February 17, 2020

Thoughts on Beckwith

classicconv.gifMaybe you ought to read “The River is Deep, The River is Wide: How I Made My Peace With the Roman Catholic Church” before you waste all that time trying to figure out what I believe. Then you can get right down to blogging about the fact that I’m going to hell.

The blogosphere has been abuzz with posts and discussion regarding the “reversion” of well-known evangelical scholar Dr. Francis Beckwith to membership in the Roman Catholic Church. Because Beckwith was one of the most respected evangelical scholars cited in many culture war issues, and because he was serving as President of the high profile but doctrinally amorphous Evangelical Theological Society, many evangelicals have spoken up in terms that betray more than a bit of unusual emotion. Clearly, this loss of an evangelical champion has touched a nerve. The loss of Beckwith as an evangelical continues a trend that began with John Henry Newman and continues with Richard Neuhaus, Scott Hahn and Peter Kreeft.

Instead of an essay, let me share a few somewhat random thoughts…

1) It’s interesting to watch evangelicals look for someone to “blame” when someone decides that evangelicalism isn’t a viable project anymore. The overconfidence of evangelicals regarding the soundness, health and effectiveness of their movement is a spectacle to behold. How many doctors need to say that evangelicalism is sick- or over- before some evangelicals get it?

It’s particularly interesting listening to those for whom any move to any position other than their particular sect is inexplicable. Beckwith’s “reasons” are frequently portrayed as being too subjective and too hasty. If he had taken two years to read all the in-print works proving the evangelical position this would have never happened. That Beckwith seems to say God sent him a sign is amazing to these folks.

I work with a large group of adult Christians who have changed their lives dramatically to serve in our ministry. In almost every case, their version of the story is full of the “personal” and not the particularly theological or rational. When human beings are convinced God is leading them, arguments will take a back seat to experience. Such decisions are never going to be dissected in a comment thread or in an outlined series of verse expositions. They are personal for precisely the reason that they are intensely important and reflect our deepest understnding of who God is and what he wants from each of us.

2) Assuming that the next phase of evangelical decline will be a massive exodus to the Roman Catholic Church is premature. Some evangelicals are attracted to the RCC’s solution to the issues of authority that drive evangelicals crazy. Others (naively) see the RCC as an oasis of peace in a world where every preacher with a Bible is a little pope. Still others are taken in by the beauty of some RCC liturgy and worship or the mystique of its claims to antiquity. But many post-evangelicals have learned that the demise of evangelicalism can lead to rebirth and renewal without going to Rome at all. High profile conversions may get the ink, but thousands of younger evangelicals are shaping new, post-evangelical forms of the church that incorporate much that is “catholic” without issues like Papal infallibility or the equation of tradition with scripture.

3) The Roman Catholic Church may have it’s own issues in the future with thousands of evangelicals coming to the RCC with much of their evangelicalism intact. I noted that Beckwith carefully said he chose to “err” on the side of Rome. Don’t look now, but that’s an admission that Beckwith believes Rome isn’t entirely right.

I grew up around Roman Catholics, and I have to tell you that I am constantly amazed at how evangelical RCers like Scott Hahn sound entirely like a different breed of cat. In a JPII/B16 shaped RCC, these men are welcome, even famous, but there is an evolution taking place. Considering the liberalism in American Catholicism, that trend may not only be good, it may be very interesting. What would, for instance, the response of evangelical Catholics be to a really liberal European Pope? Will the Ken/Ingrid view of Thomas Merton and contemplative spirituality sneak in under the door via these converts?

Is there a second wild boar in the vineyard somewhere? What might the future hold?

4) I am surprised at how many people seem to believe that Roman Catholics are not Apostle’s Creed Christians. A disturbing percentage of the anti-Catholic rhetoric the Beckwith reversion has inspired is half-baked, bone-headed anti-Catholicism. On the level of the Trinity, evangelicals and Roman Catholics ought to be one in spirit and confession. Our differences are crucial, but they are not the same differences we have with Muslims or even Jews.

As a post-evangelical, I have a deep gratitude for what the RCC preserves and defends that is vital to my own faith journey. At the same time, my issues with Roman Catholicism are simple: Scripture and tradition are not equal. There is no infallibility in the human element of the church. The mediation of Christ is singular, perfect, unique, complete and effectual. Assurance is the birthright of the children of God and is mediated by the Spirit through the Word. The assertions of a church made apart from scripture can never be bound to the conscience as if they were scripture. When I read a Protestant convert like Kreeft describe justification by faith alone it is a depressing experience for me.

Yet with these substantial disagreements, I recognize what is present: the great Creeds, the shared ancient heritage of the early church, the shared faith confessed by the early church, the shared experience of the Trinity, the shared sense of the priority of faith, the shared emphasis on the obedience of faith and the shared call to be the people of God formed and sustained by Christ. And much more

Beckwith and other converts to the RCC are brothers and sisters in the faith and testimony of Jesus. As we believe in and upon Jesus, we are both included in those purchased by Christ. It is particularly sad that this would ever be at issue on either side of the Reformation divide. May Protestants and Catholics know one another’s faith well enough that whatever tears we shed or mutual recognitions we share, we know what is truth and what is bigotry.

5) I admit that I struggle in the area of a charitable and Christ-honoring attitude and I need the prayers of other Christians. Much of my own upbringing was saturated in hateful, ignorant anti-Catholicism and that sinful residue still remains in my own personality. I anticipate future conversions to the RCC among those I love. I need to be able to embrace what is a shared experienced of Christ, but I also must know how to differ without, frankly, being a jackass (something so common among some segments of the reformed and fundamentalist world it’s embarrassing.). And I can assure you that despite my love of Merton and Kreeft, my occasional attendance at Roman Catholic services, etc., a good attitude is a challenge for me. Those deep prejudices plug directly into my emotions and control far too much of what I say and feel. I need the forgiveness of God and of other people.

My tendency is this: If I can stand apart, analyze and be the judge, I am comfortable. But when I must submit to what another person believes and chooses that differs from what I have taught and proclaimed my entire life, the burden is difficult and the temptation to be childishly arrogant and snarky is strong. I, like many Christians, need to know how to differ deeply without crossing into personal disrespect and mistreatment of a brother or sister. In the end, it’s not statements, but people we’re dealing with. What a hassle.

Is there a patron saint for the argumentative?

Let me close with a letter from C.S. Lewis to a Catholic convert. (HT to Reformed Catholicism.)

Magdelen College,
Oxford
Nov. 10th 1952

Dear Mrs. _________,

It is a little difficult to explain how I feel that tho’ you have taken a way which is not for me I nevertheless can congratulate you — I suppose because your faith and joy are so obviously increased. Naturally, I do not draw from that the same conclusions as you — but there is no need for us to start a controversial correspondence! I believe we are very near to one another, but not because I am at all on the Rome-ward frontier of my own communion. I believe that, in the present divided state of Christendom, those who are at the heart of each division are all closer to one another than those who are at the fringes. I would even carry this beyond the borders of Christianity: how much more one has in common with a real Jew or Muslim than with a wretched liberalising, occidentalised specimen of the same categories. Let us by all means pray for one another: it is perhaps the only form of “work for re-union” which never does anything but good. God bless you.

Yours most sincerely
C. S. Lewis

Comments

  1. Somehow, somewhere, someday, there exists within the body of Christ the ability to make peace without selling off the Head. That’s the promise, anyway.

  2. David,

    I’d love to see that day, while still on this earth, but I suspect that it won’t be until heaven.

    PS. Michael, I agree that frequently cradle Catholics and converts seem like they belong to different religions.

  3. As a former RC, I would say that you have a good understanding of Roman Catholicism. I could not return to the RCC for the very same reasons you have stated as “issues with Roman Catholicism” in the 3 articles/posts you have written on the subject.

    M

  4. Saint Augustine (died A.D. 430) says:

    “No man can find salvation except in the Catholic Church. Outside the Catholic Church one can have everything except salvation. One can have honor, one can have the sacraments, one can sing alleluia, one can answer amen, one can have faith in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and preach it too, but never can one find salvation except in the Catholic Church.” (Sermo ad Caesariensis Ecclesia plebem)

    Saint Robert Bellarmine (died A.D. 1621) says:

    “Outside the Church there is no salvation…. …therefore in the symbol [Apostles Creed] we join together the Church with the remission of sins: `I believe in the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins’…For this reason the Church is compared with the ark of Noah, because just as during the deluge, everyone perished who was not in the ark, so now those perish who are not in the Church.” (De Sacramento Baptismi)

    Archbishop George Hay (1729-1811) says:

    “At present, the gates of hell seem to be quite set open, and infidelity of every kind stalks lawless on the earth; the sacred truths of religion are reviled and denied, the gospel adulterated by innumerable opposite and contradictory interpretations fixed upon it; its native simplicity disguised by loftiness of speech and the persuasive words of human wisdom, and a thousand condescensions and compliances are admitted and received, by which the inflexible purity of its maxims is enervated both in faith and practice, and the “narrow way that leads to life” converted, in the opinion of men, “to the broad road that leadeth to destruction.” This observation is particularly true in regard to that latitudinarian principle so common nowadays, that man may be saved in any religion, provided he lives a good moral life, according to the light he has; for by this, the faith of Christ is evacuated, and the gospel rendered of no avail; a Jew, a Turk, a Heathen, a Deist, an Atheist, are all comprehended in this scheme, and if they live a good moral life, have as good a right to salvation as a [Catholic] Christian! To be a member of the Church of Christ is no longer necessary to salvation, whether we belong to it or not! What a wide field does this give to the passions of men! What liberty to all the whims of the human mind!”

    In an article titled “The Church and Her Enemies”, Father Michael Mueller C.SS.R. we find the following anecdotes:

    In the history of the foundation of the Society of Jesus, in the Kingdom of Naples, is related the following story of a noble youth of Scotland, named William Ephinstone, who was a relative of the Scottish king. Born a heretic, he followed the false sect to which he belonged; but enlightened by divine grace, which showed him his errors, he went to France, where, with the assistance of a good Jesuit father, who was also a Scotchman, he at length saw the truth, abjured heresy, and became a Catholic. He went afterward to Rome, joined the Society of Jesus, in which he died a happy death. When at Rome, a friend of his found him one day very much afflicted, and weeping He asked him the cause, and the young man answered that in the night his mother had appeared to him, and said “My son, it is well for thee that thou hast entered the true Church; I am already lost, because I died in heresy. ” (Saint Liguori, “Glories of Mary “)

    We read, in the Life of Saint Rose of Viterbo, that she was inflamed with great zeal for the salvation of souls She felt a most tender compassion for those who were living in heresy. In order to convince a certain lady, who was a heretic, that she could not be saved in her sect, and that it was necessary for salvation to die a true member of the Catholic Church, she made a large fire, threw herself into it, and remained in it for three hours, without being hurt. This lady, together with many others, on witnessing the miracle, abjured their heresy, and became Catholics

    In conclusion, the Catholic religion is that narrow road to Heaven. Protestantism, on the contrary, is that broad way to perdition trodden by so many. He who is content to follow the crowd, condemns himself by taking the broad way. All those who are not members of the Catholic Church should cease to deceive themselves as to the true character of their belief. As long as they remain victims of a delusion as gross as that which makes the Jew still cling to his abolished synagogue, and which only a miracle of grace can dispel, they will be lost for all eternity.

    God Bless

  5. Spaxx: have you read the Catechism of the (ahem) Catholic Church recently, and what it has to say about Christians from other confessions? You may be giving us that ol’ time (Catholic) religion, but I think your own church has moved on somewhat.

    And forgive me, but the tone of your comment compels me to at least ask the question: is Benedict XVI the current Pope? I think you’ll understand what I’m getting at.

  6. jmanning says

    Surely that is a joke… I’m waiting for the punchline. Where are the Scripture references, the historical analysis of Augustine’s quote, the historical analysis of what “holy Catholic church” means in the Apostle’s Creed…???

    No, I’m afraid it might not be a joke. Yet it is.

    Those who leave “evangelicalism” to be a Catholic are like those who leave America to live in China. They remain Americans, they just remain so as a professional tourist among foreigners.

    I was raised for the first 8 years of my life as a Catholic, I wouldn’t go back for all the pope’s gold. “Saints” may venture there, and it may not be a bad tradeoff between it and some evangelical churches, but it is merely a tradeoff of negatives, not an improvement.

  7. I have been a fan of this site for quite some time, but have never felt compelled to post until this morning. Spaxx, may God bless and keep you in your relationship with Him. I respect your beliefs, but I do feel the need to point out to you that it appears that your interpretation of the above referenced Catholic writings isn’t shared among many prominent RCC members. I would direct you to first speak with the good folks at the “Coming Home Network.” You can find them at chnetwork.org. The good men and women there have a slightly different take on the view of the “ecumenical” body of Christ. Also, research John Paul II’s ecumenical viewpoints about followers of Christ being “in the same Church” even though some don’t realize it. Finally, reading transcripts of Vatican II can be thought-provoking to those of your position. My only point is that your statement, though doubtlessly heartfelt and sincere, would not be supported as-is by many RCC clergy I’ve met.

  8. As a Catholic, I know exactly what you mean when you talk of the difference between a cradle Catholic and a convert. In fact there are probably 6 or 7 distinctly describable kinds of Catholics that differ in those kinds of ways. There’s the pre-vatican II fundamentalists, the liberal-ish charismatics, the reformed conservative-ish charismatics, the marian apparition devotees, the non-of-the-above faithful that might be described as john paul II catholics, and all of these are just the ones that believe their version is the authentic unchanging Catholic Tradition. Outside of those, you’ve got all kinds of degrees of liberal catholic-ish “catholics” who disagree with the church on issues x y or z but insist they are Roman Catholic. A relative of mine seemingly doesn’t believe in the inerrancy of scripture or the authority of the Church, on account of his getting a Masters in Theology at Notre Dame, which most people consider a fairly reputable Catholic College. What can you do?

  9. @spaxx:

    I think your comment highlights one of those irreconcilable differences between Catholic and Protestant. You quote and Bellarmine and others to the effect that salvation only exists in the Catholic church. Non-Catholics look at your quotes, say “That’s tradition, not Bible,” and shrug. If you can’t agree on sola scriptura (or Scripture + tradition + papal decree, or insert your favorite rule of faith and practice here), you can’t have a meaningful discussion.

    Not that this necessarily means that either side has to look down their noses at the other–where has our ability to “agree to disagree” gone?

  10. Could someone please read Rod Bennet book “The Four Witnesses” and post a counter to the conclusions he came to. It seems as though the fathers writings of the first two centuries pretty much does away with the myth that things went south with Constantine.

    He ends up at Rome because he figured that the fathers that knew and learned the scriptures from the apostals had the authority to int. the same scripture that we evangelicals are all over the place on. Tradition is mainly the authority to pass on the understanding that the actual authors of scripture had. Not here we have the Word and over here we have something else called tradition. Remember, every evangelical move has its own tradition

  11. jimmymac says

    Nice article; I would like to make just a quick point. You state that “Scripture and tradition are not equal. There is no infallibility in the human element of the church.”
    I would contend that without infallibility and tradition there would be no Scripture. Otherwise how can you put your faith into it. To me it seems that many non-Catholics think Jesus wrote the Bible, or God hand delivered a copy to Martin Luther.
    I am sincerely interested on how you get past having a infallible text come from a fallible structure.
    As a Catholic I believe that Tradition (big T) not founded in Scripture is NOT EQUAL and only Christ’s vicar with the HOLY SPIRIT working though him can be infallible on issues of faith and morals.
    God Bless

  12. Since I don’t believe in inerrancy, I may not have the problem you think I have.

    I don’t see why producing a divinely authoritative text requires anything other than whatever providencial means God ordained to produce it.

  13. jimmymac says

    Michael,

    I would love to give you the thoughtful answer you deserve. However, not being an expert in this area (or any area for that matter) I am sure my response will fall short of sufficient.

    You state, “I don’t see why producing a divinely authoritative text requires anything other than whatever providencial means God ordained to produce it.”

    How did we decide it was providencial? Why is the Gospel of Judas not in the canon and Epistle of James is?

    I assume you trust the source of the decisions on this matter, why discontinue that faith.

    “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

    These words mean to me that if we could trust the Church we can still trust the Church. This of course gets back to authority. I also believe we must trust that Jesus left us One Church and HE will continue to guide that church. Otherwise we will be torn in 40,000 different directions. (The approximate number of Christian denominations) The Lord wants us to be one as He and the Father are One. (I think that may have been from the reading at Mass today).

    Do you have problems with any of the infallible dogmatic teaching of the Church?

    To end, do I think the Holy Spirit is alive in my separated brothers and sisters? Very much so.

    Thank you for the chance to discourse.

    God Bless,
    jim

  14. >Do you have problems with any of the infallible dogmatic teaching of the Church?

    Yes. Quite a bit.

    Thanks as well.

  15. jmanning says

    There is a great deal of “tradition” surrounding the epistle of James, and it is logically coherent with the rest of Scripture.

    The gospel of Judas is as incoherent with the whole of Scripture as most Catholic tradition is…

    You can’t stick square pegs into round holes, you can’t supplant Christ’s apostolic witness with that of “his” vicar

  16. Michael,

    the only place that I see Beckwith seeing a sign about converting is when to anounce it not if he should.
    You are right that it is hard to rethink personal life long teaching. What does one do when the fathers that knew the apostals is clashes with our own. Who has the greater authority?

  17. If you accept that God conferred infallibility on various men when they wrote the books of the Bible, as well as on an entire Council when it determined the canon of Scripture (hundreds of years after the Resurrection), it is not much of a stretch to accept that God would confer infallibility, under very limited and specifically defined circumstances, on a man appointed the head of the Church through an unbroken line of succession from the apostle Peter.

    As to the rather uncharitable comment by jmanning: “There are not over a hundred people…who hate the Roman Catholic Church. There are millions, however, who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church.” – Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.

  18. jmanning says

    Conferring infalibility as to determine what was “infallibly” said long ago is different than conferring infalibility on the pope to disavow and contradict what was “infallibly” said long ago.

    God wouldn’t give the pope the infallibility to contradict infallible scripture. That would be shooting His own word in the foot.

    Why would God give popes infallible wisdom to contradict one another? Why would God give popes infallible wisdom to live in lavish and exquisite palaces while the rest of their flocks live destitute? Protestant leaders can have similar faults, but it is not under the guise of infallibility.

    Uncharitable? What’s more uncharitable than stuffing the filthy sock of tradition in Christ’s mouth and gagging the author’s intent of Scripture? What’s more uncharitable than keeping the word of God out of people’s hands for centuries? True, that was pre-Vatican II and a lot has changed. A lot may continue to change, but if you look at where the RCC has been, and where it is now, there is definately an improvement…but it still has leaps and bounds to go before it can walk what it claims.

  19. jmanning,

    What popes have said, under the *very specific conditions* where they have spoken infallibly, is not contradictory. Please educate yourself about this and you will find that it is true.

    I refer again to Archbishop Sheen’s quote. There is tremendous misunderstanding about the Catholic faith.

    God bless.

  20. jmanning says

    I know that those *specific conditions* did not exist until too many popes contradicted themselves too often. Please educate yourself about that…you will also find that it is true.

    Today’s headlines are a sad commentary on the RCC.
    “Pope elevates Brazilian monk to sainthood”
    His claim to fame? He could appear at two places at the same time, he was telepathic, he could levitate…I’m not sure I see those under the fruits of the Spirit

    Also, people are fed paper pills with prayers written on them, the pills, named after this monk heal people….I’m afraid I don’t see that in Scripture…

  21. iMonk’s piece was really helpful. As for the comment here on Rod Bennett’s book, as a rejoinder check out Christopher Hall’s ‘Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers’ (IVP).

  22. The post from Spaxx is timely, if only to help remind the rest of us Catholics that we have people on our own “side” who make us cringe with embarrassment.

    I have to say, though, that after decades of practicing my Catholic faith in liberal parishes, conservative parishes, trad parishes; knowing converts, cradle Catholics, lefties, right-wingers, vision enthusiasts, etc., etc… I have never once encountered “Spaxx”-type Catholics except on the internet. I have a theory that they in fact exist only virtually. Which makes me wonder if some of the more inflammatory rhetoric I see coming from the Protestant “side” has more internet existence than real.

  23. I think the internet grows and attracts whack jobs like no other medium. The percentage of damaged and obsessive personalities in the blogosphere is high.

  24. I agree with much of your evaluation about many evangelicals who “convert” to Roman Catholicism, but enter the Church “with much of their evangelicalism intact.” As far as the two major issues confronting Roman Catholicism today, they are secularism and evangelicalism. As far as evangelicalism is concerned, it’s not those outside Roman Catholicism about whom I worry, but those, as you said, who enter with their evangelicalism intact. Currently, some of them are even “evangelizing” in the name of the Roman Catholic Church and God only knows the sort of desiccated version of my faith they are presenting. I have the same caveats about Scott Hahn. We in the RCC are much too accepting of anyone who enters the faith and uncritically accept them in leadership positions, without really enquiring as to their credentials as Roman Catholics. You might check out the blog “Intentional Disciples” which makes my point.

  25. The RC is tickled pink that so many evangelicals are “heading to Rome”. I’ve had that thrown in my face on numerous occasions. True, much of the evangelical church is in disarray, but Rome isn’t the answer.

    Quite honestly, I think Christ would have a lot to say to both camps, and not much of it good. Rome continues to put scripture on equal footing with tradition, and the evangelical church has turned Christ into some kind of pop icon.

    2 Timothy 4:3-4 pretty much sums up our times. Bottom line: Both camps have walked away from the infallible word of God.

  26. O.K. I soooo want the techno-gizmo that turns the Bible verse into a link.

    What’s a girl gotta do to get one?

  27. Scripturizer plug in

  28. The Catholic Church teaches infallibly: ‘Outside the Church there is no salvation’.

    “The Catholic Church alone keeps the true worship. It is the Church of Truth, the home of the Faith, the temple of God; he who does not enter it or he who leaves it, loses all hope of life and salvation. Do not let anyone hold a dogged view. It is a question of life and of salvation. If one does not watch out carefully and prudently, it is ruination and death.” (Lactantius; IIIrd c., Catholic apologist.).

    There is a belief today, that a man may be saved in any religion, provided he lives a good moral life, according to the light he has. By this, the faith of Christ is evacuated, and the Gospel rendered of no avail; a Jew, a Turk, a Heathen, are all comprehended in this scheme, and if they live a good moral life have as good a right to salvation as a Christian!

    “To be a member of the Church of Christ is no longer necessary, since, if we lead a good moral life, we are in the state of salvation, whether we belong to her or not. What a wide field does this give to the passions of men, liberty to all the whims of the human mind. It is therefore of the utmost consequence to state and to show plainly the revealed Catholic truth that there is no salvation out of the Catholic Church.”

  29. Spaxx,
    Who on this message board has thusfar asserted that “if we lead a good moral life, we are in the state of salvation?” Sounds like a straw-man argument and not addressing previous points we’ve made in response to your original post. Please see my previous post and we can discuss further. May the Lord God bless you.

    Rich

  30. David Raber says

    You’re quite right, Mr. I-Monk: Scripture is not equal to tradition. Scripture IS tradition, written down, and recognized by the Church as a special category of God-inspired writing embodying that tradition. I’m sure you’ve heard the old canard, “The Church made the Bible; the Bible didn’t make the Church.”

    The New Testament was put together from writings used by the early Christians in their worship and their study of the faith. These writings, in effect, got the votes of the believing congregations who used them, i.e., the Church as the people of God (vox populi, vox dei); and then their choices were considered and passed upon by the Church’s leadership, the bishops–and so the New Testament was officially made. Soon after, St. Jerome was kind enough to put it into Latin, and the rest is history, as they say.

    The Church (people and leadership together) was the Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of the Bible, led by the Holy Spirit in its work, as it is led by the spirit in all things (best case scenario there!)–as I believe as a convert to Catholicism.

    The same Church that made the Bible, to our great benefit as Christians, still exists as an actual institution. It is the Roman Catholic Church. It is the Real Deal, and as far as I can tell, it is where you need to be to follow Jesus in the very best way you can. It seems that this is what Dr. Beckwith came to see.

    Thanks for your site; I plan to read more of it.

    Dave

  31. Herdian Aprilani says

    Reversion to the Catholic Church among her members, especially among those who have now occupied preeminent positions in their walks of life, both in the United States and elsewhere, is something for which we, as Catholics, need to be truly grateful and about which the people who are used to be, or not yet, Catholics need to give serious thoughts.
    My reception into the Catholic Church (as someone from Muslim background) last Christmas (2006) can be called, in a sense, an act of reversion. For it was the Catholic Church that I had in mind when I wanted to become a Christian, yet, mostly through ignorance of my own, and partly because of lack of good testimony from the Catholics around me, I was baptised in one of the evangelical (international) churches in my country, and, as a consequence, I’m presently still, though soon no longer, working for its interests!
    Dr. Beckwith’s reversion to the Catholic Church hopefully will ignite some spark of interest in, and appreciation to, the Church among her dormant members, and will give conviction and comfort among her faithful members who are currently being tempted, from within or without, to question their belief in her teachings, which were truly received from Jesus her Lord, were faithfully handed down by the apostles, are carefully guarded by her present adherents, and will be mightily protected until the end of the age by The Holy Spirit, in whose inspiration she proclaims the truth to the whole world.

  32. Dear Internetmonk (love the title!),

    You said, “Scripture and tradition are not equal. There is no infallibility in the human element of the church”. But if God could inspire sinners like Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (definitely a human element of the church!!) to write infallible scripture, why couldn’t He inspire other human beings, under very limited circumstances, to be infallible? Just a thought.

    Peace and God bless.

    Rebecca

  33. Confessional Reformed/Presbyterians (like myself) point the finger at dumbed-down “post-evangelical” worship for the Catholic exodus. In addition, we have been grappling with another leaven corrupting our churches: the Federal Vision.

    Perhaps the migration in doctrine and worship goes like this:

    Evangelical -> Post-evangelical -> Reformed (Pentecostal worship) -> Reformed -> Reformed (Liturgical) -> Federal Vision -> Roman Catholic (or Orthodox)

    When post-evangelicals get burned out by fun and games posing as youth Bible studies, talk shows as sermons, and Mother Goose rhymes as worship, they then find themselves in Reformed churches. As they get weary lugging their post-evangelical doctrine and worship baggage, they discover not only the beauty of liturgy, but also the transcendence of the church and sacraments, hence the Federal Vision. Then, Catholicism, “the only true church,” is just around the corner.

    Here’s my post on Pope Benedict’s recent “clarifications” on the “true church:

    http://doctrineunites.wordpress.com/

  34. Good article. I’m a seminary student now, but I came to faith through a para-Church ministry. How does one coming from a para-Church decide which tradition to go with? I’d consider myself a Calvinists for the past five years, but since I read Orthodoxy, and some other Chesterton material I’ve been increasingly attracted to Rome. If all 8000+ U.S. denominations are legitimate, who is to say Rome is not? If you’re willing to concede that the Catholic Church is at least a Church, then the logical thing to do is to become Catholic. So my question is, is the Catholic Church a Church?

  35. >If all 8000+ U.S. denominations are legitimate, who is to say Rome is not? If you’re willing to concede that the Catholic Church is at least a Church, then the logical thing to do is to become Catholic. So my question is, is the Catholic Church a Church?

    1) I don’t know who you are reading, but I certainly believe Rome is a church and “legitimate,” if by that you mean the Gospel exists in it.

    2) But unless YOU believe that Rome is a) infallible or b) the only true church, then it is NOT “the only logical” choice.

    3) I believe Rome is neither infallible, nor the only true church.