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Lutheran professor of philosophy prepares to enter Catholic Church
Insight Scoop | The Ignatius Press Blog ^ | May 18, 2007 | Carl Olson

Posted on 05/19/2007 1:45:39 PM PDT by Frank Sheed

Friday, May 18, 2007 Lutheran professor of philosophy prepares to enter Catholic Church

Dr. Robert Koons, professor of philosophy at the University of Texas, will be entering the Catholic Church next week following several years of considering the teachings and history of the Catholic Church. In a post over at Right Reason, he writes:

Several weeks ago, I learned through a mutual friend that Frank Beckwith was intending to return to the Roman Catholic Church. At the same time, Frank learned that I myself have been moving in the direction of Rome for the last several years. I am very pleased to be able to announce that I intend to be received into the Church on May 26th, at St. Louis King of France parish in Austin. My own story is quite different from Frank’s, although our reasons for entering the Church of Rome are strikingly parallel.

I was baptized through the Lutheran Church -- Missouri Synod, and I have been an active member of the church body ever since. As a Lutheran, I’ve never thought of myself as “Protestant”, nor have I ever embraced the kind of extreme sola-scripturism that has been much in evidence in responses to Frank’s announcement. I always recognized that the Scriptures are themselves the foundation of, and very much a part of, a divine Tradition. Although I believed that only the Scriptures were infallible, I nonetheless assigned great weight to the ‘rule of faith’ established by the continuous tradition of teaching by the Church, and as reflected in the writings of the Fathers and the decrees of Councils. Insofar as I accepted a form of ‘sola scriptura’, it took the form of insisting that all doctrines must have their source in the Scriptures as interpreted by the Church, or in the universal practices and teaching of the early church. This is the only sort of “sola scriptura” principle that can hold up to logical scrutiny, since the Scriptures themselves provide no definition of the canon and no clear statement of any sola-scriptura principle (both of these can be found only in the Fathers and Councils). Extreme sola-scripturism is, given these facts, self-refuting.

How, then, could I have remained Lutheran? I did so because I believed that the late medieval church (in the form of both the Scotists and the nominalists like Ockham and Biel) had distorted the doctrine of salvation or “justification”, embracing a kind of “Pelagian” error: that is, the notion that human beings can save themselves through the exercise of unaided human reason and will. I still believe this to be so (as do many, if not most, contemporary Roman Catholic theologians). I also believed that the Church erred in its brusque condemnation of Luther’s early protests (again, a view I still hold), and that the Council of Trent solidified a kind of apostasy from the true faith (this is where my current view departs from my former one). I believed that the teachings of the church popularly known as “Lutheran” or “Evangelical”, as codified in the sixteenth century Book of Concord, constituted the defining characteristic of the one Catholic Church in its fullness, in continuity on all essentials with the teachings of the Church from the first century until at least the twelfth. The logic of my position was a simple one: the modern Roman Church clearly embraced an erroneous doctrine of justification, which nullified its otherwise strong historical claim to continuity with the apostles (especially on the matter of ecclesiology, the theory of the Church), depriving modern Christians of any good reason to embrace late-medieval and modern developments in Roman Catholic doctrine (including the immaculate conception and papal infallibility).

Those of you who know more about theology and the history of theology than I did then can easily see how untenable a position I held (although I think this untenable position is one still held by many, if not most, thoughtful Lutherans and Reformed Christians). My confidence in this position was shaken by three blows: (1) new scholarship (primarily by Protestants) on Paul’s epistles, which raised profound doubts about the correctness of Martin Luther’s and Phillip Melanchthon’s excessively individualistic and existentialist reading of Paul’s teaching on justification by faith, (2) the fruits of Lutheran/Roman Catholic dialogue on justification, expressed most fully in the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification in 1997, that greatly clarified for me the subtlety of the doctrinal differences between the two bodies, and (3) a more thorough exposure to the writings of the early Church fathers, especially those considered most “evangelical”: Chrysostom, Ambrose, and (above all) Augustine of Hippo. I began to realize that many Lutheran and Protestant polemicists have been guilty of two fallacies: a straw-man version of contemporary Roman Catholic teaching, and a cherry-picking of quotations from the Fathers, ignoring the undeniable contradiction between the teachings of those Fathers, taken as a whole, and the one-sided version of the faith-alone doctrine on justification embraced by the second generation of the Reformation (especially Martin Chemnitz). The Joint Declaration and the recent Catechism of the Catholic Church aided me in giving a closer and more charitable reading to the anathemas of the Council of Trent (which I still believe to be have been written in an unprofitably provocative way).

Read the entire post, as well as Dr. Koons 94-page essay on justification (PDF document).

Posted by Carl Olson on Friday, May 18, 2007 at 09:28


TOPICS: Catholic; Mainline Protestant; Theology; Worship
KEYWORDS: catholicconvert; converts; drkoons; lutheran; theologian
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Dr. Robert Koons, a noted philosopher, will join the Catholic Church following his friend, Frank Beckwith. Welcome Home!
1 posted on 05/19/2007 1:45:43 PM PDT by Frank Sheed
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To: NYer; narses; Salvation; Campion; Tax-chick; trisham; Mad Dawg; Aquinasfan; Nihil Obstat; ...

Welcome Home Ping for a Lutheran Philosopher at the University of Texas!


2 posted on 05/19/2007 1:47:29 PM PDT by Frank Sheed (Dead Ráibéad.... Lifelong Irish Papist!)
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To: Frank Sheed

Is this the NFL?


3 posted on 05/19/2007 1:48:31 PM PDT by cornelis
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To: cornelis; adiaireton8; kosta50

Nope... Catholic Church!


4 posted on 05/19/2007 1:50:29 PM PDT by Frank Sheed (Dead Ráibéad.... Lifelong Irish Papist!)
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To: Frank Sheed

Wonderful! Thanks for the ping!


5 posted on 05/19/2007 2:04:26 PM PDT by trisham (Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.)
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To: cornelis; Frank Sheed
Is this the NFL?

************

Sometimes. Other times, it's more like mud-wrestling. Just for a change of pace, I sometimes just bang my head against the wall.

6 posted on 05/19/2007 2:07:35 PM PDT by trisham (Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.)
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To: Frank Sheed
... the notion that human beings can save themselves through the exercise of unaided human reason and will. I still believe this to be so (as do many, if not most, contemporary Roman Catholic theologians)...

I've been a Roman Catholic for 50 years, and I never heard of that being issued from the Roman Pontiff on down the line ... but I hear that from the protestants all the time ...

7 posted on 05/19/2007 2:25:24 PM PDT by Ken522
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To: cornelis; Gamecock

We get a draft pick and theologian to be named later. We tried to get a free agent, but the Calvinists said there is no such thing.


8 posted on 05/19/2007 2:41:18 PM PDT by Larry Lucido (Duncan Hunter 2008 (or Fred Thompson if he ever makes up his mind))
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To: Larry Lucido

You can have Richard McBrien, Megan McKenna, and gaggle of St. Louis Jesuits.

(j/k ... y’all deserve better :-).


9 posted on 05/19/2007 2:52:18 PM PDT by Tax-chick (We all thread in this earth swathe.)
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To: Frank Sheed; Lady In Blue; Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; ...
Welcome home, Dr. Koons!

Hope to see him on an upcoming episode of EWTN's The Journey Home.

10 posted on 05/19/2007 2:59:09 PM PDT by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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To: Frank Sheed; NYer

I hope Dr. Koons makes as good a Roman Catholic as Jaroslav Pelikan made an Orthodox Christian and that he contributes as much to the Roman Church as Dr. Pelikan did to Orthodoxy.


11 posted on 05/19/2007 3:11:29 PM PDT by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: Frank Sheed

Dr. Koons and Beckwith, welcome across the Tiber. You have quite a big family. The church will be invaluable to you and vice-versa.

Welcome Home.
Prayers up.


12 posted on 05/19/2007 3:18:28 PM PDT by AliVeritas (I see the men and women on the battlefield... where are the men and women here?)
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To: Larry Lucido

Larry, that’s a very witty response.


13 posted on 05/19/2007 3:18:32 PM PDT by vladimir998 (Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ. St. Jerome)
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To: Kolokotronis

I loved Dr. Pelikan’s articles in “First Things.” He had a lovely vocabulary, so I enjoyed reading him even if I didn’t understand half of it.

Are you familiar with David Hart, another Orthodox writer who is often in “First Things”? He has a wonderful vocabulary, too, and a sense of humor that’s positively O’Rourke.


14 posted on 05/19/2007 3:41:31 PM PDT by Tax-chick (We all thread in this earth swathe.)
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To: Frank Sheed
Lutheran professor of philosophy prepares to enter Catholic Church

Patty Bonds (former Baptist and sister of Dr. James White) to appear on The Journey Home - May 7

Pastor and Flock Become Catholics

The journey back - Dr. Beckwith explains his reasons for returning to the Catholic Church

Famous Homosexual Italian Author Returned to the Church Before Dying of AIDS

Dr. Francis Beckwith Returns To Full Communion With The Church

Catholic Converts - Stephen K. Ray (former Evangelical)

Catholic Converts - Malcolm Muggeridge

Catholic Converts - Richard John Neuhaus

Catholic Converts - Avery Cardinal Dulles

Catholic Converts - Israel (Eugenio) Zolli - Chief Rabbi of Rome

Catholic Converts - Robert H. Bork , American Jurist (Catholic Caucus)

Catholic Converts - Marcus Grodi

Why Converts Choose Catholicism

The Scott Hahn Conversion Story

15 posted on 05/19/2007 4:16:39 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Frank Sheed

elca lutheran professors are just a bunch of steers and queers.

is this guy elca?


16 posted on 05/19/2007 4:19:12 PM PDT by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain And Proud of It! Those who support the troops will pray for them to WIN!)
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To: xzins
I was baptized through the Lutheran Church -- Missouri Synod, and I have been an active member of the church body ever since.
17 posted on 05/19/2007 4:40:50 PM PDT by Tax-chick (We all thread in this earth swathe.)
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To: Frank Sheed
Dr. Robert Koons, a noted philosopher, will join the Catholic Church following his friend, Frank Beckwith. Welcome Home!

Col 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

18 posted on 05/19/2007 5:10:50 PM PDT by Iscool (OK, I'm Back...Now what were your other two wishes???)
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To: Tax-chick; Larry Lucido
You can have Richard McBrien, Megan McKenna, and gaggle of St. Louis Jesuits.

(j/k ... y’all deserve better :-).

No worries, the Episcopalians have right of first refusal on that crowd . . .

19 posted on 05/19/2007 6:55:36 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother ((Ministrix of Ye Chase, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment)))
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To: xzins

Professor Koons, Univ. of Texas

20 posted on 05/19/2007 7:52:58 PM PDT by Frank Sheed (Dead Ráibéad.... Lifelong Irish Papist!)
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To: Frank Sheed

Nice suit, fascinating ears.


21 posted on 05/20/2007 5:40:14 AM PDT by Tax-chick (We all thread in this earth swathe.)
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To: Ken522; Frank Sheed
... the notion that human beings can save themselves through the exercise of unaided human reason and will. I still believe this to be so (as do many, if not most, contemporary Roman Catholic theologians)...

I've been a Roman Catholic for 50 years, and I never heard of that being issued from the Roman Pontiff on down the line ...

That doctrine must issue from the straw man Church which exists in the realm of the imagination.

If any Catholic thinks they can get themselves to heaven, they must have spent their lives snoozing through the Liturgy of the Word:

Thomas said to him, "Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?"

22 posted on 05/20/2007 5:49:57 AM PDT by siunevada (If we learn nothing from history, what's the point of having one? - Peggy Hill)
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To: xzins; Frank Sheed
elca lutheran professors are just a bunch of steers and queers.

is this guy elca?

"I was baptized through the Lutheran Church -- Missouri Synod, and I have been an active member of the church body ever since."

Measure twice. Cut once.

23 posted on 05/20/2007 5:55:32 AM PDT by siunevada (If we learn nothing from history, what's the point of having one? - Peggy Hill)
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To: siunevada

elca...do you know what it is?


24 posted on 05/20/2007 6:02:10 AM PDT by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain And Proud of It! Those who support the troops will pray for them to WIN!)
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To: xzins

Sure do.

The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) is the eighth largest Protestant denomination in the United States, and the second-largest Lutheran body after the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.


25 posted on 05/20/2007 6:03:35 AM PDT by siunevada (If we learn nothing from history, what's the point of having one? - Peggy Hill)
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To: Frank Sheed; rogernz; victim soul; Rosamond; sfm; G S Patton; Gumdrop; trustandhope; MarkBsnr; ...
+

Freep-mail me to get on or off my pro-life and Catholic Ping List:

Add me / Remove me

Please ping me to all note-worthy Pro-Life or Catholic threads, or other threads of interest.

26 posted on 05/20/2007 6:13:30 AM PDT by narses ("Freedom is about authority." - Rudolph Giuliani)
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To: AnAmericanMother

Do you think TEC would refuse them?


27 posted on 05/20/2007 6:20:07 AM PDT by Tax-chick (We all thread in this earth swathe.)
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To: Tax-chick
I don't think so . . . inside what passes for thoughts in the heads of the ECUSA leadership, when they get folks from the Catholics - no matter how CINO or especially when they're CINO - they think they are being "affirmed".

Although they might refuse the St. Looey Jebbies on artistic grounds, because if it's one thing Piskies are proud of, it's their music. And it is good. Only reason we stayed in that church as long as we did, other than sheer inertia and fear of the unknown . . . .

28 posted on 05/20/2007 6:28:28 AM PDT by AnAmericanMother ((Ministrix of Ye Chase, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment)))
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To: AnAmericanMother
might refuse the St. Looey Jebbies on artistic grounds

The world would be a better place if they had realized they should have been actuaries. Now it's too late.

29 posted on 05/20/2007 6:33:51 AM PDT by Tax-chick (We all thread in this earth swathe.)
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To: siunevada

I think Koons would agree that his reference to a kind of pelagianism is “semi-pelaginianism” best stated in the phrase, “do your best and God will do the rest” which appears to have been the late medieval framework of Roman Catholic theology.

No serious Protestant scholar has ever said Rome was fully pelagian—and Pelagius was condemned by the Church in the time of Augustine, after all. (Semi-Pelegianism, which says while works do contribute to salvation, grace is absolutely necessary, a middle-way between Augustine and Pelagius, was also condemned later in the fairly obscure Councils of Orange of AD 529). The whole treasury of the saints/penitential system though does seem to contribute to the idea that one must work off the penalties of one’s own sins.

I find it very hard to believe a Lutheran, Missouri Synod (very conservative) scholar would not ever consider himself a Protestant...but in any event his logic about his joining the Roman church (no, “conversion” is not the right word....ask Koons when he became a Christian...) to me seems more cogent than Beckwith’s.


30 posted on 05/20/2007 6:53:55 AM PDT by AnalogReigns
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To: Tax-chick

LOL! But don’t actuaries have to have some ability to think?


31 posted on 05/20/2007 7:36:58 AM PDT by AnAmericanMother ((Ministrix of Ye Chase, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment)))
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To: AnAmericanMother

They have very high-powered calculators.


32 posted on 05/20/2007 7:44:33 AM PDT by Tax-chick (We all thread in this earth swathe.)
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To: AnalogReigns; xzins
I find it very hard to believe a Lutheran, Missouri Synod (very conservative) scholar would not ever consider himself a Protestant..

Neither Beckwith nor Koons are Theological scholars. Both Beckwith and Koons are philosophers, which mean that their focus has been on the work of man rather than the work of God.

I have two Francis Beckwith books and I have read dozens of his articles and his references to Plato and Aristotle and Kierkegaard are legion whereas his references to scripture are scant and often non-existent. I suspect you would find the same with Koons. Birds of a feather...

33 posted on 05/20/2007 7:46:03 AM PDT by P-Marlowe (LPFOKETT GAHCOEEP-w/o*)
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To: AnAmericanMother
Only reason we stayed in that church as long as we did, other than sheer inertia and fear of the unknown . . . .

*************

Heh. Now we're talking something I can understand. :)

34 posted on 05/20/2007 8:49:15 AM PDT by trisham (Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.)
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To: trisham

I understand hops, barley, malt and ethanol. And also NFL football...(not that scoreless kind they play in Europe; One-Nil and all that; tiebreakers; penalty flops, killing your mate for a team...ugh!).

F


35 posted on 05/20/2007 9:14:12 AM PDT by Frank Sheed (Dead Ráibéad.... Lifelong Irish Papist!)
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To: Charles Henrickson

When I saw the title of this thread, I thought at first it might have been about you.


36 posted on 05/20/2007 9:27:42 AM PDT by PJ-Comix (Join the DUmmie FUnnies PING List for the FUNNIEST Blog on the Web)
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To: Frank Sheed
Congratulations on posting another "crossing the Tiber" thread.

As your prize you win a week's worth of James White rants and a "Berean Beacon" special thread on how the Catholic Church is in bed with Islam, written by ex-Catholic priest, Richard Bennett.

Coming your way any day now.

37 posted on 05/20/2007 10:24:37 AM PDT by marshmallow
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To: narses

Koons my be a Prof. but not sure he understands Luther, and LCMS.
He spoke of the monk Ockham of the medieval church who does not play into LCMS views.

The person who took some of Ockham’s views cents. later was Nietzsche.


38 posted on 05/20/2007 11:38:46 AM PDT by SoCalPol (Duncan Hunter '08 Tough on WOT & Illegals)
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To: Frank Sheed
I love NFL football. :) Although I mourn summer’s end, the approach of autumn heralds another glorious football season!
39 posted on 05/20/2007 11:48:31 AM PDT by trisham (Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.)
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To: SoCalPol

Ockham was a brilliant heretic, a dangerous combination. His heretical school of thought, now known as Nominalism, is very subtle, very dangerous and now accepted mainstream modern academic dogma.


40 posted on 05/20/2007 12:06:48 PM PDT by narses ("Freedom is about authority." - Rudolph Giuliani)
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To: PJ-Comix
When I saw the title of this thread, I thought at first it might have been about you.

No way. As a confessional Lutheran pastor, I am not about the give up the true catholic faith for the errors of Roman Catholicism. Rome still hasn't got the gospel right.

41 posted on 05/20/2007 12:07:11 PM PDT by Charles Henrickson (LCMS)
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To: Charles Henrickson; rogernz; victim soul; Rosamond; sfm; G S Patton; Gumdrop; trustandhope; ...
Rome still hasn't got the gospel right.
That's funny. Rome preserved and protected the Gospel Truth for over an aeon before the heretic Luther was even dreaming of seducing nuns or endorsing bigamy.+

Freep-mail me to get on or off my pro-life and Catholic Ping List:

Add me / Remove me

Please ping me to all note-worthy Pro-Life or Catholic threads, or other threads of interest.

42 posted on 05/20/2007 12:09:26 PM PDT by narses ("Freedom is about authority." - Rudolph Giuliani)
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To: narses

I totally agree with your view of Ockham.

George Weigel has a good background on him in “The Cube and the Catheral”


43 posted on 05/20/2007 12:11:41 PM PDT by SoCalPol (Duncan Hunter '08 Tough on WOT & Illegals)
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To: SoCalPol

He is a great and tragic figure, an awesome thinker and a man of God gone astray. I hope he repented at the end.


44 posted on 05/20/2007 12:14:39 PM PDT by narses ("Freedom is about authority." - Rudolph Giuliani)
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To: trisham
Oh, yeah, it's not easy to leave a denomination when you're at least sixth-generation Episcopalian. My gggg grandfather John Bale was baptized in 1795 at St. Giles Cripplegate, the church where Cromwell was married and John Milton is buried. Just north of the NW corner of the old Roman city wall in the City of London.

Not to mention that my husband was raised Methodist and my mom Presbyterian.

45 posted on 05/20/2007 12:20:07 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother ((Ministrix of Ye Chase, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment)))
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To: Tax-chick
They have very high-powered calculators.

. . . remember the term "GIGO"? It certainly applies to the St. Loooey Jebbies . . .

Had they been actuaries, they might have messed up somebody's life insurance, instead of just making our ears corrugate . . .

46 posted on 05/20/2007 12:21:59 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother ((Ministrix of Ye Chase, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment)))
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To: P-Marlowe
I have...Beckwith books...his references to scripture are scant and often non-existent. I suspect you would find the same with Koons. Birds of a feather...

Very interesting.

47 posted on 05/20/2007 12:28:06 PM PDT by AnalogReigns
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To: AnAmericanMother
Oh, yeah, it's not easy to leave a denomination when you're at least sixth-generation Episcopalian. My gggg grandfather John Bale was baptized in 1795 at St. Giles Cripplegate, the church where Cromwell was married and John Milton is buried. Just north of the NW corner of the old Roman city wall in the City of London. Not to mention that my husband was raised Methodist and my mom Presbyterian.

***************

Holy mackeral. I guess you've got some impressive history to contend with!

My mother converted to Catholicism while she was in her teens. My father was Catholic, an altar boy until he was 17. My husband is Catholic, and also an altar boy until 17.

48 posted on 05/20/2007 12:51:43 PM PDT by trisham (Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.)
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To: trisham
It was pretty hairy there for a bit.

My husband is one of those hard-headed Americans -- like Dickens's beefsteak, 'he has to be humored, not drove'. But he was the one who announced that if GenCon 2003 went the way it looked like it would go, we were heading over to Rome. Could have knocked me down with a feather -- but even though he was raised Methodist, his mom was raised Irish Catholic, so that was there all along. But he had to figure it out for himself, trying to push him anywhere is fatal.

We were very "high church" Episcopalians though -- lots of 'smells and bells', what some people call "more Roman than Rome." And once we investigated we discovered that there was very little theological difference when you got right down to it. What Catholics actually believe, and what you hear from a vantage point outside the Church that Catholics believe, are two very different things.

There is a lot of not particularly subtle anti-Catholicism in the Episcopal Church. Along the lines of "we have it right as an inheritance from the ancient pre-Council of Whitby Celtic Catholics -- the Romans have it all wrong."

Of course they've tossed all that tradition with this latest series of stunts . . . and of course if you go and actually read up on the Council of Whitby you find out they are wrong about that too and have been all along.

49 posted on 05/20/2007 1:10:32 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother ((Ministrix of Ye Chase, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment)))
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To: AnAmericanMother

Perhaps if you give a Jesuit a calculator, he’ll use it to call his mother ship in geosynchronous orbit over St. Louis.

(At least, that’s what my goofball son does with his.)


50 posted on 05/20/2007 1:21:18 PM PDT by Tax-chick (We all thread in this earth swathe.)
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