Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Faith With Reason


There used to be a saying about evangelicals, that they "check their brain at the door when they come to church." I have been so thankful since returning to the Church of my youth that I no longer have to fight my intellect and attempt to 'dummy it" down. I have found the writings of the saints, Church Fathers and popes incredibly satisfying intellectually and challenging as well. I am not saying Catholic=intellectual and evangelical=dummy, and I hope I am not implying that, but I have been thankful for having a faith that does not ask me to give up reason. Recently, when I attempted to dialogue with an "independent evangelical" regarding the writings of the Early Church Fathers: Ignatius, Augustine, Clement, Justin Martyr, he told me: "All I need to know about the history of the church is in the book of Acts, I don't need your fathers." To me, it is intellectual suicide to disregard history and or great inspired writing because it is not in the Bible. God told us to love Him with our whole heart and mind and strength. I think that it would be a sin not to. By ignoring everything else outside the Bible deprives us of resources God has given us to learn more about Him and to love Him more.

What started this rant today was the finding of a book recently written by a"charismatic-pentecostal" pastor who left his pastorate for 18 months to sequester himself and research and write the book called Full Gospel, Fractured Minds. Author and pastor Rick Nanez fears that the charismatic/pentecostal churches are in danger of falling into relativistic post-modernity due to their anti-intellectual bias and focus on emotion-packed preaching and worship styles. He believes that Christians in this camp have made a virtue out of anti-intellectualism and have vilified anyone who attempts to use their mind.

The Catholic Church has aways embraced Faith and Reason and there is no better example than St. Thomas Aquinas. His writings on Aristotle and his proof of the existence of God through Aristitotelian logic are still mind numbing! St. Thomas Aquinas is a Doctor of the Church and his Summa Theologica continues to be the subject of study in Catholic as well as Protestant schools of theology due to its richness. John Paul 2 had not one but two PhD's and his successor holds a PhD as well. I have just started scratching the surface of the writings of John Paul and a couple of Pope Benedict's books are on my nightstand in the "line up." Pope Benedict himself recently said : "Reason and faith go hand and hand ....." Unfortunately his comments were not read in the context of his whole speech but that's another blog.

Perhaps folks like Rick Nanez and others may start to consider Catholicism because of its rich intellectual reasoning. I was more than pleasantly suprised at the tremendous resource of intellect and faith we have in this Church and I regret the 30 years that I spent not being open to anything written before the Reformation or any Catholic writings because of my mis-informed anti-Catholic bias.

I suggest reading GK. Chesterton's Orthodoxy , any writings of John Paul 2 to see great examples of Faith and Reason.
God bless!

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This anti-intellectualism may actually be the result of Sola Scriptura. Protestants have for so long beat the drum of Bible only, Bible only, to negate Catholic Tradition, that the secondary effect was anti-intellectualism.
Best seen in your comment that
"All need to know about church history is in the book of Acts."

October 08, 2006 8:46 AM  
Blogger St. Jimbob of the Apokalypse said...

It's interesting that there's the millenium-wide blindspot in Protestant theology. Personal Interpretation is fine, as well as Luther, Calvin, Zwingli's musings as well, but don't listen to Polycarp, Irenaeus, or Athanasius. John Chrysostom sould be roundly ignored as well. Dribbles of Augustine and Aquinas are allowable, so long as they justify a protestant stand (and as long as their catholicism isn't mentioned).

Maybe someone could forward NaƱez's book to Jack Chick.

It's also possible to over-intellectualize the faith as well, and then you end up with silly proclaimations like "Referring to God as Father promotes domestic violence" and other such silliness. Then it becomes all reason and no Faith. Keep a healthy balance

October 08, 2006 8:54 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Yes St Jim Bob,
You point out an important truth.
God bless,
TJ

October 09, 2006 9:15 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

I initially wasn't goint to allow this post because I try to not let my blog being a posting site for uncharitable comments but here goes:

Anonymous Posted:

"You guys have got to be kidding?!
Catholics can't think for themselves so they need a pope who declares himself to be Jesus that is an abomination to think for them. Work out your faith with fear... "


Catholic teaching never equates the Pope with Jesus. If you could get past your vitriol perhaps you would be able to see this a bit more clearly. Sometimes hatred and prejudice can blind a person's intellect as well, but that's just my opinion.
33,000 different denominations each with their own peculiar ideas of salvation, baptism, end times etc. All because folks think for themselves and become their own popes.

No thanks, I would rather trust in The Church that Christ started rather than create my own unique doctrines, and inserting my own words into Scripture or removing books I dont't like. (as one of the reformers did without hesitation.)

I would hope from reading the blog you would realize that Catholics are great thinkers and have tremendous intellect. The freedom to be a great thinker is granted when the freedom is constrained by correct doctrinal boundaries set by a teaching magisterium instituted by the Holy Spirit. Please refer to my blgs about the magisterium to understand where I am coming from here.

October 10, 2006 3:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tiber

I stumbled on your blog and apologize for my hateful words. I emotionally discharges on you and I apologize. I interpret your post as EVANGELICALS do not use reason and I was taken back by your harsh judgement. Harsh judgement deserves harsh words, but it wasn;t meant to be hateful towards you or Catholics. To say that "There used to be a saying about evangelicals, that they "check their brain at the door when they come to church." is the same as me saying: "Here is a Roman Catholic who thinks that a piece of bread is the flesh of Christ and they are cannibals."

As to your reply that the Church doesn't teach that the Pope is "Jesus Christ on earth" is a Catholic lie:

"For the Roman pontiff (pope), by reason of his office as VICAR OF CHRIST, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal POWER over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise UNHINDERED."

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, 1994, P. 254 #882

"We declare, say, define, and pronounce that it is absolutely NECESSARY FOR the SALVATION of every human creature to be SUBJECT TO THE ROMAN PONTIFF (POPE)."

POPE BONIFACE VIII, BULL UNUN SANCTUM, 1302


No thanks!

October 10, 2006 6:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Odd: In a post that reads like parroted claptrap, an anonamous poster proclames that Catholics cannot think for themselves.

The "by your own measure shall you be judged" principle seems to be working overtime.

October 10, 2006 6:14 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Dear Anon:
I think it would be best to re-read my blog. I don't think you understood what I was trying to get across. My words were not meant to be harsh and I disagree that harsh judgements deserve harsh words(where's that in the Bible ?)
I was an evangelical for 30 years and often-times experienced a tendency to down play the use of my intellect. The saying I used about evangelicals was obtained from an interview with the book I posted about, written by an evangelical pastor. His entire book is a statement that charismatic/pentecostals are in danger of emphasizing emotion and downplaying intellect. I was writing about his book to explain that I too did that for many years and I was one of the folks he spoke about.
An example of my "dummying down" was my refusal to look at history particularly the documents written by early christians. Justin Martyr as well as many other writers in the first centuries of the church wrote that the Eucharist was indeed the real body and blood of the Lord, and they were brutally persecuted by the Romans for being "cannibals" as you alluded to. Up until the 1600 century, Christians never viewed the Eucharist as symbolic until the Reformation. But I refused to acknowledge any written history of what early christianity looked like due to my anti-Catholic bias and vitriol against all things Catholic.
Justin Martyr said :
"We call this food Eucharist, and no one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true and who has been washed in the washing which is for the remission of sins and for regeneration [i.e., has received baptism] and is thereby living as Christ enjoined. For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nurtured, is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus" (First Apology 66 [A.D. 151]).
Regarding Your statement that Catholics need a "Pope who declares himself to be Jesus."
The Pope is the Vicar of Christ. A Pope never has and never will declare himself to be Jesus. Sir, that truly is a lie and not a "catholic lie" , but a lie that someone is stating to blindly criticize Catholicism out of bitterness and much anger I might add.
We need to decrease the height of the flames here and read what the definition of a vicar is:
"a person who is authorized to perform the functions of another; deputy"
So the Pope is functioning as the "deputy", Jesus gave the "badge" to Peter and said, Peter, I am giving you the authority to perform my functions, so to speak. So Pete, while I am away, you have my authority given to you to forgive sins, bind and loose and even bind things in heaven!! The language Jesus used is borrowed from Isaiah 22:20-22, when the king gives the keys of the kingdom to his prime minister to bind and loose etc.
So Jesus transferred his authority, power to forgive sins etc, to his Church. This transference was a huge deal and was meant to be carried on and the ability to bind and loose was not intended to stop with Peter. So Catholics don't usurp Christ's power nor do popes equate themselves with Jesus as your original comments stated. The Popes are obeying Jesus command to hold onto the keys as a prime minister would handle all the affairs for an ancient Jewish king.
Please re-read Isaiah to really get a sense of what Jesus was doing in this monumentous handoff.
You seem to know quite a bit about the Catholic catechism, so I don't understand why you can't realize that the Catholic Church is only doing as Christ commanded?
If he gave all authority to Peter and his successors, including the gospel of salvation, then no salvation can come but through this succession.You, who I assume are a Christian, are a believer today because of the Catholic Church and the deposit of Truth passed on by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Bible you read was canonized by a successor of Peter named Pope Damasus in 393 AD. Therefore ultimately all salvation did come from this Church. It may sound triumphalistic and I am sorry that it seems to you that way, but it is how God intended.
The Church is happy to accept the faith of other believers outside the Church and considers them our bretheren, albeit separated from us. But Luther and the other reformers and the 33,000 sects that have sprung from them have the Catholic Church to thank for the Gospel of Salvation passed on by Peter and his successors.
I accept your apology for your "hateful words" and just pray for God's grace and peace on both of us.
God bless you,
TJ

October 10, 2006 7:03 PM  

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