Sunday, November 23, 2008

Kresta in the Afternoon - November 25

On Tuesday, November 25, I will be a guest on the Kresta in the Afternoon radio show to discuss my book Return to Rome: Confessions of An Evangelical Catholic. I will be on from 3 to 4 pm EST. Stations that broadcast the show can be found here.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Evangelical and Catholic

That is the title of the essay I published this morning in the online magazine, Inside Catholic. Here is how it begins:

On May 5, 2007, I resigned as president of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS), and two days later I resigned my membership, one I held for more than 20 years. I did so because I quickly realized -- after news of my April 29, 2007, public reception into the Catholic Church had spread like wildfire on the internet and in the media -- that there was no way that ETS could conduct business with my continued presence on the executive committee or its membership. In fact, soon after my resignation, two ETS members proposed extensive changes in the organization's doctrinal statement so that no one would ever question the indelible Protestant character of ETS. Although not supported by the ETS executive committee, their proposal will be voted on by the membership at this week's annual meeting in Providence, Rhode Island. These changes, if passed, would leave no doubt that ETS excludes all non-Protestants from its membership.

One may ask why I waited six days after my public reception into the Catholic Church to resign my ETS presidency, and eight days to resign my membership. I did so because I did not believe that the present ETS doctrinal statement is inconsistent with my Catholic beliefs. My resignations were motivated entirely by my desire not to cause needless offense to my brothers and sisters in Christ from whom I have learned so much in my over three decades in the Protestant world. Nevertheless, I still believe that the ETS doctrinal statement is broad enough to allow Catholic members. (In fact, I remain a member of the Evangelical Philosophical Society [EPS], which has an identical doctrinal statement)


You can read the whole thing here.

(Cross-posted on Southern Appeal and What's Wrong With the World)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Another review. Not so nice

Here's another review of Return to Rome. IMHO, I do not believe that this review is the consequence of reading the book very carefully. In one place, for example, the reviewer confuses Protestantism with comments I made at a Boston College conference about anti-creedal Protestantism. In another place he misses my analogy between grace-works and God-man by thinking that I was referring to Jesus' works. But I wasn't. What I was suggesting is that Christ's humanity no more diminishes his deity than do our works performed in grace diminish God's grace. In a yet another place he thinks my comments about the scope of the Protestant canon is part of a defense of the Catholic canon. It is not. It is an analysis of the problem with the reconciling of two claims in terms of the ETS press release concerning my resignations from ETS: (1) that all theological knowledge is derived exclusively from Scripture, and (2) that the scope of the canon, an item of theological knowledge, is not derived from Scripture since it is logically prior to Scripture. As I write in the book, "[B]ecause the list of canonical books is itself not found in scripture—as one can find the Ten Commandments or the names of Christ’s Apostles—any such list, whether Protestant or Catholic, would be an item of extra-biblical theological knowledge." (p. 123).

Ironically, tomorrow the online magazine Inside Catholic will be publishing an essay of mine entitled, "Evangelical and Catholic," in which that portion of the book is excerpted. I will post a link to it tomorrow. In any event, this review is loaded with many, many mistakes like these. It seems that this well-meaning fellow has let his anger get the best of him. That's a real shame, since the spirit in which I offer the book was intended to inspire dialogue not diatribe. As I write in Return to Rome:

What I hope to offer here is an account of a personal journey that focuses on my own internal conversation, or struggle, between the Protestant theology I embraced during most of my adult life and what I’ve come to think of as my Catholic constitution, which I have to believe had always been there. Much of this book is a celebration of the Christianity that has shaped my life, intellectually and spiritually, both in its Protestant and Catholic forms. I do indeed explain how and why my mind changed, but with respect and admiration for the Evangelical Protestants whom the Holy Spirit used to deepen my devotion to Christ, which I carry with gratitude into the Catholic Church. Thus, this book is a narrative intertwined with encounters, arguments, criticisms, and reflections. It is not meant to be an apologetic for Catholicism or an autobiography in the strict sense.

It is my hope that this book may effectively, with grace and charity, communicate to my fellow Christians, both Protestant and Catholic, an understanding of the reasons and internal deliberations that culminated in my departure from and eventual return to the Catholic Church. (pp. 15-16)....

...I am convinced that if not for the Holy Spirit working through the many gifted and devoted Christian scholars and teachers in Evangelical Protestantism, some of whom I have had the privilege to know, love, and study under, my present faith would be significantly diminished. Their tenacious defense and practice of Christian orthodoxy is what has sustained and nourished so many of us who have found our way back to the Church of our youth. (p. 129)

I suspect that the blogsphere will be overflowing with these sorts of reviews as well as more charitable ones and many others in between. (At least I hope so, since it will be probably result in more book sales!). Moreover, I cannot, of course, respond to every review, let alone every point in every review. For these reasons, I will not be posting any more links to reviews (unless I change my mind)

(Previously posted on What's Wrong With the World)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

First Review of Return to Rome

Boy, that was quick. A review of Return to Rome just appeared online today. It is written by Dr. Michael A.G. Haykin, director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies. You can find it here.

(Cross-posted at Southern Appeal and What's Wrong With the World)

Return to Rome is out!

I found out yesterday that on November 5, Brazos Press officially released my new book, Return to Rome: Confessions of an Evangelical Catholic. Brazos has posted an online excerpt from the book (as a PDF), which you can retrieve here. As of November 12 Amazon.com will have copies in stock. But you can now order the book through the Brazos web site here.

An audio book version will be released soon. It will be read by none other than Grover Gardner, a frequent commentator on southernappeal.org. Grover, oddly enough, will be my voice. What a country!

Background information, including photos, can be found on the book's website, Returntorome.com.

(cross-posted)