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    Loss and Gain

    This is a guest article by John Thayer Jensen. John was born in California in 1942 and raised in a non-religious home. At a time of emotional collapse in his life, John was influenced by several Evangelical Christians, subsequently leading to his committing his life to Christ in 1969. He eventually made his way into the Calvinist tradition, and joined a Reformed denomination in New Zealand. He converted to the Catholic faith during the Christmas season of 1995. He has a B.A. in linguistics from the University of California, Berkeley, and an M.A. in linguistics from the University of Hawaii. He lives in New Zealand, where he works at the University of Auckland and plays the horn in a local orchestra. He is also the author of a Yapese Reference Grammar and a Yapese-English Dictionary – Eds.

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November 3, 2016

Authentic and Inauthentic Reform: A Brief Response to Reformanda Initiative’s “Is the Reformation Over: A Statement of Evangelical Convictions”

Filed under: Blog Posts — Tags: , — Bryan Cross @ 3:36 pm

I was asked to respond to an article from Reformanda Initiative posted recently on The Gospel Coalition site. The article is titled “Is the Reformation Over? A Statement of Evangelical Convictions.” The full “statement,” which some evangelicals have signed, is located here at “isthereformationover.com.” For readers who may be unfamiliar with Reformanda Initiative, this is a project led by three evangelicals: Leonardo De Chirico, Gregg Allison, and Michael Reeves, whose purpose is “to identify, unite, equip, and resource evangelical leaders to understand Roman Catholic theology and practice, to educate the evangelical Church and to communicate the Gospel.”1 (Continue Reading…)

  1. From the Reformanda Initiative home page. []

October 31, 2016

Lies, Damned Lies, and Anti-Catholic History

Filed under: Blog Posts — Casey Chalk @ 9:42 am

Ten years ago I was an AP European History teacher at a school in rural central Virginia. At the time I was a very sincere Reformed Protestant, and although I wanted to maintain academic objectivity in the classroom, I was still quite eager to teach the unit on the Protestant Reformation. We began with the status of the Catholic Church at the turn of the 16th century and its luxuriant and this-worldly Renaissance popes. One of the readings I distributed to my students was that of Johann Burchard’s account of the “Banquet of Chestnuts,” a particularly lurid account of papal sexual excesses supposedly involving former Cardinal Cesare Borgia, son of Pope Alexander VI. As I expected, the students were stunned to hear of churchmen involved in such devilish activities. Of course, they agreed, a religious reformation would be necessary to clean up this muck. (Continue Reading…)

September 4, 2016

No Longer Adrift: A Presbyterian Pastor Discovers the Catholic Church

Filed under: Blog Posts — Tags: — Guest Author @ 7:02 pm

Dr. Joseph Johnson was raised in the Baptist tradition, but much of his formative years were in nondenominational and charismatic circles. After entering Bible college, he concentrated in church history, and spent some time among Jewish Christians due to an interest in the relationship between the church and synagogue. Having discovered Reformed theology in seminary, he joined the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church and after seven years as a student of theology, he accepted a call to an independent, Presbyterian church as the minister. After leading this parish into the Evangelical Presbyterian Church for four and a half years, he resigned his position for financial reasons. His liturgical studies, particularly the sacraments, CS Lewis and GK Chesterton, as well as John Henry Newman and John Calvin, led him to seek full communion with the Catholic Church, into which he was received at the Easter vigil in 2013. He completed a Master of Arts in Theological Studies (1999) and Master of Divinity (2004) from Erskine Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Education (2014) from Liberty University. He currently lives in Greenwood, SC with his wife and two children, where he serves as pastoral associate to the priest at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church. – Eds. (Continue Reading…)

July 17, 2016

Is “Politics a Good Thing” ?

Filed under: Blog Posts — Casey Chalk @ 8:46 pm
politics

When I was an undergraduate student at the University of Virginia, I had the pleasure of taking an introductory politics course taught by the well-known commentator and political analyst Larry J. Sabato, who runs UVA’s Center for Politics. One of the most memorable moments in that course was when Dr. Sabato distributed small bumper stickers with the slogan “Politics is a Good Thing!” As a fairly cynical undergraduate, I was a bit skeptical of such a slogan. Sabato, however, pushed the point to the auditorium full of students, explaining that many of our culture’s great accomplishments — be they the preservation of freedom of religion and speech, universal suffrage, or our justice system — owe much not just to government, but to the complicated if frustrating back-and-forth of bi-partisan (or multi-partisan!) interaction and dialogue. Yes, Sabato acknowledged, the trials of partisan deadlock, political corruption, or noxious political debate can lead us to question, or even give up on politics, whether at the local, regional, or national level. Yet politics in all its forms, so our professor argued, remains an essential good to the human experience and society that requires our support and participation. (Continue Reading…)

May 3, 2016

The Law of Love

Filed under: Blog Posts — David Anders @ 3:49 pm

The most contentious issue in the Western theological tradition has been the relationship of law and grace.  In the second century, Marcionites stressed grace so much that they completely rejected the Old Testament and what they took to be the God of “law.”  In the third and fourth centuries, the Roman priest Novatian and the British monk Pelagius emphasized law and morality to the point of eliminating grace. In the sixteenth century, nothing was more divisive than Martin Luther’s doctrine of salvation by grace through faith alone. Luther rejected the Catholic tradition with its supposed emphasis on “works.”

(Continue Reading…)

February 23, 2016

Who is a “Real” Christian?

Filed under: Blog Posts — David Anders @ 11:29 am

I grew up an evangelical Protestant and became Catholic only in 2003. In the Church of my youth, we had a troubling practice. We distinguished “real Christians” from Christians in name only. People who had gone to Church all of their life would come to our meetings and declare, “I’ve just now become a real Christian!”  What they meant was that they had finally experienced conversion. In our minds, conversion was all that mattered. Everything else was just human tradition or ritual. The seemingly unconverted were not “real” Christians. (Continue Reading…)

January 31, 2016

Jack Mulder Jr. Answers “What Does it Mean to be Catholic?”

Filed under: Blog Posts — Casey Chalk @ 10:23 pm

A review of Dr. Jack Mulder Jr.’s 2015 book What Does It Mean To Be Catholic?

(Continue Reading…)

January 25, 2016

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2016: Day Eight, “Hearts burning for unity”

Filed under: Blog Posts — Tags: — Bryan Cross @ 12:19 am

How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of him who brings good news,
who announces peace.” (Isaiah 52:7)
(Continue Reading…)

January 24, 2016

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2016: Day Seven, “Hospitality for Prayer”

Filed under: Blog Posts — Tags: — J. Andrew Deane @ 12:19 am

“Keep sane and sober for your prayers. Above all hold unfailing your love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins. Practice hospitality ungrudgingly to one another.  As each has received a gift, employ it for one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace…” 1 Peter 4:7b-10, RSV

The theme for day seven of this week of prayer for Christian unity focuses on hospitality for prayer. Of the three readings assigned, I found the passage from 1 Peter most insightful with regard to where we stand as Catholics and Reformed Christians in dialogue with one another. (Continue Reading…)

January 23, 2016

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2016: Day Six, “Listen to this Dream”

Filed under: Blog Posts — Tags: — Tom Brown @ 2:00 am

Now Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers they only hated him the more. He said to them, “Hear this dream which I have dreamed: behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and lo, my sheaf arose and stood upright; and behold, your sheaves gathered round it, and bowed down to my sheaf.” His brothers said to him, “Are you indeed to reign over us? Or are you indeed to have dominion over us?” So they hated him yet more for his dreams and for his words. (Genesis 37:5-8, RSV.)

(Continue Reading…)


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    August 17, 2015

    A Catholic Assessment of Gregg Allison’s Critique of the “Hermeneutics of Catholicism”

    Filed under: Featured Articles — Tags: , , , , , — Guest Author @ 12:58 am
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    This is a guest article by Eduardo Echeverria. Eduardo was born in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico, in 1950. His family immigrated to Manhattan, NY, in 1952. He was raised Roman Catholic, but only responded to the Gospel in the summer of 1970 through the ministry of L’Abri Fellowship,  founded by Francis and Edith Schaeffer, and located in the small Alpine village of Huémoz, Switzerland. His journey home to the Catholic Church took him from Evangelical Protestantism to Reformed Christianity (particularly, Dutch neo-Calvinism), on to Anglican Catholicism and from there ahead to Catholicism. He has a Ph.D. in philosophy from the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, and an S.T.L. from the University of St. Thomas, the Angelicum, Rome, Italy. He is the author of dozens of articles and several books, most recently, Berkouwer and Catholicism: Disputed Questions (Brill, 2013), and Pope Francis. The Legacy of Vatican II (Lectio Publishing, 2015). He is Professor of Philosophy and Systematic Theology, Graduate School of Theology, Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit, MI, and a Fellow in the Faculty of Theology, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa. He is also a member of the American ecumenical initiative, Evangelicals and Catholics Together.  – Eds.

    (Continue Reading…)

    November 8, 2014

    The Shaping of Biblical Criticism: A Catholic Perspective on Historical Criticism

    Filed under: Featured Articles — Tags: , , — Casey Chalk @ 6:31 am
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    Reformed Protestantism and Catholicism share common ground in their centuries-long interaction, and often battle, with the historical-critical method of Scriptural interpretation. Protestants and Catholics alike have often viewed this method as a direct threat to the historical and theological integrity of the Biblical texts. Many other Protestants and Catholics have alternatively embraced historical criticism to varying degrees, either by appropriating it to replace traditional interpretive methods, or attempting to harmonize it with those same methods. This article revisits the history of the historical-critical method through a summary and review of Scott Hahn and Benjamin Wiker’s 2013 book Politicizing the Bible: The Roots of Historical Criticism and the Secularization of Scripture 1300 -1700. We also seek to present a Catholic perspective on this controversial and still potent force in contemporary Biblical scholarship. This article was written by Ray Stamper and Casey Chalk. (Continue Reading…)

    August 3, 2014

    To Enter the Sanctuary by the Blood of Jesus: A Literal Account of Becoming Catholic

    Filed under: Featured Articles — Andrew Preslar @ 6:00 pm
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    What follows is the story of how I became a Catholic, as best as I can remember it. I have called this a “literal account” in order to distinguish it from a more ambiguous and allusive telling of the tale that was offered here several years ago as “The Last Road.” In neither version do I say anything about many of the specifically Catholic practices and doctrines that Protestants tend to find particularly objectionable. Instead, I have focused on describing landscape. This reflects the nature of the development of my own theological convictions, which was less a matter of piecemeal deduction than of an entire picture slowly coming into resolution, in which process the various objects became distinctly intelligible. Most of this narrative, therefore, is devoted to describing the contours of the biblical, theological, liturgical, ecclesiological, and soteriological considerations that would lead me to Catholicism. I will also briefly recount the final steps that I took towards and then into the Catholic Church, including the process of navigating through some of the confusing and troubling aspects of her recent history.

    (Continue Reading…)

    June 8, 2014

    The Bishops of History and the Catholic Faith: A Reply To Brandon Addison

    Filed under: Featured Articles — Tags: , , , , , — Bryan Cross @ 3:00 am
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    On March 24 of this year we posted a guest article by Brandon Addison titled “The Quest for the Historical Church: A Protestant Assessment.” We had invited Brandon some months earlier to write an essay for Called To Communion on the topic of his choice, and we are very grateful for his generosity, trust, and yeoman work in putting together such a thorough essay. Brandon’s essay is one of the first posts we have published written from a Protestant perspective, and we hope it leads to further, ever-more fruitful exchanges of this sort. (Continue Reading…)

    August 11, 2013

    The Freedom of the Church: A Review of Hugo Rahner’s Church and State in Early Christianity

    Filed under: Featured Articles — Tags: , , — Guest Author @ 10:04 pm
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    This is a guest post by Michael Rennier. Michael received a BA in New Testament Literature from Oral Roberts University in 2002 and a Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School in 2006. He served the Anglican Church in North America as the Rector of two parishes on Cape Cod, Massachusetts for five years. After discerning a call to conversion, Michael and his family moved to St. Louis. On October 16th, 2011, he and his wife were received into full communion with the Catholic Church by the Most Rev. Robert Carlson, Archbishop of St. Louis. Michael tells the story of his conversion in “Into the Half-Way House: The Story of an Episcopal Priest.” In May of 2012 he wrote another guest post for CTC titled “Immortal Diamond: The Search of Gerard Manley Hopkins for Beauty. He currently works for the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

    (Continue Reading…)

    January 27, 2013

    Holy Church: Finding Jesus As a Reverted Catholic; A Testimonial Response to Chris Castaldo

    Filed under: Featured Articles — Tags: — Casey Chalk @ 10:01 pm
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    This is a guest article by Casey Chalk. Casey was born and raised in a Virginia suburb of Washington D.C. Casey was baptized into the Catholic Church and received the sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Communion before leaving the Church with his parents for evangelicalism at the age of eight. Casey attended the University of Virginia, where he was introduced to Reformed theology. Upon graduation in 2007 (B.A. History, Religious Studies; Masters in Teaching), Casey became a member of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) and enrolled in Reformed Theological Seminary. However, an intensive period of study of the “Catholic question” ultimately resulted in Casey’s reunion with the Catholic Church in October 2010. He was confirmed at St. Timothy’s Catholic Church in Chantilly, Virginia at the Easter Vigil in 2011. Casey works for the federal government, and joyfully also received the sacrament of marriage in August 2012 with his wife Claire. (Continue Reading…)

    December 12, 2012

    Three Frameworks for Interpreting the Church Fathers

    Filed under: Featured Articles — Tags: , — Guest Author @ 2:50 pm
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    This is a guest article by Dr. Kenneth J. Howell. Dr. Howell earned an M.Div. from Westminster Theological Seminary, an M.A. in Linguistics and Philosophy from the University of South Florida, a Ph.D. from Indiana University in Linguistics and the Philosophy of Science, and a second Ph.D. from Lancaster University (U.K.) in the History of Christianity and Science. He was a Presbyterian minister for eighteen years and a professor at Reformed Theological Seminary for seven years. He was received into the Catholic Church in 1996. He taught in several universities until 2012, the last of which was a decade at the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) where he also was the Director of the Institute of Catholic Thought. He now serves as the Resident Theologian and Director of Pastoral Care of the Coming Home Network International. He continues his work of translating and commenting on the early Church Fathers, having already authored Ignatius of Antioch and Polycarp of Smyrna: A New Translation and Theological Commentary and Clement of Rome and the Didache: A New Translation and Theological Commentary. In June of 2010 we posted the video of his talk titled “The Issue of Authority in Early Christianity,” which he delivered at the Deep in History conference in 2009. (Continue Reading…)

    September 23, 2012

    I Fought the Church, and the Church Won

    Filed under: Featured Articles — Tags: , , — Jason Stellman @ 9:00 pm
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    This is a guest post by Jason Stellman. Jason was born and raised in Orange County, CA, and served as a missionary with Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa in Uganda (’91-’92) and in Hungary (’94-’00). After becoming Reformed and being subsequently “dismissed” from ministry with Calvary, he went to Westminster Seminary California where he received an M.Div. in 2004. After graduation he was ordained by the Pacific Northwest Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America and called to plant Exile Presbyterian Church in the Seattle area, where he served from 2004 until resigning in the Spring of 2012. He is the author of Dual Citizens: Worship and Life Between the Already and the Not Yet (Reformation Trust, 2009), and The Destiny of the Species (forthcoming from Wipf and Stock Publications). In 2011 he served as the prosecutor in the trial of Peter Leithart in the Pacific Northwest Presbytery of the PCA. He currently resides in the Seattle area with his wife and three children. He was received into full communion with the Catholic Church on September 23, 2012. (Continue Reading…)

    May 27, 2012

    Joshua Lim’s Story: A Westminster Seminary California Student becomes Catholic

    Filed under: Featured Articles — Joshua Lim @ 8:02 pm
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    This a guest post by Joshua Lim. Joshua graduated this Spring from Westminster Seminary California, where he earned his MA in historical theology. He was born and raised in the PCUSA. He spent a few years in college as a Baptist before moving back to a confessional Reformed denomination (URCNA) prior to entering seminary. He was received into full communion with the Catholic Church this year on April 21st, the feast day of St. Anselm. He plans on continuing his studies in systematic theology.

    (Continue Reading…)

    March 14, 2012

    “Have you been Born Again? Catholic Reflections on a Protestant Doctrine, or How Calvin’s view of Salvation destroyed his Doctrine of the Church”

    Filed under: Featured Articles — Tags: , , , — David Anders @ 9:44 pm
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    When I first began to study Calvin in earnest, I was puzzled by what seemed a glaring omission in his writings and sermons. He never counseled his readers and listeners to be “Born Again.” This struck me as odd because I knew our denomination (PCA) considered Calvin to be our true founder. I also knew that the evangelical doctrine of “New Birth” (regeneration), understood as the moment of personal, conscious conversion, was the linchpin, the central dogma of our congregation. As an Evangelical Presbyterian, I had grown up constantly hearing these exhortations to be “Born Again.” My pastors and teachers revered evangelistic luminaries like Billy Graham and Bill Bright right along with the great Lion of Geneva. (Continue Reading…)

    For older posts, visit the archives.

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    March 23, 2015

    John Calvin and the Reformation: A Catholic Perspective

    Filed under: Podcast — David Anders @ 1:46 pm

    Here is a talk I gave last night (3/22/15) at The Church of the Holy Spirit in Montgomery, AL.

    The talk was titled “John Calvin and the Reformation: A Catholic Perspective.”

    Download the mp3 by right-clicking here. Or listen to it here by clicking on the play button below:

     

    August 31, 2014

    Radio Maria Interview with Tom and Jessica Brown

    Filed under: Blog Posts,Podcast — Tags: — Tom Brown @ 7:38 pm

    Our very own Tom Brown and his wife Jessica recently were interviewed on Rebecca Cherico’s program on Radio Maria, Conversion Keeps Happening. They discuss aspects of their conversion from the PCA to the Catholic Church. The interview is available here. (more…)

    April 16, 2014

    An interview with Dr. Thomas Madden on the Medieval Catholic Church

    Filed under: Podcast — Casey Chalk @ 7:52 am

    Protestant criticisms of the Catholic Church frequently target the medieval Catholic Church as a prime example of the Church’s problematic relationship with politics and the secular order. These critics often claim that the medieval Church was ruled by a greedy hierarchy bent on increasing its power in Europe and abroad, eager to silence or even eliminate its detractors or opponents, and rocked by internal scandals, corruption, and ultimately confusion. The seeds of the Reformation, so many Protestants believe, were sown during this tumultuous period where attempts at reform, like conciliarism, were destroyed underfoot by power-hungry popes. (more…)

    November 11, 2012

    How the Church Won: An Interview with Jason Stellman

    Filed under: Podcast — Bryan Cross @ 6:16 pm

    Jason Stellman

    In July of this year, Jason Stellman wrote a Called To Communion guest post titled “I Fought the Church and the Church Won,” in which he explained briefly why he was becoming Catholic. Last week I had an opportunity to talk with Jason about this paradigm change, and the four years of internal wrestling that preceded it. (more…)

    June 17, 2012

    Podcast Ep. 17 – Jason & Cindy Stewart Recount Their Conversion

    Filed under: Podcast — Tags: — Tim A. Troutman @ 6:14 pm

    In this episode, Tom Riello, a former PCA pastor, interviews Jason Stewart, a former pastor in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, and his wife Cindy on the topic of their conversion to the Catholic faith in 2011. Jason earned his Master of Divinity from Mid-America Reformed Seminary (Dyer, IN) in 2005, and subsequently served for five and a half years as pastor of Trinity OPC in eastern Pennsylvania. Jason and Cindy currently live in Rockford, IL, and have four children. He is completing a two year course of study with the Diocese of Rockford’s Diaconal Program.

    (more…)

    February 17, 2012

    David Anders on Catholic Answers: February 13, 2012

    Filed under: Podcast — David Anders @ 11:45 pm

    David Anders

    Open Forum for Non-Catholics
    David Anders on Catholic Answers, Monday, February 13, 2012.
    (more…)

    August 2, 2011

    Episode 16 – Stephen Beck’s Conversion Story

    Filed under: Blog Posts,Podcast — Tags: , , — Jeremy Tate @ 8:00 am

    Stephen Beck

    Stephen Beck was raised Evangelical, but read his way into the Reformed world. He became a member of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and then the Presbyterian Church in America. Stephen and his family were received into the Catholic Church on the Easter Vigil of 2011 at St. Andrew’s by the Bay Catholic Church in Annapolis, Maryland. He has a Master’s degree from St. John’s College in Annapolis and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Greek and Latin at the Catholic University of America. Stephen is a brilliant thinker with a deep love for Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church. In this episode, Stephen’s personal friend and regular CTC contributor, Jeremy Tate, interviews him to find out the reasons behind his conversion.

     

    Right click here to save the MP3 file.

    July 16, 2011

    David Anders on Catholic Answers

    Filed under: Podcast — David Anders @ 8:23 am

    David Anders

    On Friday, July 8, I was the guest on the Catholic Answers Live radio program, taking calls and questions from non-Catholics. The one-hour broadcast featured the following questions and discussions:

    7′ A discussion of John Calvin’s view of his relation to the Catholic Church, the Catholic positions he affirmed, and his rejection of denominationalism.

    15′ A discussion of the Catholic doctrine of communion of the saints, and whether the saints can hear our prayers.

    22′ A discussion of legalism and scrupulosity among Catholics.

    28′ Why is it difficult for Protestant leaders who recognize the truth of the Catholic Church to become Catholic? Wouldn’t remaining Protestant, in order to hold on to reputation, livelihood, etc. be contrary to Protestant theology?

    33′ What are some resources for non-Catholics who want to understand the differences between Calvinism and Catholicism?

    36′ What is the Catholic understanding of the relation between divine sovereignty and human freedom?

    41′ How does the Catholic understanding of justification address the Reformed claim that the scriptural evidence supports the Protestant notion of justification by the imputation of the alien righteousness of Christ to the believer?

    51′ What is the Catholic position on eternal security and the possibility of apostasy, and what is the support for that position?

    Listen to the program:

     

    Or download it by right-clicking here.

    November 24, 2010

    Episode 15 – The Conversion of Annie Witz (OPC)

    In this episode, Tom Riello, former PCA minister, interviews Annie Witz, a convert from the OPC (Orthodox Presbyterian Church).  Annie’s father is an elder in the OPC church and serves on the board of Westminster Seminary California.   Annie shares her personal conversion story from being a devout OPC member to a Catholic in the Melkite Greek Catholic Church (an Eastern Catholic Church).  Of particular interest is the role that the women saints, especially the Blessed Virgin Mary, played in her conversion.  We are thrilled to have our first female guest on the show!

     

    To download the mp3, click here.

    August 25, 2010

    Episode 14 – A Presuppositional Apologist Becomes Catholic

    Tom Riello interviews Marc Ayers on the topic of his conversion to the Catholic Church. Marc was a ‘disciple’ of Dr. Greg Bahnsen. Hear him tell how his presuppositional apologetic method helped him see the need for a divinely instituted authority, namely the Catholic Church.

     

    To download the mp3, click here.

    For older posts, visit the archives.

    Called to Communion Radio

    CTC Radio can be heard Tuesday through Thursday at 2:00 PM Eastern, available through the following media: Live with video, Podcast, EWTN.COM, Sirius Sattelite, Iheart Radio, The EWTN app, Short wave, and, of course, through the local catholic affiliate radio stations.



    December 1, 2014

    CTC Radio Update

    Filed under: Radio — David Anders @ 1:59 pm

    R_main_call_communion_14

    Called to Communion Radio is now available four days a week.
    CTC Radio can be heard Monday through Thursday at 2:00 PM Eastern, available through the following media:

     

    EWTN Youtube Channel

    Live with video

    Podcast

    EWTN.COM

    Sirius Sattelite

    Iheart Radio

    The EWTN app

    Short wave,

    and, of course, through the local catholic affiliate radio stations.

    October 20, 2014

    Divorce & Remarriage Revisited

    Filed under: Radio — David Anders @ 10:29 am

    A few weeks back I wrote an article titled: “Marriage, Divorce, & Communion: The Upcoming Synod on the Family.” In the article, I discussed the Catholic doctrine on the indissolubility of marriage and what it means for civilly divorced and civilly remarried Catholics. Based on the teaching of Christ, the Church’s longstanding practice has been to deny communion in these cases.  As to whether the Church could change her doctrine on marriage or her discipline based on that doctrine, I wrote this:

    The Church has no power to change this teaching, because it is the teaching of Christ. (Matthew 19:11-12) This is something the non-Catholic media often misunderstand. The Church’s dogma on marriage is not a “policy” that can be changed, any more than the Nicene Creed is a “policy.”

    In the weeks since I wrote that article, the Synod of Bishops generated a lot of media attention and, quite frankly, a lot of confusion. Did the Synod suggest a change to the Church’s doctrine or practice in this matter? Some media outlets would have you think so.  The main source of confusion was a “midterm report” supposedly summarizing the discussions at the Synod. The document suggested that “some synod fathers” were in favor of a change of “present regulations.” The report was neither seen nor approved by the Synod Fathers prior to its release. Instead, it provoked vehement protests among the bishops. (The most controversial statements of the report were not concerned with divorce and remarriage.)

    Days after the release of the relatio, the synod Fathers insisted that their objections be made known.  Reports of each of the discussion groups (organized by language) were published on the Vatican’s Website Thursday, October 16.  The following selections are some of the remarks from synod Fathers on divorce, remarriage, and the sacraments.

    Circulus Gallicus A (French language group) wrote:

    On the connection between the divorced/remarried and the sacraments of reconciliation and the Eucharist . . . it is important not to change the doctrine of the Church on the indissolubility of marriage and the non-admission of the divorced/remarried to the sacraments.

    Circulus Angelicus A (English language group) wrote:

    We did not recommend the admission to the sacraments of divorced and re-married people, but we included a very positive and much –needed appreciation of union with Christ through other means.

    Circulus Angelicus B (English language group) wrote:

    On the subject of the admission of the divorced and remarried to the Eucharist the group stressed two principles flowing directly from God’s Word: 1) the clear affirmation of the indissolubility of a valid sacramental union, while humbly admitting that we need a more credible way of presenting and witnessing to that teaching; 2) The strong desire to invite and embrace sincere Catholics who feel alienated from the family of the Church because of irregular situations.

    Circulus Italicus A (Italian language group) directed attention on this issue to the teaching of St. John Paul II in his Familiaris Consortio, section 84. In that document, the Saint wrote:

    The Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried. They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist.

    It is true that the traditional doctrine and practice of the Church are were not universally acclaimed at the Synod.  The final version of the Relatio (released October 18) ackowledged this. Clearly, some of the Synod Fathers were searching for a way to “soften” the Church’s position.  In his final speech, Pope Francis also acknowledged division among some of the bishops. Strangely, he did not make his thoughts plain on the controversies in question. He did, however, conclude the Synod by beatifying Pope Paul VI. Of his predecessor, Pope Francis said:

    Before the advent of a secularized and hostile society, he could hold fast, with farsightedness and wisdom – and at times alone – to the helm of the barque of Peter, while never losing his joy and his trust in the Lord.

    To what was Pope Francis referring when he spoke of Paul’s holding fast in the face of a secular and hostile culture? He didn’t say. But we we remember Blessed Paul today mostly for his courageous stand on behalf of the Church’s long-standing tradition on human sexuality and the necessity of openness to life.

    Neither the the Synod nor the Pope issued any teaching documents, nor has there been any change to Church law. The final message of the Bishops, published on October 18, ended on a postive note of continuity:

    Conjugal love, which is unique and indissoluble, endures despite many difficulties. It is one of the most beautiful of all miracles and the most common.This love spreads through fertility and generativity, which involves not only the procreation of children but also the gift of divine life in baptism, their catechesis, and their education.

    September 25, 2014

    Marriage, Divorce, & Communion: The Upcoming Synod of Bishops

    Filed under: Radio — David Anders @ 9:31 am

    R_main_call_communion_14

    Listeners to CTC Radio often ask about the Catholic teaching on marriage, divorce, and communion in the Catholic Church. With them in mind, I have attached a brief article I wrote for One Voice, the newspaper for the diocese of Birmingham.

    To listen to CTC Radio, tune in to EWTN at 2:00 PM Eastern Tuesday through Thursday.
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      Here is the Article:

    There will be an extraordinary session of the Synod of Bishops in October to discuss “pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization.” No doubt the synod will discuss many issues, but none has garnered more media attention than the status of civilly divorced and remarried Catholics. In particular, the media have focused on the question of their eligibility to receive communion. Cardinal Walter Kasper encouraged speculation about a change in the Church’s discipline by asking a consistory of cardinals in February whether or not the Church should continue to refuse communion to civilly divorced and remarried Catholics. As the synod approaches, it seems appropriate to reflect on what the Church can and cannot change about her doctrine and discipline.

    What is the rationale for barring the civilly divorced and remarried from Holy Communion? The answer to this requires an understanding of Christian marriage. According to the teaching of Christ and the Catholic faith, Christian marriage is by definition a lifelong union, effected by a promise of fidelity and the intent to raise a family, elevated by Christ to the dignity of a sacrament. It is always indissoluble under any and all circumstances.

    To understand the current discussion, the key point to emphasize is the indissolubility of a valid Christian marriage. The Catechism states:

    Thus the marriage bond has been established by God himself in such a way that a marriage concluded and consummated between baptized persons can never be dissolved. This bond, which results from the free human act of the spouses and their consummation of the marriage, is a reality, henceforth irrevocable, and gives rise to a covenant guaranteed by God’s fidelity. The Church does not have the power to contravene this disposition of divine wisdom. (CCC 1640)

    The Church has no power to change this teaching, because it is the teaching of Christ. (Matthew 19:11-12) This is something the non-Catholic media often misunderstand. The Church’s dogma on marriage is not a “policy” that can be changed, any more than the Nicene Creed is a “policy.” In this regard, the Church’s Magisterium is a servant of the truth, not its master. The Catechism says, “Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it.” (CCC 86)

    Because marriage is indissoluble, a validly married Catholic who obtains a civil divorce from a judge and then contracts another civil marriage is objectively in the state of ongoing adultery. Jesus said, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.” (Mark 10:11-12) Again, following the teaching of Christ and the words of Sacred Scripture, the Church has no choice but to withhold communion from those deemed to be in grave sin. (1 Corinthians 5:5; 1 Corinthians 11:27-29; Matthew 18: 17)

    Some have asked whether or not a person could “repent” for a failed first marriage, receive the sacraments of reconciliation, and then be admitted to communion while remaining in an invalid second marriage (i.e., a relationship the Church deems adulterous). This proposal fails to take into account the doctrine on Christian marriage and the doctrine on reconciliation and penance. By definition, there is no forgiveness of sins and no reconciliation as long as one intends to persist in grave sin. St. John Paul II explains, “Without a sincere and firm purpose of amendment, sins remain ‘unforgiven,’ in the words of Jesus, and with him in the Tradition of the Old and New Covenants.” (Dominum et Vivificantem) If a valid marriage exists, all subsequent unions are adulterous by definition. “Repentance,” in this context, must mean repentance for the subsequent union, whatever else may be involved.

    The Church does recognize some situations in which reconciliation with a spouse is impossible and in which subsequent civil unions have resulted in children being born. In these cases, the Church sometimes permits the parents in these unions to remain together for the sake of the children, provided they agree to live as brother and sister. This is not a tacit recognition of the subsequent marriage, but rather an unusual and, quite frankly, difficult concession that Catholics must make for the sake of children.

    What then could the Church change? Theoretically, some change is possible to the process by which Catholics obtain annulments. It is highly unlikely, however, that such changes could dispense with canonical expertise or judicial process, since the declaration of nullity is a finding of juridical fact and requires moral certainty on the part of the judge. The most likely outcome to the Synod is a deepening pastoral emphasis on the means and the virtue of chastity, and a renewed catechesis on the meaning of Christian marriage. A good deal of ink has been spilled on this topic and I fear that many people may have unfulfilled expectations for what the Church can and will do. Let us remember the Bishops and the Holy Father in our prayers, and ask that they have wisdom and grace to communicate the Church’s teaching with compassion and clarity.

    September 11, 2014

    Television Interview with Johnette Benkovic

    Filed under: Radio — David Anders @ 5:00 pm

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    My television interview on Women of Grace is now available here.

    We discuss the new radio show, Called to Communion, as well as my path to the Catholic Church.

    September 9, 2014

    Do We Really Meet Christ in the Sacraments?

    Filed under: Radio — David Anders @ 7:53 am

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    Catholics and some non-Catholic Christians disagree about the nature of the sacraments. Are they merely signs? Do they really conform us to Christ? (more…)

    September 4, 2014

    Scripture and Tradition

    Filed under: Radio — David Anders @ 9:09 am

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    How do we know the will of God for the Church? On CTC Radio today, I hope we can generate discussion about Scripture and Tradition.

    I welcome your emails at ctc@ewtn.com

    There is also live video feed from the Radio Studios at http://www.ewtn.com/radio/radiolive.asp

    Here, finally, is a short text I prepared for One Voice, the Diocesan paper for the Diocese of Birmingham. (more…)

    September 2, 2014

    Called to Communion Radio

    Filed under: Radio — David Anders @ 12:33 pm

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    Dear Friends,

    Today at 2:00 PM Eastern, we launch the new EWTN Radio Show Called to Communion.

    We hope to encourage collaboration across media (internet and radio) as we continue to discuss what divides us as Christians and as human beings. (more…)

    For older posts, visit the archives.

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