Some of you may remember me from the old NTRMin discussion board. That's where I first met James Swan, as one of the adelphoi -- Eric Svendsen created a wonderful community there, and I am very grateful to have made some long-term, lasting friendships there.
I'm a former Catholic -- I was born in 1960 and raised in the Catholic Church by a devout family. But by the time I was in high school, I had also heard the Gospel from some friends -- and I just could not comprehend why this "Gospel" was not what "the one true Church" was teaching, especially not if it was in the Bible. Needless to say, it created a great deal of turmoil in my spirit, and it set off a struggle that would consume me for a long time. In fact, that question -- an overwhelming desire to find "the reason why," motivates me today. My story is here. But the issues I investigated in leaving Roman Catholicism continued to tug at my heart and mind. How could such a big, authoritative and seemingly wonderful thing have gone so wrong?
My final break with Rome came in the late 1990's, thanks largely to the writings of James White, available for the first time on a broad scale via the Internet. It is said that the Reformation owes its tremendous influence to the invention of the printing press, and the ability to disseminate information far and wide in a very short period of time. I believe the Internet has created a similar opportunity for believers today.
During the 16th century, the message of the Reformation spread far and wide, because it was the message that people craved to hear. Rome didn't stop the path of the Reformation by presenting better ideas or a better gospel. They stopped the march of the Reformation with lies and trickery, with the burning of books, threats of imprisonment, such deceit and murder as that found in the St. Bartholemew's Day Massacre.
Here's one example that I've given, of Rome's tactics in the wake of the Reformation:
In 1543 a little book was published in Venice with the title Trattato utilissimo del beneficio di Giesu Christo crocifisso i cristiani (A Most Useful Treatise on the Merits of Jesus Christ Crucified for Christians), written by an elusive Benedictine monk called Benedetto da Mantova with some help from the humanist and poet Marcantonio Flaminio (1498-1550), a popular work of piety that was translated into several languages including Croat. At first sight this may appear to be a piece of native Italian Christocentrism, part of a Pauline and Augustinian renaissance known to have been nourished by a Spanish humanist and biblicist, Juan de Valdes (1500-1541), whose pious circle in Naples had included Flaminio. But the Beneficio can be read in more than one way. It proves to have been made up from a number of transalpine Protestant texts, and especially the 1539 edition of Calvin’s Institutes. Whether or not Benedetto had come across Calvin in his monastery on the slopes of Mount Etna, which seems unlikely, the Institutes was known to Flaminio.
It is hard to distinguish between the theology of the Beneficio and Protestantism. “Man can never do good works unless he first know himself to be justified by faith.” Other scholars insist, however, that the Beneficio is an expression of Evangelism, a movement that was not generated by Protestantism and should be distingueshed from it. What is certain is that the Beneficio was placed on the Index and so successfuly repressed by the Roman Inquisition that of the many thousands of copies of the Italian edition that were once in existence only one is known to survive, discovered in the library of a Cambridge college in the nineteenth century. That sort of successful repression was the Counter-Reformation. (The Reformation, a History, Patrick Collinson, (c)2003, pgs 105-106.)
I'm not a theologian, but as the old Abraham Lincoln commercial said, "I've done a lot of reading and studying, sort of on my own." My interests continue to lie in areas that describe "reasons why": Reasons why the Reformation needed to occur; reasons why "the Church" had gotten so far off the rails in the first place.
Recently, my blog posts have centered on a few areas:
The "development" of the early papacy:
The first, and greatest "schism" in the early church:
Claims of "church unity" [in the first millennium] are a lie
See the section on Nestorius and the Council of Ephesus
The Effects of the Reformation:
The Reformation and "The One True Church"
A.G. Dickens on Luther's Success
Luther's Program and Justification by Faith
The [need for] the Reformation Today
How Roman Catholicism Continues to Proceed Today
Newman's Theory of Development "Shattered"
The Catholic Historical Method
Rome's institutionally sanction method of lying
The Official Roman Catholic Policy of Obstruction of Justice
I'm grateful to James Swan for the opportunity to share what I've learned about the history of the one true church, the "development" of the Roman Catholic Church," and the need for the Reformation, in the 16th century and today. I'm grateful for this opportunity to become a part of the "Beggars All" community, and I'm looking forward to opportunities to share in the ongoing efforts of the Reformation today.