« The basic problem... | Main | Could it be an "0?" »

January 07, 2006

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451be0d69e200d8345b176969e2

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Evangelicals and Catholics, Not Together:

» A professors firing after his conversion highlights a new orthodoxy at religious colleges from titusonenine
(From the from page of todays Wall Street Journal). WHEATON, Ill. Wheaton College was delighted to have assistant professor Joshua Hochschild teach students about medieval philosopher Thomas Aquinas, one of Roman Catholicisms fo... [Read More]

» I'm too principled for this church, too principled for this church, so principled it hurts from The Japery
Another Pantagruelist stirring the pot! And at the outset I must vouch for Prof. Hochschild's character of restraint. For over a year now I have been urging, nay, begging, the good Professor to allow me to stand as middle man... [Read More]

» I'm too principled for this church, too principled for this church, so principled it hurts from The Japery
Another Pantagruelist stirring the pot! And at the outset I must vouch for Prof. Hochschild's character of restraint. For over a year now I have been urging, nay, begging, the good Professor to allow me to stand as middle man... [Read More]

» I'm too principled for this church, too principled for this church, so principled it hurts from The Japery
Another Pantagruelist stirring the pot! And at the outset I must vouch for Prof. Hochschild's character of restraint. For over a year now I have been urging, nay, begging, the good Professor to allow me to stand as middle man... [Read More]

» I'm too principled for this church, too principled for this church, so principled it hurts from The Japery
Another Pantagruelist stirring the pot! And at the outset I must vouch for Prof. Hochschild's character of restraint. For over a year now I have been urging, nay, begging, the good Professor to allow me to stand as middle man... [Read More]

» I'm too principled for this church, too principled for this church, so principled it hurts from The Japery
Another Pantagruelist stirring the pot! And at the outset I must vouch for Prof. Hochschild's character of restraint. For over a year now I have been urging, nay, begging, the good Professor to allow me to stand as middle man... [Read More]

Comments

michigancatholic

Because it's a protestant school, they know what they're supposed to believe, they know who pays the bills and they're true to their mission.

We could learn from them how to stick to our own guns. We could at least admire their guts. We don't have any most of the time.

michigancatholic

Besides, a high profile convert like that is a great thing. Reminds me of Newman. Wheaton's loss. Our gain.

Art Deco

Justified thus:

1. There are likely others in the academic labor pool who capable of teaching medieval philosophy and are fully on board with Wheaton College's institutional mission;

2. If there are not such, medieval philosophy is not an indispensible part of the curriculum;

3. That a comprehensive prohibition on the employment of those who are not Protestant Christians is more readily retained in the institutional memory and set of habits than a murkier qualified prohibition;

4. That there may be a sharply circumscribed number of sustainable equilibria in academic institutional life in our time: i.e. that you may have a choice of maintaining an institutional mission through somewhat crude decision rules or to see the institution decompose into a holding company composed of faculty of standard type who fancy themselves as the institution's proprietors and who would be "particularly resistant" to any effort to restore the institution's foundational purposes;

5. You cannot tell readily in advance whether you can establish a happy medium or not, so it is best to maintain risk-averse options.

tcreek

The Catholic Church requires a “statement of belief” as does Wheaton.
It is not enforced. Too extreme, I suppose.

The Code of Canon Law, Canon 833, Nos. 5-8
----
The following are obliged to take an Oath of Fidelity and to make the Profession of Faith:
vicars general, episcopal vicars and judicial vicars; "at the beginning of their term of office, pastors, the rector of a seminary and the professors of theology and philosophy in seminaries; those to be promoted to the diaconate"; "the rectors of an ecclesiastical or Catholic university at the beginning of the rector's term of office"; and, "at the beginning of their term of office, teachers in any universities whatsoever who teach disciplines which deal with faith or morals"; and "superiors in clerical religious institutes and societies of apostolic life in accord with the norm of the constitutions."

Oath of Fidelity

I, N., on assuming the office __________ promise that I shall always preserve communion with the Catholic Church whether in the words I speak or in the way I act.

With great care and fidelity I shall carry out the responsibilities by which I am bound in relation both to the universal church and to the particular church in which I am called to exercise my service according to the requirements of the law.

In carrying out my charge, which is committed to me in the name of the church, I shall preserve the deposit of faith in its entirety, hand it on faithfully and make it shine forth. As a result, whatsoever teachings are contrary I shall shun.

I shall follow and foster the common discipline of the whole church and shall look after the observance of all ecclesiastical laws, especially those which are contained in the Code of Canon Law.

With Christian obedience I shall associate myself with what is expressed by the holy shepherds as authentic doctors and teachers of the faith or established by them as the church's rulers. And I shall faithfully assist diocesan bishops so that apostolic activity, to be exercised by the mandate and in the name of the church, is carried out in the communion of the same church.

May God help me in this way and the holy Gospels of God which I touch with my hands.
----

michigancatholic

Anyone who works for the church should have to proclaim this in public. I'm sorry, but we have way too many fakes out there.

Margaret

I agree with Wheaton College and with the posters who think Catholic colleges and universities should have as much courage of their convictions.

It seems like the WSJ is just trying to promote a controversy.

Elaine

As I started reading the article this morning I got as far as the first sentence about the professor teaching St. Thomas Aquinas and had a strong suspicion where his part of the story was going.

I also wonder why being Episcopal wasn't a problem - no Pope? But then why the ban on Orthodox, too? And how, knowing how the school intends the faith statement to be interpreted, he could still be willing to sign it. Perhaps he hadn't worked out that issue yet.

I am pleased to see Catholic colleges and universities named as tryiing to bring more rigor and practicing faith back into their faculty. Hope they succeed.

anonymous seminarian

"Because Catholics regard the Bible and the pope as equally authoritative..."

Huh? Where do they get this stuff?

Kevin Jones

Who is stirring this pot? Did somebody seek out this professor, or did he seek out the media? This is an intra-Evangelical issue, too, so perhaps those Evangelicals aiming for academic respectability have adopted the guy as a cause celebre to break down old standards.

I sure hope the professor didn't go whining to the press. Academic positions are hard to come by, but decisions have their consequences.

As described in the article, his rationale for assenting to the faith statement sounds horribly jesuitical--not a good impression. Best of luck to him, though.

Peter Nixon

Well I don't really feel I need to give Wheaton its props and I don't think that Catholic colleges should follow Wheaton's lead in firing professors who are not professing Catholics. I do believe that Catholic colleges need to do a better job "hiring for mission" as Peter Steinfels puts it in A People Adrift. And there are certain areas, like the theological sciences, where courses in Catholic theology (particularly those aimed at undergraduates) should generally be taught by Catholics. But the presence of Protestant (and Orthodox) theologians and scripture scholars in Catholic theology departments is not necessarily a bad thing. The reverse is also true.

Or--if you want me to put it more bluntly--any policy that would have deprived Notre Dame's students of the presence of Stanley Hauerwas (who taught at ND for a number of years) is just blitheringly idiotic. One could say the same about a policy that would keep students at Baylor University from hearing the lectures of Luke Timothy Johnson.

Jack2

"Because Catholics regard the Bible and the pope as equally authoritative..."

Huh? Where do they get this stuff?

Yea, exactly, in all my years of studying and teaching Catholic theology, both here and in Germany, I have never even heard of anything like that ever having been said by any reputable theological authority. Even among the most ultramontane folks, in my experience, to say that the pope and scripture are equally anything is totally off the wall. This opinion might come up in the comments of a blog somewhere; but it seems to be that it is in the realm of theological alien abductions.

michigancatholic

I cannot imagine that someone who doesn't believe Catholic theology enough to convert to it would ever be qualified to teach it.

Re Notre Dame: I have a son who went there for 1 year before transferring to a public university. It was all I could do to get him to cross the threshhold of a Catholic church for years afterwards, no thanks to the crackpots and derelicts at Notre Dame, so don't tell me about Notre Dame, okay?

Nathaniel

I'm one of the Wheaton Catholics - that is, one of an ever-growing group of Protestant Wheaton students/alums received into the Catholic Church. The question of whether the prof, as an Episcopalian, really believed in sola scriptura is intriguing. From my experience, faculty at Wheaton hold a mix of views, many of which would not fit a strict interpretation of the Statement of Faith. Most of the dissent is overlooked (though, the year after I graduated, an anthropology prof was fired for teaching that humans evolved from lower forms of life). But the line has to be drawn somewhere, doesn't it? Becoming Catholic was just going too far.

fidens

Props to the professor for sticking his neck out, whatever his reasoning. I mean, it's not exactly St Edmund Campion stuff, but he did take a pay cut...

Fr. Brian Stanley

Yes, please, please, please do not tell Michigan Catholic about Notre Dame. Michigan Catholic's experience is normative, everyone.

There, I hope everyone gets the message out, because everyone should know that the condition at Notre Dame is absolutely static, and that Michigan Catholic is all over this like white on rice. I'm sure that Michigan Catholic will share with us more normative pronouncements taken from canonized experience that does admit of nonconforming experiences, which must be dismissed out of hand. I can hardly wait for the oath of loyalty we will be asked to sign in which we pledge fealty to the experience of Michigan Catholic. Gee, where can I sign up for that?

By the way, that offer for a free copy of "A Rulebook for Arguments" is still on the table. The fallacy is called "The Hasty Generalization." You really, really need to look at it, or to start using that philosophy degree.

I am not without sympathy for your son's negative experience at ND. I'm an alumnus, a former CSC seminarian, and am thoroughly alienated from my alma mater. Yet, I am aware of many positive things happening there. The blogosphere is huge enough to convince me that my experiences there [and I had far more than your son, because I was with the Holy Cross Fathers for seven years] are not normative, and that the campus, and more important, the faculty has been changing, even *gulp* improving in some important places.

Mimi

I went to Notre Dame, too, very recently, and was friendly with many graduate students in the philosophy department and the history department, where they have quite prominent evangelical scholars on the faculty, who drew, quite naturally, many graduate students in philosophy and history who were evangelical and who went on to teach at Wheaton or Calvin or other small liberal arts evangelical schools. One of the interesting points that someone made to me about this situation was that--like the story about this professor at Wheaton--there was some kind of irony or something a little troubling about the fact that Notre Dame, a Catholic college, was training a top-notch bunch of evangelical professors to teach at schools that would not be similarly open to the expression, training, or even the acceptance of Catholic professors and students, on their campuses.

Fr. Brian Stanley

By the way, I agree with Mr. Nixon on teh topic of Stanley Hauerwas. I had Prof. Hauerwas for his course on the Papal Encyclicals, and I do not think you could get a professor who was more enamored with encyclicals than Prof. Hauerwas. And he got his students to look at them critically, and to see the Truth. Prof. Hauerwas would get excited about teaching these encyclicals to his students, and his enthusiasm would frequently provoke the Texan into some colorful language. He was very fond of John Paul the Great's writing, and extremely loyal to the magisterium in this course [I can only speak of this one course that I had with him], and it made me an admirer of his. It was a sad day when he left for Duke. The same sadness for Prof. Robert Wilber, a Protestant church historian, who left ND for Virginia at the same time I think, and has since become Catholic. He was another of the "crypto-Catholics" there, who taught fidelity to the Church. Fr. McBrien had not a small role to play in their departures, as I recall, not that that would surprise anyone who regularly reads here.

Tope

Fr. Brian and Peter Nixon -

I went to Duke as an undergraduate and was very impressed with what I heard of Hauerwas during my time there. A close friend of mine who took a number of classes with him tells me that many of his students end up converting to Catholicism after studying with him! A number of his students are now at Ave Maria (FL).

michigancatholic

Well, Fr. Stanley, it's not just me. I recently read the results of a study that showed that graduates of Catholic colleges are much more likely to have lost their faith in college than graduates of secular schools. And I don't doubt it a bit.

It might be interesting to hear exactly how McBrien played a role in the departures of the instructors above. Did that occur in a vacuum, I wonder, or did unfortunate students have to observe the whole affair or even suffer it themselves?

When I recently decided to take some classes for enrichment from a Catholic school, I didn't even give ND a shot, even though it's within driving distance. No point. I'd have had to do more research to stay out of peoples' classes than in them--in order to avoid the likes of McBrien and the Vagina Monologues and such folderol. I'm taking a few classes from Franciscan in Ohio--a far, far more suitable school if one is actually interested in Catholic teaching and not the "Catholic status symbol" which is ND.

Watching for 20 years and finally coming to a regrettable & sad conclusion after tons of data and lots of disappointment is not hasty generalization. In fact, failing to come to any sort of conclusion at all would have been negligent and unthinking, not to mention dangerous to my faith. A person can only stand just so much cognitive dissonance. The Church, after all, has always taught that even though she is a mystery, she is intelligible even if not comprehensible.

Being able to actually point out right and wrong on the basis of long-standing church teaching is not, contrary to some peoples' goofed up ideas, a problem. The operable set of ideals that drives that sort of goofed up thinking is cultural, American cultural, in fact, and not religious in the Catholic sense.

As in, "Thou shalt not point out the truth, for the truth costs market share and makes people realize they are not gods. And then they become despondent and stop buying."

Look up "obfuscation" in your little logic book sometime. Or rather, watch the USCCB convention for about 10 minutes and get a world-class example.

michigancatholic

It's interesting, though, that there's a pattern here. There is a decided preference here for "closet catholics" who are nominally non-catholic OVER "closet non-catholics" who are nominally catholic. That's interesting.

dymphna

Good for Wheaton. They actually seem to want their professors to believe what they teach. I wish more Catholic schools would follow suit.

michigancatholic

BTW, about that little marketing maxim:

"Thou shalt not point out the truth, for the truth costs market share and makes people realize they are not gods. And then they become despondent and stop buying."

It only obtains logically if truth is a commodity among other commodities on a cost benefit analysis.

Is that all it is? You tell me.

Fr. Brian Stanley

No preference here, just more facts and less generalizing. The problem you have, Michigan Catholic, is that YOU want to draw things to a conclusion -- and the script is still being written. You are willing to write off a whole lot of people. As a priest and pastor, I cannot afford to do that, and so I hold out in hope, I look for positive developments, and try to steer people into those positive developments. But with folks like you around, every time I try to get a positive word out to someone such as Rod Dreher, who is truly suffering and knows more about it that you and I put together, it doesn't take too long for you to come around with some personal kerosene to pour on the fires of indignation. Unfortunately, it only causes heat, and not a lot of light.

By the way, I donate to Franciscan U. of Steubenville, too, and steer people over there as well. I know the orthodox places too. But you know, it wasn't always the case there at Steubenville. There was a reform movement that caused Steubenville to become the fine school that it is today. If you want to give up on ND, that's fine, and I understand it. But please get off the soap box on which you pretend to speak for all orthodox Catholics. I respect your experience, but your conclusions are not, thank God, the Church's conclusions. I know BXVI has far more hope than you do, you might want to take a page or two from his script. Or is he an Obfuscator too?

michigancatholic

Fr. Stanley, Benedict XVI is not an obfuscator. Listen closely to him and you'll hear the church speaking in all her beauty and glory. His words are compact.

Attempting to shield Rod from the truth won't help him. He knows what he's seen and he won't believe you. He needs someone to listen to him as he struggles, purely and simply, because he must struggle through the ugliness of the times--a dark night of sorts, which you cannot take away by your own power.

He must cling to the truth while he reconciles the mystery of the Church (truth & love in one, never separated) and understands. It's something most converts go through at some point or another, some more deeply than others. Rod has seen a lot so he has a deep crisis. He thinks and he thinks deeply because he's still around. There's nothing wrong with that. It's largely what God used to get him this far.

The danger, as always in these things, is that he will find a crutch or develop a pattern of avoidance of the truth.

Denying the truth never works. It's throwing everything out for the sake of shutting up the confusion. It's only human nature that wants things to be honky-dory even if not true. It's not the way.

michigancatholic

If you want to help people with these crises, teach them to pray and never stop, no matter what else happens. And listen, really listen.

Linas

I think this is an excellent example of the fact that to many, the whole ecumenical movement merely means that Catholics should move away from their beliefs.

It's kind of like someone supporting racial intermarriage, as long as it's not in their family.

michigancatholic

I don't like your example--at all--but many people misunderstand the ecumenical movement, yes.

Julia

Nathanial:

"I'm one of the Wheaton Catholics - that is, one of an ever-growing group of Protestant Wheaton students/alums received into the Catholic Church"

This is intriguing. Is there something that this group of Wheaton Students/alums have in common? Like a certain professor or academic subject or experience that is behind this?

Fr. Brian Stanley

Michigan Catholic,

You have a way of simplifying things I have written to mean something I have never intended. I mean, c'mon: when have I ever said things are "hunky dory?" I have ceded to you all the negatives you present, and do not deny them. I just affirm that there are positives out there, positive things happening in the Church, among the hierarchy, at ND, etc., which you do not want to acknowledge. Fine. Whatever.

And I have helped people by being realistic, by seeing the bigger picture, and not just focussing on the negative. I'm not denying the negative when I say, "Look here, here's something positive." And I have been of assistance to many people in similar crises, thank you. And I'll stick to what works. And how many people have you brought back from the precipice?

I don't avoid truth -- I can't afford to avoid truths, even unpleasant ones. But you seem to be very good at avoiding the positive ones.

I understand betrayal, more than you will ever know. And I am sure that I'll encounter more betrayal before the Lord calls me home. But that doesn't mean I walk away from the hierarchy, dismiss all the US bishops, write off most of the Catholic colleges, and stew in my own juices. In the study you cited in one of your posts, the one that indicated that people are more likely to lose their faith at a Catholic college than at a secular one, would seem to suggest that you should be studying not at Franciscan U., but at a secular school, if you take your cues from studies and polls. I don't take my cues from studies and polls.

You are a great one for wielding the truths that are convenient for your cause, and overlooking the positive aspects, which makes sure we're all inflamed with indignation.

I mean, what do you think about this? In your own diocese: Bp. Murray will be ordaining at least four men to the priesthood this spring. These men persevered in spite of all the negativity, all the scandal, and all the pessimism that the world has to throw at them. The Holy Spirit is at work, and it remains to be seen whether the kind of constant rat-a-tat-tat of pessimism that you have shared is more helpful to that work, or a hindrance. Would you say that this is a positive development, or is it just a dying gasp from a corrupt institution presided over by obfuscators and -- what was the term you used about ND? -- oh, yes, derelicts? Is language like this helpful? Is it even accurate? Or is it emotion, rooted in real pain? The latter, I think. The Church is in the midst of reform, and I am happy that this reform is coming. I understand from your POV that it can't come soon enough.

michigancatholic

Where did you get the idea I don't see positives? Look up a couple of boxes at my comment about Benedict XVI. You don't even talk to me on a regular basis, so you don't know that.

I have not walked away from the hierarchy. If you really actually read what I wrote to you in another thread last night, you'd know that. The church is not split between the visible and the invisible. We need the heirarchy in the Body of Christ. It's just that there are not very many heroes as you seem to maintain there are. I can name a very few decent ones-can you? God is in charge and we've been squeeking by for a while. It's getting there even though it's odious-looking to just squeeze by. Certainly you're not going to try to convince me we've been on this wonderful winning streak for 40 years. At least I hope not.

And I don't write off ALL the Catholic colleges. After all, I'm taking classes from Franciscan. Just not ND. The number of Catholic colleges who are actually teaching catholic doctrine is finally increasing after all this time, thank God. My degree is a good solid secular one; it helped to initiate my conversion because it posed me the questions that only the Body of Christ could answer. Thank God I didn't have to confront a feminazi ex-catholic at some status symbol college. I might not have gotten this far. I am adding to my education and refining it by taking classes from a fine solid Catholic school, to understand better. Surely that's not a problem.

I am very happy we have entered a period of reform. I danced through the corporate offices when Benedict was elected. My co-workers thought I was nuts. No apologies from me. In the end, it was not thought of badly. People learned something maybe from me that day. I try to be Catholic--fair and truthful. My joy was real.

But now is the time to lovingly collect and speak of truth, like the Pope does, not the time to yield to the dissenters one more time. Just good enough is NOT good enough, even in print.

There is a lot at stake here. Our people are ignorant and pragmatic. We have to be clear about where we are going, by looking at what the church has always taught, and by examining these things with great care, even though we don't yet see it in front of us. God has given us great gifts but we must use them.

That might mean some analytical activity. It's okay, really. Analytical activity is not your enemy.

BTW, who's talking about individual cases now? And why the personal attack?

Fr. Brian Stanley

You can take it as a personal attack because you can read the first sentence of my previous post: you simplify my statements to mean something I don't say and don't intend. I'm not some silly pollyanna. But you have been pretty dismissive of all the bishops, and have basically told me that my insistence that there are some good bishops is for naught, and that it doesn't matter or is of little relevance. Whatever. You poke and prod, make hasty generalizations, get called on them, and then ask, "why the personal attack"? You've not been attacked -- you've been called out. And you still don't respond to my question: is the ordination of four men in our diocese a good thing or a bad thing? Is it an omen of despair and further corruption from obfuscators and derelicts [your words, not mine]? You want to write in normative terms for all of us -- please tell us what this might mean, from your POV.

You want to call a spade a spade, and want to make sure that we all know just how bad it is in the Church. Ok. We all know this, and the media will insure that we will continue to know this for the next several decades. Is it important that everyone know every detail of corruption before we start to point out what good things are happening? Your optimism is lost, as you lecture us about marketing, etc. I want to think you are an optimist, but, buddy, from your response to me, you sure come off as being on the cranky side of curmudgeon. And I really, really doubt that that kind of crankiness is going to be any more helpful to Rod Dreher and others like him than the simple-minded pollyanna you seem to think I am.

Tom Haessler

I'm not at all surprised that there are graduates of Wheaton being received into full communion with the Catholic Church. Wheaton has an excellent reputation academically and there's a growing trend of evangelicals solidly formed in Scripture coming into the Church. My wife went to Calvin College (another excellent evangelical college in the strict Calvinist tradition) and had to read Calvin AND Aquinas on the Eucharist. At the time she was more impressed with Aquinas than Calvin, but kept a low profile. A seed was planted that bore fruit many years later with her being received into full Communion. She she's her Catholicism as much richer fare than the Christianity of her initial formation, but she always speaks of the Christian Reformed Church with respect.

I've recently changed parishes and our new pastor is a former Protestant minister who converted to Catholicism. His homilies are very rich and he's got marvelous communication skills. He comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable. He also never bad mouths his former Church, but is deeply grateful for the fullness of Catholic truth. Only problem is he's a workaholic and had a heart attack and then triple bipass surgery.

austin

One problem Wheaton probably has is with its alumna, who may not give any money if there is a Catholic presence on campus. There is so much misinformation about what Catholics believe among evangelicals. Even top evangelical scholars think that Catholics believe you must "work" your way to heaven. According to these reformed ministers, we can't communicate personally with God since we think the priest is the only one who can do that. If we Catholics really believed that then we wouldn't be Christians. Since the evangelicals are rarely corrected concerning their misunderstandings of Catholic belief, they think we aren't Christian. I would like to see more Catholics correcting evangelical perceptions of our beliefs, but I don't know how that can be done.

Joe

As a former Episc., I would say they are absolutely sola scriptura. I have found Catholics take it to mean scripture only, period. But most Protestants I know take it as scripture only... as in the only supreme authority. A key difference.

Ken

As a former Episc., I would say they are absolutely sola scriptura.

Not quite. Popular Anglican teaching speaks of a "3-legged stool". However, this is what Richard Hooker actually wrote:

“What Scripture doth plainly deliver, to that first place both of credit and obedience is due; the next whereunto is whatsoever any man can necessarily conclude by force of reason; after these the voice of the Church succeedeth. That which the Church by her ecclesiastical authority shall probably think and define to be true or good, must in congruity of reason over-rule all other inferior judgments whatsoever” ( Laws, Book V, 8:2; Folger Edition 2:39,8-14).

Thus, in order of precedence:

Scripture
Reason
The rulings of the Church (Tradition)

They are not equal. Of course, this ordering leads, I think, to the practical implementation of private judgement.

Bellarmino

Tom Haessler is correct: if you visit those Catholic colleges in the U.S. which have doctoral programs in philosophy and theology (they're not many--ND, Boston College, Fordham, St. Louis, Marquette, and I imagine a few others), you'll find a fair amount of Wheaton alums who are getting Ph.D.s, as far as I understand from my work.

Some are converts, some are still Evangelical Protestants who want the Catholic tradition on the early Fathers. Herein lies the problem for Wheaton--they're getting top-quality students who want to study with top-quality profs (Mark Noll is one of the finest Christian scholars this country has ever produced--ever), but in fields like this (medieval philosophy), the fullness of truth eventually does become apparent, and you end up with converts.

I don't begrudge Wheaton its attempt to hold its identity, but Noll (who recently penned "The End of the Reformation?") and his ilk are doing the kind of solid intellectual work that naturally leads Christians towards the true Church. And that, it seems to me, will continue to be a problem. For them.

William

Episcopal belief is all over the place. It depends on who you talk to.

hieronymus has a blog now

Looks like I missed the conversation this weekend. Just wanted to add - I know that guy. We had lunch together a few times at a mutual friend's house before he left for St. Louis. He didn't seem particularly upset by the whole deal.

Jon W

This is intriguing. Is there something that this group of Wheaton Students/alums have in common? Like a certain professor or academic subject or experience that is behind this?

I'm another, Julia. When I was at Wheaton in the mid nineties, there was a group of us who were headed either to Rome or Constantinople. There wasn't much of a common denominator to these in terms of professors or classes; we just saw the traditional church as the only that was preserving the faith in its fullness. My brother goes to Gordon in Massachusetts and is in the middle of a similar (but smaller) group. It seems a lot of Evangelical colleges have these.

What you have is profs and students with widely different intellectual and cultural concerns who vaguely sense that the answer they're looking for is in the traditional church. They all see a lack of substance and sophistication in the evangelical tradition (artistically, culturally, politically, theologically, liturgically) and are looking for something better. That's why Wheaton is awash in Anglican break-off churches who are attempting to inject some liturgy and stability into typical evangelical worship while remaining more faithful morally and doctrinally than the ECUSA et al, and why students love these. (Church of the Res was my halfway house.)

I applaud Wheaton for attempting to hold on to its identity and faithfulness to some sort of orthodoxy. The evangelicals don't have a magisterium to call them back to faithfulness; once the damage is done, it's very hard to reverse. (cf Harvard, Darmouth, Princeton, etc, etc, etc.) It's probably wise of them to play on the safe side of the street (said the oh-so-pleased-with-himself papist).

Christopher

William,

I would think you mean 'individual' Episcopalians' beliefs are all over the place. The same is true of Catholics, though. (Sr Joan Chittester (sp?) anyone?) The big difference is that the Catholic Church has its beliefs fairly neatly defined, whereas the Anglican tradition prefers a bit more 'wiggle room'. Sadly, this wiggle room keeps getting bigger, and is now a wiggle stadium. Guess that's what happens when you chuck the Magisterium out the window.

Charming Billy

I got a graduate degree in philosophy at St. Louis in the mid '90s. At that time the trend of evangelicals coming to Catholic philosophy departments was just getting started, but friends who've remained in the program or keep in touch with the department inform me that if not most, then certainly many of the best students are often evangelicals.

I wouldn't be suprised if it were easier to find a top notch Catholic grad student in a state or non-denominational private school than in a Catholic school. Or at least my old department seems to think so: St. Louis University has hired very few Catholic school grads in years; even in traditionally Catholic fields like Medieval philosophy.

When I began and ended the PhD program at SLU I was a lapsed cradle Episcopalian agnostic. (Spare me the "is there any other kind?" cracks.) But I'm happy to say that I'm now a practicing, orthodox Anglican.

Don't take this the wrong way, but very little of what I was exposed to at SLU led me to consider Catholic seriously as an option -- very little in the way of either teaching or personal witness. (Although the current mess in my church has led me to consider seriously, but finally decide against, conversion.) I am emphatically not knocking Catholicism, but I have to agree with many of the commenters here that what's best and brightest about Catholicism is sadly lacking in many Catholic universities.

Michael Kremer

I know Josh Hochschild too, having taught in the Notre Dame philosophy dept while he was a graduate student there. I have only good things to say about him. But this isn't the place for a letter of reference.

But here's an interesting observation: the webpage of the Wheaton philosophy department (from which Josh was dismissed after his conversion) shows that the faculty of seven holds PhDs from:

Louvain
Illinois
Pennsylvania
Notre Dame
Notre Dame
Fordham
Edinburgh

That's four Catholic university PhDs out of seven. (Louvain, Fordham, Notre Dame, Notre Dame.) (see http://www.wheaton.edu/Philosophy/faculty.html)

c matt

But most Protestants I know take it as scripture only... as in the only supreme authority. A key difference.

I suppose I will just never be able to understand the practical difference this makes. It seems, in the end, Protestants trade one Pope in Rome for hundreds of thousands of popes spread out all over the place.

To analogize a bit, its like saying we believe in the Constitution as the supreme law of the land (supreme authority). But we don't need a Supreme Court (or its equivalent) to tell us what the Constitution means. So, in the end, it really does become every citizen a constitutional scholar, and every citizen a constitution in himself. I agree with you as long as I agree with you.

gresham

I am another whose journey to Rome began as a student at Wheaton (BA '79, MA '85) Why so many of us? Wheaton's emphasis on integration of faith and learning is really very Catholic in its understanding of reason and revelation. Catholic schools could learn from them how to implement the perspective of Fides et Ratio across the curriculum. Also, there was a strong emphasis on history -- I was required to take both the history of philosophy and theology (one year of each) as an undergraduate religion major. My encounter with the Church fathers in historical theology planted the seed that would eventually lead me to Rome. There was an emphasis on serving the "Christ and his kingdom" in both evangelistic and social outreach that is quite consonant with Catholic teaching. The way I was taught to do historical critical study of scripture from the perspective of faith is quite consistent with Dei Verbum and other Catholic magisterial teaching (I encourage my Catholic seminary students to read Evangelical biblical scholarship). The pervasive attention to Lewis, Tolkien and others at Wheaton formed my imagination in sacramental directions. A popular slogan at Wheaton was "all truth is God's truth" and the goal of Christian higher education was presented as the integration of all truth into a coherent Christian worldview. By this concern for fullness of truth centered in Christ, Wheaton invariably starts many (I'm not sure how many) on a road leading to that fullness of truth found within the Roman Catholic Church.

Anonymous Student Person

I'm a theology graduate student at a big-name Catholic university. My first assignment? An analysis of Dei Verbum. There's this misconception that every school that's not Steubenville is out to indoctrintate that the pope is out of touch, the hierarchy is bad, and doctrine can be thrown out the window. The mostly Catholic faculty (and the mostly Catholic graduate student body)have a deep love of God and of the Church. There's student-run morning prayer (Liturgy of the Hours), well-attended daily Mass (with music), and the general sensibility that theology grows out of the life of faith and not vice versa. I suppose the student body could be called liberal; there was great discontent aired in lunchtime conversations about the recent Instruction. However, it wasn't an uproar of 'this isn't fair!' temper tantrum. It was a reasoned concern that the Instruction blurred the distinction between homosexual inclination and homosexual activity set forth in the Catechism. (But let's please not open that can of worms any further!). There's a great concern for orthodoxy - no one wants to throw the councils out the window - but there is also the sense that doctrine develops, and must continue to do so if it is to survive. Which means, when you come right down to it, that 'wishy-washy' universities and michigancatholic and friends want the exact same thing: the continuation of a vibrant Catholic faith.

Brigid

[Rambling thoughts in front of the water cooler and perhaps a bit off topic, but...]:

I would be interested in Fr. Neuhaus' and Chuck Colson's thoughts.

Not that the firing of a professor at Wheaton means the "end" of their "Evangelical and Catholics Together" movement but it does show that its tough sell in some academic communities.

Are there other places where it's hard for Evangelicals and Catholics to get together?

Also, I guess I am so amazed that such a personal decision as to what faith you profess within Christianity would be so important as to cause you to be fired? I mean, Catholics are Christians at Wheaton, are we not? Mark Noll's recent book shows us at least that. In fact, some of them call some of us "evangelical Catholics." How nice!

I mean, Wheaton's definition of "evangelical" seems rather "lite" to me. I've got to believe this Professor Hochschild is for more "evangelical" than many of his colleagues?

Are they coming up with a new definition for "evangelical" that is a bit tighter than it was, say, ten years ago?

I would love to hear from the Wheaton grads about this...

Ken

Meanwhile, Wheaton hasn't replaced Mr. Hochschild. One obstacle: Most scholars of medieval philosophy are Catholics.

Ah, the unintended side effects of a "NO POPERY!" position...

Even an Episcopalean (whose denomination has ordained out-and-out atheists) is preferable to a Romish Papist and his Satanic Death Cookies. It's like something out of South Park.

And just what is "evangelical"? These days, it means Young Earth Creationism, Left Behind eschatology, and high-pressure altar calls between these Beginning and End.

Thomas Aquinas

Here is a question of fact concerning Wheaton College's firing of Josh Hochschild. It was claimed that as a Roman Catholic, he could not sign a statement affirming the propositions contained in the Statement of Faith of Wheaton College (taken from the Wheaton College Statement of Faith on its web page, http://www.wheaton.edu/welcome/mission.html#faith):

WE BELIEVE in one sovereign God, eternally existing in three persons: the everlasting Father, His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, and the Holy Spirit, the giver of life; and we believe that God created the Heavens and the earth out of nothing by His spoken word, and for His own glory.

WE BELIEVE that God has revealed Himself and His truth in the created order, in the Scriptures, and supremely in Jesus Christ; and that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are verbally inspired by God and inerrant in the original writing, so that they are fully trustworthy and of supreme and final authority in all they say.

WE BELIEVE that Jesus Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, and was true God and true man, existing in one person and without sin; and we believe in the resurrection of the crucified body of our Lord, in His ascension into heaven, and in His present life there for us as Lord of all, High Priest, and Advocate.

WE BELIEVE that God directly created Adam and Eve, the historical parents of the entire human race; and that they were created in His own image, distinct from all other living creatures, and in a state of original righteousness.

WE BELIEVE that our first parents sinned by rebelling against God's revealed will and thereby incurred both physical and spiritual death, and that as a result all human beings are born with a sinful nature that leads them to sin in thought, word, and deed.

WE BELIEVE in the existence of Satan, sin, and evil powers, and that all these have been defeated by God in the cross of Christ.

WE BELIEVE that the Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, as a representative and substitutionary sacrifice, triumphing over all evil; and that all who believe in Him are justified by His shed blood and forgiven of all their sins.

WE BELIEVE that all who receive the Lord Jesus Christ by faith are born again of the Holy Spirit and thereby become children of God and are enabled to offer spiritual worship acceptable to God.

WE BELIEVE that the Holy Spirit indwells and gives life to believers, enables them to understand the Scriptures, empowers them for godly living, and equips them for service and witness.

WE BELIEVE that the one, holy, universal Church is the body of Christ and is composed of the communities of Christ's people. The task of Christ's people in this world is to be God's redeemed community, embodying His love by worshipping God with confession, prayer, and praise; by proclaiming the gospel of God's redemptive love through our Lord Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth by word and deed; by caring for all of God's creation and actively seeking the good of everyone, especially the poor and needy.

WE BELIEVE in the blessed hope that Jesus Christ will soon return to this earth, personally, visibly, and unexpectedly, in power and great glory, to gather His elect, to raise the dead, to judge the nations, and to bring His Kingdom to fulfillment.

WE BELIEVE in the bodily resurrection of the just and unjust, the everlasting punishment of the lost, and the everlasting blessedness of the saved.

Which of these affirmations must a Roman Catholic, faithful to the teaching authority of the Roman Catholic church, deny? In other words, when Josh Hochschild claimed to be able to sign this stattement of faith as a Roman Catholic convert, which one of these propositions could he not affirm?


Joel

"Even an Episcopalean (whose denomination has ordained out-and-out atheists) is preferable to a Romish Papist and his Satanic Death Cookies. It's like something out of South Park."

"And just what is "evangelical"? These days, it means Young Earth Creationism, Left Behind eschatology, and high-pressure altar calls between these Beginning and End."

Um, Ken, as a card-carrying evangelical, I'd say you're pretty much out of the loop here. The issue at Wheaton (yes, I am another grad) is institutional identity, not anti-Catholic bias. The same decision would have been made had Josh become Orthodox. While vestiges of anti-Catholicism remain in some circles, most mainstream evangelicals have been profoundly influenced by JPII in the last quarter of the 20th century, such that very few that I know bear any resemblance to your anachronistic caricature.

The same goes for "Young Earth Creationism, Left Behind eschatology, and high-pressure altar." I don't have a single evangelical friend or acquaintance who believes that stuff. Sure, plenty of right-wing evangelicals do, but to portray all evangelicals in that light is both inaccurate and uncharitable.

Kevin Jones

This part of the statement is, I think, incompatible with Catholic belief:

the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are verbally inspired by God and inerrant in the original writing, so that they are fully trustworthy and of supreme and final authority in all they say.

For Catholics, the church is the supreme and final authority on earth and the authority of the Scriptures is a function of the authority of the church.

Jon W

Are they coming up with a new definition for "evangelical" that is a bit tighter than it was, say, ten years ago?

No, Joel is right: it's more about institutional identity than specifics of an affirmation of faith. Wheaton trusts that anyone claiming evangelical Protestantism is going to have a commitment to those doctrines they see (whether rightly or wrongly) as exclusive to evangelical Protestant Christianity. And it's a good judgment. Like getting married, becoming Catholic puts you in an objectively different category even if your actual beliefs and attitudes don't change. Your sworn commitments are changed forever.

(And Wheaton still asks students - and I'll bet faculty, too - for verbal evidence of solid belief and trust in Christ, regardless of their institutional affiliation.)

FWIW, I never heard anyone advocating Young-Earth Creationism at Wheaton, though I find that phrase, "WE BELIEVE that God directly created Adam and Eve" (emphasis mine), amusing. There was a bit of a broohaha over evolution the year after I graduated, with a lot of the faculty refusing to sign (so I heard) a statement from the president endorsing Special Creationism. If they signed this, I'll bet a lot of 'em muttered, "Still, it moves." :-)

Christine

Well, I suppose it's a good thing I haven't taken my cues from MichiganCatholic, because I went to Notre Dame Law School, and from my experiences there with devout professors and fellow students, I ended up being received in the Catholic Church. Attending that school was one of the best experiences of my life, and I offer thanks to God often for using that place to draw me into the arms of Holy Mother Church.

Angela

"WE BELIEVE that our first parents sinned by rebelling against God's revealed will and thereby incurred both physical and spiritual death, and that as a result all human beings are born with a sinful nature that leads them to sin in thought, word, and deed."

Well, affirming this would deny the Immaculate Conception, too.

Thomas Aquinas

***"This part of the statement is, I think, incompatible with Catholic belief:

the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are verbally inspired by God and inerrant in the original writing, so that they are fully trustworthy and of supreme and final authority in all they say.


For Catholics, the church is the supreme and final authority on earth and the authority of the Scriptures is a function of the authority of the church."***

Not sure about all that. On the inerrancy of Scripture Dei verbum #11: "Those divinely revealed realities which are contained and presented in Sacred Scripture have been committed to writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. For holy mother Church, relying on the belief of the Apostles (see John 20:31; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Peter 1:19-20, 3:15-16), holds that the books of both the Old and New Testaments in their entirety, with all their parts, are sacred and canonical because written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author and have been handed on as such to the Church herself.(1) In composing the sacred books, God chose men and while employed by Him (2) they made use of their powers and abilities, so that with Him acting in them and through them, (3) they, as true authors, consigned to writing everything and only those things which He wanted. (4)

Therefore, since everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit, it follows that the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully and WITHOUT ERROR that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings (5) for the sake of salvation. Therefore "all Scripture is divinely inspired and has its use for teaching the truth and refuting error, for reformation of manners and discipline in right living, so that the man who belongs to God may be efficient and equipped for good work of every kind" (2 Tim. 3:16-17, Greek text)."

On the relation of Sacred Scripture to the Word of God, Dei verbum #10: "Sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture form one sacred deposit of the word of God, committed to the Church."

On the relation of the teaching authority of the Church to the Word of God which is a unity of Sacred Tradtion and Sacred Scripture, again Dei verbum #10: "But the task of authentically interpreting the word of God, whether written or handed on, (8) has been entrusted exclusively to the living teaching office of the Church, (9) whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ. THIS TEACHING OFFICE IS NOT ABOVE THE WORD OF GOD, BUT SERVES IT, teaching only what has been handed on, listening to it devoutly, guarding it scrupulously and explaining it faithfully in accord with a divine commission and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it draws from this one deposit of faith everything which it presents for belief as divinely revealed."

On the Church claiming to be the final authority in judging INTERPRETATIONS of the Sacred Scripture and the Word of God, Dei verbum #12: "For all of what has been said about the way of interpreting Scripture is subject finally to the judgment of the Church, which carries out the divine commission and ministry of guarding and interpreting the word of God."

The latter claims the authority to judge INTERPRETATIONS of Sacred Scripture and the Word of God. In conjunction with the former, I don't see that any claim is made that the authority of the Church is in fact a higher authority than the Word of God itself, which Word of God is constitued by a unity of Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture.

So I am not convinced that a Roman Catholic faithful to the teaching authority of the Church cannot affirm the statement you point to.

scotch meg

Query for Joel:

I thought (from earlier posts on this topic) that Orthodox was OK? Why do you say it's not?

FWIW, the denial of the Immaculate Conception seems more a problem than the relationship of Bible to Church...

Thomas Aquinas

***"WE BELIEVE that our first parents sinned by rebelling against God's revealed will and thereby incurred both physical and spiritual death, and that as a result all human beings are born with a sinful nature that leads them to sin in thought, word, and deed.

Well, affirming this would deny the Immaculate Conception, too."***

Again, not really sure about that. It is clear that the "all" in "all human beings" there cannot be taken in the strictly formal logical sense of a universal quantifier that cannot admit of exceptions. Jesus Christ is a human being with a true human nature (see the earlier affirmation in the Statement of Faith), and yet it was not true of him that He was "born with a sinful nature that [led him] to sin in thought, word, and deed." If it is to be taken with the formal logical sense, not admitting of exceptions, then Wheaton has a formally contradictory statement of faith.

Thus, interpreting the Statement of Faith charitably, the "all" there clearly must be taken in an informal sense that allows of exceptions, something like what Aristotle meant when he said of most universal statements that they are "always or for the most part." "All human beings are capable of reproduction"="always or for the most part human beings are capable of reproduction." Insofar as the "all" has to be taken in that informal way, it does not itself exclude the Virgin Mary immaculately conceived.

So I am not convinced that a Roman Catholic faithful to the teaching authority of the Church cannot affirm the statement you point to.

hieronymus has a blog now

Thomas Aquinas:

If you twist and pull any creed enough, seek out connotations, second definitions, and unintended shades of meaning, it will eventually admit an orthodox explanation. But at least half of its points use language that is intended to distinguish the faith professed therein from that professed by the Roman Catholic Church. It's a Protestant Creed, and any proper Protestant could tell you why its language indicates Protestant and not Catholic religion. It's folly to pretend that it was intended to be anything else.

Ken

Also in today's WSJ, about the middle of the front page:

BACKWARDS MASKING is back! New mp3 player software than can play mp3s backwards are apparently starting another panic about Satanic Backwards Messages (TM).

Abigail

I'm a '98 Taylor U. grad who converted to Catholicism in '04, and I know of a handful of others who've done the same thing -- some to Rome and some to Constantinople -- so all you Wheaton alums who've converted have some company.

I suppose I'd never really considered how my conversion affects my relationship with my alma mater, but I can't imagine Taylor's hiring policy would differ significantly from Wheaton's. It saddens me to an extent, but I can certainly understand the reason behind it.

brendan

This is a very interesting discussion. First, let me say that I am impressed by Wheaton's action not because I agree with the decision but because they have the integrity to stand up for the mission of their institution. They require all of their employees not just some to believe whereas Rome just requires a mandatum of theology profs. When Thomas Howard converted, he had to leave Gordon College-why, because he was a Catholic. Why< because the school had a mission and core beliefs that said catholicism was incompatible with their mission.
The real question is why have catholic institutions compromised? WE have talented english professors, historians, sociologists, scientists, etc. There is no real need to have non-Catholics on Catholic campuses. When I was a seminarian, it was awesome to see devout profs at Mass, to discuss things, etc. Why do we only limit the mandatum to Theology. Why not require an oath of fidelity.
Education is the function of the Church in all respects-the soul, the mind, etc.

We can do better.

As for the Statement of Belief at Wheaton. There are some statements that are irreconcible. First, as Catholics, we can believe that Adam and Eve are real persons in the literal sense or we can interpret it as a story about the fall without that belief.

Secondly, we also believe that Baptism is when one receives the power of the holy spirit and the remission of original sin that it is not merely a confession of Jesus as Lord or simply "faith".

Finally, we have to go to the "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic" part of the statement. We in Constantinople and Rome believe that these terms mean visible, organized unity as well as a sacramental and liturgical system. It also connotes authority from the Catholic perspective from the standpoint of Canon of Scripture (which goes to belief in Old and New Testament- as inerrant-we believe some other books are inspired, ecumenical councils, etc.

Finally, we are ingnoring the fact that when we are speaking about the Word of God-we also need to include Holy Tradition. So that this too is authoritative and can not be contradicted.

Puzzled

Wheaton ceased to be an Evangelical college at least 20 years ago. Most of the profs in the Bible department are Bultmanian liberals. Aa a Catholic, the fired professor was closer to Evangelicalism than many of the continuing faculty.

Puzzled

Austin,
How to change Evangelical perceptions of Roman Catholic teachings? Gently. With friendship. So much was accomplished back when we were all allowed to protest abortion clinics together. I've known professors who thought that ECT and The GIft of Salvation were excellent documents, but were afraid to say so, and had to take an opposite position publically, so that they would not lose their tenured positions. There is a reaction from some Reformed and Confessional Lutherans who insist that they know better than the Magisterium what the Roman Catholic Church believes. I've been unwise enough to try to enlighten them.

And I've known Roman Catholics who -did- think that they had to earn their way to heaven. I know a super gal who is solid, solid, solid, but I have also heard her say that she didn't know if she's make it to heaven. Some sort of cognative dissonance between works-righteousness of lay piety and actual Magisterial teaching? I don't know. Unless she meant between purgatory first and no purgatory first, but she didn't seem very happy.

Evangelicals and Roman Catholics -need each other-. And so Jesus prayed in John 17.

Mark Noll is not an evangelical. He is some sort of semi-Barthian, semi-Existentialist. He is not a good historical scholar when it comes to Evangelicalism. He has his agendae.

Jon W., would Franky Schaeffer have had any causitive effect on the existance of those groups in the 90s?

Billy, some of the best students from my alma mater out in Creve Couer went to Sloo for their more advanced degrees. Did you know Ann Coble, perchance? That is the same time frame.

c matt, you are as uninformed about Evangelicalism as most Evangelicals are about Roman Catholicism.

Brigid, Evangelical Catholics are those of us outsiders call 'Lutherans'. Not the liberal apostate sort, but those liturgical, eucharistic evanglicals.

Evangelical is defined by the Lausane Covenant, and the Chicago Declarations on Inerrancy and Hermeneutics.

By which definition, many organizations that were evangelical 20 years ago, no longer are.

Joel, your evangelical friends aren't evangelicals. And it is too bad. Having abandoned Creation and the Fall, they have no coherant exposition of the Cross, and will ultimately, probalby within a generation, come up with a different Gospel, as Hugh Ross has already done.

The Roman Catholic Church has made the -same mistake-, but there, tradition is a ponderous sea anchor.

Bellarmino

***I know a super gal who is solid, solid, solid, but I have also heard her say that she didn't know if she's make it to heaven. Some sort of cognative dissonance between works-righteousness of lay piety and actual Magisterial teaching?***

Uh, Puzzled, I would agree with your super gal friend. As, I think, most Catholics would. Wouldn't any other response be an outrageous sin of presumption?

Thomas Aquinas

Dear Hieronymus,

At the banquet tonight, I ran your remarks by Tom More. He said he didn’t understand your claims about “twisting” and “pulling” anymore any more than I do. He said rather cheerfully, “if I could find a way to sign, I would.” Augustine looked up from his pudding for a moment to remind me of his principle of charity in interpretation, namely, that unless a claim has been shown by the appropriate authority to contradict the rule of faith as taught by the Church it is to be allowed, and that in determining whether what someone has claimed contradicts the rule of faith, the claim is to be interpreted in the most charitable light possible so as to build up the body of Christ. His mouth was full, so I couldn’t quite make it out, but I think he said ““Whoever, therefore, thinks that he understands the divine Scriptures or any part of them so that it does not build the double love of God and of our neighbor DOES NOT UNDERSTAND IT AT ALL. Whoever finds a lesson there useful to the building of charity, even though he has not said what the author may be shown to have intended in that place, has not been deceived…” He said that he thought that what he said about Scripture ought also to be extended to the statements of others, mutatis mutandis.

If the Wheaton Statement of Faith is "clearly Protestant," then it seems to me that you ought to be able to clearly point to the "clearly Protestant" elements of it. What exactly have I “twisted” and “pulled?” Do you deny that Catholics believe that Sacred Scripture is the final authority in all that it says? What authority do you think Roman Catholics claim is higher than the Word of God? Or do you think that Wheaton College formally contradicts itself in its Statement of Faith? That doesn’t seem very charitable to me.

Assuming, on the one hand, that you are a Roman Catholic, which assertion in the Statement of Faith do you deny? Which do you think you cannot affirm, for the clarity of its Protestantism, over against your faithful assent to the rule of faith taught by the Roman Catholic Church? Assuming, on the other hand, that you are a Protestant, are you really in a position to tell Roman Catholics faithful to the teaching authority of their Church what they do and do not believe?

I think it undoubtedly clear that the Statement of Faith is adopted by the Protestants at Wheaton. I think it also likely that they think it excludes Roman Catholics who are faithful to the teaching authority of the Roman Catholic Church. I think it even possible that they think it a "clearly Protestant" Statement of Faith. And I have little doubt that they "intend to distinguish the faith professed therein from that professed by the Roman Catholic Church." But wishing doesn’t make it so. What is "meant" by a statement, and what is "intended" by the one who uses it, are quite often not identical, as when the first mate writes in the ship’s log, "the captain was sober last night." What he means by writing it is one thing, and likely true. What he intends by writing it is another, and probably hurtful. It is not uncommon in language use to fail to communicate what we intend to communicate, because the meaning of the words we choose are inadequate to the task. Or do you think the question, "am I making myself clear," is senseless in language because it is impossible to fail to communicate what you "intend" to communicate when you speak or write?

Again, assuming that you are a Roman Catholic, if a Protestant came up to you and asked you whether you believe in the "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church," knowing that this particular Protestant wrongly believes that you do not believe in the "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church," and "intends" by that question to profess a faith he does not believe you hold, would you deny that you believe in the "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church," because what he has asked you is "clearly Protestant?" Would you claim that what he has asked you is "clearly Protestant" because he is a Protestant, and he does not believe that you believe it, and you think he clearly wants to exclude you?

I guess I’m just not as interested as you seem to be in interpreting what some Protestants say and do in a bad light. In search of unity among Christians, I would like to put what our separated brethren say in the best possible light. That does not involve denying the unfortunate divisions that do exist between us. But it does involve accurately locating those divisions. (See my "Contra Errores Graecorum.") If the Protestants at Wheaton College really do want to exclude Roman Catholics, it isn’t the fault of the Roman Catholics if they have constructed an instrument inadequate to the task. If Wheaton College would like to formulate a Statement of Faith that does in fact exclude Roman Catholics, then they should write one that Roman Catholics cannot actually affirm. They should ask Roman Catholics to deny things they cannot deny while remaining faithful to the teaching authority of the Roman Catholic Church. I’m sure I could suggest a few items.

In any case, if you think it is so manifest that the Statement of Faith of Wheaton College is "clearly Protestant," I think you ought to be able to isolate the "clearly Protestant" elements of it, so that the rest of us could know what they are. Just which ones do you think are so "clearly Protestant" that a Roman Catholic must deny them, lest he or she be guilty of faithlessness to the teaching authority of the Roman Catholic Church? If you cannot do this, your use of "clearly" is little more than a rhetorical stomping of your foot, and your claim about what is so "clearly" the case so much bosch.

Sam Schmitt

brendan wrote:

"First, as Catholics, we can believe that Adam and Eve are real persons in the literal sense or we can interpret it as a story about the fall without that belief."

Actually, Pius XII taught that: "When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains either that after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled with that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church propose with regard to original sin, which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and which through generation is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own."

He footnotes session 5 of the Council of Trent. I can't see how these statements and those in the CCC nos. 374ff, which speaks of "The first man" is compatible with what you've said. The orthodox understanding of original sin makes little sense if one denies the existence of two individuals who were the "first parents" of the entire human race.

Richard Sibbes

*Mark Noll is not an evangelical. He is some sort of semi-Barthian, semi-Existentialist. He is not a good historical scholar when it comes to Evangelicalism.*

Puzzled, You're not just puzzled, you're hilarious.

R

"I'm a '98 Taylor U. grad who converted to Catholicism in '04, and I know of a handful of others who've done the same thing -- some to Rome and some to Constantinople -- so all you Wheaton alums who've converted have some company."

I joined the Catholic Church in 2002 while a student at an evangelical college. My alma mater isn't as high-profile as Wheaton or Taylor, but it's very much in the same vein -- a member of the CCCU and a Christian liberal arts college.

There is a small group of us who converted in our time at the college. A political science professor, a Calvin grad, joined the Church in 2000. He then sponsored a philosophy professor and his wife (one a Calvin grad, the other a Wheaton grad) in their journey into the Church in 2001. The philosophy professor and his wife sponsored me and another student as we joined the Church in 2002. Another professor sponsored a third student that same year. I then was the confirmation sponsor for a fellow student in 2004.

One student I know of joined the Eastern Orthodox Church during his time at our uber-evangelical school.

So, it's a small group, but it's one that is growing quickly. I've found that most of my fellow students who converted did so because they encountered the writings of the Doctors of the Church or of the late John Paul II. Evangelical colleges that are committed to exposing students to serious philosophy and theology will inevitably find, I think, that some of those students will move towards Rome or Constantinople.


As an aside, my alma mater does hire and promote Catholics. All it requires is adherence to a rather generic statement of faith. For that I am incredibly grateful; it was Catholic professors who first exposed me to truth.

Jon W

Jon W., would Franky Schaeffer have had any causitive effect on the existance of those groups in the 90s?

I don't mean to imply that there were "groups" existing in any organized way. Ironically, our respective journeys towards Rome or Constantinople tended to be quite individual; I don't think there was a single figure who played an essential role in all of our conversions (though I'm pretty sure we were all reading C.S. Lewis, the Catholic Moses).

So at least for me Schaeffer was just one more name of an evangelical who'd found the traditional faith (and therefore existed more as evidence than a guide). What some of my friends who tended towards Constantinople might say, I don't know.

Thomas Aquinas

Dear Brendan,

1) As to Adam and Eve see the post by Sam Schmitt above. But in any case, that part of your own statement that says “we can believe that Adam and Eve are real persons” asserts that a faithful Roman Catholic can affirm the relevant part of the Wheaton Statement.
2) As to Baptism and faith: a) the Wheaton Statement does not use “merely” or “simply” as you do, and b) it is through baptism that we are “born again of the Holy Spirit”; but have you forgotten that baptism requires a confession of faith on the part of the catechumen, either in his or her own voice, or his or her sponsors’ and guardians’ on his or her behalf, in which it is confessed that the catechumen believes in the Lord Jesus Christ?
3) As to “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic,” I don’t see how what you say prevents us from affirming that “we believe that the one, holy, universal Church is the body of Christ and is composed of the communities of Christ's people.” Which clause do you think Catholics deny--that the Church is the body of Christ or that it is composed of the communities of Christ's people?
4) On biblical inerrancy, see my earlier comments including the passages from Dei
Verbum. Again, that we believe more does not imply that we do not believe as much.
5) On “Holy Tradition” see my comments about Dei Verbum on “Sacred Tradition.” And the Wheaton Statement of Faith only says of Holy Scriptures that “they are fully trustworthy and of supreme and final authority in all they say.” It does not follow from that claim that they say everything, saying, for example, those elements of the Word of God involved in Sacred Tradition. Consequently, they may be of supreme and final authority in all they say, without in any way being in conflict with what they do not say, those elements that are also part of the Word of God, namely Sacred Tradition. In fact, Dei Verbum makes it pretty clear that we cannot hold that there is a conflict between Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. From which it appears to follow that Sacred Scripture is indeed the “supreme and final authority in all [it] says,” since Sacred Tradition cannot contradict it, and the teaching authority of the Church is “not above it…but serves it.”

And a further point about the Immaculate Conception, apart from the logical point I made earlier. It ought to be no more difficult for us to believe the doctrine consistent with the Wheaton Statement of Faith than it is for us to believe it to be consistent with Scripture itself: "For there is no distinction; all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God." (Romans 22-23) Just as our interpretation of that passage in Scripture must be judged by the teaching authority of the Church so as to be consistent with the Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, so also, presumably, must our affirmation be of a statement like that found in the Wheaton Statement of Faith which looks to be little more than what is said in Romans.

And it is not the case, as Hieronymus claims, that any creed can be "pulled" and "twisted" to be made consistent with Catholic orthodoxy. The Calvin College Form of Subscription requires assent to, among other things, the Confession and Catechism of the Reformed Churches as well as the Canons of Dort. Among other things, these require assent, if I understand them correctly, to the proposition that there are only two sacraments.

I don't know how anyone could "pull" or "twist" to get 2=7. So I don't know how a Roman Catholic could sign their Form of Subscription.

As I explained to Hieronymus, I think that Wheaton could formulate a statement of faith that Roman Catholics cannot affirm. I just don’t see that they have actually succeeded in doing so.

Tom R

> "Which of these affirmations must a Roman Catholic, faithful to the teaching authority of the Roman Catholic church, deny?"

The kicker is probably:

> WE BELIEVE that the Holy Spirit... enables [believers] to understand the Scriptures..."

I don't see how the RC position on the role or authority of the Church could be reconciled with that.

Also, is there not some inconistency between (1) some commenters arguing [my paraphrase] "How intolerant to sack him! Did they think he would infect other staff and students with Popery?" and (2) others fondly reminiscing about how it was Prof XYZ who first started their journey home to Rome.

Ask yourself how you'd feel if a high-profile teacher at Ave Maria announced he'd become "born again". He might use the same terms ("baptism", "the Church", "Apostolic Tradition"), but would understand them with different meanings that would be incompatible with what a serious Catholic believes.

Thomas Aquinas

****
The kicker is probably:
> WE BELIEVE that the Holy Spirit... enables [believers] to understand the Scriptures..."

I don't see how the RC position on the role or authority of the Church could be reconciled with that.
****
Dear Tom R,

Assuming you are a Roman Catholic, do you really believe that if you accept the teaching authority of the Roman Catholic Church the Holy Spirit is incapable of rendering you able to understand Scripture? That's what follows from your claim that the two theses are inconsistent.

There is simply no question that the Roman Catholic Church teaches that “the Holy Spirit…enables [believers] to understand the Scriptures.”

See Dei Verbum #2 “In His goodness and wisdom God chose to reveal Himself and to make known to us the hidden purpose of His will (see Eph. 1:9) by which through Christ, the Word made flesh, man might in the Holy Spirit have access to the Father and come to share in the divine nature (see Eph. 2:18; 2 Peter 1:4). Through this revelation, therefore, the invisible God (see Col. 1;15, 1 Tim. 1:17) out of the abundance of His love speaks to men as friends (see Ex. 33:11; John 15:14-15) and lives among them (see Bar. 3:38), so that He may invite and take them into fellowship with Himself.”

And Dei verbum #5 "The obedience of faith" (Rom. 13:26; see 1:5; 2 Cor 10:5-6) "is to be given to God who reveals, an obedience by which man commits his whole self freely to God, offering the full submission of intellect and will to God who reveals," (4) and freely assenting to the truth revealed by Him. To make this act of faith, the grace of God and the interior help of the Holy Spirit must precede and assist, moving the heart and turning it to God, opening the eyes of the mind and giving "joy and ease to everyone in assenting to the truth and believing it." (5) To bring about an ever deeper understanding of revelation the same Holy Spirit constantly brings faith to completion by His gifts.”

Dei verbum #6 "As a sacred synod has affirmed, God, the beginning and end of all things, can be known with certainty from created reality by the light of human reason (see Rom. 1:20); but teaches that it is through His revelation that those religious truths which are by their nature accessible to human reason can be known by all men with ease, with solid certitude and with no trace of error, even in this present state of the human race. (7)"

And Dei verbum #8 ”the Holy Spirit, through whom the living voice of the Gospel resounds in the Church, and through her, in the world, leads unto all truth those who believe and makes the word of Christ dwell abundantly in them (see Col. 3:16).”

But your comment suggests that you think the teaching authority of the Roman Catholic Church is inconsistent with that claim.

Of course, it is not true in general that teaching authority is inconsistent with the ability of those taught to understand. I myself am a teacher. When I teach, I presuppose that my students have been given by God the gift of intelligence by which they will come to understand what I intend to teach them. If I did not presuppose that, I would utterly fail in my task. When I teach my students I have the authority to do so. They pay thousands of dollars to be taught by me and my kind, in order to come to understand the subject matters we teach them. I trust that you yourself, or your parents, likewise pay or paid these exorbitant amounts of money in order to be taught. If the ability to understand is inconsistent with teaching authority, then all of my students and their parents are acting in a deeply irrational way.

Notice, not even considering their Statement of Faith, the whole existence of Wheaton College is predicated upon the thesis that teaching authority is not inconsistent with the ability of students to understand. If Wheaton College believes that it is inconsistent, then they are running a confidence game, and ought to be shut down.

When it comes to the teaching of the Word of God, certainly the Roman Catholic Church believes that its faithful members can, though the gift of the Holy Spirit, understand what God has revealed. That is the point of reading Holy Scripture in every mass, and preaching about it. There is simply no point to preaching/teaching if those who are listening are incapable of understanding what they are being taught. And in fact, the practice of most Protestants confirms the fact that they do not believe understanding Holy Scripture is inconsistent with recognizing teaching authority. They too listen to preachers. They too have catechesis and “sunday school.” I have yet to meet a Protestant who does not listen to preachers, or read books about Scripture in an effort to understand it better. They may not attribute as high a level of authority to those preachers and writers as Roman Catholics do to the magisterium of the Church. But they recognize their authority nonetheless.

And it is clear at Wheaton itself, in the very notion of the Statement of Faith, that they do not believe that teaching authority is inconsistent with the understanding granted by the Holy Spirit. They prefaced the Statement of Faith by referring to the ancient Creeds. That is to recognize the authority of those who wrote the creeds to state definitively what is to be understood about Christian faith. They themselves claimed the authority to teach a Statement of Faith to be adhered to by all of their community. The penalty for not accepting that teaching is expulsion from the community. There are Protestant denominations that are very low-creedal, and perhaps not creedal at all. But Wheaton certainly does not act as if teaching authority is inconsistent with the understanding given by the Holy Spirit. And they certainly do not assert in their Statement of Faith that it is inconsistent.

So I do not see how a faithful Roman Catholic has to deny the statement you point to. And the teaching of the Church in Dei verbum pretty clearly indicates that it is a statement a Roman Catholic ought to affirm.

dave l.

I was raised a Catholic. Attended Catholic elementary & high schools in the 60's. I am not what you would call a practising Catholic, but I still respect the institution and the strong family and community values that are inheirent in such an upbringing. One of my sons plays football for a another private college that is in the same conference as Wheaton. Through this relationship I have come to know a bit about Wheaton college and I hold them in the highest regard. In a world that has become enamored with concepts such as "diversity" over "unity", "tolerance" over "responsibility", "feelings" over "reality", we must protect the rights of any religon to determine the make-up and direction of it's own institutions. I myself never had the opportunity to attend college but when I see the quality of a secular education, I am distressed. A girl friend of one of my sons attends Illinois University. She (herself a liberal) told me that in one of her classes, 1/2 of the class thought that "Jew" was a derogatory term. While this in itself is not earth shattering, nor as outrageous as much of what we hear today, I would ask you to think about the ramifications of this bit of information. In a highly regarded state institution of higher learning, 1/2 of the students arrived at college believing that the word "Jew" was a racial slur! I would submit that the average student graduating from Wheation college has a far better and "diverse" education than the average Illinois grad. I would reinforce this opinion with the fact that Chicago Catholic high school graduates (with less expendature per student) out performs Chicago public school graduates in every academic criteria. This fact holds true throughout the country. I watched the confimation hearings today for Judge Alito. He was told by a democtatic Senator that "millions" of Americians would find his 1985 statement that Roe V Wade was not constitutial as "distressing". He neglected to state that perhaps "millions" more might find it "comforting". As I listened to his deflection of the effort to extract his beliefs on abortion, I thought "take a stand man" enough of this effort of hiding moral conviction as to not ruffle the feathers of the left. I have come to view this as appeasment. And history has been a clear lesson on as to what the consquences of appeasment are. So I believe it is not as important that what Wheaton college will lose (I believe it will lose nothing but will gain) by it's strict adhearence to it's policies, as it is that it be allowed it's continued ability to define itself by it's "unalienable" right to freely practise it's beliefs. Something the "tolerant" left finds unacceptable.

Thomas Aquinas

Dear dave l.,

I believe that Wheaton College has the right not to employ Roman Catholics. The simplest way for them to exercise that right is to have a policy that says, "Wheaton College will not employ Roman Catholics, whatever they believe."

I don't think, however, that they have the right to determine for Roman Catholics what they do and do not believe. If a Protestant tells me, a Catholic, "you Catholics worship Mary," should my response to that be, "yes, you are right, since that is what Protestants believe Catholics believe?" If I should not accept that effort to determine for me what I believe as a Roman Catholic, why should I allow them to tell me that I do not believe as a Roman Catholic that Holy Scripture is the final authority in all that it says, or any other assertion in their Statement of Faith, despite the fact that the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church is plainly that it is?

The firing of Josh Hochschild involved an effort to tell a Roman Catholic what he did and did not believe, despite the teachings of his Church. That is unjust.

Richard Sibbes

"Thomas Aquinas" appears to have gotten this one right. I've yet to see anybody show that a Catholic can't sign that statement.

Ronny

Thomas Aquinas,

Your comments, especially Jan. 11 @ 8:10 a.m., are spot on.

Tom R., by the way, is not a Catholic, despite all the time he spends reading and commenting on Catholic blogs (mostly in an effort to show us the alleged error of our ways).

Observer

Clearly Wheaton College and Thomas Aquinas have different interpretation's of the meaning of Wheaton's Statement of Faith, which shouldn't surprise given that the understanding of the relationship of Scripture and Tradition has been a point of dispute since the 16th century - even (or especially) when similar or the same words are used.

I must admit though, I find his last statement ironic - it seems to me that Thomas Aquinas' project has been precisely that - telling Wheaton what it believes.

Jared

Re. brendan's post on Jan 9:

As a Gordon student in the middle of RCIA, I've been very interested in Tom Howard's conversion. I've looked into that matter quite a bit and I can assure you that it wasn't simply a matter of Catholicism being "incompatible with their mission." Gordon has many other concerns to keep in mind and finances were indeed paramount in that situation. If Gordon had kept Howard on the faculty they would have risked losing 1/4 of their students; possibly more. It doesn't take away from your point when you say "We can do better", but Gordon's reasons for getting rid of Howard were not that they were unwilling to compromise; they were more political and financial. Believe me, if they don't think it will hurt them financially Gordon jumps at just about any chance it has at beefing up its "diverse" image.

tom

Well, I'm a Wheaton grad who was raised Catholic and became firmly convinced of the teachings of classic Protestantism during my time at Wheaton. I don't mean this to sound nasty, but my mind boggles at the thought of converting to Catholicism after an education at Wheaton or Calvin.

I suspect I know what is happening, though, and it explains a lot of evangelical conversions to Eastern Orthodoxy, too, such as that of Frederica Matthewes Green. So much of evangelicalism today is so superficial and shallow, those seeking more depth to their religious "experience" (I hate that term, but I can't think of a better one) are naturally drawn to the liturgy and rich intellectual and artistic traditions of the Roman Catholic church and, when it comes to the Eastern church, the rich liturgy and iconography.

But while I greatly admire the Catholic church's commitment to the arts, to intellectual inquiry, to a culture of life and the like, they're all secondary. The fundamental issue is that asked in the gospels: "What must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Roman Catholicism and classic Protestantism give fundamentally different answers to the question of Justification.

I happen to think the Protestant (specifically the Reformed) answer to the question better aligns with Scripture.

Tom R

Ronny is correct, although my meagre efforts to show Catholics the errors of their ways is a drop in the bucket compared to Catholics showing other Catholics the errors of each others' ways. Mostly I'm just a bemused bystander while the Pope's loyal legions accuse one another of dreaded Private Interpretation and play "My favourite Pope is more infallible than your favourite Pope."

T. Aquinas seems, to me, missing the fundamental distinction between claiming ordinary teaching authority and claiming infallible teaching authority. If I tell my students "The textbook says that 'JFK was shot by Oswald', and I say that this means 'JFK was shot by Oswald acting on LBJ's behalf'," they can check this in the textbook. Indeed, they can check it in any number of textbooks. My students may disagree with me. Indeed, one day they may come to outrank me. One of my former high school teachers once enrolled (briefly) in a university subject I was teaching externally.

But if I claim to hold infallible authority, even if what I'm teaching appears to conflict with the textbook (either directly, or by making it out to mislead by significant omission), then my students can't do that. It's no longer "your own innate intelligence" that "enables them to understand the textbook", but me.

Know, please, that my view on Wheaton's right to Curranise Mr Hochschild is (as far as my fallen mind can tell) independent of the denominational oxen being gored. Also, I think an attainder-style ban singling out "Catholics" nominatim, rather than on "people whose theological allegiances mean they can't mean what we mean by our Statement of Beliefs", would be silly. Then you end up with the same problem as the UK Act of Succession, which bars Prince Charles marrying even a post-Vatican II "Papist" but leaves him free to marry a Hindu, a Muslim, or a Mormon. Who knows, a future Pope and Council might... well, not "repeal", but "paste another Apostolic Constitution over" Trent, removing the conflict between Rome and Wheaton. The normal time-lag for Catholicism to catch up with the Reformation is 50 to 300 years, though (which is why none of you guys think I should be thrown in jail for converting to Protestantism, right?), depending on the issue.

Jared

Re. Tom,

Huh. The "New Perspective" on Paul is just one example I think of why Protestantism's simplistic "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" question (and, that is, Luther's) has been much too narrow and that in spite of its emphasis on having a personal relationship with Christ attempts to boil salvation down to mere formula.

I'm almost done with my undergrad at Gordon and, as a Bible major, if there's anything that hasn't been well-represented at Gordon it's Catholicism.

Tom R

> "don't think, however, that they have the right to determine for Roman Catholics what they do and do not believe. If a Protestant tells me, a Catholic, "you Catholics worship Mary," should my response to that be, "yes, you are right, since that is what Protestants believe Catholics believe?"

I agree that particular dispute will end in deadlock. But it's a dispute over semantics. There is no point Protestants telling RCs "You lot worship saints", when RCs will answer "No, what we do is not 'worship'." A better Prot approach, more productive of getting at the real issues, would say: "Granting arguendo that it's not de facto 'worship', is the role that Cathodoxy ascribes to Mary Mother of Jesus inconsistent with the role that Jesus Himself and His Apostles ascribed to her?" It's common ground on all sides that Cathodoxy gives Mary a higher place in salvation than other Christians, even other saints in heaven, so putting aside the question of whether this amounts to "worship", there can be a (reasonably respectful) debate about whether this place is higher than that given to her by Script- ... err, by our clearest records of Apostolic teaching.

Tom R

> 'The "New Perspective" on Paul is just one example I think of why Protestantism's simplistic "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" question...'

Which is why Bishop Tom Wright is about to swim the Tiber, right? In fact, despite his "new" perspective, ie the old Cathodox perspective ("when Romans and Galatians mention 'the Law', they only mean the Mosaic Law"; so -- are you willing to apply that to James too?), he remains a Protestant, albeit an Arminian one.

Look at Wheaton vs Hochschild this way. You guys are always mocking Protestantism for not having a clear teaching authority, and for being split among different sects. But now, when a Protestant body says "Here is a statement that every Bible-believing[*] Protestant can sign and really mean, but which a non-Protestant either can't sign or can't really mean", and acts decisively to remove someone whom they believe can't sign it and mean it... they still can't get it right. If this were Ratzinger vs Kung, you'd be cheering R for his "strong doctrinal stance", even if K were protesting as the Swiss Guards dragged him out the door that "But I still believe in the Catholic Church!"

[*] "Bible-believing" = to block the "Well, Spong calls himself an 'Evangelical' and he's even more contemptuous of the Bible than Crossan is" gambit.

Jared

Actually, though I haven't been following the discussion here all that closely, I prefer Wheaton sticking to its guns and firing the dude. I think that Gordon, likewise, made the right decision as a Protestant Evangelical institution by keeping the faculty protestant and having Howard resign. As a matter of principle such moves are necessary to keep the identity of the school. It makes sense to me.

However, while the overall decision was the one I think they should have made, I do take issue with Gordon's other motives for reaching it. And it is an unfortunate thing that people like Howard must resign on the one hand yet on the other the school is more and more willing to hire the most liberal jack-ass of a professor as long as he claims some form of Protestantism and signs the S of F. I can't say much about Wheaton, but that's how it is at Gordon--often called Wheaton's sister-school (or rival ... same thing). When push comes to shove, the interpretation of statements that "every Bible-believing Protestant" can sign get real broad, real quick.

mumbo jumbo

These days, it means Young Earth Creationism, Left Behind eschatology, and high-pressure altar calls between these Beginning and End.

And precisely how is this different from Roman Catholics bowing and scraping before vague images of the Virgin Mary on bathroom walls and potato chips?

Thomas Aquinas

Observer writes:
****Clearly Wheaton College and Thomas Aquinas have different interpretation's of the meaning of Wheaton's Statement of Faith, which shouldn't surprise given that the understanding of the relationship of Scripture and Tradition has been a point of dispute since the 16th century - even (or especially) when similar or the same words are used.
I must admit though, I find his last statement ironic - it seems to me that Thomas Aquinas' project has been precisely that - telling Wheaton what it believes.****

1) On its face, nothing in Wheaton’s Statement of Faith excludes the role of Sacred Tradition in the understanding of Scripture. And if we take into account its preface relating it to “historic creeds,” it ceratainly appears to presuppose Sacred Tradition.

2) I have not in any way been trying to tell Wheaton what it believes. I seem to be one of the few who actually thinks they have clearly expressed what they believe in their Statement of Faith. I have presupposed that Wheaton means what it says, and taking Wheaton at its word, I have claimed that Roman Catholics can, and should assert that they believe the assertions made in the statements that Wheaton has very clearly asserted. Those who have been arguing against me don’t seem to be as charitable toward Wheaton. They have been arguing that Wheaton doesn’t really mean what the statements appear to mean. “No,” they say, “Wheaton means something other than the statements literally assert.” If there is an irony here, it is that those who are making this claim about Wheaton are attributing to a Protestant sect the position that statements made in plain English, in order to assert what those making them believe, do not really mean what they literally mean. I guess it is only Scripture that is to be taken literally. Not anything that Wheaton actually says in its Statement of Faith.

What an odd practice--to publish for the world to see a Statement of Faith, and yet claim that no one other than those who are stating it can understand it. But if no one other than those at Wheaton can understand it, can anyone not at Wheaton deny it?

2) You seem to be claiming that other beliefs held by many at Wheaton actually change the meaning of the statements that are asserted in the Statement of Faith. I do not deny that many at Wheaton, including, probably, many administrators, believe many things IN ADDITION TO what they stated in their Statement of Faith. I do not deny that those other things they believe are in conflict with many things that Roman Catholics believe. If those beliefs that do conflict with the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church were stated in their Statement of Faith, I would claim no Roman Catholic could sign it. But they aren’t stated in their Statement of Faith.

As far as I can tell, Wheaton does not ask anyone to affirm those other beliefs. Suppose they started putting all those other beliefs that are supposed somehow to change the “meaning” of the statements they did include in their Statement of Faith. Wouldn’t that solve the problem? So why not do so? Do you think it might be because if they started to do that, they might have to fire more people at Wheaton, people who otherwise think themselves able to affirm the Statement of Faith they did publish, people who think they understand the Statement of Faith even though they do not believe everything believed by everyone around them? How much actual uniformity is there among the faculty and administrators on all these other beliefs that are supposed to lead to “different interpretations of the meaning of the Statement of Faith?” If I were to do a survey of the all the interpretations of the Wheaton faculty of the statements in the Statement of Faith, would I come up with a uniform set of “interpretations?” I wonder.

Does the Wheaton administration actually check on all of its faculty to make sure there is that uniformity of “interpretation,” in order to make sure that it is only the Catholics who are wrong in claiming to understand the Statement of Faith? Of all those other faculty, shouldn’t they ask, “yes but do you believe everything we believe that is not in the Statement of Faith, so that we can be assured that you actually understand it when you sign it?” And if they did this, wouldn’t they actually have to state those other beliefs so that the faculty could know what they are talking about? So then there would be a Meta-Statement-of-Faith?

But let’s make this easier. Suppose all the Statement of Faith said was “We believe in God the Father almighty, maker of Heaven and Earth.” I certainly would not deny that people at Wheaton believe many more things than that. But suppose that is all that it said. Why should I believe that all of those other beliefs change the meaning of that statement, so that only people at Wheaton can understand it, and affirm it? What an odd situation that would be. Only people who share all of their beliefs with the Protestants at Wheaton can understand and assert, "I believe in One God, the Father the Almighty, maker of Heaven and of Earth."

If I believed that all those other beliefs change the meaning of that statement, I suppose that I would find it hard to believe that any Wheaton evangelical was serious in asking me whether I believe in “God the Father the almighty, maker of Heaven and Earth,” because that Wheaton evangelical believes that I cannot even understand the question. Well if I cannot understand the question, why is he asking me?

Considering the whole Statement of Faith again, is it rational to ask people questions you don’t think they can understand? Wouldn’t the Wheaton evangelical already have to believe that I am a Wheaton evangelical in order to be rational in asking me whether I assent to the Statement of Faith? But in that case, already believing that I am a Wheaton evangelical, why is he asking me to sign a Statement of Faith? Or let us suppose that some member of the Wheaton faculty comes to lose his or her faith. No doubt, he or she will have to leave the faculty. But insofar as he or she no longer believes what Wheaton evangelicals believe, does he or she cease also to understand the statements that he or she now denies? How can he or she deny them, if he or she cannot understand them. I confess, I think that the Wheaton College adminstrators are more rational than all of this would suggest.

In fact, the claim that Wheaton means something other than the statements plainly mean is proven false by the facts of the case. Consider one of the statements that it is claimed Roman Catholics don’t understand, namely, that Holy Scripture can be understood by any believer guided by the Holy Spirit. Those who have been claiming that Roman Catholics don’t understand this statement because of the other beliefs that Wheaton evangelicals have about Scripture, claim that it actually means something other than its plain sense. They claim that it means something like: everything in Holy Scripture can be understood by any believer guided by the Holy Spirit without the aid of any other authority. So it doesn’t mean what it appears to mean, but, rather, this something more that is unstated in the Statement of Faith.

That claim must be false. Josh Hochschild was allowed to sign the Statement of Faith as an Episcopalian. No one at Wheaton thought that he could not sign it, because he, as an Episcopalian, could not understand what it actually means. And yet what do Episcopalians believe? Well, among other things, they believe that Apostolic tradition is one of the famous three legs of the Anglican “three legged stool”, including also reason and Scripture. Hmm. Scripture is indeed described in Hooker’s account of these three principles as having final authority. And yet, when the sense of Scripture is not plain to the believer guided by the Holy Spirit, reason is to be employed in order to understand it. And when the sense of Scripture is still not clear, Apostolic authority and tradition is to finally judge of its sense. This three legged stool at least suggests that many Episcopalians believe there are passages of Scripture that will remain opaque to the individual believer guided by the Holy Spirit; it suggests that they cannot be understood simply by the individual believer guided by the Holy Spirit without the aid of Apostolic tradition.

If the relevant statement in the Wheaton Statement of Faith actually means that anyone guided by the Holy Spirit can understand the text apart from any other authority, why was Josh Hochschild allowed to sign it when he was an Episcopalian? Why did no one at Wheaton object that the Episcopalian Josh Hochschild didn’t understand the meaning of that statement? Was Wheaton wrong in hiring him when he was an Episcopalian? Did Wheaton itself not understand at that time what it means by that statement? Did it suddenly have a revelation of its real meaning, on the occasion of Josh Hochschild becoming a Catholic? Should it now, recognizing its error, or at least now finally recognizing what it actually means in that statement, fire all of the Episcopalians on its faculty?
I think not. But perhaps those of you arguing that the statements mean something other than what they state on their face do think they should all be fired.

No. Wheaton knew perfectly well what it means by that statement. It means what it says. And it knew perfectly well that the relevant statement does not exclude in its meaning those who believe that for believers guided by the Holy Spirit Apostolic authority may be necessary in order to understand Scripture.

Thomas Aquinas

Tom R writes:
“T. Aquinas seems, to me, missing the fundamental distinction between claiming ordinary teaching authority and claiming infallible teaching authority. If I tell my students "The textbook says that 'JFK was shot by Oswald', and I say that this means 'JFK was shot by Oswald acting on LBJ's behalf'," they can check this in the textbook. Indeed, they can check it in any number of textbooks. My students may disagree with me. Indeed, one day they may come to outrank me. One of my former high school teachers once enrolled (briefly) in a university subject I was teaching externally.
But if I claim to hold infallible authority, even if what I'm teaching appears to conflict with the textbook (either directly, or by making it out to mislead by significant omission), then my students can't do that. It's no longer "your own innate intelligence" that "enables them to understand the textbook", but me.”

1) Nothing in Wheaton’s Statement of Faith refers to “innate intelligence.” Now who is telling Wheaton what it believes? I thought it was supposed to be the individual believer guided by the Holy Spirit. Are you now claiming that the Holy Spirit just is identical with the “innate intelligence” of the believer? I thought many Protestant’s believed that the whole point of enlightenment by the Holy Spirit is that the corruption of Original Sin is so thorough as to corrupt the intelligence of all human beings and render them incapable of understanding anything about God, including what Holy Scripture says. Are you now saying that the people as Wheaton claim it is by a believer's "innate intelligence" that he or she can understand Scripture?

Speaking for myself, I wouldn’t want to tell Protestants, even at Wheaton, what they believe.

2) Bracketing the question of Scripture for a moment, you’ve actually done this with regard to all the things you claim to understand? Check them out on your own? Earth is spherical, not flat? It travels in an orbit around the Sun, rather than the Sun traveling in an orbit around the Earth? You do understand these things, right? Or are you a flat-earther and a geo-centrist?

Or is it that in principle you could check them out for yourself, so that even if you haven’t actually done so, you understand them because you could? How about the fact that with the Emancipation Proclamation Lincoln freed the slaves. You understand that, right? Have you checked it? Could you in principle check it?

But maybe the idea is that you could imagine checking it, if you had been present. So even if you can’t actually be present to check it, you now understand it because you could imagine doing so.

Well here’s my favorite: you understand who your father is, don’t you? To imagine checking that, you would have to imagine yourself being other than you are, namely, an observer at a conception, not the one conceived. If you claim to understand who your faither is, it looks like you’ve just got to grant to your mother a special authority you can never have. In fact, if you claim to understand who your father is, it looks as if it's only because you grant to your mother something approaching infallibility. (I wish I could claim that example for my own. Alas it comes from Augustine, whose book I read.) I'd like to see the day when you say to your mother, "I don't understand who my father is, because you have told me, and I have to believe you, and having to believe you prevents me from understanding it."


3) You say you could check the book. No doubt if what you teach is “the book says Oswald shot Kennedy,” your students can look at their book, and see that you were telling the truth when you said, “the book says Oswald shot Kennedy.” But other than seeing that the book says, "Oswald shot Kennedy," how is it that by simply looking at the book they understand what it means for the book to say "Oswald shot Kennedy?"

I would have thought that a teacher of history doesn’t teach his or her students what the book says, as any fool can look at a book and see what is written on the page. I would think that a teacher tries to help the student understand what is written on the page. I hardly think that a history professor thinks that his job consists in telling his students to look at a book and see that there printed on the page it says, “JFK was shot by Oswald.” But if in fact that is written on the page, how exactly do they determine from that statement on the page that you have spoken truly when you said that what the textbook means by "JFK was shot by Oswald" is "'JFK was shot by Oswald acting on LBJ's behalf'." If the textbook actually says "JFK was shot by Oswald," how do they look at that statement and conclude that it means "JFK was shot by Oswald acting on LBJ's behalf," other than you teaching them that that is what it means?

“What did you learn in school today, son?” “Well mom, my teacher said that when the book says 'JFK was shot by Oswald' it means
'JFK was shot by Oswald acting on LBJ's behalf.' But when I looked at the textbook, all it said was 'JFK was shot by Oswald'. And the teacher seemed to think that if I just looked at the textbook I would just see that he was right when he claimed that what it meant was "JFK was shot by Oswal acting on LBJ's behalf'."

I hope my students would think they were being gypped out of their tuition if all I was teaching them was that a book says “JFK was shot by Oswald,” but what the book really means is "JFK was shot by Oswald acting on behalf of LBJ" which you will understand if you just look at the book.

Any fool can see that Scripture says that God has a powerful right arm. But I fail to see how the practice of turning to Apostolic authority is a barrier to understanding that statement. Why do many Protestants, including those at Wheaton, affirm the creeds? Do the Protestant administrators at Wheaton think one can deny Chalcedon and understand Scripture? Maybe. But do they fire those other Protestants at Wheaton who think one cannot deny Chalcedon and understand Scripture?

4) But you think the claim to infallibility makes all the difference. Bracketing any misconceptions that may be in the air about the Doctrine of Infallibility, let’s just think about that for a minute. You do not seem to be claiming that teachers are barriers to understanding. You have granted me that. But you seem to be claiming something like this, “if a teacher is infallible, then that is a barrier to understanding what the teacher teaches.” Similarly, “if a teacher is not infallible, then that is not a barrier to understanding what the teacher teaches.” Now those strike me as really odd claims. They seem to imply claiming that you would rather have teachers who are more likely to be wrong. Who would you rather have teaching you math? A math teacher who never makes mistakes, indeed never could make mistakes, or a math teacher who makes mistakes? Remember we have bracketed any questions about the actual Doctrine of Infallibility, which is certainly not that the teaching authority of the Church never makes mistakes. We are simply pursuing your line of thought that it is infallibility as such that is a barrier to understanding. That strikes me as really odd. We ought to prefer stupider teachers to smarter ones, indeed, ideally smarter ones, because stupider teachers are less of a barrier to our understanding than smarter ones? So when the typical Protestant looks to a preacher or a book by some respected author to help him understand, not that Scripture says X, but what Scripture means when it says X, the Protestant is looking for those preachers and authors who are more likely to be wrong, rather than those authors who are more likely to be right?

You also say:
****“Look at Wheaton vs Hochschild this way...when a Protestant body says "Here is a statement that every Bible-believing[*] Protestant can sign and really mean, but which a non-Protestant either can't sign or can't really mean", and acts decisively to remove someone whom they believe can't sign it and mean it... they still can't get it right. If this were Ratzinger vs Kung, you'd be cheering R for his "strong doctrinal stance", even if K were protesting as the Swiss Guards dragged him out the door that "But I still believe in the Catholic Church!"****

A few points that make this analogy inapt:

1) the process of determining what Kung taught and its relationship to the teaching of the Church took approximately 20 years. Wheaton did not give Josh Hochschild the benefit of a few months, let alone 20 years.

2) Hans Kung did not claim to affirm what the Church teaches on the relevant issues of concern. He quite explicitly denied various assertions of the Church, and granted that he denied them, assertions that the Church said he must assent to in order to teach as a Catholic theologian. When it became clear, after a 20 year process, that he denied those assertions, and persisted in denying them, and refused to change, he was removed from his teaching position. Josh Hochschild did not deny or grant that he denied anything in the Wheaton Statement of Faith.

In short, Hans Kung said that the Church was wrong in what it proposed for him to believe. Josh Hochschild said Wheaton was right in what it proposed for him to believe. There is no comparison of the cases.

Thomas Aquinas

Thomas Sibbes writes: ""Thomas Aquinas" appears to have gotten this one right."

Doesn't Thomas Aquinas get everything right?

Dennis Martin

I'm coming to this late so I suppose few will read this. I am a Wheaton alum ('74), became a Catholic in 1993, teach theology at Loyola University Chicago.

The statement of faith is very generic because it was aimed at excluding liberal Protestants. It has specific language that no Liberal Protestant in the 1920s could have signed. The 1976 revision took this over. No one thought that Catholics would claim to be "evangelical Christians" because in Wheaton's narrow world, no one knew any Catholics in 1976 (apart from charismatics, perhaps) and certainly had no first-hand knowledge of Catholic teaching documents.

The statement of faith in fact does not include anything a Catholic could not affirm. Thomas Aquinas is right about that.

What left a bitter taste in my mouth and I assume in Hochschild's was what some posters have pointed out: Dr. Litfin told him that he (Litfin) knew that Hochschild could not sign in good faith because Catholics don't believe what the statement says.

And secondly, he said that Wheaton had specified Protesantism in the preamble. But the preamble does not say "protestant"--merely "evangelical Christianity" with evangelical lowercased, so it does not even refer to the historic movement of that name. Had it read "Evangelical Protestant Christianity," Wheaton could rightly have claimed that the preamble was the hermeneutic key to the rest of the document and thus "final authority" had to be read in a Protestant and not Catholic way.

But the preamble doesn't state that and, furthermore, there is no unified "Protestant" way to read the document because some confessional Protestants assume an authoritative interpretation of Scripture beyond Scripture itself that is very close to the Catholic magisterium's role while other Protestants have a minimal "magisterium" (Pastor Ray down at the Independent Baptist Fellowship).

Everyone agrees Wheaton ought to take steps to maintain its identity. I'm sure Joshua Hochschild agreed with that. But the problem was that the statement of faith does a lousy job of specifying what Wheaton's identity is and when challenged on it, the school employed a high-handed "catholic" and magisterial, even papalist, approach giving an on-the-spot gloss as to the "true" meaning of the document, which itself was already an extra-scriptural authoritative gloss on scripture.

That would leave a bitter taste in my mouth if I were in Joshua Hochschild's shoes.

Dennis Martin

I'm coming to this late so I suppose few will read this. I am a Wheaton alum ('74), became a Catholic in 1993, teach theology at Loyola University Chicago.

The statement of faith is very generic because it was aimed at excluding liberal Protestants. It has specific language that no Liberal Protestant in the 1920s could have signed. The 1976 revision took this over. No one thought that Catholics would claim to be "evangelical Christians" because in Wheaton's narrow world, no one knew any Catholics in 1976 (apart from charismatics, perhaps) and certainly had no first-hand knowledge of Catholic teaching documents.

The statement of faith in fact does not include anything a Catholic could not affirm. Thomas Aquinas is right about that.

What left a bitter taste in my mouth and I assume in Hochschild's was what some posters have pointed out: Dr. Litfin told him that he (Litfin) knew that Hochschild could not sign in good faith because Catholics don't believe what the statement says.

And secondly, he said that Wheaton had specified Protesantism in the preamble. But the preamble does not say "protestant"--merely "evangelical Christianity" with evangelical lowercased, so it does not even refer to the historic movement of that name. Had it read "Evangelical Protestant Christianity," Wheaton could rightly have claimed that the preamble was the hermeneutic key to the rest of the document and thus "final authority" had to be read in a Protestant and not Catholic way.

But the preamble doesn't state that and, furthermore, there is no unified "Protestant" way to read the document because some confessional Protestants assume an authoritative interpretation of Scripture beyond Scripture itself that is very close to the Catholic magisterium's role while other Protestants have a minimal "magisterium" (Pastor Ray down at the Independent Baptist Fellowship).

Everyone agrees Wheaton ought to take steps to maintain its identity. I'm sure Joshua Hochschild agreed with that. But the problem was that the statement of faith does a lousy job of specifying what Wheaton's identity is and when challenged on it, the school employed a high-handed "catholic" and magisterial, even papalist, approach giving an on-the-spot gloss as to the "true" meaning of the document, which itself was already an extra-scriptural authoritative gloss on scripture.

That would leave a bitter taste in my mouth if I were in Joshua Hochschild's shoes.

Tom R

Of the multiplication of Toms/ Thomases on this thread there is no end.

Tom R

> "What an odd practice--to publish for the world to see a Statement of Faith, and yet claim that no one other than those who are stating it can understand it."

Nicely put. Now what happens if you substitute "a Bible" for "a statement of faith"?

To me this controversy is amusing (apart from Bro. Hochschild's lost 10%) because the usual positions are reversed: Catholics are arguing, "Well, if a visiting Martian ran the WSoF through a dictionary computer, it would seem to be syntactically compatible with Catholicism" while Prots are arguing "You know damn well what we meant when we wrote it! Don't come along decades later and tell us we got it wrong!"

Thomas Aquinas

Denis Martin writes: "Everyone agrees Wheaton ought to take steps to maintain its identity. I'm sure Joshua Hochschild agreed with that."

So does Thomas Aquinas.

"But the problem was that the statement of faith does a lousy job of specifying what Wheaton's identity is"

Agreed 100%.

"The statement of faith is very generic because it was aimed at excluding liberal Protestants. It has specific language that no Liberal Protestant in the 1920s could have signed. The 1976 revision took this over. No one thought that Catholics would claim to be "evangelical Christians" because in Wheaton's narrow world, no one knew any Catholics in 1976 (apart from charismatics, perhaps) and certainly had no first-hand knowledge of Catholic teaching documents."

Yes indeed. Any number of Protestant friends, who are "Bible-believing," have written to me to tell me that they could not sign it for any number of reasons.

The difficulty at Wheaton is not, as some have been arguing here, their inability to make clear statements of what they believe in their Statement of Faith. It is their ignorance of Catholic belief.

I wouldn't want Catholic schools to take the same steps Wheaton has to strenghten their identity. But I certainly believe that religious schools should strenghten their identity. However, they should do it in a way that is just.

Thomas Aquinas

Tom R., in the first part quoting me, writes: > "'What an odd practice--to publish for the world to see a Statement of Faith, and yet claim that no one other than those who are stating it can understand it.'

Nicely put. Now what happens if you substitute 'a Bible' for 'a statement of faith'?"

Well you get something like this: what an odd-practice-to publish for the world to see a Bible, and yet claim that no one other than those who are stating it can understand it.

Your point is?

I'm intrigued by your apparent comparison of the adminstrators at Wheaton to God Himself. No wonder you think they could not possibly be mistaken about what Josh Hochschild believes.

Who claims that the Bible was published for the world to see, and yet only those who stated it can understand it? Roman Catholics claim that guided by the Holy Spirit they can understand it. But they do not claim to have stated it.

When you make your statement above about the ability of Protestants to understand the Bible guided by the Holy Spirit, are you claiming that they also stated the Bible?

Tom R. also writes: "'Catholics are arguing, 'Well, if a visiting Martian ran the WSoF through a dictionary computer, it would seem to be syntactically compatible with Catholicism' while Prots are arguing 'You know damn well what we meant when we wrote it! Don't come along decades later and tell us we got it wrong!'"

Wow. We Catholics have been called a lot of things. But Martians? I would have thought being a Martian was grounds enough to be fired at Wheaton. No need even to bring up the Statement of Faith. I can see the title of the book that you are planning to write on all of this: Catholics are from Mars--Protestants are from Earth.

I don't know any Catholics who think that one has to run the WSoF through a computer. But I am intrigued by your suggestion that Wheaton makes declarative statements in English that most English speakers cannot understand, or at least English speakers who do not believe all of the other things believed by people at Wheaton that are not explicitly in the WSoF.

Speaking for myself, I think Wheaton was quite capable of making statements in English that don't need to be run through a computer. I think they know enough about the English language to make statements in it that are readily understandable to ordinary speakers of English. I think they want to make such statements when they make a Statement of Faith. I think they want the world to know what they believe when they make that Statement of Faith, and that is why they make such a clear and understandable one.

Far from claiming that Wheaton "got it wrong," I seem to be the one claiming they got it right.

If I am claiming anything controversial to some, it is that the statements that Wheaton included in its Statement of Faith are not the exclusive linguistic possession of the Christians at Wheaton and only those others who share the presumed unity of other beliefs that are not explicitly stated in their Statement of Faith. Others seem to be claiming that, "no, these statements are our exclusive possessions. They belong to us. You cannot even understand them, let alone assert them. You are not allowed to use our property. We speak a different language. You are Martians; we are Earthlings."

But those statements, and their equivalents in other languages, are statements that have been affirmed by almost all Christians long before Wheaton came in to existence. And some Christians claim to have been asserting them for well over a thousand years.

Question: Roman Catholics believe that the Virgin Mary was conceived without stain of original sin. For the sake of argument, let's assume you do not believe that statement, and would deny it, as well as an awful lot more of the things the Roman Catholic Church believes about the Virgin Mary, and perhaps other things about her relationship to Christ and the history of salvation. Do you understand the statement? Or is it beyond your ken, because of all those things believed by Catholics not explicitly stated in it that you do not believe? Do you, Earthling, need to run it through a computer for syntactic analysis before claiming to understand it?

Ronny

Know, please, that my view on Wheaton's right to Curranise Mr Hochschild is (as far as my fallen mind can tell) independent of the denominational oxen being gored.

For the record, Joshua Hoschild's situation at Wheaton is not at all analogous to what happened to Charles Curran at the Catholic University of America. Curran's troubles started when he organized and signed a petition explicitly dissenting from church teaching while being employed as a professor in a program offering ecclesiastical degrees directly accredited by the Holy See. As time went on, he took additional steps to distinguish himself in opposition to Church teaching, which is the exact opposite of what Hoschild did vis a vis Wheaton's statement of faith.

Furthermore, the time that lapsed between Curran's initial act of dissent and eventual dismissal was a full 18 years, not a matter of months (similar to one of the notable differences between Kung and Hoschild already noted above).

Moreover, it is my understanding (someone correct me if I'm wrong) that a compromise was offered to Curran prior to or at the time his ecclesiastical faculties to teach theology were removed by which he would have been allowed to continue as a member of CUA's faculty and teach, only he would be reassigned within the School of Theology and Religious Studies so that he would no longer be teaching courses approved for the ecclesiastical degrees offered within the program. He refused.

Hoschild would have been a lucky man had he been, as you put it, "Curranised."

Richard Sibbes

Thomas Aquinas writes:
**Thomas Sibbes writes: ""Thomas Aquinas" appears to have gotten this one right."

Doesn't Thomas Aquinas get everything right?**

No. For starters, he got my name wrong. It's Richard Sibbes.

Good Lord, this may be the real St. Thomas Aquinas. He keeps going, and going, and going . . .

Seriously, we should all be able to agree by now that Wheaton intended to exclude liberal protestants and Catholics (conservative and liberal) by this statement, but they did a lousy job with regard to the Catholics. There's no reason a Catholic can't sign WHAT IS WRITTEN in that statement. If Wheaton wants to prohibit Catholics in the future, they should add something like, "And I also believe the Pope is wrong about most of the important stuff."

Unfortunately, liberal Catholics will still be able to sign Wheaton's statement.

Tom R

> "Good Lord, this may be the real St. Thomas Aquinas. He keeps going, and going, and going..."

And I seem to have gotten his (?) goat, speaking symbolically and not literally of course. Getting into cyber-debate with someone who can match you with 100 words for every 10 you write is like seeing the Red Baron on your tail...

Right now I'm on holiday, with only intermittent internet access. TA, if you really want a reply, come back to this thread in late January, although it will probably be stone cold by then.

Thomas Aquinas

Richard Sibbes writes: "Thomas Aquinas writes:
**Thomas Sibbes writes: ""Thomas Aquinas" appears to have gotten this one right."

Doesn't Thomas Aquinas get everything right?**

No. For starters, he got my name wrong. It's Richard Sibbes."

So you didn't get the joke then?


Thomas Aquinas

Richard Sibbes writes: "Unfortunately, liberal Catholics will still be able to sign Wheaton's statement."

In the interests of peace with Tom R, I will say this: if there are Catholics who cannot sign the Wheaton statement, I suspect it is very liberal Catholics. I suspect many of them when asked would not sign on to either the innerancy of Scripture or the final authority of Scripture in all that it says. They might not sign on to the bodily resurrection of Christ, or the dead, the existence of Adam and Eve, and the existence of the devil. But then they wouldn't be RCs particularly faithful to the teaching authority of the RC Church either. And what I have been arguing has been premised upon fidelity to that teaching authority.

Richard Sibbes

Ah, not at first. Why didn't you just say, "You are Sibbes?"

Thomas Aquinas

When it is being asserted of someone and his friends that they do not believe central tenets of the Christian faith, one might be forgiven for being clear, even if wordy, in defense of their faith. "One can never be too wordy in defense of one's faith." 'Barry Goldwater' Or something like that.

Being a fast typist helps too.

The comments to this entry are closed.