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, July 18, 2009

Random Thoughts

Lately I have been thinking of the way Christians behave(speaking to myself here too). Prodigal Daughter and I were talking about this this earlier today. I am convinced that one of the scariest and most pernicious lies that we can embrace is the idea that our ultimate destiny (heaven or hell) can't be changed by our own behaviour.
The heterodox theory goes like this: Jesus said, nothing can snatch those out of my Father's hand. Therefore, the interpretation is, "I don't have to worry about the destination of my soul,( even if on a subconscious level), if I meddle with this favorite sin a bit. I am assured of my salvation so surely, my behavior can't effect that.
There have been times in my life before my conversion when I must have embraced this because I certainly allowed myself to get fairly mired up with no thought that I was endangering my salvation. Can you see how dangerous this lie can be?

Think on this a bit: If the prodigal son decided to not return to his father and repent but continued in his lifestyle of sin, where would he be now? Would he still be saved? He chose to walk away from the gracious love and protective hand of his father.


Blogger Andrew said...

The view you're talking about sounds like what I've heard from Calvinists. People fail to realize that the passage you're talking about only means you don't have to worry about others or Satan taking your salvation away from you. We have free choice and can, therefore, walk away like the prodigal son just as you said. Although, now I could press on to others' extreme views of predestination where they seem to think (when it really comes down to it) that we really don't have a choice. You're either chosen or not. To that, I ask the question, "Then why should I bother sharing the faith?" But I won't get into that... It's too long of a discussion. We're called to share the truth and I'll leave it at that.

July 18, 2009 5:13 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Thanks for the comment Andrew.
I too ponder that as well. Why evangelize? Why be good? Why be pro-life? Why feed the poor? Why protect the frail and unprotected?
Perhaps this is why some(not all) of our separated brethren are not as involved in these "good works" as Catholics often are. We don't do these works to "get saved" but we sure as heck can't ignore Christ's admonition in Matt 25 for whatsoever you do for the least....
It's a both/and proposition, not either or. But that too is another discussion....
God bless

July 18, 2009 6:26 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

Russ we must be thinking on the same lines lately, my post on salvation is right in line with your post. We do nothing to gain our salvation, for it is a free gift to us from the Father, but we sure can produce actions or maybe even thoughts to lose it. I say thoughts, because if we are thinking of sin it must still be in our heart somewhere. This is why I am so thankful for the sacrament of confession. The healing nature of the sacrament as we humble ourselves in repentance is something none of us should live with out.


July 18, 2009 9:59 PM  
Blogger kkollwitz said...

Good comments thus far. Nice the way you closed your post by using the Prodigal Son. I'll add that it was important that the son confess physically, out loud to his father even though the father knew all the sins already, and also knew the son was sorry.

Two weeks ago I saw Rembrandt's Prodigal Son at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia; it's my favorite painting of the subject. I was a bit surprised at how much more impact the big original had over smaller reproductions I'd seen for years in books.

July 19, 2009 4:34 PM  
Blogger Pilgrimsarbour said...

Sorry about the length of the two posts.

Part 1

I would agree whole-heartedly that anyone who believes that he can persist in a lifestyle of sin after having embraced the Saviour is kidding himself about his standing before God.

Tiber Jumper said...
"I don't have to worry about the destination of my soul, (even if on a subconscious level), if I meddle with this favorite sin a bit. I am assured of my salvation so surely, my behavior can't effect that."

I have never, in all the years I have been Reformed (16 years), known any Reformed believer who thought that he could "sin the more that grace may abound." Instead I see a deep concern to behave like a child of the King and not bring dishonour to His Name. I have seen struggles with sin, successes and failures; no one who doesn't care about his sins struggles against them. And when we do meddle with sins, when we do fall, it wreaks havoc with our assurance. And this touches all communions. It is a human problem, not a Catholic- or Protestant-only one. All of us face no greater problem than the persistence of the old nature within us after the Saviour has begun His good work in our lives.

No, the idea behind "once saved always saved" in Reformed thought is that we are saved from something (sin and a sinful lifestyle) to something (righteousness in Christ). We are saved to holy living in Christ as His bride and as the adopted children of our Father. In the doctrine of the Preservation of the Saints the emphasis is on what God has done for the sinner and what that means to our assurance.

I declare passionately that this idea:

"...I certainly allowed myself to get fairly mired up with no thought that I was endangering my salvation"

reflects neither the theology of the Reformation nor of Catholicism. However, it may reflect some thinking on the part of those Protestants who are mired in American Evangelical Protestantism, that is, that which is not Reformed, and which I would consider to be a fair departure from Reformed thought. So I can understand, TJ, why that could have happened to you. And it probably happened to me. And it may be what is in the mind of many non-Reformed Protestants who, in my view, really don't properly understand these things. Many (decisionists) do think that they can walk the aisle, say a prayer, and then live the rest of their lives the way they choose. This is not the doctrine, but a perversion of it. It is a far cry from denouncing a doctrine based on the Scriptures to denouncing a bastardization of that doctrine. This works both ways in our discussions, no?

July 20, 2009 1:13 PM  
Blogger Pilgrimsarbour said...

Part 2

And now, if I may add a brief comment on Andrew's comment.

"To that, I ask the question, 'Then why should I bother sharing the faith?'"

Two quick answers.

1) Because we have been commanded to share our faith, and as children of the King raised for eternal life we should want to obey Him.

2) The preaching of the gospel is the prescribed method by which God gathers His elect. Who the elect are is a mystery known ultimately only by God. We cannot make judgements about who is "elect" and who is not, so we obediently engage in "broad-casting;" we scatter the gospel seed. We share our faith with everyone, trusting in the grace of our almighty Saviour, the Lord Christ, that the good seed will finally find its purchase.

The missionaries that our congregation and our denomination have sent out and who have spent many years in difficult conditions would be shocked to discover that they didn't care about the lost; especially because, well, "God will take care of it all anyway, so why bother?" Do you see how a misunderstanding of the doctrine brings with it all kinds of absurdities? There are a lot of "Calvinistic" missionaries wasting their lives, it seems. And those folks were missionaries for centuries before American Evangelicalism, a "new gospel" in my view, and in which both TJ and I partook in various forms, began to sweep the nation in the 19th and 20th centuries through today.

May we all, from both our respective communions, redouble our efforts to portray each other's beliefs accurately and fairly, especially when discussing such weighty, eternal matters.

July 20, 2009 1:14 PM  

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