I'm posting here now:

My life is marked by a desire to understand. As a young man I read through the New Testament, and I was struck at how very different it was from the Roman Catholic religion that I had been raised to practice. Since that time, I've been intensely interested in understanding how things have gotten the way they are.

Since May of 2010, I've been invited to be a team member at http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com. This is James Swan's blog, and he created it as a repository for his writings, attempting to clear up misunderstandings about Martin Luther that were generated in the polemical battles of the Reformation, and that have been perpetuated since that time. Here you'll find a collection of my writings on the topics of theology and church history.

If you want to get to know me, my interests, and how I think about these things, start here.


Why I am not a Catholic (2)

Again, from James White:
Why am I not a Roman Catholic? Because Roman Catholicism has a gospel that does not give peace, because it fundamentally violates the Scriptural teaching on how one is made right with God. Rome has a false gospel that cannot save, hence, I have no reason to abandon the peace I have with God through Christ's perfect atonement for the treadmill of Rome's sacramental system of salvation.


The Great Martin Luther

I am tremendously moved by this man's faith in the context within which he lived:
Luther then replied: Your Imperial Majesty and Your Lordships demand a simple answer. Here it is, plain and unvarnished. Unless I am convicted [convinced] of error by the testimony of Scripture or (since I put no trust in the unsupported authority of Pope or councils, since it is plain that they have often erred and often contradicted themselves) by manifest reasoning, I stand convicted [convinced] by the Scriptures to which I have appealed, and my conscience is taken captive by God's word, I cannot and will not recant anything, for to act against our conscience is neither safe for us, nor open to us.

On this I take my stand. I can do no other. God help me.
More about all that here: http://theologica.blogspot.com/2009/04/here-he-stood.html


Why I am not a Roman Catholic

The following is from James White, "On Really Believing the Gospel".
I am not a Roman Catholic because Roman Catholicism is a false religion. It is headed by an imposter, a man who claims to be something he is not. The Pope is not the Vicar of Christ, he is not the head of the Christian Church, he is not a "Holy Father," and I owe him no fealty, honor, nor respect in the religious sense. Roman Catholicism is a man-made perversion of the truth. While it retains elements of the truth (having moved away from the faith slowly and over a great deal of time), it falls under the condemnation of the Apostle Paul in Galatians 1. If the Judaizers were properly anathematized for their additions to the gospel, it is very clear to me that they never came close to dreaming up half the stuff Rome has added to the gospel over the centuries. Nor do we have any evidence that they attacked the sufficiency of Scripture, included grossly unbiblical offices (priests, Cardinals, Popes), or elevated anyone like Mary to the lofty heights of nigh unto divinity that Rome has over the past few centuries. The Papacy has embarrassed the Judaizers in the realm of innovation and gospel-corruption, to be sure.

So I am not a Roman Catholic by positive conviction that the gospel of grace found in Scripture is not the gospel of Rome. My positive conviction of the gospel that saves utterly precludes my consideration of Roman Catholicism, for to embrace that system would require me to abandon all I believe about Scripture (its inspiration, its preservation, its supremacy, its sufficiency), all I believe about the gospel (the sovereign decree of God, the perfection of the atonement, the power of the Spirit in bringing the elect to salvation), all I believe about the church (its form, function, and purpose). In other words, Roman Catholicism is a different religion than I profess. It is not just a variant, "another flavor."

One is either convicted that the gospel is something that matters or not. There really isn't any middle ground....

A true Protestant is a person who has made that act of will, that act of faith, in purposefully embracing the gospel of grace in opposition to a gospel of works and who recognizes that what he has embraced is fundamentally opposed to what he has rejected. The Apostle put it clearly and bluntly:

4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due.
5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,
6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:
7 "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;
8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin."
(Rom 4:4-8 ESV)

Paul draws a 180 degree contrast between the faith of the one who does to receive and the one who believes. Clearly the Apostle did not think that the one "who works" was holding a "variant" of the same gospel....

So if you really believe the gospel, you really believe the negation of the gospel is evil. Just as the person who loves God and holiness will hate sin, so too the person who really believes the gospel will find its negation, its corruption, its perversion, an object of hatred.


From a private email

... the Catholic church is in steep decline in the west. Those who are drawn to it are not drawn to it because it makes sense: they are drawn to it because it offers them a context in which to get both authoritarian certainty and new age superstitious gratification regarding "mystery". It's the ultimate spiritual shell game.


"It's not my fault"

The Mac "Breakthrough" ad captures in a humorous way precisely "The Spirit of Catholicism" as personified by the many "apologies" that Pope John Paul II made during his pontificate.

Here's how one Orthodox priest received those "apologies":

"In any event, the Pope did not apologize on behalf of the Roman Church for anything, did he? Instead, he asked God to forgive some sons and daughters of the Roman Church who were involved in some wicked acts. That is not exactly an apology....And we, in fact, can go one better than the Romans, because the Romans cannot admit that their Church as Church, the Papacy, the Petrine institution actually did wrong... only certain sons and daughters of the Church did wrong. But we are free to say that our Church as an institution has been wrong-headed or syncophantic or mean or obtuse or unjust or nasty - from the very top down. (In this regard, the recent words of the Patriarch of Moscow concerning the persecution of the Old Rite, and asking forgiveness in the name of the Russian Church, was utterly refreshing)....

The issue isn't history. It is ecclesiology. The point is, may I reiterate, that the historical atrocities committed by 'westerners' - and the attempted subversion of our Churches by the 'agents of Rome' - ONLY took place BECAUSE the Roman Church saw the Orthodox world as 'other', as "not-subject-to-Rome" and therefore as "not-truly-Christian." Thus we became the legitimate object of the Roman imperative: persuasion, evangelization, subordination, domination.

If Rome had seen us as fellow Christians, sister-Churches, as the local Church wherever we were when they arrived in our home places - there would have been no theory and excuse to justify or sanction atrocities and polemics, no need for persuasion, evangelization, subordination, domination. So the issue is not really one, or only one, of grievances concerning historical acts - we have enough historical acts for which we need to repent, too - but one of fundamental theological vision, of ecclesiology. 'That is truly and only the Church which subsists in communion with the See of Rome' says Rome. Period.

In fact, in this address of the Pope, the universalist pretensions of Rome are implicit in everything the Pope read out....
(Written to an Orthodox internet list as a commentary on a Rod Dreher opinion piece published in the May 8, 2001 edition of The Wall Street Journal entitled "When Will the Orthodox Learn to Love the Pope?")