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My Resignation from the Evangelical Theological Society

As many of you know, on Saturday May 5, 2007, I resigned as president of the Evangelical Theological Society seven days after being received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church (see here). I have now decided to take the further step and resign as a member of ETS, an organization to which I have belonged as either a student or full member since 1984. Between 1986 and 2001 I published  five articles in the ETS academic periodical, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society. So, it is with deep regret that about an hour ago I tendered my resignation as a member of ETS.

Although I firmly believe that I can sign the ETS doctrinal statement in good conscience, my high-profile presence in ETS will likely result in the sort of public conflict that occurred during the debate over the openness view of God and the attempt on the part of some members to oust believers in that view.  Because, as I noted in my prior posting on this matter, that I deeply desire a public conversation among Christians about the relationship between Evangelicalism and the Great Tradition, a public debate about my membership status, with all the rancor and stress that typically goes with such disputes, would preempt and poison that important conversation. For this reason, I am resigning as a member of ETS.

I want both my Catholic and Protestant brothers and sisters to clearly understand that I am doing this on my own accord, after prayerfuly considering the greater good of the Body of Christ. I have spoken with some members of the ETS executive committee and they have been as gracious and cordial as one would expect from a true follower of Christ. They agreed that the sort of conversation I envision will and must take place with ETS intimately involved. I was told, by two former presidents, that I would be welcomed as a guest to participate in such conversations, which is fairly typical of ETS meetings, which include many guest speakers some of whom are Catholic.

My resignation from ETS is inspired by the prayer of our Lord: "Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one." (John 17:11b - NIV)

Comments

Dr. Beckwith, the Catholic Church will be enriched and blessed with your Evangelical background. Personally, I hope that you will bring all that is good, honorable, and noble from your background and help advance the present [authentic] reform within the Catholic Church. And, if you are ever in the Brenham area, we would be more than happy to feed you Blue Bell ice cream and lend you a guest room.

Dear Mr. Beckwith,

I saw your story first on the EWTN news link and thought I would come to this website to read more. I have heard many stories like yours and am always brought to tears of joy! Welcome home and please know that my family will keep you and your family in our prayers.

Your Catholic Sister-in-Christ,
Mandy Bifone
Kentucky

Dr. Beckwith,

I'd prefer to see you not resign. The "scandal" has already broken, and my fear is that by resigning many ETS members will view it as confirmation of their anti-Roman Catholic position. By staying you will force the ETS to decide what it wants to be: a narrowly Protestant group or a group for evangelical Christians of all flavors.

It would also be nice to know what the Evangelical Theological Society thinks the evangel is. Many of your critics seem to associate it with Reformed orthodoxy, but there are plenty of Arminians (of a non-Open Theist stripe) in the ETS. This looks to me like the theological equivalent of selective prosecution.

Dear Dr. Beckwith,
Please accept my profound gratitude for your search and appreciation of the history and theology of the early Church. Whatever my own meanderings as a baptized at birth Catholic, I have never been able to let go of the rich spiritual gifts that those early writers left us. Whatever has come along in between, the Spirit truly abides and is available if we keep an open mind and heart. I thank your nephew for being such a delightful instrument of that same Spirit in your own life and decision. Whatever the consequences may be, the Master will be with you and your family!
Albert Hovis

As an evangelical convert to the Church, I welcome you. I am also concerned that your wisdom is lost to the ETS. As president you may have a point regarding being a source of conflict, but not as a member... There may never be a unified church until Jesus comes in glory, but we must have reasonable discussion between the parts that make the whole, until that time. You represent a necessary view point for ETS to grasp and understand.

God Bless you.

Dr Beckwith,

I have been a rather silent member of ETS in recent years and can well understand your reasons for dropping out of the ETS. But I wish you had not done so.

There is nothing whatsoever in the ETS doctrinal statement that would exclude Roman Catholics (or Orthodox, for that matter).

Certainly, the 'evangel' belongs to the whole church, not to a narrow segment of it. I have been both enriched and inspired by the written and oral witness of my Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ, including the late Pope John Paul II (whom I heard preach many years ago on a visit to Vancouver) and the current Pope Benedict XVI (through his writings as a NT scholar).

In any event, God bless you as you seek to be truth to the faith.

Your transdenominational brother in Christ,

Ward Gasque

Honestly Dr. Beckwith,

How can you reconcile the Bible and past Roman Catholic claims with current teaching that Muslims and Jews can get saved?

If current teaching is true, the Bible is wrong and past Roman Catholic teaching is wrong. If current teaching is wrong, Roman Catholicism has erred.

Unam Sanctum said that Eastern Orthodox are condemned. The Catechism now speaks highly of Eastern Orthodoxy.

These things are impossible to reconcile. Please consider this before completing your journey to Rome.

Dear Dr Beckwith,
You have excercised your human will as a Christian to do what you know is God's will, if not your academics, to join Roman Catholic Chirch.

If you have not forshaken God and His Son Jesus Christ, the inerrancy of Scripture and doctrine of Heaven and Hell, then you are still a Christain as evangelicals are. More to this is also that I know even some Roman Catholic members who confess the evangelical (Biblical) salvation by grace alone.

But, my worry is, Dr Beckwith, what are you going to do with us whom you have mentored through your writings, lectures and high profile name? Are you going to encourage us to stay on in our protestant churches or are you going to aske us to make our own decisions?

Hallow Dr Beckwith,

You have exercised your will and probably with by the guidance of God’s absolute sovereignty to do what you know is God’s will. And I believe that yours theological and historical discoveries conform very well to your next level of Christian ministries. I still feel that evangelical theological/ philosophical movement have not lost you so long as still retain belief in God of the inerrant Scriptures, the deity and humanity of Jesus Christ, the doctrine of the Holy Spirit and doctrine of heaven and hell. And I know that there are many Roman Catholic followers who today confess salvation by grace alone as apposed to the historical Roman Catholic doctrine of salvation.
But my concern is, Dr Beckwith, what are you going to do with many of us whom you have been their mentors through your, apologetics, writings and lectures? Are you going to ask us either to follow you or stay where we are because it makes no difference? What is your word for us? Young thinkers and writers like ourselves have always seen you as their hero among other and already we are beginning to question protestant theology or Christian philosophy in the protestant tradition. Although we can still be proud of other Christian philosophers whose works have excelled in advancing the kingdom of God as our remaining examples, it is not encouraging to lose you to the Roman Catholic. What is now your word to the evangelical Christians and thinkers when your decisions are as sound as having convinced you that way?

George Ouma
Talbot School of Theology

George -
I do not presume to speak for Prof. Beckwith. But I am one of those "mentored through [his] writings..." having studied directly under him for the last two years and some before that. I think the answer to you question is found in Dr. Beckwith's personal history as a man of reason and persuasion. If he is convinced that he has the truth about something, he will likely consider himself morally obligated to share that truth with those who desire to listen. But also being a gentleman, I don't think he's going to "do" anything with anyone apart from continuing the efforts at artful persuasion that he has engaged in over the course of his already-distinguished career. Also, I am an evangelical, but I was unaware that one had to believe in the inerrancy of Scripture to be a Christian. I don't recall seeing that requirement in any of the gospels. It may be the case that consistent evangelicalism requires as much, but not salvation.

My brother, my brother!

If only you would "slow down" here. Your decisions are going to have a colossal effect on both your career and your family. I know you have a family member who wants you to participate as a Catholic in something very important to him. But I see a danger in crossing the Tiber in so hasty a manner.

The last thing that you want to do is to "bounce back" so to speak. You might find that the grass in not really any greener on the other side of the fence. We are all a broken lot, and Jesus Christ is the cure for our souls. But the state of Christianity all the way around leaves much to be desired. There aint no perfect churches.

Are there both Catholics and Protestants that would agree with me here? Am I the only one who sees this as a dangerous headlong rush?

I asked this question before, but my reply got "swamped" in the previous post.

Did you seriously consider other avenues to the ancient faith, such as Eastern Orthodoxy?

Humbly in Christ,

Jim

Geoff,

You really should understand something before you criticize it. The authoritative interpretation of the Vatican II doctrine you are referring to is given in the Cathechism. Section 841 states "The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day."

A couple of paragraphs later, this is clarified in accordance with the well-established Church teaching that "Outside the Church there is no salvation."

"846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:

'Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.'

847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:

'Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation.'

848 'Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men.'"

That is, provided a Muslim (or any other non-Christian) meets three conditions, they can be granted salvation: (1) They are ignorant of the Gospel (2) through no fault of their own, and (3) are seeking God with a sincere heart.

Surely you do not believe that a merciful God would condemn someone who earnestly seeks Him, but through no fault of his own dies without having ever heard the gospel?

Dear Dr. Beckwith,

Congratualtions on your resignation! Welcome Home!

I remember the days I reverted to the Church and a wise priest did not recommend for me to teach in my Protestant-like church that I was attending with my husband. It was difficult for me to accept his advice, b/c I enjoyed serving. But he gave exceptional wisdom.

Catholics do not allow Protestants to teach in our Catholic Church. Likewise, the Pastor of the born-again believers assembly probably would not welcome Catholic teaching in his Church. I could hear the mutual respect the Priest was teaching me, 5 years ago.

30 years ago, an evangelical disguised herself as a Catholic and as my Confirmation teacher taught heresies by dismissing the value of the Most Holy Sacraments. 5 teens and I, left the One Holy Catholic faith, for evangelical born-again teaching. I have many regrets leaving the infallible teachings of the Most Holy Church.

Irregardless, I value my evangelical friendships and I pray for them in a very special way, as I know they are praying for me too. We build our friendships based on what we have in common. In this manner, there is unity and peace. Christ is glorified because we are one. For more info on Protestant Catholic unity please visit: www.focolare.com (Chiara Lubich)

God bless you!!
Cyndi Baker

Still doesn't explain the contradiction about Eastern Orthodoxy and Unam Sanctum.

What you site is not the traditional understanding of Roman Catholicism of years gone by.

Furthermore, this clearly contradicts Scripture. "There is none that seeks God."

Romans 10 mitigates against anyone getting saved without knowledge of the gospel. "But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?" Too bad Paul didn't have the Roman Catholic Catechism to consult.

And I know that there are many Roman Catholic followers who today confess salvation by grace alone as apposed to the historical Roman Catholic doctrine of salvation.

The Roman Catholic church has always taught salvation by grace alone. So have the Protestants. I think that it's a requirement to be a Christian to believe that salvation is through grace alone, because if a person really believed that they had merits independent of what grace had been given them, they'd be denying the very basis of the faith.

The arguments on justification have never hinged on the question of grace. Everyone believes it's grace, but on *how* grace justifies. I know it's a bit simplistic, but even the old "faith and works" formulation depended on both the faith *and* the works being brought about by grace.

It is apparent that the Evangelical community will continue to badger, ridicule, persecute and do everything to make Dr. Beckwith utterly miserable at Baylor.

Perhaps it is a good time, Dr. Beckwith, to shake the dust of this shallow self righteous Christians from your sandals and come north to Notre Dame or someplace else where your persona as well as your intellect would be appreciated and admired.

It is clear to me that Baylor is an unsafe place for a Catholic. Having lived in the South, I can say without hesitation that while racism has diminished significantly, anti-Catholicism (also a wicked, dehumanizing bigotry) flourishes unchecked by common human decency and common sense.

The South continues to be more saturated in the 16th and 19th Centuries, have rehersed by heart all the polemics against the Church.

Being stuck as they are, the opinions of Catholics are backward and should be to the well educated a source of utter embarassment.

Geoff,

You should put that passage into context.

Romans 10
14How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"

16But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our message?" 17Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. 18But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did:
"Their voice has gone out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world."

Notice that the reference here is to Psalm 19:

1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.

3 There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.

4 Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.

Notice WHO is preaching the good news in Psalm 19.

Humbly in Christ,

Jim

Dr. Beckwith:

If you indeed must approve every comment, you are truly a brave soul.

Ipse said: Surely you do not believe that a merciful God would condemn someone who earnestly seeks Him, but through no fault of his own dies without having ever heard the gospel?

Perhaps He wouldn't, Ipse. But that isn't really the issue.

The Bible is clear that man doesn't "earnestly seek God." Left on his own, man never seeks God. That's what it means to be a sinner. Man is "at fault" because of his inherited sin, and because of his own sins, so that no one will be without excuse on the judgment day.

To the passage from Psalms 19 that James has cited, Romans 1:18-21 may be added:

"The wrath of God is indeed being revealed from heaven against every impiety and wickedness of those who suppress the truth by their wickedness. For what can be known about God is evident to them, because God made it evident to them. Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made. As a result, they have no excuse; for although they knew God they did not accord him glory as God or give him thanks."

I remember driving by this guy with a sign once that said, "Will philosophize for food!" It was Dr. Beckwith! Well, not really, but I remember him saying something like that on a radio show once. Although I have never met him I have enjoyed the insights he has shared when I have heard him speak and what I have read. Although I am saddened to hear him drop away from the thinking of the reformers, I am sure that there was a lot of thought and prayer that went into this.

Honestly, I would rather hear Dr. Beckwith speak for himself about what he believes than assume that he is going to go worship Mary now. Some of the comments I have seen are assuming a lot...principle of charity people.

Sad, but with love.

P.S. Oh yeah, do a search for "Will Philosophize for Food" on google. They sell t-shirts and mugs like that now. ;)

Dr. Beckwith,

I've never had the privilege of reading your materials [although I've heard they are impressive] I have tried to reason how you can consider yourself evangelical all while embracing Rome and her doctrine of justication? Both doctrines stand in stark contrast, completely opposite and cannot be reconciled. If you do not agree with 'The One True Church' about justification, then doesn't that make you a Protestant anyway? Wouldn't that then make the Reformed church void of meaning if the doctrine of justification was mere semantics?

Rome cannot be reconciled to Geneva [since we have no formal church from where we project our authority] and although the initial reason was not of justification...we have made lots of progress in separating from the blasphemies of the Church.

Although I disagree with your decision to leave the Reformed faith, I can only pray for the will of our God and his purpose be accomplished. God's elect will endure, let us always pray that His purpose be accomplished and that this decision be a part of a grander plan he has in His demonstration of love to his elect. God bless you my brother in the faith.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Javier

It's a tough decision either way and I applaud you for your willingness to sacrifice your 23 year membership for the peaceful relationships of others.

Ipse,

Let's also add:

Romans 2
14(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, 15since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.)

And:

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.

So Jesus gives light to EVERYONE. His law is written on their hearts, and the heavens and the earth declare not just the law, but the very gospel itself according to Romans 10.

Therefore:

Acts 10
34Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
35But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.

ergo,

a virtuous pagan can inherit eternal life because of Jesus who IS the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Wow, it looks like the Catechism of the Catholic Church is being Biblical.

Wonder of wonders!

Jim

Recovering Evangelical,

I have certainly not gotten the impression that Baylor is anti-Catholic as a whole. Certainly there are some individuals who are anti-Catholic, but for the most part this is not the case. My favorite professors at Baylor have been Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or Anglican, and Baylor does well to keep Christian diversity amongst its staff. I do not see why Dr. Beckwith should leave Baylor after becomming Catholic. It may not always be the easiest atmosphere, but there are wonderful people here who are helping things move in a more positive direction. I, for one, really hope he stays.

I agree with Kacy.

Dear Mr. Beckwith,

Please come back to Protestant Christianity. None of our good works can contribute to our justification even if those good works are produced in us by the Holy Spirit. Moreover, good works coming from a sincere heart that loves Jesus cannot justify us in whole or in part.

Dr. Beckwith,

Thank you for your sacrifice in this regard. I look forward to your explaining how the "[Roman] Catholic view has more explanatory power to account for both all the biblical texts on justification as well as the church’s historical understanding of salvation prior to the Reformation all the way back to the ancient church of the first few centuries."

It seems to me that justification by faith alone and infused righteousness are worlds apart from one another. The former is far more biblically defensible. By the way, have you seen Carl Trueman's response?

Respectfully,
Alex

Javier: "Both doctrines stand in stark contrast, completely opposite and cannot be reconciled."

So I take it you don't buy "The Gift of Salvation" document (ECT II) :

"The New Testament makes it clear that the gift of justification is received through faith. 'By grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God' (Ephesians 2:8). By faith, which is also the gift of God, we repent of our sins and freely adhere to the Gospel, the good news of God’s saving work for us in Christ. By our response of faith to Christ, we enter into the blessings promised by the Gospel. Faith is not merely intellectual assent but an act of the whole person, involving the mind, the will, and the affections, issuing in a changed life. We understand that what we here affirm is in agreement with what the Reformation traditions have meant by justification by faith alone (sola fide)."

http://www.leaderu.com/ftissues/ft9801/articles/gift.html

I really don't see much difference so long as both sides are property understood. Here's another, search for "The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification" between Lutherans and Catholics at the www.Vatican.va site.

Phil P

The Bible is clear that man doesn't "earnestly seek God." Left on his own, man never seeks God.

But that's the point. Man is *not* left on his own, whether he lives in Akron or Mecca. God's grace is actively drawing people to himself. And those who seek him, in response to his call, even if they have never heard the gospel, "may" be saved.

And gosh, wouldn't it have been great if Dr. Beckwith had had a bunch of armchair theologians, such as the ones in this combox, at his disposal *before* he poped. He could have saved himself and his family so much grief. Bumb luck.

Finally, the various posts about the Catholic view of justification would be a lot more convincing if they evinced even the most cursory understanding of the Catholic position. But always remember: "you know better than a Catholic", even if the topic is Catholicism.

Sheesh!

Frank and I will both be joining Baylor's Philosophy Dept starting in the fall. My impression from talking to administrators, faculty and graduate students is that there much appreciation of the Great Tradition at Baylor, and a recognition of the need to draw upon the Great Tradition if Baylor's goals of revitalizing evangelical intellectual life are to be achieved. The vision of Christianity that I met with at the Philosophy Dept was that of Mere Christianity, a vision of shared doctrinal basics, warm Christian fellowship and a commitment to discipleship and a Christian teaching mission. Of course, not everyone in the University at large shares this view, but as far as I can tell, this is the view that animates the Philosophy Dept and much of the administration.

Did you seriously consider other avenues to the ancient faith, such as Eastern Orthodoxy?

Jim,

How very interesting you would happen to come to this forum and casually suggest Orthodoxy. Are you of the thinking that it is a comfy via media? Or are you less concearned about the greeness of Eastern grass? Wouldn't that be a bit of a healdong rush as well?

Welcome home, Dr. B.

Recovering evangelical -
Are you condemning the South? or Texas (where Baylor happens to be)? As I have to often remind my Dixie friends, they are not one and the same. Second, Texas is a really big state. Where exactly have you been experiencing this dehumanizing anti-Catholicism unchecked by human decency? I've lived here a pretty long time - a good chunk of it as a Catholic - and have not yet run into too many folks stuck in the 16th century (we drive cars here too). Now the 19th century ... you may have a point there (more specifically, 1836). Seriously, can I suggest you also seek recovery from your grossly misrepresentive caricature of Texas (where, incidentally, you will find the third highest population of resident Catholics in all the US) and our little brother Dixie? But I must admit, if Texas evangelicals even remotely resemble the dehumanized knuckle-draggers you claim us to be, then you are quite courageous to voice your complaints.

Dr. Beckwith,
As one who made the same journey 15 years ago, with and Orthodox stopover on the way, I commend your courage and honesty.

Romans 2 is showing how the conscience of Gentiles show they have the law so THEY ARE ALSO CONDEMNED by the law.

Nature gives enough knowledge and light to condemn, not to save.

First, Paul's use of Psalm 19 in Romans 10 doesn't overturn the flow of his rhetorical questions. A preacher needs to be sent. Secondly, Paul is showing how some do not believe even when they have the gospel. So you need to hear the message in order to be saved, but not all who hear the message will be saved.

One more thing occurred to me. Let me combine Romans 9 with the Catechism to show the problems with the Catechism.

I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my bretheren, my countrymen according to the flesh...840 And when one considers the future, God's People of the Old Covenant and the new People of God tend towards similar goals: expectation of the coming (or the return) of the Messiah. But one awaits the return of the Messiah who died and rose from the dead and is recognized as Lord and Son of God; the other awaits the coming of a Messiah, whose features remain hidden till the end of time; and the latter waiting is accompanied by the drama of not knowing or of misunderstanding Christ Jesus.

Here is an article I did about Unam Sanctum if anyone wants to tackle that:
http://www.geoffrobinson.net/rc/catechism_vs_unamsanctum.html

It would be one thing if Roman Catholicism disagreed with Scripture and we are given attempts at reconciliation. Roman Catholicism today doesn't agree with Roman Catholcism of 1000 years ago or even Roman Catholicism of when my mother or grandmother grew up.

Dr. Beckwith, I'm not trying to slam you. But I am trying to warn you. If you won't listen to me, at least listen to the law of non-contradiction.

Recovering Evangelical,

First, I really like the handle.

Second, being a lifelong Southerner - born in Georgia, my longest stint outside of Georgia was for a year to DC - I'd have to say that while I understand your criticism of the South regarding Catholicism, I think you underestimate the headway Catholicism is making in the South.

When I started college, I was a Protestant with Reformed leanings, and had some very anti-Catholic friends. I was, as you caricatured, anti-Catholic more for cultural reasons than for theological/intellectual reasons. I also had a number of Catholic friends and had attended Mass, and admittedly even then, nothing I knew from experience justified what I knew from prejudice.

Long story short, if it weren't for Catholics who toughed it out in the South and toughed my prejudices out and were willing to engage charitably in discourse, I would not be Catholic. If you desire intellectual change in the South (again, I think there already has been substantial amount) then you need intellectuals like Beckwith to stay right where they are.

Dr. Beckwith ... well, I don't know what to say that would amount to a hill of beans to you. I certainly find it all interesting, and it encourages some measure of optimism in me. I'll try to continue keeping tabs with the hope that of all the good that can come, it will. And, of course, you've got my support in prayer.

As a former Southern Baptist Pastor who converted to the Catholic Church 7 years ago, I've come to believe it's almost impossible to explain the reason for making the change to most Protestants. It's a little like trying to explain the taste of ice cream to someone who's never experienced it for themselves. It all begins with a kind of nudging, or curiosity that moves one to look closer to the truth, and not remain stuck in the prejudice that comes in much of Protestant
formation.

Geoff,
From a Catholic view, Unam Sanctam would pass the test of infallibility.

Compare the wording with Munificentissimus Deus, in which Pius XII declared the Assumption as dogma:
" by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma".

Boniface, however, said "we believe". Much lower level authority claimed.

Geoff:

Unam Sanctam needs to be read in the context of the Church's teaching on invincible ignorance, as given by St Augustine and others. "Invincible ignorance" is not meant to be a derogatory term: one is invincibly ignorant of a truth p provided that one is ignorant of p and one could not have been reasonably expected to know p.

One must read Church teaching in light of other Church teachings and the Catholic Tradition. Read that way, Unam Sanctam is giving what might be called an "objective" necessary condition for salvation. But someone who is subjectively invincibly ignorant of the correctness of that necessary condition might well be excused from guilt. I am not guilty of murder if I give you a poisoned drink while being invincibly ignorant of the fact that it is poisoned (e.g., because someone else slipped the poison in while I was looking).

Correction:
Unam sanctam would not pass the test of infallibility.

I am grateful that Dr. Beckwith has been reconciled with the Catholic Church. I made the journey 14 years ago after 15 years consideration and reflection and have not regretted it ( http://www.goshen.edu/mqr/pastissues/apr03martin.html
)

To Geoff: If you were to study Unam Sanctam in Latin in its context, you would discover that the "Greeks" referred to here are only those who knowingly and consistently reject full communion with the bishop of Rome. The same principle applies to Orthodox and to Protestants: those who know that full communion with the Bishop of Rome is required and refuse to enter into it are in a different situation from those who, through culturally created "invincible ignorance" do not accept the claims of the Catholic Church regarding the bishop of Rome may be saved by the grace of Christ through the Church of Christ subsisting in its fullness in those churches led by bishops in communion with the bishop of Rome.

One may have heard the Catholic side of things presented and still not "hear" it. Jesus' fundamental principle that some have ears to hear and some do not, applies here.

Someone who has grown up in this or that Christian denomination or confessional tradition and has never even heard the claims for Catholicism presented fairly and fully, someone who has heard them presented but lacks "ears to hear" because of obstacles created by those who taught him, is accountable for obeying that which he truly "hears."

Those who knowingly teach falsely about the Catholic Church and thereby produce the situation where some under their teaching can't even "hear" rightly what they are hearing when they encounter Catholic teaching--those teachers who confuse others, they have a lot more to answer for.

Unam Sanctam did not consign to hell all Orthodox any more than Trent consigned to hell all non-Catholics. Catholic moral theology has always rested on the principle that one answers at the Judgment for that which one truly knows and disobeyed. If one's not-knowing was because of culpable failure honestly to pursue the truth, whether as a Muslim, Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant, God will hold him accountable. We are accountable to ask hard questions of those who teach us and to pursue the truth, but God also holds accountable the false and dishonest teachers of others more than those who have been dishonestly taught.

Only God knows the heart of each teacher and each who has been taught.

Geoff, is it possible that you lack the knowledge and teachable spirit to interpret Unam Sanctam properly?

Dr. Beckwith,
I myself am a former Evangelical from the Mennonite tradition. I converted to the Catholic faith in 2004. Now I see how providential it was that I was not, in any sense, a public figure. Please be assured of my prayers for you and your family.

Geoff,
I believe that you are being overly simplistic in your understanding of Scripture, in your understanding of the development of doctrine, and in your understanding of the Catholic faith. Suppose we applied your hermeneutic to Scripture. We would be forced to conclude that John 10:30 and John 14:28 are contradictory. But, then we would miss the real truth that Jesus is God and man, equal to the Father as regards his Godhead and inferior to the Father as regards his human nature. Similarly, the Church teaches that she is necessary to salvation, but that not all who are visibly outside her pale are actually outside of her. Unam Sanctam is condemning the theological opinion that there could be multiple Churches of Christ and also the theological opinion that the Orthodox Church is the Church of Christ in the same way that the Catholic Church claims to be the Church of Christ. It says nothing about the salvation of individual members (The last sentence that you quote does not exclude the idea of a submission to the Roman Pontiff which is implicit. Clearly, the Holy Father did not mean to comment on those who were in ignorance. For God (see John 15:22, Acts 17:30, 1 Tim 1:13) will not impute the full guilt of sins to those who commit them in ignorance.

Well, ex cathedra didn't exist as a concept in the 1300s so that may be one reason it doesn't have the correct formula. Nothing prior to the 1870s did.

But let's assume it wasn't ex cathedra even by your anachronistic view of the ex cathedra. It clearly shows the pope at the time believed the exact opposite of current dogma. It is one thing to say current dogmas are more clearly defined brought out. It is quite another for the Church to completely go opposite to previous understanding and put it in the Catechism.

From my experience, ex cathedra is a worthless concept. It is used to get around obvious problems in Roman Catholic history, like this one. "That isn't ex cathedra because it wasn't made while the pope was chewing gum while standing on one foot while swinging from trapeze."

Geoff: "Roman Catholicism today doesn't agree with Roman Catholcism of 1000 years ago or even Roman Catholicism of when my mother or grandmother grew up."

I don't see the big deal here. Your one example deals with the Greek Orthodox mentioned in Unam Sanctam. What has changed? Unam Sanctam says the Orthodox are in schism, and Vatican II says the Orthodox are in schism (and vice versa for Orthodox to Catholics). The teaching "No salvation outside the Church" hasn't changed (btw, Calvin taught this as well, see Mathison's book The Shape of Sola Scriptura), what has changed since the 20th century is more open-ness to dialogue, and an acknowledgement (as you quote from the Catechism in your article) that the differences between many Christian groups (especially the Orthodox) and the Catholic Church are not that great. They are called brothers in the Lord and Christians by Vatican II (Decree on Ecumenism). So we can now drop that example.

http://www.bringyou.to/apologetics/debate9.htm

Now do you have a better example of contradiction? Perhaps Pope Honorius once again? I don't want to clutter up Dr. Beckwith's comments box, that's what Catholic Answers forums are for. :-)

Phil P

Dear Dr. Beckwith,

Thank you for your courage!! Christ established a living and breathing Church through which He gave us the Bible and the means to become holy in the eyes of God.

The following is a wonderful prayer attributed to Pope Clement XI to help you and your family be strong in your journey to heaven:

THE UNIVERSAL PRAYER

Lord, I believe in you: increase my faith.
I trust in you: strengthen my trust.
I love you: let me love you more and more.
I am sorry for my sins: deepen my sorrow.

I worship you as my first beginning,
I long for you as my last end,
I praise you as my constant helper,
And call on you as my loving protector.

Guide me by your wisdom,
Correct me with your justice,
Comfort me with your mercy,
Protect me with your power.

I offer you, Lord, my thoughts: to be fixed on you;
My words: to have you for their theme;
My actions: to reflect my love for you;
My sufferings: to be endured for your greater glory.

I want to do what you ask of me:
In the way you ask,
For as long as you ask,
Because you ask it.

Lord, enlighten my understanding,
Strengthen my will,
Purify my heart,
and make me holy.

Help me to repent of my past sins
And to resist temptation in the future.
Help me to rise above my human weaknesses
And to grow stronger as a Christian.

Let me love you, my Lord and my God,
And see myself as I really am:
A pilgrim in this world,
A Christian called to respect and love
All whose lives I touch,
Those under my authority,
My friends and my enemies.

Help me to conquer anger with gentleness,
Greed by generosity,
Apathy by fervor.
Help me to forget myself
And reach out toward others.

Make me prudent in planning,
Courageous in taking risks.
Make me patient in suffering, unassuming in prosperity.

Keep me, Lord, attentive at prayer,
Temperate in food and drink,
Diligent in my work,
Firm in my good intentions.

Let my conscience be clear,
My conduct without fault,
My speech blameless,
My life well-ordered.
Put me on guard against my human weaknesses.
Let me cherish your love for me,
Keep your law,
And come at last to your salvation.

Teach me to realize that this world is passing,
That my true future is the happiness of heaven,
That life on earth is short,
And the life to come eternal.

Help me to prepare for death
With a proper fear of judgment,
But a greater trust in your goodness.
Lead me safely through death
To the endless joy of heaven.

Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

To those protestants, evangelicals, non-Catholics, and non-Orthodox:

When you refer to the "Canon of the Scripture", which Canon are you referring to?

You may be unaware that there are numerous Canons existent even today - The Greek Canon, the Alexandrian Canon, the Ethiopian Canon, the Syriac Canon, the Latin Canon, etc... Under who's authority do you suggest that your version is authentic - King James of England? Do you realize how preposterous that idea is - you are suggesting that the Church and bishops have fallen into error and God gave the Church's authority to a king of England in the 1600s to decide Scripture - a version that none of the early Church would recognize. Do you also realize that Martin Luther deleted many more books that your KJV contains - he wanted the Books of Hebrews, Revelation, and James to be excluded from his Canon - that fact in itself proves Luther was not inspired by the Holy Spirit.

This is why Augustine repeats, "I would not believe the Scriptures unless I first believed the Church."

Dear Mr. Beckwith, I just want congratulate you on your entrance into the Catholic Church. Welcome home to Rome!

Geoff,

Will all respect, you have given a link to your blog. If anyone wishes to engage in the topic you have brought up, I am sure they will visit that link and continue your dialogue in a more appropriate forum.

Geoff,

Read Romans 10 again. It says, "Have they not ALL heard? OF COURSE THEY HAVE:" and then quotes psalm 19.

So the question is, if at the time of Paul's writing of this letter ALL had heard the gospel, then how? Well he quotes psalm 19 to tell us how. Because the heavens and the earth have proclaimed it.

Also, since in context, Romans 10 applies to the GOSPEL and not to the LAW, then Romans 1 and 2 must apply to more than just a universal CONDEMNATION.

Let's look again at Romans 2:

5But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. 6God "will give to each person according to what he has done." 7To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11For God does not show favoritism.

Notice that here, as elsewhere, fearing God and working righteousness does not result in condemnation, but rather in being GIVEN (not earning) eternal life.

Remember Acts 10? Cornelius was a gentile who feared God, and an angel was sent to him. The angel said "Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God."

Now Cornelius is sent an angel. He is not a Christian. Aren't all his works filthy rags then? And yet, his works are actually a memorial offering before God. How can that be?

But let's go on. Now this "God-fearer" is sent an Apostle to tell him about Jesus Christ. He happily accepts the good news and is baptized along with his whole family.

Geoff, God accepted Cornelius' works BEFORE he received Christ. If you can answer how that is so, then I think the problem is solved.

Jim

Dear Dr. Beckwith,

Praised be Jesus Christ!

As a somewhat recent convert to the Roman rite myself and more importantly the Universal Church, I will remember you before our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus, and present petitions for intercessions to the blessed Mother, all the angels and all the saints, for great and numerous graces to come to you through the sacraments as you live in obedience to the truth God has revealed to you through the power of the Holy Spirit.

May the peace of Christ be with you,

John

I just happened on to this websit blog today while looking for Catholic blogs.

Is it cooincidence that today this news is on the front cover of the Dallas morning news?

I am a cradle Catholic (Catholic since birth). I have lived in Carrollton Texas (North Dallas) since I was 4, 40 years now. I have lived with Anti-Catholic anamosity as far back as I can remember, only I was so uncatechised, I didn't know it.

The Baptist church owned & ran the town. I can't tell you how many times I heard that Catholics aren't Christians and asked if I had been saved. Saved from what?

There was so much misinformation being taught as fact that I even bought into it. And almost left the Church in my 20's. That was until I did my own independent research and quit listening to what others thought the Catholic Church was. The clencher was when I went back thru the history of the Catholic Church and it lead all the way back to Penecost where Jesus Christ instituted it.

Which is what I imagine Dr. Beckwith did.

I challenge those of you who are greiving Dr. Beckwith's lost soul, to do your own homework and follow your faith's roots and see how far back they go. And when you get to 16th century. You may want to jump all the way back to the 1st century and see what the father's of the Church believed and taught, without a Bible, because it hadn't been put together until the 4th century and the seven books Catholics are accused of adding to the Bible are still intact in the Old Testament, because the Jews hadn't removed the "Christian" books from their "Bible" either.

I thank God that another intelegent, humble, sincere, courageous Protestant has found the truth and has the guts to stand up for that truth, even when it means losing the life (on earth) that he thought he was destined for.

God has even bigger plans for this man!!

Dr. Beckwith: congratulations on being a class act. I haven't read every comment, but I am somewhat surprised not to see more protestant sympathy for your "outing" by James White. In the context of the fact that you were not given the opportunity to make all of this public on your own terms and in the proper time, you have provided a great example of how a gentleman behaves in public. Bravo!

Brother Beckwith...
I am curious what writings of the early Church in particular were catalysts in this journey toward reconciliation...

I am not an expert in these things, but from the little I do know it seems to me that far too much is being read into that famous line from the papal bull "Unam Sanctam". It says that it is necessary for salvation that every one be subject to the Roman Pontiff. At first glance, that indeed would seem to imply that if a man does not recognize the authority of the Pope he is damned. But before jumping to the conclusion that that is implied, one should remember the terms in which our Lord Himself taught about baptism and the Eucharist: He said that unless a person eats His body and drinks His blood "he will have no life in him", seemingly implying the impossibility of eternal life for that person. He also said that "no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit." The Catholic Church has always understood this to refer to baptism. At first glance, these statements of our Lord would seem to imply that if one is not baptized or has not received communion he cannot be saved. And yet, the Catholic Church has never taught that. Even when extra ecclesiam nulla salus was most narrowly understood, it was understood that some who had not yet received baptism with water would be saved (e.g. there was "baptism of desire" for catechumens who died before having a chance to be baptized with water, and "baptism of blood" for martyrs). And the Church never taught that little children who had been baptized but who died without having eaten Christ's body and blood were damned. So we must be careful in understanding Unam Sanctam just as we must be careful in understanding what Jesus says in John 3 and John 6.

The basic idea behind all these teachings is that to be saved *one must be incorporated into the Body of Christ*, with all that that entails. That incorporation happens through faith and baptism. It normally involves also the reception of Christ in the Eucharist. And membership in his body makes one subject to the pastors of the Church, in particular the bishops, and in particular the chief bishop. So one cannot say: I want a Church without water baptism, or without the Eucharist, or without pastors or popes. Christ established a Church as the vehicle of our salvation and endowed it with certain things. These things are essential to it. Pope Boniface was addressing schismatics who felt that they could abolish things that Christ had established. He corrected them using the same kind of language the Christ used in John 3 and John 6.

"If you were to study Unam Sanctam in Latin in its context, you would discover that the "Greeks" referred to here are only those who knowingly and consistently reject full communion with the bishop of Rome."

838: "The Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honored by the name of Christian, but do not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter."[322] Those "who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church."[323] With the Orthodox Churches, this communion is so profound "that it lacks little to attain the fullness that would permit a common celebration of the Lord's Eucharist."

That's not going to work as an explanation.

Let me give you small "c" catholic props for this blog.

As an Anglican, I have feet in both worlds, and I can say that I think both of these worlds need to listen to each other more carefully, both need to repent of their idolatries, and both need to reconcile as the Body of Christ.

I hope the "defection" of such a high profile Evangelical will spur the conversation onward.

It does make me wonder if there is actually no hope for protestantism... no heretical movement in the church has ever lasted for more than about 500 years... so, is it about time we all sing "rome sweet rome"?

When the orthodox finally reconcile with Rome, it may all be over in this epistemological house of cards we call the protestant church, because when there is nothing left to protest, then being a protest-ant is just an oxymoron...

Unless, of course, we find a reason for being Protestant that is more than simply Protest and saying "I am NOT one of them!" If we find something beyond protestation, beyond negative self-definitions, maybe that something will be holistic, universally Christian, fully Biblical, wholly holy, and, in a word... "catholic"

For a very fair and balanced presentation of what the Catholic Church actually (and officially) teaches about Justification, you really need to read the following essay by Prof. Richard A. White, which he wrote for Dr. Harold O.J. Brown, while a student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School:
http://www.salvationhistory.com/library/apologetics/SolaGratiaSoloChristo.cfm

I was thinking a little more on Romans 10 and Psalm 19.

New Testament writers may use a verse from the Old Testament without wanting to pull in the entire context of that quote.

"The Philadelphia Phillies are always arriving, never arrived." I'm quoting Waiting for Godot, but I don't mean to pull the entire context of the play into my quote and apply it to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Likewise, we must pay attention to both how Paul is using the Old Testament in his argument and the context of what he is quoting.

10:15 is good news/gospel. 10:16 is good news/gospel (people don't believe the gospel). 10:17, faith comes from hearing and hearing from the word of Christ (not general revelation).

10:18, the quote from Psalm 19, Paul is establishing that the message did indeed go out.

Based on 10:19's identification of the subject as Israel (and chapter 9 through 11's main subject) it looks like verse 18 is about Israel.

So the main point is that people don't believe the gospel, not general revelation. General revelation declares God's glory and God's eternal attributes (Psalm 19, Romans 1). It does not give us the contents of the gospel (I Cor. 15).

General revelation in Romans 1 and our conscience in Romans 2 leave us condemned. The demands of the law show that both Jew and Gentile are condemned (Romans 3). In Romans 10, we see the need for the gospel throughout and the need for preaching and therefore the need for sent preachers.

Geoff,

How do you understand General Revelation in light of the fact that Jesus is the Light that gives light to EVERYONE coming into the world?

That light that they receive is Jesus himself. It's not just the law which condemns them.

You can wrangle with the context all you want, but I think I have made it abundantly clear that general revelation includes the good news, not just the bad news.

And you did not answer me about Acts 10. How did general revelation allow Cornelius to do works that were pleasing to God BEFORE he received Christ?

Jim

I understand the desire to correct Geoff's lack of understanding of Scripture and Catholic doctrine, but realistically there is no chance of success. Geoff thinks Catholic doctrine and the Bible mean whatever he thinks they mean. He doesn't seem to be interested in finding out what the Catholic Church means by what she says, because he is under the delusion that he already knows.

Dr. Beckwith,

Welcome home brother! The Church rejoices and is blessed by your presence. I look forward to your contribution and partcipation.

John

Jim,

Two things for you.

Feel free to explain how general revelation gives us knowledge of the gospel. How a) Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures (and don't we need the Church to figure out what the Scriptures are)
b) that we was buried and raised on the third day according to the Scriptures
c) then he appeared to many disciples

That is how Paul defines the gospel in I Cor. 15. Please give me that information solely from general revelation.

If general revelation is sufficient, why does Paul say in Romans 10 that a preacher needs to be sent? Explain Paul's flow of logic.

How do I explain the comments about Jesus being the Light for every man? No one has knowledge of the Father except through Jesus. God has made himself known through a) general revelation b) conscience. This tells us that God exists, He is very powerful, He is eternal, and His wrath is manifest. This is light.

You quote John 1:9, but keep going to verse 10.

9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.

"The world did not know him."

I want to be respectful to Jim and his argument and not let the Act 10/Cornelius question hanging.

I also want to clarify that knowledge of God and Jesus (who is the Second Person of the Trinity) is different than knowledge of the gospel. This is a clarification of my last post. Jesus makes God the Father known. This is light. This is not the same as knowledge of the gospel. And as shown in Romans 1 and John 1:10, knowledge from general revelation is rejected.

Ok, Act 10.

Short answer: Please notice that God gave visions and orders from heaven in order to get Cornelius the gospel message.

Long answer is from Robert Reymond: Cornelius the Roman centurian is a special showcase for the inclusivist. Pinnock describes him as "the pagan saint par excellence of the New Testament,"20 and hails him as the prime example of a man who was saved apart from faith in Christ, to whom Peter was sent only to inform him that he was forgiven and saved. Inclusivists underscore the fact that Cornelius was a "devout and God-fearing man" (eusebēs kai phoboumenos ton theon) who "gave generously to those in need and who prayed to God regularly" (Acts 10:2) and that he was a "righteous and God-fearing man [anēr dikaios kai phoboumenos ton theon] who is respected by all the Jewish people" (Acts 10:22), about whom God declared to Peter that he was "clean" (ekatharisen; Acts 10:15). And they underscore that Peter plainly declares that "God does not show favoritism but accepts men in every nation who fear him and do what is right" (Acts 10:34-35).

Now it is true that Luke says all these things about Cornelius. But Luke's statements do not mean that Cornelius was a saved man prior to Peter's visit, for in fact he was not! I say this for the following two reasons: (1) Peter expressly declared later that it was by the message (rhēmata) that he brought to Cornelius that "everyone who believes in [Christ] receives forgiveness of sins through his name" (Acts 10:43) that Cornelius was saved (see Peter's "shall be saved," sōthēsē, the future indicative passive) (Acts 11:14). (2) The Jewish Christians of Jerusalem responded to Peter's explanation by saying: "Then God has even granted the Gentiles repentance unto life" (Acts 11:18), clearly meaning that true repentance leads to eternal life and that until God grants such to people they do not have eternal life. Clearly, then, before Peter came and preached Christ to him, Cornelius was not saved, and just as clearly it was through Peter's preaching that Cornelius came to faith in Christ.

But while this is true, it needs to be said that, prior to Peter's coming, Cornelius was "clean" in the sense that Peter was not to view him any longer as ceremonially "taboo" but as a legitimate candidate for evangelization!21 This is plainly Peter's own interpretation of the "great sheet" vision in Acts 10:28-29 where we read: "Peter said to them: 'You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me [by the "clean sheet" vision] that I should not call any man [ceremonially] impure or unclean [that is, an "untouchable"]. So when I was sent for, I came without raising an objection.'" It is also true that God had "accepted" (dektos) Cornelius before Peter spoke to him. But what does this mean? This "acceptance" by God is not the same thing as the earlier "clean" for the "clean" are all men everywhere whereas the "accepted" are said to be in every nation. The "accepted" in every nation, then, are they, in God's providence, who seek God sincerely and genuinely, as did Cornelius the "God-fearer" as he listened to the reading of the Old Testament in the Jewish synagogues, and for whom God arranges, as he did for Cornelius, that the gospel should be brought to them. Which is just to say, the "accepted" in every nation are simply God's elect. Cornelius is representative, then, not of people who can and are saved apart from faith in Christ (there are none!), but of the unsaved elect in every nation throughout the world who by the Spirit's promptings are "seeking God in an extraordinary way,"22 that is to say, who are drawn, by God's electing love and by whatever bit of special revelation they might have received, to realize (1) that they as needy sinners must meet the one living and true God someday, (2) that they are unable to answer him once in a thousand times satisfactorily, and (3) who pray day and night that God in his mercy will somehow make it possible for them to be acceptable in his sight. These, the Cornelius incident teaches us, God will save through the mission enterprise by getting the good news of the gospel to them just as he arranged for Peter to take the gospel to Cornelius.

As a convert from evangelicalism (10 years ago), I am struck by the gross misunderstandings of the Church that characterize most of the attacks on Dr. Beckwith. (Isn't this somewhat like a small startup dot.com offering "sage" advice to Microsoft?)

To echo Chesterton, one cannot know the Catholic Church from the outside, which is why I thank God daily for the voice of the shepherd that led me into the fold.
Conversion (or re-version) is indeed inexplicable, and mysterious, and wonderful; it is arriving at the end of a journey; it is entering a strange new world of deep familiarity; it is discovering an intimacy with the Lord Jesus that is corporeal rather than verbal; it is discovering the Word of God in the Body of Christ, where it has always resided.

God bless Dr. Beckwith

Wow, I have been reading the many postings over the past two days and sit here shaking my head. I told a friend that the encouraging words for Dr. Beckwith are sometimes overshadowed by the confusing, bitter, hateful, ignorant, and at times laughable rants of some. A few have even used this occasion to preach hatred. I grew up in the Methodist expression. My faith, by God's grace, began when I was a teenager. Ten years ago, without the influence of anyone ( except the Holy Spirit), I started reading the early church fathers. I simply wanted to know what the early church was like. I did not read books published by Catholics. I read books published by protestants. We had moved to Nashville and could not find a methodist church that taught the truth as we knew it. Most of them were very liberal. We ended up at a very well known reform church in Franklin. I must say that this "conversion" never stuck. John Wesley was praying for me. I kept hearing my friends talk about starting their own "home churches" because they felt that the mainline churches had lost their way.They wanted to revive the early church's ways and ideas of worship. This is what led me to read and study what the early church was about. That was 10 years ago. Fast forward, Easter 2006, my wife, son and I are confirmed in the Catholic Church. Hallelujah! I praise God for this not because I am right, but because in His mercy He wanted me to know the fullness of His Truth. His Church is the only one that still has the 7 Sacraments that Jesus gave to the Apostles. His Church is the one HE founded upon Cepha.His Church is the only one with a unified authority, the Chair of Peter. His Church is the one HE said would prevail against the gates of hell. His Church is the one HE said He would never forsake.( He didn't say I will be with you until the last Apostle dies and then dissapear until the 16th century). He knew His Church would go through trouble, even He had Judas. He said it Himself, "in this world you will have trouble". He also said, "Blessed is he who perseveres to the end." I love His Church because every day I am invited to His Table to receive Him in the most intimate and personal way that HE established.(The Ultimate "Personal Relationship") John 6. Matt. 26: 26-29 But I know that without His grace I would not be able to accept this TRUTH. In my own understanding(Prov. 3:5) I would not be able. Everything is grace. Even me having to "work out my salvation with fear and trembling" Phil. 2:12, know that it is God Who is at work in me. Now, by God's grace, I want to be a sheep on His right and not a goat on His left that the angels will separate when He returns. Matt. 25: 31-46. I don't care how anyone argues, James says, James 2:24 it is NOT by faith alone. Even Paul himself said " I do not count myself as having attained it yet, but I press on.." Phil 3:12(Scripture Alone?) And please, this does not diminish anything Jesus did on the cross, He alone is our salvation, there is no other name under heaven by which men are saved! But even Paul says we are "co-workers with Christ" and that we "complete what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ." As always, if you understand the word, Covenant, you understand that we are a family and God allows us to be a part of the work HE ACCOMPLISHED through His Son on the cross. We don't earn our salvation, but we do have a role to play in it's fruition,to receive His grace with humility. We have to desire to abide in Him minute by minute. "He who eats my body and drinks my blood abides in ME and I in him." --Jesus... He also says in John 15 that "He who abides in Me and I in Him will bear much fruit, apart from me, You can do nothing." He told us how to abide, by eating His flesh and drinking His blood. I know this may offend many, as it did in John 6 when Jesus first said it. It says there that "many of His disciples drew back and walked with Him no longer." Notice, Jesus did not run after them and say, 'wait, I was only using symbolism, a metaphor, wait, come back!' No He did not stop them because what He said He meant. If God can create the world from nothing, can walk on water, can multiply bread,can turn water into wine, why can't He become the bread and the wine? Oh we of little faith.

Dr. Beckwith, blessings and mercy and peace be upon you and your family as you have sold everything to buy the field.

In His grace,
Keith Moore

To Dr. Beckwith: May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be upon you and your family, and may all of this blogospheric commotion lead more sheep into the fullness of truth that is His one true Catholic Church. As for the negative, uninformed, misinformed, and malicious comments, let’s recall the words of our Savior: “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34).

To my separated brethren in Christ (and any curious non-believers): I am unfortunately not surprised by the anti-Catholic bigotry and ignorance that I see throughout these comments. As a Texas Catholic, I have personally experienced such anti-Catholic bigotry and ignorance. Bigotry is defined as “acts or beliefs characteristic of a bigot.” A bigot is defined as “a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices.” We all know that bigotry primarily stems from ignorance. By ignorance, I mean the state of being uninformed or misinformed (usually innocently as a result of the lack of information or education on the subject, but also as a result of bigotry or myopia), not the state of being dumb or unintelligent. To quote Fulton Sheen, “There are not a hundred people who hate the Catholic Church; however, there are millions who hate what they think the Catholic Church to be.” Many Jews missed the Messiah because of their pride, bigotry, and ignorance; many Christians are missing the Messiah’s Church and its fullness of truth.

Many of today’s prominent lay Catholic theologians and apologists once viewed the Catholic Church as many of these posts view it: E.g., Scott and Kimberly Hahn (www.salvationhistory.com), Jeff Cavins (www.jeffcavins.com), Jimmy Akin (www.jimmyakin.org), Patrick Madrid (www.envoymagazine.com), Mike Cumbie (www.mikecumbie.org), Steve Ray (www.catholic-convert.com), Marcus Grodi (www.chnetwork.org), Mark Shea (http://markshea.blogspot.com), Dave Armstrong (http://socrates58.blogspot.com), Tim Staples, Alex Jones, David Currie, Ken Hensley, etc. But these converts became interested only in the truth, not in being right or winning an argument. Once a person courageously commits to intellectual honesty and prays for discernment of the truth, the Holy Spirit will guide and lead, as Jesus promised. These persons and their websites, videos, tapes and CDs, and writings thoughtfully and carefully explain Catholic doctrine and their journey home. Or, you can even go to a conference and see and hear some of these people in person and you can talk to them. For Texans (and those nearby), two opportunities exist in the near future. Fullness of Truth Catholic Evangelization Ministries (www.fullnessoftruth.org) has conferences in Houston (June 23-24) and San Antonio (July 28-29). Otherwise, there is so much online… E.g., Catholic Answers (www.catholic.com); St. Joseph’s Communications (www.saintjoe.com)

Just as it is not fair and honest for a non-Protestant to go to Catholic sources to learn about Protestantism—and especially Fundamentalist or Evangelical Protestantism—it is not fair and honest for a non-Catholic to go to Protestant sources to learn about the Catholic Church and Catholic doctrine. I urge you to learn about Catholicism from Catholic sources first. If you won’t honestly and fairly explore the Catholic Church, I challenge you to look within and ask yourself why. Are you afraid that you might be wrong? Are you afraid you might have to give up something (prestige, reputation, wealth, friends, family, sinful behavior) if you are led to Catholicism? (Cf. Matthew 19:15-22; Mark 10:17-22). And if you don’t have that courage to explore and are inclined to stick your head in the sand, at a minimum pray for the courage to pull your head out of the sand. If, in your fair and honest exploration of Catholicism, you conclude that the Catholic Church is wrong, what have you lost? I challenge you. “Be not afraid.”

Peace.

StoneMan

I have seen a few posts on anti-Catholicism in Texas, and having lived here for 30 years, I can't quite understand where its coming from. Having lived in Houston, Corpus Christi (how's that for an anti-Catholic name?) and Austin, I can't say I've really experienced it. Then again, I haven't lived in Dallas, northeast Texas or Lubbock. I've only been to Waco for the traditional once-every-two-years trouncing of what passes for a football team there. Must be a north Texas thing.

Geoff,

In answer to your first post, I quote:

1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

So Jesus gives light to EVERYONE. If they walk in the light that Jesus gives them, they are purified from all sin.

So, are you going to argue that indeed Jesus does not give light to everyone, or are you going to argue that the light of Christ only leads to condemnation?

In answer to your second post, I ask again:

How were Cornelius' prayer and alms (his works) a memorial before God if he was not already saved? Are you going to argue that the works of an unbeliever are not acceptable to God?

If you do, then Cornelius was a believer.

If you don't, then you admit that unbelievers can do good works.

So what is it going to be?

Jim

Dear Gerard,

Thank you for responding(7th,May 2007 response) ‘promptly’ to my comments on Prof. Beckwith’s return to the Roman Catholic Church. I do believe that after studying directly under the doctor you have known him very well than I do. I have seen him in more than four ETS meetings but never had a chance to talk with him, if not just having shared the same table with him during meal time. Otherwise I honestly admit also that I am “too little” to have been known by the scholar. I am proud to be studying directly under recognized minds with admirable credentials; well known perhaps more than many Christian philosophers, for their academic and biblical responses to the contemporary questions skeptics and unbelievers are asking concerning the nature of beliefs and nobility of Christian thought.
I also agree with you that Prof. Beckwith is indeed “a man of reason and persuasion” (a professor of philosophy at Columbia International University, South Carolina, who studied under him also told me so: he wrote his dissertation “Augustine’s Law and Ethics” under Beckwith).
You also have said that Prof. Beckwith has been “convinced that he has the truth about something”, and that he is “morally obligated to share that truth with those who desire to listen”. But don’t you know that “truth” commands audiences regardless of who will listen to the speaker or not, with no one being too defiant not to grasp its appeal even without positive response? Those who have been convinced with truth about something should not worry whether anyone would listen to them or not, since nobody is able to stand for truth than truth’s knowledge of its own goal in this life.
I do not think you have done any justice to the person of Francis Beckwith’s level in portraying him to be a man who wants to choose his own audience instead of the nature and the necessity of what he wants to say as “the truth about something” which you claim has “convinced” him to the new direction he is taking. The weight of “truth” does not abandon truth bearers to go their own way of viewing reality. It may also be true as you have said, that one does not need to “believe in the inerrancy of Scriptures to be a Christian,” since it is not a “requirement in any of the gospels” for salvation.
Even when I became a Christian, I did not make the decision to welcome the Lord Jesus Christ in my heart for the forgiveness of my Sin because “inerrancy” was preached to me from Scriptures, but because salvation was explained to me from the Scriptures; that Jesus Christ died because of my sin and that he was raised on the third day for my justification. This message changed my life not because of the “inerrancy of Scripture,” but because Scripture bears unquestionable “truth” on what it proclaims about God, the universe and man’s destiny.
But “inerrancy of Scripture” plays a role for our belief and faith in Jesus Christ too. This is crucial for those who want “to know” before submitting to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The dilemma of believing or not believing in Jesus Christ as Lord, cannot be solved outside the knowledge of what the “inerrant Scriptures” testifies of itself to be and about man’s need for salvation.
The “inerrancy of Scriptures” is matter of great concern in man’s redemptive history. Its confirmation is consistent with the origin of Jesus Christ, his claims in the gospels, his life, death and resurrection, ascension and second return. The fact that some of us did not demand “to know” (well, I do not know if you did this), but instead took salvation by faith in Jesus Christ as Lord who died and rose for our salvation, does not deny a man his liberty to question the “inerrancy of Scriptures”, if that is what a man wants to do before he believes. Even if it is not outlined in the gospels as a prerequisite for salvation at the initial stages, where one may demand “to know” before believing, the “inerrancy Scriptures” exists before, during and after our salvation and so on.

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