Why Evangelicals Are Getting High – A Response to Rebecca VanDoodewaard

Aug 7th, 2013 | By | Category: Blog Posts

A few weeks ago Rebecca VanDoodewaard posted an article on the website “The Christian Pundit” entitled “Young Evangelicals are Getting High.” Rebecca is a co-contributor on the website with her husband William VanDoodewaard who is an associate Professor of Church History at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

La_Sagrada_Familia_1

(La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain.  This magnificent Cathedral will be complete within the next two decades.  Architect Antoni Gaudi began work more than a century ago with the purpose of proclaiming the truths of Catholicism to the modern world) 

I appreciated the witty title of Rebecca’s article and even now, having reread it a few times, I appreciate her writing style throughout. She honestly acknowledges the mass exodus of young evangelicals out of the denominations they grew up in and into “High Church” traditions, especially Roman Catholicism. In the short post Rebecca offers some thoughts about the reasons these unhappy young people jump ship. She writes:

The kids who leave evangelical Protestantism are looking for something the world can’t give them. The world can give them hotter jeans, better coffee, bands, speakers, and book clubs than a congregation can. What it can’t give them is theology; membership in a group that transcends time, place and race; a historic rootedness; something greater than themselves…”

I wouldn’t necessarily object to anything up to this point. In the second to last paragraph of the post, however, she writes:

But not all kids who grew up in American evangelicalism are jumping off into high church rite and sacrament: congregations that carefully teach robust, historic Protestant theology to their children are notably not losing them to the Vatican…

This statement is the essence of Rebecca’s argument. At first glance it may appear to be an affirmation of “robust, historic Protestant theology.” At its core, however, this is simply an ad hominem argument concerning the reason individuals leave Protestantism for Catholicism. It asserts that all those who convert to high Church traditions come from watered down evangelicalism devoid of history and all the beauty of the Reformed tradition.  In short, Rebecca’s claiming that those congregations that carefully teach “robust historic Protestant theology” are NOT losing their young people to Catholicism.  She doubles down on this point in the conclusion of her post stating:

…children raised in spiritually substantive and faithful homes usually find things like holy water, pilgrimages, popes and ash on their faces an affront to the means for spiritual growth that God has appointed in His Word.

But Rebecca offers nothing to back up her claim (apart from relaying the experience of one personal friend), making her claim a mere unsubstantiated assertion that risks falling into the no true Scotsman fallacy.  Moreover, her thesis does not fit with the existence of a website like Called To Communion where the vast majority of authors, if not all, were actually taught “robust, historic Protestant theology.”

A few cases in point: Called To Communion authors Tim Troutman, Sean Patrick, and Stephen Wilkins all grew up in solid, southern, PCA churches from childhood, and still became Catholic. Dr. David Anders also grew up in the PCA, in one of the founding churches of the denomination, went on to get a Ph.D. on John Calvin, and still became Catholic. Marc Ayers was raised in the ARP, and he too, became Catholic. Bryan Cross, Tom Riello, Taylor Marshall, John Kincaid, Barrett Turner, Jason Stewart, Jason Stellman, Jason Kettinger, Joshua Lim, and many others all studied at or graduated from conservative Reformed seminaries, where presumably “robust, historic Protestant theology” is taught, and they too, subsequently became Catholic.  Is it likely that the numerous Reformed seminaries these men came from, along with all the different congregations where they were members, are all failing to teach “robust, historic Protestant theology” as Rebecca’s thesis implies?

The reality of all the converts mentioned, along with countless others I haven’t named, suggests that Rebecca’s assertion is not true.  Even if Rebecca’s thesis were true, it would do nothing to disprove the substantive arguments presented by Catholic apologists, nor would it do anything to patch over the gaps in Reformed teaching on authority. It’s not merely the poorly instructed who are converting to Catholicism; it’s also, in some cases, the instructors themselves.  It’s not just those who came from watered down “generic evangelicalism,” but also those who come from the most faithful Reformed congregations.

In my own tiny social circle where I’ve been able to meet well over two dozen converts to the Catholic faith, I would estimate that at least 80% were raised in congregations that “carefully teach robust, historic Protestant theology to their children.” In fact, this was often part of the problem. Consider Tom Brown’s story. As the son of a CRC pastor, Tom knew the Scriptures well, knew Church history, and had a well-developed theology along with a faith he had internalized and made his own. Yet Tom couldn’t respond to a Catholic layman who challenged him with some basic questions about Church authority. Simple questions like “Where does the Bible teach Sola Scriptura?” couldn’t be answered from his Reformed framework. He discovered that the Reformed paradigm’s internal criterion isn’t adequate when it is the paradigm itself that is being called into question.

The reason so many Reformed seminarians, well-educated layman, and former pastors become Catholic isn’t because the Reformed tradition failed to teach them the tenets of the Reformed faith.  Paradoxically, it’s because the Reformed tradition did well in teaching them how to think theologically. The Reformed faith taught them to cherish the idea of the Church even though in the end it has no Church to match its theology. Most importantly, the Reformed faith did well in teaching them to desire Christ above all else. Well formed in Christ-centered Christianity, many who grew up in the Reformed faith are compelled at least to investigate openly the bold claim that the Catholic Church is the Church that Christ founded, and that in her one may receive the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ in the Eucharist.

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  1. Jeremy,

    So true. This is one thing that I still struggle to get even family members around me to understand. However, they also scratch their head and try to find some emotional reason why I converted. As if there had to be some thing or someone I didn’t like that drove me away, rather than being led to the Church for positive reasons.

  2. Thank you for such a fantastic response! I completely agree, I didn’t become Catholic (or in my case return to the Church) in spite of a solid, theological understanding of historic Protestantism – but because of it.

    I read the article a few weeks ago and also blogged about it. :) In it, I mentioned all the guys here at Called to Communion as proof that the Pundit’s solution was way off the mark. :) I hope you don’t mind if I link to it.

  3. Hi Laura,

    I just read your post.

    If anything, being taught a “robust, historic Protestant theology”, rooted in the Word, which was both intellectually and spiritually challenging only made me more able and more willing to leave the comfort of Protestantism. I didn’t return to the Catholic Church in spite of a thorough grounding in Protestant theology, I returned because of it.

    Because if being a Protestant taught me something (and it has taught me many), it taught me to ask the hard questions because Christ is worth every sacrifice.

    Well said!

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

  4. This is a very insightful article. There are also those of us still in the Protestant Church yet have embraced the Catholic and Orthodox threads. My husband and I are both Presbyterian ministers and are Oblates of St. Benedict. I am, myself, a convert from Islam. In our ministry, we strive to teach and nurture a spirituality that brings together these three threads: Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox. Personally, God is doing an amazing thing in our midst. Blessings…. Banu

  5. Thank you, Jeremy, for writing this response to VanDoodewaard. Your argument accords with my own experience. I am a convert from the PCA and a graduate of Covenant College. My home church taught the Reformed faith consistently, both from the pulpit and through classes on the Westminster Confession & Catechism, etc. I taught Sunday school at that church, served as a youth minister for a time, and even considered entering seminary before I decided to pursue a career teaching English.

    As far as I can tell, then, I was carefully taught (and I carefully taught others) a robust, historic Protestant theology. I nevertheless decided to become Catholic. In order for VanDoodewaard to make sense of my conversion and salvage her argument, I think she could respond in the following ways: 1) She could claim that I’m an exception to the rule, and that, statistically speaking, most people in PCA and similar denominations are not leaving those denominations for “High Church” traditions; 2) She could claim that although I think that I was carefully taught a robust, historic Protestant theology, there was actually some problem with how I was taught the Reformed faith, and so I actually don’t understand it; 3) She could grant that I was indeed taught a robust, historic Protestant theology, but she could then point to some other factor that caused me to overlook it, and to erroneously convert to the Catholicism–in which case she would need to establish that whatever factor caused me to overlook the Protestant theology I had been taught was not a factor that resulted from a failure in Protestant teaching or practice, but from something external to it.

    ad maiorem Dei gloriam,
    Paul Weinhold

  6. Jeremy,

    This is excellent. I think we all here at CTC had a fairly strong reaction to this original article when it was published, and you handled it articulately and with grace, far better than I would. Paul Weinhold articulates some good-faith counter-objections that we all wish we saw more of, I think.

  7. I studied my way into the Catholic Church after being an ardent follower of John Calvin, and a virulent anti-Catholic for years. I graduated from a Protestant Bible college and it was that solid and Calvinistic foundtion that helped me to study properly and objectively the Catholic faith. The Bible, and history brought me “home to Rome”

  8. Unless I see actual empirical evidence of this phenomena I find it hard to take seriously. What little empirical evidence we have on conversions (Pew Forum) suggests that Catholics are moving to both evangelical and mainline churches at greater rates than evangelicals or mainliners are moving into the Catholic church.

  9. Hi Dan,

    Unless I see actual empirical evidence of this phenomena I find it hard to take seriously.

    Do you consider the two dozen or so authors here at Called to Communion (who were all well-educated laymen, seminarians, or pastors) empirical evidence? If you watch The Journey Home on EWTN every Monday night you can listen to the story of a different Protestant discovering the Church. Yes, there may be more people who were baptized Catholic that end up evangelical, but it’s rare( not impossible) to find a Protestant who was well formed/catechized in the Catholic faith and then left. You don’t hear many stories of priests becoming Protestant, but there are countless stories of Protestant Pastors sacrificing everything, their jobs, their stability, their livelihood, in order to enter into the fullness of the Catholic Church.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

  10. Dan H.

    I don’t think the point is to compare who has the most converts. I think a more helpful discussion would be to evaluate the motives behind various conversions. As Jeremy mentions, you don’t see very many Catholics who know and love their Catholic faith abandoning it for Protestantism. But you do see that out of protestants becoming Catholic. Many converts I know who left Catholicism wind up hating the Catholic Church, whereas protestants who become Catholic are usually very grateful for their protestant upbringing. But as Jeremy points out, it isn’t because of the failure of protestant Churches or Seminaries that explain the instances of protestants becoming Catholic but the strengths of them. What do you think about that?

  11. Interesting thing about all these articles. It still involves the major activity of all traditions within the church. Fighting for existing Christians. If we’re to have a future it has to be about making disciples, not just trading members. A few evangelicals who become RC or Lutheran or Episcopalian is hardly a cause for celebration or dismay. The fact that we are increasingly irrelevant to the growing numbers of people outside and possibly disaffected by the church is the point we all have to address. I don’t know about you, but, I’m tired of the bragging rights. It’s time to be the authentic church we are called to be.

  12. Three things:
    1. Thank you for a gracious critique of the piece in question. I too liked it, but found a couple things in it that needed to be addressed. Well done! I wonder, though, if it is still basically true that Churches teaching robust, historic Protestantism do a better job of holding their own (not just against high church migration, but also against secularism) than generic evangelicalism.
    2. I probably don’t need to advertise it here at CTC, but the dynamic that both the author and several commentators have noted, i.e., that a faithful teaching of robust historic Protestantism is precisely what leads some people to Rome is exactly what Louis Bouyer would have expected given his arguments in The Spirit and Forms of Protestantism. If you haven’t read it and these questions interest you, you should.
    3. The dynamic of “conversion” (though technically that is an incorrect word for anyone who was and remains a Christian) between the Catholic Church and evangelicalism/Protestantism is certainly asymmetrical. While Catholics undoubtedly lose many more congregants, evangelicals tend to lose many more theologically educated members and those in leadership. This is an interesting dynamic that is understudied (and typically only reported anecdotally). A related question is how many Evangelicals become more catholic without becoming Catholic. I have been at a baptist Church that uses the sign of the cross and whose pastor (quietly) carries a rosary in her purse. (Incidentally, the question of traditionally minded women pastors becoming Catholic is also interesting. In my anecdotal experience, they are much more likely to become Anglican, for obvious reasons.) These things are (again, from my anecdotal experience) on the rise. We do well to attend to the more subtle dynamics than what the Pew Forum can give us.

  13. Hi John,

    I understand where you’re coming from, but I don’t think this is about bragging rights. Look at this atheist billboard that cites “30,000 versions of truth” to promote the atheist cause. The billboard is referring to denominationalism. Division suggests that the Christian faith isn’t true. If the kids are not in relationship with each other it never reflects well on the father or mother.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

  14. Byran’s point is well taken, it is not how many Catholics are becoming Prostestants or how many Prostestants are becoming Catholics, but why in either direction. Jeremy, I think it is not fair to say that the Catholics who are leaving the Catholic Church for Protestant churches are less trained or committed to the Catholic Church before leaving than their brothers and sisters in the Protestant churches. My own personal experience is that many of the former Catholics I know were thoughtful and committed members of the Catholic Church; even some seminary trained and one or two former priests. Let’s just leave it that people who leave the church of their young do so for many reasons and that leaving a church is complicated. The people I know, some of whom have written on this website, are thoughtful and genuine. Some of them left for what they saw postive in the Catholic Church, others left for what they did not see in the church they once belonged; and most left for both reasons. I have found for most of the former Catholics I know, including me, they had the same reasons. I only advocate that we keep talking and keep trying to understand one another. I am thankful for my brothers and sisterrs who are in the Catholic Church and I am thankful for my brothers and sisters who are in the Protestant churches. I am not minimalizing the differnces Catholics and Protestants, there are significant differences no matter which side you persronally stand.

  15. John,

    You make mention of “all traditions within the church.” I’m curious, how do you determine which traditions are authentic and which traditions aren’t? How do you distinguish between which traditions are true and which traditions are not true? Don’t get me wrong, I think there are traditions outside of Roman Catholicism that are true. However, I also remain aware that there are some traditions outside of Roman Catholicism that are not true. I distinguish these three things based on the three fold office of Christ: Priest, Prophet and King. A true tradition will have legitimate sacraments (priesthood), Theology (prophet) and governance (King). If it has valid sacraments, evidence that its theology is ancient, and has legitimate authority, I’d say that’s a legitimate tradition.

    How do you determine which are legitimate?

  16. Jeremy,

    All the sources you mentioned to be anecdotal. Each source is either cherry picked or from an otherwise non representative sample. I don’t doubt the truthfulness of the anecdotes I doubt that these stories represent a trend.

    As to Protestants catechized in the catholic faith who then left I know several personally (I’ve even thought at times of doing so myself), and statistically converts are more likely then those born into a religious faith to convert yet again. (Again see the Pew Forum).

    I know three Episcopal priest personally who were once Catholic priests. I was taught Latin in High School by a man who left the religious life. That isn’t a trend it’s just four guys I happen to know.

  17. Hi Dan. I think you make a good point. If VanDoodewaard (or anyone) can provide evidence that shows that “Catholics are moving to both evangelical and mainline churches at greater rates than evangelicals or mainliners are moving into the Catholic church,” then I think that evidence would weaken her first point, that “Young Christians are going over to Catholicism and high Anglicanism/Lutheranism in droves, despite growing up in low Protestant churches that told them about Jesus.” But it would strengthen her second point, that those who are taught a robust, historic Reformed theology tend not to convert to “High Church” traditions.

    Dan, can you link me to the Pew Forum report that you mentioned? It would be helpful for me to see the specific data that you have in mind, so that I can better understand your position.

    ad maiorem Dei gloriam,
    Paul Weinhold

  18. Bryan,

    Studying motives behind conversions would be a fascinating subject but in order to do so in a way that isn’t simply anecdotal or speculative you need actual data.

    Again, I don’t doubt the veracity of any of your individual claims but until there’s actual empirical data it’s really hard to see this as anything but cherry picking when the actual empirical data we have about conversions shows the exact opposite trend (People leaving the Catholic Church for evangelical and mainline churches).

  19. The fact that she equates Catholic and high Anglican/Lutheran converts says a lot. It means that she is missing the importance of legitimate church authority in these conversions. Yes, some Lutheran and Anglican groups have greater respect for tradition than most protestants but is their authority any more legitimate? If going back 100 years makes sense then why not go back 1000 years? So I would distinguish between those looking for something more traditional and those really wrestling with the claims of the Catholic church. She does not do that. She just assume everyone is about smells and bells.

    I am always disappointed by such logic. I know the parish I was involved with during my conversion journey was not liturgically traditional. So I can say the high church experience had zero impact on my conversion. It was all about theology. I have read the stories of many converts since. That is the rule. Often they mention the new forms of worship as a negative. Something that made them want to remain protestant. Sometimes they say they appreciated the beauty of the ancient liturgy but rarely do they talk about it as a primary motivation. It is about true sacraments and the true word of God. The rest is details.

  20. I imagine that Dan H is looking for something along the lines of numbers and statistics, not anecdotes, and he is probably correct regarding the preponderance of Catholics converting to Evangelicalism. It is easy to forget amongst us theology nerds who frequent such blogs as CTC that the vast majority of people converting (regardless of which direction) do so for more pedestrian reasons, particularly intermarriage. I attended an RCIA class for a while (in a rather large suburban parish) where I was the only one who wasn’t there for reasons of an impending Catholic wedding. Many conversions happen because of such things as “this church is close to where we live”, “we like the music here”, “they have a great youth program”, etc. In that confessional Reformed churches have a stronger ecclesial self identity, I do not doubt that they “lose” less people to the Catholic Church than does Evangelicalism. I’m not sure how much theological mileage they would get from such an assertion; the same could be said about the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    On a side note, Paul Weinhold, I don’t believe we’ve ever met, but I do think I remember you from Covenant College. I was there ’02 – ’06.

    – David Parkhurst

  21. In my own very limited experience, those in the Reformed tradition (including reformed Baptists) are the least willing, initially, to consider Catholicism, and indeed do find particularly catholic practices the most off-putting. Yet at least they care. Many evangelicals I know, on the other hand, consider the Catholic Church to be just another denomination. Some congratulated me when I entered it! “We’re all one Body, so our denomination doesn’t matter in God’s eyes, right?” But it’s with my Reformed friends that I am best able to talk about my conversion – they understand the need to find the truth.

    I have hope for both types. Evangelicals have few particular objections to the Catholic Church; they only need that spark of curiosity about the claims Rome actually makes. My Reformed friends have many objections and tends to hold penal substitution dearly, but they are on the whole more willing to examine their own ecclesiology and theology in debate. The objection that intrigues them is that their theology is simply not robust enough.

  22. Hi Bruce,

    Good to hear from you and thanks for posting a comment. You make a good point and I don’t want to deny that there are some well formed Catholics who do leave the church. We have spoken about this before and I know you did not leave immediately after your conversion through Navigators, but after some time of careful thought and prayer. I think your gracious attitude towards the Catholic Church is encouraging and I’m sure progress towards unity would be further along if everyone on both sides adopted the same spirit. At the same time I think we are seeing a relatively new and remarkable trend. There are many smart Protestants asking tough questions and ultimately finding answers in the Catholic Church. I don’t think we’re talking about a bandwagon effect, but the result of biblical and convincing Catholic apologetics. I miss you and your family and again thank you for taking the time to comment on my post.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy.

  23. I was baptized Catholic and spent some of my childhood there. My parents went the non-Catholic Christian route in my teenage years and, naturally, I went with them. I spent my early adulthood in search of the truest interpretation of the scriptures, which I believe was Reformed theology (RT). I became disillusioned with what I observed as free-church, freelance, subjective Christianity. RT did a good job in denouncing “spiritual but not religious” or “me and my bible”. It was systematic and gave me bearings. I had to look no further than the founders Luther and Calvin to know that they more or less had a high ecclesiology. But that ecclesiology tended to stop at the denominational level. Essentially, church structure consisted of pastors, elders, and catechisms and confessions. They were general safeguards against most heresies and what kept me from falling prey to Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witness, Health and Wealth, and even Lutheranism, at times. I was very comfortable with this! I was convinced that my denomination, the OPC got 95 percent of it right, it being scriptural interpretation, and I left the other 5 percent out on account that nobody has a perfect scriptural interpretation. My conviction was that we had an obligation to align ourselves with the fellowship that best matched what we believed was the best interpretation of scripture. But though missing service was not called a “mortal sin” in the Reformed Presbyterian world, church attendance at least weekly was highly stressed because it was through worship service that sanctifying graces were administered. What was missing in general evangelical Christianity but what Rome and RT have in common was sacraments. You couldn’t find that word in the 66 book Protestant canon, but I intuitively grasped it. I knew that we weren’t just spirits floating around earth, and so a bridge to the divine was necessary. In my thought process, I knew sacraments were that bridge, but it became disconcerting that access to them was defined by men in England in the 18th century or men in Geneva in the 16th century. Luther and Zwingli certainly didn’t see eye to eye.

    Eventually I connected the dots. A building or denomination didn’t save me, but an institution did. I had always interpreted “no salvation outside the church” to mean “no salvation outside the invisible church”. Through reading articles on this site, and conversations with a personal contact, I returned to the Catholic Church. I hope to expand upon this with a blog post to contribute soon.

  24. Folks,

    It seems to me that the difference between a Protestant becoming Catholic and a Catholic becoming Protestant boils down to this: the former comes to believe that religion is not a matter of opinion, and the latter comes to believe it is, whether or not he’d put it that way. So if there is such a thing as what’s revealed on divine authority, which includes the principled means by which we can distinguish between that and human opinion, the former signifies progress, and the latter regress.

    Best,
    Mike

  25. Dear David,

    I attended Covenant College from ’00 to ’04. Maybe we had a class together! I would love to talk with you. If you’re interested, please email me at paul dot franklin dot weinhold at gmail.

    ad maiorem Dei gloriam,
    Paul

  26. Drey,

    Welcome back home! :)

    Susan

  27. Paul,

    The Pew Data can be found here:

    http://religions.pewforum.org/

    There’s a good breakdown of the numbers reguarding changes in affiliation here:

    http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/michael-bell-looking-at-the-pew-forums-changes-in-religious-affliliation-data

    A good break down of the data on why Catholics go Protestant can be found here:

    http://ncronline.org/news/faith-parish/hidden-exodus-catholics-becoming-protestants

    Basically I see no empirical evidence of a trend of Evangelicals becoming Catholic. In fact all empirical evidence suggests that both Evangelical and Mainline Protestant churches are gaining Catholic converts at margins of 3 (Evangelicals) or 2 (Mainline) to 1.

  28. Jeremy,

    “She (Rebecca VanDoodewaard ) honestly acknowledges the mass exodus of young evangelicals out of the denominations they grew up in and into ‘High Church’ traditions, especially Roman Catholicism”

    What qualifies as a “mass exodus”?

    What sources can you cite as evidence for a mass exodus?

    Have you considered the number of young people leaving Catholicism for evangelicalism?

    What is the net, not gross, exodus when this reverse exodus is taken into account?

    Is this mass exodus global, or only in the United States? When the Pope was in Latin America I heard reports on NPR of a mass exodus from Roman Catholic Churches to Pentecostal churches

  29. Michael – “So if there is such a thing as what’s revealed on divine authority”

    Erik – What if there is not such a thing as what’s revealed on divine authority?

    Are you saying that’s a possibility?

    What do you think has been revealed on divine authority in this case?

    Why do you think that?

  30. Come home Brothers and Sisters to the Church founded by Jesus Him-Self.

  31. Hi Jeremy,

    You wrote:
    Paradoxically, it’s because the Reformed tradition did well in teaching them how to think theologically. The Reformed faith taught them to cherish the idea of the Church even though in the end it has no Church to match its theology.

    Response:
    Is the catholic faith in the same boat ?

    10. A vivid and lively self-awareness on the part of the Church inevitably leads to a comparison between the ideal image of the Church as Christ envisaged it, His holy and spotless bride, (4) and the actual image which the Church presents to the world today. This actual image does indeed, thank God, truly bear those characteristics impressed on it by its divine Founder; and in the course of the centuries the Holy Spirit has accentuated and enhanced these traits so as to make the Church conform more and more to the original intention of its Founder and to the particular genius of human society which it is continually striving to win over to itself through the preaching of the gospel of salvation. But the actual image of the Church will never attain to such a degree of perfection, beauty, holiness and splendor that it can be said to correspond perfectly with the original conception in the mind of Him who fashioned it.

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/paul_vi/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-vi_enc_06081964_ecclesiam_en.html

    Thanks,
    Eric

  32. Dear Brett,

    Thank you for commenting at CtC. I don’t understand “conversion” to be so narrowly defined, but otherwise found your comment quite enlightening. It would be wonderful to have access to better research about the intra-religious changes of affiliation (i.e., conversions).

    Peace in Christ,
    Tom B.

  33. Thanks Jeremy! That is very kind of you. :)

    (Sorry my thanks is so delayed, I’m in Sydney!)

  34. Dan H:

    As your link states:

    The principal reasons given by people who leave the church to become Protestant are that their “spiritual needs were not being met” in the Catholic church (71 percent) and they “found a religion they like more” (70 percent). Eighty-one percent of respondents say they joined their new church because they enjoy the religious service and style of worship of their new faith.

    None of us joined the Catholic Church because we liked the style of worship more or our “spiritual needs weren’t getting met.” We joined the Catholic Church because, as Peter Kreeft put it, “it is the truth.” That is the difference. For those that join for other reasons, we pray that by God’s grace they realize Kreeft’s quip.

    Your link goes on to state:

    The data shows that disagreement over specific doctrines is not the main reason Catholics become Protestants.

    Which makes sense, especially in light of Mike’s comment above. When theology is a matter of opinion, doctrine will always be secondary, and “felt need” will always be primary. For those that come to this conclusion, they were Protestant before they ever officially became one.

  35. Dear Dan,

    Thanks for providing those links. I am not a statistician, and I was only able to browse the data in a cursory fashion. Still, the Pew Forum is (I think) a respectable research group, and so these numbers seem convincing to me. Given the accuracy of the Pew Forum data, it looks to me like VanDoodewaard’s argument fails on both points. Statistically speaking, Evangelicals are not getting high in significant numbers, and whether a church teaches a robust, historic Reformed theology has little effect upon whether that church will retain its members, because the data indicates that, generally speaking, doctrine is not the principal reason why people convert.

    One caveat: Our discussion is limited to religion in America. It does not take global patterns into consideration.

    I think VanDoodewaard could respond to the Pew Forum data in at least the following ways: 1) she could argue that the Pew Forum data does not represent the kind of movement within Protestantism that qualifies as movement from “low” to “high” church. She could then claim that most of the people who transition from “low” to “high” church do not convert to Catholicism, but to Anglicanism or Lutheranism, and in making that claim she would be able to account for the generally low conversion numbers from evangelical to Catholic that Pew Forum represents; 2) she could take a step back from her original claims, and limit her argument to Reformed churches only, not evangelicalism generally. In doing so, she could then argue that it is inaccurate to compare the Pew Forum data to her argument.

    ad maiorem Dei gloriam,
    Paul

  36. Brent,

    I know CtC contributors have their own reasons for joining the Catholic Church and that those reasons are fairly similar. I know that those reasons are representative of CtC contributors. What I don’t know is if those reasons are representative of Evangelical converts to Catholicism.

    I know that roughly 2,330,000 Evangelicals began their lives as Catholics. There have been studies done on why they have left the church. There has been analysis of and commentary on these studies.

    I know that that roughly 665,714 Catholics began their lives as Evangelicals. As far as I know there have been no studies done on why they have left their churches. What I’ve seen is a lot of anecdotal evidence. Most Catholics I’ve met in meat space who began their lives as Evangelicals converted for their spouse. Most of the Catholics I’ve met on the internet who began their lives as Evangelicals converted for reasons like those of the CTC contributors. Some of the folks I’ve met both in meat space and on the internets have reasons that don’t really fit in either category.

    I know I don’t but then again my background is in Mainline protestantism.

    Bottom line is that 665,000 Catholics began their lives as Evangelicals and that this represents both less than 1% of Evangelicals and 1% of Catholics. There is no statistical evidence of any trend. What I’m seeing is pockets of Catholics and Evangelicals on the internet who believe there is despite all empirical evidence.

    We actually have no idea what portion of those 665,000 Catholics who began their lives as Evangelicals converted because, “it is the truth.”

  37. Paul,

    Regarding moves to from low to high church protestantism again I don’t see how we can square it with empirical facts. If we include all of American Lutheranism (Evangelical and Mainline) and all American Anglicanism (Evangelical and Mainline) as “high church” (Which they most definitely are not) that comes to less than 6.5% of the American population. If we throw in all the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox to include all possible non-Catholic “high Church” Christianity that’s still less than 7%. The three largest churches in this block (The ELCA, LCMS, and ECUSA) have all been loosing member for over a decade. The churches in these traditions gaining members are newer denominations which largely cannibalize the larger mainline churches in their traditions. The Orthodox do a really bad job of tracking their own numbers (http://hirr.hartsem.edu/research/quick_question17.html) and are too small to get a reliable picture of from larger studies like Pew.

    Again making empirical claims requires empirical evidence. What empirical evidence that exists runs contrary to the authors claims.

  38. Dan,

    The Oxford movement of the mid 19th century witnessed numerous Anglicans returning to the Roman Catholic Church. There was not a huge number of conversions. However, many of the converts were from academic circles and the Anglican clergy. The Oxford movement began a trend in England where today the Roman Catholic Church once again has a strong presence in the UK. I believe a similar movement is happening in the United States today. I would be willing to bet that there have been more seminarians converting to the Catholic Church in the past 20 years than in the 200 years before that combined. I totally understand your point about raw numbers. I don’t disagree. But again the trend I referred to earlier is real. There is an increasing movement of well-educated evangelicals, pastors, and seminarians who are discovering the Catholic Church.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

  39. I think essentially; Numbers or statisctics is not the main point; it’s the provocation that allows faithfulls to think, study further and seach for the truth. i.e. from a Christian denomination to Catholicism.

  40. Dear Dan,

    I like the way you think. Thanks for showing us another way in which VanDoodewaard’s argument falls flat, and for pointing us toward relevant, specific evidence.

    ad maiorem Dei gloriam,
    Paul

  41. Jeremy,

    “The Oxford movement began a trend in England where today the Roman Catholic Church once again has a strong presence in the UK.”

    Catholic resurgence in England predates the Oxford Movement See:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Emancipation_Act

    “There is an increasing movement of well-educated evangelicals, pastors, and seminarians who are discovering the Catholic Church.”

    Empirical claims require empirical evidence.

  42. Dan,

    As a case study look at the well-known Reformed seminaries in America. Between Westminster West, East, Covenant and the RTS schools, there have certainly been more seminarians converting to Catholiism in the past 10 years than in the entire life of those institutions before that. The number of converts from those institutions before the year 2000 is actually a pretty short list. The number of converts from those institutions after the year 2000 is an increasingly long list.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

  43. Archie,

    Jeremy agrees with the original authors claim of a, “…mass exodus of young evangelicals out of the denominations they grew up in and into “High Church” traditions, especially Roman Catholicism.”

    Numbers are the point. I wouldn’t be raising these objections if Rebecca VanDoodewaard had said that some people she knows have left evangelical churches for high church traditions and Jeremy had said, hey me too! Claims were made of a “mass exodus” and these claims have not be substantiated by evidence.

  44. Jeremy,

    I’m totally willing to buy into the idea that Westminster West, East, Covenant, and RTS have had more seminarians converting to Catholicism than in the past. That was not your or Rebecca VanDoodewaard’s original claim of a “mass exodus of young evangelicals out of the denominations they grew up in and into “High Church” traditions, especially Roman Catholicism.”

    So yeah dozens of seminarians at Westminster West, East, Covenant, and RTS have converted to Catholicism in the last ten years.

  45. Recently I read somewhere a comment from a graduate of Wheaton who was received in the Catholic Church, affirming that there was a trend of Wheaton graduates converting to Catholic Christianity (certainly it is not an “avalanche”, but he implied that such trend was not restricted to two or three isolated facts).

    Does anyone have more information about that?

  46. Hi Dan,

    The whole idea of numbers is not the main point of this article. Rebecca claimed that solid Protestant Churches with sound theology do not suffer from members converting to Rome. The point of my post was simply to argue that this isn’t true. I would still maintain that the number of converts from all areas of evangelicalism is way up from 50 years ago, but I haven’t researched it. I also fully acknowledge that conversions in the other direction are up as well. But that’s not my point. My point is simply that solid Reformed teaching doesn’t keep people from becoming Catholic which is what Rebecca asserts. Would you disagree?

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

  47. Jeremy,

    The notion that solid reformed teaching prevents conversion strikes me as a No True Scotsman fallacy. It reminds me of arguments in Catholic circles that the reasons people disagree or leave the church is because of “Bad Catechesis” TM.

    Technically she could be correct but the argument is unfalsifiable.

  48. Jeremy – I would still maintain that the number of converts from all areas of evangelicalism is way up from 50 years ago, but I haven’t researched it. I also fully acknowledge that conversions in the other direction are up as well.

    Erik – So are you saying anything other than that the population (of the United States?) has risen over the last 50 years?

    I would feel better about your post if you didn’t use words like “mass” and just say your thoughts are based on anecdotal, not statistical, evidence. There’s nothing wrong with a post like that.

    Mass movements to anything need to be viewed in light of what Jesus said about the path being narrow, no? Maybe we should expect truth to lie in the opposite direction of where the masses are heading.

  49. Jeremy, you need to get out more. The real news as opposed to blog opinions is not nearly so encouraging for you:

    “In 1974, Catholics were more likely than Protestants to report attending religious services at least once a week (47% vs. 29%). By 2012, the situation had reversed: Protestants overall were more likely than Catholics to say they attend church weekly or more often (38% vs. 24%). Similarly, in 1974 “strong” Catholics reported going to church more frequently than did “strong” Protestants (85% vs. 55%), but in recent years “strong” Protestants have reported attending church about as often as “strong” Catholics do (60% vs. 53% in 2012).” http://www.pewforum.org/2013/03/13/strong-catholic-identity-at-a-four-decade-low-in-us/

    One more case of not telling the whole story.

  50. Erik,

    It’s safe to say that the number of people leaving Catholicism for Protestantism and vice versa is increasing. In other words, movement overall, in both directions, has increased. The reasons for these conversions, however, are different.

    But once again, that’s not what I responded to Rebecca about. She argued that robust,historic, Protestant teaching was a safeguard against conversion to Rome. I simply argued that her assertion was false. Would you disagree? Reformed theology, with its focus on Christ, and its concern for good theology, can and does lead people to the Catholic Church.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

  51. Jeremy,

    Is there any empirical evidence for your claim that, “The reasons for these conversions, however, are different.”? All I have seen on this front is a series of anecdotes.

  52. Dan,

    Jeremy, Is there any empirical evidence for your claim that, “The reasons for these conversions, however, are different.”? All I have seen on this front is a series of anecdotes.

    Michael Liccione responded to this question and I agree with what he said:

    It seems to me that the difference between a Protestant becoming Catholic and a Catholic becoming Protestant boils down to this: the former comes to believe that religion is not a matter of opinion, and the latter comes to believe it is, whether or not he’d put it that way.

    This is a good conversation to be having. I don’t have the kind of survey that you’re looking for as empirical evidence. Empirical evidence, however, can often be misleading. For example, Barna reports that mainline denominations have seen a continual statistical decline since the mid 60’s. Many of these declines though, as in the case of the PCUSA, are caused in part by whole Churches moving to more conservative denominations like the PCA. But the numbers don’t report that story. Hence, the numbers alone can be misleading.

    At what point does a claim move from pure anecdotal evidence to empirical evidence? That itself is a matter of opinion. I know dozens of converts to Catholicism who came to believe the claim that the Catholic Church alone has the authority to authentically interpret Scripture. Most converts I know came to believe something about the unique claims of the Catholic Church and none of them cited emotional experience or fulfillment as a reason for conversion. Could this just be a coincidence and therefore dismissed as pure anecdotal evidence? Perhaps, but then we’re left with Pew and Barna to believe anything about anything.

    It’s an interesting conversation. I am taking the family to the beach and won’t be blogging until Sunday evening at the earliest. Have a nice weekend.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

  53. DG Hart,

    You have identified a disconnect between Catholic Magisterial teaching and lay catholic belief and practice. I’m very interested in this topic – but not just as it touches on Catholics. I wrote a doctoral dissertation on the same phenomenon as it existed in 16 century Geneva – i.e. the disconnect between Calvin’s teaching and preaching and the faith and practice of the Genevan protestant laity.

    You have identified this gap as “bad news for gloating converts.” But I wonder – given that this gap exists in every religious community (to varying degrees) what degree of popular adherence to official dogma would you consider good news? Over 50% Over 75%? And how would you prioritize? What % of professing Presbyterians believe in limited atonement? or in the absolute necessity of infant baptism? Or in the mystical presence of Christ in the Eucharst? (What % could even articulate that doctrine?)

    Furthermore, I’m not sure any one here has ever gloated about the state of Catholic belief and practice in U.S. Catholicism. Matthew Kelly (Four Signs of A Dynamic Catholic) says only about 7% of Catholics account for 80% of Catholic ministry, donation, volunteer, etc. I’d say that’s regrettable, to be sure. But, I also know that that 7% (the ones who are faithful mass attenders, volunteers, etc.) are vastly more likely to affirm Church teaching. Those who don’t go to Church but get counted in surveys anyway are (surprise, surprise!) the ones who dissent from Church teaching.

    I wonder what percent of non-practicing Presbyterians affirm the Westminster Standards?

    Anyway, I wonder why you even point this out. To my mind, the amazing thing about Protestant conversions to Catholicism in recent years is that we have all joined a church that we know to be empirically flawed, weak, intellectually and morally poor, and oftentimes unwelcoming. I’m trying to think of one Protestant congregation run with such knavish imbecility that can boast anything like the number of conversions seen in my very ho-hum, boring Catholic Parish. In my town, the Protestant Church’s with the highest growth rates are also the one’s with the best implementation of modern marketing and management techniques. They don’t take lessons from us – I guarantee it!

    Thanks for commeting,

    David

  54. Dan H.

    Unfortunately, the empirical data on this is very spotty. Sociologist David Yamane has a forthcoming book on the topic with Oxford Univ. Press, but it is still in peer review. The USCCB does not keep current, comprehensive data on Conversions. None of the sociologists I have contacted do either.

    One quantitative sign, however, is the respective growth rates of Parishes in Protestant regions vs. historically catholic regions. The explosion of growth in U.S. Catholicism is in Protestant regions.
    From the Register:

    New data shows that some of the fastest-growing dioceses in the country are deep in the U.S. South.
    The third-fastest-developing diocese is Atlanta, which saw the number of registered parishioners explode from nearly 322,000 in 2002 to 1 million in 2012 — an increase of more than twofold, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University. Atlanta also has the largest Eucharistic Congress in the country, with an annual attendance of about 30,000, according to an archdiocesan official.
    Atlanta is not alone. Charleston, S.C., has seen a 50% increase in parishioners over the last decade. Charlotte, N.C., grew by a third, as did Little Rock, Ark. The Diocese of Knoxville, Tenn., established just 25 years ago, is now the 25th-fastest- growing diocese in the nation

    Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/protestant-south-becoming-a-new-catholic-stronghold/#ixzz2bVF3y2HI

  55. Jeremy,

    Michael Liccione made an argument for which he provided no evidence but he prefaced that argument with, “It seems to me…”. With that qualification, it’s a reasonable statement. You have made an argument for which you provided anecdotal evidence but stated categorically that, “The reasons for these conversions, however, are different.” A categorical statement like that really demands empirical evidence. If you had said, “In my experience the reasons for these conversions, however, are different.”, I wouldn’t have a problem with that.

    You can’t just make unqualified statements about over three million peoples’ conversions based on conversations with dozens of your friends. It’s called confirmation bias.

  56. Jeremy – The reasons for these conversions, however, are different.

    Erik – How are they different?

    What evidence (beyond anecdotal evidence) do you have for how they are different?

    Jeremy – But once again, that’s not what I responded to Rebecca about. She argued that robust,historic, Protestant teaching was a safeguard against conversion to Rome. I simply argued that her assertion was false. Would you disagree?

    Erik – As a Calvinist I would say that people convert from false religions to true religions and from true religions to false religions all the time for all kinds of reasons. Hopefully in conservative Presbyterian & Reformed churches the pure gospel is plainly preached. Some hear, receive it, trust in it, persevere, and bear fruit. Others hear it and do not. This is how it has been and will always be until the end.

  57. Michael – Anyway, I wonder why you even point this out. To my mind, the amazing thing about Protestant conversions to Catholicism in recent years is that we have all joined a church that we know to be empirically flawed, weak, intellectually and morally poor, and oftentimes unwelcoming. I’m trying to think of one Protestant congregation run with such knavish imbecility that can boast anything like the number of conversions seen in my very ho-hum, boring Catholic Parish

    Erik – I appreciate your honesty. I have not heard this from many of Called to Communion’s members.

  58. David,

    This is an interesting piece but the areas of fastest diocesan growth seem to be areas in the Sunbelt that are experiencing lots population migration from historically catholic regions:

    http://www.newgeography.com/content/002588-the-sun-belts-migration-comeback

    What would be interesting to see is how dioceses in historically non-Catholic regions that are experiencing population loss are doing. I’m thinking Mississippi and Utah might be good places to start.

  59. FWIW, I converted to the Reformed faith from evangelicalism because of truth, even though I liked the evangelical worship much more. And I became a Catholic because of truth, even though at the particular parish I attend, the accidents of worship – music, ‘height’ of worship, etc – are embarrassingly bad. I have a sort of feeling – but – please! – it is a feeling only! – that the reason quite a few Reformed people become Catholics is because of truth, despite some aspects of worship – not the Eucharist!! – being not very good.

    I have discouraged one or two evangelical friends from considering Catholicism because of ‘height of worship.’ I think that an inadequate reason for becoming a Catholic. In most parishes, if you want bells and smells, the Anglicans can do it better. Height of liturgy is not an adequate reason to become a Catholic.

    jj

  60. Dan H.

    No doubt. I’m sure that most of the parish growth is from immigration, not conversion. The Catholic Directory does compile diocese level data on RCIA, baptisms, etc. At some point, I hope to look at this data for these growing diocese to determine what % of the growth is from conversions. But this is a hunt-and-peck kind of job and will take time. Until then, . . ..

    -david

  61. David,

    You seem to conclude that these conversions are supernatural since no one would choose to belong to a church with these negative attributes. Might it also be possible that sometimes people just make bad or irrational choices? If someone spends their time shooting up heroin, living on the streets — a lifestyle most of us would conclude to be negative, do we conclude that there is a supernatural explanation?

  62. Dan and Erik,

    If a claim is backed up by common sense it doesn’t need to be substantiated by empirical evidence. Who has ever converted to the OPC or PCA because they believe Jesus established these himself while on earth? These Churches dont make such a claim so no sane person would convert for this reason. Yet, people convert to Catholcism for this reason in particular. Hence, I can say, without empirical evidence, that people convert for different reasons.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

  63. Jeremy,

    “If a claim is backed up by common sense it doesn’t need to be substantiated by empirical evidence.”

    Then I guess the sun does revolve around the earth…

  64. David,

    RCIA and baptism data would seem to be where to look. It would also be interested to see how many people coming out of RCIA stay active in parishes five or ten years down the road. It seems like if the New Evangelization were bearing fruit these numbers would be more publicized by the USCCB.

  65. Dan,

    Have you ever heard of anyone who converted to the OPC or PCA beause they came to believe that Christ founded these denominations during. his time on earth? Would you agree that this reason for a conversion is unlikely since it is based on a contradiction of what these denominations believe? If you disagree please say so. If you agree, then why demand empirical evidence?

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

  66. Dan,

    You wrote: ‘ It seems like if the New Evangelization were bearing fruit these numbers would be more publicized by the USCCB.”

    I think you are ascribing more marketing savvy to the USCCB than is warranted! The USCCB doesn’t even compile this numbers, let alone publicize them.

    -David

  67. Erick,

    I don’t assume that religious affiliation is evidence of supernatural intervention. And I admit that people can make irrational choices all the time. I think Jeremy’s point is very apropos, however. People are becoming Catholic because of a certain trajectory of thought – about the nature of the Church, truth, holy scripture and authority, etc. And that these questions trump concerns about the empirical church. Now, you can argue that these thoughts are misguided or wrongheaded. But do you doubt that these thoughts occur and are (to some) a motive for conversion?

    -David

  68. Dan,

    Explain to me what kind of claims need empirical evidence. Do I need empirical evidence to say that one reason people leave Catholicism for Evangelicalism is because they come to believe in Sola Scriptura? Belief in Sola Scriptura is a reason to be Protestant, but not a reason to become Catholic. I don’t see that my claim is controversial or worthy of argument.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

  69. David,

    As the old SNL skit goes, “Who were the ad wizards that came up with that one!”

  70. Jeremy – If a claim is backed up by common sense it doesn’t need to be substantiated by empirical evidence.

    Erik – Would agree that many times things that are “backed up by common sense” are indeed later disproved by empirical evidence?

    Jeremy – Who has ever converted to the OPC or PCA because they believe Jesus established these himself while on earth?

    Erik – How would you or I know that definitively? I do know many people who believe these to be true churches of Christ.

    Jeremy – These Churches dont make such a claim

    Erik – How so?

    Jeremy – Yet, people convert to Catholcism for this reason in particular

    Erik – Would you agree that the reason someone converts does not necessarily make that reason objectively true?

    Jeremy – Hence, I can say, without empirical evidence, that people convert for different reasons.

    Erik – I don’t think you can know that absolutely without having exhaustive evidence as to why people become Presbyterians (your example) or Catholics. It could just be the church closest to their house, for instance.

  71. Re: #65, et al.

    “Who has ever converted to the OPC or PCA because they believe Jesus established these himself while on earth?” I’m sure that the answer is ‘zero’.

    It seems to me this highlights one of the bigger pts of division between the RCC and evangelicals (perhaps all of Protestantism, too?). It seems folks at CTC feel the preeminent question is “which is the one church that Christ founded”, and one’s answer to that then drives all kinds of other faith-based decisions on the adoption of this or that particular Catholic dogma. On the other hand, evangelicals believe the preeminent issue is how to get the message of (our version of) the gospel out to a desperate spiritually dying world. So, when push comes to shove, in our hermeneutic, “gospel” concerns trump “ecclesiology” concerns.

    As this discussion thread unfolds, we are all trying to understand ‘why’ people leave or join whichever church. The protestant counterpoint to Jeremy’s query in #65 is “what secular person ever converted to the RCC because they heard and understood the gospel presented more clearly in the RCC than in an evangelical church (or, say, by a Billy Graham crusade or other evangelical parachurch org)?” I suspect the answer is similarly close to “zero”.

    There are countless born/raised Catholics, however, who would attest that they first heard/understood the gospel and came to have personal faith in Jesus Christ only through a protestant evangelical outreach.

    It will be interesting to learn if CTC folks would agree with that statement, or if there will be appeals to me to provide empirical evidence in support.

  72. David, no gloating here? Then why all the conversion stories and the cheerleading for other conversions? Why no hand wringing here about the state of the Roman Catholic church?

    When you find Protestants doing what CTC does, then by all means point out the disparity between our faith and practice. (In case you haven’t noticed, lots of criticism of Reformed Protestants exists at Oldlife.org.) But if Roman Catholic identity is going to be based on how great Roman Catholicism is and how misguided Protestantism is, then you may want to do a little fact checking (and motive inspecting) on the state of Roman Catholicism.

    (Interesting that no one else here in the CTC echo chamber is alarmed by the statistics. It seems folks here are more interested in rooting for the home team than actually noticing the score.)

    David, btw way, your claim “I think Jeremy’s point is very apropos, however. People are becoming Catholic because of a certain trajectory of thought – about the nature of the Church, truth, holy scripture and authority, etc.” bears on my comment.

    The trajectory of thought (Roman Catholicism) is not in line with the trajectory of institution (Roman Catholic Church). For what it’s worth, this happens to newbies in Reformed Protestantism and Lutheranism all the time. Love Calvin. Love Luther. That’s what the OPC or LCMS looks like? Yuck.

    Why no acknowledgement of YUCK here at CTC? Everyone else sees it (plenty with the right paradigm). But you guys never do.

    I’m sure you disagree. But you really should consider how others (Prots and RC’s view a site like this). Imagine what regular readers of the National Catholic Reporter would say about posts here and you may be able to put down the pom poms. And if you don’t think NCR is a worthwhile judge of CTC, then how exactly is your presentation of Roman Catholicism at CTC honest?

  73. Corn-Czar (re: #71)

    You wrote:

    There are countless born/raised Catholics, however, who would attest that they first heard/understood the gospel and came to have personal faith in Jesus Christ only through a protestant evangelical outreach.

    I do not doubt the truth of this statement, but I think it masks an important ambiguity that I would like to address. I’m sure that many born and raised Catholics would say that they first heard and understood the Gospel and came to have personal faith in Jesus Christ only through a Protestant or Evangelical outreach. But I think making that claim is especially easy when such people define “the Gospel” as “what Protestants and Evangelicals (and only Protestants and Evangelicals) believe about God.” If I’m reading you correctly, then I think that’s what you’re suggesting. But in that case, it would not be surprising for someone to first encounter “the Gospel” in a Protestant or Evangelical outreach.

    As a side note, I am a teacher, so I am also aware of the human tendency to mistake the first moment of understanding with the first moment of teaching. In my experience, the two are rarely simultaneous.

    ad maiorem Dei gloriam,
    Paul

  74. Darryl, (re: #72)

    David can, of course, answer for himself, but it is worth pointing out some assumptions at work in your comments.

    You wrote:

    David, no gloating here? Then why all the conversion stories and the cheerleading for other conversions? Why no hand wringing here about the state of the Roman Catholic church?

    Here you are assuming that if we publish a story of someone becoming Catholic, then it must be the case that we are gloating. You also assume that if we don’t express “hand-wringing” here about problems within the Church, then we are gloating. Neither conclusion follows from its respective premise. It is possible to hold up such a story with appreciation for the truth it contains and with joy, without gloating. It is also possible to refrain from hand-wringing, without gloating, but instead to lay such problems before the Lord in prayer, and to address them both within a larger theological context and practically at a local level.

    You then wrote:

    But if Roman Catholic identity is going to be based on how great Roman Catholicism is and how misguided Protestantism is, then you may want to do a little fact checking (and motive inspecting) on the state of Roman Catholicism.

    No one here has claimed or believes that Catholic identity is “based on how great Catholicism is” or “how misguided Protestantism is.” So here, you are going after a straw man. The identity of the Catholic Church (and thus the identity of those of us who are Catholic) is based on her relation to Jesus Christ.

    (Interesting that no one else here in the CTC echo chamber is alarmed by the statistics. It seems folks here are more interested in rooting for the home team than actually noticing the score.)

    Here you are again inferring from an absence of expressed “hand-wringing,” to some negative judgment about ourselves. And again, that conclusion does not follow from that premise. Perhaps we respond to such negative statistics not with public hand-wringing, but with prayer and a redoubled effort to do our part. Perhaps our faith that the gates of hell shall not prevail over the Church frees us from the need to engage in hand-wringing.

    Next you write:

    The trajectory of thought (Roman Catholicism) is not in line with the trajectory of institution (Roman Catholic Church).

    Then you go on to say that this is the case in the OPC and LCMS. But it is important to be aware of the difference between a mere assertion, and an argument. A mere assertion, such as “The trajectory of thought (Roman Catholicism) is not in line with the trajectory of institution” is not self-substantiating. Nor do we believe it to be true. If you want to establish its truth, you need to provide evidence or argumentation establishing its truth.

    Why no acknowledgement of YUCK here at CTC? Everyone else sees it (plenty with the right paradigm). But you guys never do.

    Here you assume, without adequate evidence, that we do not see x. And that sort of assumption is both uncharitable and unjustified.

    But you really should consider how others (Prots and RC’s view a site like this).

    Here you assume, uncharitably and incorrectly, that we have failed to consider this. We have considered it. That does not change or challenge the truth of what we have written here.

    If we are to enter into fruitful dialogue, abiding by the principle of charity is essential.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  75. All,

    Here is a video by Fr. Robert Barron on why Catholics leave the Church. I think Fr. Barron is quite insightful and honest about the reasons why some Catholics leave, and the ways that faithful Catholics can work toward greater unity through acts of charity.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dftZ5K_EA4s

    ad maiorem Dei gloriam,
    Paul

  76. A couple of years ago, we posted something on the Pew Forum data relating to Catholics leaving the Church, with special reference to the reasons that they gave for doing so:

    Ecclesial Consumerism, Redux.

  77. Dear DG Hart,

    You wrote: Then why all the conversion stories and the cheerleading for other conversions? Why no hand wringing here about the state of the Roman Catholic church?

    In answer to the first question, I think we’d like to echo Paul’s thought in Romans 1:11

    “I long to see you [and your conversion story] so that . . . that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.”

    With respect to the second – Did you look at Jason Stellman’s story? I think he’s pretty realistic about his reasons for becoming Catholic.

    But more importantly, none of us became Catholic because of the sins of Catholics. We became Catholic because of our faith in Jesus Christ. I’m not sure what you’d have us say? Should we write articles about how unhappy we are with the Church? But this is not how we feel. We know Catholics do dumb stuff. I do dumb stuff. But I’m looking to the doctrine and sacraments of the church to help me. And I have been helped. I want to share that with you, with other Catholics, and with unbelievers. What is it to me if someone at Catholic university X doesn’t like the Catechism? I’m sorry. But I’m not inviting you to share in the faith of dissident Catholic X. I’m inviting you to share in the faith of the Church, expressed in her most solemn teaching documents.

    Does this answer your question? If not, what am I missing?

    thanks,

    David

  78. Hi Dr. Hart (#72),

    To briefly add to Andrew Preslar’s comment in #76, my article “Holy Church: Finding Jesus As a Reverted Catholic; A Testimonial Response to Chris Castaldo” addresses the five reasons Castaldo provides in his book “Holy Ground” as to why so many Catholics leave the Church for Protestantism. My response to Castaldo discusses at length what you describe as the “yuck” factor in the Catholic Church, given the great variance in devotion and practice across American Catholicism. No seeking to “hide” here at CTC! cheers, Casey

  79. David, Casey, and Bryan, please tell me you do not see that every conversion story here begins with how Protestantism doesn’t satisfy and then Rome does. So David says, lots of Roman Catholics do dumb stuff and so does he. But that wasn’t sufficient to keep you Protestant — as in lots of Protestants do dumb things but I still trust Christ alone for my salvation. In fact, I would argue that I personally still believe in the faith that Protestants confess despite Protestant woes.

    But then you go on to say (or imply) that Protestantism’s woes are more serious than Roman Catholics’ woes and the Call to Communion is premised on this contrast. You could simply praise Roman Catholic truth but you don’t. You start with putting down the tradition you left.

    It’s a free country and a free interweb. You can say what you want. But please don’t console yourself that this is all charitable and loving. If you think it is then consider how you would feel to read a website that featured Roman Catholic conversions to Protestantism — with the tag line, ah, we love you too.

    It is condescending and gloating. If you don’t understand how uncharitable this seems to the other side, then you probably also don’t see that making running comments on someone’s use of logic is not the way that human beings have a conversation.

  80. Darryl, (re: #79)

    I know of Protestants who do tell stories of persons who left the Catholic Church to become evangelical, and these stories are not condescending or gloating. The persons telling such stories believe they are telling a story worthy of joy, because (from their point of view) the person has moved closer to truth, and because they genuinely love Catholics, including those who are still Catholic. I do not take such stories as ipso facto “condescending and gloating,” but rather as stories motivated by love for the truth, and love for Catholics. There is nothing contradictory or incoherent in a Protestant telling such a story to a Catholic, and simultaneously loving that Catholic.

    For you it seems difficult to conceive how such a story could fail to be “condescending and gloating,” but that difficulty is not due to any intrinsic impossibility in the telling of such a story without gloating or condescension. Of course it is possible to express gloating and condescension when telling such stories. But that’s not essential to the telling of such stories, and we do not permit it here.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  81. Hi Dr. Hart (#79),

    But please don’t console yourself that this is all charitable and loving. If you think it is then consider how you would feel to read a website that featured Roman Catholic conversions to Protestantism — with the tag line, ah, we love you too.

    I’ve read a number of such websites, and per the CTC article I referenced before, read an entire book, “Holy Ground,” all about Catholics becoming Protestants. When I read these I felt discouraged and questioned my own decision to convert (i.e. “maybe I missed something?!?”). But then I would respond by working through the arguments and premises of these former Catholics, to see if I didn’t consider some argument or issue in my own conversion. So far I haven’t found such an argument, and the process has only more deeply inspired me to dialogue with Protestants in the hopes they’ll find what I’ve found: fullness of Christ’s presence in His Church, and His Eucharist.

    I never felt like Castaldo was “gloating;” maybe other former Catholics do? Either way, I’m not sure it would matter – if they did gloat, and were right, I’d still have to accept their arguments, even if they were condescending, uncharitable, etc. Do you have a suggestion for how to improve dialogue with Reformed Protestants, or is your last comment simply requesting we abandon the project altogether? I see that as unlikely, given this website has had tangible success at influencing people to shift from the Reformation to Rome.

    -Casey

  82. Bryan, I have never sensed that your or CTCers love Reformed Protestants. Practically every time folks speak positively about Roman Catholicism here they do it in contrast to Reformed Protestantism. If I were to constantly tout the superiority of my alma mater (Temple) by contrasting it with Georgetown’s defects, I would not expect Georgetown alums to appreciate the arguments (not to mention that the judgments are premised on not on common standard but by a bias toward Temple). You are simply tone deaf to this (and it shows the way you constantly interact in logic mode).

    Here was Casey’s comment to Erik last night:

    “It may be worthwhile to reflect on why Jason or other CTC contributors converted. I don’t think anyone would say they converted because they “liked” one thing more than another, but that they found Reformed Protestantism no longer intellectually/theologically tenable, and commensurate to that realization, or later, became persuaded that Catholicism was indeed a coherent and believable faith system. If you became convinced sola scriptura was neither intellectually coherent or scriptural, what would you do?”

    Reading CTC is to be reminded constantly of Reformed Protestantism’s inferiority.

    If that’s going to be your tactic, don’t be surprised by blow back.

    And you also better make sure that you have the superiority of Rome figured out — including all those things that popes say and do that you and most Roman Catholics find objectionable.

  83. Hi Darryl,

    I see where you are coming from. But let me respond, if you will, and hear me out. My conversion to Catholicism makes no sense apart from my Protestant upbringing. And, I’d be willing to venture that this is true for the vast majority of Catholic converts. (In fact, over 70% of converts to Catholicism in the U.S. come from a Protestant background. -Pew Research). But To reduce this narrative to “Protestantism doesn’t satisfy” I think is to be, well, reductionistic. I have said many times elsewhere that I owe my faith in God, Christ, and Scripture to the Protestant Church. I also owe to Protestantism my belief in the intelligibility of the faith, of history, and of Scripture. My belief in the possibility of a rational worldview and my conviction that my morals, spirituality, and human experience could be reconciled in a metaphysical explanation of reality. I was a latent realist before I knew what the term meant BECAUSE my pastors and teachers ACTED AND SPOKE as if realism were true.

    It is true that along the way I gradually slid into a cognitive dissonance that was deeply unsatisfying. But this dissonance was certainly not at the level of human relationships, good preaching, vibrant worship, social outreach, etc. I’d be the first to say that at that level I find a lot more dissonance as a Catholic. I’d like my parish life to be more human, more relational, and more grounded in a common accord about the principles of our shared religion. My wife resisted my pleas to become Catholic on precisely this ground. “David,” she said, “Your Catholicism is a religion of a book. The REAL THING looks nothing like that.”

    My problem was that I couldn’t resolve the deeper cognitive dissonance as a Protestant. Trust me – I tried. But it was a dissonance of first principles, not as much one of lived experience. (Though this did play into it.) What saved me was the thought, “I could become a Catholic.” I saw that the dissonance I was facing would resolve in the Catholic Church. And it did – but not without struggle and pain.

    More people leave the Catholic Church in America than join it. That is a fact. And I think they leave because of a powerful disconnect between the claims of the Church and their lived experience. If they leave for another religion, they are twice as likely to become evangelical Protestants than something else. This is telling. But in my experience and the experience of those at CTC, those who leave Protestantism for Catholicism do so because of another kind of disconnect – cognitive dissonance at the level of first principles. Once they become Catholic, however, they tend to bring their evangelical fervor into the Catholic Church. In my ten years as a Catholic, my own diocese has been transformed by waves of Protestant converts who are now the teachers, catechists, priests, nuns, and administrators of schools and parishes. They are bringing everything good from their Protestant upbringing into the Church and trying to help her overcome some of her ossified, unhelpful habits.

    So – we are all so GRATEFUL for our Protestantism. We are REALISTIC about the state of the Catholic Church. But we are HOPEFUL for the future because we are living through a unique convergence of the two traditions that we think is promising for both.

    Have I spoken to your concern? Does this help?

    -David

  84. Darryl, (re: #82)

    Bryan, I have never sensed that your or CTCers love Reformed Protestants. Practically every time folks speak positively about Roman Catholicism here they do it in contrast to Reformed Protestantism.

    I have noticed a particular assumption in some of your recent comments. That assumption is that a person does not love you if he criticizes some aspects of your tradition. I hope you see that that’s not a safe assumption. It is possible to love someone, and at the same time point out some problem or error in his position, without thereby contradicting oneself.

    As Plato and Aristotle point out, this is the difference between a friend and a flatterer: a friend will criticize you or your position when doing so is good for you. Only the flatterer never criticizes you. It is precisely because the friend (unlike the flatterer) truly loves you, that he gives you the criticism it is good for you to hear. Otherwise, for example, it would be impossible for missionaries to love those to whom they minister.

    So just because we present evidence and argumentation supporting the Catholic Church in relation to Protestantism, it does not follow that we must not love Protestants, in the same way that your criticisms of the Catholic Church do not entail that you do not love Catholics. It is possible to offer and receive such criticisms out of love for the Truth and love for one another.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  85. One thing we could probably all stand to do is lose the notion of intellectual superiority of our respective positions. If intelligence were the primary factor in choosing one’s religion then presumably it would be obvious that all of the really smart people were Catholic, or Reformed, or Mormon, or whatever. There are brilliant people who hold to all of these expressions of faith, however, so this is obviously not the case. Consider Jeopardy uber-champion Ken Jennings, for instance — a Mormon.

    One thing that is worth noting about Calvinism is the doctrine of election. If Reformed Protestantism is true it is also true that Reformed Protestants are so because God has appointed it to happen. It follows that those who are Catholic, or Mormon, or Jehovah’s Witness, or whatever are so as opposed to being Reformed Protestant because, likewise, God has appointed it to happen. The intelligence of the adherent in no way enters into it.

    Am I saying that no one other than Reformed Protestants are going to heaven? No. Am I saying that we have a way to account for equally intelligent people looking at the same evidence and drawing radically different conclusions? Absolutely. This is why I sleep like a Calvinist.

  86. Darryl (#82)

    Bryan, I have never sensed that your or CTCers love Reformed Protestants. Practically every time folks speak positively about Roman Catholicism here they do it in contrast to Reformed Protestantism.

    I think you are confusing loving Reformed Protestants with loving Reformed Protestantism. I am a Catholic who wants the best for Reformed Protestants – which, since I am convinced Catholicism is true, means that I want them to become Catholics. That is love – wanting the best for them.

    jj

  87. David, I personally think resolving cognitive dissonance is overrated. Read Paul to the Corinthians. (Read Rusty Reno on Rahner.)

    But you see when I bring up aspects of Roman Catholic life that should cause cognitive dissonance for you guys all I get from Bryan is how conclusions don’t follow from premises. If you don’t have cognitive dissonance between Vatican 2 and Pius X, then I don’t know what kind of mind you have. That doesn’t mean you should revert back to Protestantism. Maybe you have less cognitive dissonance as a RC than as an OPCer — but how do you calculate or quantify that. But dissonance is the condition of all believers no matter what the faith. And Bryan’s brand of neo-Scholastic Roman Catholicism acknowledges no such dissonance. It’s all logic.

    Well, in point of fact, it is actually existential. Which is why the conversion narratives are so prominent at CTC. It’s about a personal experience of finding problems in Protestantism and then finding relief in Roman Catholicism.

    I personally think that CTC cooks the books on this and purposefully ignores those parts of Roman Catholic life that create dissonance. It is like the Hillsdale College student who thinks the American founders walked on water and then learns much to his shock that the founders owned slaves. This is no question of logic. It’s a question of disappointment. How do you continue to esteem someone or something as great when it turns out to be so flawed?

    What I would like to see from CTCers is some honest account of their disappointments. Otherwise, it’s all pietism.

  88. Bryan, but CTC goes out of its way to single out Reformed Protestants. this post is indicative. http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2011/11/lawrence-feingold-on-gods-universal-salvific-will/ You immediately go from Feingold to contrast Sproul and then cite another man who criticizes Calvinism. Why not Luther? Why not Wesley? Why not A W Tozer?

    The fact that you invariably direct the barbs at Calvinism makes it difficult to think that this is not personal, that you try to make Reformed Protestantism look bad. I get it. It makes your decision to join Rome look justified. But at some point you have to move on. Haven’t you heard that the PCA and OPC are small? You’re shooting fish in a barrel.

    Of course, you can always follow the logic play book and say you’re only pursuing truth. Again, I ask, is that the way you deal with your wife or children when you find them in the wrong (and continue to make the same errors)? Unless you married a Stepford bride, I bet you don’t.

  89. dgh,

    You are right. This site is very much focused on having a conversation about Catholic converts from Reformed Protestantism — particularly their reasons and reasonings for jumping ship for the bark of St. Peter.

    I think, though, you could take it as a compliment. Many other Protestant traditions fail to possess the intellectual tradition of Reformed Protestantism. Serious Protestants from other traditions, many times while studying theology in college (me, for example), turn to Reformed Protestantism as a means of bolstering our flimsy theology. In fact, many of your co-religionist delight in the type of intellectual exercises displayed on this site. Many evangelicals, pentecostals, etc., could care less or at the least, come from traditions with far fewer theological terminology and resources to even discourse about God’s universal salvific will. It just doesn’t play out like that in the streets.

    If arguments against Calvinism and for Catholicism amount to “barbs,” then I recommend avoiding this site. Stay in the Calvinist clan, ignore the Assembly of God mega-church down the street too, and you should be all right (<— tongue in cheek, mostly). None of us our avoiding your arguments, but if you choose to avoid ours that is your prerogative. And, as arguments go, logic is important. Lest persuasion amount to liquor, table pounding, and dim lighting. So, I fail to grasp your barb at Bryan. Why get all stop-playing-logic-at-me? Either ignore Bryan’s arguments or engage them. Complaining about his method seems to imply you aren’t really interested in debate — and the way you enter the fray here at CTC always comes across as antagonistic. So, which is it?

  90. I’m a revert. I am one of those people, mentioned above, who left the Catholic Church as a youngster because I heard “the Gospel” at an Evangelical church. In hindsight, however, it seems now that the only reason I could recognize, or remotely understand, the Gospel that was preached in that Evangelical Church is that I was raised Catholic. Concepts and ideas like “Jesus,” “Trinity,” “Bible,” “salvation,” etc. were part of a common heritage that Evangelicalism and the older Reformed tradition had inherited from Latin Christianity. Evangelicalism’s success in attracting youngsters like me depended entirely on offering a less complicated Christianity trimmed of all the ecclesiastical baggage that made it much easier to defend, and required much less intellectual and personal responsibility to maintain. It was, for lack of a better analogy, like going away to college and leaving the oversight of one’s parents: all the benefits of adulthood without the worries of obtaining the capital, both cultural and financial, that made one’s excursion possible. In that context, the infrastructure of one’s life is just taken for granted. It wasn’t until I realized, at the tender age of 46 in 2007– that virtually everything that made Evangelicalism possible–e.g., Scripture, the ancient creeds–was the result of 1500 years of a Church that is at root and branch Catholic.

  91. Darryl (re: #88)

    Why not Luther? Why not Wesley? Why not A W Tozer?

    Because we came from Reformed communities, know that system of belief well, and retain deep affection and gratitude to those communities. CTC grew out of dialogues we were already having with persons in those communities.

    The fact that you invariably direct the barbs at Calvinism makes it difficult to think that this is not personal, that you try to make Reformed Protestantism look bad.

    There are no “barbs,” if you mean something other than critical evaluations. And we’re not trying to make anything look bad; we’re trying to show the truth regarding the Reformed-Catholic question. It is personal not in a negative sense, but in the positive sense of being motivated by love for persons.

    I get it. It makes your decision to join Rome look justified.

    There is a more charitable explanation that you are overlooking, namely, that we care for our brothers and sisters in the Reformed tradition, and wish to be reunited by the grace of God with them in full communion. The separated status of Reformed and Catholics deeply pains us, and we hope that with God’s help, we can be instruments by which reconciliation and reunion might be effected.

    Haven’t you heard that the PCA and OPC are small? You’re shooting fish in a barrel.

    It is not about numbers for us. It is about our relation to those Reformed communities in which we were nurtured, blessed, and (for many of us) trained.

    Of course, you can always follow the logic play book and say you’re only pursuing truth. Again, I ask, is that the way you deal with your wife or children when you find them in the wrong (and continue to make the same errors)? Unless you married a Stepford bride, I bet you don’t.

    If you are asking whether when I notice my wife in (what I believe to be) a significant error, I just look the other way, and let her go on in (what I believe to be) a significant error, no, I don’t do that. Nor does she do that to me. Because we love each other, we recognize our obligation before God to help each other grow in the truth.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  92. Darryl (#87)

    I personally think that CTC cooks the books on this and purposefully ignores those parts of Roman Catholic life that create dissonance. It is like the Hillsdale College student who thinks the American founders walked on water and then learns much to his shock that the founders owned slaves. This is no question of logic. It’s a question of disappointment. How do you continue to esteem someone or something as great when it turns out to be so flawed?

    What I would like to see from CTCers is some honest account of their disappointments. Otherwise, it’s all pietism.

    The reason, Darryl, why it is all a matter of logic rather than – well, I don’t know; some sort of satisfaction of hopes and expectations – is because it is wholly a question of truth. We – or at least, I – wanted to know if Jesus really had established a unique Church. If He had, then it was not possible to fail to submit to it, regardless of unquestionable problems and unpalatabilities.

    I myself cannot say I had any disappointments, principally because I had what I think were realistic expectations. I expected the bulk of my fellow Catholics to be frustratingly lukewarm (sometimes that at best!); I found that. I expected a lot of priests to be frustratingly ignorant, sometimes unorthodox; I found that.

    On the other hand, I was often astonished at the real fervour and love I did find amongst both laity and priesthood; I had not expected that.

    But what has never disappointed me has been the certainty that this is Christ’s Body on earth, in the fullest sense. What has never disappointed me has been the certainty that in receiving Him in the Blessed Eucharist I have received my Saviour in a way impossible in the Reformed churches.

    Newman famously said that a thousand difficulties do not make one doubt. I think you should ponder that. A million disappointments won’t change the fundamental question: whether the Catholic Church is (uniquely) the fullness of the Body of Christ. That is a question that requires logic to consider. If I had been brought up in the Church and raped by a priest; beaten by nuns in school; lied to by a bishop – none of it would the question that must be answered any different: is this Christ’s church or not?

    That is why it seems to me beside the point for you to point out the faults of Catholics; to complain that one did not see the good things in the Reformed churches (it was, in fact, my twenty years as a Reformed Christian that led me to the Church – and I don’t mean by their bad example; I mean by the right things they told me, including the reality of the visible Church and the reality of the authority of the Church). You should be thinking about whether the Church is what it says or not.

    jj

  93. * hello everyone Please help, is there a book in the bible; Jesus saying “Go Write books and preach what are written in these books.”?
    * Francis J. Beckwith – exactly true “Scripture, the ancient creeds–was the result of 1500 years of a Church that is at root and branch Catholic”. No christian denomination will exists or have an idea of Jesus at present time w/o the Catholic Church.
    * This blog/forum is awesome because this is still ongoing for past 4 or 5 days.
    * This blog is a bit hurting for our bros and sis in Christ outside Catholic Church but it’s also a good point to raise a question and a Challenge to give time and study Church father’s teachings and writings.
    * if “a person is really serious of finding and verifying the truth and authenticity the teachings of their denomination” and we can find these truths 1500 years before Christian denomination exists.
    * I love the way Christian denominations makes people closer to Jesus however; I don’t love the way they are destroying Catholic Church wherein CC is giving apologetic to explain Church’s teachings, beliefs etc. but not destroying their individual denomination.
    * There are also a lot of Catholic charismatic communities that are similar or exactly the same format of Praising, Worshiping and Glorifying Jesus (raise their hands, worship leader, laity who acts as pastor etc) but still the Holy Mass is still the Core and Highest form of Glorifying Jesus.
    * The strength of these denominations is in the sense of community, family, friends, saying good things in worship, preaching etc. why not move to Catholic Church? instead of trying to destroy CC.

  94. Darryl, I’d like to just jump in here for a moment and share how much respect I’ve gained for Calvin and the Reformed Tradition, because of this website. Before I came here I didn’t even really know that “Reformed” theology referred to Calvin’s system. I thought it was referring to theologies shared by all the reformers. I grew up going to a protestant summer camp and while I was in High School I went to young life and eventually a ministry called “The Inn” at my University.

    While these ministries didn’t have as much of an effect on me as my Catholic upbringing I’m still very grateful for the experiences I had. And yet, they left me with a pretty unfair grasp of doctrines like Sola Fide and Sola Scriptura. I didn’t know what these doctrines actually were intended to mean, and how they were initially articulated by the reformers. I just sort of took on the caricature version of them. Well, thanks to CTC, I have a much better grasp of them and, while I still don’t agree with them, I at least have an appreciation for the people who hold them (though what I really mean to say is , I respect the doctrines enough that I don’t think people who believe them are complete idiots, like I used to). If that is something to be thankful for, then thank the guys who write here because its because of them.

  95. Hi Erik (#83),

    One thing we could probably all stand to do is lose the notion of intellectual superiority of our respective positions. If intelligence were the primary factor in choosing one’s religion then presumably it would be obvious that all of the really smart people were Catholic, or Reformed, or Mormon, or whatever. There are brilliant people who hold to all of these expressions of faith, however, so this is obviously not the case. Consider Jeopardy uber-champion Ken Jennings, for instance — a Mormon.

    One thing that is worth noting about Calvinism is the doctrine of election. If Reformed Protestantism is true it is also true that Reformed Protestants are so because God has appointed it to happen. It follows that those who are Catholic, or Mormon, or Jehovah’s Witness, or whatever are so as opposed to being Reformed Protestant because, likewise, God has appointed it to happen. The intelligence of the adherent in no way enters into it.

    Am I saying that no one other than Reformed Protestants are going to heaven? No. Am I saying that we have a way to account for equally intelligent people looking at the same evidence and drawing radically different conclusions? Absolutely. This is why I sleep like a Calvinist.

    I think, however, that there is a difference between the intellectual superiority of a position, and the intellectual superiority of a person. I don’t think any CTC contributor is seeking to prove they are the latter. For myself, I’m happy to concede that there are plenty of Reformed Protestants who are more intelligent than myself. As you seem to acknowledge, people accept a religious belief for reasons beyond simply which is most intellectually/theologically coherent. Even if logical consistency is the goal, as it was when I was a Reformed Protestant, a host of factors complicate that decision: biases (of which one can be aware or unaware), exposure to certain arguments, personal experiences, etc. If I reflect on my own time as a Reformed Protestant, I can remember being exposed to certain Catholic claims, and finding them unsatisfactory because I didn’t understand them, was predisposed to be suspicious of them, etc.

    Please don’t misinterpret me – I’m not seeking to make some subtle ad hominum attack against you or any other Protestant. I can’t read your mind to discern all the complexities that take place when you are provided with a Catholic objection to the Reformed faith. What I can do, with as much charity as I can muster, is to presume you are intelligent, that the Holy Spirit is at work in your life, and that if you were persuaded by the problems with Reformed teaching and the truths of Catholicism, you would not ignore them. So my goal is to clearly and coherently present Catholic teaching to you, accompanied by prayer, that I might play some small part in helping you evaluate Catholic claims for yourself and find them to be true.

    If you came to find your Reformed theological system to lack coherency, or you found some flaw in a fundamental premise of the Reformed faith, would you ignore it and soldier on because you believe yourself elect, or begin the process of seeking intellectual coherence? Best, Casey

  96. Bryan, like I say, you make this personal with all the conversion stories and then you can’t be personal but only spout logic. What you say about your marriage is just more par for the course.

  97. JJ, I have checked on whether the church is what she says. I keep trying to get you guys to consider how various and contradictory the church is. It’s even illogical — you can’t make Vatican 2 square with the premises of Unam Sanctum. But I know, development of doctrine always spares you from having to follow logic.

  98. Darryl, (re: #97)

    We’ve explained the coherence of Unam Sanctum with VII under the following ten posts:

    (1) The Papacy and the Catholic Act of Faith
    (2) Habemus Papam
    (3) The “Catholics are Divided Too” Objection
    (4) Reflections: Graduating Catholic from a Reformed Seminary
    (5) Church and State: Some Impromptu Reflections
    (6) Keith Mathison’s Reply
    (7) Solo Scriptura, Sola Scriptura, and the Question of Interpretive Authority
    (8) Hermeneutics and the Authority of Scripture
    (9) Reaching Out to the SSPX
    (10) Podcast Episode 1

    If you think the explanation we’ve given is inadequate, please explain.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  99. Bryan, hardly. You can’t explain how two things that claim opposite meanings can be harmonized, unless you are going to use a modernist hermeneutic (which SSPXers aren’t allowed to use). http://oldlife.org/2013/08/when-logic-is-delusional/

  100. Darryl, (re: #99)

    You’ve misunderstood the terms, as I’ve explained in the first comment there at the link.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  101. Hi DGH,

    You wrote: “I personally think resolving cognitive dissonance is overrated,” (87), and then go on to explain that cognitive dissonance (on your view) is unavoidable in any religious tradition. You don’t dispute that there is cognitive dissonance in Reformed Protestantism. You just don’ t think (if I read you correctly) that the situation is any better in Catholicism. Is this right?

    This prompts two questions;

    1st – I wonder if we’re using the term in the same way. As I understand it, cognitive dissonance is the discomfort we feel in affirming (apparently) exclusive propositions. It does not refer to the apparent contradiction, but to the psychological state of one trying to resolve the conflict. On this definition, I would agree that most or all religious traditions contain at least apparent conflicts (Catholicism included). But the dissonance only results when we fail to resolve those adequately.

    2nd- It would seem to be your view that no religious tradition successfully resolves all its apparent contradictions. Does this mean that you deny coherence as a test for truth? If so, on what basis to you choose Reformed Protestantism over Catholicism?

    Thanks,

    Davdi

  102. Darryl (#97)

    JJ, I have checked on whether the church is what she says. I keep trying to get you guys to consider how various and contradictory the church is. It’s even illogical — you can’t make Vatican 2 square with the premises of Unam Sanctum. But I know, development of doctrine always spares you from having to follow logic.

    Certainly it is possible to view what one considers the premisses of Unam Sanctam with what one considers Vatican 2 to teach and believe the two are in irreconcilable contradiction. But in fact the two do not seem remotely contradictory to me.

    jj

  103. Darryl,

    As you have surely gathered from posts at this and other sites, I have become very doubtful about the veracity of Protestantism because of the apparent lack of “principled means” etc, etc. So why am I not Catholic? I am not entirely convinced by the RCC explanation of what appear to be contradictory “infallible” teachings, with Unum Sanctum/VII front and center.

    I was recently challenged by an agnostic former-professor regarding the contradictory teachings in Scripture. Many such examples are given. One of the most popular amongst atheists/agnostics is the apparent contradiction between God-ordained OT teachings on the punishment of adulterers (death by stoning) and the NT teaching (he who is without sin cast the first stone). Did God change His mind? The theological and historical arguments in response to these apparent contradictions often do not convince, because they are viewed as a strained twisting of logic by someone with a driving presupposition (Scripture is infallible). Do you see this as in any way different from our criticism of the RCC’s contradictory positions?

    Burton

  104. Hi Burton,

    It’s a good observation and criticism, on the other hand; these unclear or uncomprehending information or doubt or knowledge etc. is a good starting point to give time and study further, dig down deeper. Diamonds are not found by just digging several meters and not all precious stones during digging are diamonds.

  105. Burton, it doesn’t matter what an agnostic says to me. What matters are the RC converts claims to superiority over Protestantism. If I have as much a problem making Scripture harmonize as you do with making papal teaching cohere, then how can you claim that Roman Catholicism is superior? You can’t let your guard down like this. Bryan never does. He just comes back with logic even when he can’t explain the popes.

  106. hello dghart,

    “If I have as much a problem making Scripture harmonize as you do with making papal teaching cohere, then how can you claim that Roman Catholicism is superior?”

    * the word “Superior” I think is not the applicable, it’s better to use True Church.
    * Do you think all these more than 40,000 Christian denominations will exists w/o the existence of the Catholic Church?

  107. Darryl,

    What I was aiming at was the idea of equal weights and equal measures. If the Roman claims of magisterial and papal authority are undercut by contradictions in supposedly infallible teachings, then why is the Reformed Prot claim of scriptural authority not undermined by the same measure? Put another way, if we as Protestants give a lot of latitude in explaining the apparent contradictions in Scripture, are we using a double standard if we don’t allow the RCC folks the same latitude in explaining their own apparent contradictions?

    I am not claiming that Roman Catholicism is superior. I am interested in discerning the truth, and God seems to be testing my patience as I attempt to do so. I don’t particularly like the language of “superior/inferior” because it immediately casts the discussion in an adversarial light. Logic dictates (don’t worry, I’m not going all “Bryan” on you!) that the truth is found more fully in one or the other (assuming only these two choices) and I simply want to be where the truth can be found in its fullness, because I want Christ in His fullness. I am also assuming that you, the folks here at CTC, at Reformed websites etc are all operating from the same basic motive – a love for Christ, a love of truth, and the desire to share Christ with as many as possible. I don’t think any one group has a corner on annoying or abrasive posting habits. I’m not sure what you mean by “you can’t let your guard down like this”. Like what? I pray for the protection of the Holy Spirit over my mind and heart and then approach these discussions with as open a mind as possible. Bryan’s near continual reference to logic can come across as a bit cold and rather Spock-like and is sometimes off-putting, but I don’t think engaging him in conversation requires “shields up at full power”.

    Burton

  108. HI Burton,

    “What I was aiming at was the idea of equal weights and equal measures. If the Roman claims of magisterial and papal authority are undercut by contradictions in supposedly infallible teachings, then why is the Reformed Prot claim of scriptural authority not undermined by the same measure? Put another way, if we as Protestants give a lot of latitude in explaining the apparent contradictions in Scripture, are we using a double standard if we don’t allow the RCC folks the same latitude in explaining their own apparent contradictions?”

    1) Why do you think since the time of Jesus (more than 2000) years ago the CC teachings didn’t change but it just grew, studied etc. etc.?
    2) Why do you think since the time of Martin Luther etc. as far as I know there’re more or less 40,000 Christian denomination?
    3) Who’s authority to verify if the teachings and interpretation of the bible is/are correct and true?

    My answers below are not the final answer; I’m not the authority to explain, however these can some how lead you to better path of understanding, studying and discernment.

    1) Each of these 40000 denomination saying that they are the “true church” preaching what’s written in the bible, they holds the key to the correct and true interpretation of the Bible that the Bible is the final authority. Some founded their own theology or Philosophy Institutions etc. See what happens now these 40000 (roughly) and growing denomination cannot agree w/ each of their teachings and interpretation of the bible. (but some are aligned also with the teachings of CC and each of these denominations). Can we find in the Bible Jesus saying “GO WRITE A BOOK AND PREACH WHAT ARE WRITTEN IN THESE BOOKS”? or “And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.” Mark 16:15. CC preach the Gospel 1500 years before Protestantism exists. In the fourth century AD Jerome (a Catholic laity) produced/Printed the first ever Latin Vulgate Bible, Protestantism as far as I know is not yet existing in the said century. I suggest read a little about Catholic church history.

    2) The teachings of the Catholic Church didn’t change or altered for more than 2000 years since Jesus founded this Church through Peter who will serve as vicar (Pope) until Jesus comes back. The teachings of CC are just twisted and programs the mind of the people since the time of Martin Luther that CC is the anti-Christ, that CC is not teaching the correct teachings etc. etc. etc. etc. read this http://www.ewtn.com/faith/teachings/chura4.htm

    3) CC holds the deposit of faith from the time of the Apostles.

  109. HI Burton,

    for a simple reference read this http://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/library_article/959/Magisterium_Part_1__What_is_the_Magisterium_and_Why_Do_We_Need_it_.html

  110. Burton and Archie, your ring leaders are using the language of superior (your popes once used stronger language than that — man up).

    Archie, are you saying that Rome produced 40,000 denominations?

    Burton, I don’t know how you can claim that Rome has the truth more fully after what Vatican 2 did to the mind of the Church? Vatican 2 was to Roman Catholicism what modernist theology was to Protestantism. It had to be to make contradictory statements (like on church and state or freedom of conscience for starters) cohere as a seamless continuity. If you want to go to the aesthetics (but please don’t offer up your liturgical music as an example) or authority, maybe you have a point (though on authority the church has also contradicted itself at Vatican 2 — communio ecclesiology plus high papalism which is like Republicans wanting a strong president and states rights). But as for intellectual coherence Rome had it when Evelyn Waugh became a convert. It lost it since, which may explain why so many RC pundits are bullish on the churches social teaching (minus the bits about Americanism as a heresy).

  111. Darryl,

    Ring leaders? Your popes? Man up? They ain’t my ring leaders, I’m not Catholic, and maybe we have different definitions of manliness, but I get your drift, and I am willing to be more cut-through-the-BS.

    First, would you address my question in paragraph #1 of comment #107?

    Second, why do you seem to get offended when RCC converts claim philosophical and ecclesiological superiority? Do you not believe the same about Reformed philosophical and ecclesiological claims? Seems to me we should expect that or they wouldn’t be Catholic and you wouldn’t be Reformed Protestant.

    Third, if history proves that Rome has proclaimed contradictory “infallible” doctrines, then their claims to magisterial authority are null and void. I get that and agree with it. That does nothing, however, to address the inability of Protestant authority structures to define doctrine, canon, heresy, etc in a way that gets beyond individual opinion. The CtCers have a valid point on this issue, and your only response is to continually point out the historical contradictions of Rome. Showing the truth of your own ecclesiology is not accomplished by repeatedly attempting to disprove the other guy’s. So show me the money.

    Burton

  112. Hi dghart,

    “Archie, are you saying that Rome produced 40,000 denominations?”:

    NO, this means that these more or less 40k denomination are claiming that they are the true Church, that they have the secrete or correct interpretation of the bible. Now who’s interpretation (of the bible) among them are correct? whom to verify if their teachings and interpretations (of the bible) are correct and true?. If then they can’t agree 100% w/ each other in the interpretation of the bible, there for; what ever quotation from the bible during prayer services are misunderstand and misused. There are even debates lasting for 5 days among pastors (with Phd holders) in the end; still don’t agree w/ each other.

    Catholic Church is been existing for more than 2000 years and its traditions and teachings from the Apostles to the Present time didn’t change. For example; Sunday Holy Mass are interpreted by the Priests in the same way around the globe but they never spoke or hardly know to each other.

    dghart, it will be misleading if we’re or I’m going to understand or comprehend or interpret what are written in Vatican 2 and other ecumenical documents etc., because for me those are not text intended to be consumed by laity like me or other newly appearing researcher that are trained w/ a mindset of sola scriptura, because it can be misinterpreted or misunderstood that would lead to confusion and at worst be the context will be twisted (i.e. the devil is quoting from the teachings of the scriptures when Jesus is in fasting the dessert for past 40 days) for their own propaganda most specially if the purpose is to teardown the CC and its faithfuls.

    That’s why I’m only explaining in layman’s term, I don’t what to quote from the original text i.e. Vatican 2 etc. because I’m not the target market of that text (i.e. I can write a book that can be loved by kids but is not interesting for adults or I can write a book that are interesting for adults but needs further explanation for the kids to understand)

    If you haven’t read this please read (copy paste below): http://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/library_article/959/
    Magisterium_Part_1__What_is_the_Magisterium_and_Why_Do_We_Need_it_.html

  113. Burton,

    I notice that you didn’t comment back and I’m guessing you weren’t satisfied with my response, but I figured since you “butted-in” at CCC I could butt in at CtC :)

    Protestants interlocutors here are being told that Rome has a principled distinction between opinion and divine revelation. Daryl emphasizes the historical problems that have occurred in the Papacy. I think Bryan has offered answers that could be compelling. I’m not persuaded that they are plausible even though they are possible, but I’m a Protestant after all. I can generally concede that Bryan’s responses to Daryl at least provide a rationale response.

    The whole apologetic takes place though with the Protestant trying to tell the Catholic that they are really not in any different epistemic situation. The certainty, the “principled distinction,” is not anymore principled than Protestantism as Daryl, myself, and others have tried to argue (I’ve focused on the first 2 centuries in my interaction. Daryl has focused on the Medieval & Modern Church).

    So that is why you are not finding Protestants offering a sophisticated philosophical response to the underlying postmodern skepticism in many of their arguments. It seems to me that so many of your questions come back to perspicuity. So if you’d like, allow me to ask some questions about your concerns.

    1) Are you troubled by the proliferation of interpretation (i.e. with so many interpretations how can I distinguish one opinion from another?)?
    2) Are you troubled by actually accessing the “meaning” of a text (includes written, spoken, or expressed communication)? For example, do you affirm that there is inherent meaning in a text?
    3) Are you troubled by a combination of #’s 1 & 2? You may acknowledge that meaning is accessible (affirming #2) but that the problem is the proliferation of interpretation (#1). How can I determine position “A” from position “B.” Or, perhaps you believe that a lack of consensus (#1) makes it unlikely that there is meaning (#2)
    4) Does your skepticism afflict you in your work in the medical field? How do you adjudicate between proliferation of interpretations in that field and does this have any overlap with the religious sphere? If there is, why is your resolution for work (which I think we’d agree does not guarantee infallible assurance) sufficient but your religious questions are different?

    Don’t feel any obligation to respond but I think that may allow people to respond to more of your specific questions.

    Blessings, Burton!

  114. Hi Burton,

    As CC Laity I’m not troubled by those you mentioned because CC holds the deposit of faith from the time of the Apostles. What ever proliferation of interpretation, opinion etc. etc. the bottom line (I think) is (as far as my learned knowledge is concerned) that these must be verified (authenticity) from the very first early Christian communities where the Apostles preached the Gospel and these communities practiced the teachings with direct contact and live w/ the Apostles. Now:

    1) where, How and who are we going to verify if proliferation of interpretation, opinion etc. etc. are correct, true and authentic? If 1500 years after the Apostles are gone, Martin Luther arrives then now it’s more or less 40k denomination.
    2) What ever methodologies etc. etc. learned by protestant intellectuals to hat ever proliferation of interpretation, opinion etc. etc. still is neutralized to the fact that we need to verify if the Research (assuming that a person is taking Phd) or Study is True and Correct is to consult to the Church Jesus founded.
    3) as we all know, In science; some of the basis that a theory (i.e. Theory of evolution) is acceptable must be backed by different related sciences with solid ground result (tested) of long study for the it to be accepted.
    3) Now if there’s a University offering Phd (Philo, Theology, History etc. etc.) during the time of Martin Luther up to the present how, where, whom they will verify backed if their studies are correct and true? Then if, i.e. I’m studying Phd in sacrade scriptures but I didn’t verify the result of my study to the community and Church who have direct contact with the apostles then my study is baseless or probably there are some areas of the study are acceptable but that’s acceptable only because there’re basis of those. Then lets go back again, where are those basis came from?

    Catholic Church is not a perfect church neither Her faithfuls are perfect, but I need and love to the Church that Jesus Himself founded. I also raise my hand, sing praise, with worship leader, worship and glorify to Him similar w/ the format of bro. and sis (protestant) prayer services. I understand why there’s protestanism but then above all “with all the imperfection COME HOME to the One, Catholic, Holy and Apostolic Church founded by Jesus through Peter”.

    Love, Archie

  115. Bryan (#98),

    Where do you “explain the coherence of Unam Sanctum with VII The Papacy and the Catholic Act of Faith” in “The Papacy and the Catholic Act of Faith”. I read it and I don’t see Unam Sanctam or Vat. II mentioned at all in that post. Maybe I missed it.

    If all you are saying is you guys trust the Papacy that’s not doing anything to help me.

  116. Burton, re: fullness of truth. I think Rome has added to what God has revealed in Scripture. I don’t believe Scripture reveals the fullness of truth. I also believe that the fall was linked to a human desire for such fullness. So we’d have some ground to cover if I were to come around to your desire for fullness of truth and where it is found.

    On Reformed philosophy, I’m not a fan of making philosophy or “worldview” the magical wand that proves a faith’s superiority. I do believe Reformed Protestantism to be true and other expressions of Christianity to be in error (some more serious than others). But I haven’t set up a website to show the superiority of Reformed Protestantism by pointing out Roman Catholicism’s errors (though of late I have used my blog to notice parts of Roman Catholic reality that Jason and the Callers avoid).

    If you are going to make a blanket claim about Protestantism not defining heresy, then you need to consider councils like Dort or Westminster that did reject the heresy of Arminianism. And if you think that Rome has the mechanisms to define heresy, then why is Garry Wills still a member in good standing? If you see problems among Protestants, why don’t you notice them within Roman Catholicism? You have a theory to account for this? So do we. So no one is superior.

  117. Brandon,

    My lack of response at CCC was based on the practicality of time restraints. I didn’t feel I had the time to respond fully and carefully to your post, but did have time for my more succinct thoughts on this thread. I do intend to respond, may even get time today depending on my schedule (taking the kids to a demolition derby tonight, so this evening is out!) so thanks for your patience.

    Burton

  118. Erik, (re: #115)

    Where do you “explain the coherence of Unam Sanctum with VII The Papacy and the Catholic Act of Faith” in “The Papacy and the Catholic Act of Faith”. I read it and I don’t see Unam Sanctam or Vat. II mentioned at all in that post. Maybe I missed it

    At each post, you can find it by using your browser’s search box, usually “control-F.”

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  119. Brandon,

    Let me address your #4 first. I don’t think you are comparing apples to apples. The medical field deals in natural revelation through scientific method. We arrive at our best estimate of the truth through trial and error, always reformulating our estimate as new data arises. I don’t think that accurately arriving at the truth of divine revelation can be accomplished through the use of this paradigm (not that some of the principles of the scientific method aren’t ever used in formulating theology, but that it is insufficient in authoritatively defining orthodoxy). Religious questions are different because they are of a different order (divine revelation) and the stakes are much higher (salvation). I also want to challenge your assumption that my current intellectual position is best characterized as modern skepticism. I am not skeptical about the existence of absolute truth or about the existence of a means provided by God by which we can know it. This puts me directly at odds with basic premises of modern skepticism. I am skeptical about the ability of Protestantism to provide such a means. On the issue of skepticism, it seems to underly the thrust of your response to the CtC argument:

    So religious truth claims and metanarrative claims in general, are quaint individualized views of the world ipso facto because there is no infallible way to arbitrate. What this exercise does is demonstrate the fundamentally skeptical philosophy undergirding the argument.

    But if you can offer no alternative to an infallible arbitrator, then why assume their position stems from a fundamental skepticism? I do feel that labeling their philosophical arguments as founded on modern skepticism is a dodge on your part. Either the argument is sound or it isn’t. It seems you are saying, “since they don’t understand or refuse to acknowledge the way Sola Scriptura can be used to define orthodoxy (beyond individual opinion), therefore they are fundamentally skeptical regarding truth claims”. Yet in nearly the same breath you admit that you have not yet figured out how Sola Scriptura accomplishes this critical task. I get impatient with the Protestant apologetic dwelling on the epistemic tu quoque because it may address why I shouldn’t be Catholic, but it doesn’t tell me why I should stay Protestant.

    From your comments at CCC, I gather you are not sure how Sola Scriptura works to define orthodoxy in a way that rises above individual opinion. You confident that such a means exists. You don’t think it requires an infallible authority to define canon and interpret Scripture, but you don’t explain why this isn’t required or offer any alternative. This brings me to your #1,2, and 3. I agree that much of this comes back to perspicuity, but also whether or not it is necessary to be able to define orthodoxy in a way that is authoritatively binding, and how Sola Scriptura accomplishes this. I am troubled by a lack of consensus on what defines “Scripture”. I am troubled by the historic reality that heretics use Scripture to support their heresy (which they of course believe to be orthodoxy), and I am troubled by the apparent inability of Scripture in the hands of any given believer to tell the difference (consubtantiality, hypostatic union, role of works, sacraments, contraception, etc, etc). There is inherent meaning in the text. There is considerable disagreement about the orthodox interpretation. I think what troubles me most is the fact that the Protestant paradigm, by its very nature, is unable to define truth on controversial issues (both historically and modern day) in a way that carries universally binding jurisdiction and authority. It is inherently prone to schism and a sort of individualistic supremacy, whereby I will abide by my elders definitions of orthodoxy only if I happen to agree with them.

    Again, from my perspective I am not “afflicted with skepticism”. If you are certain that I am, please explain.

    Thanks for the conversation (I’m rushing to post this so please excuse any rambling incoherence)

    Burton

  120. This forum can go on and on and on and on and on and on and on as long as the same number of years of debates since Martin Luther to the present.

    1) How knowledgeable and extensive our research to lead this into conclusion?
    2) Pastors with PHd some have 2 or more Phd but don’t even agree w/ other 100% how much more like me a laity.
    3) as I’ve mentioned before CC contains deposit of faith, I’m sure our life time is not enough to finish studying these, since these are the output of more than 2000 years of existence that varies from cultures, time, life experiences etc. etc. if we wanted genuine source of references visit Vatican Library perhaps ask them to show the original text and documents i.e. the Gospels.
    4) I think our life time is not enough to read all the books in that library that will lead to conclusion.
    5) I’m not a Sola Scriptura type of guy and I don’t have deep study of it; but then for me It’s not enough basis, since Martin Luther a ex-catholic priest is not a Bishop or Cardinal who have wider and deeper grasp and experience of these.
    6) More and More pastors now a days who at first intention is to find the truth and to prove that CC is the Anti-Christ and Wrong, tear-down CC but then while studying and getting at least 1 Phd; at the end finding themselves as being Catholic, like the Prodigal son who came back from his Father’s house (became Catholic).
    7) I don’t know in deep study however; I viewed Sola Scriptura like the thesis of Martin, but a thesis doesn’t cover all aspect of certain discipline, for example in medicine there are cardiologist, Nurses, Dermatologist etc.
    8) if we’re trying to prove and deter that CC is wrong etc. etc. there for we’re tying to say that Jesus is wrong since CC is the Church He founded Himself through Peter.
    9) If some one want’s to argue if Jesus is really the Founder and Head of CC then visit Vatican library or see Catholic apologetic debates explaining these.
    10) if Martin came back to day who’s church he will recognize (evangelical, baptist, mormon etc)?
    11) if Jesus right here right now arrived who’s church He will recognize?
    12) Who’s Church do you want to belong to? founded by man or founded by Jesus Himself?

  121. The best two sources of data that I’ve found are here. I haven’t found anything specific that shows trends of a “mass exodus” from evangelicalism to High-Church traditions.

    There are a few interesting things in the numbers…

    “Religion Among The Millennials”
    http://www.pewforum.org/Age/Religion-Among-the-Millennials.aspx

    – There is a slightly higher percentage of millennials (age 18-29) who are Catholic than Evangelical Protestant (18% vs. 17%).
    – For those age 30-49, the difference is 41% Catholic vs. 39% Evangelical

    “Nones On The Rise”
    http://www.pewforum.org/2012/10/09/nones-on-the-rise/

    – In the last 5 years (2007 to 2012), Protestant numbers in the U.S. have decreased by 5% (mainline by 3%, evangelical by 2%), whereas Catholicism has decreased by 1%
    – The Unaffiliated group increased by 4.3%

    “Faith In Flux”
    – Percent of Catholics converted to Protestantism: 5%
    – The biggest flux is among Protestants moving WITHIN Protestant denominations (15%) — no surprise here.
    – And Protestants moving to unaffiliated: 7%
    – Catholics moving to unaffiliated: 4%
    – There is also 9% category of individuals: “other change in religious affiliation”.

    The note at the bottom of the chart says:
    “[This 9%] Group consists of converts from a variety of different backgrounds, including converts to Catholicism and converts from or to religions other than Catholicism or Protestantism. Because this is such a disparate group, it is not analyzed in most of this report”

    In short, so far the studies on PEW seem is inconclusive/unclear about Protestants going specifically to Catholicism (it doesn’t seem to mention it at all).

    I think the big question to ask is WHY people are considering the Catholic, Orthodox, High-Church Anglican traditions. And are there good reasons? Whether that number is statistically larger than Catholics/Orthodox considering moving Evangelical is not entirely relevant.

    A few noted Protestant scholars who have acknowledged this crisis in Protestant ecclesiology and influence…
    – Mark Noll (see: “The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind”, and “Is The Reformation Over?”)
    – Daniel B. Wallace (Dallas theological Seminary): http://danielbwallace.com/2012/03/18/the-problem-with-protestant-ecclesiology/
    – Carl Trueman (Westminster Theological Seminary): http://www.reformation21.org/shelf-life/is-the-reformation-over.php

  122. Brandon and Darryl,

    One other thought. I think that arguments should be answered in kind, especially in a forum where various truth claims are being compared. I think I understand your reasons for frequently returning to the historical argument, but a philosophical claim should be answered with a philosophical rebuttal. Darryl, you stated that you don’t prefer the philosophical approach in general, but the term “magic wand” is dismissive. Philosophy is a tool and a useful one. The Protestant apologetic should be capable of a robust philosophical argument, but you guys tend to respond as though the negative historical argument is all you’ve got.

    Darryl, did your last post answer my question in paragraph #1 of comment #107? I didn’t see it. Also, I agree that both Protestantism and the RCC have their share of problems. I have no problem (that I know of) seeing these honestly. The question is whether or not those problems are of the same kind with regard to philosophical and historical plausibility. Right now I am focusing on the former.

    Burton

  123. Hi Dan Carllo,

    * “I think the big question to ask is WHY people are considering the Catholic, Orthodox?” I can only speculate that they want or need the “Truth and Fullness of their faith”, I watch/see Journey Home in EWTN (at times) and these two are the common answer I observed to the converts and reverts interviewed. There are so many uploaded interviews in Youtube.com entiled “Journey Home” EWTN, life experiences in life that brings them to Catholicism.
    * Orthodox and Catholic is almost the same they both stands on the same roots, foundations and tradition founded Apostles. Praying that soon Orthodox will be in full communion again w/ Vatican.

  124. Burton, the claim, “this is the church Christ founded,” is a historical not a philosophical claim.

  125. Burton,

    I’m planning a more thorough response, but it may take me a few days. No fun demolitions like you, but work responsibility will make it difficult for me to come up with a reply that is as thorough as it ought to be.

    I’ll simply point out that the philosophical argument is built upon the historical. In terms of an apologetic, once you undercut the foundation of the argument, the argument is invalid. Now, there may be important philosophical questions raised in the article, but the thesis of the article (that Rome has a principled means and Protestantism does not) is false. I want to agree that philosophy is an indispensable tool–even for historians!–but that philosophical arguments are distinct from historical ones.

    The reason I charge the apologetic here as skeptical is because when the major premise is proven false, then the argument is that there is no way to distinguish human opinion from divine revelation. I think this is untrue and is foreign to the entire process by which God has revealed himself. This is simplistic for the time being, but if God has revealed himself (and if AS is not the principled means…and remember it is claimed to be the *only* means available to us) then God’s revelation is wholly unknowable because we cannot get outside of our interpretation. This is skepticism and cuts against the presupposition of God revealing himself. More to come later.

  126. Regarding comment #123 (Archie):

    Agreed! I was just posing the question rhetorically:
    “…the big question to ask is WHY people are considering the Catholic, Orthodox, High-Church Anglican traditions. And are there good reasons?”

    In fact, I do think there are good compelling reasons — once people start to seriously examine them.
    I became Catholic just this spring after a serious, one-year-long examination of the evidence.

    Protestant to Catholic conversion stories have a wealth of information that reflects a serious consideration of the evidence (biblical and historical).

    In contrast, I have been hard-pressed to come across examples of people moving from Catholicism to Protestantism that happen as a result of any serious reflection on the biblical and historical evidence. And the PEW Forum study seems to confirm this; the MAIN reason for Catholic > Protestantism defections is NOT doctrinal reasons, but the feeling: “I wasn’t getting fed spiritually”.

    On that subject, I came across an excellent talk by Jeff Cavins titled: “I’m not being Fed”
    http://www.mycatholiccds.com/im-not-being-fed.php

    I believe he has a book by the same title (which I have not read yet).

  127. Dear Refprof (125),

    The claim is not that revelation is wholly unknowable apart from AS. AS itself is known through revelation. And there are revelations that are not de fide (private revelations, for example). And Israel, of course, enjoyed centuries of revelation prior to the institution of the Church and the apostolic office.

    However, if we want to have certainty in our act of faith in divine revelation, it is necessary that our rule of faith possess divine authority. Would you deny this? The teaching office of the Church (expressed in Scripture, oral tradition, and magisterial authority) happens to be the rule of faith that possesses that divine authority such that we can assent to supernatural divine revelation with certainty.

    The problem (one problem) with SS is that Scripture does not have divine authority precisely AS THE RULE OF FAITH. (Its authority is of a different nature. Inspired, yes, but not the Rule of faith.) No divine authority has authorized us to use Scripture in this way.

    -David

  128. David,

    I’d refer you back to the Solo/Sola thread:

    In this article we argue that there is no principled difference between sola scriptura and solo scriptura with respect to the holder of ultimate interpretive authority, and that a return to apostolic succession is the *only way* to avoid the untoward consequences to which both solo scriptura and sola scriptura lead.

    We do need to know that our rule of faith possess Divine authority which is why ultimately the rule of faith is not our interpretation, but rather Scripture, which is knowable and by which we can know and apprehend God’s communication to us. Of course, all reading of Scripture occurs by an individual and all texts must be interpreted, but I believe that the text can penetrate into our world and transform us (and in Scripture this occurs when the Holy Spirit illumines our hearts).

    I’m a bit puzzled by your last sentence so let me tell you how I have read it to see if I’m reading you properly:

    “No Divine authority has authorized us to use God’s Word as the rule of faith.”

    Is this what you are saying? If so, this strikes me as rather strange. We need to have permission from God to use his Word as a rule of faith, because the Word of God does not possess that power unless it is mediated to us through another Divinely instituted institution created by God?

    I’m sure that’s not what you’re saying, but it appears to me to be the logical implication of what you’re saying.

  129. Wow Dan Carllo Welcome Home,

    I’m one of the many people praying to equip you in this journey, it will gonna be a tough adjustment; any struggles and questions along this journey, I’m open to any possible way to guide & serve you. There are also Catholic Charismatic communities that have the same format w/ denomination’s prayer services w/ the same sense of community they can be a support group for you.

    Honestly exactly!I observed that, The sense of community and the “feeling good”, “telling all that are good” during (before and after) prayer services, plus the teachings makes them so so so basic to make it easy for the members to grasp and make them stay; these are some if my observations as some of the main (in my opinion) marketing strategy in any denomination. At the end of the day the person will find his/her self empty or something is missing. When some one don’t feel good from one denomination then move to the next to the next to the next there for it wasn’t faith anymore. The sense of community of CC weakens as time is passing by and thats where the sort of marketing strategy of denomination makes it effective.

    Catholic and Orthodox Holy Mass are not focused on the people, Orthodox priest faces the altar not the people, the center or core of glorifying God is not the preaching but the Holy Eucharist. Even w/o people attending the Mass it can still be Celebrated. This is the same Way He did during the Last suffer and celebrated to the present time through Holy Mass. I have protestant friends to also move to CC so that they can enjoy the 7 sacraments some moved already.

    Archie

  130. Regarding comment #130:

    Archie:

    Indeed – one of the biggest things I learned about the Catholic mass — is that the expectations are completely different than in a Protestant Service. And yet, I have also come to realize HOW much Protestant services depend on the emotionalism it generates — whether it is a “great worship” experience or a “great sermon” — BOTH heavily driven by the talents, or celebrity status of the worship leader or pastor (or both). It might be interesting, and even exciting — but it is NOT the fullness of the Church.

    Not that there is anythign wrong with either of them. I HAVE been frequently challenged in positive ways from listening to Protestant sermons. But the biggest problem I found was this: You just never know what you’re going to get (sort of like a box of chocolates).

    My Protestant church experiences were really hit and miss. Some weeks, “Jesus really showed up” in the service. But here’s the extraodinary thing about the Mass: Jesus shows UP at each and every one!
    Catholics should NEVER take this for granted.

    THe biggest difficulty for me right now — is that I’m alone in my Catholic journey. My family, sadly — is not joining me. It is a painful separation for my wife and I to NOT be able to share in the sacramental unity of the Eucharist. A lot of emotional pain here. Scott and Kimberly Hahn’s story has been a great encouragement to me. It’s only been 5 months since I have been a Catholic and experiencing the family “pain”. It was 4 years for Scott Hahn!

  131. Hi Dan Carollo,

    * I love this “But here’s the extraordinary thing about the Mass: Jesus shows UP at each and every one! (EXACTLY! Luke 22:19-20) Catholics should NEVER take this for granted.””

    Are you outside US? where do you live or area you live? (not specific address). I’ll check what CC community near your area, I can recommend and connect you a community but we to check if it’s near and feasible for you to attend. I understand what you’re going through right now, but then above all it’s will be a test of character and Faith. The nearest parish also have called Basic ecclesiastical community they have prayer meetings also.

    Regarding struggle of faith; I tried reading (some) lives of Saints these are real life stories, such as St. Augustine of Hippo from a Drunkard, Fornicator etc etc. became a Saint. San Lorenzo Ruiz; he didn’t denounce His Catholic Faith even to the point of Death in Japan. St. Francis, St. Xavier and other fathers of the Church and many-many more. For me reading their life stories are the practical application/practice and living in Faith.

    * Are you outside US? where do you live or area you live? (not specific address). I’ll check what CC community near your area, I can recommend and connect you a community but we to check if it’s near and feasible for you to attend.

    Archie

  132. Brandon,

    It is one thing to say that Scripture is inspired. (No argument here.)

    It is another thing to say that God intends it to serve as the Church’s Rule of Faith.

    The Catholic position is that God does not intend the Bible to function as the Church’s Rule of Faith.

    We have no divine command authorizing us to use it this way, and in fact have a good many commands to the contrary.

    So, yes, we need instructions (with divine authority) about how to make use of Scripture, and we need divine authority to tell us what, precisely, we should use as a rule of faith.

    The Catholic position, again, is that God has told us to refer to the Teaching Church as the Rule of faith.

    no protestant I know of has ever shown that God intends us to use Scripture as our rule of faith.

    -David

  133. Hi David

    I love your explanation wow!
    * Mark 16:15 “He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”
    * Not: Go Write a book and Preach the what are written in these books.

    – We wouldn’t even know that there’s “New Testament” if CC didn’t exists.
    – We’re not in this kind of forum/brainstorming/arguments if CC didn’t exists.
    – We wouldn’t even know the Four Gospels if CC didn’t exists.

    Archie

  134. David,

    I recommend you this http://couplesforchristglobal.org/home feel free to visit the website.
    “A private International Association of the Faithful of Pontifical Right”. I’ve been part of the mission since I was a Kid to the present. There are ministries for the Whole Family. If you need contacts more information email me jocson.archie.g@icloud.com

  135. Just happened across this this morning and thought I’d share:

    “There are four people who say they are a former Catholic for every one person who indicates that they have converted to Catholicism, and there are no other religious groups that I’ve seen that have anything like that ratio of losses to gains.” – Greg Smith, Director of U.S. Religion Surveys, Pew Research Center, Religion & Public Life Project

    http://www.pewforum.org/2013/08/19/event-transcript-religion-trends-in-the-u-s/

  136. Dan H,

    I appreciate you sharing, but this gets away from the point of my post. My thesis was simply that Rebecca was incorrect to suggest that being instructed in “robust, historical Protestant” theology prevents someone from becoming Catholic and that in actuality, a strong Reformed upbringing can actually make someone more likely to become Catholic over an upbringing in generic evangelicalism.

    The stat you offer speaks of the massive losses the Catholic Church has seen from those who were baptized Catholic as an infant. These losses are real and sad for the Catholic Church. However, the Church is responding with the new evangelization. Everywhere I look I see new ministries aimed at the conversion of those who have drifted away from the Church. Events like Theology of Tap, which were nearly nonexistent a few decades ago, are now in nearly every city and often draw crowds of several hundred people and the fruit of these ministries is becoming increasingly visible.

    Again, I don’t dispute that your stat is accurate; it’s just not the point of my post. It’s a separate, but real problem.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

  137. Dan H, (re: #135)

    And it is important to keep such stats in perspective, in particular the global perspective, in which the Catholic Church grows by approximately 36,000 persons per day.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  138. When I read the article, and moved to the referenced website to read that article, I was reading as a former evangelical (not a Reformed type) who poped.

    My impression of the referenced article was that Rebecca had a map and went exactly where she planned to go all along. I also, referencing Chesterton, thought that perhaps she did not circle the earth to get back to where she wanted to go, she merely stayed where she was, which is part of the job of a good map. It took her less energy to stand in place than to circle the earth and return to where she was already standing.

    Noting that as long as depth of thought was not a requirement, she did a masterful job, which allowed her to appeal to the audience I presume she was endeavoring to reach. Once one popes, one hopes for some depth or meatiness in the thoughts one reads. Froth does not relieve hunger. Neither does wishing.

  139. Being a convert (2010) to the Catholic Church from Reformed myself, and also very interested in the demographics of religion, I have done quite a bit of lay studying on this topic. Sorry if this has been covered in this thread, I only made it half way through and need to comment.
    The information one can find online about religious affiliation and particularly conversion is varied and does not take into account what we would like it to, most obviously level of adherence of converts. I think we will all agree that a religiously educated adult convert with a family is more significant a loss/gain for a religious group than a teen convert at a Christian music concert or a tent revival.
    I became a Pentecostal because I heard the message of Jesus.
    I became Reformed because I wanted a deeper knowledge of Jesus than Pentecostalism could handle.
    I became Catholic because I wanted truth.

    That is a fairly typical journey. Is it anecdotal? Sure. But please show me the massive group of conservative, recent (!), former Catholic seminarians who are flocking to Reformed or Pentecostal or Anglican or Evangelical. When comparing apples with apples, conservative to conservative, seminarians to seminarians, educated and committed lay people to educated and committed lay people (about which there is virtually no research data on conversion), from what I have seen piecing together all the info I can get is that Catholicism is winning hands down. Compare just Reformed and Catholic. Will anyone seriously say that in the Reformed world there is anything even remotely comparable to the large percentage of Reformed becoming Catholic in the Catholic world? Where is the Reformed Scott Hahn, Marcus Grodi, and every guy here on CTC? Heck, Virtually any Catholic seminarians who defect which people show are usually from the 70’s and 80’s. Where are the recent trends? Where are the recent examples of monks and nuns leaving their vocation? It is all fine and good to say none of this matters, except that isn’t true. It certainly mattered to me as a Reformed layperson to see highly educated people defecting. If their opinion matters on matters of Reformed theology, then why would it cease to matter when they convert to Catholicism for theological reasons? Of course it matters! And counting heads of converts does matter as well. And after we count them, we need to take into account the size of say, conservative Reformed denominations in the US, and the size of the Catholic Church in the US. That size difference is staggering, and if there were anything near parity in the per capita numbers of converts, there would be thousands of (recent) converting Catholic seminarians and priests to point to. As it is, there are so few Catholic defectors (per capita, and of the same education/commitment) compared with Reformed (per capita, and of the same education/commitment) that it is major news, and it is a very big deal.
    BTW, I was studying this phenomena when I was Reformed as well, and would have said the same thing then. So I cannot be said to just be rooting for the home team.

    Peace,
    David M.

  140. Well said, David.

  141. David, sorry but this is just one more instance of “it’s always sunny in Rome” at CTC. Have you seen these statistics http://www.tldm.org/News11/DevastatingDeclineReligiousOrders.htm:

    Priests. After skyrocketing from about 27,000 in 1930 to 58,000 in 1965, the number of priests in the United States dropped to 45,000 in 2002. By 2020, there will be about 31,000 priests–and only 15,000 will be under the age of 70. Right now there are more priests aged 80 to 84 than there are aged 30 to 34.

    Ordinations. In 1965 there were 1,575 ordinations to the priesthood, in 2002 there were 450, a decline of 350 percent. Taking into account ordinations, deaths and departures, in 1965 there was a net gain of 725 priests. In 1998, there was a net loss of 810.

    Priestless parishes. About 1 percent of parishes, 549, were without a resident priest in 1965. In 2002 there were 2,928 priestless parishes, about 15 percent of U.S. parishes. By 2020, a quarter of all parishes, 4,656, will have no priest.

    Seminarians. Between 1965 and 2002, the number of seminarians dropped from 49,000 to 4,700–a 90 percent decrease. Without any students, seminaries across the country have been sold or shuttered. There were 596 seminaries in 1965, and only 200 in 2002.

    Sisters. 180,000 sisters were the backbone of the Catholic education and health systems in 1965. In 2002, there were 75,000 sisters, with an average age of 68. By 2020, the number of sisters will drop to 40,000–and of these, only 21,000 will be aged 70 or under. In 1965, 104,000 sisters were teaching, while in 2002 there were only 8,200 teachers.

    Brothers. The number of professed brothers decreased from about 12,000 in 1965 to 5,700 in 2002, with a further drop to 3,100 projected for 2020.

    Religious Orders. The religious orders will soon be virtually non-existent in the United States. For example, in 1965 there were 5,277 Jesuit priests and 3,559 seminarians; in 2000 there were 3,172 priests and 38 seminarians. There were 2,534 OFM Franciscan priests and 2,251 seminarians in 1965; in 2000 there were 1,492 priests and 60 seminarians. There were 2,434 Christian Brothers in 1965 and 912 seminarians; in 2000 there were 959 Brothers and 7 seminarians. There were 1,148 Redemptorist priests in 1965 and 1,128 seminarians; in 2000 there were 349 priests and 24 seminarians. Every major religious order in the United States mirrors these statistics.

    High Schools. Between 1965 and 2002 the number of diocesan high schools fell from 1,566 to 786. At the same time the number of students dropped from almost 700,000 to 386,000.

    Parochial Grade Schools. There were 10,503 parochial grade schools in 1965 and 6,623 in 2002. The number of students went from 4.5 million to 1.9 million.

    Sacramental Life. In 1965 there were 1.3 million infant baptisms; in 2002 there were 1 million. (In the same period the number of Catholics in the United States rose from 45 million to 65 million.) In 1965 there were 126,000 adult baptisms—–converts—–in 2002 there were 80,000. In 1965 there were 352,000 Catholic marriages, in 2002 there were 256,000. In 1965 there were 338 annulments, in 2002 there were 50,000.

    Mass attendance. A 1958 Gallup poll reported that 74 percent of Catholics went to Sunday Mass in 1958. A 1994 University of Notre Dame study found that the attendance rate was 26.6 percent. A more recent study by Fordham University professor James Lothian concluded that 65 percent of Catholics went to Sunday Mass in 1965, while the rate dropped to 25 percent in 2000.

    Me — none of this proves that Protestantism is right or growing. But it does suggest Jason and the Callers are a wee bit out of touch.

  142. RE: Comment 138 (Bryan Cross):

    What blows me away about this chart — Just in my own lifetime (I was born in 1970), the number of denominations has more than doubled: 18,800 to 44,000

  143. dghart,

    * If this is a problem at present, well it’s much worst in the dark-ages, but CC still standing and nurturing for more than 2000 years because it’s the Church Founded by Christ.
    * as Catholic, I’m aware of these figures, but these figures are not accurate since it’s not from Vatican office.
    * But these figures are just opportunity for us Catholics to realize to be more bolder for His Church.
    * Have you seen World Youth Day 2013? there are more than 3 million Catholics who are empowered with conviction for Mission.
    * These are just numbers, above all; we can only speculate and compute however; God’s grace and Mercy flows through His Church;

    In Service – Archie

  144. I can testify personally that the following quote from this post is true:

    “The reason so many Reformed seminarians, well-educated layman, and former pastors become Catholic isn’t because the Reformed tradition failed to teach them the tenets of the Reformed faith. Paradoxically, it’s because the Reformed tradition did well in teaching them how to think theologically.”

    I was led to Catholicism partly by reading Protestant church history surveys and Reformed treatises on theology.

  145. Jeremy,
    What a great post! Your style and rigor grow apace – I know I continue to admire and learn from you, and to think us all lucky to have you offering your gifts in this way. This month-long conversation is clearly fruit of your labor. It’s tough to know what to make of numbers and statistics. The God of Gideon cares not a whit for numbers, and the God of Paul not for strength, and the God of Abraham would relent for less than a statistical error. Yet the books of Acts and of Revelation revel in numbers. But it seems to me that perhaps we here in the comments section speak less as Christians than as Americans. And Americans are famous for conflating our corner of the world (and of time) with the World and History — in a word for navel-gazing. The story of the Church is not told primarily in English, and the future of the Church will not be decided in the U.S. Our struggles are peripheral, not world-historical. American Catholics are not the first to be called to plow stony ground (since “Americanizing” Catholic immigrants helped create the present-day American culture, perhaps this is poetic penance). God help us to do our bit faithfully. Regarding global Christianity, I find myself most humbled by the number of people who have suffered much, including death — and who continue to suffer and die — for the name of Christ, most recently in Iraq, Syria and Egypt. I’m unworthy to call them brothers and sisters? And what are we doing for their survivors? This seems an apt test of doctrine. And I’m grateful that I no longer have to grapple with the doctrinally-driven ambivalence or (God forgive me) contempt that I felt as an evangelical for these ancient Christian communities who continue to bear the awful fruit of martyrdom.
    Your grateful friend,
    Tim

  146. Jeremy Tate- respectfully I’m begging you and Mr. Cross and Jason Stellman to watch the documentary “Mea Maxima Culpa : Silence in the House of God” . After watching it , I just ask you to answer how you can in good conscience cross over to a religion riddled with injustice, lies, cover ups, violent coercive activities , and known hypocrisies ? How is this a ‘better’ answer for you ? How can you choose fidelity to iglesia over scripture when you know these things to be true?? This issue is just one of the many injustices and crimes committed by the people you hold up as above and apart from anyone else and as your intercession to Christ?? I’ve never posted here. But I know of you due to many Protestant friends of mine running to Rome , and I’m confused and now terribly grieved at whom you swear fielty to. Please can you tell me how you justify this? I realize we are all sinners . But that alone cannot be the answer as to why you hold the Church and its teachings over and above scripture . Please , I’m not a theologian- I’m just a confused person who wants to understand how you do it? I’m not attacking you , I love dearly many Catholics. I’m just seeking clarification , because I cannot reconcile this in my brain . Please one of you answer this clearly and distinctly without glossing over the facts that are documented as legal fact and proved to be true. Please watch the documentary so you understand what I’m asking. Respectfully awaiting an answer…

  147. Elizabeth,

    Thank you for commenting here at Called to Communion. Thank you for your willingness to dialogue and your concern for fellow believers.

    Yes. I will watch the documentary. I just watched the preview on youtube and I can imagine now that it will be extremely difficult to watch. The sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church is sad beyond words. It makes me angry, sad, and sick to think about. I pray for the victims and I am sad for the many faithful priests who are now looked at with suspicion because of the wickedness of other men.

    For clarification, I believe the teachings of the Catholic Church and Scripture are in perfect agreement and that she alone is the authentic interpreter of Scripture. I know this sounds absurd to Protestant ears and it sounded absurd to mine only five years ago, but I am convinced more and more that it is true. Please take time to read through some of the articles here at Called to Communion that address your questions and I will keep my word in watching the documentary.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

  148. Thank you Jeremy for the quick response. I appreciate your willingness to watch the documentary and im fully prepared to be told it’s biased as i am not very familiar with catholic dogma or faith, and I know that there are journalists who could have an agenda merely to wreck your Church. Thats why I asked because it is a struggle to understand, and i appreciate the respectful way you answered and i will read the articles you’ve directed me to. Please make sure there are no children around when you watch the film. I appreciate your time
    Resting in Him,
    Elizabeth

  149. Elizabeth –

    I’ve never heard of the documentary, but will try to watch it when I have the time as well. There might be some insights that I can gain to ensure people are safe at the parishes I serve. Thanks for passing it along.

    I’m curious though, assuming everything in the documentary is true, what should the response of the Catholic Church be? If your Church had a similar scandal, what would you expect your leaders to do?

  150. For Elizabeth and anyone concerned there have been responses by Catholics to this film. Here are a few:

    http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Item/1735/sex_lies_and_hbo_documentaries.aspx#.Uju7bZTD_IU and
    http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Blog/1744/a_response_to_alex_gibney_about_mea_maxima_culpa.aspx#.Uju66pTD_IU

    http://www.themediareport.com/2013/01/05/mea-maxima-culpa-silence-in-the-house-of-god-anti-catholic/

    http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/media/me0394.htm

  151. Hi Elizabeth,

    I want to sincerely thank you for bringing this documentary to my attention. I just finished watching it. If half of it were true it would be beyond sickening. Unfortunately, I think most of it is true. It’s hard to imagine anything more hideous and wicked than the crimes against children discussed in this film. The story of the children from St. John’s school for the deaf truly boggles the mind and sickens the stomach. Whether or not the film makers are bias or anti-Catholic does nothing to diminish the sins of the Catholic Church. As a Catholic I will rededicate myself to prayer for the victims.

    Although this film sheds light on the ugliest sins imaginable it doesn’t speak to the doctrinal reasons I became Catholic. I understand that wasn’t its intention. I was aware of the sex abuse scandal when I converted. I am sad, but still convinced that Christ is made truly present in the Eucharist and that the Catholic Church alone has the authority to authentically interpret Scripture.

    The documentary also fails to point out that the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church parallels the overall worldwide increase in pedophilia. In no way is it a uniquely Catholic problem. It also fails to mention that the biggest culprits of pedophilia, worldwide, are actually married men, not Catholic priests.

    I am glad I have a Pope, who when asked, “Who is Jorge Mario Bergolio” (who are you), responds, “I am a sinner.” At a time like this, I believe my Church needs to follow his lead.

    Thank you, Peace in Christ, Jeremy

  152. Ok , not being used to being a commentator in the blogosphere , I will do my best to answer and address the questions and comments to my post. First off, I appreciate the time and regard and politeness with which you have all responded . I will continue to research the point of views requested of me to research . This is a terribly difficult and painful topic. Having just watched the documentary before I posted I had hoped to get responses to my questions, so thank you. Fr. Brian , I am sorry sir I’m not sure exactly how I am supposed to address you. You asked a very interesting question. The denomination I am apart of has seen its share of this kind of sin, I am ashamed to say . I’ve personally witnessed three separate churches attempt to handle sexual abuse of children . Admittedly 2 out of 3 failed miserably and the victims became the accused and were wounded further. One has and did stand up and the pastor personally took the victim to the police immediately following his awareness with zero regard to the fact that the perpetrator was one of the largest financial supporters of his very church. Sadly the court system ended up failing them, but there was no cover up and the victim has , years later found great healing through Christ’s Grace. So , all that said , I haven’t seen Protestants handle the situation much better the majority of the time. That’s why I watched the documentary , to see how the Catholic Church handled it. And I was disturbed to say the least as I understand you all are. Thank you Mr. Tate for watching it and responding in kind. I think what left me particularly horrified was putting myself in the shoes of these children who by reason of their faith in their magisterium and the elevated aspect that the priests have in the Church. Then to hear that the cover -up went all the way up to your prior Pope… I just was left with the question , what did that do to those children’s faith in God when their Vicar of Christ covered their nightmare by his inactivity? Again there are many Protestant pastors that would have done the same thing. Which is why I have been grateful that I haven’t had to view these pastors as more than equal to me in my standing in God’s Kingdom. There probably isn’t any answers that will rectify any children being harmed Catholic or Protestant. It’s all sick , sinfull, proof that we live in a fallen world , and makes me grateful that my hope is in nothing here on Earth. Not in my Church , not in our Elders or Pastors. My hope is in Heaven reigning Supreme and I’m happy I can go to Him with no other sinful human to intercede for me. So that would be I guess where we differ , but I appreciate the honesty and sincerity with which you have all approached my questions. And I thank you for the respect you gave my question . May we all pray for the poor children who were and are being harmed. I wish I had easier feelings about this. Thank you
    Elizabeth

  153. Elizabeth:

    Let me add, that the Catholic Church has taken enormous steps to protect children. In my diocese, you cannot count money from the offering on Monday without getting Virtus Training. My children are a part of a home school co-op, and every mom in the co-op had to get training. The point is to send a message: there are no soft targets here, we are all watching and vigilant.

  154. Elizabeth (#152)
    Just thought I would comment on this:

    Which is why I have been grateful that I haven’t had to view these pastors as more than equal to me in my standing in God’s Kingdom. There probably isn’t any answers that will rectify any children being harmed Catholic or Protestant. It’s all sick , sinfull, proof that we live in a fallen world , and makes me grateful that my hope is in nothing here on Earth. Not in my Church , not in our Elders or Pastors. My hope is in Heaven reigning Supreme and I’m happy I can go to Him with no other sinful human to intercede for me.

    I am a Catholic – a convert from Protestantism – just to let you know :-) But I think it important for you to know that no priest, no bishop, not the Pope himself, has any special standing in God’s Kingdom. We are all equal here. They have different functions from you and me, but they have no special standing.

    jj

  155. Elizabeth,
    I just want to say first that the child abuse is terrible. May God have mercy on all of us.

    Addressing two of your points:
    “But that alone cannot be the answer as to why you hold the Church and its teachings over and above scripture.”

    We don’t the put the Church over and above scripture. Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium are all part of the deposit of faith. None are “above” or more important than the other. They don’t contradict each other. To understand, imagine that there is a group of christians who only hold the writings of Saint Paul as scripture or only the Gospels and say that all those other Protestants who use the entire bible are putting man-made traditions over the scripture. Because of their interpretation they see contradictions between the different books of the Bible. Those who hold that the entire Bible is the inspired word of God, see apparent contradicitons reconciled. That’s why we need interpretation and an authoritative one. The Church isn’t above Scripture – it agrees with it. It says the same thing.
    I credit Laura from Catholic Cravings for this point. http://catholiccravings.com/2012/12/07/death-by-diagram-my-conversion-to-the-catholic-church-pt-v/

    2nd point:
    “Which is why I have been grateful that I haven’t had to view these pastors as more than equal to me in my standing in God’s Kingdom.”
    Priests are given special graces at ordination and there is an ontological change…. But priests aren’t magic. They are still human, they still sin, they still need saving just like everyone else. They do have special responsibilites for providing the sacraments and leading people to God, which is pretty huge. And it is absolutely horrific and devastating to the whole Body of Christ and the entire world when they abuse the trust and athority placed in them.
    I don’t see priests as “more than equal to me” in God’s kingdom. They have a unique role, but we all have a unique role. Just because you’re a priest doesn’t mean you’re holy. (Though many are). The habit doesn’t make the monk – as the saying goes. We are respectful of priests because of the great gift they give us (the sacraments) by laying down their lives for us out of love of God.
    Yes, we can go directly to God, and we do. But I also welcome all kinds of intercessions from other humans who care about me enough to pray for me, especially in those times when I’m not going directly to God and the only connection I have to God are those prayers of others.
    I hope that helps.
    Your sister in Christ,
    Deanna

  156. Good points. I have not yet converted, as my husband is a Protestant minister and I haven’t been able to figure out the timing, but I believe it is precisely because of my strong Protestant Reformed theological background that I began having the questions I had. I had developed a high view of the Church, and there were too many things that didn’t fit the scriptures or theological paradigm. I went through what I can best describe as a paradigm shift. I was steeped in Reformed theology. It was only in Catholicism that the puzzle pieces fit.

  157. Hi Rebecca,

    LET’S PRAY FOR THAT :-) There are a lot of Pastors and Ministers who converted to CC you can see/watch their life sharing in EWTN: Journey Home, it’s also possible to see these interviews on youtube they are so inspiring. They also share all the pain and struggles in journey from denomination to Catholicism.

    “Good points. I have not yet converted, as my husband is a Protestant minister and I haven’t been able to figure out the timing” – HOW CAN YOU SAY “NO” TO JESUS WHO’S CALLING YOU?

    In Christ,

    Archie

  158. Hi Rebecca,

    LET’S PRAY FOR THAT :-) There are a lot of Pastors and Ministers who converted to CC you can see/watch their life sharing in EWTN: Journey Home, it’s also possible to see these interviews on youtube they are so inspiring. They also share all the pain and struggles in journey from denomination to Catholicism.

    It’s also good to read the lives of saints such as Saint Augustine of Hippo and other Saints who are nearest or almost the same with your journey.

    We are in Prayer for You as follow Christ’s Lead.

    In Christ,

    Archie

  159. There was an interesting post on this topic found on a link today that the Coming Home Network gave which includes a video from Crosstalk which the article says:

    “is an interesting YouTube video (really audio) of an Evangelical Radio show in which two Evangelicals discuss why so many Evangelical Protestants are leaving to join the Catholic Church – See more at: http://www.catholic-convert.com/blog/2012/05/24/evangelicals-becoming-catholic-why/#sthash.Otqbdw0p.dpuf

    The article linked was actually from 2012 and the video from 2008.

  160. Casey’s comment in #81, stating that He has found the “fullness” of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist, is ludicrous. As happily ex-catholic, I need to inform him and others that with
    regard to the “Real Presence” — Scripture declares that the physical presence of Jesus was going away!
    “I go to prepare a place for you” . . . “Yet a little while and the world seeth me no more.” . . . “I go away” . . . “But now I go my way to Him that sent me.” . . . “I leave the world and go unto the Father” . . .. “I go to my Father and ye see me no more.” . . . “For the poor ye have with you always; but me ye have not always.” . . . “Ye shall seek me and shall not find me; and where I am, thither ye cannot come.” . .. . “And now, I am no more in the world.” . . . {John 14:2, 14:19, 14:28, 16:5, 16:29, 16:10, 12:8, 7:34, 17:11}. And Paul confirmed that, “though we have known Christ in the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more ” {2 Cor 5:16}. Notice— He makes no exception that we be consoled with either Christ’s presence in–or eating His flesh as a result of, the Eucharist. Naturally then, a doctrine such as Transubstantiation which bids us to believe in the actual bodily presence of our Lord is at war with the Bible from the get-go, and Casey’s claim that he has found “fullness of presence” in the RC wafer is nothing less than science fiction.
    Furthermore, Jesus emphatically states that prior to the time of His second coming, “if any man shall say to you, lo, here is Christ; or lo, He is there; believe it not ” {Mk 13:21}.
    Is not the RCC bidding us to believe Christ is “over there” in a dispensary called a “monstrance”, and picked out by the hands of the priest distributing Him in “physical form” at Communion? Yes they are. But the Bible declares that Jesus does not dwell in temples {or any holy places} made with hands . . .”but has entered into Heaven itself” where He will remain until He appears “a second time” {Acts 7:48; Hebrews 9:24;28}. No mention is made of a “sacramental presence” to sustain us in the meantime. The promise of the indwelling Holy Spirit is sufficient for that. Thus, the RCC vessel called a “monstrance” {or a “ciborium” or “tabernacle”} is nothing other than an alleged holy place made with hands, but Scripture states that Christ is not there!
    We also note another warning in Matthew 24:26: “Therefore, if they shall say to you, Behold He is in the desert; go not forth: {or} Behold, He is in the secret chambers {King James Version} believe it not. ” The New King James Version renders “secret chambers” as “inner rooms”. . . or even, “inner chambers” {American Standard Version}. What does this mean? In order that there would be no need to speculate, Jesus provided exact locations where these false appearances would occur. With reference to Strong’s Concordance, the actual meaning of the Greek word “TAMEION” that is translated as “inner rooms” is, “a dispensory; i.e. a chamber on the ground floor or interior of an Oriental house {generally used for storage or privacy; a spot for retirement}.” In other words, the original Greek actually refers to some kind of storage space , dispensary or private place. The backbone of Roman Catholicism is its star prop—the monstrance, which is a vessel/dispensary/private dwelling—-wherein they insist Jesus Christ “retires” in physical form until taken out by the hands of the priest, to be dispensed to the people via the mouth. However, our Lord says to REJECT any future sightings of His physical presence in any “secret chamber” by preceeding his warning with, “See, I have told you beforehand.” {Matt 24:25-26}. And He most certainly did. No where but in Catholicism do the words of Christ find their fulfillment with such stark clarity.

    As for the comical rejection of Sola Scriptura throughout this thread, you people have evidently never read all 176 verses of Psalm 119.

  161. Mojo, I only have a few minutes for a short response.

    One point: You write

    No where but in Catholicism do the words of Christ find their fulfillment with such stark clarity.

    Actually, the Eastern Orthodox, Oriential Orthodox, and Assyrian Church of the East all afirm transubstantiation. Interesting that the oldest Christian communions hold to this belief. These groups, including the Catholic Church, account for at least 2/3 of all the professing Christians alive today, so I don’t think it’s accurate to write this off as some kind of a fringe belief.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy Tate

  162. Hi Mojo (#159),

    Thanks for your comment and joining the conversation. Just as an FYI, at this site we try to steer clear of the kind of tone and word-selection you employ (e.g. calling someone’s position “ludicrous,” “science fiction,” or “comical”), and attempt charity and respect for each other’s positions. Let’s examine your arguments:

    … with regard to the “Real Presence” — Scripture declares that the physical presence of Jesus was going away! “I go to prepare a place for you” . . . “Yet a little while and the world seeth me no more.” . . . “I go away” . . . “But now I go my way to Him that sent me.” . . . “I leave the world and go unto the Father” . . .. “I go to my Father and ye see me no more.” . . . “For the poor ye have with you always; but me ye have not always.” . . . “Ye shall seek me and shall not find me; and where I am, thither ye cannot come.” . .. . “And now, I am no more in the world.” . . . {John 14:2, 14:19, 14:28, 16:5, 16:29, 16:10, 12:8, 7:34, 17:11}. And Paul confirmed that, “though we have known Christ in the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more ” {2 Cor 5:16}. Notice— He makes no exception that we be consoled with either Christ’s presence in–or eating His flesh as a result of, the Eucharist.

    Although I think I understand your reasoning in your interpretation of the above NT passages, I do not think any of them preclude a Catholic understanding of the Eucharist. All of these passages can be interpreted as in reference to Jesus’ bodily ascension (Mark 16:19, Acts 1:6-11). In reference to 2 Cor. 5:16, the context of this passage would suggest a different meaning than yours: Paul seems to be drawing a distinction between living “according to the flesh,” and living according to the Spirit (2 Cor. 5:5) and as new creations (2 Cor. 5:17). Paul’s statement in verse 16 then, would seem to make more sense if he were saying that we no longer view Christ according to the things of this world, but according to the new spiritual reality brought by Christ through the Holy Spirit. Indeed, given Paul’s statement that “we regard no one according to the flesh,” I don’t think he means we no longer view them as physically present, but according to the ways of the world.

    You also write,

    Furthermore, Jesus emphatically states that prior to the time of His second coming, “if any man shall say to you, lo, here is Christ; or lo, He is there; believe it not ” {Mk 13:21}.
    Is not the RCC bidding us to believe Christ is “over there” in a dispensary called a “monstrance”, and picked out by the hands of the priest distributing Him in “physical form” at Communion? Yes they are. But the Bible declares that Jesus does not dwell in temples {or any holy places} made with hands . . .”but has entered into Heaven itself” where He will remain until He appears “a second time” {Acts 7:48; Hebrews 9:24;28}. No mention is made of a “sacramental presence” to sustain us in the meantime. The promise of the indwelling Holy Spirit is sufficient for that. Thus, the RCC vessel called a “monstrance” {or a “ciborium” or “tabernacle”} is nothing other than an alleged holy place made with hands, but Scripture states that Christ is not there!

    I think again context is important in the interpretation of these verses. The passage from Mark 13 is in one of Christ’s eschatological prophesies, and thus in reference to both the fall of Jerusalem and the end times, rather than a reflection on the nature of the Eucharist. Jesus speaks in reference to false Christs (Mark 13:22) who claim by “signs and wonders” to be Christ returned from heaven, which I think seems to preclude the possibility that this is about the Eucharist. As far as Acts 7:48 and Hebrews 9:24, 28, it may be worthwhile to remember that even in the OT (Acts 7:48 cites Isaiah 66:1-2), YHWH dwelled in heaven, but also allowed His presence to be found in a special and unique way in the temple, within the tabernacle. Thus just because God, be this YHWH in the OT or Christ as the second person of the Trinity in the NT, is in heaven, this does not preclude his presence also being found in a certain sense on earth. In the Catholic understanding, there really is quite a bit of continuity between OT and NT understandings of how God might be both in heaven and earth at the same time.

    You also write,

    We also note another warning in Matthew 24:26: “Therefore, if they shall say to you, Behold He is in the desert; go not forth: {or} Behold, He is in the secret chambers {King James Version} believe it not. ” The New King James Version renders “secret chambers” as “inner rooms”. . . or even, “inner chambers” {American Standard Version}. What does this mean? In order that there would be no need to speculate, Jesus provided exact locations where these false appearances would occur. With reference to Strong’s Concordance, the actual meaning of the Greek word “TAMEION” that is translated as “inner rooms” is, “a dispensory; i.e. a chamber on the ground floor or interior of an Oriental house {generally used for storage or privacy; a spot for retirement}.” In other words, the original Greek actually refers to some kind of storage space , dispensary or private place. The backbone of Roman Catholicism is its star prop—the monstrance, which is a vessel/dispensary/private dwelling—-wherein they insist Jesus Christ “retires” in physical form until taken out by the hands of the priest, to be dispensed to the people via the mouth. However, our Lord says to REJECT any future sightings of His physical presence in any “secret chamber” by preceeding his warning with, “See, I have told you beforehand.” {Matt 24:25-26}. And He most certainly did. No where but in Catholicism do the words of Christ find their fulfillment with such stark clarity.

    I don’t want to belabor the point, since Matthew 24 is also an eschatological pronouncement, but Jesus’ words regarding Jesus being “in the wilderness” or in the “inner rooms,” seem to be in reference to his explanation to his disciples regarding the second coming. Indeed, that passage ends with Jesus saying “for as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of man. Wherever the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together.” In sum, Jesus’ point seems to be in reference to the second coming: if people claim Jesus has returned from Heaven, and that He is in the desert or an inner room, one should be skeptical, because the “coming of the Son of man” (v. 27) will not be some secret event, but like “lightning” (v. 27).

    As for the comical rejection of Sola Scriptura throughout this thread, you people have evidently never read all 176 verses of Psalm 119.

    Psalm 119 is a beautiful reflection on the law and word of God, but it doesn’t tell us what books are scripture and which books are not, nor does it preclude the possibility that Tradition might also be infallible and binding on the conscience. Consider, for example, the role of the Seat of Moses as Jesus describes it in Matthew 23 or Paul’s words on tradition in 2 Thess 2:15. If you go to “index” on this website, you’ll see a set of articles on sola scriptura and why we at CTC do not find it to be a scriptural, historical, or logical doctrine. God bless, Casey

  163. Jake Meador writes:

    The magisterial protestant tradition broke from Rome (or, more accurately, was kicked out by Rome–they were not the ones to choose schism) over issues of ecclesial authority, justification, and sacramentology.

    I’ve encountered this sort of claim probably hundreds of times; it is very commonly made. Granting that the persons who broke with Rome generally did not wish to do so, by choosing to reject the Church’s teaching and reject submission to the authorities in the Church, they *were* the ones to choose schism. The schismatic separates himself from the Church, as does the heretic; the Church responds according to the person’s own choice. It is not as though these Catholics-who-became-Protestants had no choice; they could have chosen to submit to those in authority over them. Hence it is not accurate to put the responsibility for the separation of Protestants from the Catholic Church solely on the Church authorities. (Notice the dilemma: if these weren’t their ecclesial authorities, then these authorities couldn’t have “kicked” them out of the Church. But if these authorities had the authority to “kick” them out of the Church, then those who were kicked out had the prior and subsequent responsibility to submit to them.)

    Jake continues:

    But these protestants still understood themselves as existing in continuity with the church that came before them. (And their claim seems fairly well-grounded when one considers some of the reform-minded folks from previous generations of the late medieval church.) If you read the writings of Luther or Calvin, you’ll find them peppered with quotes from the church fathers. If you read the opening to the Augsburg Confession, you’ll find Melanchthon writing on behalf of the Lutherans and insisting that they are part of the only holy Catholic church.

    These two claims are also very frequent: (1) the Protestants understood themselves as existing in continuity with the early church, and (2) this is demonstrated by their frequent citations of the Church Fathers. What is almost always overlooked, in such observations, is whether it is possible for persons in schism from the Church to conceive of themselves as the continuation of the Church, and to quote the Church Fathers. The working assumption is almost as if schismatics must identity themselves as schismatics, and never quote the Church Fathers, as if quoting the Fathers ipso facto demonstrates not being in schism, and thinking that one is not in schism also ipso facto demonstrates not being in schism. In this way, the more difficult question (i.e. What is the principled basis for continuity with the Church, and schism from the Church) is side-stepped. But that’s precisely the important question in order to adjudicate cases of schism or heresy.

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