Skip to comments.Hauled Aboard the Ark – Conversion Story of Peter Kreeft
Posted on 06/06/2013 3:50:50 PM PDT by NYer
by Peter Kreeft
I was born into a loving, believing community, a Protestant mother church (the Reformed Church) which, though it had not for me the fullness of the faith, had strong and genuine piety. I believed, mainly because of the good example of my parents and my church. The faith of my parents, Sunday School teachers, ministers, and relatives made a real difference to their lives, a difference big enough to compensate for many shortcomings. Love covers a multitude of sins.
I was taught what C. S. Lewis calls mere Christianity, essentially the Bible. But no one reads the Bible as an extraterrestrial or an angel; our church community provides the colored glasses through which we read, and the framework, or horizon, or limits within which we understand. My glasses were of Dutch Reformed Calvinist construction, and my limiting framework stopped very far short of anything Catholic! The Catholic Church was regarded with utmost suspicion. In the world of the forties and fifties in which I grew up, that suspicion may have been equally reciprocated by most Catholics. Each group believed that most of the other groups were probably on the road to hell. Christian ecumenism and understanding has made astonishing strides since then.
Dutch Calvinists, like most conservative Protestants, sincerely believed that Catholic-ism was not only heresy but idolatry; that Catholics worshipped the Church, the Pope, Mary, saints, images, and who knows what else; that the Church had added some inane traditions of men to the Word of God, traditions and doctrines that obviously contradicted it (how could they not see this? I wondered); and, most important of all, that Catholics believed another gospel; another religion, that they didnt even know how to get to Heaven: they tried to pile up brownie points with God with their good works, trying to work their way in instead of trusting in Jesus as their Savior. They never read the Bible, obviously.
I was never taught to hate Catholics, but to pity them and to fear their errors. I learned a serious concern for truth that to this day I find sadly missing in many Catholic circles. The typical Calvinist anti-Catholic attitude I knew was not so much prejudice, judgment with no concern for evidence, but judgment based on apparent and false evidence: sincere mistakes rather than dishonest rationalizations.
Though I thought it pagan rather than Christian, the richness and mystery of Catholicism fascinated methe dimensions which avant-garde liturgists have been dismantling since the Silly Sixties. (When God saw that the Church in America lacked persecutions, he sent them liturgists.)
The first independent idea about religion I ever remember thinking was a question I asked my father, an elder in the church, a good and wise and holy man. I was amazed that he couldnt answer it. Why do we Calvinists have the whole truth and no one else? Were so few. How could God leave the rest of the world in error? Especially the rest of the Christian churches? Since no good answer seemed forthcoming, I then came to the explosive conclusion that the truth about God was more mysteriousmore wonderfully and uncomfortably mysteriousthan anything any of us could ever fully comprehend. (Calvinists would not deny that, but they do not usually teach it either. They are strong on Gods sovereignty, but weak on the richness of Gods mystery.) That conviction, that the truth is always infinitely more than anyone can have, has not diminished. Not even all the infallible creeds are a container for all that is God.
I also realized at a very young age, obscurely but strongly, that the truth about God had to be far simpler than I had been taught, as well as far more complex and mysterious. I remember surprising my father with this realization (which was certainly because of Gods grace rather than my intelligence, for I was only about eight, I think): Dad, everything we learn in church and everything in the Bible comes down to just one thing, doesnt it? Theres only one thing we have to worry about, isnt there? Why, no, I dont see that. There are many things. What do you mean? I mean that all God wants us to doall the timeis to ask Him what He wants us to do, and then do it. That covers everything, doesnt it? Instead of asking ourselves, ask God! Surprised, my father replied, You know, youre right!
After eight years of public elementary school, my parents offered me a choice between two high schools: public or Christian (Calvinist), and I chose the latter, even though it meant leaving old friends. Eastern Christian High School was run by a sister denomination, the Christian Reformed Church. Asking myself now why I made that choice, I cannot say. Providence often works in obscurity. I was not a remarkably religious kid, and loved the New York Giants baseball team with considerable more passion and less guilt than I loved God.
I won an essay contest in high school with a meditation on Dostoyevskis story The Grand Inquisitor; interpreted as an anti-Catholic, anti-authoritarian cautionary tale. The Church, like Communism, seemed a great, dark, totalitarian threat.
I then went to Calvin College, the Christian Reformed college which has such a great influence for its small size and provincial locale (Grand Rapids, Michigan) because it takes both its faith and its scholarship very seriously. I registered as a pre-seminary student because, though I did not think I was personally called by God to be a clergyman, I thought I might give it a try. I was deeply impressed by the caption under a picture of Christ on the cross: This is what I did for thee. What will you do for Me?
But in college I quickly fell in love with English, and then Philosophy, and thus twice changed my major. Both subjects were widening my appreciation of the history of Western civilization and therefore of things Catholic. The first serious doubt about my anti-Catholic beliefs was planted in my mind by my roommate, who was becoming an Anglican: Why dont Protestants pray to saints? Theres nothing wrong in you asking me to pray for you, is there? Why not ask the dead, then, if we believe theyre alive with God in Heaven, part of the great cloud of witnesses that surrounds us (Hebrews 12)? It was the first serious question I had absolutely no answer to, and that bothered me. I attended Anglican liturgy with my roommate and was enthralled by the same things that captivated Tom Howard and many others: not just the aesthetic beauty but the full-ness, the solidity, the moreness of it all.
I remember a church service I went to while at Calvin, in the Wealthy Street Baptist Temple (fundamentalist). I had never heard such faith and conviction, such joy in the music, such love of Jesus. I needed to focus my aroused love of God on an object. But God is invisible, and we are not angels. There was no religious object in the church. It was a bare, Protestant church; images were idols. I suddenly understood why Protestants were so subjectivistic: their love of God had no visible object to focus it. The living water welling up from within had no material riverbed, no shores, to direct its flow to the far divine sea. It rushed back upon itself and became a pool of froth.
Then I caught sight of a Catholic spy in the Protestant camp: a gold cross atop the pole of the church flag. Adoring Christ required using that symbol. The alternative was the froth. My gratitude to the Catholic Church for this one relic, this remnant, of her riches, was immense. For this good Protestant water to flow, there had to be Catholic aqueducts. To change the metaphor, I had been told that reliance on external things was a crutch! I now realized that I was a cripple. And I thanked the Catholic hospital (thats what the Church is) for responding to my needs.
Perhaps, I thought, these good Protestant people could worship like angels, but I could not. Then I realized that they couldnt either. Their ears were using crutches but not their eyes. They used beautiful hymns, for which I would gladly exchange the new, flat, unmusical, wimpy liturgical responses no one sings in our massestheir audible imagery is their crutch. I think that in Heaven, Protestants will teach Catholics to sing and Catholics will teach Protestants to dance and sculpt.
I developed a strong intellectual and aesthetic love for things medieval: Gregorian chant, Gothic architecture, Thomistic philosophy, illuminated manuscripts, etc. I felt vaguely guilty about it, for that was the Catholic era. I thought I could separate these legitimate cultural forms from the dangerous Catholic essence, as the modern Church separated the essence from these discarded forms. Yet I saw a natural connection.
Then one summer, on the beach at Ocean Grove, New Jersey, I read St. John of the Cross. I did not understand much of it, but I knew, with undeniable certainty, that here was reality, something as massive and positive as a mountain range. I felt as if I had just come out of a small, comfortable cave, in which I had lived all my life, and found that there was an unsuspected world outside of incredible dimensions. Above all, the dimensions were those of holiness, goodness, purity of heart, obedience to the first and greatest commandment, willing Gods will, the one absolute I had discovered, at the age of eight. I was very far from saintly, but that did not prevent me from fascinated admiration from afar; the valley dweller appreciates the height of the mountain more than the dweller on the foothills. I read other Catholic saints and mystics, and discovered the same reality there, however different the style (even St. Thérèse The Little Flower!) I felt sure it was the same reality I had learned to love from my parents and teachers, only a far deeper version of it. It did not seem alien and other. It was not another religion but the adult version of my own.
Then in a church history class at Calvin a professor gave me a way to investigate the claims of the Catholic Church on my own. The essential claim is historical: that Christ founded the Catholic Church, that there is historical continuity. If that were true, I would have to be a Catholic out of obedience to my one absolute, the will of my Lord. The teacher explained the Protestant belief. He said that Catholics accuse we who are Protestants of going back only to Luther and Calvin; but this is not true; we go back to Christ. Christ had never intended a Catholic-style Church, but a Protestant-style one. The Catholic additions to the simple, Protestant-style New Testament church had grown up gradually in the Middle Ages like barnacles on the hull of a ship, and the Protestant Reformers had merely scraped off the barnacles, the alien, pagan accretions. The Catholics, on the other hand, believed that Christ established the Church Catholic from the start, and that the doctrines and practices that Protestants saw as barnacles were, in fact, the very living and inseparable parts of the planks and beams of the ship.
I thought this made the Catholic claim empirically testable, and I wanted to test it because I was worried by this time about my dangerous interest in things Catholic. Half of me wanted to discover it was the true Church (that was the more adventurous half); the other half wanted to prove it false (that was the comfortable half). My adventurous half rejoiced when I discovered in the early Church such Catholic elements as the centrality of the Eucharist, the Real Presence, prayers to saints, devotion to Mary, an insistence on visible unity, and apostolic succession. Furthermore, the Church Fathers just smelled more Catholic than Protestant, especially St. Augustine, my personal favorite and a hero to most Protestants too. It seemed very obvious that if Augustine or Jerome or Ignatius of Antioch or Anthony of the Desert, or Justin Martyr, or Clement of Alexandria, or Athanasius were alive today they would be Catholics, not Protestants.
The issue of the Churchs historical roots was crucial to me, for the thing I had found in the Catholic Church and in no Protestant church was simply this: the massive historical fact that there she is, majestic and unsinkable. It was the same old seaworthy ship, the Noahs ark that Jesus had commissioned. It was like discovering not an accurate picture of the ark, or even a real relic of its wood, but the whole ark itself, still sailing unscathed on the seas of history! It was like a fairy tale come true, like a myth become fact; to use C. S. Lewis formula for the Incarnation.
The parallel between Christ and Church, Incarnation and Church history, goes still further. I thought, just as Jesus made a claim about His identity that forces us into one of only two camps, His enemies or His worshippers, those who call Him liar and those who call Him Lord; so the Catholic Churchs claim to be the one true Church, the Church Christ founded, forces us to say either that this is the most arrogant, blasphemous and wicked claim imaginable, if it is not true, or else that she is just what she claims to be. Just as Jesus stood out as the absolute exception to all other human teachers in claiming to be more than human and more than a teacher, so the Catholic Church stood out above all other denominations in claiming to be not merely a denomination, but the Body of Christ incarnate, infallible, one, and holy, presenting the really present Christ in her Eucharist. I could never rest in a comfortable, respectable ecumenical halfway house of measured admiration from a distance. I had to shout either Crucify her! or Hosanna! if I could not love and believe her, honesty forced me to despise and fight her.
But I could not despise her. The beauty and sanctity and wisdom of her, like that of Christ, prevented me from calling her liar or lunatic, just as it prevented me from calling Christ that. But simple logic offered then one and only one other option: this must be the Church my Lord provided for memy Lord, for me. So she had better become my Church if He is my Lord.
There were many strands in the rope that hauled me aboard the ark, though this onethe Churchs claim to be the one Church historically founded by Christwas the central and deciding one. The book that more than any other decided it for me was Ronald Knoxs The Belief of Catholics. He and Chesterton spoke with authority, and not as the scribes! Even C. S. Lewis, the darling of Protestant Evangelicals, smelled Catholic most of the time. A recent book by a Calvinist author I went to high school with, John Beversluis, mercilessly tries to tear all Lewis arguments to shreds; but Lewis is left without a scratch and Beversluis comes out looking like an atheist. Lewis is the only author I ever have read whom I thought I could completely trust and completely understand. But he believed in Purgatory, the Real Presence in the Eucharist, and not Total Depravity. He was no Calvinist. In fact, he was a medieval.
William Harry Jellema, the greatest teacher I ever knew, though a Calvinist, showed me what I can only call the Catholic vision of the history of philosophy, embracing the Greek and medieval tradition and the view of reason it assumed, a thick rather than a thin one. Technically this was realism (Aquinas) as vs. nominalism (Ockham and Luther). Commonsensically, it meant wisdom rather than mere logical consistency, insight rather than mere calculation. I saw Protestant theology as infected with shallow nominalism and Descartes narrow scientificization of reason.
A second and related difference is that Catholics, like their Greek and medieval teachers, still believed that reason was essentially reliable, not utterly untrustworthy because fallen. We make mistakes in using it, yes. There are noetic effects of sin, yes. But the instrument is reliable. Only our misuse of it is not.
This is connected with a third difference. For Catholics, reason is not just subjective but objective; reason is not our artificial little man-made rules for our own subjective thought processes or intersubjective communications, but a window on the world. And not just the material world, but form, order, objective truth. Reason was from God. All truth was Gods truth. When Plato or Socrates knew the truth, the logos, they knew Christ, unless John lies in chapter 1 of his gospel. I gave a chapel speech at Calvin calling Socrates a common-grace Christian and unwittingly scandalized the powers that be. They still remember it, 30 years later.
The only person who almost kept me Protestant was Kierkegaard. Not Calvin or Luther. Their denial of free will made human choice a sham game of predestined dice. Kierkegaard offered a brilliant, consistent alternative to Catholicism, but such a quirkily individualistic one, such a pessimistic and antirational one, that he was incompletely human. He could hold a candle to Augustine and Aquinas, I thoughtthe only Protestant thinker I ever found who couldbut he was only the rebel in the ark, while they were the family, Noahs sons.
But if Catholic dogma contradicted Scripture or itself at any point, I could not believe it. I explored all the cases of claimed contradiction and found each to he a Protestant misunderstanding. No matter how morally bad the Church had gotten in the Renaissance, it never taught heresy. I was impressed with its very hypocrisy: even when it didnt raise its practice to its preaching, it never lowered its preaching to its practice. Hypocrisy, someone said, is the tribute vice pays to virtue.
I was impressed by the argument that the Church wrote the Bible: Christianity was preached by the Church before the New Testament was writtenthat is simply a historical fact. It is also a fact that the apostles wrote the New Testament and the Church canonized it, deciding which books were divinely inspired. I knew, from logic and common sense, that a cause can never be less than its effect. You cant give what you dont have. If the Church has no divine inspiration and no infallibility, no divine authority, then neither can the New Testament. Protestantism logically entails Modernism. I had to be either a Catholic or a Modernist. That decided it; that was like saying I had to be either a patriot or a traitor.
One afternoon I knelt alone in my room and prayed God would decide for me, for I am good at thinking but bad at acting, like Hamlet. Unexpectedly, I seemed to sense my heroes Augustine and Aquinas and thousands of other saints and sages calling out to me from the great ark, Come aboard! We are really here. We still live. Join us. Here is the Body of Christ. I said Yes. My intellect and feelings had long been conquered; the will is the last to surrender.
One crucial issue remained to be resolved: Justification by Faith, the central bone of contention of the Reformation. Luther was obviously right here: the doctrine is dearly taught in Romans and Galatians. If the Catholic Church teaches another gospel of salvation by works, then it teaches fundamental heresy. I found here however another case of misunderstanding. I read Aquinas Summa on grace, and the decrees of the Council of Trent, and found them just as strong on grace as Luther or Calvin. I was overjoyed to find that the Catholic Church had read the Bible too! At Heavens gate our entrance ticket, according to Scripture and Church dogma, is not our good works or our sincerity, but our faith, which glues us to Jesus. He saves us; we do not save ourselves. But I find, incredibly, that 9 out of 10 Catholics do not know this, the absolutely central, core, essential dogma of Christianity. Protestants are right: most Catholics do in fact believe a whole other religion. Well over 90% of students I have polled who have had 12 years of catechism classes, even Catholic high schools, say they expect to go to Heaven because they tried, or did their best, or had compassionate feelings to everyone, or were sincere. They hardly ever mention Jesus. Asked why they hope to be saved, they mention almost anything except the Savior. Who taught them? Who wrote their textbooks? These teachers have stolen from our precious children the most valuable thing in the world, the pearl of great price; their faith. Jesus had some rather terrifying warnings about such things something about millstones.
Catholicism taught that we are saved by faith, by grace, by Christ, however few Catholics understood this. And Protestants taught that true faith necessarily produces good works. The fundamental issue of the Reformation is an argument between the roots and the blossoms on the same flower.
But though Luther did not neglect good works, he connected them to faith by only a thin and unreliable thread: human gratitude. In response to Gods great gift of salvation, which we accept by faith, we do good works out of gratitude, he taught. But gratitude is only a feeling, and dependent on the self. The Catholic connection between faith and works is a far stronger and more reliable one. I found it in C. S. Lewis Mere Christianity, the best introduction to Christianity I have ever read. It is the ontological reality of we, supernatural life, sanctifying grace, Gods own life in the soul, which is received by faith and then itself produces good works. God comes in one end and out the other: the very same thing that comes in by faith (the life of God) goes out as works, through our free cooperation.
I was also dissatisfied with Luthers teaching that justification was a legal fiction on Gods part rather than a real event in us; that God looks on the Christian in Christ, sees only Christs righteousness, and legally counts or imputes Christs righteousness as ours. I thought it had to be as Catholicism says, that God actually imparts Christ to us, in baptism and through faith (these two are usually together in the New Testament). Here I found the fundamentalists, especially the Baptists, more philosophically sound than the Calvinists and Lutherans. For me, their language, however sloganish and satirizable, is more accurate when they speak of Receiving Christ as your personal Savior.
Though my doubts were all resolved and the choice was made in 1959, my senior year at Calvin, actual membership came a year later, at Yale. My parents were horrified, and only gradually came to realize I had not lost my head or my soul, that Catholics were Christians, not pagans. It was very difficult, for I am a shy and soft-hearted sort, and almost nothing is worse for me than to hurt people I love. I think that I hurt almost as much as they did. But God marvelously binds up wounds.
I have been happy as a Catholic for many years now. The honeymoon faded, of course, but the marriage has deepened. Like all converts I ever have heard of, I was hauled aboard not by those Catholics who try to sell the church by conforming it to the spirit of the times by saying Catholics are just like everyone else, but by those who joyfully held out the ancient and orthodox faith in all its fullness and prophetic challenge to the world. The minimalists, who reduce miracles to myths, dogmas to opinions, laws to values, and the Body of Christ to a psycho-social club, have always elicited wrath, pity, or boredom from me. So has political partisanship masquerading as religion. I am happy as a child to follow Christs vicar on earth everywhere he leads. What he loves, I love; what he leaves, I leave; where he leads, I follow. For the Lord we both adore said to Peter his predecessor, Who hears you, hears Me. That is why I am a Catholic: because I am a Christian.
Source: Hauled Aboard the Ark The Spiritual Journey of Peter Kreeft excerpt from The Spiritual Journeys published by the Daughters of St. Paul. Used with permission of the author.
Thanks for posting.
Some of my own thoughts:
When I am standing at that judgment throne, will the God of the universe know me or not? Jesus said that it didn’t depend on what I preach/teach/prophecy or what miracles I have performed — it depends whether He knows me — not whether I know Him. Humbling to the core.
On that judgment day, perhaps instead of blowing our own horns about our own spiritual accomplishments in front of God, perhaps if we threw ourselves on his mercy at even that last moment, He would have mercy on us, as He did with the thief on the cross.
Thanks for posting this fabulous essay.
Too bad he isn’t the President of Boston College.
Very interesting article! I quite enjoyed it!
“What do you mean? I mean that all God wants us to doall the timeis to ask Him what He wants us to do, and then do it. That covers everything, doesnt it? Instead of asking ourselves, ask God! Surprised, my father replied, You know, youre right!”
Of course this is what Christians believe. We just deny the Pelagian and semi-Pelagian view that man is working for his own salvation. We pray, like Augustine, saying “Grant what Thou commandest, and command what Thou dost desire.” In other words, we believe the scripture that it is God who “works in us both to will and to do” of His good pleasure.
As a result of this, we deny the vanity of man which thinks that he can add one jot or tittle to the work of God on our souls. We affirm, with Paul, that salvation comes not by him that runneth or him that willeth, but of God who sheweth mercy; that salvation is the free gift of God on an undeserving sinner, and that our righteousness is not earned, but is imputed by faith in Jesus Christ. That’s all. There’s nothing nefarious about this. Evidently the author wasn’t content with the idea that he is unable to earn his way to heaven.
Kreeft lays out concisely his route to Christ’s true church, based in the three-legged stool of scripture, the magisterium, and Sacred Tradition, 2000 years and counting.
Does the RCC have a 2,000 year tradition that there is a Pope in Rome who is head over the entire church? Even in the days when the alleged supremacy of Peter came into vogue, not even the Bishop in Rome believed he was the only man who was the successor of Peter.
According to the Catechism, the Roman Bishop is:
882 ... the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful.402 For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered.403
883 The college or body of bishops has no authority unless united with the Roman Pontiff, Peters successor, as its head. As such, this college has supreme and full authority over the universal Church; but this power cannot be exercised without the agreement of the Roman Pontiff.404
It was this same idea of General Father or a Universal Bishop that Gregory condemned in the then Bishop of Constantinople who had taken the title Universal Bishop:
What then, dearest brother, will you say in that terrible scrutiny of the coming judgment, if you covet to be called in the world not only father, but even general father? Let, then, the bad suggestion of evil men be guarded against; let all instigation to offense be fled from. It must needs be (indeed) that offenses come; nevertheless, woe to that man by whom the offense comes Matthew 18:7. Lo, by reason of this execrable title of pride the Church is rent asunder, the hearts of all the brethren are provoked to offense. What! Has it escaped your memory how the Truth says, Whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a mill stone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea (Ib. 5:6)? But it is written, Charity seeks not her own 1 Corinthians 13:4. Lo, your Fraternity arrogates to itself even what is not its own. Again it is written, In honour preferring one another Romans 12:10. And you attempt to take the honour away from all which you desire unlawfully to usurp to yourself singularly. Where, dearest brother, is that which is written, Have peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord Hebrews 12:14? Where is that which is written, Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God Matthew 5:9?
Some Catholics can read this letter and say that Gregory only condemned the title, but not the power they claim he still possessed. However, there are other instances where Gregory could have embraced his power as universal Bishop of the entire church. While at this time the idea of the Primacy of Peter was in vogue, yet this same primacy was not translated to a supremacy over the entire church. And, in fact, there wasnt just one person who held the throne of Peter; according to Gregory, it was held by one Apostolic see ruled by divine authority by THREE separate Bishops, which is that of Antioch, Alexandria and Rome. Here is the letter in full, but first I am going to quote the RCC abuse of it:
The link to the whole letter first
Now here are the Roman quotations of this letter, wherein they assert that Gregory is a champion of the Primacy of Rome. Take special note of the clever use of ellipses:
Pope Gregory I
Your most sweet holiness, [Bishop Eulogius of Alexandria], has spoken much in your letter to me about the chair of Saint Peter, prince of the apostles, saying that he himself now sits on it in the persons of his successors. And indeed I acknowledge myself to be unworthy . . . I gladly accepted all that has been said, in that he has spoken to me about Peters chair, who occupies Peters chair. And, though special honor to myself in no wise delights me . . . who can be ignorant that holy Church has been made firm in the solidity of the prince of the apostles, who derived his name from the firmness of his mind, so as to be called Peter from petra. And to him it is said by the voice of the Truth, To you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven [Matt. 16:19]. And again it is said to him, And when you are converted, strengthen your brethren [Luke 22:32]. And once more, Simon, son of John, do you love me? Feed my sheep [John 21:17] (Letters 40 [A.D. 597]).
Who does not know that the holy Church is founded on the solidity of the Chief Apostle, whose name expressed his firmness, being called Peter from Petra (Rock)?...Though there were many Apostles, only the See of the Prince of the Apostles...received supreme authority in virtue of its very principate. (Letter to the Patriarch Eulogius of Alexandria, Ep. 7)
I provide their versions of the quotations only to highlight for you the parts they omit. And, really, there is no reason for them to omit them. The lines they remove are small sentences, and then they continue quoting right after they finish. Its quite an embarrassing display!
In this letter, Gregory is specifically attributing to the Bishops of Alexandra and Antioch the Chair of Peter and its authority that they bestowed upon him. In the first quotation, the Romans omit the sentence which says: And, though special honour to myself in no wise delights me, [they omit here] yet I greatly rejoiced because you, most holy ones, have given to yourselves what you have bestowed upon me. [They rebegin here] After telling them about the special honor that is respectively given to both parties, Gregory immediately goes into a discussion on what that special honor is... which is the authority of Peter they all enjoy:
Wherefore though there are many apostles, yet with regard to the principality itself the See of the Prince of the apostles alone has grown strong in authority, which in three places is the See of one. For he himself exalted the See in which he deigned even to rest and end the present life. He himself adorned the See to which he sent his disciple as evangelist. He himself established the See in which, though he was to leave it, he sat for seven years. Since then it is the See of one, and one See, over which by Divine authority three bishops now preside, whatever good I hear of you, this I impute to myself. If you believe anything good of me, impute this to your merits, since we are one in Him Who says, That they all may be one, as You, Father, art in me, and I in you that they also may be one in us John 17:21.
Notice how different this reads when one does not omit what the Romans omit! Gregory declares that the See of Peter is one see... but in THREE places, over which THREE Bishops preside, which is Rome, Antioch and Alexandria, the latter of which he was now writing to.
So while the Romans insist that the Primacy of Peter refers to the Bishop of Rome, Gregory applies the Primacy of Peter to ALL the major Bishops of the See. They are, in effect, ALL the Church of Peter, and possess his chair and authority.
And Gregory, of course, isnt alone in this. Theodoret references the same belief when he places the throne of Peter under the Bishop of Antioch:
Dioscorus, however, refuses to abide by these decisions; he is turning the See of the blessed Mark upside down; and these things he does though he perfectly well knows that the Antiochene (of Antioch) metropolis possesses the throne of the great Peter, who was teacher of the blessed Mark, and first and coryphæus (head of the choir) of the chorus of the apostles. Theodoret - Letter LXXXVI - To Flavianus, Bishop of Constantinople.
So while you may have particular people saying that the Roman Bishop has authority, or has the chair of Peter, yet these same accolades are given to multiple Bishops, all said to have the throne or authority of Peter. Furthermore, this authority, at best, consisted only as a place of honor, and not one that the various Christian churches across the world took as the final say on matters of doctrine or canonicity (just ask the Eastern Orthodox, the other guys who claim to be THE Holy and Apostolic Church of God on Earth).
Thus, the RCC is built upon various fictions and assumptions; superficial edifices which collapse with the least bit of inspection. This is what happens when you embrace unverifiable traditions by men, instead of the verifiable scripture handed down by the Apostles directly.
Right you are. Some people are very misled.
Not you again, your cut and paste elephant-hurling posts from anti-catholic sites, oh goody, sorry, i will stick with history.....mind you, not your personal opinion revisionist anti-catholic history, but actual history.
Thanx for ‘your’ input though.
“Not you again, your cut and paste elephant-hurling posts from anti-catholic sites,”
I am my own anti-Catholic website! A sad thing the revisionists of the RCC can’t defend their own theology and alleged history when under examination.
Under ‘examination’ from your revisionist point of view, where you can make history say anything you want, just like sola scriptura, make it say ANY ‘CHRISTIAN’ belief that only you can verify.......sorry, no need to defend strawmen arguments refuted time and time again
EVERYTHING I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT LIFE,
I LEARNED FROM NOAHS ARK
1. Dont miss the boat.
2. Remember that we are all in the same boat.
3. Plan ahead. It wasnt raining when Noah built the Ark.
4. Stay fit. When youre 600 years old, someone may ask you to do something really big.
5. Dont listen to critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done.
6. Build your future on high ground.
7. For safetys sake, travel in pairs.
8. Speed isnt always an advantage. The snails were on board with the cheetahs.
9. When youre stressed, float awhile.
10. Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals.
11. No matter the storm, when you are with God, theres always a rainbow waiting. . .
Second or third time I’ve seen it on a thread.
“Under examination from your revisionist point of view,”
“J. Gresham Machen said, in his 1915 lecture “History and Faith,” that “The student of the New Testament should be primarily an historian.”
And in fact, thanks to the last few centuries’ worth of historical criticism, and a couple of historical Jesus quests, both the life of Jesus and the history of the New Testament have undergone a thorough historical examination, and in the process, have only had their historical reliability enhanced.
On the other hand, what we’ve been told about the early papacy has fallen away like chaff. Instead of boasts about the papacy being “instituted by Christ” and “immediately and directly” given to Peter and “perpetual successors,” now, Joseph Ratzinger has stepped back and said that the papacy “goes back to the Lord and was developed faithfully in the nascent church.” (Ratzinger, “Called to Communion,” page 72.)
How was it “faithfully developed”?
In the first place, some Catholics will say that it is no contradiction that this “immediate” and “perpetual” power nevertheless had to “develop.” But I am writing to individuals who, able to read and think, will easily be able to see the disjunction at this point.
Eamon Duffy, who was President of Magdalene College at Cambridge, and a church historian, wrote the following summary (”Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes”)
Irenaeus thought that the Church had been ‘founded and organised at Rome by the two glorious Apostles, Peter and Paul,’ and that its faith had been reliably passed down to posterity by an unbroken succession of bishops, the first of them chosen and consecrated by the Apostles themselves. He named the bishops who had succeeded the Apostles, in the process providing us with the earliest surviving list of the popes — Linus, Anacletus, Clement, Evaristus, Alexander, Sixtus, and so on down to Irenaeus’ contemporary and friend Eleutherius, Bishop of Rome from AD 174 to 189.
All the essential claims of the modern papacy, it might seem, are contained in this Gospel saying about the Rock, and in Irenaeus’ account of the apostolic pedigree of the early bishops of Rome. Yet matters are not so simple. The popes trace their commission from Christ through Peter, yet for Irenaeus the authority of the Church at Rome came from its foundation by two Apostles, not one, Peter and Paul, not Peter alone. The tradition that Peter and Paul had been put to death at the hands of Nero in Rome about the year ad 64 was universally accepted in the second century, and by the end of that century pilgrims to Rome were being shown the ‘trophies’ of the Apostles, their tombs or cenotaphs, Peter’s on the Vatical Hill, and Paul’s on the Via Ostiensis, outside the walls on the road to the coast. Yet on all of this the New Testament is silent. Later legend would fill out the details of Peter’s life and death in Rome — his struggles with the magician and father of heresy, Simon Magus, his miracles, his attempted escape from persecution in Rome, a flight from which he was turned back by a reproachful vision by Christ (the ‘Quo Vadis’ legend), and finally his crucifixion upside down in the Vatican Circus at the time of the Emperor Nero. These stories were to be accepted as sober history by some of the greatest minds of the early Church — Origen, Ambrose, Augustine. But they are pious romance, not history, and the fact is that we have no reliable accounts either of Peter’s later life or the manner or place of his death. Neither Peter nor Paul founded the Church at Rome, for there were Christians in the city before either of the Apostles set foot there. Nor can we assume, as Irenaeus did, that the Apostles established there a succession of bishops to carry on their work in the city, for all the indications are that there was no single bishop at Rome for almost a century after the deaths of the Apostles. In fact, wherever we turn, the solid outlines of the Petrine succession at Rome seem to blur and dissolve. (Duffy, pg 2.)
In a world where history affirms the life of Christ, the testimony of his resurrection, and in which the New Testament has been affirmed as reliable history, and the movements of Paul and the events in his life pinned down to the very year they happened, this same study of history has washed away the underpinnings of the historical papacy.
In fact, the city of Rome was very geographically diverse, and throughout the first half of the second century, the Roman church was led by a network of presbyters in a network of house churches. These presbyters fought among themselves as to who was greatest. I’ve quoted Hermas from “The Shepherd of Hermas as saying, “They had a certain jealousy of one another over questions of preeminence and about some kind of distinction. But they are all fools to be jealous of one another regarding preeminence.
“Second or third time Ive seen it on a thread.”
Strange! I’ve posted it to you, in various threads, probably dozens of times, though in various forms. It’s not once been actually answered by anyone.
Furthermore, the Church Fathers just smelled more Catholic than Protestant, especially St. Augustine, my personal favorite and a hero to most Protestants too. It seemed very obvious that if Augustine or Jerome or Ignatius of Antioch or Anthony of the Desert, or Justin Martyr, or Clement of Alexandria, or Athanasius were alive today they would be Catholics, not Protestants.
After reading some of the writings of these early Christians, I seriously DOUBT they would be Roman Catholics today - in fact, they wouldn't even recognize the church that claims them as members.
Are you denying the words of Gregory that GPH posted? If the only "input" you have to give is that of castigating someone for posting the writings of those your church claimed for herself, you ought to just save yourself the trouble of posting - you add nothing to the conversation.
How many times are you going to post this kind of stuff? Is it time for the “Let’s You and Him Fight” game again???
Second or third time I’ve seen THIS thread.
Peter Kreeft is a great thinker and writer. I have quite a few books by him, and tend to re-read some of them, as they are so full and rich with illuminating content. They are so packed that I always seem to pick up points and nuances I missed in the first reading (sort of like when I read one of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's books, or one of Frank Sheed's books).
Here are a couple of Dr. Kreeft's books that I read first, and I would highly recommend them for everyone, young or old, new to the faith or not:
Have a great evening, and thanks again NYer for this article.
The author is a Catholic. That means he belongs to the Church that slapped down first Pelgianism and then semi-Pelagianism centuries before Calvin was hatched.
He's also a decent theologian, who can tell you all about exactly how and why he can't earn his way into heaven.
It's not actual scholarship worthy of an answer, just polemical handwaving and proof-by-blatant-assertion.
Everyone knows that the Papacy, like everything else, developed over time and didn't spring fullgrown into being in the first century like Athena from the head of Zeus. So what?
“The author is a Catholic. That means he belongs to the Church that slapped down first Pelgianism and then semi-Pelagianism centuries before Calvin was hatched.”
He belongs to the church today that puts out stuff like this:
From the Secret of the Rosary, endorsed by Pope Benedict:
One day the King fell seriously ill and when he was given up for dead he found himself, in a vision, before the judgement seat of Our Lord. Many devils were there accusing him of all the sins he had committed and Our Lord as Sovereign Judge was just about to condemn him to hell when Our Lady appeared to intercede for him. She called for a pair of scales and had his sins placed in one of the balances whereas she put the rosary that he had always worn on the other scale, together with all the Rosaries that had been said because of his example. It was found that the Rosaries weighed more than his sins.
Looking at him with great kindness Our Lady said: As a reward for this little honor that you paid me in wearing my Rosary, I have obtained a great grace for you from my Son. Your life will be spared for a few more years. See that you spend these years wisely, and do penance.
When the King regained consciousness he cried out: Blessed be the Rosary of the Most Holy Virgin Mary, by which I have been delivered from eternal damnation!
After he had recovered his health he spent the rest of his life in spreading devotion to the Holy Rosary and said it faithfully every day.
People who love the Blessed Virgin out to follow the example of King Alphonsus and that of the saints whom I have mentioned so that they too may win other souls for the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary. They will then receive great graces on earth and eternal life later on. They that explain me shall have life everlasting life.  Ecclus. 24:31
Another story on how saying rosaries can earn you salvation:
Later on, when she was at prayer she fell into ecstasy and had a vision of her soul appearing before the Supreme Judge. Saint Michael put all her penances and to her prayers on one side of the scale and all her sins and imperfections on the other. The tray of her good works were greatly outweighed by that of her sins and imperfections.
Filled with alarm, she cried out for mercy, imploring the help of the Blessed Virgin, her gracious advocate, who took the one and only Rosary she had said for her penance and dropped it on the tray of her good works. This one Rosary was so heavy that it weighed more than all her sins as well as her good works. Our Lady then reproved her for having refused to follow the counsel of her servant Dominic and for not saying the Rosary every day.
As soon as she came to herself she rushed and threw herself at the feet of Saint Dominic and told him all that had happened, begged his forgiveness and promised to say the Rosary faithfully every day. By this means she rose to Christian perfection and finally to the glory of everlasting life.
Popes on the “sure and most efficacious means” for help from heaven:
We constantly seek for help from Heaven - the sole means of effecting anything - that our labours and our care may obtain their wished for object. We deem that there could be no surer and more efficacious means to this end than by religion and piety to obtain the favour of the great Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, the guardian of our peace and the minister to us of heavenly grace, who is placed on the highest summit of power and glory in Heaven, in order that she may bestow the help of her patronage on men who through so many labours and dangers are striving to reach that eternal city. Now that the anniversary, therefore, of manifold and exceedingly great favours obtained by a Christian people through the devotion of the Rosary is at hand, We desire that that same devotion should be offered by the whole Catholic world with the greatest earnestness to the Blessed Virgin, that by her intercession her Divine Son may be appeased and softened in the evils which afflict us. And therefore We determined, Venerable Brethren, to despatch to you these letters in order that, informed of Our designs, your authority and zeal might excite the piety of your people to conform themselves to them. (ENCYCLICAL OF POPE LEO XIII ON DEVOTION OF THE ROSARY)
The importance of the Rosary to a Pope:
With these words, dear brothers and sisters, I set the first year of my Pontificate within the daily rhythm of the Rosary. Today, as I begin the twenty-fifth year of my service as the Successor of Peter, I wish to do the same. How many graces have I received in these years from the Blessed Virgin through the Rosary: Magnificat anima mea Dominum! I wish to lift up my thanks to the Lord in the words of his Most Holy Mother, under whose protection I have placed my Petrine ministry: Totus Tuus! (ROSARIUM VIRGINIS MARIAE OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF JOHN PAUL II)
So, is this Semi-Pelagian, Pelagian, Synergistic, or Monergistic theology?
“Everyone knows that the Papacy, like everything else, developed over time”
The Roman assertion is that the Papacy did not develop over time. There was a Pope right after Peter. There was no 600+ years of tying to figure out that there was a supreme and universal pontiff in charge all along.
This is an example of playing fast-and-loose with the truth. Gregory never says that Alexandria and Antioch possess the same authority as Rome, but only that they have apostolic dignity deriving from the Apostle. And he says *that* only in a personal letter to another bishop, not something that would ever be a vehicle for a solemn magisterial exercise.
This whole silly claim grows out of Gregory's rejection of the title "universal bishop" (actually, "universal patriarch") claimed by John the Faster, Patriarch of Constantinople. The idea seems to be that Gregory didn't think he was the Pope, or didn't understand the Papacy to mean any sort of universal authority, or something.
Which is very odd, because Gregory denounced the Patriarch of Constantinople -- another bishop! -- as "antichrist" for assuming the title "Ecumenical Patriarch" (in Latin, "patriarcha universalis"). How could he have done that if he thought of himself as just another bishop among equals?
Gregory also wrote at the time that the see of Constantinople was subject to Rome, and that EVERY see was subject to Rome "if any fault is found among bishops", but equal "according to humility" otherwise.
The solution to the problem is really pretty simple. Gregory concluded that "patriarcha universalis" meant that John believed he was the only real bishop in the world (something that the Greek term "ecumenical patriarch" probably doesn't bear). This is not Catholic belief and never has been, hence Gregory's objection.
Peter was a Pope. That doesn't mean that the full understanding of the meaning and significance of the Papacy didn't develop over time. Pastor Aeternus wasn't written down in Peter's own hand and only uncorked in 1870.
Read Newman if you don't understand the concept of development of doctrine.
It's Catholic theology, except where it's just Catholic popular piety. Private revelations aren't binding as dogma.
“This is an example of playing fast-and-loose with the truth. Gregory never says that Alexandria and Antioch possess the same authority as Rome”
Yes he does:
“Wherefore though there are many apostles, yet with regard to the principality itself the See of the Prince of the apostles alone has grown strong in authority, which in three places is the See of one... Since then it is the See of one, and one See, over which by Divine authority three bishops now preside”
And, though special honour to myself in no wise delights me, yet I greatly rejoiced because you, most holy ones, have given to yourselves what you have bestowed upon me.”
Why do you think the Romanist websites who quote him omit these lines entirely? Cuz they don’t say what they say?
“Which is very odd, because Gregory denounced the Patriarch of Constantinople — another bishop! — as “antichrist” for assuming the title “Ecumenical Patriarch” (in Latin, “patriarcha universalis”).”
From the Catechism:
882 ... the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful.402 For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered.403
883 The college or body of bishops has no authority unless united with the Roman Pontiff, Peters successor, as its head. As such, this college has supreme and full authority over the universal Church; but this power cannot be exercised without the agreement of the Roman Pontiff.404
Looks like a direct match to me.
*****But no one reads the Bible as an extraterrestrial or an angel; our church community provides the colored glasses through which we read, and the framework, or horizon, or limits within which we understand. *****
Ah yes, no one comes to the Bible without any influence from another.
“It’s Catholic theology, except where it’s just Catholic popular piety. Private revelations aren’t binding as dogma.”
“We decree and order that in the whole Catholic world, during this year, the devotion of the Rosary shall be solemnly celebrated by special and splendid services. From the first day of next October, therefore, until the second day of the November following, in every parish and, if the ecclesiastical authority deem it opportune and of use, in every chapel dedicated to the Blessed Virgin - let five decades of the Rosary be recited with the addition of the Litany of Loreto.” (SUPREMI APOSTOLATUS OFFICIO, ENCYCLICAL OF POPE LEO XIII ON DEVOTION OF THE ROSARY)
If your Popes decree Rosary prayers on the basis of it saving your soul and saving the world, is it binding dogma?
I asked you a question. I didn’t ask you if it’s theology or not, though apparently you confess that that is what it is. I asked you if it is Pelagian, Semi-Pelagian, Synergistic, or Monergistic theology?
I have read this before and really liked the majority of it, as he does a wonderful job expressing Catholicism.
One thing I take issue with is saying Catholics and any protestant group believe the same things about works. In fact, Catholics and protestants don’t even agree on what a work is or where it comes from. Catholics believe works are driven by grace through faith and they are of love (an action not a feeling) since God is love the works are not of self, but of God.
In Catholicism refusing God’s Will, even His Will for us to do loving, faithful works is a sin, especially participating in the Sacraments, which refusing is mortal sin. This is because we receive works by faith and the energy is grace who is the Holy Spirit. So if we refuse works we refuse God and thus sin.
It is true that there is no tally of works or value where any one work is more than another. God has different roles for each of us and every role is valuable. And if we refuse a faithful loving work and sin, we can still go to Heaven by Confessing that sin, which is then forgiven and “forgotten.”
So there are similarities with protestants (not the Confession part, of course), but I would never say they got it right and Catholics are either wrong or don’t understand. Protestants misrepresent works and the role they play in life and in salvation. Where protestants think faith excluding works means salvation, the truth is that faith is works its combination means salvation.
Regarding the debate about faith and works: Its like asking which blade in a pair of scissors is most important.
“Protestants misrepresent works and the role they play in life and in salvation. Where protestants think faith excluding works means salvation, the truth is that faith is works its combination means salvation.”
It’s impossible to misrepresent the role of works in salvation since it has no role in salvation at all:
Rom_11:6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
Faith is the gift of God in the first place, and not of ourselves.
1Co_12:3 ... no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.
And God chooses us (we did not choose Him) for the purpose of producing fruit. Not that fruit led to us choosing Him. It is the result of salvation, and not its cause:
Joh_15:16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
We had a guest priest yesterday for Mass. Temperature in the 80s. He was a Carmalite, wearing the brown woolen cassock, with the alb and chausible over that.
After he cleansed the vessels and sat down after Communion he mopped his brow with the back of his hand, and I could tell he was sweating and probably thirsty. As he left the sanctuary and before he got to the Confessional I got him a bottle of water. (Not to call attention to myself, but to help someone who I could tell was suffering in the heat.) To me this was an act of corporal mercy/ work of love as you mentioned. It won’t get me to heaven — I have to work on that with Jesus.
Thanks for posting. I want to finish reading in the morning.
“Gregory also wrote at the time that the see of Constantinople was subject to Rome, “
Somehow I missed this the first time I saw your post, which is a shame since it is so brazen. The name ‘Rome’ doesn’t even occur in the letter to John. You can look all you want, it’s not there. When the topic of the “Apostolic See” comes up, Gregory says:
“Was it not the case, as your Fraternity knows, that the prelates of this Apostolic See which by the providence of God I serve, had the honour offered them of being called universal by the venerable Council of Chalcedon. But yet not one of them has ever wished to be called by such a title, or seized upon this ill-advised name, lest if, in virtue of the rank of the pontificate, he took to himself the glory of singularity, he might seem to have denied it to all his brethren.”
He refers to the “prelates,” in the plural, and the Apostolic See, as you know, is defined as One see in Three places over which three Bishops sit, as Gregory defines in his letter to the Bishop of Alexandria.
“Peter was a Pope. That doesn’t mean that the full understanding of the meaning and significance of the Papacy didn’t develop over time.”
Supposedly that was all settled in Matthew 16 and didn’t need someone to figure it out for Gregory that he really was in charge. Evidently even Peter didn’t get the memo at the time, since it was James, not Peter, who presided over and declared the judgment of the “church council” in Acts 15.
The words in the bible aren't visible?
It’s weird but I’m a crazy Fundie and don’t grok everything Roman Catholic I guess. All those rosaries outweighed his sins huh. Who set up this para-economy next to the Cross?
I am a small c catholic Christian, however. I believe that Christianity can be carried out in the Roman church. An earthly church doesn’t have to carry it on perfectly to be useful (i.e. they can have a LOT of problems and still function as long as there are Christians there who actually accept the spirit of Jesus directly).
Though I agree that there are genuine, born-again believers in Jesus Christ in the Roman Catholic Church, I cannot agree that REAL Christianity can be carried out in the Roman Catholic Church, at least not how it exists and rules today. I was reading a website yesterday from a former Roman Catholic who was studying in a Franciscan monastery and who planned on being ordained a priest. He converted to Orthodoxy after a long and painful study of the origins of Roman Catholicism and its history of the development of the Papacy along with the "rules" that governed how the Pope was to be obeyed by all Christians or be damned. I doubt that many Catholics have any idea how the Pope was defined and his ultimate rule was established and carried out in the past. He said:
The monarchic authority of the Pope as supreme leader and the visible head of the Church, cornerstone, Universal Infallible Teacher of the Faith, Representative (Vicar) of God on earth, shepherd of shepherds and Supreme Hierarch, `is totally dynamic and dominant and embraces all the teachings and legal rights that the Church has. "Divine right " is extended on all and individually on each baptized man across the whole world. This dictatorial authority can be exercised at any time, over anything and on any Christian across the world, whether lay or clergy, and in any church of any denomination and language it may be, in consideration of the Pope being the supreme bishop of every ecclesiastical diocese in the world.
People who refuse to recognize all this authority and do not submit blindly, are schismatic, heretic, impious and sacrilegious and their souls are already destined to eternal damnation, for it is essential for our salvation that we believe in the institution of Papism and submit to it and its representatives. This way the Pope incarnates that imaginary Leader, prophesied by Cicero, writing that all must recognize him to be holy.
Always in the roman teaching, "accepting that the Pope has the right to intervene and judge all spiritual issues of everyone and each Christian separately, that much more does he have the right to do the same in their worldly affairs. He cannot be limited to judging only through spiritual penalties, denying the eternal salvation to those who do not submit to him, but also he has the right to exercise authority over the faithful. For the Church has two knives, symbol of her spiritual and worldly power. The first of these is in the hands of the clergy, the other in the hands of Kings and soldiers, who though they too are under the will and service of the clergy".
The Pope, maintaining that he is the representative of Him whose "kingdom is not of this world", of Him who forbade the Apostles to imitate the kings of the world who "conquer the nations" and nominates himself as a worldly king, thus continuing the imperialism of Rome. At different periods he in fact had become lord over great expanses, he declared bloody wars against other Christian kings, to acquire other land expanses, or even to satisfy his thirst for more wealth and power. He owned a great number of slaves. He played a central role and many times a decisive role in political history. The duty of the Christian lords is to retreat in the face "of the divine right king" surrendering to him their kingdom and their politico-ecclesiastic throne, "that was created to ennoble and anchor all the other thrones of the world". To day the worldly capital of the pope is confined to the Vatican City. It concerns an autonomous nation with diplomatic representations in the governments of both hemispheres, with army, weapons police, jails, currency etc.
And as crown and peak of the almightiness of the Pope, he has one more faithful privilege that even the most ignoble idolaters could not even imagine- the infallible divine right, according to the dogmatic rule of the Vatican Synod that took place on 1870. Since then on "humanity ought to address to him whatever it addresses to the Lord: you have words of eternal life". From now on, there is no need of the Holy Spirit to guide the Church "to all the truth". There is no more need of the Holy Bible nor of the Sacred Tradition for thus there is a god on earth, based on the infallible, the Pope is the only canon of Truth who can even express things contrary to the judgment of all the Church, declare new dogmas, which the faithful ought to accept if they do not wish to be cut off from their salvation. "It depends only on his will and intention to deem whatever he wishes, as sacred and holy within the Church" and the decratalian letters must be deemed, believed and obeyed "as canonical epistles". Since he is an infallible Pope, he must receive blind obedience. Cardinal Bellarmine, who was declared saint by the Roman Church, says this simply: "If the Pope some day imposed sins and forbade virtues, the Church is obliged to believe that these sins are good and these virtues are bad".
However I did not stop there. I had already started to "skid due to the skid" of my Church. I had taken a road that I was not allowed to stop until I found a positive solution. The drama of those days was that I had estranged myself from Papism, but I did not accost any other ecclesiastical reality. Orthodoxy and Protestantism then were for me vague ideas and I had not reached the time and opportunity to ascertain that they could offer something to soothe my agony. Despite all this I continued to love my Church that made me a Christian and I bore her symbol. I still needed more profound thinking to reach slowly, with trouble and grief to the conclusion that the Church I loved was not part of the papist system.
Truly, against the monocracy of the Pope, the authority of the Church and of the bishopric body, is not intrinsically subordinate. Because according to the Roman theology "the authority of the Church exists only when it is characterized and harmonized by the Pope. In all other cases it is nullified". This way it is the same thing whether the Pope is with the Church or the Pope is without the Church, in other words, the Pope is everything and the Church is nothing. Very correctly did the bishop Maren write, "It would have been more accurate if the Roman Catholics when they recite the "I believe" would say "And in one Pope" instead of "And in one .......Church".
The importance and function of the bishops in the Roman Church is no more than that of representatives of the papist authority to which the bishops submit like the lay faithful. This regime they try to uphold under the 22nd chapter of St John's gospel, which according to the Roman interpretation "the Lord entrusts the Apostle Peter, the first Pope, the shepherding of His lambs and of His sheep", namely, He bestows on him the job of the Chief Shepherd with exclusive rights on all the faithful, who are the lambs and all the others, Apostles and Bishops, namely, the sheep.
However, the bishops in the Roman Church, are not even successors to the Apostles, for as it dogmatizes, this Church "the apostolic authority was lacking with the Apostles and was not passed down her successors, the bishops. Only the Papist authority of Peter, namely the Popes. The bishops then, having not inherited any apostolic authority, have no other authority but the one given to them, not directly from God but by the Extreme Pontiff of Rome.
And the Ecumenical synods also have no other value than the one given to them by the Bishop of Rome, "for they cannot be anything else except conferences of Christianity that are called under the authenticity and authority of the Pope". Suffice the Pope to exit the hall of the Synod saying "I am not in there anymore" to stop from that moment on the Ecumenical Synod from having any validity, if it is not authorized and validated by the Pope, who could impose through his authority on the faithful. (Why I abandoned Papism)
It was a very interesting testimony if you want to read the whole thing.
It is very good, though I wish he had not converted to the EO. I often hear of Catholics who, by too much studying of the Early Church Fathers on the question of the Papacy, end up converting to the Eastern Orthodox, since the idea of a strong local church is quite obvious in their writings. Not that the “Fathers” were Eastern Orthodox or anything, but it’s easy to see how a Catholic would trade in his monarchy for a Republic of Bishops. Notice how the focus of his study was on “the structure and organization of the early Church, straight from the apostolic and patristic sources,” but not on the doctrine of Christ and the Apostles, and of the Christians within the first few centuries. He was trying to figure out who the head of the Bishop really is; whether the Bishop’s head is God, as Polycarp tells us, or if the Bishop’s head is the Pope, as Rome tells us. But he should have read the Bible where it says “that the head of every man is Christ” (1 Col 11:3). And again, that we are not to listen to “words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (1 Co 2:13). The tyranny of their tradition is just as bad as any Pope, and perhaps even more frightful, because it believes it has been freed from the shackles of the devil after rejecting Rome!
So they end up in Roman Catholicism lite, with all the same outward pomp, but with a different version of the same problems.
Thanks for the book references.
There are also quite a few of his talks and debates on YouTube.
Thank you for the recommended reading! I will add them to my list. God bless you on your journey!
” it depends whether He knows me not whether I know Him.”
Jesus is God. He knows everyone. According to your logic - or maybe you’re just not saying things well enough - everyone is then saved. Everyone.
When I read “Mere Christianity” I too felt that it expressed the faith of my family when I was growing up. And my parents (esp. my dad) were devout and knowledgeable Roman Catholics.
And Lewis was neither a Catholic nor a Calvinist so I guess his book lives up to its title pretty well.
But the one of his that is truly a must read is “The Abolition of Man”, and it’s very short. Most people could probably read it in an afternoon.
Yes, my post did sound that way. And that is not what I was intending to say.
Let me try again. There is nothing I can do to save myself. Only God can save me & because of his great love He has reached out to all of us. It is only by Jesus’ sacrifice. He loves his enemies.
Yes, the first and most important commandment is to love Him w/ our whole heart, mind, soul, and strength. And to love one another, including our enemies.
1. How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory
2. Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished
3. I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom
“Abolition of Man” is a great book. If anyone hasn’t read it, really recommend it.
And yes, Lewis was an Anglican and most definitely not a Calvinist.