Skip to comments.Why I Returned to the Catholic Church. Part V: The Catholics and the Pope
Posted on 08/30/2007 2:32:41 PM PDT by annalex
Operation Rescue was another major turning point for me, because it exposed the papal pretensions of many evangelical leaders. When I saw the obvious biblical justification for Operation Rescue, and yet the resistance it got from major evangelical leaders, I said to myself, "there's really no hope for this community. In fact, it isn't a community; it's a bunch of disparate fiefdoms, kingdoms that these people have built. These are sheep without a shepherd. There's nobody here that can bring this together." If an issue like abortion cannot bring the community together, in this way, and if civil disobedience of this sort . . . if people like Norman Geisler and Bill Gothard can't simply let their brothers and sisters go about this work (they may think it's foolish, unwise, or that pragmatically it's not gonna work), but let 'em do it. Don't try to argue from the Bible against Operation Rescue, because you can't do it. It's an impossible job. Norm Geisler was on my show. A question was posed to Geisler [by another guest]: "are you telling me that if there were four-year-olds being slaughtered at governmentally-approved slaughter clinics, that you wouldn't trespass in order to save one of those four-year-old's lives?" He said "I would only do it if it was my kid." It was pathetic. I couldn't believe he said it. It was a reductio ad absurdum. And then I read Bill Gothard's material against Operation Rescue and it was sinful, it was a caricature of the position, and a twisting of Scripture like I've rarely seen from a major evangelical leader; and I had read papal statements, too, not on Operation Rescue, but on civil disobedience, and I knew there was a rich tradition in the Roman Catholic Church, dealing with social crises of this form, and what a conscientious conscience should do. Operation Rescue was one of the fional nails in the coffin of my evangelical experience. I was so terribly disillusioned by the response. I just couldn't believe it. I think you can construct a good argument against Operation Rescue, but not from the Scripture; rather, on pragmatic grounds. These guys wouldn't do that; they wanted to argue from the Scripture on it, and I said "there's no hope." That was a turning point for me. I could go on; many other reasons.
So I resigned [the pastorate] in December of 1990. I had wanted to a year before, but I had commitments. The church wasn't ready. These were good people. I didn't want to enter into battle. I didn't know where I was going, and I knew I wasn't fit to be a pastor, because you don't need the blind leading the blind. I shared with them about the Real Presence because by that time it was no longer speculative for me. I was thoroughly convinced on biblical authority. I told people that I was tired, fatigued. I had been working full-time at WMUZ [radio station; his talk show] and the church for over a year. I told them that I was thinking of becoming Catholic or Eastern Orthodox. I couldn't really stay at the church. I just felt bad. If you don't know where you're going, you shouldn't be taking people with you. I was on my own journey. I wasn't fit to lead them on it. So I keft the church and began pursuing Catholicism and Orthodoxy.
During the previous year, I'd had Fr. Peter Stravinskas on [the radio show], and during the course of some of his discussion, as he was describing the Mass as a re-presentation of Christ, I recognized the doctrine that I held in a diluted form. It was a doctrine that I used to call "memorial consciousness." I used to teach that at Shalom: that past saving events could be re-presented in the present. The Jews tried to do it with Passover. The same thing with the Lord's Supper. So when Fr. Peter said that, I had this rush of adrenaline while I was on the air, and I said to myself, "my God, I'm a Catholic" [understanding laughter in the room].
I was still pastoring at Shalom at the time. It was an exhilarating experience but disturbing at the same time. It was as though I had been walking in the dark for a long time and getting along pretty well, and then all of a sudden the light gets turned on, and you realize that you're perched on a tightrope about 100 feet above the ground. You were doing fine, as long as you didn't know where you were. But here you are: mid-way out, and on the one hand, you can take heart that you made it so far, but on the other hand, you're trembling because you can see how far you gotta go, and you're not quite certain you're gonna get to the other side. So I had this subjective experience, and yet I hadn't really settled the Marian dogmas, or a lot of things, and I honestly didn't like most of the Catholics I've met. Now you guys are pretty good; I like you [great laughter], . . . once I left Shalom I began going to Masses at various places. I'd read on a Saturday books on Catholicism and Orthodoxy and sacramental thinking. Then I'd go to Mass, and every time I'd think I was ready to come back in, based on my study, all I'd have to do was go to Mass to get cold water thrown on me: thoroughly disillusioning. Part of that was that I wasn't connected to a community . . . it wasn't a happy time because I was really feeling left in the lurch; intellectually persuaded of many things, but not any community life at all.
So I kept getting these Catholics on the air and debating. I thought it was good programming, too. I had Karl Keating on once debating Harold O.J. Brown. And I remember, Karl was good, but I was much more impressed with Harold: at how non-victorious his Protestant arguments were. I really thought that he'd be able to push Karl around a little bit, but he couldn't. Karl made some great points. Then I had Fr. Pater Stravinskas on, on Reformation Day, to talk about the Reformation with this Church history professor from Dallas Seminary, and again I was impressed with Fr. Peter, but I was very impressed at how the Dallas prof really couldn't justify the Reformation. When all was said and done, that guy had no reason to be a Protestant. He agreed with Fr. Peter that the real reasons for the Reformation were not theological, they were economical and political [he chuckles] . . .
Another major turning point was when I came across Matthew 16. I knew the Protestant arguments, and I had taught them myself. To be honest with you, I really thought that the Catholic argument was a justification of the status quo. I thought it was a rationalization of the papal office. I didn't think it was exegetically sound at all. There was such unanimity. All the preachers I'd ever heard on Matthew 16 said that the rock was Peter's faith, or it was a play on words, and I just assumed that. And I figured that evangelicals are known for exegesis; Catholics aren't, so evangelicals are probably right on this. So I went and picked up two commentaries in my library, by two noted evangelical New Testament scholars: Donald [D.A.] Carson, who is among the top ten brightest people I'd ever had on the air, and another fellow, R.T. France, whom I know is an excellent exegete. And I brought them up to my bed. And both of them, the same night (before I had ever heard Scott Hahn tapes); I read Carson, and he wrote "had it not been for Protestant overreaction to exaggerated papal claims, virtually nobody would have ever thought that the rock referred to Peter's faith. It's clearly a reference to Peter." And I said, "I've never heard that before!" Then I went over to R.T. France, and I read that, and I said, "is he quoting Carson?" He said virtually the same thing! And I was stunned. And I began to make some phone calls, and I found out that in New Testament scholarship, this is becoming the consensus position! Peter is the rock, not Peter's confession. It's straightforward.
Thank you for your comments last week.
I’m sure I’ll hate myself for asking, but what is “the” Protestant worldview?
How interesting! It's remarkable how "scholarly" positions can change, but it can take forever to filter down to the average person in a congregation ... if it ever does.
I'm reminded of the way the theory of evolution keeps spawning new concepts and propositions, while the average person on the street still remembers learning how the giraffe streeeettched its neck, in the 4th grade.
Hmmmmm, there may be a lot of people coming Home soon.
Seriously, I see people seeking truth, the mainline churches are barely limping along. People are searching and many of them are finding designer churches that teach what they want to believe or churches full of emotion with a charismatic leader but many of them are finding their home in the church of Our Lord, it is good.
A it is euphenism he made up so he could create division ??
He can be Catholic if he wants, good for him.
Why does he focus so much effort on critiquing Protestants?
Why is he so focused on “issues” rather than The Messiah?
That's odd - I don't recall making any comments on one of your threads.
“These are sheep without a shepherd. There’s nobody here that can bring this together.” If an issue like abortion cannot bring the community together, in this way, and if civil disobedience of this sort . . . “
Uh, ‘scuse me I/WE do have a Shepard — his name is Jesus Christ.
And yes we are united in our stance on abortion.
You are correct, no earthly voice/personality/pastor speaks for the Christian community. We strive toward the goal, sometimes falling short, but we press on. We don’t need or want a figure head/central leader other than Christ himself.
In fact I’d say better to set the problems of the Catholic church in order before you try turning attention to the personal issues you have with the greater CHristian community.
None of us are saved by how well we denigrate someone else’s faith.
there's really no hope for this community. In fact, it isn't a community; it's a bunch of disparate fiefdoms, kingdoms that these people have built. These are sheep without a shepherd
Peter is the rock, not Peter's confession. It's straightforward.
OK, but what do you think that has to do with my worldview?
I don't think he does. The only place I coud find his reversion story is on this fellow convert blog. Al's Kresta in the Afternoon radio program is typically about civic involvement, events of the day form the Catholic perspective, etc.
If you want a show that concentrates on conversions, it would be Marcus Grodi's Journey Home Program.
You are correct. My devious plan has just worked.
You don't understand. They don't believe in a greater Christian community, unless it submits to their perceived authority.
On this I agree. However, one of the internal problems of Catholics in the West has been not knowing the treasure they have in their Church:
I honestly didn't like most of the Catholics I've met.
“...ever thought that the rock referred to Peter’s faith. It’s clearly a reference to Peter.” And I said, “I’ve never heard that before!” Then I went over to R.T. France, and I read that, and I said, “is he quoting Carson?” He said virtually the same thing! And I was stunned. And I began to make some phone calls, and I found out that in New Testament scholarship, this is becoming the consensus position! Peter is the rock, not Peter’s confession. It’s straightforward.”
Is that the fulcrum that Mr. based his Catholic conversion on ?
Yes it could be Peter (also could be reference to Christ)
and if so, how does that translate into
the Catholic faith being the only faith ,
and the Vatican II church of today ??
And if the VII modern Catholic church is the one true church
then what about the previous incarnations of the Catholic church ?? (First Vatican council and the Council of Trent).
Were those Catholic churches wrong ??
Where do I write Mr. to ask him these questions ??
How would I know?
My point exactly.
Why I Returned to the Catholic Church. Part I: Darkness
Why I Returned to the Catholic Church. Part II: Doubts
Why I Returned to the Catholic Church. Part III: Tradition and Church
Why I Returned to the Catholic Church. Part IV: Crucifix and Altar
I forgot to post them in the flag post.