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.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Confessional Christianity

       Confessional protestant Christianity claims to hold to the beliefs of the ancient church including the Apostles, Nicean, Chalcedon and Athanasian creeds. They will say the bible is the "Primary Standard" for all they need to know about faith but claim these confessions and creeds are "Secondary standards" which are held to be the most faithful teaching of scripture. They also include their own confessions which were written after the reformation to more clearly enunciate the doctrines of the reformers (even though these doctrines are supposed to be self-evident and self-explanatory in the scripture.) One would wonder why they need any confessions at all if indeed the bible is perspicuous and the final arbiter to decide and teach all doctrines of their faith, but I digress.
   When one looks at the ancient (pre-reformation) creeds they profess belief in the communion of saints, one baptism for the forgiveness of sins and the role of good works in determining where one spends eternity.  None of these doctrines are held by post-reformation Christianity so how can they say they are confessional protestants?   For instance, in the Athanasian creed we read: "At His coming all men will rise again with their bodies and shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.  This is the catholic faith, which except a man believe faithfully, he cannot be saved."

    So somewhere, there remains a tremendous disconnect in what the confessional protestants profess and what they actually believe. I suspect they attempt to claim historic continuity with the ancients the way we Catholics do to validate their beliefs. The difference is we actually believe in and practice the doctrines of the ancient creeds and can historically document a 2000 year continuity with the apostles teachings. The confessional protestants saying that they believe in the creeds doesn't make it so. The beliefs of modern day confessional protestants bear no resemblance whatsoever to the beliefs proclaimed in the early church creeds, with just a few exceptions.

Kevin Vanhoozer, professor of theology at Wheaton College, in discussing the role of confessions says: “Perhaps the most effective way of guarding oneself from hermeneutical idolatry—the omnipresent danger of making a god of one’s own interpretations—is to be aware of how other saints demonstrate canon sense.” 

 Unfortunately. most post-reformation protestants, including Professor Vanhoozer completely reject how the other saints demonstrate "canon sense" including disregarding the very canon of scripture established in the late 4th century. These folks may believe they are guarding themselves from "hermeneutical idolatry" but they are completely ignoring the beliefs of the historic (read: Catholic) church. When these "confessional Christians" actually start to believe  in  and profess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins, the actual presence of Christ's body and blood in the Eucharist offered as a sacrifice to the Father, and the communion of saints, then  I will say welcome to the Original Confessional Church.
The One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church that gave you those ancient creeds. 


OpenID said...

I used to be a "confessional Protestant" and would have easily told anyone that my church was just like the early Church founded by Christ. As a Catholic now, I wonder why I thought such a thing.

I have a couple friends who loudly reject the truths of Catholic teaching. I get frustrated when they refuse to dig a little deeper and ask good questions. Would Jesus adhere to sola scripture, sola fide? The Apostles who knew Him did not - why would we?


July 06, 2012 12:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. Rentler, Correct me if I'm wrong. Since they can't fully confess or profess the Nicene, Apostles and Athanasian Creeds and doctrines and dogmas contained in those creeds, "Confessional" Christians are Lying to themselves, and in part, lying to God essentially.

In-Christ, Matthew.

July 06, 2012 4:29 AM  
Anonymous russ said...

I would like to believe that these confessional christians are not intentionally being deceitful in saying one thing and doing another. They honestly think they are in communion with the ancients because they call themselves confessional and put the creeds on their websites. However, there is a tremendous animosity against the Catholic faith which essentially blinds them into not seeing the inconsistency of "being confessional" but denying the very tenets of faith in the confessions! They are attempting to prevent sola scriptura from sinking them (Hermeneutic idolatry) so they claim an outside source which they call "secondary" as a means to "guard" them from falling prey to the devastating outcome of personal interpretation of scripture. But ultimately, it is deceiving themselves. I don't believe it is done in ill-will but out of ignorance, pride and prejudice. The three factors that keep anyone from looking outside their personal faith expression.

July 06, 2012 9:19 AM  
Anonymous russ said...

Here's the full quote from a confessional Christian webpage:

"Finally, confession gives us a greater appreciation for the church fathers. We interpret Scripture in light of what they have said and weigh carefully their thoughts. As Kevin Vanhoozer says, “Perhaps the most effective way of guarding oneself from hermeneutical idolatry—the omnipresent danger of making a god of one’s own interpretations—is to be aware of how other saints demonstrate canon sense” [13]. This does not mean that we will necessarily agree with all they taught, nor should we. Rather, it offers a corrective to a postmodern way of interpreting Scripture. No longer do we interpret Scripture alone, but interpret it together with the rest of the Church, past and present. Exegesis is not to be done in isolation, for it is a communal act.

So basically this prof of theology at Wheaton is saying we don't believe in the bible alone (solo scriptura)but interpret it with the rest of the Church past and present and when we get to a part that sounds Catholic, it's ok to reject that bit. Sort of like a Sola Scriptura + Tradition - Catholic theology = ERROR of Protestant theology

July 06, 2012 9:25 AM  
Blogger Russ Rentler, M.D. said...

Christina: our bible study leader in 1973 told us our little fellowship was worshiping just as the early church did, meeting in houses blah blah blah. He forgot to tell us that the Christians all met in houses because of fear of being burned alive or fed to lions. He forgot to tell us these early Christians celebrated the Eucharist and fed themselves on the real body and blood of Christ. he forgot to mention that the way these early Christians got "born again" and saved was only through water baptism, not a sinner's prayer. He also neglected to inform us that most of these early Christians had no new testament to study and bring with them in nice leather bound covers, but shared the tradition passed on by the apostles.

July 06, 2012 9:32 AM  
Anonymous Matthew said...

Matthew here, Thanks for the clarification Dr. Rentler. Great posts and clarifications as always.

July 06, 2012 11:07 AM  

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