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May 07, 2007

Comments

I don't fully understand. Did he start out as a Catholic, become an evangelical, and then return to Catholocism? Did he become homesick? I noticed some of his family is Catholic. I read his blog entry and didn't see where he explained why he made the switch. I would like to hear his reasoning.

I found this statement curious:
"Frank told us he still considers himself an evangelical."

If that is the case, why change?

Greg & Melinda,
I was wondering when and how you two would weigh in. Thanks for doing so uncompromisingly but with love for both your brother Frank and the church.

I'm more than embarrassed by how my fellow protestants are acting toward Frank. They're talking as if he converted to Mormonism. For Christians to ask his position on 16th century purchases of indulgences explains how ignorant we are of modern Catholicism.

Frank isn't a dummy, nor are many of our best theologians who are devout Catholics.

This is a devout brother who simply switched denominations. I must be missing something but it seems like a lot of this feeding frenzy appears to be over the perception that God has gone over to the Devil's side.

That said, I thought Frank's original explanation almost read like he became a Catholic so he could sponsor his nephew's communion. Hey, maybe the guy likes his family a lot.

Doug,
I completely agree. Many Protestants are ignorant of the developments in Catholic theology over the last one-hundred years. Since Vatican II much of the theological advance in their community has incorporated an evangelical flavor and spirit. This is well documented in much of the literature out there. Moreover, many Protestant understandings of Christianity, including Catholic Christianity, are influenced by Enlightenment views of faith and reason that are arrogant and dismissive of the past.

If we are to move beyond the Protestant temptation to worship America as the light of the world and wrestle free from the Enlightenment's headlock on the Christian definition of human rationality we will look more closely and with more humility at Beckwith's move to become a Catholic Christian.

I appreciate what you said about STR would still regard Frank a friend.

But, a good Catholic must condemned Protestantism and regard them as anathema. Since you would regard him as an evangelical, would he regard you as a Christian according to Roman Catholic theology?

Doug,

Catholicism is not a denomination. If it is Francis Beckwith would not have stepped down as the President of ETS.

And in related news, Tony converted to Islam.

Andy,
A good Catholic is not required to "condemn" a protestant to hell if that's what you mean. I'll let Beckwith announce to all of his protestant brothers that we are going to hell (or is it Purgatory?) before I respond, but i think Frank's return to Catholicism is addressing a bigger criticism of American evangelicalism...our rugged individuality.

Most of our churches no longer even have shepherds that lead a flock but have created congregations of Christians who are a Pope unto themselves. I don't know if this makes me an anathema in Frank's eyes but him joining a supposed unbroken line of apostles doesn't make him an anathema in my eyes.

Given Frank's adherence to Catholicism yet calling himself an evangelical, perhaps we're witnessing a new form of Catholic. I believe Catholics NEED some Evangelical blood in their ranks as much as I think we Protestants need rituals of rememberance, a respect for the idea that God's holy church is a world wide family and that the Catholic church was not a wholly corrupt enterprise for 1600 years.

I'm neither a Reformer nor a Catholic by the way.

Doug,

Actually, Dr. Beckwith wrote that he decided to make his return to the RC Church official by receiving absolution earlier than he originally planned because of his nephew's request for Confirmation sponsorship. Apparently, the decision was made before that. But granted, he probably does love his family very much. And I also agree that I am disheartened by the response from some (but certainly not all) Protestants.

-----------------------

Matt,

The problems had by most studied Protestants towards Catholicism are more involved than what you seem to give credit for here, and actually a good portion has to do with the doctrinal direction taken by the RC Church over the last hundred years, underpinned by and against the backdrop of some of the historical problems. An evangelical "flavor and spirit" is of little solace when one is concerned with fundamental doctrinal issues, and unfortunately becomes only so much window-dressing.

-----------------------

Tony,

Ha.

Doug,

perhaps you have not read the Council of Trent. Every good Catholic must follow what the church teaches.

Please tell me that the Council of Trent is mistaken.

check out the anathemas on the protestants.

http://history.hanover.edu/early/trent.htm

http://www.trosch.org/chu/trent-1.htm

Andy,

I'm a committed Protestant, so I totally hear where you are coming from, but some Roman Catholics might simply refer to Vatican II, I'd think.....

Anyway, thanks, Greg and Melinda, for this report.

Alex

Except for some of the rituals, there isn't a huge difference any more between today's evangelicals and the RC's. Most evangs. are ignorant about their faith and they don't know the difference between salvation and sanctification and they don't know the basic differences between RC and Protestant or Reformed theology.

The reformers didn't say they had a better means of salvation they said they had "THE Means of Salvation"-----saved by grace alone thru faith alone thru Christ alone---period.

Homesickness or wishing to "be there" for this nephew are about as good "reasons" as I can think of.

Catholicism offers a very good community structure, complete with many public rituals that give individuals a sense of "meaning" and "belonging". They also have a very good school system and athletic system.

Joining your family in religious observance is where the rubber meets the road.

Catholicism also provides a very rigid, hierarchical social structure where every person can find a "role" to play in the church.

One such role could be smartypants apologist and you get a little extra ego boost when you are recognized as such. That must feel good. But that is beside the point…icing on the cake, gravy.

My dad "converted" to Protestantism when he met my mom, who was not only Protestant but Seventh-day Adventist. The Adventists blame the Catholics for braking the 4th commandment. So they have a beef with Catholicism. The Catholics don't even know the Adventists exist.

Why my best friend married a Catholic and the two families were in an uproar, I helped settle things with the now famous line…

"IT'S THE SAME JESUS!". (It's not like he's becoming a Hindu or something.)

At least Frank can now endeavor to be an Aristotelian Thomist and an Augustinian Neoplatonist at the same time! A balancing act that only the Catholics have understood.

Frank's "decision" just goes to show that religious decisions are not as "objective" as we think.

Still a "historical christian"…still a "historic faith" and a "reasonable faith"(belief in the validity of their documents)…still wrong.

Not much has changed.

Still we see what is important. Making sure his nephew participates in a meaningful ritual.

BTW, I snuck into a Catholic Communion once.

I didn't know it was wrong to do so, or else I would not have offended their custom.

But nobody was the wiser so I didn't "offend" anyone personally.

I was taking a religion class called "modern denominations" in college. We were required to visit three churches.

Coming from a denomination with an "open" communion I jumped right up and got in line to experience it for myself…try to "feel" like a Catholic for once.

I didn't know what to say when I got close to the priest.

I tried listening to the people in front of me but couldn't hear, not even the guy right in front of me.

It was either "yes" or "Amen"…I couldn't tell.

So the priest said…"The body of Christ"

And I said "Yes, Amen". He looked at me funny and gave me the wafer.

Then I washed it down with a swig of wine.

So I'm IN Frank! See you in the afterlife!

Then I attended an Episcopal church in Annapolis where I lived.

When they offered communion I excused myself to the back of the room.

Then an old deaconess said to me "Don't you want to be saved?"

What could I say? So I got in line.

Tom,

>>Homesickness or wishing to "be there" for this nephew are about as good "reasons" as I can think of.

Jesus, whom you quote when convenient for your case, didn't seem to think so. It seems that to him there was something more important:

"If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple." - Luke 14:26

>>One such role could be smartypants apologist and you get a little extra ego boost when you are recognized as such. That must feel good. But that is beside the point…icing on the cake, gravy.

It's hard to read tone in text, but you seem to be saying this somewhat derisively (please correct me if I'm wrong). If this is accurate, would you say that such an ego bost would be a bad thing, and if so, why?

From reading books, and from my own experience, people mostly disagree not with what the Roman Catholic Church teaches but with what they 'think' the RCC teaches. That, as I perceive it, is the case of Protestants and non-believers as well. Converts from Protestantism to RCC usually always confirm that. Peter Kreeft says that he's afraid of two things: of fireplace without fire (RCC) and fire without fireplace (Protestants). I think we need to learn much one from another... BTW, STR's great. Greetings from Slovakia (it's not Czechoslovakia anymore, Greg :) )

P.S. Tom, before they both drop off, there are a couple of responses to your comments from yours truly on a couple of older posts down at the bottom, just FYI.

Andy,
I'm familiar with the council of Trent but I don't think Catholics are judged by not following its example any more than Reformers should be judged for not burning dissenters alive like the early Calvinists.

I think we're talking about our key differences between denominations or religions if you prefer. Church of Christers would say some believers aren't Christians because they weren't baptized. That doesn't mean the church of Christers aren't my Christian brothers. They may be stupid brothers, but they are brothers.

Let's let Beckwith tell us where he stands on the council of Trent. I reject the doctrine of Transsubtantiation, but I've met brilliant Christian men who embrace it and give a good argument in its defense.

I also love J.P. Moreland but I can't swallow his view and experiences on modern miracles. That doesn't make him a liar, that just means that a man of his calibur has bought a level of "logical grace" I'll give a fellow believer who has a great mind...the same grace I hand over to Beckwith.

Now if Beckwith starts talking about salvation through works of penance then we'll talk. But it seems a little early to start the John Macarthy hearings. The fact that the morgue of the frozen chosen have any rocks to throw at Beckwith at all strikes me as pretty funny.

I spent considerable time conversing with a devout Catholic and came to a similar conclusion as Beckwith on some of our differences. Both sides have so much in common and often use different language to say quite nearly the same thing. Where Beckwith considers himself to be an evangelical, I would say that I'm an evangelical with Catholic leanings.

Some will say Beckwith is not aligned with official Catholic teaching and that he's "cherry picking" what he believes. Of course some will say evangelicals are guilty of cherry picking what they believe.

The bottom line is we are on the same team so let's act that way.

Aaron said...""If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple." - Luke 14:26"

That is the stupidest thing I've ever heard!

Aaron said..."would you say that such an ego boost would be a bad thing, and if so, why?"

No, not a bad thing, just acknowledging the part ego can play among "intellectuals"...among "academia"...among the "elite"...the best "lawyers" who make the best cases for "rational" or "intellectual" christianity.

They can even quote Josephus, Tacitus, and Seutonious...

But nothing wrong with a good healthy self-esteem...

Aaron...what blogs?

Tom said:"If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple." - Luke 14:26"

That is the stupidest thing I've ever heard!
---End of quote from Tom.

What? Jesus said the stupidest thing you have ever heard? You are certainly one brave man to make such a comment. Not a bright chap though...

Tom,

We are juice guys.

Tom and Tom.

Dumb and Dumberer.

Do you "hate your father?"

Doug, Roman Catholicism is not a denomination. That is a joke!

Tom,

>>That is the stupidest thing I've ever heard!

That may or may not be hyperbole on your part (even if Jesus was wrong, I've heard way more stupid things than that), but I believe you that you definitely think it's stupid.

So why in the world would you believe this Jesus guy knows what he's talking about when he says one must be born again to see the kingdom of God? Why continue to quote him? Taking into consideration the context of that statement, why do you think he was on to something here, and should not be dismissed as a megalomaniacal loon?

Tom,

Looks like you found one of the comments. The other has been archived already, but is under "Elegant and Empty".

This is not my blog, Tom, so I certainly don't have any real say on this, but you comment on transubstantiation was indecent, crass, way over the line, and if it was up to me would be deleted.

I hope Beckwith's move wakes the broader Evangelical community to really understand the fundamentals of what it means to be a Christian. For too long, we've watered down what we believe to embrace anyone who claims to follow Jesus.

Either grace is free or requires penance; Either Jesus is who we pray to or we need Mary to petition Him on our behalf. Those aren't misconceptions about Catholic teachings but clear differences between biblical teachings and the teachings of Rome.

I admire Beckwith a lot and his writings helped inspire me to do to full time pro-life work.

But Beckwith, like the magesterium of the Catholic church, is not God. And it is God's truth that is what will keep our feet firmly planted.

As a Catholic, I would like to give my perspective. STR is the best general apologetics (“mere” Christianity) organization in the world. Because there is a lot of theological confusion, Christians must read the best available books, etc., (including the Bible) on the three branches of Christianity. The Three branches of Christianity are Eastern Orthodoxy, Protestantism, and Catholicism. For example, some Protestants, etc., don’t know that Catholics are fully committed to sola gratia. In addition, some Catholics, for example, have incorrect views about Protestantism. I thank the God for the apologetic contributions that Protestant Christians have made in recent decades. For example, William Lane Craig’s apologetic work is brilliant. I hope that many Protestant Christians thank God for contributions that Catholic Christians have made. The same can be said for Eastern Orthodoxy. This is a good educational video with Dr. Beckwith in it. (In the video) “Francis Beckwith asks, is not the religious motive analysis a type of “religious test for office” prohibited by the Constitution’s Article VI?” It is at the American Enterprise Institute webpage. Go to the AEI web page and then put Francis Beckwith in the search feature. I hope STR is going to be a leader in the effort to truly understand what other branches of Christianity believe. Beckwith and Stand to Reason can make a great contribution towards that understanding. http://www.aei.org/events/eventID.1126,filter.all/event_detail.asp

(In my post above) I put “I thank the God for the apologetic contributions” I meant to put “I thank God for the apologetic contributions” It was a typing error.

Am I missing something? Has the Council of Trent, particularly the lengthy series of 'anathemas' or condemnations, been repealed or rejected by the Roman Catholic Church?
Last I knew, any good Roman Catholic would consider me condemned (on the basis of Trent).

I sorry but the meat of this issue is defining salvation. You can all tell me that I'm wrong but basically Roman Catholics believe that we are saved by grace (Christ's perfect life, death, and resurection) thru faith and then we have to maintain or finish our salvation by good works/obedience.

The reformed version is that we are saved by grace alone and that obedience and good works is strictly out of gratitude for the grace that has been given to us freely.

It appears as though RC's and Protestants (or evangelicals) are melding into one. It's the Theology Stupid!

Go ahead and yell it Aaron…

BLASPHEME!

Right now I'm picturing you doing a Yosemite Sam face.

Ooooooooooooooh, you rootin tootin varmit!

Say it loud.

Did that make you feel better?

Do you really think "Jesus" is in that wafer?

Do you really think being saved comes down to a snack?

(BTW, the bread and wine sacrament is an ancient pagan practice)

Tom,

>>Go ahead and yell it Aaron…

>>BLASPHEME!

>>Right now I'm picturing you doing a Yosemite Sam face.

>>Ooooooooooooooh, you rootin tootin varmit!

I'm not much good with faces, but I could probably do the voice. I'm better with voices.

>>Say it loud.

>>Did that make you feel better?

Not really, 'cause I never said it. I thought you were crass and inappropirate, and I would have said that had you made a similar comment in regards to someone I didn't deify.

>>Do you really think "Jesus" is in that wafer?

>>Do you really think being saved comes down to a snack?

Nope, and nope. But that was not what motivated my objection.

>>(BTW, the bread and wine sacrament is an ancient pagan practice)

Careful here. You've got to provide evidence that these pagan practices predate Christianity to even take the first step down the road you seem to be implying you want to go down - namely, that the borrowing flowed from paganism to Christianity and not the other way around.

What do you make of this? It almost sounds like what the Episcopalian said about being "saved by communion. (John 6:53)

"In truth, In truth, I say to you, Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have not life in yourselves. He that eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life: and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father; so he that eats me, he also shall live because of me. This is the bread which came down out of heaven: not as the fathers ate, and died; he that eats this bread shall live for ever."

It would be inconsistent historically and biblically, as you have reported here, for Dr. Beckwith to imply that he stills hold to a biblical understanding of the doctrine of justification by faith alone and yet embrace Romanism. The Reformation did not occur because of a difference of semantics; but core beliefs on the essential meaning of justification by faith alone. Rome still holds to a false gospel of "faith plus works" and ought not to be treated as representing genuine Christianity.

Consider the following on Roman doctrine:

The concern lies around Tridentine doctrine in its view of justification, the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, and the nature of saving faith. IOW, the very gospel itself.

As you know, Romanism's gospel convictions have not been repudiated since Trent and remain codified denying the gospel of sola fide and affirming one of semi-Pelagianism: faith plus works; grace plus merit; Christ plus an infused righteousness.

Tridentine Roman Catholicism is a faith centered in prayers to the dead, the centrality of the Mass (which they still consider a propitiatory sacrifice [TWENTY-SECOND SESSION, CANONS ON THE SACRIFICE OF THE MASS - Canons on the Sacrifice of the Mass, Canon 3], confessionals, and the specter of purgatorial suffering. It proclaims a firm belief in the Immaculate Conception, the Bodily Assumption of Mary, and the "5th Marian Dogma" - the idea that Mary is co-redemptrix, co-mediatrix, and advocate for the people of God.

Indeed, consider for just a moment the wording of the petition submitted to the Pope, signed by more than six million Roman Catholics worldwide, that expresses this view:

"With filial love, we the faithful wish to humbly petition you, the Vicar of Christ, to solemnly define as Christian dogma the Church's constant teaching on Mary's co-redemptive role with Christ the Redeemer of humanity. It is our belief that such a definition will bring to light the whole truth about Mary, Daughter of the Father, Mother of the Son, Spouse of the Spirit, and Mother of the Church. Therefore, it is our prayer that the Holy Spirit will guide you, Holy Father, to define and proclaim the Blessed Virgin Mary as Coredemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces and Advocate for the people of God."

The issue of "peace with God" is truly the major difference between the biblical gospel and that promulgated by Rome. Rome's teachings on key issues are so far removed from their biblical definitions that the resultant gospel becomes one that is based upon human performance rather than the finished work of Christ (Romans 3-4; Hebrews 9:14ff). Romans 5:1 is key: "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,"

Question: How can a Roman Catholic have true peace, true shalom with God? In Dr. Beckwith's return to Romanism, justification is not claimed to be the divine, forensic declaration that a sinner is right in God's sight based upon faith alone in the work of Christ alone, including the imputed righteousness of Christ which provides us with a perfect standing before God. Instead, justification and sanctification are made the same thing, so that one is justified by baptism initially, causing one to enter "the state of grace." You can do good works in the state of grace that are meritorious before God, but, the commission of a mortal sin destroys that state, and makes you an enemy of God once again. You can become re-justified through the sacrament of penance, though the temporal punishment of sins remains. Anyone should inquire of Dr. Beckwith, "upon what basis could anyone have peace with God when he could go to sleep that night as God's enemy? How is that true peace, true shalom?"

I believe that is the concern here over his defection from biblical Christianity to his return to Rome--the very nature of the gospel and of saving faith.

His Unworthy Servant in His Unfailing Love,
Steve Camp
2 Cor. 4:5-7

It's just I can't imagine Yosemite Sam saying…

"crass and innapropriate"…

Ooooooooooh you crass and innapropriate varmit!

Just doesn't work.

Maybe…."you blasphemous varmit"

Now that's funny.

So you do a good Yosemite Sam impression, that's funny too. Thank you for being gracious in your humor (despite the backhanded insult…I guess I deserved it.)

Now if you want to discuss the significance fo the ritual I think we can agree that the significance is not actually "IN" the wafer, but "IN" the act of participating in the ritual.

The sacrament of the "supper" has its precedent among the most ancient fire-worship.

The Rigveda shows partaking in a sacred meal, with sacred cake symbolizing all solid nourishment and the Soma cup, the symbol of all liquid nourishment.

It was thought that Agni dwelt invisible within these substances.

The drink was believed to disclose the nature of the "God of Fire and Life".

Participation opened the "faithful" communion with Agni.

Dionysus bore the surname Saos, a distributor of wine, is supposed to have "shed his blood for the salvation of the world", to have died and risen again.

Jao was a mystical name for Dionysus among the Greeks and he, like Vishnu Jesuda (krishna), and Jesus roamed about in the capacity of travaeling healer and redeemer of the world.

Of all the wandering Healers, Physicians, and Deliverers they were all honoured in the Mysteries by sacramental meals and offered the "faithful" both the chalice of healing and the "bread of life".

I have to say that some of what Melinda writes is ridiculous. He is a brother? He thinks Rome uses different language? May I suggest readers look to aomin.org and Kim Riddlebarger's blog for good commentary from the perspective of good Reformed Christians.

I am having a great deal of trouble with all of this. I look to STR for REASON. I want to know how anyone can, worship (bow down to pray to and thank) IDOLS. I have not seen this addressed in any of the comments, or any blog discussion. I see all of this hair splitting and discussion of minutia, (sp) high flying discussions of vague high falauting (sp) verbiage and esoteric discussions but the actual practices are not mentioned. I know, I know, my Catholic friends, say it is not IDOL worship. I really do not need a degree in Theology to say: If it acts like a idol worship, looks like idol worship , and sounds like idol worship, then….. Wow it must be a idol worship.

I am not trying to be mean. This honest question.

Linda said...

"...but the actual practices are not mentioned"

I could not agree more.

A great writer once said..."History makes out Christ to be other than He truly is, and so one learns to know a lot about...Christ? No, not about Christ, for about him nothing can be known, only believed."

And I would add...

Your "beliefs" are in your actions (practices) not in your "thoughts".

"Christ" is in your actions (practices) or "he" is nowhere.

It is only when we try to express your "beliefs" in words that you get "thoughts" or linguistic representations of your "beliefs".

Then you can debate them.

But notice you are already two steps removed from your "beliefs" which really lie in your pre-linguistic, pre-debated...practices. Exactly when you are NOT thinking about them, trying to formulate them into high falutin language...and high falutin consistent systems.

Aaron,

I missed this..

you said..."So why in the world would you believe this Jesus guy knows what he's talking about when he says one must be born again to see the kingdom of God? Why continue to quote him?"

Well..this gets complicated, but these are the kinds of questions I like.

The phenomena of being "born-again" is the key to understanding all of christianity.

If you can understand that one phenomena, and describe it (although it is not necessary to describe it in order to live it...that is, linguistic expression is not necessary) then you have understood the "essence" of Christianity.

So I think what Jesus says is correct. Unless you are "born-again" you will not see "the kingdom" or have "eternal life".

So we have widdled it downt to three terms. born-again, the kingdom, and eternal life.

If we can just understand these three things you will unlock the secret.

First the question is "how do we understand".

That is the first, and most important question.

The Historicists say that to "understand" who Jesus "really is" you have to be able to reflect rationally on all the available documentary evidence and conclude that the resurrection and ascension actually happened.

If you can "prove" that then the rest follows.

But this kind of "objective" understanding is not the way to "understand".

The only way to "understand" rebirth is to experience it for yourself.

So right out of the gate the historicists look in the wrong place to find "Jesus".

Jesus is a spirit that inspires you.

Historicists and I would agree.

But to say more is where we diverge.

They want to place the "reality" of Jesus in "objective history" and I want to place the "reality" of Jesus in the subjective experience of being born again.

Now who Jesus actually was is a long story.

For the moment it is enough to simply say that participating in a rebirth ritual such as baptism predates Jesus, and that being "born-again" was understood in an "a-historical" or allegorical or mystical or mythical or spiritual way by many other groups before the Catholics stamped "historicity" onto it.

I think there really was a Jesus who preached the kingdom of heaven and was killed for it...thrown up on a cross without even a record of a trial (roman record).

But after that it does not matter when I can date the book of John or Mark...to "understand" Jesus it takes a "leap", a committment...a devotion...a determination.

Now what could possibly soup up our love so much that it makes us willing to die for it?

Is it a book?

Or is it a person like a spouse?

Or is it a person like a child?

You will find that loving them is risky, it takes a certain kind of determination, it takes a certian kind of resolve...that is what I call "faith" (following S. Kierkegaard).

That is one version of what it is like to be "transformed by love".

If you have had the experience you can "understand".

Objectivity will never transform you. It may "change your mind"...but it can't "change your heart".

You do not rationally reflect on the concept "transformed by love"...because doing that fixes the thought in your mind, takes you out of the world (in order to perform the meditation upon the concept). Meditating on the concept of transformation can never give the person an "understanding" of what it is like to transform.

I sum it up this way.

Transformation cannot be thought.

The reason I quote Jesus is because it is funny and ironic to me that I am arguing against a historicist christianity with Jesus' own words.

Historicists don't "understand" John3:3.

They think being "born-again" is confessing Jesus' resurrection is eyewittness testimony.

Or they think being "born-again" just follows all the inductive arguments...like once you are finished with the history lesson you will know what it is like to be transformed by love.

Tom,

I don't have much time right now, so I can't get to all of what you have said, but one of the things that keeps coming out in your comments is driving me crazy and seems to lie close to the heart of many of our disagreements. You seem to continually want to bifurcate human nature into the rational state and...I dunno, the pre-rational state (does that work?). Statements like

>>Objectivity will never transform you. It may "change your mind"...but it can't "change your heart".

make it sound like there is some impeneterable divide between "heart" and head", when I see the two as being so inextricably interconnected that any sharp distinction between the two seems highly artificial. I'm a whole person, darn it, and to live in the dichotomy you propose not only would drive me crazy, but is thoroughly nonsensical to me.

How do I know this, you ask? Of all the things I know, I know myself the best, and this is how life is for me. My heart and my head are so closely intertwined, I usually don't bother trying to distinguish between the two. I HAVE been transformed by thought, in many areas of my life, and for you to say that one half of who I am is valid and the other isn't makes little sense to me.

BTW, Tom,

>>They think being "born-again" is confessing Jesus' resurrection is eyewittness testimony.

This is NOT what I think being "born again" is, nor is the rest of your 'historicist' description, so I must not be one. Problem is, I don't know any Christians who would say those things, either, so where are these 'historicists'?

And what do you mean, "Jesus' own words"? I thought you believe the New Testament to be the artificial construction of men in a theological powerplay.

OK, sorry Tom, I guess I lied - I'll make some time because I just can't resist responding further to what you wrote.

Here's another problem I see recurring in your argumentation. You said:

>>So I think what Jesus says is correct. Unless you are "born-again" you will not see "the kingdom" or have "eternal life".

>>So we have widdled it downt to three terms. born-again, the kingdom, and eternal life.

>>If we can just understand these three things you will unlock the secret.

>>First the question is "how do we understand".

I was right with you here, and was looking forward to seeing how you would say we could understand these three things that - I agree - are of such vital importance. Unfortunately however, at this point you took a total non sequitur and went off on the question of "understanding Jesus", which was not at all what you laid out as needing to understand. The question was not, "how do we understand Jesus?" but rather, 1) "how (by what method) do we understand these three terms?" and 2) "what then do we understand them to mean?"

Aaron...

A couple of things to get started...

First...How do you define being "born-again"? How does it relate to your identity and your everyday activity?

And Second...Could you make sense of Christianity without Jesus' resurrection being a "historical fact"?

For example...I deny Jesus' resurrection is a historical fact...does that mean that if you were able to rationally convince me that it is a "fact" that I will immediately transform...as if transformed by love (since that is the best description)...and be "born-again".

Would you say once I confess Jesus' resurrection a fact that I am "changed"? Contrast this with the "phenomena" of being born-again. What does the addition of this fact to my repetoir of facts do to my identity and everyday activity?

Aaron...this is distantly related..

But do you think that there are different "kinds" of people?

I don't mean racial or ethnic "kinds"...but within any given culture are there people who are "naturally" different?

I think there are different "kinds" of people according to their "talents".

All the monotheisms, Acquinas, Maimonodes, Averroes all admit the same..."talents come from God".

I think that you and I fall into a different "class" or "kind" of person. Just to give it a namee...we are "thinkers".

So it is no wonder that your "heart and head" are intertwined. So is mine.

But I know the difference between rational objectivity and passionate subjectivity. Whereas you would claim the former to be decisive, I would claim the latter is truly decisive.

This pertains to our "methods".

Let's take someone for example who is not a "thinker" like you and I.

Let's say they know nothing about Ecumenical Councils and Dating the NT documents and don't care.

How do they go about transforming?

Does it not come down to their individual circumstances?

BTW, it was not JUST a "theological" powerplay.

I have to say, I've read through all of these comments, and with as much charity as possible I will say that there is very little understanding of actual Catholic teaching. There are a lot of false presumptions of what Catholics believe and why we do what we do. In all seriousness, do you believe that Beckwith would join a church that worships idol, as some have claimed about the Catholic Church in the comments above? I am a RC and grew up in the faith, but my husband is a convert from evangelical Protestantism. Through my relationship with him, I have seen that each side uses vocabulary in different ways. A conversation between two protestant and one between two Catholics would be almost incomprehensible by the other parties.
There is no way that I could begin to explain these issues right now and do any justice to them. I would just encourage you to check out material and web sites by Catholics such a Scott Hahn...he is a convert who has written extensively on Catholic thought and the bible and may be a great resource for you if you are trying to understand Beckwith's statements on justification. Beckwith's story is not uncommon; there are many who have written as an evangelical protestant who converts to Catholism.
In closing, I would like to assure you that no Catholic believes that they work their way to salvation or can merit grace. There were many misunderstood teachings of the Catholic Church given by people above in the comments and my only response can be, LEARN MORE! There is plenty of information out there, read Beckwith’s blog, he gives sources that lead to his conversion but there are plenty of others. I will list some wed site below. At the minimum at least look up definition of words that cause you issues in Catholic writings from Catholic sources so that you understand what the term actually means instead of what other Protestants tell you it means, stop by a Catholic church and talk with a priest or join a catholic bible study these are great ways to get to no us, we have no secrets. There are so many wonderful things that the Catholic Church has to offer and I pray you may experience them. If you truly approach the Catholic Church with an open heart and mind you to may end up in Beckwith's position. But in the end, you will believe only what you are willing to believe.

Resourses:

www.catholic.com

www.scotthahn.com

www.firstthings.com

www.chnetwork.org

www.avemariaradio.net

Say a stranger comes into town and asks "where the local Prostestant Church is?". Well, what would the answer be? Which denomination would it be? There are now over 30,000 unique denominations from Lutheran to Free Will Baptists, to 32 flavors of Methodist, etc. The only that unites you is your irrational hatred of the Catholic Church, which is your only sure doctrine.

I am very disappointed that Beckwith went back to Rome. How can a true born again believer go back to a church which at the Council of Trent anathematized the Reformers. Martin Luther said that the doctrine of justification by faith alone is the one on which the true church stands. Rome called Luther's doctrines anathema!

John MacArthur recently did a stunning analysis of RCC at this link:

http://www.gty.org/resources.php?section=transcripts&aid=231488

He states unequivocally that the RCC is a front for the Kingdom of Satan.

Spurgeon said that Christ did not spill His blood on Calvary so that the pope could steal the glory.

I am surprised at the rather mild comments by the blog authors. Beckwith cannot remain such a great friend of STR if he has abandoned the faith of Luther and Calvin, and of Jesus and the apostles.

Stan Ermshar

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