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, October 03, 2012

Southern Baptists Struggle to Understand What They Believe

I missed this recent debacle back in May among our Baptist brethren. It seems that traditional southern Baptists are trying to re-articulate what it is they believe about salvation. After all these years, they are still debating whether Calvin was correct or Arminius was correct. (It appears that Calvin may be losing this debate.)
   Unfortunately for them, the perpiscuity of scripture is not bringing any clarity to this issue and the over 900 comments in their combox reveals quite a proof of this. How one is saved (soteriology) is a crucial theological issue and not one of the minor issues that as Christians we can politely agree to disagree about. If the bible operates correctly as their sole rule of faith why is there such a disparate view of such an important concept? Each person on each side of the issue uses hundreds of verses hurling them at the other, but the many verses from the bible are not causing them to come to an agreement.
    I take no joy in seeing the Protestant sects battling it out, but my hope is that in the midst of the battle, when there is a lull in the fighting, some may correctly conclude that the reformer's doctrine of sola scriptura is not working.  Sola Scriptura worked great to allow the reformers to break with the Church, but beyond the schism, its utility was severely limited. These ongoing vitriolic debates as seen in the combox almost 500 years after the reformation are clear proof of this.


Blogger kkollwitz said...

Just in the last hour I was explaining to my RCIA-attending future son-in-law how S.S. produces competing churches on every corner here in Greenville, SC; and you don't know what each one believes unless that particular preacher tells you- if indeed he can.

October 03, 2012 10:18 PM  
Blogger Russ Rentler, M.D. said...

Hey Christian, just have your future son in law check out that combox. It is the most elegant proof of the futility of ss that you will ever see displayed by the very practitioners of the doctrine.

October 03, 2012 10:45 PM  
Blogger Russ Rentler, M.D. said...

Congrats on the upcoming nuptials!!

October 03, 2012 10:45 PM  
Blogger Godismyjudge said...

You may want to look into the Molinist/Dominican debate on this same question, and how the Pope handled it.

God be with you,

October 04, 2012 7:51 AM  
Blogger Russ Rentler, M.D. said...

Dan, I think that is the whole point. They had the opportunity to appeal to an authority outside of the scripture alone, to Peter (pope). THE SBC may very well split over this issue, because there can never be a resolution, there is no pope for the SBC.

"In 1597 Pope Clement VIII ordered both the above
schools to send delegates to Rome to debate before a commission
of Cardinals. The debates ran about 10 years. After a time the
Pope himself presided. Clement VIII died, and Paul V inherited
the debates. Paul V asked St. Francis de Sales, a saint and a
great theologian, for advice. Francis advised him to approve
neither school. He did that in 1607. Divine Providence was
protecting the Church from two great errors."

October 04, 2012 8:37 AM  
Blogger Godismyjudge said...


Were the "two great errors" anthmatizing the other side? If so, there's little danger in the SBC splitting in that sense. Generally, traditionalists see Calvinists as brothers in Christ and vice versa.

But my point was more broad than that. The Pope didn't answer the questions the SBC is now asking itself.

God be with you,

October 04, 2012 6:06 PM  
Blogger Russ Rentler, M.D. said...

Dan, the point I am trying to make is that when two sects of bible believing Jesus-loving Christians cannot decide on a doctrine, it often leads to a split and "anathematization." Have you read some of the 900 comments on that post? It gets pretty ugly. Many 5 pointers are not as ecumenical as you are, and I applaud your willingness to not anathematize the others in the SBC who vehemently disagree with you.

But my point is this, the bible alone clearly cannot resolve a complex issue such as pre-destination. If it was perpiscuous, there would be no debate, correct?
That is my whole point, the SBC has shown convincingly in this one issue alone, that the bible alone, sola scriptura, fails miserably at resolving conflicts about doctrine based on different interpretations of scripture.

In situations like this, one has to look outside the bible for guidance because the bible can't "speak" on its own. Catholics believe that God entrusted that tie-breaking authority to the vicar of Christ, the ones appointed to act in his stead to guide the Church through all of eternity. So in areas of doctrine (faith and morals) there can be no ddivisions based on individual interpretations of the scripture. The Church through the wisdom of the pope said in this debate that the concept of predestination is a mystery, and the molinists were not 100 % right nor the thomists 100 %.
Predestination is unfathomable at the deepest levels. So through the authority of his office, he pope told each side, they can't anathematize the other. You can be a faithful Catholic and be a Molinist, or you can be a Thomist and still be a faithful Catholic in line with Church teaching.
The pope did answer the question by stating that there is no definitive answer other than this:
Pelagianism/semi pelagianism is wrong at one extreme and so is Calvinism/Jansenism at the other.

"The Catholic position (on predestination) is consistent with itself, with human experience, and with the Scriptures. God's foreknowledge and foreordination of the elect to heavenly glory includes His universal desire and sufficient grace to save all men, our free cooperation with His grace, good works which truly merit heavenly reward, and the real possibility -- during this life of testing and pilgrimage -- of rejecting grace and salvation and thus deserving the punishments of hell." (P. Vaz)

October 04, 2012 7:59 PM  

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