Well Dan, you have certainly caused a stir. I think this conversation concerning the relationship of modern Catholicism and Protestantism is needed.

I just have one initial point to make. Having spent much time with Catholics, I think that it is important that we don’t lose this: While Catholics are monolithic in confession, they are not monolithic in their interpretation of their confession. In recent years Rome (no, not Rhome – he has not authority in this area) has given much allowance for discovery and diversity. This has encouraged those both in the Protestant and Catholic church. The implications seem to be far reaching.

While we, as Protestants, may interpret Trent and other official statements prima facie, we have to be careful not to require all Catholics to interpret their documents the way we do. For example, while I read the “partim, partim” from Trent (revelation is partly in Scripture and partly in tradition) as evidence of dual source authority, many Catholics, such as Scott Hahn, would interpret it differently allowing for a prima Scriptura view (that Scripture is the final authority, but not the only infallible authority). This is much closer to the historic Protestant view of sola Scriptura and is even better, might I say, than most Protestants’ aberrations of sola Scriptura who replace it with solo or nuda Scriptura (that Scripture is the ONLY authority) which is not what the Reformers meant by sola Scriptura. See here for more on this.

My point is that if Catholicism is changing (or, in their view, progressing), then why should we stand as guards at the gate and say “You cannot do this! You must interpret yourselves the way we interpret you and remain under your confessions the way we see them.” Isn’t change/progression what we want? Doesn’t this propose a hope that Protestants should desire? Or has the definition of Protestantism solidified as “Those who are against Catholics?”

Sigh . . . It would seem that for some Protestants to stay in business as Protestants, they have to define themselves by what they are against. And if what they are against changes, even for the better, they will do all they can to divert attention away from the change, saying “You can’t change. If you do, then I will have no purpose.”

I am not saying that all of Catholicism is changing (or progressing), but there are many who are. In fact, when I read and listened to Peter Kreeft, a Catholic apologist, I find it hard to distinguish some of my views from his. I think to myself if this is what Catholics believe, then Protestants really don’t have a handle on what is going on in Catholicism. The same may be said about Francis Beckwith as I have seen some of his comments on these issues to be encouraging.

As well, we should not fail to see that many in the Protestant church are changing. We are beginning to see the value of authorities outside of Scripture as we drown in the sea of our self-created free-church mentality. Any and all who desire can start a new “Church” or “Christianity” with no accountability. Many of these present teachings find no place in historic Christianity. Protestants are beginning to realize the important of the body of Christ, both living and dead, - the historic body of Christ – (might we term this “the communion of saints?”). These raise their hand in objection to many of the strange interpretations of the Christian faith and life saying “Why don’t you listen to us anymore? Didn’t we have the same Spirit as you? Why don’t we have any respect? Are you not standing on our shoulders?”

I am not saying that the Reformation was not worth it (for I would still take of its fruit and eat), but we must recognize the serious weakness that it introduced. So serious is this free-church weakness, I sympathize, to some degree, with those who convert to Catholicism. What is the solution? To find accountability in the rich traditions of the historic Christian faith and to quit mimicking the vigilante attitudes of the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

All that I ask for consideration (and I am not even sure where I am at on this – and I don’t speak for Dan, Ed, or Rhome) is this: Could it be that the battle that was fought in the 16th century was legitimate, but the battle grounds have changed and, therefore, to continue to fight the same battle is building straw men? Could it be that we must allow for diversity in the Catholic church and not require them to abide by the interpretation that we enforce? Could there be hope as we learn from each other?


C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

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 Seminary (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. Find him everywhere: Find him everywhere

    78 replies to "Roman Catholicism and Evangelicalism: Has the Battle Ground Begun to Change?"

    • C Michael Patton

      Thanks Frank. I will let you know as soon as I have the info!

      I would appreciate you comments on both Dan and my post if you get a chance.

    • Dan Wallace

      Frank, I can empathize. I’ve been condemned to the fiery flames by dozens of faceless and often nameless bloggers for a long time now, almost all of them wearing the badge ‘evangelical.’ I can hardly imagine how brutal these folks have been on you! If I could speak for Protestant evangelicals, I would ask forgiveness for how we have treated you, a fellow brother in Christ. But being Protestant, I can’t speak for anyone but myself. One of the weaknesses of the third branch of Christendom…

    • jybnntt

      Dr. Beckwith,

      I’m pray you didn’t really mean to make light of your eternal destiny. There is nothing we fallen creatures should be more serious about. For Christ’s sheep, to make light of their eternal destinies is to make light of the Christ who accomplished and secured their redemption by the full atonement provided in his own blood.

      I would be fascinated to know what your thoughts are regarding your eternal destiny?

    • jybnntt

      BTW, my name is M. Jay Bennett. I am a recent graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary (ThM, Historical Theology). I am currently on staff at Park Cities Presbyterian Church (PCA), Dallas, TX as a Pastoral Intern.

    • Scott Arnold

      Ha!

      I love that Dr Beckwith has been “lurking” in this discussion. I have too, but then again I am a new TTP student and just don’t have anything to add (and nobody knows who I am) so am just watching and learning!

      Dr Beckwith, please join in and add your comments. I’m sure everyone in the discussion and all others “lurking” would love to have your contribution.

    • JoanieD

      Jay asked me, “Another way to ask the question of causation is: “Why did you accept the gift, while so many others do not?”

      I guess the answer would be that at that moment I saw that I NEEDED that gift. Other people may not be at that point. They may get to that point later.

      I guess this is a discussion I should really be staying out of because I don’t know about half the things you guys are talking about. But it is interesting reading the general “gist” of the conversation going on.

      And hello to Dr. Beckwith. I hope all is going well with you and yours!

      Joanie D.

    • fbeckwith

      Dan, thank you for your kind words. I, of course, was just kidding around in my initial salvo. I just wanted to convey, in a light-hearted manner, how it seems to me, from the inside looking out. During my career I’d grown accustomed to folks writing about my published works, and offering criticisms of them. That goes with the territory, and it is gratifying to know that I had published things worth critiquing. But prior to May 3, 2007, the day that the news of my return to the Catholic Church became public, I had never had the experience of reading speculations about the state of my soul, the seriousness of my studies on Catholicism, and my eternal destiny in wide-ranging tones and degrees of certitude. This was, to say the least, odd. But, believe it or not, this never fazed me. In fact, it drew closer to Christ, and I began to understand that I had been given a tremendous gift, an opportunity to help Catholics and Evangelicals to better understand one another and to provide a model on how that is done. This, of course, will not please the hardliners in either camp, those who use phrases like “indulgences,” “Romanism,” “Trent,” “sola scriptura,” and “sola gratia” as slogans of derision and political posturing rather than ideas to be studied and examined in charitable ways.

      As a follower of Christ, I lose nothing by being in full communion with the Catholic Church. I still believe everything in the Nicene Creed as I did the day I joined the Evangelical Theological Society in 1984. I still believe that I am saved by God’s grace though faith, but my view of both seems richer now. As a Catholic I see the sacraments as means of God’s sovereign and unmerited grace that allows me to remain in communion with him and to become conformed to the image in Christ. To me the Catholic view makes the most sense of of the full data of Scripture.

      That’s all for now. This will all come out in a book I will soon be working on. Here’s my tentative title – Confessions of a Vain Philosopher: My Journey Back to Catholicism.

    • jybnntt

      Joanie D,

      Next I would ask why did you see the need while so many others do not?

    • jybnntt

      Dr. Beckwith,

      You wrote:

      “This, of course, will not please the hardliners in either camp.”

      Respectfully, I wonder what you mean by hardliner? Would you consider the Apostle James a hardliner for the stance he took against licentiousness? Or Paul for his stance against legalism?

      Also, with regard to your eternal state, do you think that you may spend time in purgatory prior to full glorification?

      I do look forward to your book. I would be interested to read about your recent shift in beliefs.

    • fbeckwith

      Reread my post. I was referring to the use of certain phrases as slogans and weapons. Who is a hardliner is not the issue. The issue is the lack of thoughtfulness.

      For the record, I believe that Sts. James and Paul were right. As for legalism, as I’ve always said, “Legalism, there ought to be a law against it.” 🙂

      Frank

    • jybnntt

      Dr. Beckwith,

      I totally agree, lack of understanding works against the process of evaluation. How can we evaluate what we do not know? Axiology and epistemology are joined at the hip. And it is very tempting for people on either side of an argument to get lazy or and resort to crude sloganeering. Regrettably, in the process of maturing in the Christian faith and life, I can remember moments when I have imbibed in some of that. But our Father is gracious to his children leading us into wisdom and disciplining us according to his love as often as we turn from wisdom’s way.

      I agree with you about James and Paul. I see no disagreement between them.

      When licentiousness is the problem at hand, the church needs to be reminded that we have no reason for assurance while living in such rebellion. Is the faith that appropriates justification the same as the faith of the devils? Not at all. It is a living, active, vibrant, working faith.

      When legalism is the problem, the church needs to be reminded that we have no reason for assurance because of anything besides the finished work of Christ; therefore, our only hope is in trusting him. Must something be added to Christ’s work of redemption? Not at all. To do so would be to diminish the infinite value and beauty of his work. It would be to consider his work no better than the work of the devil. Christ’s work is complete, perfect, infinitely valuable, and beautiful beyond degree. He did it all for his sheep, and they will be saved by trusting in him alone.

      All is of grace, grace alone. Justification is by faith, faith alone. The sole mediator between God and man is Christ, Christ alone. We dare not add to grace, to faith, or to Christ lest we give up his gospel–the very centerpiece, the metaphysic, of the Christian faith.

      Respectfully,

      Jay

    • C Michael Patton

      Scott, great to see you join in!

      Dr. Beckwith, I would really like to hear your thoughts about the posts here, but understand that putting your thoughts might commit you in some way to engaging more than time permits. Either way, glad you have been lurking.

      Did you happen to notice the fruit of our labors with the ETS papers: http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/taxonomy_dhtml. It has taken some time, but they are populating quickly.

      Also, even if you are a heretical apostate bound for fire, we would still like to have you on Converse with Scholars when you find time. I am sure that you still have some good things to say 😉 . We don’t necessarily have to talk about your conversion, but maybe something on moral issues as we had planned last year.

      Michael

    • fbeckwith

      Let me think about the invitation again. As you know, my book on abortion is coming with Cambridge University press will be coming in mid-August. Perhaps we can do something soon after that.

      Frank

    • vangelicmonk

      Can I just say it is honor to me to have stumbled through this conversation with some great minds in Theology and also people who have a deep desire and passion for Christ. Thank you for putting up with less then exhaustive, insightful, or clear comments of mine. I still have much sharpening to go and sometimes jump into the bag of nails.

      I think the fact that some great minds (and hearts) of the Body of Christ feel comfortable commenting or even lurking on here is a testiment not only of what God is doing through this ministry, but also what everyone here is trying to do in an irenic fashion (even if not perfect, but learning through it all).

      Thank you all for taking the time to comment. I can say I appreciate it because it has helped sharpen me on this subject that much futher.

    • Dave Armstrong

      Hi Michael,

      Excellent post and thread. I’d like to express my deep appreciation, as a Catholic, for the charity, spirit, and humility expressed in it.

      I don’t doubt many Catholics Spirit lead love and sincerity. I simply disagree with their theology and wish that they would read Romans and Galatians like we do, understanding what they are missing and how striving to establish a righteousness of their own in addition to Christ’s is unnecessary and counter productive to the Gospel and the glory of God.

      But, having said this, there are some Catholics out there who would say that we are misunderstanding them. I am willing to listen and learn.

      My understanding of Catholic soteriology is not that we are somehow coming up with a “righteousness of our own” at all. As we understand merit, it is, as Augustine said, merely “God crowning His own gifts.” The Catholic Catechism cites this very utterance.

      We understand God’s grace and our appropriation of it, as of a piece (not opposed to each other), according to biblical verses such as:

      1 Cor 3:8-9: He who plants and he who waters are equal, and each shall receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.

      1 Cor 15:10: But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God which is with me. (cf. 15:58; Gal 5:6, 6:7-9)

      Eph 2:10: For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

      Phil 2:12-13: Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (cf. Titus 3:5-8)

      2 Pet 1:10: Therefore, brethren, be the more zealous to confirm your call and election, for if you do this you will never fall;

      We argue that Protestants often make the mistake of an excessive either/or outlook, whereas the Bible presents a paradoxical picture of God doing all, but we ourselves participating in that “all” insofar as we are included (as every believer is) in God’s plans and His will. I think there is quite ample biblical justification for this (no pun intended), as seen above.

      In fact, the Council of Trent, in its canons on justification, condemned the notion that there is any righteousness of our own apart from Jesus:

      Canon 1: If any one saith, that man may be justified before God by his own works, whether done through the teaching of human nature, or that of the law, without the grace of God through Jesus Christ; let him be anathema.

      Canon 2: If any one saith, that the grace of God, through Jesus Christ, is given only for this, that man may be able more easily to live justly, and to merit eternal life, as if, by free will without grace, he were able to do both, though hardly indeed and with difficulty; let him be anathema.

      Canon 3: If any one saith, that without the prevenient inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and without his help, man can believe, hope, love, or be penitent as he ought, so as that the grace of Justification may be bestowed upon him; let him be anathema.

      Canon 10: If any one saith, that men are just without the justice of Christ, whereby He merited for us to be justified; or that it is by that justice itself that they are formally just; let him be anathema.

      I recently described the difference in approach in another paper, as follows:

      Catholicism / Bible / “Both / and” outlook: God does all and enables all, pertaining to grace and salvation, yet man can also cooperate with God and in a non-Pelagian sense “participate” in the process.

      Reformed / Calvinist outlook: God does all, therefore it is senseless and heretical to speak of man doing anything as regards to grace and salvation, and to do so is at least a semi-Pelagian position, detracting from God’s sole work in salvation.

      But are the differences that far apart in soteriological issues? I don’t think so.

      I agree. I believe that the similarities are remarkable; even astonishing, once both (broad) sides are properly understood: especially in a more concrete, practical, day-to-day Christian walk sense.

      There are still assuredly differences. But I don’t see that they should be any more divisive than Protestants’ own inter-denominational differences.

      In fact I would say that, practically speaking, they are not much further apart than those of a Reformed Calvinist and an Weslyian Arminian?

      I was answering as I read, and you anticipated my own response almost exactly, as you can see.

      Am I right being a Reformed Calvinist? Of course. I am always right, but I am nice to those who are wrong and love the same Lord I love.

      I admire this spirit very much!: confident in one’s own position (unless and until convinced otherwise) yet humble and charitable towards others, and emphasizing common ground rather than differences. Good for you. This is the Spirit of Christ, while avoiding a wishy-washy indifferentist liberalism, where differences don’t matter or are glossed over or denied.

      I believe that we can accomplish this by lifting our mutual anathemas and recognize our brotherhood in Christ.

      We certainly acknowledge you as brothers in Christ, as Vatican II stressed. Even the Tridentine anathemas are not as rigid or “anti-Protestant” in a sweeping sense, as supposed. See my paper on that:

      http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2007/01/catholic-understanding-of-anathemas-of.html

      I look forward to discussion.

    • Scott Arnold

      Dr Beckwith-

      Thanks for taking a few more moments to contribute, we all know your time is limited and that an increased frequency of comments here can easily become a burden.

      Although as a new student of theology I don’t have much to add to the topic of this discussion, I would like for you to know that despite the polemic stance some will surely take with you here – there are many others, including me, who feel we have much to learn from you about the differences and similarities of Protestantism and Catholicism – and that you are in a very unique position to add to our understanding of both. So, time permitting, I am hopeful you will continue to share!

      Blessings,
      Scott

    • C Michael Patton

      Dave,

      Thanks much for the contribution and your charity as well. I just think the recognition that you have made, while shocking for many, puts the perspective of this entire dialogue in a different light for many.

      I know that as I think about the way I viewed things just 5-10 years ago, all Catholics were most certainly going to hell (as well as most Protestants who did not agree with me!). But there were many at Dallas Seminary, especially in the historic theology department (as well as Dan :)) that caused me to reevaluate the arrogance and lack of humility that this type of attitude exhibited. (Yes, I did say Dallas Seminary!)

      Learning should always produce humility. In fact, humility is the first requirement of true learning. I was confused and humbled and no longer had everything figured out. I realize that my theology up to that point, while it may have been true, was only a veneer of passion.

      My next step in this transition of thinking came as I dialogued with many on Catholic Answers in their forums. In fact, I spent five months reading what they suggested and asking questions. For the most part the dialogue was extremely gracious and beneficial. It was then I came to think that both sides have much misunderstanding of the others beliefs. Passions, constituencies, and ill-will have made it very difficult to move beyond this state of affairs.

      I don’t think either side has it all figured out, but I know that both sides have the same Lord.

      Your posts on the issue of justification is very helpful.

      You said:

      Catholicism / Bible / “Both / and” outlook: God does all and enables all, pertaining to grace and salvation, yet man can also cooperate with God and in a non-Pelagian sense “participate” in the process.

      This synergistic thinking is a practical necessity and I agree that whatever one’s confession, people live with the understanding that we have choices to make and responsibility for not making them. While God may be the ultimate cause of all things, their is a support cast that is empowered by Him. Thanks for clarifying this.

      I also agree with you that, at most, Protestants should look at this as we do many intra-Traditional disagreements. (Although, many are not very charitable here as well). Sigh . . . Soteriologically, from a practical perspective (aside from any particular articulation in creed), I agree and reiterate, that from my standpoint, the differences between Protestants and Catholics are essentially the same as these:

      Reformed Calvinists and Arminians
      Baptist and Church of Christ
      Lordship salvation advocates and Free Grace advocates

      I am not asking for compromise from anyone necessarily, but tolerance and a new spirit of dialogue that is willing to set presupposed passions aside. In the end, even if we don’t agree and we are no closer than before, at least the fog will have cleared and we both realize that we are very close, standing in the same sphere of grace before the God we love.

      While I do remain confused about many of these issues, I can no longer affirm in any sense that a Catholic is either unsaved, anti-Christ, or even unintelligent. I know that this is no way to keep a passionate constituency, but it must be said.

      Thanks for the engagement Dave.

    • jybnntt

      Sometimes I wonder why the giants of Apostolic and NT Church history, who sometimes gave their lives defending the faith were not as “virtuous” as us with respect to toleration?

      In other words, I wonder how much the heavy sociological pressure of THE contemporary ideal of “tolerance,” which is the necessary corollary of a culture extreme individualism feeds discussions such as these. The impact of Schleiermacher on Protestantism has been huge.

      No one seems to be willing to simply evaluate propositional truth claims (systems of theology) without entering into sentimental concessions or hateful dialogue. Given, it is difficult to find such claims within much of contemporary evangelicalism besides the minimal “core” doctrines of belief. That is very different from the developed and re-developed Roman Catholic Dogma. But that gives evangelicals no excuse. Evangelicals are responsible for what they teach. It is a symptom of a major problem–the tendency to devalue all systematic understandings of truth.

      I fear we have impaled lucid judgment (i.e. wise discernment) on the spike of tolerationism.

      Should we dialogue and learn from one another? Absolutely. Does that mean we cannot sharply disagree even to the point of admitting that in many respects our systems of thought are at odds, even in areas that might be considered essential to Christianity itself? Not at all.

    • C Michael Patton

      jybnnt,

      I think I see what you are saying. You are right, many people have been rather polemic throughout the history of the Church and this has been a good thing from time to time. I don’t think anyone is necessarily arguing against the need for polemics in certain situations. But I think that this situation requires gentleness and understanding for now.

      I like to think of it like a marriage. Both sides are committed to the same person. In a fight, there may be a right and wrong and there may be reasons sometimes for divorce. But more often than not, bad marriages are caused by bad communication. While we have tried the divorce thing for 400 years, now that the heat of the fight has worn off, we are coming back, rethinking, and wondering if we overreacted and miscommunicated some things. Once the smoke clears we have to ask ourselves if the differences are really so bad that divorce is still necessary.

      I don’t have the answers, but as I have said before, this is where I am at . . . wondering and discussing.

      Who knows, maybe that illustration stinks, but I hope you get the point.

      Michael

    • Scott Arnold

      Michael-

      Re: your exchange with jybnnt – I agree with what you are saying. And I don’t think the “gentleness and understanding” you speak of necessarily signals a bow to the postmodern mindset.

      I entered TTP as a 4-point Calvinist who was willing to openly question the salvation of just about anyone who disagreed with me – despite my Christian immaturity. Today I’m still a 4-point Calvinist but I find myself challenging my own beliefs more than I do that of others. Perhaps that’s a natural part of the growth of an immature believer – but I think too there is some merit to having that mindset. And I would draw the analogy between that scenario and Jesus speaking of the minds of children.

      I can’t ever foresee myself converting to Roman Catholicism as Dr Beckwith has – but I also don’t question his heart or judge him for having done so. And I do believe that Dan has shed some valuable light on what we can learn from these other “brands”, especially since they are rooted in the same tradition in which Protestantism is. Maybe the greatest thing I learned from Dan is that we maybe tend to stereotype Roman Catholic believers as actually adhering to the Catechisms, etc – when I myself must admit that I have many RC friends who I might label as evangelical catholics who have no idea what the catechisms even say (and I’m not condoning their misunderstanding of their own faith any more than I condone Protestants for misunderstanding their own).

      When I started TTP I was pretty certain of my beliefs on a wide array of theological topics. I am less certain now – and I think that’s OK, maybe even desirable. And I think that the humbleness that comes with being a little less certain helps us to learn and grow in the faith – while also aiding in irenic dialogue with those whom we disagree.

      So I for one look forward to more friendly discussion on this topic – and am extremely thankful that Dan Wallace took time to share his experiences with us, along with how it has provided him with some new perspective.

      Blessings,
      Scott

    • C Michael Patton

      Scott, I could not agree with you more. I am floating in the same boat as you (although not on the Tiber :)).

      Dan has started something that is very helpful here and I am, as I have always been extremely grateful for his willingness to engage these issues even though he will get hanged by some.

      Thanks for the encouragment.

    • […] even have a raft for casual floating or a fishing license were I tempted. The point of my last blog (which followed Dan’s post on the same subject) has been for Protestants (and Catholics) to […]

    • jybnntt

      C Michael Patton,

      I appreciate your analogy from marriage very much. I believe marriage is analogous to almost every aspect of social life, and it certainly has application here. However, I think there are a couple of differences I would have with it (I’m sure everyone is surprised) 🙂

      First, the idea that “both sides are committed to the same person” is I think false. I remember being very surprised when I asked Dr. Burns point blank in his ST elective on Roman Catholicism at DTS: “The Westminster Confession says that the office of the papacy is Antichrist, do you agree with its assessment?” His reply: “I agree that it is antichrist with a little ‘a.'” Though I completely agree with him, I was surprised and rather pleased to see a professor, a scholar take such a stand and be so clear. You know Dr. Burns. He is one of the most gracious, most kind men I think I’ve ever met. But graciousness and kindness must not necessarily yield indecision for the sake of “toleration” in every circumstance. Especially when so much is at stake.

      Second, the analogy pictures the situation as to people simply having a misunderstanding where each “side” has drifted from the center somewhat. While I don’t think Reformed Protestantism is perfectly centered on the truth, I agree with you that it is the closest the church has come (this is not intended to be a judgment levied at Christianity prior to the Reformation as if truth was finally discovered then [cf. comment #62 and 63 at “51% Protestant”]). I also believe that Roman Catholicism has fundamentally moved off-center so that it is no longer attached to it. But Roman Catholicism does not see itself as having drifted from the truth at all. Sure the Vatican II and the CCC call for unity, but unity subsist in the Catholic Church. The call for unity there is simply a call to return “home.” See comment #59 at “51% Protestant.” For a fuller explanation with citations from the CCC and Vatican II.

      Thanks Michael!

      Jay

    • C Michael Patton

      Thanks Jay. Good comments. I do respect Burns as well. I will have to think about this.

      One question: Would you consider either Arminians or the Church of Christ anti-Christ?

      Thanks for your continued gracious contributions. You are a sharp guy!

    • jybnntt

      Michael,

      I would never and have never considered any person anti-christ. Nor have I during this discussion, or to the best of my knowledge ever, rendered anyone damned to hell. I just don’t think that is my place. I think I’ve said this several times in my previous comments.

      Evaluating the human heart is difficult. In fact, I believe it can only be done perfectly and finally by the Holy Spirit, even with regard to one’s own heart. So for me to claim to be able to do that is, in my view, idolatry (got that from John Owen somewhere).

      But I think it is possible to evaluate written dogma, confessions of faith. Throughout this conversation I have tried to be very careful with my language so as to only be evaluating Roman Catholicism (contrary to Ferris Beuler I think -ism’s are very important) :-). That’s why when I posed the question to Dr. Burns I made the distinction between Ratzinger himself and the office of the papacy. The office is, in my estimation anti-Christ (against Christ, taking the place of Christ, the only mediator between God and man). I suppose there is reason to believe that the person holding the office probably believes in his office, but its not my place to evaluate Ratzinger’s heart. I would be fine questioning his reason for assurance of salvation based upon his confession, but not his salvation itself.

      That being said, with regard to your question, if I am not familiar with the Church of Christ’s confessional statement. But I understand that the denomination is the product of the Barton Stone-Alexander Campbel restorationist movement. That movement tended, I think, away from recognizing dogma. So, in that case I suppose the system, if there is any real consistent system, would be difficult to evaluate. Of course, that is not the case at all with Roman Catholicism, which has a very well developed and re-developed dogma.

      The Arminian system (not as you worded it “Arminians” themselves) however is, I think, fundamentally dogmatized in The Remonstrance. I don’t think think any man is lifted up to the point of officially taking the place of Christ over his Church in that document, so I would not consider it as including an office of anti-christ. However, I do think the rulings of the Synod of Dordt against it are correct. In my estimation the Arminian system, as dogmatized in The Remonstrance is fundamentally false, even a false gospel.

      Could someone be saved in the atmospheres of Arminian, Church of Christ, or Roman Catholicism? I don’t doubt it. But that is not the question.

      This brings us back to one of the main points of Dr. Wallace’s post “51% protestant.” Dr. Wallace, who I respect deeply, suggested that Roman Catholics and Protestants had no major soteriological differences. He did that by sharing a personal story about meeting a Roman Catholic who shared many of his same doctrinal views. Then he suggested that Roman Catholicism and Protestantism (of which the Reformed tradition is a part) share basically the same views of salvation by grace alone and justification by faith. Finally he questioned why, since someone could be saved in the Roman Catholic church, we are so separated. All to the end that Protestants and Catholics be willing to dialogue in love.

      While I completely agree with his end, I think the means he used to get there are not quite true.

      I don’t mean to be the disagreeable one. I don’t orchestrate my life around the enterprise of argumentation. And I don’t think I am prone to raise banners, yell battle cries, rally the troops, and go to war. I know there are guys that do that in every tradition, and they have their place, but I’m just not that interested in spending my time obsessed with doing that. Nonetheless, I do think this is an issue worth discussing in a spirit of peacemaking. I appreciate your encouraging compliments and reciprocate them.

      Thanks for the great continuing discussion Michael.

      Jay

    • C Michael Patton

      Jay, once again, you have given some food for thought. You need a blog! This is great.

      While I would not, at this point, articulate these issues the way you do (e.g. anti-Christ, false Gospel), I do agree with your basic conclusions and concerns about these other traditions.

      I am sorry that my question seemed to suggest something that I did not mean. I know that you have never suggested that these people, by their traditional associations, are going to hell. But I do appreciate you reiterating this.

      God bless my friend.

    • jybnntt

      Michael,

      I do have a blog called “Solus Christus”.

      Here’s the url:

      http://jybnntt.blogspot.com/

      Jay

    • J. Robert Ewbank

      J. Robert (Bob) Ewbank’s book “John Wesley, Natural Man, and the ‘Isms’ has been published. The ‘Isms’ are Heathenism, Judaism, Deism, Roman Catholicism, Quakerism, and Mysticism. The questions being answered are: how does each of them differ from John Wesley’s idea of True Christianity, and what are the prospects for those holding these views being saved.

      Written for the layperson as well as the scholar, there is a Study Guide in the back of the book to help individual or group study. The Guide has questions in the front, which are answered later in the Guide.

      Bob has a B.A. from Baker University in Baldwin, Kansas and an M.A. from Garrett-Evangelical. He is currently Lay Leader of St. Mark UMC, in Mobile, AL.

      Bishop Rueben P. Job of the United Methodist Church has written some kind words on the back cover.

      To find the book go on the internet to:

      1. http://www.wipfandstock.com (Wipf and Stock) For your information, the book is $23.00 at bookstores, but at the web site it is only $18.40
      2. The book is now available at Barnes and Noble, Books-a-Million, Cokesbury, WJE at Yale (The Jonathan Edwards Center), Kalahari.net, Paddyfield.com and Amazon.com among others.

      Also readThe Transforming Power of Grace by Thomas C. Oden – powerful.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.