I recently listened to a twenty minute lecture by Carl Trueman titled "What Was Luther Doing on Reformation Sunday?" The lecture is a deeply practical and critically introspective application of 1 Timothy 1:1-11 to the motivations of the heart--to the reasons we seek to study theology. Trueman utilizes the passage from 1 Timothy as a sort of lens to interpret the motivations of Tetzel for selling indulgences, applying it as well to modern televangelists, bloggers and, last of all, seminarians. Why do we study theology? Is it to advance the Kingdom of God in humility? Or is it to increase our power and influence? If it is merely to increase our power and influence, then we might very well find ourselves defending whatever arguments are most convenient to this end.
While not explicitly mentioned in the lecture, Trueman's analysis supplies a possible answer to a question regularly enough posed in the combox of this blog--why do some Protestants, with degrees, grounding in Reformed theology, etc., decide to convert to Catholicism? Some, it seems, desire power and influence more than they desire to serve the truth. A sensational conversion to Catholicism provides a kind of celebrity, authority and prominence unavailable to those who quietly and obscurely serve the Lord in a Protestant church. And certainly this temptation is both apparent and increased given the celebration of "conversion stories" in modern Catholic apologetics.
Such an application of Trueman's analysis cannot be granted in the case of each and every convert, for the circumstances vary, often greatly, from individual to individual. But it certainly explains why at least some turn from the truth of the Gospel.
The talk is available for free through iTunes U. If it is not obvious already, I highly recommend it.