Really, the Reformers were so very stupid...

Twelve hours ago, the current president of the Evangelical Theological Society, philosopher Francis J. Beckwith, posted a short piece announcing he and his wife have made the decision to convert to Roman Catholicism. Beckwith claims there's no conflict between Rome and the doctrinal standards of the Evangelical Theological Society and who am I to disagree? (No cheating--ya gotta read it all the way to the bottom.)

Here's my comment under Beckwith's announcement:

This past week, I taught Luther’s Bondage of the Will to my son’s home school co-op class, prompting my observation as a longtime ETS member that it seems apparent ETS today would roll out the red carpet for Erasmus, but would give old man Luther the boot. Those tempted to cast a longing glance after Beckwith would do well to read Bondage of the Will, themselves. It’s a perfectly Scriptural cure for Tiberculosis.

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and fifteen grandchildren.

Comments

How very odd. Not surprising at all to me, but very odd.

Dr. Beckwith, having left Rome at some time in the past, now returns want to err on her side? I think a theological shift of this magnitude would only happen when one believes they are leaving error behind, not embracing its possibility! Have the reasons for his leaving Rome changed?

Kamilla

OK, I give up, I can type fast but I never said I type well!

that should be "wanting" to err on her side, etc.

Kamilla

It seems that people who grow up with the "mother of God" seem to return to her nipple after many years.

Mr. Beckwith is also the man who has defended his friends Craig Hazen and Richard Mouw when they worshiped with the polytheists in the Mormon Tabernacle back in November 2004.

So his basic doctrinal compass is much like Jack Sparrow's. (That’s CAPTAIN Jack Sparrow!)

What must a man do to be saved?

Nowhere in the post you link to does Beckwith say anything resembling your statement, "Beckwith claims there's no conflict between Rome and the doctrinal standards of the Evangelical Theological Society." Does he say this elsewhere that you can point to?

>>Nowhere in the post you link to does Beckwith say anything resembling your statement, "Beckwith claims there's no conflict between Rome and the doctrinal standards of the Evangelical Theological Society."

Dr. Beckwith writes: "Because I can in good conscience, as a Catholic, affirm the ETS doctrinal statement, I do not intend to resign as a member of ETS."

"Tiberculosis"!

I love it.

As an ex-RC myself, this is a depressing announcement indeed. And he's hauling his Presbyterian wife along with him. Bummer.

Does anyone know to which Presbyterian denomination she belonged? PCA? PCUSA? Other?

Actually, G. Pair, Beckwith DID say it in that announcement: "Because I can in good conscience, as a Catholic, affirm the ETS doctrinal statement, I do not intend to resign as a member of ETS."

Were he to believe there IS "conflict between Rome and the doctrinal standards of the Evangelical Theological Society", he presumably wouldn't say that.

Dang. Jinx, Tim!

Both posted at 8:43 a.m. ;^)

I saw that statement, but I don't agree that it means what Tim says it does. I think Beckwith means exactly what he said, and no more.

Nevertheless, Tim has a point, as the entire doctrinal statement of ETS is:

"The Bible alone, and the Bible in its entirety, is the Word of God written and is therefore inerrant in the autographs. God is a Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each an uncreated person, one in essence, equal in power and glory."

Any orthodox Catholic could agree with that, in good conscience.

"Any orthodox Catholic could agree with that, in good conscience."

As, apparently, does noted Roman Catholic scholar Scott Hahn, according to Russell Moore's post over at merecomments. I find myself wondering how many more there are among the ETS membership. How many, if any, have presented papers? And why, if that is the case, such a fuss should have been made over "open theism".

Dr. Beckwith is right about one thing, there is a discussion that needs to take place within ETS.

Kamilla

I daresay RC's would willingly agree with it because it says "The Bible alone, and the Bible in its entirety, is the Word of God written..."

It's that "written" that makes it acceptable to them. It doesn't preclude additional, UNwritten "Word[s] of God" such as, oh, say, the magisterium of the RCC.

To an RC it's true as far as it goes...it just doesn't go very far.

Whereas to a Protestant, the Bible is the ONLY "Word of God" provided to His people for their edification and instruction.

Whether the Bible is the sole source of particular, divine revelation (He also reveals Himself through His creation, of course) is a huge difference between Protestantism and the RCC.

Hi Anne,

Just a little nit to pick here. I agree with your conclusion, but I wouldn't say the Bible is the ONLY Word of God. Are you excluding what is sometimes called general revelation or the book of nature?

I don't need the Bible to know that sodomy is wrong, a crime against nature, for instance. But I do need to the Bible to learn precisely why. (just as an example)

Kamilla

That's why I pointed out that God also reveals Himself through His creation. Isn't that the same thing as "the book of nature"?

yes, it is the same. Sorry, it appeared to me you were making a bigger disconnection between the two types of revelation.

Kamilla

Not intending to do that, of course, but seeing as how easy it is to misread the created order (evolution, anyone?), when it comes down to relying on the Bible or the book of nature, it's most prudent to choose the Bible.

Religious systems that add additional avenues of divine revelation tend to get screwed up, such as the current pope being comfortable with evolution, never mind what the Bible says.

Interesting comments on Dr. Beckwith's blog. One commenter was, I think, trying a bit of snideness on by insinuating all the detractors posting were callow young'uns who had yet to experience any crisis in life. As if a crisis would surely drive us into the arms of the mother church!

Tim, I hope you don't mind that I "outed" you as a little bit more than 20-something!

Kamilla

I have to comment on the resume. It's sad that a man values his accomplishments so much that he keeps such diligent track of them and posts as many of them as he could remember on his vitae.

I worked a summer at a recruiter (headhunter) office. We knew that when somebody's 10-page resume crossed our desk that there was certain baggage that would come with working with that individual. Dr. Beckwith's CV, pasted onto Word, is over 20 pages long.

The Church Fathers have struck again. What can one say.

Full Disclosure. Baptist now Catholic here. The problem I think that must be engaged is this by those of the Evanglical/Protestant/Reformed Camp. That is the writings of the Church Fathers. Now , the warning signs of what is happening has been apparent for a long time. I notice with fascination that Converts to ORthodoxy were tolerated. I suspect because at least they were not Rome. However that was the first sign of things to come. When a person such as I encounter the Church fathers, anger is a common emotion. Anger that not all that was advertised as Chruch History and Church teaching was as clear as it was taught. One sees all these Bishops running around, talk of the Body of and Blood of Christ being the real thing, prayers for the dead, etc etc and ones reactions is astonishment.

I already see people misdiagnosing the problem on blogs. They are saying too bad he believe in the Church Fathers instead of the Bible. Well that is all silly and is right in line with "Catholics worship statutes". What strikes people are the Church Fathers breathed and lived scripture and also seem to think this tradition thing was important. That being said I do see non Catholic and Orthodox figures confront the Church Fathers and remain in their tradition. However they are far and few in between. Dr James White and William Webster attempts do not cut it.

The reaction to this can be good or bad. I think anything that makes us go into the scriptures more is a great thing. Having dialouge is a must in todays world. Howevever I am not seeing that in the Protestant world. Look at the emerging Church movement. It now seems that the tact is to proclaim them as a much of liberals. I have seen articles over the past few weeks doing that. Well that is not a honest assesment at all. This should be interesting

JH

LOuisiana

"All who are in Asia turned away from me." Saint Paul in his Second Letter to Timothy, chapter one, verse 15.

So the church fathers taught papal infallibility?

As a Catholic returned to the Church after a wonderful sojourn among Evangelica Episcopalians (Truro Church of Fairfax, VA, now center of CANA), I recognize my own story in the furry of commentary around Dr. Beckwith's conversion. First, it was the Church Fathers from Ignatius to Irenaeus to Augustine etc. which showed me that the Church which approved the canon of the NT in the 390's was as Catholic as Catholic can be. The very Church on whose authority the list of the NT books rests did not believe in Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, etc. but rather was centered on the episcopate and the Sacraments. So, along with John Henry Cardinal Newman, Beckwith and I have traveled the well worn path from the Fathers to Rome.

The other similarity is the undignified, uncharitable assurances of Beckwith's seat in h*ll. I lived through that myself in Virginia. The widespread immaturity in Christ thus exhibited was for me a confirmation that I was heading the Spirit's call. I had never experienced such from Catholics when I left the Church in the first place. The real disappoint among Catholics over my leaving the Church in my college years only showed years later in the elation upon my return. Having been terribly saddened by my departure, they were all the while good to me and kind. But the reaction to my return to the Church from my Evanglical friends and family was horror, dismay, and emotional violence.

The spirits which lie under the surfaces of these two faiths are as far apart as night and day. And Christ endorses one of those spirits: "love ona another as I have loved you."

Arthur,

I'd say that immaturity cuts both ways.

Kamilla

>>Well that is all silly and is right in line with "Catholics worship statutes".

Normally, I clean up such typos without asking permission of the commenter or calling attention to his mistake. But not this time. No, not this time!

The truth will out. Hearty chuckles, here.

Kamilla.

Absolutely not. I have lived on both sides of the river. Let me tell you, Evangelicals are routinely uncivil toward Catholics. Catholics on the other hand do not go around telling people they are going to hell. Catholics just dont think that way. We are not brought up that way. Our mothers and fathers did not tell us to pity our protestant neighbors because they were probably not going to heaven.

Evangelicals on the other hand love to say things like. I really pity Mother Theresa, its doubtful she was saved. Or, when Evangelicals are feeling very magnanimous they will say something like: I know the some Catholics can be good people and even some of them are probably saved.

That is just downright sickening. And it is the same self-righteous tone that has reared its ugly head in the wake of Dr. Beckwith's announcement. All the while it is ineffective as an evangelical strategy because it does not reveal the face of Christ. It is unattractive and only serves as confirmation that by returning to Rome one has left behind and bad spirit.

> Catholics just dont think that way. We are not brought up that way.... It is unattractive and only serves as confirmation that by returning to Rome one has left behind and bad spirit.

Arthur, really?

Ever hear of Rome's Inquisition, the Counter-Reformation, Bloody Mary, the fate of the French Huguenots, and so on?

I've known nominal Catholics who were told they were not allowed to set foot in a Protestant Church, no matter what the purpose. I just heard this weekend about a Catholic student who couldn't attend their own public high school graduation Baccalaureate Service because it was held at a Protestant Church.

That leads me to believe:

1) there must be something wrong with Protestants, or

2) Rome wants to hide something from Catholics so they can better control them.

I've never heard an evangelical/reformed authority figure tell me I was not allowed to set foot in a Catholic Church (because they were going to hell, or because they worshiped "statutes" or any other reason). They have spoken against official, historic, unbiblical Roman Catholic teaching, to be sure.

I know recent Popes have said things against Protestantism.

--Michael

Arthur,

That just goes to show that the world is a big place and we hang around in different corners. And if you think the anti-catholicism of Protestants is bad, I could introduce you to a few Orthodox friends. . . . .

Kamilla

Michael--

Where to begin? It is virtually impossible to have a real conversation when your conversation partner always assumes the worst motives for your actions, always thinks he knows better your motivations than you yourself do.

Catholics were never, NEVER told they could not enter a Protestant church. They were told not to participate. The Church now encourages participation with Protestants short of receiving Communion.

You have well rehersed a one-sided account of the 16th Century. A good Protestant has to do this in order to justify the protest and not become Catholic. But, I assure you that if you do some balanced reading you will see that the evils of that Century were as great on one side as on the other. The English Reformation alone wiped out as many Catholics as the the entire Inquisition, and possibly more.

I have never heard a Catholic homily refer to another religion. We just talk about Jesus, really. But, I have heard many, many anti-Catolic sermons.

Kamilla--Yes, we probably do hang out in different corners of the world. I used to live in southern Virginia and now I live in Indiana. Both are places where Catholics have suffered and still do suffer incredible abuse at the hands of Evangelicals.

And, the fact that the Orthodox misbehave and can be uncivil does not excuse the incivility of Evangelicals.

> [Arthur:] You have well rehersed a one-sided account of the 16th Century.

No, I was balancing your extremely one-sided, rosy view of Roman Catholicism. (Talk about "your conversation partner always... thinks he knows better your motivations than you yourself do"!)

> A good Protestant has to do this in order to justify the protest and not become Catholic.

Ah, no -- "good protestants" are not silly enough to make such weighty and eternal judgments based upon the actions of particular sinners, individually or as a group. No, I am not avoiding "becoming catholic" because I was taught Catholics were big meanies. (I'll leave such shallow reasoning to the feminists, who say that because of sin in history, we should trash the source of the beliefs of those sinners.)

> But, I assure you that if you do some balanced reading you will see that the evils of that Century were as great on one side as on the other.

I am quite familiar with the whole picture of that period, and have no problem saying so, whatever you may erroneously conclude to the contrary.

> I have never heard a Catholic homily refer to another religion.

If shepherds are supposed to protect their flocks from false teachers, then your leaders are doing you a disservice. Are not some religions false, and need to be opposed?

> We just talk about Jesus, really.

Well, that sounds real spiritual, for sure, so I should just hush.

> But, I have heard many, many anti-Catolic sermons.

None of their content had any validity, I assume. What is your position on papal indulgences? Has the pope ever decreed error? Is he infallible?

> And, the fact that the Orthodox misbehave and can be uncivil does not excuse the incivility of Evangelicals.

I have to say that I greatly appreciate some things about the Catholics. For example, on April 23rd, the Vatican's second-highest ranking doctrinal official forcefully branded homosexual marriage an evil and denounced abortion and euthanasia as forms of "terrorism with a human face."

Yes, I know he should have just been talking about Jesus and not gotten into politics or said anything mean about other people's (non-catholics') beliefs, but being an uncivil person myself, I greatly appreciated that uncivil public stand anyway.

Thanks for the reply,

Michael

> Dr. Beckwith writes: "Because I can in good conscience, as a Catholic, affirm the ETS doctrinal statement, I do not intend to resign as a member of ETS."

I've never seen the movie, but this variation of the original title keeps coming to mind: "Bend it Like Beckwith."

--Michael

Dear Arthur, Michael, and whoever else,

Can we just be honest here for one moment and agree that both Catholics and Protestants are guilty (for better or worse) of condemming each other in time-past and in time-present? I was raised Catholic and I know I was told and I know my parents were taught that Protestants were going to hell unless they became Catholic. I became a Christian five years ago in a Protestant church, and I know I have heard condemming words for Catholics during that time.

But I think we are all missing the big point here--call yourself Catholic or call yourself Protestant, we will never have salvation from the punishment of hell unless we place our faith in Jesus Christ. He is our righteousness, not our label of Catholic or Protestant.

Now, like I said before, I was raised as a Catholic, but I never, never knew Christ with my heart until I heard him preached in a Protestant worship service. Actually, the biggest influence was the Bible itself. His words pierced my heart and by the power of the Holy Spirit I was changed into a follower of Christ.

As a Christian, informed by education and experience in both realms of the Catholic church and the Protestant church, it is difficult indeed for me to understand why anyone who has deeply known forgiveness from God could ever believe he/she could bring anything to judgement seat other than Christ's righteousness. And for that reason, it is difficult for me to understand why a Protestant leader would want to convert to Catholicism. Saved or unsaved, Catholics and Protestants teach different ideas on how we are saved. Only one idea is true.

Isaiah 64:6 All of us has become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. (NIV)

Arthur,

As I said, we inhabit different corners of this big world. I grew up in a very Irish Catholic town and you can't tell me Evangelicals have a lock on handing out abuse. Neither side of the Tiber has lilly white hands on that score.

Kamilla

Lauren.

Two statements show you have no credibility.

1. "I was raised a Catholic."

2. "Five years ago I became a Christian."

So, Catholics arent Christians? If you believe that, then you are a bigot.

If you are a bigot, then your equating the behaviors of Catholics and Protestants as equally bad is unreliable and very very likely a lie.

Catholics dont spend much energy or time on Protestantism. But Protestants routinely rehearse the 16th Century in order to fuel their hatreds. This is un-Christlike as well as anti-Catholic.

Arthur

How disgusting of you Arthur to speak so rudely to a woman. Your parents should have taught you better.

Boo.

What makes us a Christian? Was it our infant baptisms in the Catholic church? Or was it when we first believed in Jesus? Or was it when we finally conquered sin and put others ahead of ourselves all the time (which hasn't happened to me ever)? Or was it when I spoke in tongues? Again, my point was and still is that Catholics and Protestants differ on this point of justification. But, the Word of God answers this question of how one is saved. I am 100% convinced by God's Word and an understanding of my sinful nature (also described in God's Word) that I have nothing to bring, nothing but the blood of Jesus.

God, open our eyes to your truth. Amen.

Arthur,

Perhaps Catholics don't spend much energy on Protestantism because the anathemas still stand from Trent.

>Catholics dont spend much energy or time on Protestantism.

You need to get out more.

Jack's pipe.

Where did you get the idea that the anathemas still stand from Trent?

Do you know what anathema means?

It means "Let him be cast out (banned or bannished)."

Are the anathemas still in effect? In no way. According to Lumen Gentium all baptised Christians share partial but imperfect communion with the Catholic Church. This is why we do not re-baptize.

So, I suggest that you do a little or a lot more reading on what Catholicism actually teaches rather than what some preacher tells you the Church teaches. There are entirely too many Evangelicals who get off on hating the Catholic Church. Believe me as a former evangelical myself, folks with malignant hearts will always twist a truth in order to promote hatred.

By the way this boogey-man kind of statement (about the anathemas being still in effect) is just the kind of thing evangelicals love to promote. Nevermind it is the product of a negative and uneducated mind.

Jody K.

How disgusting to imply that Catholics arent Christians. That is just Satan speaking.

You and Lauren both ought to be ashamed, though you probably dont know any better. You were probably taught that incivility to Catholics is a virtue.

Funny, when you get just a taste of it back, you play all shocked. Come on. I see right through your little game.

Arthur, turn it off. A boor is a boor is a boor, and it matters not a whit whether he's Protestant or Roman Catholic.

Concerning Trent's anathemas, those claiming their abrogation are saying an ecumenical council erred. Rather unlikely we'd ever find Rome admitting that, I'd say.

Here are two Roman Catholic sites with their own statements about the continuing validity of Trent's anathemas.

First: http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2007/01/catholic-understanding-of-anathem...

"Note that the Tridentine anathemas are still true and binding from a Catholic perspective."

Then, seeking a way out, the site adds this caveat:

"But in some cases what they condemned were not orthodox (confessional) Lutheran or Calvinist beliefs."

Being an "orthodox Calvinist," I must say I'm greatly relieved.

Second, again from an orthodox Roman Catholic site: http://www.geocities.com/peterpaulmin/CoucilofTrent.html

"The Council of Trent, the 19th ecumenical council of the Roman Catholic Church, was held at Trent in northern Italy between 1545 and 1563. The purpose of this council was to condemn every heretical teaching of the Protestant sects. Trent courageously defended the seven sacraments, the Most Holy Eucharist, purgatory, the necessity of the priesthood, justification by faith and works, indulgences, and the veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the saints. Trent also hurled 125 anathemas (eternal damnation's) against anyone that denies the Catholic doctrine. These anathemas should not be looked upon in a negative light. The Church concerned with the spiritual welfare of mankind warned all against the danger of embracing error as any good guardian would do with those in trusted to their care.

The question many people ask today is were these anathemas from the Council of Trent ever revoked? The answer is No. An anathema on an infallible statement can never be changed, and is always binding; otherwise the statement is not infallible. Many people have been falsely lead to believe that Vatican II and the Code of Canon Law of 1983 did away with Trent's anathemas. First, there is not the slightest hint in the documents of Vatican II that the proclamations of the Council of Trent have been abrogated. As a matter of fact Vatican II referred to the Council of Trent dozens of times and quoted Trent's proclamations as authority. Second, prior to the 1983 Code, those who were excommunicated from the Church were divided into two categories; i.e. vitandi and tolerati. The 1983 Code of Cannon law eliminated these distinctions which has given rise to the false impression that these condemnations were repealed, but this is not the case. Catholics must remember that canon law deals primarily with internal discipline. While there is always some relation between canon law and dogmatic theology, as a rule the law does not make doctrinal pronouncements. Mr. Charles M. Wilson, an associate member of the Canon Law Society of America and president of the St. Joseph Foundation when asked if the Code of 1983 repealed the anathemas he stated, 'I can find nothing in the Code now in force that explicitly or implicitly removes any anathemas of Trent.'"

So then, contrary to the reassurances being published on this blog, Trent's anathemas are as valid today as they were back in 1563.

Oy gevalt!

"Trent courageously defended the seven sacraments, the Most Holy Eucharist, purgatory, the necessity of the priesthood, justification by faith and works, indulgences, and the veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the saints."

That's hilarious. What was so courageous about it? The RCC was the Big Dog, for crying out loud!

Arthur, you're just lashing out and jumping on any offenses that you percieve here. In so doing, you're totally invalidating your implications that Catholics are always civil and Protestants are always unfair and ungracious.

So far we've seen you level the following accusations against individuals on this post: You've called them bigoted, ignorant, liars, hateful, uneducated, and self-righteous. If your design is really to show that "Evangelicals are routinely uncivil toward Catholics" while Catholics are routinely gracious towards Evangelicals, You're doing a really interesting job of demonstrating your point.

And the 300 pound gorilla in the room is:

"The question many people ask today is were these anathemas from the Council of Trent ever revoked? The answer is No. An anathema on an infallible statement can never be changed, and is always binding; otherwise the statement is not infallible."

Tim, you're my hero for digging this up and posting it! Everyone on the blogs I've seen wants to dance around it, but here it is in stark terms - the anathemas of Trent cannot be revoked because they are part of the warp and weft of an infallible document.

Kamilla

> Two statements show you have no credibility.

(Your score is higher.)

If I told you I was raised Baptist, but didn't become a Christian until I was 28, saying so does not make me an anti-Baptist bigot, contrary to your paranoid assertions that everyone's out to hate you and all Catholics. Being raised "__________________" (any flavor of protestant/evangelical) says nothing about one's salvation. The same goes for being raised Roman Catholic.

--Michael

Mr. Arthur,

I'd like to second what Mr. Gelok posted. Recently, I very publically made an ass of myself by denouncing homosexualists; as a result, I had the honor of being publically branded as a bigot, ignorant, a liar, hateful, uneducated and self-righteous by the homosexualists. These are the very same accusations you've leveled at Mrs. Pickett and others on this blog.

This personal experience has taught me to be wary of such accusations. In fact, as soon as the word "bigot" comes out, I immediately think "The person who has resorted to name-calling must be holding an untenable position." The fact that you're willing to level such childish antics at an honorable Christian woman further illustrates the hopelessness of your position.

Please, can it, and fight like a man.

Abram

"Pope Benedict on Wednesday [today, 5/9/07] warned Catholic politicians they risked excommunication from the Church and should not receive communion if they support abortion."

So, does this make the Pope an ignorant, hateful self-righteous bigot? Not! (Only to the practical, postmodern relativists, many of whom may consider themselves Protestants.)

--Michael

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070509/wl_nm/pope_abortion_dc

Arthur says: "The very Church on whose authority the list of the NT books rests did not believe in Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, etc. but rather was centered on the episcopate and the Sacraments." What sort of "Protestant" does he think he was? He says himself that he rested the authority of Scripture on the decisions of the church. Certainly his was not the sort of Protestantism that produced the Westminster Confession, which says "We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the Church to an high and reverent esteem for the Holy Scripture . . .yet, notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit, bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts." That is why it can later say "The Supreme Judge, by which all controversies of relligion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit, speaking in the Scripture." THAT's Protestant. I don't know what you call the other notion.

It was, remember, an even higher authority who complained of those who "for the sake of your tradition . . . have made void the word of God."

Richard John Neuhaus has put up some interesting thoughts about Beckwith and ETS at the First Things web site.

http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/?p=730

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