Free Republic
Browse · Search
Religion
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

His Open Arms Welcomed Me
Star of the Sea ^ | 1994 | Paul Thigpen

Posted on 11/03/2007 5:03:12 PM PDT by annalex

The following story of my conversion, "His Open Arms Welcomed Me," is the first chapter of the bestseller Surprised by Truth, edited by Patrick Madrid (Basilica, 1994).

"His Open Arms Welcomed Me"


Paul Thigpen

I was quite young the first time I saw him, so I don't remember where it happened. But I do remember being terrified by the sight: that tortured man, thorn-crowned, blood-bathed, forsaken. The sculptor had spared no crease of agony; the painter, no crimson stroke. He was a nightmare in wood.

Yet I was strangely drawn to him as well. His open arms welcomed me; his uncovered breast stretched out like a refuge. I wanted to touch him.

Of course, I knew who he was. After all, I'd won the big prize -- a Hershey Bar -- for being the first kindergartner in our little Southern Presbyterian church to memorize the books of the Bible. And my parents had busted with pride on the morning when I stood before the congregation to recite the grand old affirmations of the Westminster Confession: Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever ...

But in our church the cross on the wall was empty and clean. We read about the blood, we sang about the blood, but we didn't splash it on our walls and doorposts.

In the years to follow, the man on the cross haunted me. When I found out that a schoolmate wore a crucifix around his neck, I asked my father to get me one. But he shook his head and said, "That's just for Catholics." There was no malice in his words; he simply spoke matter-of-factly, in the same way he might have observed that yarmulkes were just for Jews.

One day my aunt from New York came south to visit. She was always inheriting odd items from boarders in the residential motel where she worked, and this time she shared them with us. In a box of assorted old treasures calculated to fascinate a little boy for hours, I found him.

He was plaster of Paris, unfinished, maybe a foot long, cross and all. I ran my fingers over the smooth surface. The details were remarkable for so humble a work, though he had a flaw in his right foot. He was beautiful. But he was too white, too clean. So I found some old watercolors and painted every detail lovingly, with crimson dominating the whole. Then I kept him under my bed and took him out regularly so I could look at him, touch him, and wonder why he should be in some Catholic home instead of mine.

I don't remember when I lost that plaster body, but it must have been sometime after I became an arrogant little atheist at the age of twelve. Some school teacher I've long forgotten encouraged me to read Voltaire, the Enlightenment rationalist, who convinced me that all religion was delusion. At the time I didn't need much convincing; the adolescent season of rebellion against my parents had begun, and skepticism was for me the weapon of choice. No doubt I tossed out the man on the Cross in the same trash can with the Westminster Confession.

For six years I ran from him, though I thought I was running to truth. I had no choice about attending the Presbyterian church with my family, but every week I repeated a quiet, private act of defiance: Whenever the congregation said the Apostles' Creed, I remained silent.

My heart was hungry but my head turned away from anything that could have nourished my spirit. So I began to feed on spiritual garbage instead. A science fair project on parapsychology introduced me to supernatural forces. But I thought they were only unexamined natural powers of the human mind. Before long, I was trafficking in spirits, though I would never have dreamed they were anything other than my own psychic energies. They would sometimes tell me what others were thinking, or whisper of events that were taking place at a distance. The more power they gave me, the hungrier I became for it. I began to experiment with seances, levitation, and other occult practices -- all, of course, in the name of science. I wanted to become an expert in parapsychology.

From time to time I saw him again, usually hanging beyond the altar in the church of my Catholic girlfriend. His open arms still welcomed me. But since I was convinced there was no God, the most he could represent to me was a suffering humanity. And in those heady days of the `60s, when American youth were so certain they could transform the world, I didn't want a reminder of human brokenness. We were out to forge our own bright destiny in the new Age of Aquarius, and the crucifix was an unwelcome relic of the old order. Like some child of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, born just a few centuries too late, I was convinced humanity could perfect itself through education. So I set out to prove the thesis in the human laboratory of my high school.

Our particular campus was an odd mix of peril and promise. As a first step in fully desegregating the public schools of our Southern city, the school board by fiat turned an all-black high school into a racially mixed one. Amazingly, those of us with a vision for racial harmony were able to build more of it than many critics had expected: Out of the chaos of a totally new student body gathered from utterly different social and racial backgrounds, we forged well-oiled student organizations that helped smooth the process of integration.

In a short time, blacks and whites were becoming friends and working hard to build a community. We became the city's first model of a school that had been forced to desegregate totally, yet had come out of the process racially integrated as well -- and all without violence. As student body president and a central actor in the drama, I felt as if my Enlightenment strategy for changing the world had been validated.

Nevertheless, reality at last bumped up against my carefully crafted visions. First to go was the Aquarian illusion. After a massive transfer of students city-wide in my senior year to complete the desegregation process in all the high schools, the make-up of our student population was radically altered. Some of the new students were militant racists and troublemakers, both black and white. When other campuses in the city began closing down because of rioting, we were put on alert that angry students from other schools were planning to infiltrate our student body and provoke violence there as well.

One lovely fall afternoon, after our homecoming rally, it happened. A riot broke out on campus as I watched helplessly. Black and white friends who had once shared my hopes for a new, peaceful world attacked one another with knives, chains, and tire irons. I naively ran around campus from one little mob to another, trying to break up fights and restore calm. My watch was knocked off my wrist in the struggle, but I was miraculously spared injury -- to my body, that is. My soul was quite another matter. The sight of one young man in particular was branded on my memory. He lay sprawled cruciform in the dust, his arms extended, his face bloody. The wooden nightmare of my childhood had become flesh and blood, and I wept bitterly for the death of a dream. The idol I had made of humanity was shattered, and nothing could put it back together.

Next to die were my delusions about psychic powers. One starless summer night a chilling demonic force, grown tired of its human plaything, commandeered my body. It physically pushed me toward the edge of a nearby river to throw me in. I've never learned to swim, so if a couple of muscular friends who were with me hadn't pinned me down, it would have drowned me.

The next morning I told my English teacher, a Christian who had been praying for me, what had happened. She said I'd had a brush with the Devil. I laughed at her and scoffed: Don't be so medieval. Even so, I had to admit something was out there, and it wasn't a friendly ghost. My teacher gave me C. S. Lewis to read -- at last, an antidote for the poison of Voltaire -- who in turn sent me back to the Scriptures.

It was there that I learned about angels, fallen and unfallen. I found dark references to the powers that had tormented me and the evil mastermind behind them, the god of this world. In the Bible I rediscovered a multi-tiered model of the universe, of nature and super-nature, that fit the realities of my recent experience in ways that parapsychology and the Enlightenment never could.

These were my first faltering steps back toward reality, and with a sobering irony, I came to believe in the Devil before I believed in God. Yet that inverted order of my emerging creed had its purpose in the divine intention: So devoid was I of the fear of God that I had to work my way into it by stages, starting with a fear of demons. The pleasure I'd taken in declaring myself an atheist, unfettered by the rules of any creator, began to crumble: If there was indeed a devil but no God to save me from him, I was in deep trouble.

Yet Scripture was teaching me much more than fear. In the gospels especially, I encountered a man whose wisdom and compassion arrested me. He was the same man I'd sung hymns about as a child, the man on the cross who had stirred me with his suffering; but he was becoming real in a way I'd never imagined possible.

Years before, he'd been much like the hero of a fairy tale: a bright legend that embodied the noblest human traits, but only a legend after all. Now he was entering history for me, breathing the air and walking the soil of a planet where I also breathed and walked. I was still scandalized by the thought that he could actually have been more than a man. But the possibilities were opening up. After all, once you grant the existence of super-nature, you can't rule out God; and if there's a God, what's there to stop him from invading nature? If there's a God, I knew, then the rest of the story, however shocking -- Virgin Birth, miracles, the Resurrection surely becomes possible.

Meanwhile, I began trying prayer as an experiment. My requests were concrete and specific; so were the swift, undeniable answers that came. The evidence was mounting, and though I felt threatened by the prospect of having to submit to the will of Another, a part of me also longed for that submission. Soon I was getting to know believers whose lives convincingly enfleshed the gospel -- or, to use Merton's haunting line, "People whose every action told me something of the country that was my home." When one of them invited me to a small prayer meeting, I came, however awkwardly, and sat silently for most of the evening. But I came back the next week, and the next, because I sensed that these people genuinely loved me, and I was hungry for their love.

A fresh, new breeze was blowing through my mind, sweeping out the cobwebs and debris that had accumulated through six years of darkness. The light of Christ was dawning inside, and all the frayed old arguments of the skeptics soon rotted in its brilliance. The more I knew of the world and myself, the more I found that Christian faith made sense of it all, and the more I longed to meet this man whose followers I had come to love.

Just after my high school graduation, at a massive nationwide rally of evangelical Christians in Dallas sponsored by Campus Crusade for Christ, he came to me -- not in a vision or even a dream, but in a quiet, unshakable confidence that he was alive and knocking at the door of my heart. I repented of my unbelief and all its devastating consequences. I confessed to God that Jesus Christ was his Son, and asked him to become my Savior and Lord. My mind at last had given my heart permission to believe, to obey, and to adore.

When I took up Scripture again to read, the centuries were suddenly compressed, and the historical Figure that had replaced the noble Legend was himself now replaced with a living Friend. In my hands were letters he had addressed personally to me, written two millennia ago yet delivered to my home at this moment, so fresh that it seemed the ink should still be wet. He read my thoughts, nailed my sins, told my story, plumbed the depths of my pain.

Overwhelmed, I asked him to fill me with himself.

Two months later I was sitting alone in our Presbyterian church's sanctuary, late in the evening after a service had ended. I'd opened my Bible to the book of Acts -- no one had warned me that it was an incendiary tract -- and I read about the day of Pentecost. I'd never been taught about the baptism of the Holy Spirit or his gifts. But I told God that if what happened to those first believers on that day long ago could happen to me this evening, I wanted it. And I was willing to sit there all night until it happened.

I didn't have to wait long. Suddenly a flood of words in a tongue I'd never studied came bursting out of me, followed by a flood of joy that washed over me for a week. The Holy Spirit baptism was for me a baptism in laughter; I giggled like a fool for days over this sweet joke of God. It was a liberation from the chains of the Enlightenment. This irrational -- or perhaps I should say para-rational -- experience opened my eyes to realms that soared beyond my understanding, and left me face-to-face with mystery. For years, reason had masqueraded as a god in my life, but now I saw it for what it truly was: only a servant, however brilliantly attired.

That realization served me well in the following years when I majored in religious studies at Yale. That school's great, Neo-Gothic library best illustrates the spirit I encountered there: Painted on the wall high above the altar of its massive circulation desk is an awesome icon of Knowledge -- or perhaps Wisdom, though I rarely heard her voice in the classrooms of that campus. She was personified as a queen enthroned above us lowly student mortals, and though we freshmen were tempted to genuflect, I owed my first allegiance to another sovereign.

In the twenty years that came after, faith grew, establishing itself as the heart of the vocations that consumed me: I went on to a graduate school program in religion, and I served as a missionary evangelist in Europe, an associate pastor of a charismatic congregation, and a writer and editor for several Christian publishers.

Those were good years, years of settling into a deep relationship with the God I'd once abandoned. He gave me a beloved Christian wife and two children who learned to seek his face from a tender age. But at last the time came for yet another conversion in my life -- and another baptism of joy.


A Perennial Longing



I had found the Lord, or rather the Lord had found me, in the Evangelical Christian community. I'd been trained to think in that community's categories, to speak its language, to hold its assumptions, to cherish its traditions. It had been for me a life-giving stream, a place of awesome grace and glory: There, I learned to feed on Scripture, to celebrate the Lord's presence, to seek the way of holiness, to enjoy the fellowship of those who are devoted to him.

But in quiet moments, I sometimes felt a longing sweep over me. It washed across my heart whenever I heard a recording of tranquil Gregorian chant or Schubert's aching Ave Maria. It erupted inside me when I visited the great cathedrals of Europe -- humbled by the grandeur of their architecture and the sweaty devotion of all the forgotten saints who had labored to raise those stones to the sky.

I felt it when I read St. Augustine's Confessions, St. Catherine's Dialogue, and St. John's Dark Night of the Soul. These were more than books -- they were doorways into a communion with the saints who had written them. I felt their presence as I read; I even found myself talking to them, though my theological training told me that such conversations weren't permitted.

Most of all, I ached when I knelt quietly in the sanctuaries of Catholic churches. I felt drawn to the tabernacle and the altar. And I sometimes wept at the longing I felt as I lifted my gaze to behold him, hanging there, broken and bloody. After so many years, his open arms still welcomed me. But my mind rebelled against the attraction. Those matter-of-fact words from so long ago always returned to dampen my desire: That's just for Catholics.

The result was a long, thirsty wandering from one Protestant tradition to another: Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist, Episcopalian, classical Pentecostal, independent charismatic. Each had something solid to offer, each taught me critical lessons in walking with God. But sooner or later I had to admit that none of them was home.

I'd had healthy encounters with the Catholic Church, of course. My childhood girlfriend and her family, and other friends as well, had earned my respect for Catholic faith. The charismatic renewal had shown me how much in common I could have with Catholic believers; I'd even written my senior essay in college on a Catholic charismatic community in Rhode Island. Two good friends, evangelicals from Inter-Varsity, a college group I'd belonged to, had themselves entered the Church, challenging me to consider why.

But Protestant ways of thinking were so deeply engrained in my mind that I found it impossible to reason my way out of them. The legacy of Voltaire and the Enlightenment was farther-reaching than I'd ever imagined: I was so confident of all that can be verbally communicated, so suspicious of all that cannot. I knew that the truth of God could be revealed through a book. But could the power of God really reside in a dusty relic, the presence of God in a fragile wafer, the authority of God in a human pope? Once again, my heart and head were at war.

Even so, my baptism in the Holy Spirit had planted in me the seed of a sacramental vision of the world -- a vision, I believe, that most Charismatics share, if they only knew it. My encounter with para-rational tongues and unexplainable miracles had suddenly introduced me to the mystery of God and chastened my tendency to rely solely on rational understanding in the search for truth.

The Pentecostal experience had also affirmed that to be human is to have a body and emotions as well as an intellect: that God's grace can be communicated through physical and emotional healing, and that worship involves not just minds, but feelings, physical postures, and pageantry as well. As a charismatic I even discovered that God could work powerfully through the spoken prayer, the anointing oil, the laying on of hands, the prayer cloth (cf. 2 Kings 13:20-21; Luke 8:43-44; Acts 19:11-12; James 5:13-15).

All these experiences convinced me that it was God's way to invest the physical with the spiritual, the human with the divine, the natural with the supernatural, the ordinary with mystery. In short, I came to see that Pentecost was a matter of spirit made flesh; a charismatic faith was inescapably a sacramental faith. But I needed more than sacramental experience, more even than that perennial longing, to take me over the intellectual mountain range that stood between me and the Catholic Church. God knew what I needed. So he put me in a Ph.D. program in historical theology where I would find maps to help me scale those treacherous heights -- maps drawn by those who had made the journey before.

The names of the mapmakers will come as no surprise: St. Augustine, John Cardinal Newman, G. K. Chesterton, Thomas Merton, many others as well. A few who never fully made it over those theological mountains themselves nevertheless stood like Moses at the peak, pointing me in the right direction -- men like John Williamson Nevin and, above all, C. S. Lewis.

Lewis once wrote that, long before his reason was converted to Christian faith, his imagination had been baptized by the writings of the Scottish novelist George Macdonald. In my case, long before my reason was converted to Catholic truth, my imagination had been sacramentalized by Lewis's writings. St. Augustine's contribution to my conversion caught me by surprise. Years ago I'd been ravished by his Confessions; the cries of my heart seemed like so many distant, feeble echoes of his longings from centuries before. But once he had my trust, he had me trapped: Sometime later, innocently reading his polemics against the Donatists on the evils of schism, I suddenly realized that I was a modern-day, Protestant Donatist -- and he was rebuking me for remaining separated from Rome.

One by one, each question I had about the Catholic faith found an answer. Like most converts to the Church who have first had to overcome doctrinal hurdles, I found that many problems were resolved when I finally understood the truly Catholic position on a disputed matter, rather than the Protestant misconception of it. Those discoveries are familiar to former Protestants: We all had to learn, I suppose, that devotion to Mary is not worship; that the pope is not held to be infallible in every casual statement he makes.

At the same time, I began to identify and move beyond the Protestant filters through which I was reading Scripture. No longer could I insist on adhering to the plain sense of the biblical text yet interpret Jesus' own words about his Body and Blood figuratively. Nor could I ignore his clear announcement that he would build his Church on St. Peter and give him the keys of the kingdom.

Some puzzles were solved, not by the writings of great Christian teachers or a new approach to Scripture, but by the outcome of great Christian dramas of the past. Church history, I found, was theology teaching by example.

For some, the study of Christian behavior over the centuries, with all its horrors, has led to doubt, cynicism, even atheism. They see church councils bickering over petty jealousies, popes amassing wealth, bishops fathering children, monks living in dissipation; and at that dismaying sight, they lose faith. For me, however, Church history became one long confirmation of two realities: the universality of sin and the sovereignty of grace.

One stumbling block in my way had been the all-too-obvious flaws of contemporary Catholicism. Some modern Catholic theologians I'd read, for example, had more in common with Marx or Freud than with Augustine or Aquinas. I met monks who talked like Buddhists and nuns becoming self-empowered through pagan goddess worship.

But the scandal was overcome when I finally admitted that no Christian community has ever even come close to being perfect. In fact, I saw the Catholic Church's problems repeated in the history of all the groups that repudiated her, that vowed they would never be like her. They reminded me of the adolescent daughter who swears she'll never be like the mother she resents -- yet ends up becoming just like her in spite of her vow.

It was simply historical proof of the Pauline judgment that my Protestant mentors had always been so fond of quoting Romans 3:23, "All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." Each breakaway group, I learned, inexorably retraced the missteps of the Catholic tradition to one degree or another because whatever problems the Church has, they are not exclusively Roman; they are universally human.

In taking the long view, I also came to marvel at the sovereign grace of God. Those same bickering councils that Protestants have disparaged nevertheless demonstrated the most astonishing wisdom in crafting creeds that would stand the test of time. Those avaricious popes gave their blessing to men and women of blessed poverty whose explosive holiness shamed their lax brothers and sisters and turned the Church upside down. In John Paul II, in the heroism of the Church in Eastern Europe, in the charismatic renewal and other life-giving movements, I could see signs of God's grace with us yet, despite the serious attacks on the Church both within and without.

At the same time, I saw how Rome has remained the spiritual center of gravity for the churches that have separated from her. However much they try to distance themselves, they keep finding their way back: When the arid, rigid predestinationism of Calvin grew at last intolerable, they turned to Wesley for a more human -- and more Catholic -- view. In the Holiness movement they recaptured something of the Catholic traditions of asceticism and works of mercy; in the Pentecostal movement they recovered a sense of sacrament and mystery.

Meanwhile, even our now-secular society -- itself spawned in many ways by the logical conclusions of Protestant views -- still attempts to make up for the useful Catholic traditions it has repudiated. As G. K. Chesterton once noted, whatever Catholic elements the Protestants threw out of their churches, the modern world eventually reintroduced because they couldn't live without them. But they always brought those elements back in a lower form. Instead of the confessional, for example, we now have the psychoanalyst's couch, with none of the safeguards of the confessional. Instead of a glorious communion with saints who help us on our pilgrimage to heaven, we now have spiritualists who frolic with demons that seduce us into hell.

Yet through all the confusion, I came to see, Rome remains the solid theological standard for those who have separated from her. As even the oldest denominations have succumbed to the spirit of the age on one critical issue after another, the Catholic Church has remained firm -- on the sanctity of life, on the nature of sexuality, on the supernatural foundations of faith, on the essence of God and the identity of Christ. Today as yesterday, Veritatis Splendor -- the splendor of truth, as the Holy Father has so aptly called it -- blazes forth from Rome. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Perhaps most importantly, my reading of Erasmus and Newman and my study of the history of liturgy helped me to see that the primitivist assumption underlying Protestant views of the Church was seriously mistaken in at least two ways. First, Erasmus and Newman taught me that the Church is a maturing organism whose life span stretches across the centuries -- not an archaeological expedition always searching for fossils to help it reconstruct a primitive campsite. They challenged me to defend the Protestant notion that we should desire the embryo over the mature organism; and having studied church history, I found such a defense impossible.

Second, when I studied the history of Jewish and Christian liturgy, I found that even if we could return to the primitive Christian experience, that experience would not resemble most of the Protestant, especially the charismatic, churches of today. The congregations I'd been part of were for the most part assuming that they had recovered a New Testament model of strictly spontaneous worship, local government, and Bible-only teaching. But the early Church, I found, was in reality liturgical in worship; trans-local and hierarchical in government; and dependent on a body of sacred Tradition that included the Scripture, yet stretched far beyond it as well.

In short, all the knotted highways and byways of Church history led at long last to the same seven-hilled city. By the time I'd finished my doctoral exams, I knew I had to enter the Church. My heart and mind were already Catholic; if I turned away from Rome, I would wander, forever thirsty, the rest of my days.


Another Baptism of Joy



The clincher came one morning when I heard about the terminal illness of an old acquaintance. I asked myself, If you discovered that you were dying, what would you do? The answer that leapt to mind surprised me with its suddenness and certainty: I'd enter the Catholic Church right away. It was time to take action.

Even so, the road forward wasn't all smooth. My extended family and a number of friends found the whole matter confusing, though they were graciously supportive. I lost some important business relationships with colleagues in the evangelical publishing world who thought I'd been deceived. I gave up my pastoral ordination and my association with a ministry network on whose board of governors I was serving.

Much more sensitive was the situation at home. Despite many conversations with me about the matter, my wife still found the notion of becoming Catholic a strange one. We finally reached an agreement: If she would come with me to RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) classes and support me in doing what I knew I must do, then I would exert no pressure on her, and I would respect her final decision about the Church. I entrusted her to the grace of God and the intercession of St. Ann, her patron as a homemaker and the patron of the parish where we lived.

When we went to St. Ann's Church to find out what to do next, we were met by a priest who embodied all the best of what it means to be Christian and Catholic. A Christ-centered, Christ-reflecting man of great joy and gentleness, Father Gerald Conmey won over my family immediately. His high regard for the Scripture permeated our instruction, assuring my wife that we weren't off on some dangerous theological tangent.

Not long after, my family joined me in my decision. My wife and I would be confirmed, my daughter would receive her First Communion, my son would be baptized, and all of us would be embraced at last by the Catholic Church all on the same day. Rejoicing, I rushed out to buy them each a crucifix for the occasion.

On the afternoon before that unforgettable day, I was driving home alone from a business errand, my mind on some editing project, when suddenly a flood of joy washed over me. I threw back my head and began to laugh. It was a profound, tear-soaked laughter; a laughter of liberation and relief, the kind I hadn't experienced since that day, twenty years before, when the Holy Spirit had washed me clean inside.

St. Augustine! I shouted out the car window. I'm coming home! St. Thomas! I'm coming home! St. Catherine! I'm coming home! And I laughed till my sides hurt, wept till my eyes ached.

Perhaps God let me undergo that new baptism at such an odd moment to spare my family the embarrassment they would have felt had I exploded in the next day's ceremony instead. In any case, when the time came to go forward for that blessed oil's anointing, I was still joyous, but composed. As I stood, I looked beyond the altar at the man on the cross.

And his open arms welcomed me.

+ + +


TOPICS: Catholic; Charismatic Christian; Evangelical Christian; Mainline Protestant
KEYWORDS:
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-87 next last

1 posted on 11/03/2007 5:03:15 PM PDT by annalex
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Alex Murphy; Salvation; NYer

Inspiring conversion testimony for your enjoyment.


2 posted on 11/03/2007 5:04:45 PM PDT by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea-Luke14.php)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: annalex

I have some of Mr. Thigpen’s books. He seems to be a very nice man.


3 posted on 11/03/2007 7:11:07 PM PDT by Tax-chick (When my mother ship lands, you're all toast!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: annalex

Well written, covers a lot of ground; thanks for posting this. Enjoyed it very much.


4 posted on 11/03/2007 8:06:45 PM PDT by LordBridey
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: annalex

Excellent post and story. Thanks for posting it!


5 posted on 11/03/2007 10:58:55 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: annalex
His Open Arms Welcomed Me [ Paul Thigpen}
Why I'm Catholic (Sola Scriptura leads atheist to Catholic Church)
From Calvinist to Catholic (another powerful conversion story) Rodney Beason
Good-bye To All That (Another Episcopalian gets ready to swim the Tiber)
Bp. Steenson's Letter to his clergy on his conversion to the Catholic Church

Bishop Steenson’s Statement to the House [of Bishops: Episcopal (TEC) to Catholic]
Bp. Steenson's Letter to his clergy on his conversion to the Catholic Church
Bishop Steenson Will Become a Roman Catholic
Married man considers turn as Catholic priest
Pavarotti returns to the Catholic faith before dying

Searching For Authority (A Methodist minister finds himself surprised by Truth!)
Why I Returned to the Catholic Church. Part VI: The Biblical Reality (Al Kresta)
Why I Returned to the Catholic Church. Part V: The Catholics and the Pope(Al Kresta)
The Hail Mary of a Protestant (A true story)
Why I Returned to the Catholic Church. Part IV: Crucifix and Altar(Al Kresta)

Why I Returned to the Catholic Church. Part III: Tradition and Church (Al Kresta)
Why I Returned to the Catholic Church. Part II: Doubts (Al Kresta)
Conversion Story - Rusty Tisdale (former Pentecostal)
Why I Returned to the Catholic Church. Part I: Darkness(Al Kresta)
Conversion Story - Matt Enloe (former Baptist) [prepare to be amazed!]
THE ORTHODOX REVIVAL IN RUSSIA

Conversion Story - David Finkelstein (former Jew)
Conversion Story - John Weidner (former Evangelical)
12 Reasons I Joined the Catholic Church
Conversion Story - Tom Hunt
The Tide Is Turning Toward Catholicism: The Converts

John Calvin Made Me Catholic
Journey Home - May 21 - Neil Babcox (former Presbyterian) - A minister encounters Mary
Going Catholic - Six journeys to Rome
My (Imminent) Reception into the Roman Catholic Church
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
Why Converts Choose Catholicism

From Calvinist to Catholic
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
The Scott Hahn Conversion Story

FORMER PENTECOSTAL RELATES MIRACLE THAT OCCURRED WITH THE PRECIOUS BLOOD
Interview with Roy Schoeman - A Jewish Convert

6 posted on 11/03/2007 11:01:35 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: annalex

Conversion bump!


7 posted on 11/04/2007 4:55:32 AM PST by sneakers (This Pennsylvania gal supports DUNCAN HUNTER for President!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Forest Keeper; jo kus
when I studied the history of Jewish and Christian liturgy, I found that even if we could return to the primitive Christian experience, that experience would not resemble most of the Protestant, especially the charismatic, churches of today. The congregations I'd been part of were for the most part assuming that they had recovered a New Testament model of strictly spontaneous worship, local government, and Bible-only teaching. But the early Church, I found, was in reality liturgical in worship; trans-local and hierarchical in government; and dependent on a body of sacred Tradition that included the Scripture, yet stretched far beyond it as well.

This was the pivital point in my wife's conversion.

8 posted on 11/05/2007 9:25:43 AM PST by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea-Luke14.php)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: annalex; jo kus; wmfights
This was the pivital point in my wife's conversion.

Thank you very much for the ping. I would agree with your wife that charismatic worship (from what little I know of it) is probably not the way to go. They appear to me to focus much more on experience, and much less on scripture. I am very glad she has found a Christian home.

[from the article:] The congregations I'd been part of were for the most part assuming that they had recovered a New Testament model of strictly spontaneous worship, local government, and Bible-only teaching. But the early Church, I found, was in reality liturgical in worship; trans-local and hierarchical in government; and dependent on a body of sacred Tradition that included the Scripture, yet stretched far beyond it as well.

I read the Wiki entry for spontaneous worship, and it was associated with charismatic services. It didn't sound like anything I've ever seen in a church service. (Granted, I have very little experience outside of my own SBC church.) In any event, it didn't sound like something I would want to be a part of.

The local government part I do agree with, however, I don't know where the claim by the author that early churches were governed in a hierarchal system comes from. I thought the very first churches were basically autonomous. (Is that right, WM?)

And as for Bible-only teaching, we use Bible-authority-only teaching. That does not preclude the use of other materials, as long as they are consistent with the Bible. Therefore, all tradition is not bad. In my church we employ the man-made tradition of the altar call. However, our faith is not DEPENDENT on any man-made tradition. That dependence itself is wholly man-made. For example:

Mark 7:8 : You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men ."

To me, this verse does NOT say that all traditions are wrong. It just says that we cannot replace the scriptures with such traditions. Therefore, if there is any dependence on traditions that contradict scripture, then scripture has been laid aside. Re-interpreting scripture to match the tradition is not a legitimate practice because that would have man trumping God's word.

-------------------------

It seems to me that the author used his charismatic background to arrive at Catholicism. I'm not saying that makes sense, but I would not recommend using the charismatic "way" to arrive at anything. :) It really doesn't surprise me at all that he found nothing of lasting value in Bible-believing Protestant churches. They are not experiential-based. Throughout the whole testimony, the author returns again and again to his experiential base. Apparently, he found something in Catholicism that matched that.

I've never actually drawn any connections between Catholicism and experiential faith so I would be interested in your comments. In addition, I noted in the testimony that the author spoke approvingly of "Charismatic Catholics". I've never heard of them. Are they legit?

9 posted on 11/05/2007 6:03:12 PM PST by Forest Keeper (It is a joy to me to know that God had my number, before He created numbers.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: Forest Keeper
the very first churches were basically autonomous

A good source for that are the letters of St. Ignatius of Antioch, as well as of course the letters of St. Paul to the Corinthians.

Chapter 8. Let nothing be done without the bishop. See that you all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as you would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize or to celebrate a love-feast; but whatsoever he shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid.

Chapter 9. Honour the bishop. Moreover, it is in accordance with reason that we should return to soberness [of conduct], and, while yet we have opportunity, exercise repentance towards God. It is well to reverence both God and the bishop. He who honours the bishop has been honoured by God; he who does anything without the knowledge of the bishop, does [in reality] serve the devil. Let all things, then, abound to you through grace, for you are worthy. You have refreshed me in all things, and Jesus Christ [shall refresh] you. You have loved me when absent as well as when present. May God recompense you, for whose sake, while you endure all things, you shall attain unto Him.

(The Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans)

16 Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me, as I also am of Christ. 17 For this cause have I sent to you Timothy, who is my dearest son and faithful in the Lord; who will put you in mind of my ways, which are in Christ Jesus; as I teach every where in every church. 18 As if I would not come to you, so some are puffed up. 19 But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will: and will know, not the speech of them that are puffed up, but the power. 20 For the kingdom of God is not in speech, but in power. 21 What will you? shall I come to you with a rod; or in charity, and in the spirit of meekness?

(1 Cor 4)

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members of member. 28 And God indeed hath set some in the church; first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly doctors; after that miracles; then the graces of healing, helps, governments, kinds of tongues, interpretations of speeches. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all doctors? 30 Are all workers of miracles? Have all the grace of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?

(Ibid. 12)

"Charismatic Catholics". I've never heard of them. Are they legit?

Yes; this is a movement out of the Theological Seminary in Steubenville, OH. I know little of them. Their signature Practice are healing masses.

10 posted on 11/05/2007 6:38:03 PM PST by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea-Luke14.php)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: annalex; jo kus; wmfights
FK: "... the very first churches were basically autonomous."

A good source for that are the letters of St. Ignatius of Antioch, as well as of course the letters of St. Paul to the Corinthians.

Well sure, we have the hierarchy of my pastor and staff members in my church. But in the very early days, did one Bishop control a whole region of churches? Was there a centralized Church government in Rome from the beginning? That just doesn't sound right to me.

11 posted on 11/06/2007 1:05:06 AM PST by Forest Keeper (It is a joy to me to know that God had my number, before He created numbers.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: annalex

for when I’m not supposed to be sleeping


12 posted on 11/06/2007 1:20:21 AM PST by skr (How majestic is Thy Name, O Lord, and how mighty are Thy Works!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Forest Keeper
I thought the very first churches were basically autonomous.

They were. The churches selected their Elders and Deacons. It was after the Apostolic Era ended that there began to be a push for a hierarchal system. The justification for this was to combat heresy.

As with all things that man does to try and improve on God's plan it didn't work out.

13 posted on 11/06/2007 12:08:09 PM PST by wmfights (LUKE 9:49-50 , MARK 9:38-41)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: wmfights
The churches selected their Elders and Deacons. It was after the Apostolic Era ended that there began to be a push for a hierarchal system.

Then why does St. Paul direct Titus to "appoint presbyters in every town"?

Maybe that "push" started with the Apostles themselves.

14 posted on 11/06/2007 12:17:36 PM PST by Campion
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: Forest Keeper
But in the very early days, did one Bishop control a whole region of churches?

One bishop ran the show in one large town. As the faith spread, a bishop had more and more presybters (elders, priests) helping them, and they delegated more and more duties to them.

The idea that one town would have more than one congregation (or parish), with one (or more) presbyters serving each one, developed later on.

In the early days, of course, there were only enough Christians for a single congregation in even the biggest towns, and few or none in the smaller towns and countryside. (Our word "pagan" comes from a Latin term equating roughly to "country bumpkin".)

15 posted on 11/06/2007 12:21:54 PM PST by Campion
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: annalex

“Christ, in His beauty, draws me to Him”. - Jacopone da Todi

His perfect Sacrifice is the beauty I’m refering to here, not that it’s “beautiful” to see Him on the Cross, broken and bloodied. (Just to avoid any confusion) The beauty of Him, in all His Being, is, dare I say, “irresistable” to those who seek an answer to the mystery of life? Perhaps this is the method by which the Father “draws” those that come to Him? (cf. John 6:44) The Beauty of His Son.

Through the Son, the Father draws.

Just something I’ve been thinking about for a while.


16 posted on 11/06/2007 12:29:56 PM PST by FourtySeven (47)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Forest Keeper; jo kus; wmfights

The issue is whether the Early Church was hierarchical, not whether hierarchies also exist in Protestant settings. Also note that the quotes I gave you not simply set up admninistrative structures: they set up a liturgical and doctrinal structure as well, centered around the Eucharist and obedient to the bishop in all matters.

After St. Peter we had a short-lived papacy of St. Linus of which we know next to nothing; he was succeeded by St. Clement who was controlling things in Corinth over the heads of the local bishops, so definitely we had a papacy in the person of St. Clement, while the papacy of St. Peter is clear from the scripture.


17 posted on 11/06/2007 1:18:40 PM PST by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea-Luke14.php)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: FourtySeven
The beauty of the Crucifixion is particularly well expressed in the Orthodox iconography, which warns against making the Holy Wounds too graphic.


18 posted on 11/06/2007 1:22:30 PM PST by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea-Luke14.php)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

Comment #19 Removed by Moderator

To: sandyeggo
Excellent. The entire letter is well worth reading, and is short.

Here's a link: The Epistle of Ignatius to the Trallians

20 posted on 11/06/2007 1:55:51 PM PST by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea-Luke14.php)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies]

Comment #21 Removed by Moderator

To: sandyeggo
New Advent uses Lightfoot's translation:
an English version of the letters to be found in Lightfoot's "Apostolic Fathers", London, 1907, from which are taken all the quotations of the letters in this article, and to which all citations refer.
On the history of the letters, controversies, and codices, see St. Ignatius of Antioch, form which the above attribution note is taken.
22 posted on 11/06/2007 2:25:47 PM PST by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea-Luke14.php)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: Forest Keeper
In my church we employ the man-made tradition of the altar call.

In my church we have Altar Call every Sunday. It's called Holy Eucharist. We are all about charisma. That is what Holy Eucharist means, Eu = True, Charism = Anointing. It's just that the charism is not about personalities in our church because we have the True Body of Jesus Christ present on our altar and on our tongues. Talk about your gift of tongues!

23 posted on 11/06/2007 2:56:26 PM PST by ichabod1 ("Self defense is not only our right, it is our duty." President Ronald Reagan)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: FourtySeven

I’ve really been trying to focus on Him in the Mass lately. And I’ve been trying to emphasize, in my attention, the part AFTER the priest says “this is My body... this is My blood.” I’m trying to focus on the part about “Christ our passover is sacrificed for us,” the part where he breaks the bread. Being able to partake of it is icing on the cake... the real miracle is in the sacrifice. Glory be to Him.


24 posted on 11/06/2007 3:00:35 PM PST by ichabod1 ("Self defense is not only our right, it is our duty." President Ronald Reagan)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: wmfights
FK: "I thought the very first churches were basically autonomous."

They were. The churches selected their Elders and Deacons. It was after the Apostolic Era ended that there began to be a push for a hierarchal system.

OK, thanks much for the confirmation. I knew I remembered your saying that before. :)

25 posted on 11/06/2007 11:27:28 PM PST by Forest Keeper (It is a joy to me to know that God had my number, before He created numbers.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: Campion
One bishop ran the show in one large town. As the faith spread, a bishop had more and more presbyters (elders, priests) helping them, and they delegated more and more duties to them. The idea that one town would have more than one congregation (or parish), with one (or more) presbyters serving each one, developed later on.

Alright, that sounds reasonable. When the word "hierarchal" was used I was thinking in terms of something comparable to today (very centralized government for the whole Church), but it sounds like that didn't happen for a while.

26 posted on 11/06/2007 11:39:20 PM PST by Forest Keeper (It is a joy to me to know that God had my number, before He created numbers.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: annalex; jo kus; wmfights; Campion; sandyeggo; kosta50; Kolokotronis
The issue is whether the Early Church was hierarchical, not whether hierarchies also exist in Protestant settings.

My point was just to show that we also have leaders in our churches, a "type" of hierarchy, but we do not have a hierarchal system such as you do today. If the early churches revolved around a single Bishop (respectively), who led and delegated various responsibilities to "staff", then I was thinking that would be more comparable to the way Protestants do it today. However, I am still a little unclear on the role of the laity (if any) in choosing priests and Bishops. As I'm sure you know, in many/most Protestant churches the laity has sole discretion.

After St. Peter we had a short-lived papacy of St. Linus of which we know next to nothing; he was succeeded by St. Clement who was controlling things in Corinth over the heads of the local bishops, so definitely we had a papacy in the person of St. Clement, while the papacy of St. Peter is clear from the scripture.

But did St. Clement and other early Popes exercise power in any way comparable to modern day Popes? I can't imagine a communication system was established enough such that the early Popes could have "ruled" on something, and then word got out to all Christian churches everywhere. I also can't imagine the Orthodox going along with this. :)

27 posted on 11/07/2007 12:05:04 AM PST by Forest Keeper (It is a joy to me to know that God had my number, before He created numbers.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: ichabod1; annalex
In my church we have Altar Call every Sunday. It's called Holy Eucharist. We are all about charisma. That is what Holy Eucharist means, Eu = True, Charism = Anointing. It's just that the charism is not about personalities in our church because we have the True Body of Jesus Christ present on our altar and on our tongues.

Thanks very much. I didn't know that. As you probably saw, I noted to Alex that the author of the testimony spoke approvingly of "Charismatic Catholics", and then Alex said they were "OK" and not part of some fringe Catholic group (like the nuns who want women priests). I doubt the Church would be accepting of the author's charismatic background, so I was thinking the Charismatic Catholics must be something different.

28 posted on 11/07/2007 12:27:22 AM PST by Forest Keeper (It is a joy to me to know that God had my number, before He created numbers.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: Forest Keeper
If the early churches revolved around a single Bishop (respectively), who led and delegated various responsibilities to "staff", then I was thinking that would be more comparable to the way Protestants do it today.

A great example of how the early churches operated is in Acts. The council in Jerusalem reveals that decision making was done as a group and no one person made authoritative decisions on their own, a presbyterian system. IOW, a sacerdotal order is unknown, it was the process of declaring an episcopal ordination that established the distinction between the laity and differing levels of clergy. Until this happened a "bishop" was an elder who had no special authority other than to conduct the service.

The development of "Metropolitans" is what really accelerated the process, until then the presbyters and bishops were viewed as equals. A metropolitan was a bishop who was appointed to preside at a meeting involving a group of churches where there was a theological issue. What happened was the "metropolitans" took their titles home with them and claimed superior authority. Over time the episcopal order was established and a system where the clergy assumed the role of the Holy Spirit of maintaining the people in their relations with God was formalized.

29 posted on 11/07/2007 7:21:13 AM PST by wmfights (LUKE 9:49-50 , MARK 9:38-41)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 27 | View Replies]

To: Forest Keeper; jo kus; wmfights; Campion; sandyeggo; kosta50; Kolokotronis
Catholic and Orthodox clergy are all ordained by other clergy already ordained, going back to the Apostles. This produces an hierarchy unlike any other, going all the way, physically, to Christ.

did St. Clement and other early Popes exercise power in any way comparable to modern day Popes?

An ability to reach over the head of the local bishop is what defines papacy. St. Clement exercised that. There are some aspects of papal power that were perhaps acquired later, especially in the West, but the fundamental power of the papacy as a single authority above bishops dates back to the very first popes. some aspects fo papal powere were also lost; for example, the papal states were lost, and with decline of monarchies the ability to influence politics also declined.

30 posted on 11/07/2007 1:33:20 PM PST by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea-Luke14.php)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 27 | View Replies]

To: wmfights
The council in Jerusalem reveals that decision making was done as a group and no one person made authoritative decisions on their own, a presbyterian system. ...... Until this happened a "bishop" was an elder who had no special authority other than to conduct the service. The development of "Metropolitans" is what really accelerated the process, until then the presbyters and bishops were viewed as equals. ......

Yes, this is the piece I didn't understand. Thanks very much.

31 posted on 11/07/2007 11:49:08 PM PST by Forest Keeper (It is a joy to me to know that God had my number, before He created numbers.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 29 | View Replies]

To: Forest Keeper; wmfights

Wmfights’ is at best a very tendentious reading of Acts, and it is not consistent with Corinthians, where we see Paul defining a hierarchical system of authority. In Acts, we see St. James presiding, as bishop, over the meeting and dictating the canon regarding the admission of the Gentiles. I don’t understand where Wmfights finds his “no special authority other than to conduct the service”.


32 posted on 11/08/2007 10:46:31 AM PST by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea-Luke14.php)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 31 | View Replies]

To: annalex; wmfights
In Acts, we see St. James presiding, as bishop, over the meeting and dictating the canon regarding the admission of the Gentiles. I don’t understand where Wmfights finds his “no special authority other than to conduct the service”.

OK, but at that council, Peter was there, right? If he truly was the first Pope, then why didn't he preside in accordance with the hierarchal system?

33 posted on 11/09/2007 3:39:00 AM PST by Forest Keeper (It is a joy to me to know that God had my number, before He created numbers.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 32 | View Replies]

To: annalex

I assume the “he” in the title is the pope?


34 posted on 11/09/2007 3:47:14 AM PST by ears_to_hear (1Cr 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God:......)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Forest Keeper

Correct ! Peters incorrect actions were a part of the problem addressed by the 1st church council. Looking at the totality it looks like James had more authority than Peter and Peter submitted to it

Scripture indicates that there was a joint headship no pope


35 posted on 11/09/2007 3:51:34 AM PST by ears_to_hear (1Cr 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God:......)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 33 | View Replies]

To: Forest Keeper
If he truly was the first Pope, then why didn't he preside in accordance with the hierarchal system?

It didn't exist. :-)

The Apostles were evangelists. The Judaic model didn't begin until after the Apostolic Era. The excuse then was it was needed to protect against "divisions". We see that worked out really well.

The key phrases in Acts 15 is verse 6.

Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter.

Decision making was done as a group, not by an "elite" few.

Apostles did help in the picking of elders of churches, but ultimately the decisions were made at the local level. The Apostles did not consider themselves superior to other Christians.

IPeter 5:1 The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder...

The striking feature of the early Christian churches was the flexibility in worship, the belief that we are all a part of the priesthood, the equality of believers and most striking the absence of any clergy that manage the relationship between the believers and God. The Christian church had two ordinances the Lord's Supper (a part of the Agape feast) and Baptism, it was not the highly structured service, or organization, we see in most churches today.

36 posted on 11/09/2007 7:46:01 AM PST by wmfights (LUKE 9:49-50 , MARK 9:38-41)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 33 | View Replies]

To: ears_to_hear
Scripture indicates that there was a joint headship no pope.

Yes, that's all I can see too. Thanks.

37 posted on 11/09/2007 11:51:50 AM PST by Forest Keeper (It is a joy to me to know that God had my number, before He created numbers.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 35 | View Replies]

To: Forest Keeper; ears_to_hear

He wouldn’t; the local bishop, James, presides. The scriptural support for the leadership of Peter comes from the renaming, the keyes, and the “I pray for you that you strengthen your brethren” at the Last Supper, as well as from “feed my lambs”.


38 posted on 11/09/2007 1:33:46 PM PST by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea-Luke15.php)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 33 | View Replies]

To: ears_to_hear
the “he” in the title is the pope?

I was quite young the first time I saw him, so I don't remember where it happened. But I do remember being terrified by the sight: that tortured man, thorn-crowned, blood-bathed, forsaken. The sculptor had spared no crease of agony; the painter, no crimson stroke. He was a nightmare in wood.

Yet I was strangely drawn to him as well. His open arms welcomed me; his uncovered breast stretched out like a refuge. I wanted to touch him.

Yeah, right. Very funny. That must be the reason you guys run away from crucifixes like devil from holy water.

39 posted on 11/09/2007 1:36:20 PM PST by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea-Luke15.php)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 34 | View Replies]

To: wmfights

I grant you that the papacy became stronger under the guidance of the Holy Ghost over the years, and certainly the Church remains conciliar even today, but where do you find “the absence of any clergy that manage the relationship between the believers and God” in the scripture?


40 posted on 11/09/2007 1:38:46 PM PST by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea-Luke15.php)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 36 | View Replies]

To: wmfights
The striking feature of the early Christian churches was the flexibility in worship, the belief that we are all a part of the priesthood ...

Amen. Thanks for all the follow up info.

41 posted on 11/09/2007 5:12:51 PM PST by Forest Keeper (It is a joy to me to know that God had my number, before He created numbers.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 36 | View Replies]

To: annalex; ears_to_hear; wmfights
[Peter wouldn’t preside]; the local bishop, James, presides. The scriptural support for the leadership of Peter comes from the renaming, the keys, and the “I pray for you that you strengthen your brethren” at the Last Supper, as well as from “feed my lambs”.

Why would a local Bishop preside in the presence of the supreme Pope? I doubt it works like that today. :) That doesn't logically follow.

God renamed many people in scriptures without ever giving them papal authority. The keys are a basic scriptural difference of interpretation we have. The mention of prayer at the Last Supper was to encourage Peter after he would betray Jesus. It was not a conveyance of authority. The "feed my lambs" discourse was the mirror of the betrayal. The point was to show Peter what he had done.

42 posted on 11/10/2007 1:47:00 AM PST by Forest Keeper (It is a joy to me to know that God had my number, before He created numbers.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 38 | View Replies]

To: annalex; Forest Keeper; ears_to_hear
I grant you that the papacy became stronger under the guidance of the Holy Ghost...

I'm sure you would.

I think history bears me out on this, the opposite is what has occurred. Instead of being throughly directed by the Holy Spirit the RCC has become man centered with a whole host of doctrines/dogmas that are not Scriptural. The RCC has recreated the Judaic model with a stratified clergy that rules the laity. In the RC system it is the clergy that mediate between GOD and man, dispensing Grace as they see fit.

Our Saviour Jesus Christ did not set up this model. Instead what he told us is so simple we have a need to make it complicated.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

ITim. 2:5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,

The monobishophoric system that developed after the Apostolic Era was never of new covenant design. I have no doubt that many of those responsible thought they were doing a good thing, but the end result has been a neutering of the gift of the Holy Spirit.

43 posted on 11/10/2007 8:54:03 AM PST by wmfights (LUKE 9:49-50 , MARK 9:38-41)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 40 | View Replies]

To: Forest Keeper
Thanks for all the follow up info.

It's always a pleasure!

I don't know how you can patiently respond to everything, but it is fun to follow the discussions. I know for me I get busy with work at times and can't respond for awhile. My hat's off to you.

44 posted on 11/10/2007 8:58:41 AM PST by wmfights (LUKE 9:49-50 , MARK 9:38-41)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 41 | View Replies]

To: Forest Keeper; annalex; ears_to_hear
The keys are a basic scriptural difference of interpretation we have.

If the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven are not the gospel (the means by which we are saved - the door to heaven opened to us) what are they?

45 posted on 11/10/2007 9:07:59 AM PST by wmfights (LUKE 9:49-50 , MARK 9:38-41)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 42 | View Replies]

To: wmfights; annalex; ears_to_hear
If the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven are not the gospel (the means by which we are saved - the door to heaven opened to us) what are they?

I just meant that the keys are not something that Peter exclusively held (and by extension only the Apostles and their direct successors). This is from The Heidelberg Confession:

Question 83. What are the keys of the kingdom of heaven?

Answer: The preaching of the holy gospel, and christian discipline, or excommunication out of the christian church; by these two, the kingdom of heaven is opened to believers, and shut against unbelievers.

Question 84. How is the kingdom of heaven opened and shut by the preaching of the holy gospel?

Answer: Thus: when according to the command of Christ, it is declared and publicly testified to all and every believer, that, whenever they receive the promise of the gospel by a true faith, all their sins are really forgiven them of God, for the sake of Christ's merits; and on the contrary, when it is declared and testified to all unbelievers, and such as do not sincerely repent, that they stand exposed to the wrath of God, and eternal condemnation, so long as they are unconverted: (a) according to which testimony of the gospel, God will judge them, both in this, and in the life to come.

(a) Matt.16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Matt.16:19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Matt.18:15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. Matt.18:16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. Matt.18:17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Matt.18:18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Matt.18:19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. John 20:21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. John 20:22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: John 20:23 Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.

Question 85. How is the kingdom of heaven shut and opened by christian discipline?

Answer: Thus: when according to the command of Christ, those, who under the name of christians, maintain doctrines, or practices inconsistent therewith, and will not, after having been often brotherly admonished, renounce their errors and wicked course of life, are complained of to the church, or to those, who are thereunto appointed by the church; and if they despise their admonition, are by them forbidden the use of the sacraments; whereby they are excluded from the christian church, and by God himself from the kingdom of Christ; and when they promise and show real amendment, are again received as members of Christ and his church. (a)

(a) Matt.18:15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. Matt.18:16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. Matt.18:17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Matt.18:18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 1 Cor.5:2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. 1 Cor.5:3 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, 1 Cor.5:4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Cor.5:5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 1 Cor.5:11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. 2 Thess.3:14 And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. 2 Thess.3:15 Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother. 2 Cor.2:6 Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. 2 Cor.2:7 So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. 2 Cor.2:8 Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.

-----------------

So, it appears that it comes down to who is "The Church". For the Latins, it appears that term has a very flexible definition. :)

46 posted on 11/10/2007 1:46:57 PM PST by Forest Keeper (It is a joy to me to know that God had my number, before He created numbers.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 45 | View Replies]

To: Forest Keeper; ears_to_hear; wmfights
would a local Bishop preside in the presence of the supreme Pope? I doubt it works like that today

I, frankly, don't know how it would work today, but what if today the Pope would preside? No questions many things changed around the papacy through its 2,000 years of history. You cannot dispute that the entire issue was driven by St. Peter converting the first Gentiles, St. Peter having the vision that lead the Church do lift the dietetic restrictions; and it is St. Peter who makes the decisive speech, following which "all the multitude held their peace". St. James merely dictates the consensus that St. Peter had formed.

God renamed many people in scriptures

In fact, Abraham together with his wife, and Jacob were renamed, the father of monotheism and the father of the Jewish nation. This puts St. Peter in a very exceptional company.

The keys are a basic scriptural difference of interpretation we have.

You simply do not have an interpretation. The Hedelberg confession is plain absurd. If the keys are "preaching of the holy gospel" where is that interperetation suggested in the Scripture? Peter is not even among the evangelists. The Church and St. Peter are mentioned in the passage; the scripture is not. The Heidelberg confession is a wholy unscriptural set of musings that doesn't even attempt to link the interpretation to the actual gospel text.

The mention of prayer at the Last Supper was to encourage Peter after he would betray Jesus. It was not a conveyance of authority

"Thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren" (Luke 22:32) says that Peter will lead the apostles. One who confirms others has the authority to confirm, it seems to me.

The "feed my lambs" discourse was the mirror of the betrayal.

That is was: it restored Peter's primacy. If, following the repeated confession of love, Christ wanted to "encourage" Peter, He would not have put him up for anoyher task of feeding ang guiding the "lambs", that is, the apostles and the rest of the Church (cf Luke 10:3).

47 posted on 11/10/2007 7:22:02 PM PST by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea-John2.php)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 42 | View Replies]

To: wmfights; Forest Keeper; ears_to_hear
dogmas that are not Scriptural

We just see one such theological flight of fancy, the Heidelberg confession, right here, scandalously unscriptural.

John 3:16 ... ITim. 2:5

These verses do not speak at all to the manner of salvation; they do establish the Catholic concept of salvation through Christ alone. However, Christ also built His Church; -- on the person of Peter. This is the part Protestantism denies, heretically and unscripturally.

48 posted on 11/10/2007 7:27:43 PM PST by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea-John2.php)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 43 | View Replies]

To: wmfights; Forest Keeper; ears_to_hear
Why, what the keys are is explained right there in the scripture; you should read it from time to time.

18... thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven

The keys are given personally to Peter, they are related to the Church of Christ build on the Peter's person, they will enable Peter to legislate on earth, and Christ promises that whatever Peter legislates on earth Christ will hold in Heaven. What is the subject of the legislation? The passage explains it is twofold: it has to do with defeating Hell and it has to do with opening Heaven. So St. Peter can send peope to Hell, that is, excommunicate them from the Catholic Church; and he can send them to Heaven, that is canonize them as saints; exactly what the popes are doing to this day. It is not a complicated text.

49 posted on 11/10/2007 7:35:48 PM PST by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea-John2.php)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 45 | View Replies]

To: annalex; ears_to_hear; wmfights
I, frankly, don't know how it would work today, but what if today the Pope would preside? No questions many things changed around the papacy through its 2,000 years of history.

I could be wrong, but my understanding is that the council that recognized the infallibility of the Pope (in certain circumstances) applied it retroactively to all prior Popes. Therefore, I "think", the primacy of the Pope would be something "always and everywhere believed by the Church". That doesn't match the council we're talking about in Acts.

In fact, this is from New Advent under the subsection: (1) The Pope's Universal Coercive Jurisdiction:

Not only did Christ constitute St. Peter head of the Church, but in the words, "Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, it shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed in heaven," He indicated the scope of this headship.

The expressions binding and loosing here employed are derived from the current terminology of the Rabbinic schools. A doctor who declared a thing to be prohibited by the law was said to bind, for thereby he imposed an obligation on the conscience. He who declared it to be lawful was said to loose). In this way the terms had come respectively to signify official commands and permissions in general. The words of Christ, therefore, as understood by His hearers, conveyed the promise to St. Peter of legislative authority within the kingdom over which He had just set him, and legislative authority carries with it as its necessary accompaniment judicial authority. (emphasis added)

Moreover, the powers conferred in these regards are plenary. This is plainly indicated by the generality of the terms employed: "Whatsoever thou shalt bind . . . Whatsoever thou shalt loose"; nothing is withheld. Further, Peter's authority is subordinated to no earthly superior. (emphasis added)

The article doesn't appear to address the problem we are discussing. Obviously, the claim is that Peter had full authority from the word Go, yet that's not what scripture reveals.

St. James merely dictates the consensus that St. Peter had formed.

Well, THAT'S a pretty creative interpretation. :) Quoting James:

Acts 15:19 : "It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.

Yeah, right. James was just a yes man. Peter was really in charge all along. :)

In fact, Abraham together with his wife, and Jacob were renamed, the father of monotheism and the father of the Jewish nation. This puts St. Peter in a very exceptional company.

Sure, the same company as Paul, a giant in Reformed theology. :) In my opinion, Paul would have had nothing to do with the idea of a Pope. He was a humble servant. It was other Apostles who asked who would be the greatest. Jesus always had the same answer, he who is least. That goes against almost everything associated with the papacy.

If the keys are "preaching of the holy gospel" where is that interpretation suggested in the Scripture? Peter is not even among the evangelists. The Church and St. Peter are mentioned in the passage; the scripture is not.

The Gospel is mentioned. Today, that is contained in its most pure form in the scriptures. ...... The keys metaphor symbolizes that which separates the man from Heaven. Salvation is what crosses that obstacle. Faith comes from hearing, etc. Jesus sent all of His children out to make disciples by preaching the word of God. It's just basic theology 101.

"Thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren" (Luke 22:32) says that Peter will lead the apostles. One who confirms others has the authority to confirm, it seems to me.

The conversion being spoken of here is Peter's repentance of his betrayal of Christ. Once that is done, Christ says Peter should minister to his brothers. It is a message for all of us. The word in my Bible is "strengthen", not "confirm".

If, following the repeated confession of love, Christ wanted to "encourage" Peter, He would not have put him up for another task of feeding and guiding the "lambs", that is, the apostles and the rest of the Church (cf Luke 10:3).

Baptism by fire. God never promised us a cake walk. :) Experience breeds confidence. The encouragement would come with experience. God was in full control anyway, so it was all according to plan.

50 posted on 11/10/2007 9:59:59 PM PST by Forest Keeper (It is a joy to me to know that God had my number, before He created numbers.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 47 | View Replies]


Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-87 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Religion
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson