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.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Baptist Bible Believer Comes into the Fullness of Faith in Catholicism

                                                      Thomas Road Baptist Church
Read this amazing conversion story by Renee Linn:


“The Bible says it…. I believe it…. that settles it!”

If Thomas Road Baptist Church had an unofficial mantra back in the 1990s, that probably would have been it.  Dr. Jerry Falwell was fond of saying that, and I enjoyed hearing it.  I took the Bible seriously, very seriously, and if Scripture made a pronouncement on any given issue, it seemed only reasonable to me to take those verses as literally as possible and to act upon them.  If a Christian couldn’t base his life on the Word of God, then what else was there?

One Sunday morning when Dr. Falwell proclaimed that “everything we believe and do here at Thomas Road comes straight from Scripture,” I took that seriously, too.  Everything we believe and do…. Everything?

My mind began to wander as some obvious exceptions to this bold pronouncement came to mind.  Asking people to receive Jesus Christ into their heart as their personal Lord and Savior?  I knew that Peter and Paul certainly had never read someone the “Four Spiritual Laws” and invited them to ask Jesus into their heart as their personal Lord and Savior.  “Repent and be baptized” was actually the approach taken by the Christians in the book of Acts.

Other discrepancies came to mind.  Altar calls – we had one every Sunday.  I really couldn’t imagine a first-century altar call.  Sunday school?  Unheard of in Bible times as far as I knew.

Not that I felt that this was important.  Asking someone to receive Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior was simply our way of helping the modern-day, semi-pagan, self-enthralled culture understand that one’s relationship with God must be personal – nothing wrong with that.  Certainly I could find nothing sinister in the Baptist practices of altar calls or Sunday School.   But I knew of at least one deeply held belief that I could not square with Scripture – the belief that children go to Heaven if they die below the age of reason.  I could find no verse in Scripture that taught this doctrine, yet it was the conviction of every Christian I knew, and I believed it myself.

“Everything we believe and do here at Thomas Road comes straight from Scripture….”  What I came away with that day was a new-found understanding of our Evangelical outlook on our beliefs.  We at Thomas Road were certain, despite the lack of any objective evidence, that our beliefs and practices all came straight from Scripture….

On the Richter scale of my soul, this incident was merely a 1.8.  But there had been other, more impressive tremors in the past, most notably when I was teaching overseas.  In the mid 1980s I taught English as a second language at a Christian college in Taiwan, and I was an honorary member of the Taiwan Missionary Fellowship (honorary in that I had not been sent by a missionary organization, yet was employed at a Christian school).  I loved my job, I loved my students, and I loved my fellow teachers. However, I was not interested in leading Bible studies as all my colleagues were doing, the reason being that I had no formal training in theology, and to me the Bible was not an easy book to understand.  I knew that different Christians understood various passages to mean different things.  I really didn’t want to take the responsibility of possibly teaching error to unsuspecting students.

A small group of students finally talked me into holding a weekly Bible study on the book of Acts.  I figured I couldn’t stray too far from the orthodox path in a book which basically details the history of the fledgling body of Christ.  I was also encouraged by the fact that the school library boasted three or four massive theological commentaries.  If I started to get in trouble, I reasoned, I could read what the experts had to say.  I was determined not to lead the students astray.

And we were fine, as long as we stayed in the book of Acts.   Unfortunately, we all enjoyed the Bible study so much that we decided to hold a second one.  I chose the book of 2 Corinthians for that study, a personal favorite, beginning as it does with Paul’s eloquent description of the comfort he received from “the God of all comfort.”  Studying that first chapter of 2 Corinthians, we all became enthusiastic about learning more on the topic of suffering.  We looked up other New Testament verses that deal with this subject.  Eventually we came to Colossians 1:24:

Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. “

What???

I will never forget those faces staring at mine in perfect trust, waiting for me to elucidate that verse to them.  I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions?  I wasn’t a theologian, but that verse appeared to be contradicting what I understood of the Christian faith.  I told the students that I would have to look into the subject, and that I would get back to them.

I spent a lot of time in the school library trying to better understand that verse.  Imagine my surprise when I realized that the Protestant theologians I was counting on to answer my question had questions themselves about this verse.  No one gave me an answer.  I knew and found reasonable that there are passages in Scripture that we don’t understand, but this verse seemed so straightforward.  I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions – there don’t seem to be too many ways to understand that.  The problem was that it contradicted our Protestant theology.  As a Protestant, you simply can’t say that when you suffer, you fill up in your flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions.  And yet, that’s what Paul said.  I was baffled, and I eventually had to tell the students that I just couldn’t account for the theological implications of that verse.  Another theological earthquake – 4.3 on my Richter scale.

I married while in Taiwan, and when my husband was accepted as a student at Liberty University, we moved to Virginia, joining Thomas Road Baptist Church.  I had never been a Baptist before, having been raised Methodist, and then attending Pentecostal, non-denominational, Lutheran and Presbyterian churches over the years.  But I liked the fact that Baptists were so bold about their faith, and I believed that all the Protestant denominations were merely different facets of the same beautiful gem of Christianity.  When my husband and I had children, they were “dedicated to the Lord” at Thomas Road, and later attended the Christian school affiliated with the church.

It was in Lynchburg that I first encountered the Jehovah’s Witnesses.  They came to our door telling us that we needed to reject conventional Christianity and embrace their belief system.  Since I had previously read the Koran and the Book of Mormon in an effort to better understand and evangelize Muslims and Latter-Day Saints, I decided to engage the Witnesses.  Two of them came to my house once a week for a year.  They presented their beliefs to me, and I presented mine to them.

Understanding their belief that Jesus is not God, it seemed to me that if I could prove to these ladies from Scripture the doctrine of the Trinity, they would be forced to accept the truth of the Christian belief system.  I bought The Doctrine of the Trinity by Dr. Harold Willmington, a Liberty professor who often spoke at Thomas Road.  The book was full to bursting with verses proving that Almighty God was the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  I could not wait to present this information to the Witnesses.

To my surprise, they sat patiently through my presentation as if biding their time.  Then, it was their turn.  The conversation went something like this:

JW #1:  “Let’s read John 17:3, Renée.  These are the words of Jesus: ‘Now this is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.’”

JW#2 (smiling):  “The truth is right before your eyes. This is what the Bible teaches in a nutshell: There is only one true God.  Jesus Christ is the one sent by the only true God – he himself is not God.”

Me (stammering):  “I have never heard this verse explained that way before…..”

JW#2:  “Well, let’s hurry on to John 8:17, where Jesus chides the Pharisees when they claim that He appears as His own witness and therefore His testimony is not valid.  Jesus’ argument that His testimony is valid is based on the fact that there are two witnesses, ‘I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.’”

 Me (clueless):  “So what?”

JW#2: “So once again we see that Jesus and his Father are separate – therefore, Jesus cannot be God.”

Me:  “Well, yes, no one says that Jesus and the Father are one and the same… I mean, that they are the same – we believe that they are two Persons but both God!

JW#1:  “Renée, can you explain John 20:17?  Jesus is telling Mary Magdalene that He is returning ‘to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’  How can Jesus talk about ‘his Father’ and ‘his God’ if He is God?  And John 14: 1 – ‘Trust in God; trust also in me.’  That means Jehovah God and Jesus are two separate beings, right?”

Like rabbits out of a voluminous theological hat, the verses kept coming – 1 Timothy 5:21, 1 Timothy 2:5… verses that the Witnesses claim show that Jesus is not God.  And 1 Timothy 1:17 topped it all off:

“Now to the King, eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever.  Amen.”

 JW#1:  “Renée, do you take that verse literally?”

 Me: “Absolutely!  How else could I take it?”

JW#1 (smiling broadly): “You’ve just proved that Jesus cannot be God!  That verse tells us that God is eternal, immortal and invisible.  Yet as we all know:

1.  Jesus is not eternal – Proverbs 8:22 says concerning Jesus ‘Jehovah brought me forth as the first of his works!’  Colossians 1:15 tells us that Jesus is the ‘firstborn of all creation!’  In Hebrews 1:5 Jehovah God says to Jesus ‘Today I have become your Father!’  Revelation 3:14 calls Jesus ‘the beginning of the creation of God!’
2.  Jesus is not immortal – We don’t have to list all the Bible verses that tell us that Jesus died!  That means he was mortal!
3.  Jesus is obviously not invisible – and yet the Bible tells us that no one can see God and live!

 “So, Renée, according to I Timothy 1:17, which you say you agree with absolutely, there is only one God – and He is not Jesus!

Me (in desperation resorting to verse-slinging): “1 John 5:7!”

JW#1: “Mark 10:18!”

Me: “Titus 2:13!” 

JW#2: “John 14:28!”

Me: “John 10:30!”

JW#1: “1 Corinthians 8:6!”

 Me: “Matthew 28:19!!”

 JW#2: “1 Corinthians 11:3!!”

 Me: “John 5:18!!!”

 Both JWs in chorus: “Philippians 2:5-11!!!”

Fortunately, by this point it was time for them to leave.  I don’t know if they learned anything from that encounter, but I certainly did: While the case for the doctrine of the Trinity can certainly be made from Scripture, it cannot be proven from Scripture.  The verses the Witnesses showed me sounded like a reasonable alternative viewpoint.   I was horrified.  The doctrine of the Trinity is the core belief of Christianity – it tells us who God is.  How could it not be self-evident from Scripture alone?

7.9 on my theological Richter scale….

I providentially found a book called Jehovah’s Witnesses on Trial – The Testimony of the Early Church Fathers by a physician named Robert U. Finnerty.  I had never read anything written by a Christian in the centuries between the writing of the book of Revelation and the 95 Theses, but Dr. Finnerty advocated using the writings of these “church fathers” to witness to the Witnesses.  His reasoning was that:

“… the Bible, which can be a challenge to understand, is easily misinterpreted by those who rend its parts out of context to ‘prove’ their doctrinal presuppositions.  This approach has been raised to a fine art by the followers of Charles Russell…. The church fathers… make it clear that the deity of Christ was at the heart of the Christian faith, and their writings are more difficult to twist in support of erroneous theological formulations.”

I ran to the bookstore to buy a copy of the Apostolic Fathers, and scoured the writings of Ignatius of Antioch to find references to the deity of Christ.  To my delight there were plenty of them, and I shared them all with the ladies when they returned the following week.   Their printed materials instructed them that when Ignatius said “yes,” what he actually meant was “no,” and vice versa.   It was around this time that we decided to discontinue our weekly meetings.  To tell the truth, I had other fish to fry.  My husband had left, and though we did not divorce, I was raising our two children alone with no family in the area.

One day when substitute-teaching, a sixth grader asked me what Catholics believe.  My mind was a startling blank.  I mumbled something about Catholics believing a lot of things that aren’t in the Bible, and how we mustn’t do that – everything we believe and do must come straight from Scripture.  She seemed satisfied, but I wasn’t.  Had she asked me about Muslims or Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses, I could have given her an earful.  But I had never looked into Catholic beliefs.  It had simply never come up.

Deciding to remedy my knowledge deficit, I bought a book called Catholicism and Fundamentalism by a lawyer named Karl Keating.  The author was Catholic, and that suited me fine; I like to hear it “from the horse’s mouth.”  When I began reading the chapter on “The Holy Eucharist,” I could see that Mr. Keating was going to base his argument on John 6.  Not desirous of being deceived by a tricky Catholic lawyer, I decided to read my Bible first and his explanation of the text second.  It seemed to me that he would have to distort the text of John 6 to fit Catholic preconceptions, so I stuck with Scripture.  I picked up my NIV, found John 6, and began to read it, over and over.  This was of course not the first time I had read John 6; as an Evangelical I had read through the New Testament several times, but I was not finding what I thought I would find there.  Jesus states in John 6 quite clearly that He expects us to eat His body and drink His blood.  I knew the standard Protestant treatment of these verses (I had believed them all my life), but as I read the text I could not for the life of me see how anyone can claim that these verses should properly be taken figuratively rather than taken literally.  Why not take Jesus at His word?  After all, Jesus’ words are quite clear:

“I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.’ The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.  He who 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, he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.’

Protestants would have us believe that the “eating and drinking” in these verses means “believing in Jesus” or “feasting on the Word of God,” but at that moment that approach to John 6 struck me as ludicrously weak.  I began to suspect that we Evangelicals might be doing exactly what we accused more liberal denominations of doing: reserving the right to take figuratively the parts of the Bible that we don’t believe….

This earthquake was off the scale.  And returning to Keating’s book, I was in for an aftershock.  Keating pointed out that the earliest Christians took John 6 literally, producing as proof a quote from Ignatius of Antioch, the same Ignatius I had begged the Jehovah’s Witnesses to accept as a reliable witness to the beliefs of the first Christians.  In this quote (written around 110 A.D.) Ignatius is talking about the Docetist heresy, the folks who believed Jesus didn’t really die in the flesh on the cross.  He writes:

“Now note well those who hold heretical opinions about the grace of Jesus Christ which came to us; note how contrary they are to the mind of God…. They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they refuse to acknowledge that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins and which the Father by his goodness raised up.”

That was all it took.  I looked up from my reading and said to myself, “I have to start attending a church that takes John 6 literally.”  The Bible says it - I believe it – that settles it.

Actually, it wasn’t as easy as that.  It took months before I was brave enough to cross the threshold of a Catholic church, and months more before I got up the courage to enroll in RCIA.  All the while I was studying, dissecting Catholic doctrine, comparing Protestant explanations of the “errors of Romanism” to the actual beliefs of the Catholic Church.  I had done this before with Mormon beliefs and Jehovah’s Witness beliefs, and I had found the Protestant apologetic materials to be reliable guides.  However, this time a disturbing trend emerged.  The Protestant argument against a particular Catholic teaching would seem rock-solid at first glance.  But when I persevered in my investigation, the Catholic answer to the argument would make a great deal of sense, and many times the Protestant argument would completely fall apart.  I began to see that our Protestant apologetics against Catholicism were based on a strategy of “downplaying, denigrating, distorting, and denying” key portions of the Catholic argument.

-         We downplayed the importance of the writings of the early Christians.  Since no Church Father agreed with us Baptists on the issues of justification by faith alone, sola Scriptura, once-saved/always saved, baptism, the Eucharist, church governance, etc., we ignored their writings.  We downplayed Protestant  disunity.  We downplayed the importance of the question of the origin of the canon of Scripture, a question that can only be answered by recognizing the authority of the Church who discerned the canon.
-         We denigrated the holiness of Catholic saints.  While rightly proclaiming the fact that all of history is “His-story,” we were willfully blind to the “His-toric” importance of the lives of John Paul II and Mother Teresa, just to mention two examples.  Although I have known several godly Protestants (most especially when I was associated with the Taiwan Missionary Fellowship), I know of no 20th- century Protestant examples of the saints that the Catholic faith produces.  We also denigrated Protestant converts to Catholicism, routinely implying that no one without an ulterior motive would leave the “truth” of Evangelicalism for the errors of Rome.
-         We distorted Catholic beliefs when we presented them, so that they would be easier to refute.  The classic examples, of course, are the Protestant arguments against “Mary worship,” or “works-righteousness.”  By raging against two Catholic doctrines which do not actually exist, Protestant apologists are able to turn their readers against a hypothetical evil, rather than addressing and refuting actual Catholic teaching.
-         We denied the development of doctrine, the key to understanding why the doctrine of the Trinity cannot be proved from Scripture and yet is the valid interpretation of the teaching of the Apostles.  As a Protestant, I was relying on development of doctrine as the basis of my Trinitarian beliefs, and yet ignorantly believed that “the Bible alone” was the basis of what I believed and practiced.

I sadly came to realize that these “four D’s” added up to a fifth – deceit.  We were deceiving others in our arguments against the Church that Jesus established, and sadly, we had deceived ourselves as well.

Most Protestants investigating the Church never persevere past the initial Protestant arguments, taking them at face value and assuming that there is no Catholic answer to Protestant objections.  Protestants claim the high ground by advertising their belief system as “faithful to Scripture” and condemning Catholic theology as “unbiblical.”  Yet so very many Bible verses are “explained away” in the Protestant system rather than letting them say what they actually say, among them 1 Timothy 3:15,  John 17:20-21, Ephesians 4:11-13, 1 Corinthians 1:11-13, Luke 11:2, John 6: 25-70 (we claimed that “eating and drinking” actually mean “having faith”), Luke 22: 19, 1 Corinthians 11: 27-29, James 2:24, Philippians 2: 12-13 (if I had a dime for every time we explained these two verses away at Thomas Road….), Galatians 5:4-6, 1 Corinthians 13:13, Ephesians 2: 8-10, Matthew 25:31-46, John 15:1-10, II Timothy 2:19, Hebrews 5:9 (Calvin explained this verse away by claiming that “obedience” actually means “faith”), Hebrews 12:14, John 15: 1-5, 1 John 2:6, 1 John 3:10, 1 John 5:13 (how we twisted that verse!), Revelation 2-3 (the NIV actually translates “works” as “deeds” here, in order to avoid the obvious implication of the necessity of works), Revelation 19:6-8, Matthew 10:22, Hebrews 6:4-6, Colossians 1:24, Hebrews 3:14, Hebrews 10:26-27, Romans 11:22, Matthew 16:13-19 (again, many Protestants claim that it is Peter’s “faith” which Jesus referring to),  II Kings 13:21, Acts 19:11-12 (I found this passage especially distasteful – it sounded so Catholic!), John 20:22-23, 2 Corinthians 5:17-21, 1 John 5:16-17, I Corinthians 11:2, 2 Thessalonians 2:15, 2 Timothy 1:13-14, John 3:5-8, John 3:22-23, Mark 16:15-16, Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16, Titus 3:4-7, 1 Peter 3:21, Luke 1:46-49, Genesis 1:28, Psalm 127:3-5, Matthew 19: 6-9, 1 Corinthians 7:10-11, Matthew 19:12, 1 Corinthians 7:32, Proverbs 3:5-6 (leaning on one’s own understanding was the basis for the formation of the Protestant denominations), Nehemiah 8:7-8,  and Acts 8:30-31.   The Bible says it – I believe it – that settles it!

I was reconciled to the Church at the Easter Vigil of 2003, bringing my two children into the Church with me.  They chose to continue attending their Baptist school, although we discussed that it might be hard for them when they identified themselves as Catholics.  And sometimes it has been hard.  My daughter has recently written about the joys and sorrows of being Catholic at a Baptist school in a guest blog at http://sententias.org/2012/02/11/being-catholic-at-liberty-university/.  One episode she did not recount was the time her high school teacher stopped her in the hallway to ask, “Shoshana, do you believe everything the Bible says?”

“Of course!” she answered.

“Then you’re a bad Catholic!” was his arch reply.

Funny, that’s the very reason her mom became Catholic.  The Bible says it – I believe it – that settles it!


Renée Lin works in Research at a medical practice in Central Virginia.

14 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post!

March 06, 2012 12:38 PM  
Blogger Fitchburg-Leominster Church Planting said...

This is such a sad testimony and one that could have been avoided by simply interpreting scripture correctly.

1. Read the context of Colossians 1:24 rather than just focusing in on that one verse. It is obvious from the context of Colossians 1 that Paul is talking about suffering for fulfilling what is lacking in Christ’s sufferings in being a minister of the Gospel, accomplishing the purpose of evangelism and growing the church carrying out Christ's "Great Commission".

2. You can prove to Jehovah's Witnesses that Jesus is YHWH/God from scripture (obviously Jesus can refer to God as distinct from Himself during the incarnation because He is also 100% human and because as Renee already realized they are still different persons).

3. I have written a 15 page document citing 60 reasons John 6 is not talking about Eucharistic transubstantiation.

If you have any interest in getting these documents (2. and 3.) and hearing these answers feel free to email me at "justified1996@yahoo.com" and I'll send them.

Every argument sounds great until you hear the other side. It's unfortunate that Renee changed religions without ever getting to hear the other side.

There are only 3 religions in the world:
(1) It Doesn't Matter
(2) Be Good Enough
(3) Need God's Grace

Catholicism is (2) which is an entirely different religion than biblical Christianity (3). They say you need God's grace but it is "works + grace" which is no longer grace (Romans 11:6).

Dave

March 07, 2012 7:53 AM  
Blogger Russ Rentler, M.D. said...

"This is such a sad testimony and one that could have been avoided by simply interpreting scripture correctly."

You are wrong, very sad. What you really meant to say was "This is such a sad testimony and one that could have been avoided by simply interpreting scripture the way I see it."

Clearly David, if the interpretation of scripture was so simple and not requiring the authority of the Church Christ started, there would not be the 30,000 and counting protestant denominations that continually proliferate based on each individual's personal interpretation of scripture.

Dave, you can write a 1000 page treatise on your interpretation of John 6 and why your personal interpretation of scripture proves that Jesus wasn't saying This IS MY BODY." Is your interpretive ability better than the early church all of whom accepted Christ at his word? The early CHurch that gave us the bible that you twist to fit your personal new doctrines?
For the first 1500 years of Christendom, everyone believed in the concept of transubstantiation, though it wasn't termed that until St. Aquinas. Even Martin Luther argued strongly against the other heretics who tried to say the Eucharist was symbolic, and guess what Dave? Luther used the sacred tradition of the Church, the writings of the early church fathers to prove his point, not his personal interpretation of the bible.
So you write a 15 page treatise! Such a sad testimony of an individual whose pride and prejudice causes him to ignore history, logic and common sense.

See my one page document here:

"If a hundred thousand devils, together with all fanatics, should rush forward, crying, How can bread and wine be the body and blood of Christ? etc., I know that all spirits and scholars together are not as wise as is the Divine Majesty in His little finger. Now here stands the Word of Christ: Take, eat; this is My body; Drink ye all of it; this is the new testament in My blood, etc. Here we abide, and would like to see those who will constitute themselves His masters, and make it different from what He has spoken. It is true, indeed, that if you take away the Word or regard it without the words, you have nothing but mere bread and wine. But if the words remain with them, as they shall and must, then, in virtue of the same, it is truly the body and blood of Christ. For as the lips of Christ say and speak, so it is, as He can never lie or deceive."
(cf The Large Catechism of M. Luther)

"And say to yourself: I am not commanded to investigate or to know how God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, or how the soul of Christ is in the sacrament. For me it is enough to know that the Word which I hear and the body which I receive are truly the Word and the body of my Lord and God." (M. Luther)

My question to my Protestant brothers and sisters is this: If the founder of the reformation and the originator of the doctrines of faith alone, scripture alone, etc believed that the Lord's Supper was indeed the true body and blood of Christ, and not a symbol, what is the justification by which contemporary Protestants refute this belief? If you don't agree with Martin Luther regarding his views of baptism and the Eucharist, why do you agree with him regarding faith alone and scripture alone? (Catholics of course believe in grace alone) It seems to me that it is a glaring inconsistency. If Luther is so completely wrong on this issue of the Eucharist (according to the beliefs of modern evangelical Protestants), why can't he possibly be wrong regarding his view of justification by faith alone, and his rejection of apostolic succession?

March 07, 2012 8:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do find it interesting that so many people attack what they think is the Catholic Church, and what they are attacking are fallacies. It is kind of surreal at times to see it. I very much enjoyed Renee's testimony. I hope she knows that she is very much an inspiration to those of us who love Jesus with all of our hearts, and that He is using her as His instrument. Like the commenter, I want to interpret scripture "correctly." That is why I am Catholic. Jesus gave us His Church, which gave us the Bible. I am going to go with the interpretations from the church that gave us the Bible, predates the Bible and has kept apostolic succession and apostolic tradition. I also was an Evangelical Protestant once. I am an Evangelical Catholic now, having rediscovered the fullness of the faith. Julie

March 07, 2012 9:14 AM  
Blogger Russ Rentler, M.D. said...

Dave, you said that it is sad that Renee changed religions without hearing the other side. I struggle to understand how yiou could say that given her testimony which explained in detail her life as a protestant on "the other side." Since I don't think you read her full testimony, I will repost the highlights here:


We downplayed the importance of the writings of the early Christians. Since no Church Father agreed with us Baptists on the issues of justification by faith alone, sola Scriptura, once-saved/always saved, baptism, the Eucharist, church governance, etc., we ignored their writings. We downplayed Protestant disunity. We downplayed the importance of the question of the origin of the canon of Scripture, a question that can only be answered by recognizing the authority of the Church who discerned the canon.
- We denigrated the holiness of Catholic saints. While rightly proclaiming the fact that all of history is “His-story,” we were willfully blind to the “His-toric” importance of the lives of John Paul II and Mother Teresa, just to mention two examples. Although I have known several godly Protestants (most especially when I was associated with the Taiwan Missionary Fellowship), I know of no 20th- century Protestant examples of the saints that the Catholic faith produces. We also denigrated Protestant converts to Catholicism, routinely implying that no one without an ulterior motive would leave the “truth” of Evangelicalism for the errors of Rome.
- We distorted Catholic beliefs when we presented them, so that they would be easier to refute. The classic examples, of course, are the Protestant arguments against “Mary worship,” or “works-righteousness.” By raging against two Catholic doctrines which do not actually exist, Protestant apologists are able to turn their readers against a hypothetical evil, rather than addressing and refuting actual Catholic teaching.
- We denied the development of doctrine, the key to understanding why the doctrine of the Trinity cannot be proved from Scripture and yet is the valid interpretation of the teaching of the Apostles. As a Protestant, I was relying on development of doctrine as the basis of my Trinitarian beliefs, and yet ignorantly believed that “the Bible alone” was the basis of what I believed and practiced.

March 07, 2012 9:42 AM  
Blogger Russ Rentler, M.D. said...

Julie said " I want to interpret scripture "correctly." That is why I am Catholic." Well said!

March 07, 2012 9:43 AM  
Blogger Dianna said...

Very interesting encounter with JW's! Your conclusion of the matter is worth reading again:
[While the case for the doctrine of the Trinity can certainly be made from Scripture, it cannot be proven from Scripture.] Thus if it cannot be proven but only 'made' as in 'made to seem like the truth' then we can only re-educate ourselves in an unbiased way when reading the Scriptures.

March 07, 2012 5:35 PM  
Anonymous Renee Lin said...

“Every argument sounds great until you hear the other side. It's unfortunate that Renee changed religions without ever getting to hear the other side.”

Dave, my brother in Christ!

I spent months reading Protestant apologetic arguments before and during my enrollment in RCIA (and actually have never stopped reading them.) I do not feel that I could have made a more serious effort to understand the Protestant arguments against Catholicism. I brought two small children with me into the Catholic Church, children for whose souls I shall have to render an account before God at my judgment, and I left no stone unturned (and no book unread!) in my attempt to discern the truth or falsehood of the Catholic belief system before having my children baptized in the Church. As I stated in my testimony, the Protestant arguments and counter-arguments looked solid at first, but I came to realize that they were based on a set of assumptions (such as sola Scriptura and sola fide) which were untenable, and on an ignorance of the incredible preponderance of historical witness in favor of Catholicism. If you can accept Protestant assumptions such as the legitimacy of private interpretation (as Russ was pointing out to you), then Protestant arguments appear to hold up. Question these assumptions, however, and the Protestant position crumbles.

My copy of the writings of the Apostolic Fathers is a Protestant translation (Lightfoot & Harmer). Have you read the Apostolic Fathers, Dave? It is simply incredible how many times they unanimously insist, over and over again, that believers MUST persevere to the end to be saved (echoing Jesus in the Gospels: “He who perseveres to the end will be saved.”) It is obvious that the doctrine of “once-saved/always-saved” was unknown to them, and these men were writing between 70 and 135 A.D. Yet “once-saved/always-saved” was a key tenet of my Baptist belief system. The first Christians evidently interpreted Scripture differently from the way my Bible-believing Baptist church interpreted it. Now ask yourself, who is more likely to understand what the apostles meant when they wrote the New Testament, the first- and second-century Christians who were disciples of the apostles themselves, or 21st-century Americans?

Have you gone before God and said with sincerity, “Lord, I will go where You call me to go. Help me to investigate this issue, not to prove one side right and the other wrong, but to find out where Your truth lies, because I want only You and Your truth. I will go where You call me to go”? Russ provided a great list of Catholic books in his recent post “The Reason Why I Blog.” Don’t hesitate to begin with those!

I know you are praying for me and all the others like me who have left the subjectivism of Protestantism behind for the teaching of the apostles. We will all be praying for you!

Renee Lin

P.S.- I did not “change religions.” I embraced the fullness of the Faith.

March 07, 2012 7:38 PM  
Blogger Fitchburg-Leominster Church Planting said...

Wow! I wasn't even expecting my post to get through the moderator let alone get so many interesting comments.

I didn't mean you didn't hear the other side by experiencing Protestantism for years. I meant you didn't hear the other side on the specific issues/reasons that caused your richter scale spiritual earthquakes.

Once everyone agrees the Bible is true and doesn't contradict itself then it's about who has the correct interpretation. So who has the correct interpretation of what the Bible means? Whoever has the best reasons and the least number of contradictions. Not whoever can doctor up a lineage back to Peter centuries later when they've departed from Peter's true doctrine for more than a millenium.

So it comes down to who has the best reasons. Renee's reasons for changing to Catholicism were/are flawed in the first place.

The reasons cited for turning/adhering to Roman Catholicism now, and subscribing to transubstantiation, are not good ones and contradict themselves and contradict very clear plain straightforward scriptures.

Faith + Works is a false Gospel plain and simple and the number of scriptures that destroy this method of salvation are too numerous to list.

WRONG: Faith + Works = Salvation
RIGHT: Faith = Salvation + Works

You didn't get the fullness of the Christian religion by converting to Catholicism Renee -- you added works to God's plan of salvation and adopted a false unibiblical Gospel. It is truly a shift to the same religion as all the others in the world that think how we believe/live matters (you changed over to "Be Good Enough" from the true religion of "Need God's Grace"). Again adding works nullifies grace (Romans 11:6). God justifies ungodly sinners(Romans 4:5) by faith alone not those who are making themselves acceptable.

I've read Keating and if I had more free time could write a commentary refuting the error throughout his entire "Catholicism and Fundamentalism".

I'm happy to read your responses to this post and would love to debate much more but your minds and hearts are very very very very made up I can see and I don't have a lot of free time to devote to this.

Thanks for the interesting dialog.

By Faith Alone in Christ Alone,
Dave

March 07, 2012 9:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave said:
"WRONG: Faith + Works = Salvation
RIGHT: Faith = Salvation + Works"
Dave, I would almost think you are Catholic! Our view IS Faith = Salvation + Works!!!! We are often accused of otherwise. Bless you! :) Julie

March 08, 2012 8:00 AM  
Blogger Russ Rentler, M.D. said...

Dave, Renee makes a point that that you may have missed so I will repeat it: Who is more likely to understand what the apostles meant when they wrote the New Testament, the first- and second-century Christians who were disciples of the apostles themselves, or 21st-century Americans, like Dave ?

Whoever has the best reasons and the least number of contradictions is the true religion?
By your own definition, you just ruled out ALL OF PTROTESTANTISM, since protestantism is filled with contradictions!

By your criteria, Dave, you could create a religion(as the protestants did), make up your own rules and reasons, and then declare this is the right one because we have "less contraindications and better reasons." That is no criteria by which to judge truth. You need an objective authority outside of your own ability to interpret the bible.
In your latest comment you have illustrated all the points Renee made in showing how protestants dismiss Catholicism. You denigrate the early church fathers, you keep stating straw man arguments "Works righteousness" and then ignore my questions of how you decide that Luther was correct about sola fide but absolutely dead wrong about his belief in the true body and blood in the Eucharist?

Saint Aquinas said: "Hold firmly that our faith is identical with that of the ancients. Deny this, and you dissolve the unity of the Church"

The early Christians believed that the Eucharistic meal was a sacrifice and that Jesus' real body and blood were made present at the altar. The early Christians believed in baptism for the forgiveness of sins, they believed in the communion of saints and prayed for those who died and asked for their intercession as well. (please don't tell me you don't accept the Creed?) They venerated Mary and the saints had a hierarchical structure of authority centered in Rome. The way they judged whether a bishop was legitimate was by tracing their lineage through Peter.

Dave, I can't be more frank than this: Your church and its novel beliefs Dave has nothing in common with the early Christians and their beliefs. The only similarity that your theology has with the true faith is the Trinity, which you believe because of the Catholic Church and that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, though your founder chose to remove 7 books because they didn't support his new found theology.

March 08, 2012 8:19 AM  
Blogger Russ Rentler, M.D. said...

Clement of Rome

Our Apostles knew through our Lord Jesus Christ that there would be strife for the office of bishop. For this reason, therefore, having received perfect foreknowledge, they appointed those who have already been mentioned, and afterwards added the further provision that, if they should die, other approved men should succeed to their ministry (Letter to the Corinthians 44:1 [A.D. 95]).

Ignatius of Antioch

You must all follow the bishop as Jesus Christ follows the Father, and the presbytery as you would the Apostles. Reverence the deacons as you would the command of God. Let no one do anything of concern to the Church without the bishop. Let that be considered a valid Eucharist which is celebrated by the bishop, or by one whom he appoints. Wherever the bishop appears, let the people be there; just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church (Letter to the Smyrnaeans 8:1 [A.D. 110]).

Irenaeus

It is possible, then, for everyone in every Church, who may wish to know the truth, to contemplate the tradition of the Apostles which has been made known throughout the whole world. And we are in a position to enumerate those who were instituted bishops by the Apostles, and their successors to our own times: men who neither knew nor taught anything like these heretics rave about. For if the Apostles had known hidden mysteries which they taught to the elite secretly and apart from the rest, they would have handed them down especially to those very ones to whom they were committing the self-same Churches. For surely they wished all those and their successors to be perfect and without reproach, to whom they handed on their authority (Against Heresies 3:3:1 [A.D. 180-199]).

It is necessary to obey those who are the presbyters in the Church, those who, as we have shown, have succession from the Apostles; those who have received, with the succession of the episcopate, the sure charism of truth according to the good pleasure of the Father. But the rest, who have no part in the primitive succession and assemble wheresoever they will, must be held in suspicion (ibid 4:26:2).

March 08, 2012 8:21 AM  
Blogger Russ Rentler, M.D. said...

Dave , you state: "
The reasons cited for turning/adhering to Roman Catholicism now, and subscribing to transubstantiation, are not good ones and contradict themselves and contradict very clear plain straightforward scriptures."

Dave, I seriously am waiting for your reasons why you believe Luther's belief in the Eucharist and the true body and blood of Christ are wrong. If he was so wrong and according to you messed up the "clear plain straightforward" understanding of scripture, why would you accept his interpretation of scripture to support his novel belief of faith alone?

Also, saying that the scriptures are clear plain and straightforward doesn't make it so. Saint Peter, spoke about scripture in an opposite fashion as you do. he thought the scriptures were sometimes hard to understand, warning us about those scripture twisters! "As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable twist, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction."

If the scriptures are so straightforward and plain, why do you believe that when Jesus holds out the bread and says THIS IS MY BODY you claim, He doesn't mean that, and that scripture can't be interpreted literally?

March 08, 2012 8:35 AM  
Anonymous A humble friend said...

Dave noted:
"WRONG: Faith + Works = Salvation
RIGHT: Faith = Salvation + Works"

One might take as much time debating what he means by the above, (indeed "Faith + Works" by no means tells the whole story of salvation.) but he omitted the crucial truth conveyed by St. Paul in the epistle that he obliquely references:

ABSOLUTLY RIGHT: Faith - Works = No Salvation

"Sola fide" is whole and blatantly counter-scriptural. It ought to be considered utterly indefensible by any bible-believing Christian
.

March 08, 2012 12:19 PM  

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