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, August 13, 2007

St. Francis de Sales On The Invisible Church

When I was in college, Keith Green came out with his Catholic Chronicles*. They were a poorly researched and horribly distorted diatribe against Catholicism. Sadly, many of us read them as if they were the Gospel. In the 16th century, our favorite Saint distributed the original "Catholic Chronicles" to bring fallen-away Catholics back to the Church. Just like our brother Keith Green, he had a "home grown operation" and didn't charge for his tracts! It has been estimated that Keith's ministry sent out over 60,000 free albums to anyone who asked. It has also been estimated that St. Francis was able to win back over 60,000 fallen-away Catholics during his short term mission to the Protestant area of Chablais. Both men were around the same age (late 20's) during their most effective ministry years.

St. Francis de Sales continues in his Catholic Controversy tracts to explain how the Church is the infallible guide for our faith. He brings up an excellent point which is: how can an invisible church be an infallible guide? He also points out how the construct of the "invisible church" is not consistent with Old and New Testament imagery of the Church. It is interesting that just a mere 80 years after the reformation, the "Remnant theory" was being proposed. To reject the authority of the one Universal (Catholic) Church at this point in history, you would have to invent the remnant theory, otherwise you would be saying Christ failed in his mission and the gates of Hell did prevail . Let's see what St. Francis has to say to his readers regarding the "invisible true church" operating in secret:

"All that our adversaries can say is that this infallibility is only true of the invisible Church. But they arrive at this their opinion of the invisibility of the Church by two roads; for some say it is invisible because it consists only of persons elect and predestinate: the others attribute this invisibility to the rareness and scattering of the believers and faithful. Of these the first consider the Church to be invisible at all times, the others say that this invisibility has lasted about a thousand years, more or less; that is, from S. Gregory to Luther, during which time the papal authority was peaceably established among Christians for they say that during this time there were some true Christians in secret, who did not manifest their intentions, and were satisfied with thus serving God in concealment. This theology is imagination and guesswork; so that others have preferred to say, that during those thousand years the Church was neither visible nor invisible, but altogether effaced and suffocated by impiety and idolatry. Permit me, I beseech you, to say the truth freely; all these words are the incoherencies of fever, they are but dreams had while awake, and not worth the dream Nabuchodonosor had while asleep. And they are entirely contrary to it if we believe Daniel's interpretation (Dan. ii); for Nabuchodonosor saw a stone cut out of a mountain without hands which went rolling till it overthrew the great statue, and so increased that having become a mountain it filled the whole earth: this Daniel understood of the Kingdom of Our Lord, which shall last for ever. If it be as a mountain, and a mountain so large as to fill the whole earth, how shall it be invisible or secret? And if it last for ever, how shall it have failed a thousand years? And it is certainly of the Kingdom of the Church militant that this passage is to be understood; for that of the triumphant will fill heaven, not earth only, and will not arise during the time of the other Kingdoms, as Daniel's interpretation says, but after the consummation of the world. Add to this that to be cut from the mountain without hands, belongs to the temporal generation of Our Lord, according to which he has been conceived in the womb of the Virgin, and engendered of her own substance without work of man, by the sole benediction of the Holy Ghost. Either then Daniel has badly prophesied, or the adversaries of the Catholic Church have done so when they have said the Church was invisible, hidden and destroyed. In God's name have patience; we will go in order and briefly, while showing the vanity of those opinions. But we must, before all things, say what the Church is."

* Keith Green never had the opportunity to finish his chronicles but his last line written was this:
"Never has something so black and wicked, gotten away with appearing so holy and mysteriously beautiful . . . for so long!"
I can't imagine the conversations Keith Green and St. Francis are having now.


Blogger Joyful Catholics said...

Very interesting TJ. As i've written many times here and there, it was due to Keith's influence, and boyish charm and "Jesus freak" style not to mention I was just totally enchanted by him, that I soon began to dig my heels in about leaving the CC. Though Rich tried to explain the Catholic faith to me, I was "in too deep" with Last Days Ministries to remain at St. Leo's parish.

So, Rich followed me to a Pentecostal church since I'd swallowed hook, line and sinker all that the sorely misguided Keith had written about Catholics and the CC. He was a phenomenal musician and I had all his albums and loved him to pieces. I even had a dream about him after his tragic plane accident that took his life, and wrote Melody (his wife) about it, and heard back from her. It was way bizarre now that I think about it.

Well, I'm pretty sure his views on Purgatory have changed and no doubt somewhat dramatically!

God rest his "troubadour soul."


August 13, 2007 9:40 PM  
Blogger Amber said...

Keith Green... now there is a name I haven't heard in years. I remember attending a Keith Green concert. He was so "on fire" for God. I was pretty young (nine or so?) so I don't remember his Catholic Chronicles. When he died, I wrote a letter to his wife and received a response that I held close for a long time.

His death was very sad for me... but I remember his passion.

I can only imagine what he must have thought to see all those "wicked" Catholics up there in heaven!

Great post! LOVE the photo!

August 13, 2007 9:47 PM  
Anonymous theo said...

May Keith Green and all the faithfully departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. May perpetual light shine upon him. May God bless and keep him and cause His face to shine upon him forever and ever.


August 14, 2007 9:44 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Amen Theo,
Thankfully his wife Melody has wisely chosen not to reprint the Catholic Chronicles and actually has somewhat of a disclaimer regarding them, "We love Catholics" etc.

August 14, 2007 2:27 PM  

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