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May 05, 2007

Comments

Richard

"That converting means being pretty much done singing hymns forever, and whatever historic liturgy they had has been crapped all over by the worst church musician in history."

Have to admit he's got a point there.

Donald R. McClarey

"I became convinced that the Early Church is more Catholic than Protestant"

Cardinal Newman is cheering in Heaven! Really, that statement is so very obvious to anyone who knows much at all about the history of the Church. It is fascinating to see the mental gyrations that some Protestant apologists have to engage in to avoid this obvious fact. Of course many Protestant apologists get around the whole issue by simply ignoring Church history prior to 1517, or treat many heretical sects prior to 1517 as proto-Protestants or the true Christians and the official Church as the seat of anti-Christ. It is heartening however to see many fine Protestants now having a deep and honest interest in the early history of the Church. The excellent series put out by Intervarsity Press, Ancient Christian Commentary on the Scriptures, of which I am a subscriber, is just one sign of this hopeful trend.

MarkAA

For what little it's worth, since I'm just an educated layman, I was dumbfounded at how Dr. Beckwith's statement and mental process was so similar to mine of about a year ago in making the same decision he did.

... I became convinced that the Early Church is more Catholic than Protestant and that the Catholic view of justification, correctly understood, is biblically and historically defensible. Even though I also believe that the Reformed view is biblically and historically defensible, I think the Catholic view has more explanatory power to account for both all the biblical texts on justification as well as the church’s historical understanding of salvation prior to the Reformation all the way back to the ancient church of the first few centuries. Moreover, much of what I have taken for granted as a Protestant—e.g., the catholic creeds, the doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation, the Christian understanding of man, and the canon of Scripture—is the result of a Church that made judgments about these matters and on which non-Catholics, including Evangelicals, have declared and grounded their Christian orthodoxy in a world hostile to it. Given these considerations, I thought it wise for me to err on the side of the Church with historical and theological continuity with the first generations of Christians that followed Christ’s Apostles.

Makes me feel pretty good that someone with the theological chops Beckwith has echoed my thinking.

Once again the Early Fathers and that "going deep into history is to cease to be a Protestant" thing rear their heads.

I'm personally surprised at how much backward logic has been posted by protestants at Beckwith's site. The ones that say in essence "Better to err on the side of the Reformation because if faith is enough you're saved no matter what" is absurd. Quite the contrary: If you're going to do the Pascal-esque approach, logically, it's better to err on the Catholic view of justification/sanctification ANYWAY, because if Faith/sola scriptura ARE enough, you'll be fine, but if they're NOT, only the Catholic position gives those additional elements to you.

Anyway, just a layman's view.

Ed the Roman

There's an odd feeling to be derived from watching varieties of Protestants damning each others infernal errors as leading to eternal death.

And an even odder feeling from the realization that for some of them, the apostasy of Rome is axiomatic. It's logically prior to Scripture, in that they will not recognize any arguments that maybe there is a problem with the notion that real Christianity was extinct for well over a thousand years before their preferred Reformer arrived.

Irenaeus of Lyons

"I became convinced that the Early Church is more Catholic than Protestant."

I'm not (yet) Catholic, but as a professor of early Christianity I'm always struck by how early certain 'Catholic' things are found. 1 Clement (95 AD) mentions apostolic succession. Paul in Philippians (1.1) mentions Bishops. Then you get stuff in Acts that 'feels Catholic,' like this: "...people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter's shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by" (5.15), and this: "God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them" (19.11-12).

The difficulty for most people wanting to leave Protestantism, however, is whether to be Catholic or Orthodox. It's one thing to realize that we need tradition because Sola Scriptura doesn't work, because we shouldn't be making up our own reason as individuals on everything. But how does one evaluate the Catholic vs Orthodox question *apart* from our own reason? Many want to leave protestantism to avoid having to choose what to believe, but we have to choose what to believe one last time, it seems.

Randy

It seems like once the dam breaks then all the arguments you have been holding out for years come rushing in. Dr Beckwith talks about many different reasons all becoming convincing within a 4 month period. I had the same experience. Almost every conversion story I read is similar. Often we fight it for a while. Still once we start asking questions that we aren't supposed to ask and reading books we aren't supposed to read the evidence quickly becomes overwelming.

Joe C.

Dear Irenaeus,

IMHO as a Catholic, if you are choosing between Catholicism and Orthodoxy, you're going to land in the one true Church either way.

But, I gloss over much controversy the real Irenaeus wouldn't.

God Bless

Kathleen

"Of course many Protestant apologists get around the whole issue by simply ignoring Church history prior to 1517, or treat many heretical sects prior to 1517 as proto-Protestants or the true Christians and the official Church as the seat of anti-Christ."

I've been dealing with this with an evangelical friend of mine. We went through all of the issues, infant baptism, the practices of the ECFs, apostolic succession, etc., etc.

In the end it came down to what Donald said that I quote above. I was shocked b/c no other protestant has ever ended with "Well, the early Church (his church) was there, it was hidden, driven underground by the Romanist and Papists."

He then went on a tirade about how God would be an odd God if dumping water on a babies head saved the baby.

My point is that when it comes right down to it and you reach that point in argument of whether or not the gates of hell prevailed against the Church b/c you can't find protestanism anywhere in the early Church, but you can find Catholicism, that's when you get the vitrol of James White, my friend and from the commenters about Dr. Beckwith.

The single worst thing you can do is show that the Catholic church was there including celebration of the Eucharist from the very beginning.

My friend did not speak to me for a month after that (and I wasn't even the one who got hot under the collar.) A priest recommended I say my Saturday Rosary for him (which would drive him crazy if he knew) so I do.

It seems to me that many protestant pastors spend a whole lot of time(if not a majority) of time preaching about why Catholics are wrong. It's a cherry picking of scripture that excludes all history and ignores some very key commands and promises that come from the mouth of Jesus Himself.

I must admit, I'm not 100% comfortable with apologetics. I understand and know all of the arguments, but I haven't spent hours and hours with chapter and verse bible quiz cards to be able to cite chapter and verse for all of the arguments. Most Catholics are not catechized to the level that I know the arguments.

Evangelicals count on this. I've been to several services with my friend and it is the most pure emotional frenzy I've ever seen. No doubt those there love Jesus but I see a clever emotional appeal to the average evangelical: believe and you are saved (you are in charge.)

That's more appealing then having to deal with the Catholic Church and all the warts of Catholics through the centuries.

Stacey Johnson

What surprised me about many of the comments at his site was that the poster seemed to assume that if only he came up with the right Scripture verse, this "disaster" would be averted...as if Dr. Beckwith hadn't already read his Bible countless times over, as if he didn't know all the arguments already.

Ed

A lot of the the invective against Beckwith comes from what I call "ABC'ers" - "Anything But Catholicism". It is an emotionally response entirely unconstrained by logic.

Randy

What surprised me about many of the comments at his site was that the poster seemed to assume that if only he came up with the right Scripture verse, this "disaster" would be averted...as if Dr. Beckwith hadn't already read his Bible countless times over, as if he didn't know all the arguments already.

This is so shocking once you realize something about church history. The implicit assumption is that EVERYONE in the church was unaware of the protestant proof text for many centuries. Somehow nobody had read Romans before Luther did. Nobody teaching about purgetory had ever considered Jesus' statement to the thief on the cross. Nobody noticed the verse that says 'call no man father'. It is beyond silly if you get to know a little church history but it is really the impression you get reading many protestants. That there is no way to reconcile this scripture with Catholic doctrine.

Naomi

"That converting means being pretty much done singing hymns forever, and whatever historic liturgy they had has been crapped all over by the worst church musician in history."

Have to admit he's got a point there.

A pretty ceremony without the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus present in the Eucharist or a malformed liturgy with Him at its center in spite of our human silliness? Those shouldn't be the only two choices, and they usually aren't but... the Eucharist is worth everything.

RJ

Poor losers! The Boar's Headers need to suck it up and act like they've lost a convert before.

LeeAnn

Irenaeus,
I had the same dilemma at one point. Orthodoxy and Catholicism both have valid Sacraments, but what it came down to for me was, Did I want to be, and did I believe it was more correct to be, in full communion with (then) Pope John Paul II or not?

After making that decision (in the affirmative), I then learned more about the Catholic arguments for the points of difference between the two traditions.

From my Presbyterian background, I researched Orthodoxy first, then only after two years of study and visiting an Orthodox parish, considered becoming Catholic.

MarkAA

One nice thing, (Irenaeus and others), and something I knew so little about early on, was that if you choose Rome, you still have the option to choose an Eastern flavor of Rome in a different rite in communion with Rome, such as the Byzantine Catholic Church. It seems like they can be a solution if the current Catholic mass is just too much of a step backwards in beauty. Just an observation and one that wasn't obvious to me initially. Visiting a Byzantine Catholic rite mass and a vespers service was breathtaking to me, and fully realizing that it was in complete communion with Rome was comforting -- and it also showed me the worldwide nature of Catholicism, another beautiful plus of the Faith the many or most of the folks at Boar's Head or in Evangelical Protestant circles have usually at best a glimpse of in their tiny sliver of Christianity.

MMajor Fan

For Irenaeus and others,
I'm a lifelong Roman Catholic. My stepfather, who died Easter last year, and who I dearly loved, was a very pious and humble Russian Orthodox, retaining the faith of his immigrant parents. All of his brothers and sisters converted to Catholicism because they all married Catholic spouses! :-) To my stepfather, the faith of his parents was all about the community and his church. And so I believe that one's parish can make a realistic and perfectly acceptable reason to be either Roman Catholic or Orthodox. I loved how my stepfather loved the people and place and heritage of his church, and he is buried in the Russian Orthodox cemetery by his devoted parents. I was proud of the Russian Orthodox's father and cantor's service at his funeral, and their recognition of his righteous love of God, entirely conducted within a small parish, and based not on intellectual pros and cons, but rather, discerned in the integrity of the community's love of the Lord. (And the Father did not blanche when I made him bless a memorial funeral rosary for me :-) My stepfather's brothers and sisters all were exemplary Catholics and loved and served their parishes too, into their 80's and 90's. I would say, do not hesitate to make that part of any decision that you make, where the parish feels like the right "home" for you.

Richard Barrett

Irenaeus:

Speaking as an Orthodox who is most definitely neither a branch theorist nor an ecumenist (in the WCC sense of the word, at least)--there are intellectually and spiritually honest reasons to come to either conclusion. It could not be otherwise, looking at names of converts in in both "columns"--Jaroslav Pelikan, Metr. KALLISTOS Ware, Susan Ashbrook Harvey, J. R. R. Tolkien, G. K. Chesterton, John Henry Cardinal Newman.

What I will say is that if you are converting to Orthodoxy because of "Eastern flavor", I would say you are doing so for the wrong reasons. Likewise, if you are converting to Roman Catholicism because it is Western (an Anglican bishop once told me that he acknowledged the claims of the Christian East but could never consider going anywhere other than Rome because he is culturally Western, period), I'd argue that's the wrong motivation.

The only good reason for converting to either Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy is because you believe their claims to be true. Everything else either proceeds from that or is a side issue.

Richard

Jeff

As a Midwestern, life-long, Protestant pastor with Catholic sympathies and associations, let me tell y'all that rarely do Protestants, even very conservative/fundamentalist ones, preach agin' Rome. They just assume the evils of the Whore of Babylon are well known among their flock, and make sidelong cracks about candles and such. The theological fulminations, which seem so thin and sparse compared to the depth and detail they usually display in debate, are weak because they're place-holder rationalisations for a Nativism that goes back generations in agricultural middle America, about immigrant Italians and Germans, with odd ethnic habits and large families and strange clothing, all of which are signs of barbarism run amok. (See Klan resurgence, 1920's, for more details; they were much more anti-Catholic than they were anti-Negro, which was left for the third wave post WWII to pick up.)

warren

Is anybody going to be a sport enough to answer Pirate's 10-things list? If not, I'll have a go. Anybody? Anybody? Bueller? (Read the boars-head messages, look for the 10-things post from Pirate.)


+W+

Ed the Roman

Richard,

In the spirit of fraternal correction, Tolkien was a cradle Catholic. C. S. Lewis converted, largely through Tolkien's influence.

Jeff,

There's also the occasional side comment to the effect that OF COURSE Mary and Joseph had children the usual way as well.

Richard Barrett

Ed the Roman: I thought Tolkien and his mother converted when he was quite young? From Wikipedia (just because I have neither Carpenter nor Pearce at hand):

"Mabel Tolkien converted to Roman Catholicism in 1900 despite vehement protests by her Baptist family[15] who then stopped all financial assistance to her. She died of acute complications of diabetes in 1904...when Tolkien was twelve[.]" I take that chronology, then, to mean that he would have converted when he was eight or thereabouts (which squares with what I recall from both Carpenter and Pearce). No, it's not quite the same as an adult conversion, but neither is it really what I would call "cradle Catholicism", either.

Richard

austin

I just had an interview at a school in the 'classical' tradition. We agreed on the nature of education (Dorothy Sayers), teaching methods, materials, goals, etc.--until it got to my being Catholic. No Catholics can teach at the school in any subject, even though any Protestant evangelical denomination would be fine, even with all the gnostic undertones of certain fundamentalist churches. Why such a kneejerk reaction against Catholics? I didn't grow up reformed; I don't understand such prejudice from intellectual Christians.

Richard Barrett

Austin: Along the same lines, it'll be interesting to see if Dr. Beckwith has to resign from Baylor now that he's Catholic. Baylor's had some interesting troubles in that regard lately. (Although their press is more than happy to publish books by Orthodox authors, such as _Rituals of Spontaneity_ by Lori Branch.)

Let's not forget schools like David Lipscomb, where besides the Restorationist statement of faith, faculty have to sign agreements that they won't drink or dance--even at home.

In Seattle there's Northwest College, an Assemblies of God school that requires all faculty to be a professed Christian--defined as "Not Catholic", as one faculty member told me.

Yes, it's stupid and uncharitable. On the other hand, it's also quite honest.

Richard

kate

Ed the Roman said:
Richard, In the spirit of fraternal correction, Tolkien was a cradle Catholic. C. S. Lewis converted, largely through Tolkien's influence.

This is the first I've heard that Lewis converted!! Probably you meant to say that Tolkien was instrumental in Lewis's conversion from atheism to Christianity. Lewis became a member of the Church of England.

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