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, July 13, 2011

Presbyterian Church Votes to Approve of Gay Ordinations

Presbyterian Church joins 3 other mainline Protestant denominations in ordination of practicing homosexuals.  See the New York Times article here. 

“Some people are going to celebrate this day because they’ve worked for it for a long time, and some people will mourn this day because they think it’s a totally different understanding of Scripture than they have.”   “I hope that going forward we can stay together and be faithful witnesses to the gospel of Jesus Christ.”    Rev. Gradye Parsons, the highest elected official of the Presbyterian church

If Scripture is truly perspicuous, how can this happen? One believing christian claims to have the Holy Spirit
and concludes that scripture supports homosexuality while another believing Christian guided by the self-same Spirit uses his interpretation of Scripture to speak against it.


Blogger Magister Christianus said...

"If Scripture is truly perspicuous, how can this happen? One believing christian claims to have the Holy Spiritand concludes that scripture supports homosexuality while another believing Christian guided by the self-same Spirit uses his interpretation of Scripture to speak against it."

Well, there you have it. This fundamentally makes no sense whatsoever. There is a great recent post on this at "Why I Am Catholic":

July 14, 2011 7:53 AM  
Blogger George @ Convert Journal said...

What is it with Minneapolis? Is that where all Protestant denominations go to loose their faith?

The location, the battle, the democratic vote on faith, moving toward "gay marriage", etc. is the same play book used by ELCA Lutherans. I wrote about it here.

This pushes them further and further away from Christian unity (and Christianity for that matter). Sad.

July 14, 2011 10:45 AM  
Anonymous russ rentler said...


It is events like this that, to me, show the need for a magisterium.

July 16, 2011 8:37 AM  
Anonymous Mrk said...

the first 7 chapters of Revelation gives great accounts of churches going astray in different ways. I dont' think any church is immune. A church can either start dismissing large parts of the bible, slipping deeper into immorality, or create even more "rules" to follow, shifting the focus from Christ to man.

July 16, 2011 10:34 AM  
Blogger Russ Rentler, M.D. said...

Mrk, you said "no church is immune."

Regarding the issue of faith and morals, history has shown that the Catholic Church actually is "immune." In 2000 years, the Catholic Church has not changed its core doctrine, but has defended it to a world and culture that constantly attempts to change it. There are practices and disciplines that change over the centuries, such as celibate priesthood vs married priests, fish on Friday, etc, but these are not issues of dogmatic faith or morals.
The Church will not and cannot change its stance regarding birth control, ordination of women, abortion, homosexuality, divorce(morals) as well as the belief in the real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, baptismal regeneration, heaven , hell, purgatory etc.(faith)
You will always find people in the church who go astray morally and doctrinally,(after all the majority of the NT is written as letters of correction to errant members of the Church) but the Church is immune from teaching error through the charism of infallibility given to the successors of Peter. Popes can sin and make bad statements regarding politics and sports, world events, but when they teach on faith and or morals the Holy Spirit does not allow them to contradict the 2000 year old teachings of the apostles, also known as the "deposit of faith."
Catholics believe that Jesus established His church on sinful man but He promised to "lead them in all truth." We believe the Church is a divine institution and because it was established by God, it cannot fail.
So in areas such as allowing divorce, allowing contraception, accepting the act of homosexuality as not sinful, the Catholic church cannot and will not ever change.

Before 1930, every denomination believed that contraception was gravely evil and morally wrong. After the Anglicans approved of it in limited circumstances, every protestant denomination soon caved, and now contraception is taught by every faith but the Catholic Church.
My point in posting about gay ordination is not to disparage my protestant brothers, but to illustrate that the principles of the reformers have failed to prevent them from doctrinally and morally going astray. The bible alone failed to prevent this sad state of affairs in protestant denominations.

My goal is not to wave a flag of triumphalism, but to attempt to get people to see that protestantism, by its very core principles, will ultimately lead to problems like this.
Despite bad priests, bad popes, pedophile priests, errant theologians poorly practicing Catholics, cafeteria Catholics etc, the Church will never change its view of marriage, homosexuality,divorce etc. That cannot be said about any other protestant denomination. They have all changed their views regarding these areas of moral behavior in order to adapt to the culture in which they live. GK Chesterton said: "I want a church that will change the culture, not be changed by the culture."
Check out this short video:

July 16, 2011 1:15 PM  
Anonymous Mrk said...

I think what you wrote is evidence of alot of what is different between the RC and P views. And both allow for rebellion. I know very few RC churches that hold as strict a stance on, say, divorce and contraception as they do on abortion. Many prominent Catholics hold to very liberal beliefs and are still "in communion" with the RC church. I cannot group all P churches together, but those that hold to a Biblical view, look to the Gospel message first. If they just focus on "right living" they've missed the whole message. Then we're just trying to obey man's law, not seeking God's grace thru His Son. The Church will cotinue to fail until she is reunited with Her Groom, Christ. You glossed over many things that are wrong within the RC church, but they are not minor. All P churches face their own challenges. So I would posit that finding a denomination, at this time in history that is slipping deeper into heresy and sin, is nothing new. And has happened since Christ's ascension. We even see it among the nation of Israel in the OT. These are attacks from within, and they were predicted to happen all throughout the New Testament. We each have a responsibility to follow God's Word, and anyone can read anything into any passage there, but the Gospel Message, remains unchanged from the beginning.

July 16, 2011 4:51 PM  
Blogger Russ Rentler, M.D. said...

The Catholic Church will never take a vote to decide on issues of faith and morality. That can't be said of the churches of protestantism because of the lack of authority, other than each person's interpretation of the bible.
The protestant churches have no rudder to guide them through the moral morass of our culture ,other than their interpretation of the bible, which they use to justify their moral behavior.

See this post that highlights this whole issue based on the writings of a Lutheran theologian:

July 16, 2011 5:45 PM  
Anonymous Mrk said...

Russ, two examples: slavery and evolution--two areas where the Roman Catholic position has changed. Prior to Trent, both Faith w/out works and Faith plus works were readily taught. After, one became heresy.
And the churches that tend to slip, like the PCUSA, are the ones that devalue the Scriptures as any level of authority. So, yes, then without the Scriptures to guide them, it does come down to a "vote." So it is rarely their
"interpretation" that leads to these heresies, but the resolution to be "more like the world" first, then find some Scripture to back it up. There are lots of things I would prefer NOT be in the Scriptures. I think the argument that Sola Scriptura has anything to do with things like the PCUSA's decline is really reaching. And more likely the opposite is usually true.

July 16, 2011 9:15 PM  
Blogger Russ Rentler, M.D. said...

The issue of the Catholic Church and its position on slavery has been studied by theologians and historians for years. Father Joel Panzer has studied these issue extensively as well as Cardinal Avery Dulles. You nor I will "win" this argument here in this combox.

These links will respond to the notion that the Church has changed its position and thus is not an infallible teacher of faith and morals.

Regarding the idea that faith alone was "readily taught" by the Church before the reformation - I have never heard that and surely if it was true, there would have been no need for Luther's "discovery" in the tower of justification by "faith alone." If the Church believed it, why was there a need for a reformation? Just make a correction for the wrongful selling of indulgences and "move on."

Justification by faith alone was a novel doctrine and not practiced or believed by the Church before 1517. Many have read back into Augustine's writings a "faith alone" after the reformation began.

Norman Geisler and Alisdair McGrath, Protestant scholars state:

"Whereas Augustine taught that the sinner is made righteous in justification, Melanchthon taught that he is counted as righteous or pronounced to be righteous. For Augustine, 'justifying righteousness' is imparted; for Melanchthon, it is imputed in the sense of being declared or pronounced to be righteous. Melanchthon drew a sharp distinction between the event of being declared righteous and the process of being made righteous, designating the former 'justification' and the latter 'sanctification' or 'regeneration.' For Augustine, these were simply different aspects of the same thing . . .

The importance of this development lies in the fact that it marks a complete break with the teaching of the church up to that point. From the time of Augustine onwards, justification had always been understood to refer to both the event of being declared righteous and the process of being made righteous. Melanchthon's concept of forensic justification diverged radically from this. As it was taken up by virtually all the major reformers subsequently, it came to represent a standard difference between Protestant and Roman Catholic from then on . . .

The Council of Trent . . . reaffirmed the views of Augustine on the nature of justification . . . the concept of forensic justification actually represents a development in Luther's thought . . . .

Trent maintained the medieval tradition, stretching back to Augustine, which saw justification as comprising both an event and a process . . ."

(Reformation Thought: An Introduction, 2nd ed., Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1993, 108-109, 115; emphasis in original)

Dave Armstrong discusses this in depth here:

Trent dogmatically stated we are not saved by faith alone in response to Luther's novel views. The councils of the Church often dogmatically stated doctrine(told the faithful what they must believe)not to create new doctrines but to clearly enunciate and defend the doctrines previously and continuously held by the Church.

The Church has never made a dogmatic statement against or for evolution. The Church has always demanded that as believers we accept God as creator and that there indeed was a first Adam and first Eve. The Church doesn't pit faith against science as is often the scenario in fundamentalist protestantism.


July 17, 2011 10:40 AM  
Blogger Russ Rentler, M.D. said...

Regarding sola scriptura's role in the decline of modern day protestant moral teaching, it was a Lutheran theologian and professor and member of ELCA that stated:

"What was truly chilling about the assembly's debates(about homosexual unions) was that the revisionists seemed to quote Jesus and the Bible as knowledgeably and persuasively as the orthodox. Passages reinforcing their respective agendas were selected and then brilliantly woven into their arguments. Both sides seemed to have the Bible on their side. The revisionists "contextualized" and relativized the relevant texts. The orthodox claimed a plain sense reading of Scripture. The Lutheran confessions were utilized effectively by both sides. There was no authoritative interpretation conveyed by any agent or agency in the church. The church was, and is, rudderless.

Sola Scriptura, a Lutheran principle adopted by evangelicals, did not seem to be sufficient in such circumstances. An authoritative tradition of interpretation of the Bible seemed to be essential. More was needed than the Bible alone. Protestants seem to lack such an authoritative tradition, so they fight and split."

I will conclude with this quote from reformed-to-Catholic convert Devin Rose's new book "If Protestantism is True"

If Protestantism is true, the the Church is really no more reliable than any other human institution. Just as other groups of people can go far astray, so can the Church Christ founded. Any confidence put into his church, then, is shaky; we must always take our stands with one foot out the door. Also, the people deemed "heretics" (Arius, Pelagius, Nestorius etc, my addition here) by the Church over the centuries and whose teachings were rejected as false might actually be right, since the Church, not being protected by God, might very well have erred on these decisions as well."

July 17, 2011 10:42 AM  
Blogger Devin Rose said...

Mrk, can you cite the references for the claim you made that the Church changed its teachings on evolution and slavery?

July 17, 2011 2:55 PM  
Anonymous Mrk said...

Evolution(no pun intended) of the RC position:

Now I would defend both the biblical view and this view on slavery, and think it generally unfair to condemn the church on this, as I think the concept of slavery had also changed over time. But that's for another subject.

But Russ said, "Despite bad priests, bad popes, pedophile priests, errant theologians poorly practicing Catholics, ..." but how is that any different severity than the issues that protestant churches end up with due to "problems" with Sola Scriptura. Bad popes, elected bishops/priests who stayed in position long after the popes died off. Pedophile priests were protected/overlooked by bishops and cardinals that were never removed from office. And could stil today be compromising their morals elsewhere. Poorly practicing Catholics is probably the worst thing here, as the result is usually a superstitious idolatry, that is allowed to persist, esp in Latin American countries, regardless of the actual church teaching on things like relics, icons, and Marian apparitions.

Again, I don't want this to turn into an attack on the RC church, but I only entered into this comments section to defend Sola Scriptura against the charge of being a "blueprint for anarchy" as some would state. Because using the corresponding arguments can allow for a condemnation of papal infallibility, apostolic succession, prayer to the dead, etc.

July 17, 2011 7:31 PM  
Blogger kkollwitz said...

"If Scripture is truly perspicuous, how can this happen?"

How, indeed.

July 18, 2011 2:02 PM  
Blogger Principium Unitatis said...


Development (in the Newman sense) is possible and good. But it does not allow contradiction of what has already been formally established, either by the extraordinary magisterium or by the ordinary magisterium. The toleration of certain forms of slavery under certain conditions, does not constitute a formal endorsement of the moral good of slavery as an institution. This is why the Church's teaching in Dignitatis Humanae regarding slavery is not in contradiction to prior toleration of non-racial forms of slavery. Some of the links Russ provided directly and explicitly refute Maxwell's claims that you cite.

Likewise, the Church has in no way contradicted any prior teaching regarding evolution. On evolution as a *scientific* theory regarding the divergence of species from common ancestors (not to be confused with naturalism as a philosophical theory), the Church has never taken any formal position. But, there are non-negotiables. It is not permitted for a Catholic to deny the existence of the first human couple, Adam and Eve, from whom all humans come. Nor can a Catholic believe that human beings do not have immaterial souls that are immediately created by God. Whether or not God made Adam from pre-existing hominids, we must believe that God immediately (i.e. not by mediation of other creatures) blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and gave him an immaterial subsistent soul. The other animals have souls, but not subsistent souls, i.e. souls that continue to exist after death. So the creation of man (and every human being) had to involve an immediate and miraculous act, the ex nihilo creation of a human soul. The human soul cannot be the product of evolution, because a subsistent soul cannot come from what it not subsistent.

In this first homily as pope, Pope Benedict said the following:

The Fathers made a very significant commentary on this singular task [i.e. being fishers of men]. This is what they say: for a fish, created for water, it is fatal to be taken out of the sea, to be removed from its vital element to serve as human food. But in the mission of a fisher of men, the reverse is true. We are living in alienation, in the salt waters of suffering and death; in a sea of darkness without light. The net of the Gospel pulls us out of the waters of death and brings us into the splendour of God's light, into true life. It is really true: as we follow Christ in this mission to be fishers of men, we must bring men and women out of the sea that is salted with so many forms of alienation and onto the land of life, into the light of God. It is really so: the purpose of our lives is to reveal God to men. And only where God is seen does life truly begin. Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is. We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary. There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him. The task of the shepherd, the task of the fisher of men, can often seem wearisome. But it is beautiful and wonderful, because it is truly a service to joy, to God's joy which longs to break into the world.

See paragraphs 35-43 of Humani Generis. See also Creation and Evolution: A Conference with Pope Benedict in Castel Gandolfo, and Pope Benedict's In the Beginning: A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall (written before he was pope).

The intrinsic moral evil of homosexual acts, by contrast, is not only grounded in the natural law, but also established infallibly in the ordinary magisterium of the Catholic Church. The Church can never reverse it, ever.

In the peace of Christ,

- Bryan

July 19, 2011 7:45 PM  

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