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

Posted on 03/20/2008 8:55:06 PM PDT by annalex

My (Imminent) Reception into the Roman Catholic Church

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; Ecumenism
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To: Magdala

Your explanation is superb.


21 posted on 03/21/2008 6:33:05 AM PDT by Petronski (Nice job, Hillary. Now go home and get your shine box.)
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To: Freedom'sWorthIt
He doesn’t believe he IS DEFINITELY going to heaven?

How can anyone presume to know the will of God? That is the very height of hubris and pride is one of the seven deadly sins for a reason. Too often, the Protestant mindset allows them to commit all sorts of egregious and public sins simply because "they've already been saved." It is a much more Christian attitude to recognize oneself as a humble, repentant sinner who will be received into Heaven only through the mercy of God--and that if they don't fight with all of their heart and soul to resist the temptation to sin, they may yet end up in Gehenna.

And by the way, it's the thought in some Catholic eschatology that God condemns no one to Hell. The unrepentant sinful soul facing the ultimate truth of the last judgment and realizing how far it has fallen short of what Christ called it to be, condemns itself--unable to withstand the perfect and eternal glory of the Trinity.

I sometimes wonder how many Protestants have faced that Heavenly Tribunal and, having their supreme arrogance at assuming they would "definitely" be one of the elect laid bare, condemned themselves to Hell.

May Christ be praised on this Good Friday--the commemoration of his crucifixion and death.
22 posted on 03/21/2008 6:34:54 AM PDT by Antoninus (Tell us how you came to Barack?)
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To: Alex Murphy
I cannot, and I will not recant. Here I stand. I can do no other.

Pride goeth before the fall.
23 posted on 03/21/2008 6:42:03 AM PDT by Antoninus (Tell us how you came to Barack?)
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Comment #24 Removed by Moderator

Comment #25 Removed by Moderator

To: Freedom'sWorthIt
You ask a great question, and you ask it with Charity and with a genuine desire to know. It's something that is, often times, missing from this site. Further, you've recieved many great answers from others - there are just a few things I would like to add.

First, is this:

[Jesus] then addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else. "Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, 'O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity--greedy, dishonest, adulterous--or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.' But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, 'O God, be merciful to me a sinner.' I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted." Luke 18: 9-14

Accepting our failures, recognizing them as such, and striving always to live up to the example of Christ is how we can be saved. I know I will fail in living up to that example. However, using my free will to grow in Him through all things, accepting His Grace, and relying on His Mercy - hopefully I will be granted salvation.

26 posted on 03/21/2008 7:12:59 AM PDT by thefrankbaum
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To: CTK YKC
His grace is also great enough to leave the gift lying there for us to accept over and over again.

Ummm ... no ...
Hebrews 6:4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,

5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,

6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance;
seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.
Look at the apostles, they all rejected the gift one way or another and except for Judas they all came back and accepted the gift again.

Can you recall any apostle that did this ?

27 posted on 03/21/2008 8:06:38 AM PDT by Quester
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To: Quester

Peter in his denial. All of them the night of the passion by runnign away and denying knowing Him.

Are you saying once you commit a mortal sin you can never return to God’s grace?

I am guessing you follow the once saved always saved school of thought?


28 posted on 03/21/2008 8:28:10 AM PDT by CTK YKC
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To: Alex Murphy
God bless you.

Unless I am convinced by Scripture and by plain reason, and not by Popes and councils

The Holy Scripture sets the Church, and not itself, as the supreme arbiter:

if he will not hear the church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican (Mt 18:17)

It would have been especially foolish for Luther to say so, since his superstitious notions of sola fide and sola scriptura are nowhere in the scripture, while his creative editing of the scripture to suit his whims is a matter of historical record.

Lucky for the damn jerk, there is no evidence that he actually said that, -- the catchy phrase seems to be another invention in the Protestant heap of myths.

29 posted on 03/21/2008 9:14:00 AM PDT by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea.php)
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To: annalex
Here's one you might want to add to that list:

Catholics Come Home.

30 posted on 03/21/2008 1:04:19 PM PDT by Jeff Chandler (Iím gonna get me a shotgun and kill all the whiteys I see...)
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To: CTK YKC
Look at the apostles, they all rejected the gift one way or another and except for Judas they all came back and accepted the gift again.

Can you recall any apostle that did this ?

Peter in his denial. All of them the night of the passion by runnign away and denying knowing Him.


I would say that having a moment of weakness ... and rejecting the gospel of Jesus Christ ... are two different things.

Are you saying once you commit a mortal sin you can never return to God’s grace?

I am guessing you follow the once saved always saved school of thought?


I'm of the school that affirms what the Bible says in Hebrews 6:4-6 ... that anyone, having experienced the gift of salvation, ... who then gives it up ... cannot return to claim it again.

31 posted on 03/21/2008 2:57:16 PM PDT by Quester
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To: sandyeggo

She is a Catholic, having been raised in the Catholic church. She has, however, been able to listen to many ministries on a Christian satellite tv service which also has radio ministries. They have helped carry her through a very difficult time after she lost her adult daughter. But she was attending and still attends a Catholic church. There have been times she has gone with me to my protestant church but more often than not she attends mass with one of her Catholic friends at her Catholic church.


32 posted on 03/21/2008 6:23:51 PM PDT by Freedom'sWorthIt
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To: annalex

Thank you for your response. Is that the key passage for the Catholic faith regarding the need for us to do things to make our eternal life with Jesus a certainty? Are there others?


33 posted on 03/21/2008 6:27:05 PM PDT by Freedom'sWorthIt
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To: Magdala

Thank you. Your explanation does help very much to explain the Catholic perspective on the certainty of salvation.

I believe that when one declares oneself certain of his eternal destination, of course, one is to examine themselves to see if they are truly “in the faith”. Because we can deceive ourselves so easily. (2 Cor 13:5)

And yet, surely the assurance of salvation, which includes our eternal presence in heaven with the Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father and the Holy Spirit....is promised and mentioned in many many scriptures? (I can search for these later). I think of one: John 10 = especially 27-29.

25Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me, 26but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. 29My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all[d]; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30I and the Father are one.”

Is it not of tremendous power and comfort and victory in a Christian’s life to know that Jesus gives to those who hear His voice (and follows Him) ETERNAL LIFE and NOTHING, no power, no person, no sin, can “snatch” that person out of God’s hand?

Yes it can be presumptive to say we know we are going to heaven when we die. But it can also be tremendously destructive in a Christian believer’s life to doubt their eternal security.....where one wonders constantly - have I done enough, have I done the right things, have I performed the right duties, have I done enough good deeds, in order to be sure I will be judged worthy of heaven?

Paul addresses in Romans 6 the challenges posted by those who claimed he was preaching licentiousness in the name of the Gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ! I would be very glad to talk about Romans 6 (or any part of the book of Romans) with anyone who would like to talk about it. I’ve just recently come to better understand God’s Word in that section of Scripture.


34 posted on 03/21/2008 6:48:05 PM PDT by Freedom'sWorthIt
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To: NYer

Thanks for the added explanation.

I can understand this point of view but there are so many other passages in Scripture that teach Christ’s sufficiency in securing our salavation - all of it = our redemption, our deliverance from sin and satan’s power, our sanctification (in which we do live lives being conformed to the image of God’s dear Son), and our eternal glorification.....that I embrace the eternal security with humility and thanksgiving to God for His mercy and grace and saving might granted to a worm such as myself.

You quote Hebrews 9 which is one of my most favorite chapters in one of my most favorite books in all Scripture:

Here is it in its New King James version - I hope that is an acceptable version: There are many important verses here that are pertinent to our discussion. But here’s one:

that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

Again it is like the Good Shepherd who calls us to be His own....and when we respond to His calling - yes in obedience (to the calling to follow Him in faith).....we are never to be snatched away from His Hand.

And it is Jesus who does the calling, it is the great High Priest whose blood was shed that brings us the cleansing and the deliverance from sin ...and this sacrifice cannot be repeated. Dead ordinances cannot bring us this cleansing of our sins or our salavation. He is the mediator of the NEW COVENANT brought to us through His shed blood, not through the LAW. Not through obedience to the LAW can we be saved.

H
And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

(below is the whole rest of the Chapter 9 of Hebrews)...sorry this is so scattered sounding.

Limitations of the Earthly Service

6 Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services. 7 But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance; 8 the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing. 9 It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience— 10 concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation.

The Heavenly Sanctuary

11 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come,[a] with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. 12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15 And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

The Mediator’s Death Necessary

16 For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. 17 For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives. 18 Therefore not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood. 19 For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you.”[b] 21 Then likewise he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry. 22 And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.
Greatness of Christ’s Sacrifice

23 Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; 25 not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another— 26 He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. 27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.

We are to be eagerly awaiting Him - - for salvation. In other words we are not to dread His appearing as one would dread standing before the Judgement seat of Christ unsure of one’s assurance of eternal life in heaven with Him.

WEll I know this has been a confusing post probably....

Sorry not very good at this type of discussion, Thanks for all who contributed. I value and treasure my Christian brothers and Sisters, Catholics and non Catholics alike!

God bless you all and Happy Easter and I’ll come back tomorrow to check on and try to continue the discussion if anyone so wishes.


35 posted on 03/21/2008 7:18:38 PM PDT by Freedom'sWorthIt
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To: Quester

Peter in his denial. All of them the night of the passion by runnign away and denying knowing Him.

“I would say that having a moment of weakness ... and rejecting the gospel of Jesus Christ ... are two different things.”

What the Apostles did was not a moment of weakness. They saw the Living Christ. They saw his many miracles, indeed, they saw Him as The Savior in the flesh. Yet, they still denied Him and came back to spread the Gospel. Christ’s Mercy is is Divine and beyond our comprehension. But we shold know that it is there for us.


36 posted on 03/21/2008 7:20:43 PM PDT by rbmillerjr ("bigger government means constricting freedom"....................RWR)
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To: Quester

This homily on Hebrews 6 from St John Chrysostom may be of interest to you.

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf114.v.xiii.html


37 posted on 03/21/2008 7:45:51 PM PDT by Straight Vermonter (Posting from deep behind the Maple Curtain)
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To: rbmillerjr
Peter in his denial. All of them the night of the passion by runnign away and denying knowing Him.

“I would say that having a moment of weakness ... and rejecting the gospel of Jesus Christ ... are two different things.”

What the Apostles did was not a moment of weakness. They saw the Living Christ. They saw his many miracles, indeed, they saw Him as The Savior in the flesh. Yet, they still denied Him and came back to spread the Gospel. Christ’s Mercy is is Divine and beyond our comprehension. But we shold know that it is there for us.


What the disciples did was to flee when they saw their leader facing death.
John 14:27 And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.

28 But after that I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee.
Note that the scripture says that the sheep are scattered, ... not lost.

Jesus will never lose His sheep.
John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.

38 posted on 03/21/2008 8:02:13 PM PDT by Quester
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To: Freedom'sWorthIt
No person is ASSURED of heaven, even if they are Christian!! You must obey the Commandments, and KNOW, LOVE and SERVE Jesus and die in the State of Grace. If you only have VENIAL sin on your soul at death, you will go to Purgatory to be PURGED (CLEANSED of your sins) and THEN be released to Heaven!!

Purgatory is like a TIME OUT.....your parents still love you, that;s why they need to punish you for your sins, Jesus loves you and can;t wait til you join him AFTER you are CLEANSED.....No sin filled person gets to heaven, UNTIL they are CLEANSED and punished for their sins.

39 posted on 03/21/2008 8:18:18 PM PDT by Ann Archy (Abortion.....The Human Sacrifice to the god of Convenience.)
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To: Freedom'sWorthIt
No person is ASSURED of heaven, even if they are Christian!! You must obey the Commandments, and KNOW, LOVE and SERVE Jesus and die in the State of Grace. If you only have VENIAL sin on your soul at death, you will go to Purgatory to be PURGED (CLEANSED of your sins) and THEN be released to Heaven!!

Purgatory is like a TIME OUT.....your parents still love you, that;s why they need to punish you for your sins, Jesus loves you and can;t wait til you join him AFTER you are CLEANSED.....No sin filled person gets to heaven, UNTIL they are CLEANSED and punished for their sins.

40 posted on 03/21/2008 8:19:13 PM PDT by Ann Archy (Abortion.....The Human Sacrifice to the god of Convenience.)
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