Considering the issues that have come up concerning Beckwith’s conversion/return to Catholicism, I suggest that we understand the essential differences between Protestants and Catholics. Theology Unplugged put together a series devoted to this a few months ago. They are all available on MP3. If you have time, listen to them. They can be found here.
1. Know Catholic doctrine truly before you criticize it emotionally.
2. Know Reformed doctrine truly before you adhere to it traditionally.
3. Know what the essential points of disagreement are and don’t focus on the smaller points.
4. Understand the reason for the Reformation, knowing the two key issues were justification and authority.
As well, considering Beckwith said that a major reason for his conversion was due to his studies in the early church (“I became convinced that the Early Church is more Catholic than Protestant”), you need to be aware of the assumption that is involved in such a statement. Even if were true that the early church was more Catholic than Protestant, is there justification in adapting your theology to mirror that of the early church or do we see doctrine as progressively understood and articulated in history as the Reformers view of semper reformanda (“always reforming”)? Don’t know what I am talking about? View or listen to session 10 of Introduction to Theology here (listen to or watch all four). It will give you a better understanding of the options, helping you to understand the traditional approaches of both Catholicism (and Orthodoxy) and Protestantism.
Keep an eye on the blogs as we may be having a special announcement about an upcoming Converse with Scholars to deal with this issue.
C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger.
Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminar (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I’m a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected]