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.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A Little Water....Another Lap on the Treadmill

We "Sacramentalists" in agreement with the writings of the Early Church and Sacred Scripture insist that "a little water" does indeed regenerate a person. This belief does not negate faith in Jesus' work on the Cross. We believe, as did most of Christendom for 1500 years, that the Holy Spirit works through the sign in an efficacious manner to the person who is rightly disposed to the reception of the Sacrament, be it Baptism, the Eucharist, Marriage etc. Why does God work this way you ask? Because it is the will of our Lord Jesus Christ. Maybe this quote can clarify it a bit for those non-sacramentalists.

"So then we must ever come to this point, that the Sacraments are effectual and that they are not trifling signs that vanish away in the air, but that the truth is always matched with them, because God who is faithful shows that he has not ordained anything in vain. And that is the reason why in Baptism we truly receive the forgiveness of sins, we are washed and cleansed with the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are renewed by the operation of his Holy Spirit.

And how so? Does a little water have such power when it is cast upon the head of a child? No. But because it is the will of our Lord Jesus Christ that the water should be a visible sign of his blood and of the Holy Spirit. Therefore baptism has that power and whatsoever is there set forth to the eye is forthwith accomplished in very deed."

John Calvin, Sermons on Deuteronomy, p. 1244.

One could almost imagine that John Calvin himself contributed to this entry in the Cathechism:

"The Church affirms that for believers the sacraments of the New Covenant are
necessary for salvation.51 "Sacramental grace" is the grace of the Holy Spirit, given by Christ and proper to each sacrament. The Spirit heals and transforms those who receive him by conforming them to the Son of God. The fruit of the sacramental life is that the Spirit of adoption makes the faithful partakers in the divine nature52 by uniting them in a living union with the only Son, the Savior."

So why do some insist on sacramentalism as "cheap human inventions that are endless treadmills?"

Am I missing something here?


Blogger NotMyOpinion30 said...

Good question... it's kind of like asking why St. Paul, as Saul, persecuted Christians (the scales over his eyes needed to fall off); or it's like asking why Adam, even though he saw God, even though his body was glorified and immortal like the body was always intended to be (and will be after the resurrection), even though God placed him in Paradise and gave him everything, he was still tempted away to believe that he could do better, that none of the creation given to him at his feet was above his own intellect.

We are all susceptible to deceptions and tricks of the devil. Especially when it comes to our own pride. God protect us from the snares of satan, that we may not fall back into the trust of only our senses and our intellect. I fear that my pride will overcome me everyday and cause me to fall back. It is only by the grace of God that we see what is imperceptable... like the disciples on the road to Emmaus. They could not recognize Christ until they had received the grace of the eyes of the Spirit.

February 14, 2007 8:30 PM  
Blogger Ron said...

It's rather ironic that Protestants claim to have a personal relationship with Jesus yet are unable to accept the power of our Lord in the sacraments. It's as if they've put Jesus in a box and limited the power and glory of our Savior. They are so hung up on the matter that they misread the effectiveness that is from Christ alone. They see a man administering but cannot see the Lord behind the curtain, orchestrating and bestowing grace. They have an entire Bible filled with examples of humans being instruments of grace and yet cannot take that final step and believe. Sad.

February 15, 2007 6:18 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Calvin also said this of the Sacraments: If this is obscure from brevity, I will explain it more at length. I say that Christ is the matter, or, if you rather choose it, the substance of all the sacraments, since in Him they have their whole solidity, and out of Him promise nothing."

So, John Calvin is saying that Christ is the matter of all the sacraments! Hey that's essentially what Catholics say! Hey no fair, get your own material John!

The Catholic Catechism says:
1131 The sacraments are efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us. The visible rites by which the sacraments are celebrated signify and make present the graces proper to each sacrament. They bear fruit in those who receive them with the required dispositions.(Like Calvin said, In Him they have their solidity and outside of Him, are nothing. (if the person isn't rightly disposed or has faith, I suppose)

I suspect Calvin's own Catholic infant baptism really left an impression on him. He was not re-baptized for he believed that the Romish baptism was valid.
It's hard to get around that creedal statement "I believe in one baptism for the forgiveness of sins", not one baptism for the sign of forgiveness of sins.

February 23, 2007 10:15 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

The above Calvin quote was from Calvin's Institutes of Religion found on Calvin College Ephemeral Library. They also have a great collection of writings of the Church Fathers, St. John of the Cross, St. Thomas Aquinas, Thomas a Kempis and Julian of Norwich. As a matter of fact, this month's editor's choice from Calvin College's site is Julian's writings. I am downloading this stuff into my palm pilot.

February 24, 2007 9:19 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Karl Adams has written an enlightening work almost 100 years ago called the Spirit of Catholicism that would help non-Catholics better understand the work of grace through the Church Christ established:

...the criticism which thinks it right to speak of the sacraments as having a "magical character" divorces them from their proper and sole source, namely from Christ, the true and only giver of grace, and gives them an independent status. So that they become, not signs of grace, but independent sources of it, instruments endued with their own power, sacred charms. In reality, however, no sacrament stands thus in its own right, or can so stand for a single moment. It has its whole meaning and its whole power in and through Christ alone. Just as Christ, during His earthly life, did not disdain to connect his miracles of bodily healing with homely symbols (cf. Mark vii, 32; John ix, 6), so has He raised the sacraments in a new and higher sense to the position of specific instruments of His redeeming grace (causae instrumentales) in order to sanctify souls through them, through their visible and tangible reality. Nay, more, according to that Scotist view which is now advocated by many theologians, the sacrament itself possesses no strictly "physical" causality in any way immanent in its sign. On the contrary, the sacramental grace flows directly from Jesus into the soul of the believer. The sacrament is no more than an appointed sign of Christ, an objectivisation of the gracious will of Jesus, a visible and perceptible "I will, be thou made clean!"

February 24, 2007 8:56 PM  

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