My main thesis

My main idea for this blog will be "The Roman Catholic Church is not what it says it is." Of course, "what it says it is" is found both in the Vatican II document, "Lumen Gentium," and in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I'll provide links to these, and expand on these ideas over time. (This is a longer term project for me, remember.)

But the fact that Catholicism is still "a force" within Christianity, ("the premier church among churches," as Neuhaus has said) and yet it does not represent what is "true Christianity." I believe this and I will make a case for it. The "true Christianity" that may be found in Catholicism is buried in there somewhere, but that's the point: it's buried under useless, anachronistic accretions that serve more to uphold the power structure than to promote Christ to the world.

Which brings me to another thesis: This disparity that I am talking about ("the Catholic Church is not what it says it is") hinders Christianity in the world. It hinders Christ in the world today.

And as long as I am making thesis statements, I will say further that Protestantism (conservative, evangelical protestantism) will do well by reflecting on what has happened to Catholicism), and a remembrance of where Protestantism came from will serve Christianity well into the future.

I don't say any of this in a vacuum. These are longstanding, core beliefs that I have developed over a lifetime of being concerned about these kinds of things. I grew up Catholic, the son of a woman who was and is a very devout Catholic. I left the Catholic Church as a teen, for very good reasons. I came back in my early 20's because of an invitation from some very devout people. I even thought I wanted to become a priest, and, captivated by the life of Francis of Assisi, I looked very closely at the possibility that I might become a Franciscan.

Not long after that phase in my life, I married (within the Catholic Church), and eventually I have had six children (now ages from 2 up to 18). I was the guy in the front pew who always had two small children in his arm, and often had to walk out, red-faced, because one or more of them was fussing in some way.

But even with my convert's view of Catholicism ("there are things wrong, but there is plenty here that lends itself to the worship of the True God"), I came to the conclusion that I could not honestly teach my children that "The Catholic Church is what it says it is."

As I mentioned above, I will go into a lot more detail about that decision. But that is my thesis in a nutshell, and one of the major functions of this little blog will be to defend it.


A response to "The God Delusion"

Since I've mentioned the Wired Magazine article, I should point out that Steve Hays of Triablogue has responded to Richard Dawson's book, "The God Delusion," at length.


"What in the world is God doing?"

As I write this morning, I have the latest issue of “Wired” magazine sitting on my desk. The front cover features “The New Atheism. No Heaven. No Hell. Just Science.” The subtitle is “Inside the crusade against religion.”

I haven’t read the article. But given the admissions that I’ve already made below, I realize that I am in conflict with major trends in the world today. (I also know that there are those who would agree with me.)

As a Christian, I am mandated to consider myself a “peacemaker”:
7Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.
(Matt 5-7, NIV)
This is one major source of conflict where some sort of understanding needs to be reached. But there are others: The conflict in Iraq. The greater conflict – “the clash of civilizations” with Islam. The political conflict here in the US.

Given that I believe “the Bible alone is the Word of God,” given that I believe God exists and not only exists like the Deist “watchmaker,” but that he exists as John Calvin described him (as Jesus described: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.” (Matt 10:29) – this is a God who is Sovereign, who is intimately involved with orchestrating the minute happenings in this world – I think it is fair to ask, “What in the world is God doing?”

Not only is it fair to ask that question. It is mandatory to come up with good answers. For the sake of responding to Wired’s “pure scientists. For the sake of Iraq, for the sake of “civilization,” for the sake of the US.

For the sake of my children, who will grow up in this world.


The Turning Point of Modern History

Why the Reformation? Church historian Phillip Schaff writes about that as the introduction to his Volume 7 discussing the German Reformation:

§ 1. The Turning Point of Modern History.
The Reformation of the sixteenth century is, next to the introduction of Christianity, the greatest event in history. It marks the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of modern times. Starting from religion, it gave, directly or indirectly, a mighty impulse to every forward movement, and made Protestantism the chief propelling force in the history of modern civilization.

The age of the Reformation bears a strong resemblance to the first century. Both are rich beyond any other period in great and good men, important facts, and permanent results. Both contain the ripe fruits of preceding, and the fruitful germs of succeeding ages. They are turning points in the history of mankind. They are felt in their effects to this day, and will be felt to the end of time. They refashioned the world from the innermost depths of the human soul in its contact, with the infinite Being. They were ushered in by a providential concurrence of events and tendencies of thought. The way for Christianity was prepared by Moses and the Prophets, the dispersion of the Jews, the conquests of Alexander the Great, the language and literature of Greece, the arms and laws of Rome, the decay of idolatry, the spread of skepticism, the aspirations after a new revelation, the hopes of a coming Messiah. The Reformation was preceded and necessitated by the corruptions of the papacy, the decline of monasticism and scholastic theology, the growth of mysticism, the revival of letters, the resurrection of the Greek and Roman classics, the invention of the printing press, the discovery of a new world, the publication of the Greek Testament, the general spirit of enquiry, the striving after national independence and personal freedom. In both centuries we hear the creative voice of the Almighty calling light out of darkness.


Maybe I'm a bit ahead of myself, but the year 2017 will be the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, and I believe this anniversary and the years leading up to it will provide an ideal opportunity for Christians to pause and reflect on where they've come from, as a way of refocusing on where we need to go for the future.

I do not write from a position of strength. That is, I am not going to make bold arguments. This blog is more likely than not going to be an infrequent, longer-term project on my part. I may ask more questions than I answer. I've studied theology and church history from an informal but decidedly cncerned level. I'm a professional, I have a good job, I have a wife and six kids who mean more to me than anything. I'm a former Catholic who has decided that I can't accept Catholic claims to authority. Papal claims, especially, but Catholic generally.

As for my personal theology, I'm evangelical, and I lean toward Reformed. I'm convinced that God exists, that Jesus lived, performed many miracles, died for our sins, and was raised from the dead for our sins according to the Scriptures. I believe that the Bible alone is the Word of God.