Monday, November 16, 2009

Drowning in the Tiber - A Response to Francis Beckwith's 2009 book Return to Rome: Confessions of an Evangelical Catholic.

That's the title of a sermon series by Pastor Tony Bartoloucci, which you can access here. I had never actually been the topic of a sermon, let alone 12 weeks of sermons!! So, I am honored by the attention paid to my work, even though it is critical.

86 comments:

JKLfromRochester said...

That is my previous pastor. I went to CCC for 20+ years before I converted to the RCC.

I don't have any knowledge of what is happening there because they ex-communicated me ... defined by cutting off all contact.

This series is proof he is still pastor there, at least.

Peter Sean Bradley said...

I read the first sermon and all I can say is "Wow!" I can't believe that in this day and age such an anti-catholic diatribe can be written by someone who is in his late 40s.

Sure, we see this kind of thing on the internet, but it's a shock to realize that there are still Protestants who actually talk this way in their real life.

And apparently this person doesn't have the excuse of being raised in an anti-catholic culture; he moved into it and fully accepted all of the slurs and shallow insinuations as being true.

It just goes to show the truth of the observation that when you hear someone say "I used to be a Catholic and I know all about Catholicism" what you hear after that will a barrage of stereotypes and caricatures.

Mark | hereiblog said...

Peter,

Why can't it be Pro-Protestant diatribe?

Paul said...

Peter wrote:
"I read the first sermon and all I can say is "Wow!" I can't believe that in this day and age such an anti-catholic diatribe can be written by someone who is in his late 40s."
---------------------

Peter, I have listened to all of part 1. I'm looking at the transcript now and I'm having trouble finding the "anti-catholic diatribe". Maybe you could provide an example or perhaps define "anti-catholic diatribe"?

Mo said...

What's so anti-catholic about it? Perhaps his assertion that Catholicism is a cult for one. This person's sermon carries a tint of desperation and fear. This is what happens when the Truth of Christ and His One True Church Shines. I wouldn't be surprised if this pastor wasn't on his way home to the Catholic Church as well. I would agree with this sentence he quotes:

"For upon the doctrinal distinctives of the "sola's" of classic Protestantism hang the destinies of immortal souls."

That's what its always been about, the destiny of one's immortal soul. I'd rather pass through life in the safe confines of the Barc of Peter and on the solid rock of the Church that Christ founded than the shifting sand of protestantism.

Paul said...

Mo wrote:
"What's so anti-catholic about it? Perhaps his assertion that Catholicism is a cult for one."
--------------------
Mo,
Here's what Pastor Bartolucci actually wrote:
"Back when I was a recent Christian I took a class on the cults offered at the Bible institute of a large
church in Tempe, Arizona. During our discussion on what groups and movements were relevant
to the class I caused a bit of a stir when I suggested that the Roman Catholic Church be included!
At the time I didn't know the technical difference between a cult, a religion, and an apostate church;
but in my early zeal I didn't see much difference
between Rome, Salt Lake City or Brooklyn.4 As
far as I was concerned, the end result was the same."
You see, he is describing his ignorance as a young Evangelical and a kind of (kneejerk emotionalism) that is common with many people who discuss theological systems that they disagree with.

Paul said...

Mo wrote:
"This person's sermon carries a tint of desperation and fear."
----------
I'm not sure how you see that in his sermon. Maybe you're projecting some of your own fear and the realization that the claims of Rome are not nearly as steadfast as you are told.

Paul said...

JKL wrote:
"I don't have any knowledge of what is happening there because they ex-communicated me ... defined by cutting off all contact."
---------------
JKL,
They must have loved you very much. Since even by Rome's definition Ex-Communication is ultimately an act of love.
I'm curious to know if your new church loves you enough to take firm though loving measures out of concern for your eternal well-being. The reason I ask is because I see such common public rejection of treasured principles of the R.C.C by R.C politicians that seem to go without challenge.

Jennie said...

Peter,
I have listened to the whole series over the last several months, some parts more than once, because I have linked to it on my blog so others can benefit from it. I too was raised RC as a young child and am now a protestant.

You said:
Sure, we see this kind of thing on the internet, but it's a shock to realize that there are still Protestants who actually talk this way in their real life.

And apparently this person doesn't have the excuse of being raised in an anti-catholic culture; he moved into it and fully accepted all of the slurs and shallow insinuations as being true.

It just goes to show the truth of the observation that when you hear someone say "I used to be a Catholic and I know all about Catholicism" what you hear after that will a barrage of stereotypes and caricatures.

This sounds like wishful thinking to me, as well as a false insinuation that protestants who 'talk this way' are somehow ignorant and out of touch with reality. The reformers were very serious men and scholars and had very good reasons for their actions and words related to the Roman Catholic Church. The things that concerned them are still true today and maybe more so, as new doctrines and practices have compounded the old ones they saw. You sound like Richard Dawkins attacking belief in God and making Christians sound like fools for believing it. You're using the same tactics.
Maybe since Pastor Bartolucci was familiar with Roman Catholicism this means that he actually has a good understanding of it, and that you should take warning from him, and others who have done the same.

Deacon Harbey Santiago said...

I would not go as far as accusing this man of been anti-catholic as been anti-something-that-hardly resembles-the-Catholic-Church. Take for example this statement from one of the slides marked "Chart1:Rome"

"Salvation by grace infused to the soul through baptism into the
Roman Catholic Church..."

This is incorrect. The correct sttatement should say:

"Salvation by grace infused to the soul through baptism into the
Christian Church..."

Since baptisms performed by ministers of ecclessial communities, when performed with the tridentine formula, are as valid as if they were performed by a Latin Rite minister.

Viva Cristo Rey!!

Deacon Harbey Santiago

Jennie said...

Deacon,
This is incorrect. The correct statement should say:

"Salvation by grace infused to the soul through baptism into the
Christian Church..."

Since baptisms performed by ministers of ecclessial communities, when performed with the tridentine formula, are as valid as if they were performed by a Latin Rite minister.


I believe Pastor Bartolucci's point in that statement in his chart was that water baptism, and infused grace, does not save; it is faith in Christ's sacrifice on the cross that saves us; both the faith and the salvation are gifts given by grace (grace meaning an undeserved favor) and not by works. Righteousness, not grace, is then imputed to the believer (Romans 4:3-8), who is regenerated (baptized) by the Holy Spirit. Water baptism is a sign of this, not a cause of it.

Deacon Harbey Santiago said...

Hello Jennie,

"I believe Pastor Bartolucci's point in that statement in his chart was that water baptism, and infused grace, does not save" Perhaps you might want to take a look at the chart again. That is not the point. It is obvious he is attempting (very poorly if I may add) to present Catholic Soteriology. Just look at title of the chart "Roman Catholicism: Justification Sanctification and Assurance" does that sound to you like he is trying to show the merits of Catholic doctrine or just trying to explain what this doctrine is?
My point still stands. He is making a false claim about the Catholic understanding of salvation. Perhaps he should have consulted the Catholic Church Catechism before writing this chart, Which begs the questions...What else did he get wrong in his presentation and could it be trusted at all?

Viva Cristo Rey!!

Deacon Harbey Santiago

Paul said...

Deacon Harbey Santiago said:
"He is making a false claim about the Catholic understanding of salvation. Perhaps he should have consulted the Catholic Church Catechism before writing this chart, Which begs the questions...What else did he get wrong in his presentation and could it be trusted at all?"
-----------------
Deacon Harbey,
I am looking at the chart now.
Salvation by grace infused to the soul through baptism into the
Roman Catholic Church, sacraments (the eucharist), penance,
and faith cooperating with works

What exactly is wrong with it?
Also if you get beyond the chart maybe you can tell us what else you disagree with.

Francis J. Beckwith said...

Dear Deacon Harbey:

The irony, of course, is that my book--the one about the Pastor offers his criticisms--quotes the Catechism extensively. Admittedly, I may not be the clearest writer in the world and may have not adequately presented the Catholic view.

Here's an excerpt from the Catechism that I quote in Return to Rome:

The first work of the grace of the Holy Spirit is conversion, effecting justification in accordance with Jesus’ proclamation at the beginning of the Gospel: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Moved by grace, man turns toward God and away from sin, thus accepting forgiveness and righteousness from on high. “Justification is not only the remission of sins, but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man.”
Justification detaches man from sin which contradicts the love of God, and purifies his heart of sin. Justification follows upon God’s merciful initiative of offering forgiveness. It reconciles man with God. It frees from the enslavement to sin, and it heals.

Justification is at the same time the acceptance of God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ. Righteousness (or “justice”) here means the rectitude of divine love. With justification, faith, hope, and charity are poured into our hearts, and obedience to the divine will is granted us.
Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ who offered himself on the cross as a living victim, holy and pleasing to God, and whose blood has become the instrument of atonement for the sins of all men. Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who makes us inwardly just by the power of his mercy. Its purpose is the glory of God and of Christ, and the gift of eternal life...

(continued in next comment)

Francis J. Beckwith said...

(continued from previous comment)

And I write in Return to Rome, a few pages later:

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “justification establishes cooperation between God’s grace and man’s freedom,” and yet, “man’s merit . . . itself is due to God.” So, the Christian, though by God’s grace is given the power to cooperate with God’s grace, cannot increase by her works the grace that she receives, just as the addition of a human nature contributed nothing to the glory of the second person of the Trinity. Yet, in both cases, something wonderful happened. To think that God’s sovereignty is diminished by our cooperation is no different than thinking that Jesus was less divine because he took on a human nature.

The key to understanding Catholic theology is to set aside the assumption that it is always a zero-sum game. Justification is about our being part of a communion of saints, the body of Christ, with whom we can receive and share the unearned, and totally gratuitous wonders of God’s grace, through baptism, the Eucharist, confession, and all the sacraments. I do nothing without the initiation of the Holy Spirit. It is not my merit; it is his. And yet, there is a mystery here. I cooperate with this grace, but I contribute nothing to it. In my obedience, I am allowing the grace of God to transform me. And yet, it is wholly God’s doing. I am confident of my eternal fate, but confidence in that eternal fate is not the exclusive purpose of justification. For God not only wants you to get to heaven, he wants to get heaven into you. And he does so by grace that has the power to change nature.

The great debates that divided the Church during its first 500 years were over the Trinitarian nature of God, the two natures of Jesus Christ, and Pelagianism. During this time, the canon of the New Testament was being fixed. And yet, the Church delivered to its people, without controversy as to their gracious efficacy and status as legitimate Christian practices, the sacraments of confession, and the Eucharist, with the understanding that these practices imparted to the believer grace so that he or she may be made into the image of Christ. In the Eastern Church it is called deification. Not because the believer could become a god (in the sense of acquiring the nature of the Creator), but rather, that the Christian life is a process of intrinsic change toward godliness that begins at Baptism and is totally the result of Christ’s merit. So, a Reformed-type view of justification was not a point of controversy in the pre-Reformation era Church. After all, the only Church controversy that touched on the issue of justification—the Pelagian controversy—was resolved at the Council of Orange at which the Church offered a distinctly Catholic understanding of grace, faith, and justification.

Thus, there is a heavy burden on the part of Reformed writers to show that the ascendancy in the 16th century of a Reformation thinking that had no ecclesiastical predecessors may be attributed to a return to the true understanding of Christianity.

Deacon Harbey Santiago said...

Paul,

>>What exactly is wrong with it?

Please review my first note. The phrase

"Salvation by grace infused to the soul through baptism into the
Roman Catholic Church"

Is simply not true. Catholics believe that act of baptism itself is what brings an infusion of grace. Not the act of "baptism INTO the Catholic Church" The difference might be subtle to you but it has deep ecclesiological implications for us, since baptisms performed by ecclesial communities are considered as valid as baptisms performed by a Catholic priest or Deacon.

>>Also if you get beyond the chart maybe you can tell us what else you disagree with.

My comments are only limited to the chart.

Viva Cristo Rey!!

Deacon Harbey Santiago

Paul said...

Dr. Beckwith wrote:
"Thus, there is a heavy burden on the part of Reformed writers to show that the ascendancy in the 16th century of a Reformation thinking that had no ecclesiastical predecessors may be attributed to a return to the true understanding of Christianity."
------------------------

Dr. Beckwith,
Exactly what was the Dogmatically Defined Definition of Justification by The Church of Rome prior to Trent?

Francis J. Beckwith said...

The Catholic Church is not an authoritarian regime. It does not dogmatically define anything. It clarifies, and some case systematizes, what has already been held to be true by the Church in its practices and its creeds. Until the Protestant Reformation, there was no need for a Council of Trent, just as before the Arian heresy there was no need for a Council of Nicea or an Athanasian Creed. Sometimes, events present themselves in such a way that the Church must offer a more detailed and clear understanding of its doctrines.

Thus, for example, the sacramental life, fully in place by the Council of Orange, shows us what in fact the Church believed about justification for quite sometime prior to that Council. From Augustine to Aquinas there is a seamless consistency about justification and the sacramental life and the nature of grace, though there is clearly more elaboration and philosophical nuance in the latter. But given 800 years of Church History, that is to be expected.

Paul said...

Dr. Beckwith wrote:
"The Catholic Church is not an authoritarian regime. It does not dogmatically define anything. It clarifies, and some case systematizes, what has already been held to be true by the Church in its practices and its creeds"
----------------

According to this dogmatic definition, it has been revealed by God that Mary was preserved from original sin from the moment of her conception
At the General Audience of Wednesday, 12 June, the Holy Father continued his catechesis on the Immaculate Conception, this time discussing the dogmatic definition of the doctrine by Pope Pius IX. "We declare, pronounce and define that the doctrine which asserts that the Blessed Virgin Mary, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God, and in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the human race, was preserved free from every stain of original sin is a doctrine revealed by God and, for this reason, must be firmly and constantly believed by all the faithful", the Pope said in his Bull Ineffabilis. Here is a translation of the Holy Father's catechesis, which was the 23rd in the series on the Blessed Virgin and was given in Italian.

http://www.ewtn.com/library/papaldoc/jp2bvm23.htm

Jennie said...

Deacon Harbey,
That is not the point. It is obvious he is attempting (very poorly if I may add) to present Catholic Soteriology. Just look at title of the chart "Roman Catholicism: Justification Sanctification and Assurance" does that sound to you like he is trying to show the merits of Catholic doctrine or just trying to explain what this doctrine is?
My point still stands. He is making a false claim about the Catholic understanding of salvation. That is not the point. It is obvious he is attempting (very poorly if I may add) to present Catholic Soteriology. Just look at title of the chart "Roman Catholicism: Justification Sanctification and Assurance" does that sound to you like he is trying to show the merits of Catholic doctrine or just trying to explain what this doctrine is?
My point still stands. He is making a false claim about the Catholic understanding of salvation.


My point was to show that Pastor B. was using two charts to compare RC doctrine with Reformation doctrine, and that the Roman Catholic chart stresses salvation by sacraments while the Reformation chart stresses salvation by faith in Christ's finished work. I understand what you are saying about the statement 'into the Roman Catholic Church' but doesn't the Roman Catholic Church teach that full communion in the RCC is necessary for salvation? So while they accept the former baptism they don't consider salvation as complete outside of the Church? So if what Pastor B. wrote is not technically correct, it is only a mistake of generalization. I believe in stressing this 'incorrect statement' you are missing the most important point that Pastor B. was trying to make, and which I already stated earlier: that the RC teaches an unbiblical salvation by sacraments, while the reformation teaches a biblical salvation by faith in Christ apart from works, which begins with justification, and continues with sanctification also by grace through faith. His 'mistatement' is really not important compared with this issue. This bothers me because it seems to happen alot when I'm discussing important concerns with Catholics that they latch onto little things and avoid the big concerns that I express.

Paul said...

Dr. Beckwith said:
"Thus, for example, the sacramental life, fully in place by the Council of Orange, shows us what in fact the Church believed about justification for quite sometime prior to that Council. From Augustine to Aquinas there is a seamless consistency about justification and the sacramental life and the nature of grace, though there is clearly more elaboration and philosophical nuance in the latter. But given 800 years of Church History, that is to be expected."
---------------------
"“Existing side by side in pre-Reformation theology were several ways of interpreting the righteousness of God and the act of justification. They ranged from strongly moralistic views that seemed to equate justification with moral renewal to ultra-forensic views, which saw justification as a 'nude imputation' that seemed possible apart from Christ, by an arbitrary decree of God. Between these extremes were many combinations; and though certain views predominated in late nominalism, it is not possible even there to speak of a single doctrine of justification.”
Jaraslov Pelikan:
Obedient Rebels: Catholic Substance and Protestant Principle in Luther’s Reformation [New York: Harper and Row, 1964]. p.51-52

Paul said...

"All the more tragic, therefore, was the Roman reaction on the front which was most important to the reformers, the message and teaching of the church. This had to be reformed according to the word of God; unless it was, no moral improvement would be able to alter the basic problem. Rome’s reactions were the doctrinal decrees of the Council of Trent and the Roman Catechism based upon those decrees. In these decrees, the Council of Trent selected and elevated to official status the notion of justification by faith plus works, which was only one of the doctrines of justification in the medieval theologians and ancient fathers. When the reformers attacked this notion in the name of the doctrine of justification by faith alone—a doctrine also attested to by some medieval theologians and ancient fathers—Rome reacted by canonizing one trend in preference to all the others. What had previously been permitted (justification by faith and works), now became required. What had previously been permitted also (justification by faith alone), now became forbidden. In condemning the Protestant Reformation, the Council of Trent condemned part of its own catholic tradition."
Jaroslav Pelikan, The Riddle of Roman Catholicism (New York: Abingdon Press, 1959), pp. 51-52.

"What does the Bible say about justification?" History doesn't determine doctrine. Councils don't determine doctrine. Only the Bible determines doctrine."
source:
James Swan

Jennie said...

Oops! Sorry, I didn't mean to copy your comments twice, Deacon.

SemperJase said...

The amazing part is that Bartolucci is devoting 12 Sundays to the rebut a book.

SemperJase said...

Dr. Beckwith:

The Catholic Church is not an authoritarian regime. It does not dogmatically define anything.

Paul:
According to this dogmatic definition, it has been revealed by God that Mary was preserved from original sin from the moment of her conception.

Your post seems to support Dr. Beckwith's point. The topic of Mary's immaculate conception was clarified when events demonstrated that the teaching needed to be clarified, and this shows that Dr. Beckwith's observation was correct.

SemperJase said...

This is the first sermon I decided to check out because of my interest in history and the tendency of protest/evangelicals to dismiss it.

Bartolucci's sermon part 5:
I. The Voice of Church History
A.Church history is usually one of the key factors as it relates to Protestants
converting to Rome
1. Beckwith's very brief (a few months) of study


From Return To Rome, pg 60:
Due to the combined influences of Montgomery, Reformed theology and my Fordham professors, as the end of the 1980s approached, I had become convinced that the Catholic creeds (the Apostles's Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed), the deliverances of the first six ecumenical councils, as well as the canons of the Synod of Orange (AD 529), were authoritative renderings of Christian doctrine.

Dr. Beckwith and his wife attended St. Luke's Reformed Episcopal Church from 97-2002. During this time his wife asked why they were not Catholic (pg. 64).

It is apparent that Dr. Beckwith's journey was years long, not months.

Even so, why is "a few months" not sufficient to make this decision? Evangelicals ask people to make a life-changing decision by responding to an emotionally laden altar call after a sermon lasting less than an hour.

Jennie said...

Dr. Beckwith,
The portion of the catechism that you quoted sounded good until I reached this part:
Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ who offered himself on the cross as a living victim, holy and pleasing to God, and whose blood has become the instrument of atonement for the sins of all men. Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who makes us inwardly just by the power of his mercy. Its purpose is the glory of God and of Christ, and the gift of eternal life...
The first thing that is wrong is that, while it is correct that Jesus offered Himself, that statement is then negated by calling Jesus a 'victim', a word that is never used of Him in scripture. He gave Himself up and then He let go of His life at the exact moment that He planned, putting his spirit in the Father's hands when the work was finished. Jesus said: “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” John 10:17-18

The second part that is not correct is this: Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who makes us inwardly just by the power of his mercy.
Justification is conferred by faith, which scripture says 'comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.' Baptism is the sign of faith, not the vehicle of it. Justification has already occurred in the believer before water baptism occurs. When a person hears the word of the gospel and believes it, he repents and receives the Holy Spirit who cleanses and regenerates him; this is the living water Jesus spoke of. John the Baptist said that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire. Water baptism is an outward sign that the inward baptism has occurred.

JKLfromRochester said...

Paul said:
"They must have loved you very much..."

I imagine they do. I certainly still love them.
When I saw Frank's post about Tony B. on his web page (that I check most every day), it was like an impulse to post ... I know him! Also down deep I wanted to convey the pain I feel from being shunned by the people I served with for over 20 years.

I believe Tony B. is a good man ... a great man, even. I believe this to be true even though for some reason we have come to a profound disagreement with over the RCC. I have joined with great joy (after 9000 pages of reading over 18 months) and he feel the RCC is not good.

It is a great mystery how two people who love the Lord could grow so far apart in their presuppositions.

And yes I do feel loved by my present parish. You were trying to slam RCC there with some vague reference to pro-abort politicians, but it was ineffective ... the parish is very loving and I love going very much each Sunday.

Francis J. Beckwith said...

This is one of those cases in which the way Catholics use language differs remarkably with the way some Protestants and most ordinary folks use language.

Take, for example, "dogmatically define." When the untrained ear hears that, he thinks, "Just makin' stuff up" or "So and so has the authority to assert and that it is his assertion that makes it so." Hence, when asked the question about "dogmatically defining" justification, that's a rabbit trail that I am not going to go down, since there is no "yes" or "no" answer that can both satisfy the Church's own understanding and at the same satisfy the demands of the question asked without that understanding in place. In other words, I answered the question in order to avoid the quote-mining that ensued. (Guess it didn't work. Dumb me).

Take, for example, the immaculate conception. It wasn't like the Pope made it up out of whole cloth one Saturday afternoon while saying the rosary. It has a long and noble theological pedigree, disputed among the finest minds in the history of the Church. Even St. Thomas didn't accept it, though not without significant qualification that makes his views not very different from what was dogmatically defined.

Pelikan, who you quote, as you may or may not know, eventually left Lutheranism and became Eastern Orthodox. Partly because he came to believe in the development of doctrine and the necessity of the Church in that development. When Pelikan writes of no one view of justification, he is, of course, referring to theories of justification and not the core elements of the Christian walk and life embraced by the universal church, including its sacramental and penitential aspects of that life. And these, as you know, are found deep in the Church's history, fully embraced by Augustine, the great defeater of Pelagius (and his half brother, Semi-Pelagius. Okay, that's a joke, but it's funny) Even today, the Church allows for a wide range of views on questions of predestination and free will, permitting both Thomistic and Molinist views. After all, if absolute unanimity on justification theory is required for biblical fidelity, then the Protestant world, in its present state, is all over the map. Even among Calvinists, there are sharp disagreements, e.g., Piper v. Wright v, the Federal Visionists.. Some Baptists, like Paul Rainbow, come very close to embracing a Catholic view of the role of obedience in the Christian's life on the road to justification. My colleagues, Roger Olsen and D. H. Williams, both Baptists, hold overlapping views.

Peter Sean Bradley said...

Francis,

I've now listened to two sermons.

I think Pastor Bartoloucci is at his best when providing a synopsis of your book. He's at his worst when he builds the strawmen arguments and makes illogical claims that he accuses you of.

He is particularly galling when he allows his narrow, bigotry to masquerade as some objective claim of fact. For example, he chides you for truthfully pointing out that it was Christianity that laid the foundation for science. Now, anyone who has read Aquinas - who Bartoloucci can't correctly pronounce - knows that Aquinas and Scholasticism taught the primary principle of empiricism that the mind is a tabula rasa and that there is nothing in the mind that was not first in the senses.

Bartoloucci, though, as is typical of anti-catholic bigots everywhere thinks that he can assert that Catholicism retarded science by mentioning Galileo.

Right, because sola scriptura Protestants in the 17th Century were so very open to the idea that scripture was not inerrant or that it was totally hunky dory to teach that it was wrong, wrong, wrong.

I mean, gosh, we see that kind of openness from Protestants all the time when it comes to, say, Genesis and the theory of evolution. It's not - you know - like there isn't an essentially sola scriptura Protestant opposition to the teaching of evolution on the grounds of evolution being "unbiblical."

Right...that never happens.

Please.

And what is this nonsense about being stunned that Protestants actually convert to Catholicism. What rock has he been living under? It seems like most of the Catholic friends I have are former Protestants who didn't leave their denomination because they were ignorant of what their faith taught, like Bartoloucci and other who like to brag about being "raised Catholic", but, rather, they left because they were well educated in their faith and realized that the completeness of Christian faith was found in the Catholic Church.

This guy is 46? It's amazing because he sounds like he 80 years old and was raised in a time before the internet, books or other means of learning about the world.

Peter Sean Bradley said...

Paul wrote:

Peter, I have listened to all of part 1. I'm looking at the transcript now and I'm having trouble finding the "anti-catholic diatribe". Maybe you could provide an example or perhaps define "anti-catholic diatribe"?

With all due respect, are you serious?

I hate to say this , but if a person can't see that Pastor Baroloucci's plays on classic Anti-Catholic tropes, that person needs to take the beam out of hi own eye before ever complaining about the mote in his neighbor's eye.

The difference between playing the bigot card and making a non-bigoted, reasoned argument for the superiority of one system over another in general turns on the extent to which one makes an appeal to the themes and tropes of bigotry. Such tropes are invariably used to trigger sub-rational emotional responses of agreement rather than to advance a reasoned argument. We know, for example, that one such silly anti-catholic trope among Protestants is the notion that Catholicism is a dead religion of works. Protestants have essentially read Catholics into the role of Jewish legalism in their misreading of Paul.

So, not even dealing with Pastor Bartoloucci’s many strawmen arguments, but focusing on his use of subrational tropes that appeal to traditions of Protestant bigotry, we see:

(Quoting Dr. Bahnsen:) I knew what it meant for them to fornicate, to swear, to be drunk, to go to confession, have their mass, and to repeat it week after week after week.

Now, isn’t that a classic? Those Catholics, drinking and fornicating all week – unlike the upscale and well-behaved Protestants – only to go to confession on Saturday, just to start over again like the foreign riff-raff that they are.

Because, obviously, no properly American Protestant would ever fornicate and drink during the week.

Come one, this one goes back to the 19th Century. I’m amazed that it is still being recycled in the 21st. It’s such a cliché that it is painful to read.

This isn’t quoting Father Flannery over a drink at the local bar.

I’m sorry was that an Irish priest? Drinking? At a bar?

How like them Irish Catholics with their weekly fornicating and drinking.

Because, again, we know that a good reformed Presbyterian would never go to a bar for a drink.

But them Irish with their priests, you know how they are.

Seriously?

In fact, as a new Christian I held the Roman Catholic Church in contempt. Not the rank and file of the people mind you, but the system and those that promoted it. I looked at it as a false religion that promised heaven but delivered hell.

Yup, he’s got no problem with the rank and file, except for their weekly fornicating and drinking and going for drinks with Father Flannigan at the local bar to talk about Nostra Aetate.

Peter Sean Bradley said...

Continued...

But, heck, it’s not anything that having the “true gospel” won’t fix, because no one with the “true gospel” ever goes out and drinks or fornicates because all saved Protestants are going to Heaven and never misbehave.

So sorry, Francis, they could not have stayed within the stench of dead religiosity, and those that go back to that prove that they were not regenerate in the first place.

Right, so those like me are just plain idiots who can’t smell the stench of dead religiosity. How weird that I don’t find it dead.

Hey, I guess I’m one of those weekly fornicating, drinking and swearing guys.

The American Episcopal Church is to Rome what marijuana is to heroin. It serves as a nice stepping stone to a greater high (or a greater evil)

Nothing hateful, bigoted or anti-catholic in that analogy.

You have to admire Pastor Bartoloucci's willingness to smear the the Episcopalians with the anti-catholic brush.

Regarding the singer Dion’s return to Catholicism: I sat there staring at the computer in dismay. I literally felt the blood run from my face. How could he do such a thing?

Perhaps, Dion maturely found a more complete truth in the Catholic Church?

Nah, that's not possible. The answer must be that Dion's been perverted by Satan, like all those "rank and file" Catholics, with their weekly drinking and fornicating and confessions, but likes the rank and file.

At some point it all begins to sound like the Left who will describe American soldiers as rapists and murderers, but will always emphasize that they "support the troops."

No one was more key in that regard than a man that I would later weep over (along with his wife) for his defection to Roman Catholicism.

And that wasn’t when he was a child. But, then, who can blame him when his former church leader starts to run around with drinkers and fornicators.

Hey, what was wrong with Pastor Bartoloucci if he only learned that one of his major supporters had never been regenerated until after that man had left for Catholicism. What if everyone in his congregation is like this man and isn't entirely regenerated?

Cue spooky music.

There is no life-saving Gospel in Rome!

That simply hasn’t been my experience, but what do I know, I'm Catholic and so by definition part of that weekly drinking and fornicating and confessing crowd that takes the old Irish priest out to get bombed.

Hey, and I'm Irish also, so obviously I'm an alcoholic.

I've jokingly stated that Pope
Benedict should award him a plenary indulgence for what he has done to advance the Church's
efforts to bring Protestants "back home to Rome!"


Stop it, Pastor, you're killing me!

There's nothing that doesn't bring a bunch of 17th Century Protestants a good belly-laugh like an indulgence joke.

These are all very, very old anti-catholic tropes. I have no problem with anyone celebrating the strengths of Protestantism. Give me a few seconds and I could dash out my paean of praise to Protestantism. But this one sided appeal to the popular prejudice of Protestants is unchristian to say the least.

Deacon Harbey Santiago said...

Hello Paul
>>but doesn't the Roman Catholic Church teach that full communion in the RCC is necessary for salvation?

Again this is not what we teach. We teach that every baptized person is, in a mysterious way, united to the Church albeit in an imperfect way. “Full communion” is not a requirement for salvation. Perhaps you are confused by the “There is not salvation outside the Church” premise, which should be viewed in light of this CCC paragraph:

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." Those "who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church." 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."

>>So if what Pastor B. wrote is not technically correct, it is only a mistake of generalization. I believe in stressing this 'incorrect statement' you are missing the most important point that Pastor B. was trying to make, and which I already stated earlier: that the RC teaches an unbiblical salvation by sacraments, while the reformation teaches a biblical salvation by faith in Christ apart from works.

If you want to know Catholic understanding of salvation I recommend read “The Salvation Controversy” by Jimmy Akin, there are plenty of biblical quotes proving the scriptural basis for Catholic Soteriology.

>>His 'mistatement' is really not important compared with this issue.

It is important to me! He is misrepresenting what I believe! I’m not asking him or you to believe what I believe, but to make sure that, if you say you disagree with what I believe at least you (and him) know what my beliefs truly are! Look at it from a different angle. How do you think a person of good faith can contrast Catholic and Protestant belief effectively if their understanding of what Catholics or Protestant believe is wrong? Don’t you think that it would have been better for him to present true Catholic teaching so that he could have make a true and convincing argument? Or is it better to ascribe erroneous beliefs any Church in order to make my beliefs more convincing?

>>This bothers me because it seems to happen alot when I'm discussing important concerns with Catholics that they latch onto little things and avoid the big concerns that I express.

If you have concerns about what Catholic believe, I’m willing to address them, however Dr B’s combox is not the right place for this discussion. Drop me a note at hanamalu@netzero.net so we can chat off-line, if you desire.

Viva Cristo Rey!!

Deacon Harbey Santiago

Paul said...

Peter wrote:
"The difference between playing the bigot card and making a non-bigoted, reasoned argument for the superiority of one system over another in general turns on the extent to which one makes an appeal to the themes and tropes of bigotry. Such tropes are invariably used to trigger sub-rational emotional responses of agreement rather than to advance a reasoned argument. We know, for example, that one such silly anti-catholic trope among Protestants is the notion that Catholicism is a dead religion of works."
--------------------
So, because Pastor Bartolucci agrees with the assessment of Dr. Bahnsen. That Roman Catholicism is a religion of "dead ritualism". He is engaging in Anti-Catholic Bigotry?


"Such tropes are invariably used to trigger sub-rational emotional responses of agreement rather than to advance a reasoned argument."
------------------
I see. Kind of like using the term "Anti-Catholic-Bigot".
I have seen this in practice recently.
"I listened to 9 minute of part one. That was more than enough.
He is undoubtedly an anti-Catholic bigot who is able to spout a lot of things he THINKS are wrong with the Catholic church, but he doesn't back any of it up with statistics or facts, but merely the anecdotal information of some guy named Greg Bonson - who I never heard of and am not sure why I need to take his works as compelling or authoritative.

http://pilgrimsdaughter.blogspot.com/2009/06/pastor-tony-bartolucci-on-frances.html

Paul said...

Deacon Harbey wrote:
"Hello Paul
>>but doesn't the Roman Catholic Church teach that full communion in the RCC is necessary for salvation?

Again this is not what we teach. We teach that every baptized person is, in a mysterious way, united to the Church albeit in an imperfect way. “Full communion” is not a requirement for salvation. Perhaps you are confused by the “There is not salvation outside the Church” premise, which should be viewed in light of this CCC paragraph:"
------------------

Actually, I think that response is meant for Jennie.
However:
" 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."
Without this fullness you cannot die in a "State Of Grace" and therefore not be justified. Is that correct?

Canon IV. If anyone saith, that the sacraments of the New Law are not necessary unto salvation, but superfluous; and that, without them, or without the desire thereof, men obtain of God, through faith alone, the grace of justification; — though all [the sacraments] are not indeed necessary for every individual: let him be anathema.
The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent, in Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom, vol. II, Session VII, On the Sacraments in General (Harper: New York, 1877), p. 120.

Jennie said...

Paul your link's not working, so here it is again:
http://pilgrimsdaughter.blogspot.com/2009/06/pastor-tony-bartolucci-on-frances.html

Paul said...

SemperJase wrote:
Dr. Beckwith:

The Catholic Church is not an authoritarian regime. It does not dogmatically define anything.

Paul:
According to this dogmatic definition, it has been revealed by God that Mary was preserved from original sin from the moment of her conception.
Your post seems to support Dr. Beckwith's point. The topic of Mary's immaculate conception was clarified when events demonstrated that the teaching needed to be clarified, and this shows that Dr. Beckwith's observation was correct.
----------------
So the Roman Catholic Church "clarifies" but doesn't "define"?
Official sources claim otherwise. I actually quoted JPII "clarifying" Pius IX's "Dogmatic Definition".
From that point of Decree this doctrine was considered "de fide" being divinely revealed, belief in them therefore being obligatory.
This dogma carries with it "The Anathema" and is considered a part of the Gospel of Salvation. And yet prior to that decree there was freedom to believe or not believe in Mary's sinlessness.

Peter Sean Bradley said...

Paul wrote:

So, because Pastor Bartolucci agrees with the assessment of Dr. Bahnsen. That Roman Catholicism is a religion of "dead ritualism". He is engaging in Anti-Catholic Bigotry?

No, it is because Pastor Bartoloucci agrees with Bahnson's unsupported and obviously unsupportable position that it is a distinctive feature of Catholics that they are out fornicating, drinking, swearing and confessing that he is properly classified as an Anti-Catholic bigot.

What is it about that which you can't comprehend?

First, note that this is apparently in the mind of Bartoloucci and Bahnsen a distinctive feature of Catholics, presumably because of their Catholicism, because his theme is that the "evil system of Rome" makes them that way. Since Protestants aren't part of that "evil system", then, clearly, they must not share that trait, otherwise why bring it up in the first place?

So, a few questions:

1. What kind of person thinks that he can classify another group by a broad-brush pejorative description?

2. What kind of person thinks that his own group is basically immune from the sins and failings that afflict human beings generally?

3. What kind of person would think that all Catholics or most Catholics or Catholics basically are all into drinking, fornicating, swearing and going to confession so they can do it all over the next week?

6. What kind of person would say that kind of thing without something more than their real evidence, other than what they thought they had seen once?

If you answered, "well, a bigot", then you get full marks.

But, heck, your inability to see this point, and the fact that you read my post and offered up something I didn't say to provide a lame face-saving response, says you need to work on that beam/mote problem.


I see. Kind of like using the term "Anti-Catholic-Bigot".
I have seen this in practice recently.


Are there no bigots in your world?

The difference is that I didn't apply a broad brush to a group of people in an obviously illogical appeal to prejudice.

What I did was pick out specific example from what Baroloucci actually said and demonstrated why they constituted an appeal to bigotry.

I notice that you were not able to gainsay a single one, but instead "spun" Bartoloucci's comments into something far more benign than what he actually said.

Obviously, at some basic level, you know that Bartoloucci was engaging in an appeal to prejudice against Catholics and Catholicism.

I'm sure we both can well imagine how smug and condescending Bartoloucci's congregatio felt while they listened to him describe the poor Catholics drinking and fornicating and caught up in their evil religion with its dead works. I'm sure they all silently said the prayer of the Pharisee, "thank God that I am not like them," which is the appeal of this kind of trope.

What Bartoloucci said constituted the sin of "false witness" or "detraction." If he didn't have facts to back up what he said - and he couldn't have facts to back up such broad generalizations about an entire group of people - then what he was doing was exactly what Christ condemned.

Paul said...

Peter wrote:
No, it is because Pastor Bartoloucci agrees with Bahnson's unsupported and obviously unsupportable position that it is a distinctive feature of Catholics that they are out fornicating, drinking, swearing and confessing that he is properly classified as an Anti-Catholic bigot.
-----------------
Bahnsen's actual quote:
"I grew up in a Roman Catholic community. . . . The vast majority of people around me who
were religious . . . were not very much Evangelical Bible-believing Christians, they were
Roman Catholics. . . . I knew what it meant for them to fornicate, to swear, to be drunk, to
go to confession, have their mass, and to repeat it week after week after week. I knew what
it was for them to adore Mary, to learn in their Missals how to pray to her. . . ."

It looks to me that Bahnsen is describing a sub-section of the R.C.C "The vast majority of people around me who
were religious". He does not say "Every R.C without distinction". His claims are supportable through his empirical observation. His conclusions as to what provided (the religious people in his community) to behave the way they did may be wrong. But it is not done carelessly. I've read enough of Dr. Bahnsen to know that he does not make truth claims without being able to provide substantial proof. I think he is referring to Gerry Matatics in this sermon whom he later debated in person.
continued:

Paul said...

Dr. Bahnsen qualifies his statement as "I played ball with Roman Catholic boys. I knew what it meant for 'them' to ..."
Full audio file here:
http://www.ntrmin.org/downloads/bahnsen.mp3

Paul said...

Peter wrote:
"1. What kind of person thinks that he can classify another group by a broad-brush pejorative description?"
---------------
I don't see either Dr. Bahnsen nor Pastor Bartolucci doing that. It appears (from their own qualifications) that they are addressing a "system" and not all persons in that system.

"2. What kind of person thinks that his own group is basically immune from the sins and failings that afflict human beings generally?"
--------------
I don't see either of these men claiming that.

"3. What kind of person would think that all Catholics or most Catholics or Catholics basically are all into drinking, fornicating, swearing and going to confession so they can do it all over the next week?"
------------------
I think you are misusing the word "all". I don't see either men claiming what you are accusing them of.

Francis J. Beckwith said...

I have always been, and continue to be, a strong admirer of Greg Bahnsen's intellect and philosophical sophistication. In fact, his transcendental argument is one that I still use.

Having said that, I was stunned to learn that he said such things about Catholics, especially given Bahnsen's scrupulous respect for logic and rational discourse. Nevertheless, we must remember that all of us--me included--may not say things in the best or most appropriate way and gratuitously offend those for whom that offense becomes a stumbling block for further dialogue.

Several weeks ago I mentioned my annoyance with the excessive use of the terms "Roman Catholic" and "Romanist." Instead of reflecting on this point, many became defensive and seemed unwilling to understand why someone, like me, may in fact think this way.

When I first began writing on pseudo-Christian groups, e.g., Mormonism, Baha'ism, I made a pledge to myself not to ever use the word "cult" to describe such groups. Why? It is needlessly offensive and leads to the other covering his ears rather than opening his heart.

On the other hand, those of us who are "offended" should pause and ask ourselves if the other is intending offense. In most cases, people are not intending offense. So, that's why a gentle correction is all that is required. Those that persist in using the offensive language--with the apparent intent to get a rise out of others--have no interest in serious dialogue or rational discussion. And for that reason, they should not take the Lord's name in vain by attributing what they say to the cause of Christ.

A word to the wise: honey attracts more flies than vinegar.

RazorsKiss said...

Dr. Beckwith,
In the sermon by Dr. Bahnsen referenced above, he went well out of his way to preface that he was speaking about individuals, and their behavior. He spent a minute or so qualifying that he didn't believe every Roman Catholic to be unsaved, either - just those who hold to (as he spent his entire sermon making the case for) another gospel, as warned against by Paul. While he was making an anecdotal point, he did not at any time state that he believed all Roman Catholics behaved in such a fashion - but he did link it to a doctrinal point he was making, concerning "cheap grace". I'm assuming you meant to refer to the comment prior, where that other commenter quotes a short section of the sermon, but does not give the context. "Such things", apart from context, may not be an accurate descriptor, as Dr. Bahnsen took great pains, it seemed to me, to be exclusively doctrinal in his critique.

Francis J. Beckwith said...

"In the sermon by Dr. Bahnsen referenced above, he went well out of his way to preface that he was speaking about individuals, and their behavior."

He's practically a Good Samaritan! Who knew? :-)

Francis J. Beckwith said...

I understand now. In order to properly explain cheap grace one must take a cheap shot. My bad. :-)

Turretinfan said...

I think the cheap shot is calling someone a bigot because they mentioned a negative thing about folks who claim to be part of your religion. But, of course, some folks would rather look for a sinister explanation, and I'm not sure how evidence could possibly be brought to bear to convince them that they're wrong.

Peter Sean Bradley said...

In many ways, my life tracks that of Francis Beckwith. I was born in 1959, graduated high school in 1977 and am a practicing lawyer (UCLA Law School 1983.)

I, however, grew up in Fresno, California, which is part of the Bible Belt of California and not as part of a Catholic ethnic community. I grew up with Protestants and played ball with Protestants and went to their parties, etc.

Growing up, I knew Protestant boys and girls. I knew how they would go to church on Sunday and sing and waive their hands and say Amen when their pastors talked about having faith alone in Jesus and committing their lives to Jesus. But I saw how they would go out during the week and fornicate and drink and swear and pretend that Jesus didn't exist.

But every Sunday they would be in their churches praising Jesus because they knew that they were saved and forgiven of all their sins and that it didn't matter what they did during the week so long as they had faith on Sunday.

And I look around now and see all the people fleeing the Protestant churches. I represent churches that want to leave their denominations because Protestant denominations have embraced Satan by endorsing abortion and gay marriage and actively gay bishops.

The reason for this is that Protestants belong to false churches in which the Holy Spirit is not found. They have denied the words and teachings of Jesus and are following a "false gospel." There no salvation in Protestantism.

But I love the Prostestant rank and file. Many of my best friends are Protestants. Heck, I married a Protestant. It is not really their fault that they are engaging in weekly fornicating and drinking and hypocrisy because they don't really know any better.

For example, my Protestant father in law was a good sola fide Protestant who never had time to see his granddaughter, but he spent all of his time in church listening to sermons about having to love Jesus. His pastor at his funeral said that his last words were "I love Jesus more than anything else", which was obviously true because he didn't have enough love left over to visit his grandaughter from across town. But that's the way it is with Protestants, the only love that matters is love for Jesus; having to have love for one's fellow man detracts from "faith alone", I guess.

etc., etc.


What I have just done?

What does it sound like?

Who does it sound like?

Peter Sean Bradley said...

continued....

How does this kind of "argument" advance any reasoned discussion.

Any Protestant ought to be properly insulted by this kind of broad brush tarring of all Protestants by the misbehavior of a few.

Any Protestant ought to recognize that this passage is constructing strawmen and over-generalizations.

Is it alright that I just referred to "some Protestants" when I generalized that experience into a broadbrush condemnation of all Protestants and Protestantism itself?

Does my faux-confessional story sound a bit condescending?

Does it sound a teensy bit like a prejudice extrapolated by cherry picking some examples that I knew I could find in any group?

How is my faux-appeal to personal knowledge relevant to a single thing in any discussion of Protestantism, except maybe as evidence of prejudice?

The answers should be obvious, that it sounds like something that a prejudiced, smug bigot would say.

Incidentally, so it is absolutely clear, I was copying Bahnson and Bartoloucci. It is not what I believe. Certainly, I can point to Protestants who behaved that way - and the biographical details, including the bit about my father in law were true - but I wouldn't dream of extrapolating from such experience - from those who weren't living their faith - anything about the faith or about the people living the faith. I would say that there are many strengths and truths within Protestantism.

I would never dream of being so presumptuous as to say that those who embrace Protestantism do so because of some moral failing.

It would definitely sound like condescension and constructing strawmen, which, come to think of it, is what Bartoloucci accuses Beckwith of doing.

Ironic, that.

Peter Sean Bradley said...

Turretinfan wrote:

think the cheap shot is calling someone a bigot because they mentioned a negative thing about folks who claim to be part of your religion.

Are there no such things as bigots in your world either?

I don't expect that someone who regularly uses the term "papist" to understand this, just as I wouldn't expect much from someone who thought it was a fair description to call someone a "kike", "nigger" or "hebe" to understand, but I'll try.

Some words, themes and stereotypes are freighted by history with connotations that are false and derogatory to a person or group, usually be the fact that those who use the term have done awful things to the people they use the term against. The use of the term is part of the tactic of ostracizing or dehumanizing the victim group. It doesn't matter if the term might once have been "descriptive" or "neutral," the association of the word with history makes the word an appeal to a family of derogatory stereotypes.

Hence, "nigger" and "hebe" might once have been neutral slang for the not objectionable terms "Negro" and "Hebrew," respectively, so someone with no knowledge of history wouldn't be able to understand why there is a problem with calling an African-American man a "nigger." Unfortunately, outside the world of abstractions, everyone else knows what connotations the term "nigger" and "hebe" carry with them, hence, a "negro" is not a "nigger" and a Jew is not a "Hebe."

Similarly, the word "papist" was used by people who depicted Catholics as foreign, trash, a threat to the community, who ought to be exterminated (in Ireland) or kept from immigrating (in America) because they were ignorant, superstitious and prone to drinking, fornicating and fighting, unlike Protestants who never did that kind of thing. That association makes "papist" a slur.

So, one point about bigotry, when you see someone using bigotted language, you can reasonably infer that they are a bigot.

Another point is the broadbrush generalization from specious individual examples, e.g., I met a Presbyterian once who cheated on his wife, so I guess that Presbyterians don't think that adultery is a seen. When you see that someone does that you can infer that he is a bigot.

Finally, if someone is appealing to tropes and themes that are historically associated with appeals to prejudice - and which are spurious or of doubtful validity or need to be qualified to make them meaningful, such as saying that Jews "control" the banks or Blacks are "prone" to commit crimes - you also have good grounds to suspect that you are dealing with someone who is trading on bigotry as part of making his case.

There is nothing wrong with pointing out negative facts about someone or something. For example, I can point out that historically Calvinist churches are dying on the vine, but if I say that the reason for that is that Calvinists are humorless, hypocritical prigs you might reasonably think that I was making an appeal to a stereotype made famous by Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter" and which, like all stereotypes, really doesn't have an bearing on the Calvinist experience, notwithstanding the fact that there probably are humorless, hypocritical, priggish Calvinsts somewhere in the world.

But you knew all that.

Francis J. Beckwith said...

"I think the cheap shot is calling someone a bigot because they mentioned a negative thing about folks who claim to be part of your religion."

I did a word search on this entry and all the comments, and I could not find myself using the term "bigot." I, of course, don't recall using that term. But I just wanted to make sure.

Having said that, it is clear to me that when a minister delivers a sermon that details the particular sins of his life's acquaintances, all of whom happen to belong to the faith he is critiquing, he is poisoning the wells. But poisoning the wells is inconsistent with the good of those to whom one is speaking, since it does not contribute to a hearer's intellectual or spiritual virtue.

Jennie said...

This is the third time in one week that I have seen a good message (or even a whole body of work) be superceded by a remark, comment, or action which is judged by some to be ill-judged, offensive, or mistaken. I can't speak for Pastor Bartolucci about what has offended Peter and others, but I would like to say that I was raised as a Roman Catholic until I was 10, at which time my agnostic father and my Catholic mother accepted Christ by the witness of a family friend, and we also happened to move far away from my hometown where my Mom's Roman Catholic extended family lived. Before we moved, I had been around my Catholic extended family, who were good and kind people that I loved, but I also remember that the Catholic religion which they were devoted to did not make them holy people. They were worldly and did swear, smoke, drink some, and gossip and fight alot. They believed that going to mass and confession and saying the rosary was how to be saved and be good, as far as I remember. They knew nothing about the bible and didn't care about it. On the other hand, I've been in protestant churches where I was dismayed to find the same thing. Someone relating a memory like that is not bigotry, it is just their experience. Unfortunately, I think both protestant and catholic churches have largely failed to preach the gospel and teach scripture in order to really make disciples of Christ who truly love and follow Him. This is because God's word, the Bible, has been neglected, forgotten, and/or added to so that the life-changing gospel cannot do it's work by the Holy Spirit. Jesus said that God's word could be made of no effect by our traditions. We fail in so many ways by our word and actions, even when we are trying to teach the truth. I pray that we will not get in the way of God's truth by our faults, which in my own case are certainly many.

Peter Sean Bradley said...

He spent a minute or so qualifying that he didn't believe every Roman Catholic to be unsaved, either - just those who hold to (as he spent his entire sermon making the case for) another gospel, as warned against by Paul.

This is a truly specious argument.

It's obvious that you are trying to salvage Bahnson and Bartoloucci from the obvious fact that they are trafficking in ancient prejudices, but you must know that you are engaging in an attempt at special pleading.

You have to read the whole sermon in context and not just extract and spin what you want in some kind of unobjectionable neutral way. If Bortoloucci and Bahnson had made your argument in the way you make it, we might not be having this discussion. But when they were speaking to their fellow co-religionists, they didn't talk that way, and your reframing the discussion is the best evidence that you know there is a problem with their appeal to tropes and themes based on prejudice.

Otherwise, what was the purpose of the anecdote about his Catholic "friends" "drinking and fornicating"?

You can't just make that passage go away by pretending it's not there. It is there for a reason, or else Bartoloucci is a seriously undisciplined public speaker who says whatever comes to his mind no matter how much damage it does to others, which is not exactly a reason why we should trust anything he says..

But let's look at the structure of their argument in a purportedly neutral fashion:

So,

1. All good Catholics are bad Christians.

2. All bad Christians are unregenerate.

3. The unregenerated do note experience a change in life away from sins.

4. The unregenerated engage in things like fornicating, drinking and swearing and going to confession weekly.

5. Therefore, good Catholics engage in things like fornicating, drinking, swearing and going to confession weekly.

Alright, he can make the argument, but is there any question in your mind that it is (a) absurd and (b) an appeal to the prejudice of his listeners? Do you really think that

While he was making an anecdotal point...

And what, then, was the point of this anecdotal point?

Was it just a humorous side note about his youth?

Or do you suppose that it was intended to buttress some other point he was making?

I'm thinking the latter.

.. he did not at any time state that he believed all Roman Catholics behaved in such a fashion...

What he clearly said was that no "good Catholic" was a "regenerated Catholic." He also explained what he meant by being "regenerated.", turning away from sin.

Look, you are simply engaging in special pleading here. It's not pretty.


- but he did link it to a doctrinal point he was making, concerning "cheap grace".

Yes, he did, which is why his "anecdote" was a broadbrush smear, unless he was simply committing the sin of detraction" as a person who "without objectively valid reason, discloses another's faults and failings to persons who did not know them."

So, your dilemna is that Bortoloucci was either engaged in a broad brush prejudiced critique of Catholics that was essential to a point he was making in his sermon, or he was offering a meaningless and irrelevant story of some friends of his who happened to be Catholic for no apparent reason.

So, is he making an appeal to prejudice or engaging in the vice of detraction? Is he prejudiced, or is he a gossip?

Your choice.

Paul said...

Peter,
If your intention is to "poison the well" as Dr. Beckwith has termed above. You are succeeding, I have seen this "tactic" (H.T to Greg Koukl). By scraping at minutiae you are able to avoid discussing the actual substance. I have seen this approach used by folks on Patrick Madrid's discussion board for years. All the participants were seemingly oblivious that Patrick's "Surprised By Truth" books were just loaded with the very personal stories and recollections that you are objecting to from both Dr. Bahnsen and Pastor Bartolucci. Have you ever listened to Tim Staples (One Of The Foremost Apologists) at Catholic Answers? His lectures are loaded with his recollections and criticisms. One of his books is actually called "Jimmy Swaggart Made me Catholic". Whenever Art Sippo would launch into his "I am soo offended" mode, I could tell he was short on substance. So is this what this all about? Your effort to obfuscate? And draw the focus away from Pastor Bartolucci's critique?

Jennie said...

I agree with Paul about 'poisoning the well.' In this thread and in a recent thread on my blog a discussion which should have been about differences in doctrine became a discussion about peripheral issues that had nothing to do with the introduced topic. Someone was offended by an anecdote or a generalization, or was distracted by a 'mistake' that really wasn't a mistake at all. It seems to happen alot when Roman Catholics don't want to answer questions about doctrine, etc.
I think we've got the message that Peter is offended (Peter, maybe you could contact Pastor Tony about it), so now I hope we can move on to what's most important.

Reidster said...

JKLfromRochester said...

"I don't have any knowledge of what is happening there because they ex-communicated me...defined by cutting off all contact."

I have some knowledge of this situation and I am afraid you have not stated this accurately. You know full well the CCC church documents DO NOT define ex-communication this way - and - you know full well how long dialog was pursued.

Perhaps we can say you simply misstated things, but a re-thinking of how you have painted this is sorely needed. You were (are) sorely loved and your departure was a great grief to many. You were not put out.

JKLfromRochester said...

To Reidster:
I am not sure how you have knowledge of the situation, but please do not imply I am being deceptive. The facts as I stated them are correct, at least from my perspective.

They are:
1. I attended CCC for 20+ years.
2. Tony B. was my pastor. He was a good pastor.
3. Church discipline procedures were brought against me (i.e. was ex-communicated)because I became Catholic.
4. As a result, no contact occured - no E-mail, phone, face-to-face communication ... nothing.
5. This caused me great pain. (I cry 'uncle').

Deacon Harbey Santiago said...

Hi Paul, Jennie

Boy, I leave for a bit and 55 messages just sprout out! :-)

Sorry for my mistake, It was too early in the morning, when I wrote this.

You said:
" 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."
Without this fullness you cannot die in a "State Of Grace" and therefore not be justified. Is that correct?

I do not know where do you get this idea of having to be in "Full communion" with the Church in order to be justified.
Let me use the Trent Canon you quote to show you what we teach.
differently:

Canon IV. If anyone saith, that the sacraments of the New Law are not necessary unto salvation, but superfluous; and that, without them, or without the desire thereof, men obtain of God, through faith alone, the grace of justification; — THOUGH ALL [THE SACRAMENTS] ARE NOT INDEED NECESARY for every individual: let him be anathema.

Notice the emphasis. It says that not ALL the sacraments are necessary for salvation. (In fact we teach that the only sacrament necessary for salvation is baptism) Lets take an average protestant that has never been Catholic. Baptized in his Church, married for 20 years to the same wife. According to this canon this person CAN be justified, since he has received the sacrament of baptism, further more the sacrament of Marriage, brings him closer to this state, since it is a source of grace for him (And his wife). Like I showed before,the Church teaches that even if performed in one of the many thousands of Protestant ecclesial communities baptism and marriage are valid sacraments so this person even when they are not "In full communion" like you said, can still be justified.

Viva Cristo Rey!!

Deacon Harbey Santiago

Jennie said...

Deacon Harbey,
Canon IV. If anyone saith, that the sacraments of the New Law are not necessary unto salvation, but superfluous; and that, without them, or without the desire thereof, men obtain of God, through faith alone, the grace of justification; — THOUGH ALL [THE SACRAMENTS] ARE NOT INDEED NECESARY for every individual: let him be anathema.

This canon says 'sacraments' not just baptism as being necessary for salvation, but even saying that only one is necessary before one can be justified is not correct.

Romans 4:9 Does this blessedness then come upon the circumcised only, or upon the uncircumcised also? For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness. 10 How then was it accounted? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised. 11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also, 12 and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised.
This passage shows circumsision as a sign and seal of the faith which has already justified Abraham. It says the faith was accounted while he was yet uncircumcised.

The next passage compares circumcision with baptism;it calls being buried with Christ in baptism by faith 'the circumcision made without hands.' Justification by faith brings the baptism in which the believer dies with Christ and is raised to new life by the regenerating power of the Spirit, the living water. Water baptism, which occurs later, is the sign of the 'circumcision made without hands'.
Colossians 2:11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

Luke 3:16 John answered, saying to all, “I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Francis J. Beckwith said...

"This canon says 'sacraments' not just baptism as being necessary for salvation, but even saying that only one is necessary before one can be justified is not correct."

That's quite a bold claim. In order to acquire justification, must one "believe in your heart that Jesus Christ rose from the dead" as Paul states? In that sense, "believing," which is a mental act, is a necessary condition for justification. But even that's not technically true, since infants and the severely retarded can be "saved" without engaging in the mental act of believing in their heart.

Interestingly enough, the Catholic Church has actually thought about these things. Take, for example, Baptism. The Church, though teaching that Baptism is necessary for justification, has taught for quite some time a view called "the baptism of desire." Catholic Answers has a nice page briefly discussing baptism, which you can access here: http://www.catholic.com/library/Necessity_of_Baptism.asp

You see, these sorts of issues are not addressed in Scripture. (As an aside, Scripture does not even provide a list of the books that constitute Scripture, though it does provide a list of apostles, commandments, and Jesus' genealogies). You need a Church to make judgments on these matters, like the Church did in Acts when it came to gentile believers; like it did dealing with those that denied their faith and wanted to return to the Church (i.e., the debate over rigorism); like it did in the 4th century with the Council of Nicea (which not only gave us a creed, but direction on a variety of matters including the taking of the Eucharist prior to death); like it did in outlining the case against Pelagius; like it did in clearly explaining the two natures of Christ at Chalcedon (which, by the way, some Evangelicals have called into question and are now flirting with the Nestorian heresy, which, incidentally, is not obviously unbiblical).

Hodge said...

Frank said:

Nevertheless, we must remember that all of us--me included--may not say things in the best or most appropriate way and gratuitously offend those for whom that offense becomes a stumbling block for further dialogue...On the other hand, those of us who are "offended" should pause and ask ourselves if the other is intending offense. In most cases, people are not intending offense. So, that's why a gentle correction is all that is required. Those that persist in using the offensive language--with the apparent intent to get a rise out of others--have no interest in serious dialogue or rational discussion. And for that reason, they should not take the Lord's name in vain by attributing what they say to the cause of Christ.

Bryan says: Amen to this, Frank. Very well said. The problem is that we are all very attached to what we believe is true emotionally, whether we want to admit that or not. This clouds judgment on all sides, not necessarily in looking at what is true and logical, but in how to address the person we think is proclaiming an untruth or something illogical. Another excellent point from the master of a more sophisticated form of argumentation. Thanks for this.

Jennie said...

Dr. Beckwith,
Believing, in the biblical sense of having faith, is not an act but a gift of the Spirit after hearing the word of truth, a trusting, a submission, a resting. Submission is a giving up of the will, not a mental decision.

JKLfromRochester said...

Jennie said:
"... and seal of the faith which has already justified Abraham"

This is a question for Jennie or anyone who subscribes to a model for justification that describes it as a one-time event in one's life ... that one is regenerated once and ever after that he is forever saved.

There are at least three discussions of the faith of Abraham at different points in his life widely separated in time. These instances of Abraham's faith are used to talk about justification and (some) Protestants, certainly those in my old circle, interpret it consistent with the model described above.

My question is when did Abraham exhibit saving faith? When in his life was he saved? Then, in the other instances of Abraham's faith being decribed was the faith examples being described not saving faith? Or was it some other kind of faith?

Paul said...

Dr. Beckwith,
I have frequent contact with Dr. James White of Alpha Omega Ministries. He has expressed a great interest in debating you in a "respectful, public, moderated and video-taped forum", on any of a variety of topics. Would you possibly consider participating in this?

Turretinfan said...

Dr. Beckwith wrote: "I did a word search on this entry and all the comments, and I could not find myself using the term "bigot." "

I quite agree that you did not. I apologize that I worded things in such a way as not to make it clear that the sharp point of my comment was not aimed at you. To make things clear, I was not trying to suggest that you were the one who had taken the cheap shot. I was referring to Peter Sean Bradley who appears to love to think and speak the worst of his theological opponents.

Francis J. Beckwith said...

Paul:

Feel free to write me privately on this matter.

My answer, publicly, is "no."

My dialogues with Timothy George have been wildly successful--once at Palm Beach Atlantic in 2008 and again at Wheaton in 2009--and have just the sort of ambiance with which I feel comfortable dialoging with a Protestant.

As I have noted on several occasions, I have no interest in being a Catholic apologist. I will, however, share my journey and offer the reasons that I believe were compelling for me to cross the Tiber. There are others who are far more capable than me and I will leave it to them to do the heavy lifting.

But my work--as it was as a Protestant--has focused almost exclusively on those questions on which Protestants and Catholics largely agree. Hence, my next book--Politics for Christians--continues in that vein. I don't expect to change that.

I am presently working on a book--for which I hope to secure an academic publisher--on the relationship between religious epistemology and the way the federal courts have assessed theological truth claims.

In short, my professional trajectory is taking me precisely where I suspected it would take me: back to what I do best.

Frank

Peter Sean Bradley said...

Paul wrote:

If your intention is to "poison the well" as Dr. Beckwith has termed above. You are succeeding...

As you undoubtedly know, my intention was to answer your question, which was actually a passive-aggressive defense of Pastor Bartoloucci. If you have forgotten, look at the fourth comment in this thread, to wit:

Peter, I have listened to all of part 1. I'm looking at the transcript now and I'm having trouble finding the "anti-catholic diatribe". Maybe you could provide an example or perhaps define "anti-catholic diatribe"?

I answered your question by citing chapter and verse.

Then, when you tried to spin Pastor Bartoloucci's into something innocuous by ignoring the statements that you clearly knew constituted an "anti-catholic diatribe", I was forced to repeatedly explain by appealling to the common understanding held by all persons of good will, why those comments were in fact "anti-catholic diatribes."

Now, that you have clearly conceded that Pastor Bartoloucci was engaging in an "anti-catholic diatribe", you now want to call me "off topic"???

For answering your question???

Are you serious?

... I have seen this "tactic" (H.T to Greg Koukl). By scraping at minutiae you are able to avoid discussing the actual substance.

Really?

Koukle really thinks that evidence of a prejudgment and of the evidence and the bias of the advocate should have no bearing on the weight we give that person's argument?

Well, then let's tell Aristotle that he had it all wrong, and let's reform the legal system so that bias is absolutely permitted everywhere.

Let's get this straight, people rarely see their own prejudices -bigots never think that they are bigotted. They think that they are just "calling it like they see it."

And they are are "calling it like they see it," and that's the problem. Becaus if we aren't aware of our own prejudices, then we tend to deem as "material" those things that fit our prejudgments - or prejudices - and immaterial those things that don't fit our prejudices.

Which is what you and others have been doing throughout this thread on this very issue, although now you are willing to concede that I was right about Pastor Bartoloucci's "anti-Catholic diatribe."

But if we can't trust Pastor Bartoloucci on something so obvious as not describing Catholics - some or all doesn't matter - as being drunken fornicators and therfore making an appeal to the prejudice of his listeners on something so obviously absurd and tendentious as demonstrated in the quotes I've pointed out, then why should we trust him on aything?

I certainly could have pointed out his tendentious, condescending strawmen depictions of Catholic doctrine, but why should I do that when there is such obvious low-hanging fruit?

And why should you and I have that conversation about the nuances of Catholic doctrine, when you can't seem to understand the non-nuanced idea that calling Catholics drunken, fornicating hypocrites is (a)absurd, (b) offensive and (c) lacks foundation [or at the most charitable consitutes a purely gratuitous detraction designed to "poison the well."]

Conversation requires good will on all parts, and good will means at the very least putting aside our pejorative stereotypes of each other.

If you can't see the absurdity in obviously absurd statements by Bortolucci, then why should I trust that you are going to understand my references to Aquinas and the Catechism?

I have seen this approach used by folks on Patrick Madrid's discussion board for years.

Then call them out on their lack of charity in the name of Christian charity, for heaven's sake. Isn't that obvious?

I find that doing that will cut the stereotypes out and allow a truly profitable dialogue to occur.

Paul said...

Dr. Beckwith,
Thank you for your response.

Peter Sean Bradley said...

Continued…

All the participants were seemingly oblivious that Patrick's "Surprised By Truth" books were just loaded with the very personal stories and recollections that you are objecting to from both Dr. Bahnsen and Pastor Bartolucci.

That could be, and if those people are offering broad brush derogatory stereotypes without foundation, you should call them out on it. That kind of thing is against the precepts of Christian charity and should be corrected.

But let me tell you about my experienced with Protestant converts to Catholicism. My experience is that I have never heard such a convert denigrate the people of his prior denomination or the time he spent in that denomination. Like Francis Beckwith, every single convert I personally know views their time in Protestantism as a constructive part of their journey, which I have no doubt that it was, just as I believe that Catholics who are now in Protestant denominations in good conscience are exactly where they need to be.

Gosh, that was really hateful of me, wasn't it? < /sarc >

On the hand, I can't count the number of times that I've read derogatory comments about Catholics by former Catholics of the kind that we see in this thread. As I've said, I've learned that the phrase "I'm a former Catholic so I know what Catholicism is like" is usually followed by the most absurd claims.

Have you ever listened to Tim Staples (One Of The Foremost Apologists) at Catholic Answers? His lectures are loaded with his recollections and criticisms.

Yes, and I've never heard him once describe Protestants as drunken, fornicating hypocrites. Do you have a citation where he does?

One of his books is actually called "Jimmy Swaggart Made me Catholic".

Perhaps it id. I now that "Campus Life" made me Catholic because when I listened to the version of Christianity preached by Campus Life, I decided that it didn't fit with my understanding of the Gospel.

Your point is what?

Whenever Art Sippo would launch into his "I am soo offended" mode, I could tell he was short on substance.

I don't know anything about this.

Does that make detraction and appeals to prejudice permissible as a matter of the Christian life?

So is this what this all about? Your effort to obfuscate?

My effort was to answer your question, because apparently you couldn't see why Pastor Bartoloucci's comment constituted "anti-Catholic diatribes", although it seems that now you do.

Terrific. I've accomplished my mision. I can withdraw from the field with a feeling of satisfaction.

And draw the focus away from Pastor Bartolucci's critique?

How is it drawing the focus away from Pastor Bartolucci's critique to point out that his critique is premised on the rhetoric of an appeal to prejudice, the illogic of inferring the general from the speficic without laying a foundation and poisoning the well?

In other words, I'm not obfuscating the critique, I'm destroying the critique, and you know it or you wouldn't have changed the subject from "I can't see the anti-catholic diatribe" to "I can see the anti-catholic diatribe but that really isn't important because, really we know it's all true, but I'm not going to defend that claim because obviously that will show that my prejudices rule out anyone from trusting my ability to reason in a fair and objective manner."

By the way, do you see anything ironic in the fact that you are arguing that I have dwelled on irrelevant minutia - when I'm actually answering your question - but then you bring up people who have nothing to do with subject of the thread?

So, who is trying to distract by bringing up irrelevant issues?

As I heard one judge say to an attorney, you really need to step back and look at what you are saying.

Peter Sean Bradley said...

Jennie wrote:

I think we've got the message that Peter is offended (Peter, maybe you could contact Pastor Tony about it), so now I hope we can move on to what's most important.

I'm not offended. I've never been offended, except by lame and tendentious efforts at special pleading.

I clearly said that I was amazed - shocked even - that in this day and age, a leader in a Protestant church could revive tropes and stereotypes that should have died in the 19th Century.

I'm not offended, obvously, because - as I've pointed out repeatedly - what Pastor Bartolucci said was patently absurd.

On the other hand, Pastor Bartolucci's sermons have been professionally instructive. Among other areas, I practice in the area of discriminatin law. I'm filing away Pastor Bartolucci's sermons as a reminder that in this day and age there still exists a virulent prejudice by some "Christians" against their Catholic brethren, and that I should not discount claims of religious discrimination on the grounds that "it went out in the 19th Century." Apparently, to the contrary, it survives because it is still being taught in some churches!

That is professionally very signficant for me.

But, Jennie, your profile says that you are a "Christian woman." Is the best you can do in the face of one of a Protestant religious leader trading in ancient derogatory stereotypes to say "let's move on, nothing to see here?"

I ask because (a) you have injected yourself into this discussion and (b) the tenor of your comment is that this is something idiosyncratic on my part, as opposed to my fairly establishing the evidence of an unchristian anti-catholic animus?

Also, why is this a "side issue"? Why isn't it important that we find in the published writings of two religious leaders, evidence of a discriminatory animus that discredits the basic notions of Christian charity and not bearing false witness.

Agai, why is that a side issue? Shouldn't that be an important concern for Protestants in particular?

You know, I seem to recall that St. Paul wrote something about clanging gongs and of faith, charity and hope, the greatest is ... etc.

Paul said...

Peter,
I guess we will just have to agree to disagree. I do not "concede" that either what Dr. Bahnsen nor Pastor Bartolucci have said (in context) are "anti-catholic diatribes". You believe that they are. You are obviously free to believe that and apparently will continue to believe that.

Peter Sean Bradley said...

Turretinfan wrote:

I was referring to Peter Sean Bradley who appears to love to think and speak the worst of his theological opponents.

Tsk, tsk, tsk....internet mind reading and bearing false witness???? Together in a single sentence???

10 points for efficient deployment of multiple fallacies.

I can see where you come up with that bit of calumny by the way that I documented all of my positions and offered an essentially non-objectionable discussion of how to identify the rhetorical use of an appeal to prejudice and by your lame employment of the tu quoque fallacy. < /sarc >

Also, my statement that ".... Like Francis Beckwith, every single convert I personally know views their time in Protestantism as a constructive part of their journey, which I have no doubt that it was, just as I believe that Catholics who are now in Protestant denominations in good conscience are exactly where they need to be is clear evidence of my loving "to think and speak the worst of his theological opponents." < /sarc>

Hey, here's an idea - maybe read what is written before deploying the apologetic argument Alpha based on a prejudgment of what the person "must" believe.

But since you are unable to address the facts and point I've documented, I will take that as a concession of your agreement with my points and depart the field with the satisfaction of knowing that anyone who reads this thread in good will and without prejudice will say about your name-calling comment, "where the devil did that come from?"

Turretinfan said...

"I can't believe that in this day and age such an anti-catholic diatribe can be written by someone who is in his late 40s."

"Among other areas, I practice in the area of discriminatin [sic] law."

This superimposition amused me.

Paul said...

I guess I need to what my step. As someone whom I admire and respect once warned me: " it is better to steer entirely clear of litigious people".

Turretinfan said...

I see I got cross-posted. Thankfully, this last comment is practically a stand-alone piece:

"Tsk, tsk, tsk....internet mind reading and bearing false witness???? Together in a single sentence???"

gleefully apposes

"Hey, here's an idea - maybe read what is written before deploying the apologetic argument Alpha based on a prejudgment of what the person "must" believe."

Peter Sean Bradley said...

Paul,

I'm not trying to convince yoy here and now.

I understand that when you stake out a position, the middle of the fray is not the time that we rethink our positions.

I do hope that later you will go back over this thread and realize that I did answer your question and you will reflect on what "prejudice" really means. I pray that you will then consciously distance yourself from the near occasion - as we say - of that vice.

We can certainly have discussions about theology. I like having such discussions. I'm in group that meets once a week to work its way through the Summa. I also belong to a Protestant group held at Pastor Jan Van Oostern's Baptist Church to discuss theology. Frank Beckwith knows Pastor Van Oosten, and it is without a bit of irony that I describe Pastor Van Oosten as one of the three most knowledgeable Thomists in the Central Valley, and he's a Baptist!

But I can't imagine Pastor Van Oosten ever saying or permitting anyone to say that in their experience the Catholics they knew were habitually given to drinking, fornicating and hypocritically confessing. If he did I would question his grip on reality and not listen to him.

But he doesn't and , accordingly, I do listen to and appreciate Pastor Van Oosten's theological positions as being grounded in reason and a pursuit for the truth.

I have also, incidentally, made it part of my practice to call out people when they say prejudiced things about Evangelicals and others.

Finally, as I mentioned before, I represent Protestant churches who seek to leave their denominations when those denominations have repudiated the tradtional faith in favor of secular projects. I was the lead attorney in the case of St. Luke's v. UMC, which, briefly, established the mechanism whereby conservative churches could leave liberal denominations. I have represented churches in almost every denomination, and maybe soon the ELCA. < /fingers crossed >

Accordingly, having represented many small Protestant churches, I have a deep respect for the institutions of Protestantism, which kernelized the American traditions of self-organization and courageous commitment to Christ, and an even deeper sympathy for those Protestants who are forced to leave their traditions and home churches because of that commitment.

But nothing is gained by permitting anyone to trade in invidious stereotypes.

So, please accept my prayer that sometime in the future you can look back at Pastor Bartolucci's sermons with an eye informed by a realization that we owe everyone the charity of not stereotyping them, or motivating others to form such invidious stereotypes.

As Christians surrounded by an increasingly hostile culture, we just don't need that.

Jennie said...

JKLfromRochester,
This is a question for Jennie or anyone who subscribes to a model for justification that describes it as a one-time event in one's life ... that one is regenerated once and ever after that he is forever saved.

There are at least three discussions of the faith of Abraham at different points in his life widely separated in time. These instances of Abraham's faith are used to talk about justification and (some) Protestants, certainly those in my old circle, interpret it consistent with the model described above.

My question is when did Abraham exhibit saving faith? When in his life was he saved? Then, in the other instances of Abraham's faith being decribed was the faith examples being described not saving faith? Or was it some other kind of faith?


JKL,
Pastor B. talked about this in one of the sermons, but I can't remember which one. I think it was one of the later ones, maybe number 9 or 10 or later. He mentioned that Roman Catholic teaching questions the one time justification and points to Abraham as an example of continued justification. He may be able to explain it better than I can, but I'll try.
This is my own understanding of it. First of all, both faith and life have to begin somewhere, but they also continue on after they begin. But just as one has to be born before he can live, so one has to be born again before he can live the life of faith. Faith begins with hearing God speak to us from His word as the Spirit works in us; this begins our life as we submit to God with the Spirit's help. But then we must continue to live by faith in submission. This is also by God's grace as we depend on Him for help every day.
Abraham's life is an example of this. He was justified when he first heard God speak to him and he believed God and stepped out by faith. The later examples in his life are showing that he is still walking by faith, showing that he is justified, and is righteous by faith. The word for justified can sometimes mean 'shown to be righteous' rather than always meaning 'made righteous'.

JKLfromRochester said...

To Jennie:
Thank you for your answer.

You said:
"He was justified when he first heard God speak to him and he believed God and stepped out by faith. The later examples in his life are showing that he is still walking by faith, showing that he is justified, and is righteous by faith."

I assume by this you think he was justified very early ... perhaps when he left his home and family and obeyed God. So later detailed accounts of his faith were not saving faith, but were just a continuation of his earlier faith.

With all due respect, that's not much different from what I believe as a Catholic, but I have been told I am not regenerate because I believe that way.

Jennie said...

JKLfromRochester,
I assume by this you think he was justified very early ... perhaps when he left his home and family and obeyed God. So later detailed accounts of his faith were not saving faith, but were just a continuation of his earlier faith.

With all due respect, that's not much different from what I believe as a Catholic, but I have been told I am not regenerate because I believe that way.


The difference between Roman Catholic teaching and protestant teaching on this, as I understand it, is basically
that a Roman Catholic would say that Abraham was not justified at the beginning of his faith walk, but was 'being justified' throughout his life of faith. But justification is a work of God in us, giving us new life as new creations. Then the life continues as we go on to walk by faith. First we have to be regenerated by the Spirit before we can begin to live.
Whether or not you are regenerate isn't because of what you believe about Abraham and justification, but because of God who makes you alive when you hear and believe His word.

Jennie said...

JKL,
Think of it this way, as Jesus also used the 'born again' illustration; being born happens only once and then is over; it doesn't continue on throughout our lives (for which I as a mother am grateful, since giving birth is not something one wants to prolong).
Then we go on with the process of growing up and learning many things, and maybe having our own children as well.
So God's word and the Spirit conceive life in us and bring it forth by faith; then we begin to live by faith.

Deacon Harbey Santiago said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Deacon Harbey Santiago said...

78 Posts in this thread?!?!?! I wander who is feeding the poor and taking care of the orphans while we are all wasting bandwidth here. :-)

Having said this...

Jannie said:

>> but even saying that only one is necessary before one can be justified is not correct.

Scripture disagrees with you. Take a look at 1Peter 3:18-21,Ezk 26:35,Acts 2:38-41, Acts 22:16,Gal 3:27, Tit 3:4-7 among others.

Of course we can sit here and throw bible verses at each other until we turn blue, but the real issue we should be dealing with is this: you believe that Rm 4:9 and Col 2:11 prove your point which is diametrical opposed to my point which, based on the passages I quoted, has at the least some scriptural basis (At the least you have to grant me that).

So we have three 3 possibilities:

a) One of us is right and the other wrong
Which means that one side has the whole of the truth, forcing us to twist some parts of the Gospel into a pretzel just to make it fit with "our" version of the truth

b) we are both wrong
Which means that the Gospel is just the diatribes of a bunch of first century peasants with very little education.

c) we are both right
Which means that at the least each one of us has some part of the truth

The challenge for all Christians is to get unstuck from a), reject b) and explore c) together. It seems to me that c) is the only possible option.


Viva Cristo Rey!!

Deacon Harbey Santiago

JKLfromRochester said...

To Jennie,

You said:

“The difference between Roman Catholic teaching and Protestant teaching on this, as I understand it, is basically that a Roman Catholic would say that Abraham was not justified at the beginning of his faith walk, but was 'being justified' throughout his life of faith.”

I am a Roman Catholic, and I am telling you I would say that Abraham was justified at the beginning of his faith walk (in Heb. 11:8). You are trying to tell me what I believe, but what you say I believe, I don’t believe.

You said:
“ But justification is a work of God in us, giving us new life as new creations.”
I agree with that. So did Augustine and Aquinas. So did the Council of Trent.

You said:
“Then the life continues as we go on to walk by faith. First we have to be regenerated by the Spirit before we can begin to live.”
I also agree with that.

You said:
“Whether or not you are regenerate isn't because of what you believe about Abraham and justification, but because of God who makes you alive when you hear and believe His word. “

I also agree with that, but my old church which was pastored by Tony B. does not agree because they said if I did not believe in sola fide I could not be regenerate.


In Romans 4 when God said “Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness …” (he was believing what God said about multiplying his seed)(many years after Heb. 8 where you claim he was justified) you are saying that this has nothing to do with his justification because he was already justified.

That is not coherent because those words in Rom. 4 are what the whole Reformed doctrine of sola fide is based on.

Jennie said...

JKL,
I am a Roman Catholic, and I am telling you I would say that Abraham was justified at the beginning of his faith walk (in Heb. 11:8). You are trying to tell me what I believe, but what you say I believe, I don’t believe.
I am not telling you what YOU believe, but telling you what MY understanding of RC doctrine is, which is also what several Catholics I have communicated with have told me.
Maybe it is you who don't believe as RC doctrine teaches; I don't know if I have enough info yet to understand what you believe about this.

In Romans 4 when God said “Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness …” (he was believing what God said about multiplying his seed)(many years after Heb. 8 where you claim he was justified) you are saying that this has nothing to do with his justification because he was already justified.
I see what you are saying here, and I may be mistaken about when Abraham was actually justified, but that doesn't change the fact that Abraham was justified by faith at one point in his life and then continued to walk by faith.
I see that Abraham was given a promise just as we are given a promise by the gospel, and he believed it and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Sometimes God leads a person for a while before the person actually is saved; this appears to be what happened with Abraham too. Romans is clear that Abraham was justified at a certain time, before he was circumcised: see Romans 4:9 Does this blessedness then come upon the circumcised only, or upon the uncircumcised also? For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness. 10 How then was it accounted? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised. 11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also, 12 and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised.

Jennie said...

Deacon Harbey,
Scripture disagrees with you. Take a look at 1Peter 3:18-21,Ezk 26:35,Acts 2:38-41, Acts 22:16,Gal 3:27, Tit 3:4-7 among others.
I think the Ezekiel reference is mistyped; I couldn't find it.

1 Peter 3:20 "who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. 21 There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ"
The water of the flood is an antitype of the living water of the Spirit who baptizes us before we are baptized by water. It says 'not the removal of the filth of the flesh' which means not outward washing, 'but the answer of a good conscience toward God' which means the inward washing of the Spirit by faith.

Titus 3:5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit

Here the 'washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit' are all one thing, done by the Spirit through faith.

In all the passages, would you not agree that faith must come first, and that the Spirit does the work of washing and regenerating the person who has faith? Do we baptize unregenerate people to save them, or do we baptize those who already believe? The water baptism is commanded, and it is a sign of our walk of faith and is our first act of obedience. The water does not wash us of sin, the Spirit does.

Jennie said...

Deacon,
remember the passage from Luke which I also quoted earlier. Jesus' baptism of the Spirit and fire was clearly superior to the water baptism of John.
I am just saying that outward sacraments are signs and the Holy Spirit is the one who does the work in us.

Jamin Hubner said...

Bold work Barto..
For a partial/topical critique of Beckwith's book, be sure to check out:

http://www.realapologetics.org/scholarship/scholarship/Hubner%20-%20Catholics%20and%20Protestants%20Together,%20Natural%20Theology%20Exposed.pdf

ja
realapologetics.org