Sunday, May 13, 2007

Evangelical Leader Returns To Catholicism

Evangelical Leader Returns To Catholicism -

"'At the end of the day, the reason for the Reformation was the debate over justification. If that is no longer an issue, I have to be Catholic,' Beckwith said. 'It seems to me that if there is not a very strong reason to be Protestant, then the default position should be to belong to the historic church.'

Such is the stunningly weak argument of the (now) former president of the Evangelical Theological Society! He switched teams last week and returned to Rome.

The most telling thing in this Washington Post article is the following quote:

On his blog last week, he said he wrestled with whether to inform the Evangelical Theological Society immediately of his intention to return to Catholicism, or to wait until the end of his term in November. He said he and his wife prayed for guidance and received an answer when a 16-year-old nephew asked him to take part in his Catholic confirmation ceremony tomorrow. 'I could not do that unless I was in full communion with the church,' Beckwith said."

Which just makes me think that many men decide their theology more by what they may lose, rather than what they could gain. Give me Christ, justification by faith alone and salvation by grace any day - even over family.


  1. Paul,

    Aren't you misreading the second quote? He didn't say that his nephew's ceremony had anything to do with his decision to return to Catholicism--he said that it prompted him to move up the date of the return he'd already decided on.

    --Tim M.

  2. No one ever said that [the first quote] was the extent of his reasoning or logic or whatnot.

    Incidentally, you list of things to have over your family finds me mildly amused, for Catholics also have Christ, believe in salvation by grace, and, furthermore, are perfectly fine with certain interpetations of Sola Fide. [Ex: the Lutheran one. in fact,t hey signed an agreement to that effect:]

    Sincerely in Christ,
    Hidden One

  3. Hidden One: I don't think your assessment of Rome is accurate and I can understand and agree with the importance Paul placed on it in his last paragraph. Words have specific meanings and the definitions between Rome and Christians differ greatly. Christ, grace, and faith all have significantly different meanings.

    For instance what is grace in the system of Romanism? It is something that is infused into us to make us *actually* righteous before God, as opposed to the Bible's teaching that *Christ is the righteousness* for His people; His righteousness is reckoned or imputed to our account; not infused into us. God will declare us righteous because of the righteousness of Christ, not because of the righteousness within us. This is the foundation of two different gospels; one saving, and one not. These two "theologies" couldn't be any more opposed to one another.

  4. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, 'actual grace' is "a supernatural help of God for salutary acts granted in consideration of the merits of Christ." (

    I believe that it is you who are mistaken.

    Incidentally, it appears that what you are implying is that Catholics believe in salvation by works. In short, to properly describe that idea would require words traditionally foreign to my vocabulary.

    I suggest that you read the declaration on Justification and/or do a bit of Googling for any of a myriad of explanations,some imprimatured, indicating that the Catholic Church in no way believes in salvation by works. In fact, I'll save you some trouble. Here are some canons from the Council of Trent itself:

    Canon 1: If any one saith, that man may be justified before God by his own works, whether done through the teaching of human nature, or that of the law, without the grace of God through Jesus Christ; let him be anathema.

    Canon 2: If any one saith, that the grace of God, through Jesus Christ, is given only for this, that man may be able more easily to live justly, and to merit eternal life, as if, by free will without grace, he were able to do both, though hardly indeed and with difficulty; let him be anathema.

    Canon 3: If any one saith, that without the prevenient inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and without his help, man can believe, hope, love, or be penitent as he ought, so as that the grace of Justification may be bestowed upon him; let him be anathema.

    Canon 10: If any one saith, that men are just without the justice of Christ, whereby He merited for us to be justified; or that it is by that justice itself that they are formally just; let him be anathema.

    You see, what Catholics actually believe is Salvation by grace through faith. Naturally, of course, in order for the faith to save, it must be alive. As it is dead without works (James 2:17), works are required for that to be a true, saving faith. For, faith alone, without works, does not save (James 2:20).

    [Incidentally, it occurs to me that Catholics are perfectly fine if the no-works-at-all Sola Fide is true, because they do have faith anyway. The reverse is not always true.]

    Sincerely in Christ,
    Hidden One

  5. 1) Your points above do not address my point about the difference between "infused" and "imputed" righteousness. That is the heart of the matter.

    2) The anathema prounounced at Trent on the doctrine of justification by faith alone is still in effect. So either Rome does not understand the doctrine or they think it abhorrent. I think it's the latter.

    3) The Catholic Catechism states: "#1129 - “The Church affirms that for believers the sacraments of the New Covenant are necessary for salvation.[Cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1604.]"

    That clearly teaches that baptism, a *work*, is required for salvation. I'm not sure we need to get any further into this as I don't think either of us will seem convincing to the other.

  6. Ahhhhh im glad this came up

    Right well let the Catholic clear things up for you lot

    Hidden One great posts... you're almost there on justification, not quite real close though

    Booker- you got some misinformation buddy let me try to explain

    Catholics have both imputation AND infusion. It is not by anything, any work that we do that rightiousness is given to us but rather by the merits of jesus and the sacrifice of christ and the grace of God. At the same time, we also believe that justification and rightiousness is infused into us, that God's grace is infused into us and transforms and sanctifies us so that we are able to stand pure and perfectly clean in heaven before God. It is ALL about God's grace.

    The reason the sacraments are necessary for salvation is that it is not the action of my recieving the sacrament that transforms and sanctifies me, but rather God's grace that is imparted through the sacrament. The sacraments are but a tool or a channel for God to use to impart his garce to us and he can also impart grace to us in any way he sees fit. Thusly, it is all about God imparting the grace to me and all about what God is doing to me rather than my own actions. It all goes back to him.

    As for baptism, the scriptures make it very clear that there is a baptism by water and the holy spirit (the water baptism is of course the sacrament of baptism for us and the spiritual baptism the sacrament of confirmation by which we confirm our baptismal vows and accept the holy spirit into our lives). John the Baptist makes this distinction:

    John answered and said to them all, "As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

    Luke 3:16 (NASB)

    And Jesus says you need both to get to Heaven:

    Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

    John 3:5 (NASB)

    Once again its the grace that God gives to me as a catholic through the sacraments that's necessary for salvation. I can do the work of taking a sacrament all I want, but its still up to God to impart that grace to me, which is what the sacrament is all about.

    Also, we dont have Sola Fide in catholicism. Sola Fide doesn't go far enough for us. We have Justification by Faith AND the Love of God. For if God didn't love the world, he wouldn't have sent his Son, Jesus wouldn't have died and we wouldn't be justified in the first place. Therefore God's Love is also a source for our Justification and thusly Justifies us because it's the very thing that brings about the sacrifice of Christ. It's ALL about God and it's ALL about his grace.

    Hope this helps. Good to see another guy return to my neck of the woods!


  7. Thank you Mike - I'm theologically Catholic, but not confirmed yet. Thansk for clearing up the imputation/infusion thing - I never asked that Q when I was starting to explore Catholicism, so I never got an answer.

  8. no problem. when you say youre not confirmed- does that maan youre not baptized or are you specifically referring to the sacrament of confirmation? either way i hope you get baptized/confirmed soon!

  9. Specifically Confirmation. I was baptized [in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit] as a baby [in a Presbyterian church].