find books by Steve Ray and Mark Shea. You mean to tell me he could find these, but couldn't find any books by James White, Eric Svendsen, William Webster, or even books that consider aspects of Romanism like R.C. Sproul's books? I don't buy it. I would speculate this man had access to the Internet. If he was able to find Shea and Ray, he should have been able to find materials from the other side as well. I can even grant that Ray's books have a particular level of popularity, but Shea?

Second, he spent a lot of time talking about the Early Church Fathers, and how their writings helped lead him to Rome. I don't buy this either, particularly since he became acquainted with them in a seminary. I've read plenty of the Early Church Fathers. I find them to be fallible men, who at times said some good things, but other times did not. Simply because they lived closer to the First Century does not make them more correct. Even the Bible shows us error quickly came into the church. These men contradicted each other, and their writings do not exist in a purified form. I simply can't believe that an educated man like Mr. McNutt overlooked simple, basic questions about the Early Church Fathers, and their reliability.

Again, I'm not trying to be mean-spirited toward this man. I can appreciate the fact that he was bold enough to go on television to recount his story.

5 comments:

Mike Burgess said...

James, I could be wrong, but I think you're probably putting a lot of stock in the writers you mentioned as "good" to the mind of Mr. McNutt. Many years ago, I put no little stock in authors whom I now (in light of subsequent scholarship and better argumentation, etc.) Has it occurred to you that Mr. McNutt may have run across Webster or White but eventually rejected them and thus not considered them "good?" I'll concede that I wouldn't put Ray or Shea in the same league as Garrigou-LaGrange, Danielou, Fortescue, et alia, but still....

James Swan said...

Has it occurred to you that Mr. McNutt may have run across Webster or White but eventually rejected them and thus not considered them "good?" I'll concede that I wouldn't put Ray or Shea in the same league as Garrigou-LaGrange, Danielou, Fortescue, et alia, but still....

I'd like to give Mr. McNutt the benefit of the doubt. If Mr. McNutt read and accepted Ray and Shea, but rejected the Protestant writers I mentioned, something a bit odd is going on. If this is the case, it tells me he didn't do the research he claims. Hence, I'd rather give him the benefit of the doubt.

David Waltz said...

Hi Mike,

I sincerely believe that you have raised a very good point. The authors listed by James as representative of “good Protestant books” is certainly subjective. Personally, I would not place any of them on my list. Compare James’ authors with mine: G. C. Berkouwer, Jaroslav Pelikan, Anthony N.S. Lane, Alister E. McGrath, Charles Gore.

And a quick note on the early Church Fathers: I can say with assurance that they played a substantial role in my conversion to the CC. Their take on baptism, the three-fold ministry, the Gospel, balance between Scripture and Tradition, et al., though certainly not in and of themselves infallible, certainly bear witness to the faith of the early Church. My earliest readings of the CFs (during my early Protestant years) forced me to side with William Cunningham who said:

“There is, indeed, something dark and mysterious in the survey of the history of the church of Christ, in its so soon losing its purity, and falling into error and corruption; and in this error and corruption gaining such an ascendancy, and virtually overspeading the visible church for nearly a thousand years.” (Historical Theology, vol. 1.41.)


Cunningham’s position is one of the greatest aids to Mormon missionaries who demand a restoration, rather than a mere reformation, to correct the deep, centuries long “error and corruption” into which Christ’s Church had supposedly fallen. However, along came John Henry Newman and Johann Adam Möhler, who opened my eyes to a much different view of the early Church than either Cunningham or the Mormons. But that is another story…


Grace and peace,

David

James Swan said...

The authors listed by James as representative of “good Protestant books” is certainly subjective.

I had in mind contemporary authors on a popular level. But, your comments inspired me to do my blog posts "Tiber Swim Book Club"

Alberto said...

I do not understand when the people who convert to Rome support this change with the readings of the books of the fathers of the church.
Because one thing is sure when you read the writings of the church fathers you can said that they weren Roman Catholics.
Some peple would say that is because the development doctrine however when one adopt this doctrine it is irrational seek support in the fathers.
I recommend the book of George Salmon, "The infability of the Church", I am reading this book at Spanish and it is great, an excellent refutation to the doctrine of the infability and the development doctrine of Newman.