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My (Imminent) Reception into the Roman Catholic Church
Right Reason ^ | May 17, 2007 | Robert Koons

Posted on 05/28/2007 11:09:15 AM PDT by Titanites

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).

This is a very brief summary of the considerations that led to my theological transformation. I have available a set of private notes that began as a purely intellectual exercise: an attempt to exorcise my doubts about Lutheranism by putting them to paper and exposing them to critique (both on my part and on that of others). As it turned out, the more I wrote, the more reasons I found for changing my outlook. The notes can be downloaded HERE.

Bear in mind that I am no professional theologian, and I claim no special authority for my conclusions. I welcome feedback to these notes, but I would ask that my readers take a look first at John Henry Newman’s book, An Essay on the Development of Doctrine (1845). Newman’s book is essential background reading for my notes, because he provides the decisive rebuttal to the argument that the supremacy of the Pope and other contemporary, distinctively Roman Catholic doctrines constitute objectionable “innovations”. Newman convincingly argues that the recognition of genuine development in Christian doctrine is inescapable, as anyone who knows the history of the doctrines of the Trinity and the two natures of Christ must recognize.

One more thing about my notes: they were written with an audience of one (myself) in mind.  In writing them, I gave no thought to being diplomatic or irenic. My only point was to try to sort out which of the two traditions was more likely to be the fullest expression of the Gospel. They are deliberately one-sided: there is much that I could have said about the virtues of the Lutheran tradition and the need for the reformation of the 16th century Church not included here.

Please bear in mind also the distinction between the reality of justification and our theological theories about that reality. As a Roman Catholic, I will trust no less in Jesus as my Savior, nor more in my own works, than I have as a Lutheran. I’m certainly fallible and thus capable of trading in a better theory of justification for a worse one, but I urge my Protestant brethren to remember, before making any judgments about the state of my soul, that sinners are justified by trusting in Jesus and not by believing a theory of justification.

Posted by Robert Koons on May 17, 2007 10:05 PM


TOPICS: Catholic; Mainline Protestant; Ministry/Outreach; Religion & Culture
KEYWORDS: conversion; koons; lcms; lutheran
Robert Koons extensive notes (94 pages) can be read at NOTES. This is a .pdf file.
1 posted on 05/28/2007 11:09:20 AM PDT by Titanites
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To: NYer; Salvation

Robert Koons’ recent conversion story (former Lutheran Church Missoui Synod). He has provided extensive notes explaining his decision.


2 posted on 05/28/2007 11:13:59 AM PDT by Titanites
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To: Titanites

read later


3 posted on 05/28/2007 11:25:10 AM PDT by LiteKeeper (Beware the secularization of America; the Islamization of Eurabia)
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To: Titanites

Welcome home Robert! The angels rejoice in Heaven. I pray that all will see the light, stop denying Christ and return to the Church He founded.


4 posted on 05/28/2007 11:25:54 AM PDT by big'ol_freeper (It looks like one of those days when one nuke is just not enough-- Lt. Col. Mitchell, SG-1)
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To: LiteKeeper; Gamecock

Anyone keeping score?

(And remember, if the numbers go toward the Protestants, it’s a well-documented fact that only scholars cross the Tiber towards Rome, and only uneducated hicks cross the other way)

/sarcasm


5 posted on 05/28/2007 11:41:23 AM PDT by Larry Lucido (Duncan Hunter 2008 (or Fred Thompson if he ever makes up his mind))
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To: Larry Lucido; LiteKeeper; Gamecock
Anyone keeping score?

Anyone following up, to see if he became a Freemason after his supposed conversion?

6 posted on 05/28/2007 12:06:02 PM PDT by Alex Murphy (FR Member Alex Murphy: Declared Anathema By The Council Of Trent)
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To: Larry Lucido
I don't know if they're keeping score, all I know is that we do rejoice when another person finds their faith home. It isn't a competition, it is eternal life and death and while some may make an altar call and never hear from a fellow Christian again, joining the Catholic church is a big deal. It is an action that sometimes takes years of discernment and when the decision is made there are still months of classes, just to make sure you know what you are assenting to and know what the Church teaches.

As for "uneducated hicks", we become educated and join the Church, we just don't have any notoriety or fame so we don't make the news. Our parish welcomed 19 new members this Easter.

7 posted on 05/28/2007 12:14:52 PM PDT by tiki
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To: Larry Lucido
it’s a well-documented fact that only scholars cross the Tiber towards Rome, and only uneducated hicks cross the other way

"Donut Man" converts to Catholicism

8 posted on 05/28/2007 12:21:16 PM PDT by Alex Murphy (FR Member Alex Murphy: Declared Anathema By The Council Of Trent)
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To: Titanites

Lead Kindly Light. As Anglican convert, Cardinal Newman, wrote “not to lose what they have but to gain what they have not, by means of what they have, more may be given to them... “


9 posted on 05/28/2007 12:32:51 PM PDT by ex-snook ("But above all things, truth beareth away the victory.")
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To: Titanites; Lady In Blue; Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; ...
Thank you again, Titanites, for posting this thread along with the link to the notes.

For those who may be interested, here is the list of upcoming guests for EWTN's program - The Journey Home. EWTN is broadcast over most cable stations, satellite tv and via the Internet at http://www.ewtn.com


May 28
Memorial Day
Paul Thigpen, Gordon Sibley, Chris Dixon
Former Methodists

Jun 4
Bruce Sullivan
Former Church of Christ minister

Jun 25
Dean Lanton
Former Southern Baptist minister


10 posted on 05/28/2007 1:00:36 PM PDT by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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To: tiki
It is an action that sometimes takes years of discernment and when the decision is made there are still months of classes, just to make sure you know what you are assenting to and know what the Church teaches.

I don't know if it was "years of discernment" for me; I went from atheism to Catholicism with a stop along the way as an agnostic. I do know that it was a combination of a recognition of the simplicity of faith and the understanding that one need not leave one's intellect at the Church door in order to believe which lead me to the Church of Rome. Dispite its earthly errors, it still is the first, best and greatest house of our Father.

As for the classes; well . . . there was little about Christian or Catholic doctrine which was unknown to me as I had studied both in order to be clever in my disdain. Little did I know the sneaky irony of the Father as I was lead to Him while thinking I was going in the other direction. For the one who set heaven and earth spinning has little trouble with outwitting a dullard like me.

11 posted on 05/28/2007 1:00:49 PM PDT by Dogrobber
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To: Dogrobber
LOL, whenever I think about being Catholic, I remember literally yelling at God as I walked across my kitchen one day, "If your want me to go to church, MAKE me"

Thank goodness He did it in a wonderful way.

12 posted on 05/28/2007 1:05:01 PM PDT by tiki
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To: tiki
As for "uneducated hicks", we become educated and join the Church, we just don't have any notoriety or fame so we don't make the news.

I think you missed the point about the uneducated hicks part. Seems that only uneducated hicks leave the Catholic Church. Even your statement alludes to the idea that uneducated hicks that get educated join the Church.

13 posted on 05/28/2007 1:05:59 PM PDT by GoLightly
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To: GoLightly

it’s just anecdotal but something i have noticed is that converts to Catholicism usually do not blast their former denomination. As my wife would say, when she became caholic, it simply completed and built upon a Christian foundation already laid. maybe a few bricks are removed but really it’s more about the fullness of the faith than condemning the former denomination. She has positive memories of that early faith still.

Yet, when Catholics leave to join a Protestant church, we are usually blasted. I know that this can’t always be true, yet these “whore of babylon” judgments on us are just ludicrous.

Condemning the Church is similar condemning your own parents. Even if Luther was “right”, how can he be justified condemning the very Church that passed on that faith to him to begin with?


14 posted on 05/28/2007 1:20:42 PM PDT by Piers-the-Ploughman (Just say no to circular firing squads.)
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To: tiki

Yes, He is the original “multi-tasker” isn’t He.


15 posted on 05/28/2007 1:22:54 PM PDT by Dogrobber
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To: GoLightly
it’s a well-documented fact that only scholars cross the Tiber towards Rome, and only uneducated hicks cross the other way)

It seemed to me that he was implying, with tongue in cheek, that that was the opinion of Catholics. IOW, that Catholics like to think that only brilliant scholars find the Church and only people who are idiot, know-nothings would ever leave and so that also implies that non-scholars would never consider becoming Catholic as a matter of faith.

uneducated hicks that get educated

Well, you have to know and assent to what you believe but you still don't have to be a scholar. You don't have to read the early fathers, you don't have to know the whole history of the church, you just have to know what it believes and assent to that belief.

16 posted on 05/28/2007 1:28:34 PM PDT by tiki
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To: Piers-the-Ploughman

I have written this very thing a number of times on this forum. As a convert myself, I never felt the need to bad-talk my Protestant roots. Nor did I feel a need to bad-talk to my Protestant siblings.

I didn’t feel compelled to show contempt for their choice of church to attend or to aggressively proselytize to them. As a result, one of my sisters tells me how great she thinks the Pope is and the other sister attends Mass with me when she visits from out-of-state. Both of my parents—who were not Catholic—were so happy to be visited by a priest when they were dying. It was a great and unforgettable moment for them-—and for me.

God is good—all the time. All the time, God is good.


17 posted on 05/28/2007 1:36:52 PM PDT by Running On Empty
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To: tiki
Yikes!

God is much better to us than we deserve, isn't He?

18 posted on 05/28/2007 1:39:08 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother ((Ministrix of Ye Chase, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment)))
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To: Running On Empty
I had to give up being snarky to the Episcopalians (my former denomination) for Lent . . . .

. . . .but they're just such easy targets!

19 posted on 05/28/2007 1:40:03 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother ((Ministrix of Ye Chase, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment)))
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To: Piers-the-Ploughman
Condemning the Church is similar condemning your own parents.

I agree.

Even if Luther was “right”, how can he be justified condemning the very Church that passed on that faith to him to begin with?

Do we get our faith from our church or is it a gift from God?

20 posted on 05/28/2007 2:34:43 PM PDT by GoLightly
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To: GoLightly

The Church is the Body of Christ. I received that gift, faith, with no merit of my own, from Christ, acting through the Church, which is His Body. Although I am aware of defects in the human members of the Church, I see no advantage to condemning the Church; after that, there is anarchy.


21 posted on 05/28/2007 2:46:59 PM PDT by Piers-the-Ploughman (Just say no to circular firing squads.)
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To: tiki
It seemed to me that he was implying, with tongue in cheek, that that was the opinion of Catholics. IOW, that Catholics like to think that only brilliant scholars find the Church and only people who are idiot, know-nothings would ever leave and so that also implies that non-scholars would never consider becoming Catholic as a matter of faith.

I agree.

Well, you have to know and assent to what you believe but you still don't have to be a scholar. You don't have to read the early fathers, you don't have to know the whole history of the church, you just have to know what it believes and assent to that belief.

What happens with those who don't know & can't assent? Think we're supposed to send them away hungry?

22 posted on 05/28/2007 2:59:44 PM PDT by GoLightly
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To: GoLightly

I don’t know exactly what you mean by that. Are you talking about the mentally challenged or those who haven’t heard the Word or those who haven’t felt and/or responded to Grace?


23 posted on 05/28/2007 3:15:59 PM PDT by tiki
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To: Piers-the-Ploughman
I see no advantage to condemning the Church; after that, there is anarchy.

I see no advantage in condemning the Church either. I would only worry about anarchy if I didn't know that God is in control.

24 posted on 05/28/2007 3:19:54 PM PDT by GoLightly
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To: tiki

Those who haven’t felt Grace, though they claim to be open to it.


25 posted on 05/28/2007 3:28:12 PM PDT by GoLightly
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To: GoLightly
I can only answer that Christ has infinite Mercy, God knows why they can't accept the Grace given to them.

They are always welcome to attend any Catholic Church, they can't receive the Sacraments unless they have been baptized and assent to the beliefs of the Church but if they haven't felt Grace then why would they seek the Sacraments? Why would they believe in the Sacraments if they can't accept the Grace of God? Faith in God must come first in someone past the age of reasoning because the Sacraments are nothing without God.

26 posted on 05/28/2007 3:58:18 PM PDT by tiki
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To: Titanites
My (Imminent) Reception into the Roman Catholic Church

From Calvinist to Catholic

A Convert's Pilgrimage [Christopher Cuddy]

From Pastor to Parishioner: My Love for Christ Led Me Home (to the Catholic Church) [Drake McCalister]

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

27 posted on 05/28/2007 3:58:55 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Piers-the-Ploughman; Running On Empty

I agree. I’m a former Presbyterian. I’m grateful to my mother for the Christian formation I received. I learned to read the Bible with pleasure when I was growing up, and I learned wonderful hymns that I still appreciate. I don’t recall a single bad experience of Protestant Christianity; however, after my “existentialist period” in my late teens, I believe the Lord called me to the Catholic Church.


28 posted on 05/28/2007 4:09:54 PM PDT by Tax-chick ("Is there any extra food around here anywhere?")
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To: Titanites

save for later


29 posted on 05/28/2007 4:11:45 PM PDT by krunkygirl (force multiplier in effect...)
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To: tiki
I have found it to be quite a conundrum, but I’ve seen it expressed by a couple of FReepers. I almost think they’re trying to reason themselves into faith.
30 posted on 05/28/2007 4:16:35 PM PDT by GoLightly
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To: GoLightly

Maybe they are confusing faith with absolutely knowing with their own intellect and really have it but think it should feel different. They might feel that they should KNOW things and FEEL things or that their faith experience should be like being struck by lightening. Faith through Grace comes in many ways, we don’t all get a Road to Damascus experience, but He gives us what we need.


31 posted on 05/28/2007 4:52:29 PM PDT by tiki
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To: GoLightly; tiki; Alex Murphy; LiteKeeper

Uh, oh. I think I started something. :-)

Yes, it was definitely toungue in cheek. And I do rejoice when someone finds their home (though I believe “home” is in the Body of Christ - I do believe that God’s hand guides us as to exactly where we must be at one time or another).

I rejoice the most when His Church grows, and don’t consider any migration one way or another across the Tiber to be a net gain or loss for His Church, though I recognize many disagree.

For example, my brother found his way back to the RC church, and of course brought his wife and kids with him to be baptized. He was Free Methodist before then, and in the Unity Church (or Church of Today, whatever it is called now) before that. Well, I’m not particularly keen on the Unity Church, but as a Free Methodist in a very conservative congregation I felt he was well grounded, as I feel in my conservative evangelical church. When he went back to the RC I encouraged him to follow what he considered God’s calling, even if I chose not to go that way myself.


32 posted on 05/28/2007 5:12:02 PM PDT by Larry Lucido (Duncan Hunter 2008 (or Fred Thompson if he ever makes up his mind))
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To: tiki

They claim to be atheists, so I have the feeling that the big guns are gonna have to come out to bring them to their knees.


33 posted on 05/28/2007 5:46:22 PM PDT by GoLightly
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To: Larry Lucido
Uh, oh. I think I started something. :-)

Again...

34 posted on 05/28/2007 5:48:47 PM PDT by GoLightly
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To: GoLightly

I know what you mean, one of my brothers fits that category. JMO, but he feels like he is sinning and he wants to keep sinning and so he needs to believe there is no God and no justice, just the here and now and death is the end.


35 posted on 05/28/2007 6:30:32 PM PDT by tiki
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To: tiki

That could be it, but it could also be a certain amount of fear of association with the “ignorant hicks” that never outgrew believing in faerie tales.


36 posted on 05/28/2007 7:02:29 PM PDT by GoLightly
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