Saturday, June 19, 2010

David Meyer at the New Christendom entering the Catholic Church

Over at the New Christendom blog, David Meyer, has posted an open letter to the congregation he and his family are leaving, Good Shepherd Presbyterian, as they prepare to be received into the Catholic Church. Here is what David writes:

To our brothers and sisters at Good Shepherd Presbyterian:
This letter is to explain why we will be leaving Good Shepherd. We want to make sure our reasons are understood as much as possible, so you will not wonder why we left, and will not think it was for a trite reason. I do not expect you to agree with our decision, but my hope is that this decision will not be misunderstood. 
Over the years at Good Shepherd, I have grown increasingly frustrated with the lack of unity in the Reformed community. After a family recently left our church for Eastern Orthodoxy, I felt a deep sense that something was very wrong with the state of unity among Christians. And at first, I thought they left for similar reasons as the dozens of other families have done over the past 9 years. 
Since my family has been at Good Shepherd, our church has not been able to have children fast enough to replace all the people that have left for this or that picky reason! People left in a mass exodus during Pastor Hewitson's time with us because of Federal Vision fever. Since then more have left us to form a new congregation of a 11 year old denomination called the CREC for reasons that I would say are anything but central to the Reformed faith. Others have left with the particular desire to not be under any church authority at all! No pretense even. In my opinion, these people have not submitted to the authority of the church, which we Reformed believe is the arbiter of Scriptural Truth and interpretation,but rather they have become their own authority. They are rogues who have arrogated the authority of the Holy Spirit to themselves, placing their conscience and private judgment over the authority of sessions that they have sworn to be faithful to. This got me thinking... 
What makes me submit to the session at Good Shepherd? I have always seen it as a Divinely instituted body put there to guide my family on the Christian path, but what if I disagree with them on some matter of doctrine? EVERY Reformed person I have ever talked to about this situation has said there is nothing wrong with leaving a church and placing my family under another session that agrees with my convictions. When I have mentioned points of disagreement with the PCA everyone has said I could and should leave if it is a big deal to me. What this means is that the authority of Scripture, which is supposed to be exercised through the church, is instead exercised through my personal interpretations by ME!
According to Sola Scriptura, as defined by Keith Mathison, 
Scripture is 'the sole source of revelation; [the] the final authoritative norm of doctrine and practice; to be interpreted in and by the church, and that it [is] to be interpreted according to the regula fidei.'. 
The problem with this doctrine is that when a believer disagrees with the leaders he is supposed to submit to, he then finds other leaders that agree with his interpretation to submit to. This is not submitting to church authority, it is submitting to self. Submitting to yourself is just another way of saying you don't submit at all! There is a helpful way to remember this concept:
“If I only submit when I agree, the one to whom I submit is me.”
Anyone who has raised children can recognize the obvious truth of this. Or any wife that has tried to submit to a husband. Or submitting to an employer, etc... True submission is shown in conforming our mind to that mind to which we submit. If we are submitting to someone based on a shared set of beliefs, or because we agree with them, that is not true submission! It is actually a dangerous opposite of submission, because it can appear to be submission. If a disagreement never comes between a husband and wife in the entire time of their life together (bear with me I know it is far fetched) we could look at the relationship and see submission. But if inside her heart she is ready to split at the first sign of disagreement, she in no way is submitting to him. Apply this wife/husband scenario to church/Christ, and you can see where my mind is on this issue. 
We Protestants submit to our elders based on our agreement with them, and this is a faux submission. This is no longer an option for my family. I do not trust myself to interpret the Scripture when generations of brilliant Protestants (like Dr. Joshua Moon!) can not agree on what it says. If I listen to Josh, then I must ignore Mike Horton. If I listen to Mike Horton, I must ignore Doug Wilson, If I listen to Doug Wilson, I should ignore RC Sproul, and on and on it goes. If I come up with a synthesis of all these mens interpretations, then I have Professor David Meyer's interpretation, and he is an electronics technician, not a theologian. I am not inclined, (and nor should you be) to trust his interpretation. 
So after coming to the above conclusions, what then? Should I just continue to form opinions and interpretations with lots of prayer and reflection? Should I just do my best to be part of the group I feel conforms most closely with Scripture? No, I can't because any options within this paradigm of Sola Scriptura lead to the same fateful conclusion that I am my own authority. The only options left for me are:
A. Remain with Reformed Christianity and continue the cycle of “self submission”, knowing in my heart it is wrong.
B. Some form of non-theism,
C.“Choose-your-own-adventure” Christianity that I self consciously make up for myself and do not worry about submitting to church authority.
D. Submit to a form of Christianity that does not subscribe to Sola Scriptura and which has a interpretive authority which can plausibly claim to be led by the Holy Spirit, so as to remove myself as the authority.
Option A: I cannot in good conscience stay with option A I because within Sola Scriptura, I have no way of knowing if I am in schism from Christ's church. Whether I am in schism or not, the situation will look exactly the same from my perspective. I will consider myself to be following the Scripture whether I was in schism or not! If I was in grave error, my circumstances would look no different from being in the fullness of truth. Either way I would be surrounded by a session of my own choosing that would be quick to reassure me I was on the right path. 
Option B: For the regenerate Christian that has tasted the beuty of Christ, this is not a real option.
Option C: This is a tempting option. Perhaps Christ is OK with us just making this stuff up as we go? Perhaps that is part of the plan? Pray, read the Scripture, come up with an interpretation, stick with it, and look around at the rest of Christianity totally disagreeing with you. Then pray everyone comes to see the “truth” of what you believe. Unfortunately the church in scripture was not like this. There was authority given and maintained by the Holy Spirit to lead the Church into all truth. (Jn. 16:13) So even though this is perhaps a more consistent position than Sola Scriptura, it is not an option for someone who desires to be “lead” into all truth by the Spirit.
Option D: This makes the most sense. Catholic and Orthodox ecclesiology takes into account the fact that people will disagree about the content of Divine revelation. Not that disagreement implies errancy or falibility, but without a magisterium that is supernaturally protected from error, there is no way for me to be sure I am getting the interpretation that is the right one. If I am able to toss out the 7th ecumenical council (as nearly all Protestants do) because it doesn't match my interpretation, where will the tossing out stop? If church councils themselves are to be judged by a 21st century layman, theologically untrained, and unordained Christian like me, what is the point then of church councils other than to provide some really good advise from some really great men from the history of our faith? If they were not being guided into all truth by the Holy Spirit in these councils, with the expectation that all believers should submit to their decisions, then what use are they other than to help me form my own interpretation to submit to? The ecclesiologies that claim to have living, breathing successors of the apostles which are Divinely gifted with the ability to define doctrine in certain situations are the only ecclesiologies that make sense. 
That leaves two possibilities. Catholicism and Orthodoxy. Orthodoxy has stopped having church councils, would not be able to convene one if they wanted, and it can not claim the universality needed in the fourfold definition of the creed. (One, holy, catholic, Apostolic) because it is still largely a regional church and not world wide. Also there is no unifying head to resolve differences.
The Catholic Church is the only option left. In many ways it is a bitter pill to swallow for me. I have been very critical of Catholic doctrine as a Protestant. Much that they believe I am not inclined to believe. But I will have to submit to the mind of what I must believe is the church Christ founded.
To all of you I say that we have loved being at Good Shepherd. If left to my own opinions and interpretations, I would be right there with you guys. Josh Moon is going to turn that church into a shining gem in the PCA, I know it. The little changes he has made here and there are definitely heading Good Shepherd in a great direction. I wish we could speak to each member personally but that is just not possible. We have many friends that we will miss, but please know that we harbor no ill will, and on the contrary, see Reformed Christianity, and Good Shepherd in particular as bright spots in the Protestant world. We all wish for a unified church. And while I don't expect you to agree with my decision, I hope you will see it as something I am doing out of a great love for Christ's Church and its unity. Peace to all of you, our brothers and sisters in Christ.
David Meyer and Family.


Aubry said...

David and Family,

I too entered the Catholic Church from the Protestant faith. It was scary at first, but I know that I am now home! Welcome!


Tap said...

Welcome home! it sounds like you went through much agony and sorrow to leave behind your friends and maybe even family, to be within the safety of our Fold which is guided by the Holy Spirit.
Blessings to you and your family, forever and ever!

G said...

Oh dear, as a cradle Catholic, I never thought of the Church as being a "bitter pill", for heaven's sake! I ask the Lord to make it sweeter for I'm sure He will when you receive Him in Holy Communion.

As for the rhyme (When I submit bc I agree, I submit to me), my daughter puts it more wryly: Everyone has a pope.

Eluvathingal said...

I am sure many friends like you face the same problem. But you have touched it and you have found a correct solution. You brave Children, you will have followers soon, later it will be another exodus. The prayer for the Christian Unity will never be in vain.

Theresa said...

Welcome home. We cradle Catholics need people who choose the church after careful discernment.

I say this because cradle Catholics often take so much of our faith and sacraments for granted. We need the infusion of faith people like yourselves bring to the church.

It is a grave scandal because Christ prayed that we might remain one as he and his father are one.

Most of us are culpable in this scandal.

Briggs said...

God's Peace to You, my brother! Long before I became a PCA church planter and minister, I was greatly troubled by what I witnessed among fractious Christian "denominations" in light of Jesus' fervent, repeated prayer for the visible unity of His church (John 17). To Jesus, a visibly united church is necessary for the world to believe that He was sent by the Father.

With 42,000 denominations in existence and new ones being formed (by reasonable estimates) daily, what is the world to make of Christ? Even more importantly, what are those who bear Christ's name to make of His prayer for a unified church?

David, do not be afraid to embrace the faith delivered by our Lord Himself to His apostles. Even as she stands with visible wounds and impurities, Christ's Bride will soon be presented without blemish. I daily bless the Lord and thank Him that He brought me safely into the full fellowship of His ancient, Holy Church!

May the Lord richly bless you, brother, and add to His Church all who will humbly receive and submit themselves to Him (the true effect of semper reformanda!)


Constantine said...

Dr. Beckwith,

Thanks for this post. For a minute, I was worried that this was real and you had me going! But a second reading shows that you were just testing us. That’s pretty clever of you!

First of all, nobody who has ever been through a new member class in a PCA church would EVER let these words cross their mind: “a magisterium that is supernaturally protected from error…” So your placement of this towards the end of the letter was pretty clever, but it give away your spoof! “Meyer” is either fictitious person or an RC doing a poor PCA imitation.

Secondly, anyone who has listened to any PCA (or OPC, or Reformed Baptist, or even PCUSA, for that matter) sermons would NEVER say this: “I do not trust myself to interpret the Scripture when generations of brilliant Protestants (like Dr. Joshua Moon!) can not agree on what it says.” For the Westminster Confession of Faith says plainly that assurance of the validity of the Scriptures does not lie in any man or in the cooperation of any group of men for its veracity, but the “divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.” (WCF, Ch. 1, V). So if “Mr. Meyer” had spent more than 10 minutes in a PCA church, it wouldn’t have been possible to utter this statement. (It’s clever of you to test us with it, though!)

And lastly, I see a test for your philosophy students here, too. When “Mr. Meyer” ;) ;) complains that the problem with Sola Scriptura is that it forces one to choose which “leader” to follow all the while “Mr. Meyer” is choosing which leader to follow by going to a non-Sola Scriptura church is hysterically funny! Doesn’t that mean that Sola Scriptura forced him to become a Romanist? And doesn’t that mean that Romanists should endorse Sola Scriptura rather than fight it? That’s really funny. (I hope I haven’t spoiled the test for your incoming Freshmen!)

And, if I’m not being too presumptuous, I think where you are leading us is that when “Mr. Meyer” gets to the RC, his worry about the certainty of Scriptural interpretation – which he finds lacking in the PCA - will be fully assuaged. He will be able to have his bishop tell him that the Catholic church officially endorses the “partim partim” view of Scripture. Oh, wait…No, no, that’s not it. Maybe he’ll be told that the official position of the “magisterium that is supernaturally protected from all error” is that Scripture is “materially sufficient”. No, no, that’s not it either. Oh well, nobody know what the heck the official position is, but I’m sure that the local bishop, being part of the ”supernaturally protected from error” magisterium will come up with something infallible. He’s magisterial after all!

You know these religion blogs get too serious some time. So thanks again for this diversion. It was fun!


Phillip said...

I left the Church due to lack of corporal control and not wanting to be "a hypocrit." That caused me to drift into the maybe there is a God maybe there isn't mode. Further separation from grace. Then I felt I met satan and knew there God to be. Hours os scripture and prayer, a few months in a very spirit filled congregational church followed by a serious search in scripture about my cradle dogma's and I was back in the founding Church. There has always been betrayers of the faith starting with Judas. So yes, there have been and still are some bad apples (smoke is in the Church). But the promise is there. The gates of Hell will never prevail. No one person can learn all that is required to interpret scripture on their own. Satan uses our pride to fool us into thinking we have the truth as individuals. Pride destroys. God gave us the authority of the Holy Spirit within the Church. Let us all pray for one another that God open us as individuals and splintered groups to the unity Jesus prayed for. It will happen and speed up as every person listens humbly to God. Thank you David for your well written testimony and expression of charity toward all. The austerity of Catholicism in the 30's and 40's is gone. Unfortunately, it found a home elsewhere. And, I am confident that it will be evicted from its abode in the Protestant, Evangelical,sola scriptura churches it moved to as well. For those churches have fantastic loving followers of Christ also. We are all Christians and the Spirit will overcome the enemy to pull us all into one fold.

Dave said...

I will pray for you, and ask others to do the same! Welcome!

Dave Deavel said...

Congratulations and many blessings to David Meyer.
I came from a Reformed background (CRC) and have not regretted for an instant my journey over 13 years ago.

By the bye, "Constantine," you are very right that one does use one's own judgment to arrive at the door of the Church, but then gives up one's authority to make ultimate decisions about disputed questions of faith.

While you seem to think this contradictory it is not contradictory at all. One could make the same objection to anyone who embraces Christ--"You used your own judgment and authority to decide about the truth of things and now you are giving up that judgment and believing Christ (or Scripture)?" If your objection is valid, it seems to invalidate all serious Christianity.

Jonathan Watson said...

Welcome, Mr. Meyer and family!

If I may reply in a small way to Constantine's comments:

The point of the Catholic church, the Magisterium, the pope, etc, etc, etc, is not epistemological certainty. If Mr. Meyer has come to the Catholic Church for the purpose of saying, "At last I can know exactly and for certain what is the perfect truth about A, B, or C theological issue", then he has come on a fool's errand and will soon leave in disgust.

The point of the Catholic Church (and Mr. Meyer alludes to this) is that it is the only place where the pastors can claim the authority to preside over all Christians and gather them around one table in Christ. The Magisterium has that authority in service of the common worship of Jesus Christ, in which we all participate. And the Church has been promised that it will stand, therefore we know that while Christians continue to gather to worship the Father around the table of Jesus Christ under the direction of the successors of the apostles whom Jesus appointed and who passed on their ministry by the laying on of hands, they won't go definitively off the rails.

But that's it. Anyone hoping or expecting that the Magisterium is going to enable them to achieve some kind of complete formalistic uniformity in brain patterns across 2 billion or so individuals has been, is now, or is about to engage in, smoking something.

Francis J. Beckwith said...

Thanks Jonathan for your comments.

As I have said on numerous occasions: I tried my autonomy for 46 years. I thought it was about time that I gave someone else a chance.

William a sinner. Most unlearned. The Least of all the faithful… said...

Welcome Home Brother. I came home to Our Father's House in the 90s. Run the Race, Fight the Good Fight and Endure to the End...

JoAnna said...

I'm a 2003 convert from the ELCA, here via Mark Shea's blog. Welcome home, and many prayers for you and your family!

Briggs said...

Dear Dr. Beckwith-
Thank you for introducing your readers to compelling reports of Christians who, by God’s grace, are experiencing the restoration of their faith as they recognize and enter into fullness of communion with Christ and His Bride, the Church. While their stories no doubt agitate a fanatical few to the point of mild dissociation (such as may be inferred from their wild and fanciful comments, or inability to discern the serious from the facetious), they are wonderfully affirming for those who implore the Father daily for the unity of Christ’s Church – which is, as we know, a deadly serious subject, having been taught that a house divided against itself cannot stand.

How great is our God! How worthy is our Redeemer! Who by the Holy Spirit is, in every hour that passes, turning the hearts and minds of such as whose lips did once, in the vanity of ignorant conceit, resist Him with words such as NEVER, EVER! And this without violence to man’s will, for He Who is the door of the sheep has said, “I have other sheep who are not of this fold. I must also lead those, and they shall hear My voice, and there shall be one flock, one Shepherd.”

I am such a sheep. With the WCF in one hand, my ESV in the other, and a copy of the BCO tucked under my arm, I was convinced that the 30 year-old (in 2003) evangelical church of my youth was the bastion of doctrinal accuracy. As Minister of the Word to one of its newest congregations, I eagerly sought to convert those who attended to Christ and a reformed understanding of His Word. What a surprise came to me in the realization that, not only do a great many faithful church members refuse to wholly embrace the excellent distinctives of the reformed faith (hadn’t they spent far more than the requisite 10 minutes in a PCA church? How could this be!?), but the denomination’s fledgling landscape is littered with the remnants of fractured congregations and traumatized little ones, evidence of a substantial and growing disunity among its ordained leadership. Of these, on occasion entire sessions will, having brutalized a fellow-presbyter or rejected the conclusions of the Westminster “divines”, jointly elect to flagrantly disregard the instruction of the authority which at once they hailed as being placed over them by God, severing the ties of accountability - and thus union - to seek other affiliation.

“Where is the unity for which Christ prayed?” The question dogged me. Realizing the denominations more closely resemble the “grey town” of endlessly diverging souls in Lewisian allegory than a city of light set on a hill, I considered what the visible oneness of Jesus’ prayer (Jn 17) would look like in the flesh. Only then did I realize that the challenge of achieving this perspective was unknown to Christians for more than 1,500 years! Christ’s prayer could not have been in vain if the Church in Rome is indeed the legitimate descendant of the fellowship of the Apostles.

After months of scrutinizing the Sacred Scriptures, along with ancient texts of the Early Church Fathers and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, I heard the call of the Shepherd’s voice leading me into the fold He entrusted to Peter. With joy I have traded the WCF and my BCO for the pillar and foundation of the truth, which is the catholic and apostolic Church of the Living God (I Tim. 3:15). I rest in deep peace knowing this collection of souls to which I am eternally united has shared in substance the same worship and sacraments for over 2,000 years. While one must acknowledge the sins which have through the ages contaminated the fellowship of the faithful, I bless the Lord for the benefits of a cloud of billions of witnesses who have lived and died in Christ, and whose lives are, along with the Word, a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.

Dr. Beckwith, along with you and your many excellent bloggers of faith I welcome the David Meyer family into the “one flock!”


David said...

Please visit Mr. Meyers' blog linked at the top of the post to welcome him and his family.

Constantine, he is the real deal.

Derek said...

David says there only remained 2 options when it comes to having a magisterium to interprete scripture, but he quickly discounts the Orthodox Church because they are not really unified.

There is actually a third option as strong as the first: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (The Mormons) I know Francis has written on us (yes I am a member of this church). You can disagree, but our claim is solid. We believe that the authority of Christ's Church died with the first apostles and that it had to be restored. We believe God has restored that authority through the Prophet Joseph Smith, and today we have a single unified Church.

To Dave, Francis, and all my Catholic brethren who are searching for the true authority of God, I say come and see!

Mark said...

Derek said, "We believe that the authority of Christ's Church died with the first apostles and that it had to be restored. "

What kind of a Savior would let that happen? Would a Savior who promised,

"lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age." Matthew 28:20.

"And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, [17] even the Spirit of truth" John 14.

Ardi said...

To Constantine (a PCA believer myself) I say: why then all the protestant world does not submit to the WCF, and is never going to happen and every one knows. Then, what authority does the WCF have, when it is exercised only within a part of the whole evangelical or protestant world? This is the least I can say.

Chris said...

Reading your article a few things came to mind and would love to get your take on them. To set the scene I am not a Roman Catholic but have grown up in a very legalistic minded church, which focused more on rules then the relationship aspect of it. After leaving the church due to politics and returning again to a church I cherish and respect I have some different views.

I do want to thank you for you words and appreciate your time taking to write your thoughts and concerns down.

You mentioned "sole scriptura", and the question that comes to mind: Is there every a justification to misuse the word of God. For instance there are a lot of pastors who "fleece" the flock in order for them to live the high life still from the poor and widow - That is not acceptable and there are countless examples of that. If the Bible is the true word of God and the promises given in scripture are of substance that applies to us today, then to say it depends on your interpretation limiting at best. What I mean is the almighty God is not the author of confusion but of peace; therefore Scripture will always back up scripture, would you agree? It's not going to speak out of both sides of its mouth so to speak.

If God is perfect and his Word reflects his character and nature then the scriptures should not be in error. If God goes against his word therefore he could not be God, why follow a liar. In fact God cannot lie for he is perfect would you agree?

Since God is outside of time and space and has laid out history in advance, according to scripture (over 300 prophecies of Jesus alone, and specific prophecies of nations of power, Babylon, meds/Persia, Greece and Rome Dan 7, to the nation of Israel, the Jewish people and even Yes even about the catholic church, and where it stands. Although the list goes on I will keep it short for sake of discussion) Then scripture should be solid despite the feelings, the interpretation or the very strong opinions such as Calvinism and or arminianism. Scripture should and does always back up scripture would you agree? The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed whereas the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed.

Would you also agree that those who teach are held to a higher standard? For Jesus was quoted in Matthew 18:6

But whoso shall offend (skandalizō)
One of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and [that] he were drowned in the depth of the sea

Luke 17:1-2
Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe [unto him], through whom they come!

Luk 17:2 It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.

Chris said...

And Jesus doesn't take false teaching lightly? That is why Paul exhorts Timothy to be diligent in his studies. I would absolutely agree that there are false teachers, or even fluff teachers who would rather have a feel good message than a message of truth. For water down truth doesn't do anybody any good. However can you base the whole "religion" on the false teachers who may or may not agree? Or specifically should I throw all the truth out because someone misrepresents it? Truth is truth no matter what. So the starting point would be Jesus and his words-Right? Even if there are different sects of Christianity there are two categories: Essential and non-essential. For example Non-essential Jesus had long hair and wore boxer briefs, honestly does that matter in the long run? However dealing with salvation: Essential - All roads lead to heaven, or only one road leads to heaven as Jesus said in John 14:6 - I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
If there are other ways to get to heaven beside Jesus then Jesus died in vain. To base true Christianity on the church or even the people you will find that people are fallible, but to start with the source ... not the church but rather Christ. The perfect Man God who bought us with a price. Jeremiah 17:5-9 if you look at the first pope (Peter) Even after Christ gave him the keys to the kingdom he makes an audacious statement and is called Satan. Granted he was speaking on faith and morals, this is also the same infallible pope that denied Jesus 3 times...seems interesting.

If the pope is the Vicar of Christ would he ever ask others to pray to their God for peace, or even pray to anyone else but him? John 16:24...

Catholics according to statement of faith believe in one God. Is the one God the same as the Bible reports or is He different? If the Lord your God is God of God's and Lord of Lords and is in fact the same God of the Bible would you also agree there are false God's proposed to be the one true God...The book of Mormon, the Koran, and thousands of others who claimed to the impossible task of being God. - Would you agree that?

Then why in 1986 the pope in basilica of St. Francis in Assisi Italy brought together the head of the religions to pray for peace. Having snake worshippers, fire worshippers, spiritists, Buddhist, Muslims, Hindu, North American witch doctors. The pope declared they were all praying to the same God, John Paul II allowed his good friend the Dalai Lama put the Budhist on the alter and have a Budhist ceremony. Is this not spiritual fornication which the Bible talks about?

You know there is a similar story in 1 king 18 where the prophets of Baal have a competition with the true prophet of the living God... Which do you think won... and what do you think happened. Would Jesus ever have anyone pray to any other God expect the one true God? For he is a very jealous God. If having one infallible leader it is easier to deceive millions then those who are students of the scripture and Test what the preachers say. Further more, the almighty God has given to us the Holy Spirit who will teach us in all things.

Chris said...

Moreover, how many times Jesus quoted the scriptures, when he was tempted by Satan in Matthew Chapter 4 what were the responses of Jesus? It is written man does not live by bread alone but by every word of God, It is written you shall not test the lord your God, It is written you shall worship the Lord your God. These were all quotes from Deuteronomy. When challenging the Sadducees he stated in Matt 22:29 Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. He also held the people accountable for the specific day when Daniel prophesied and judged them accordingly. Dan. 9:25-26, In Luke 19:41-44 Jesus wept... and stated if you, even you had only known on this day what would bring you peace-but now it is hidden from your eyes. It goes on to say your enemies will come upon you. And in fact that is what happened but one generation later.

Jesus also asked the young rich ruler of his interpretation of the scripture. Luke 10:26

Jesus the son of God has given us authority to interpret the scriptures, with that in mind scripture will always back up scripture.

I agree with you that you heart can't except what your mind has rejected, and it is true the word of God can be misused; however,
Two aspects you seem to have left out. For even though your trying to escape the interpretation of one church your simply replacing it with the interpretation of the catholic church who is equally if not more fallible. For the pope is still just a man despite his ostentatious presentation of who Christ is. Second, the power of the Holy Spirit to lead us and teach us in all things of God.

Mar 13:5 And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you:

Mar 13:6 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am [Christ]; and shall deceive many.

Similar to that of the Eucharist...interesting

I am sorrowful that you have willingly accepted the very thing to which Christ warns against and have neglected to do your own homework and search out the scriptures for they will not return void and in them you will find eternal life.

A book that might help in your exploration "a woman who rides the beast" by Dave hunt

Thank you for you time

Derek said...

To Mark.

The loss of priesthood authority does not mean that God does not love us, nor that God has left us alone.

There simply lacked the authority of God to definitively interprete scripture for everyone.

Dwight said...

David and family, welcome home! I, too, am a convert, but from the Southern Baptist tradition. My conversion was simultaneously painful and delightful, filled with much agony and joy. It was the hardest thing I've ever done, and was the best thing I've ever done. My extended family (parents, sibling, aunts and uncles, etc.) are totally scandalized, though, and my wife and children are suffering for it (family has already missed our children's baptisms and our oldest's first communion). I hope and pray your path into the Church is much smoother than ours, but if you do run into the occasional obstacle, keep the faith!

Christina said...

To Derek,

So if the authority died with the first apostles and was restored by Joseph Smith, what's to stop the new authority from having died with Joseph Smith being established again in another 1800 years?

Derek said...

TO Christina,

Like the Catholic Church, the Mormon Church believes in the concept of aposotolic succession. In the case of the Catholic Church, I do not believe Peter gave his apostolic authority to any Bishop of Rome, for this was only a later claim. Whereas Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery recieved his apostolic authority from Peter, James, and John who appeared to him, by the laying on of hands. He has since passed that authority along to others by the same way. Therefore, I believe the Mormon claim to apostolic authority is stronger than the Catholic claim.

If it was clearly documented that Peter gave his apostolic authority to the Bishop of Rome, then I my position would be more problematic. However, there is no evidence. The idea was a later development to boost the prestige of the Bishop of Rome.

Therefore, for an apostasy to occur today, the authority would have to not be passed on to another; or else, if God felt that the leaders of the Church were corrupt; he would have to remove them himself.

Christina said...

To Derek,

You said, "If it was clearly documented that Peter gave his apostolic authority to the Bishop of Rome..."

What qualifies as clearly documented?

Derek said...

To Christina,

Good Question.

One criteria I would suggest is that there was an eye-witness to the event.

The Bible often teaches what could be called "The Law of Witnesses." "In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established."

For example, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery both experienced and witnessed the reception of the apostolic authority from Peter, James, and John.

I know of no eye-witnesses to the event of Peter directly bestowing his apostolic authority to a successor by the laying on of hands. Hence, it appears to me as mere legend.

Christina said...

To Derek,

That's interesting, because there are many accounts from the first couple centuries that show apostolic succession. Surely it wasn't yet possible for it to be legend at that point:

Who were the eye witnesses for the laying of hands on Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdrey?

Derek said...

To Christina,

Perhaps greater clarification should be given. In the LDS tradition we make a distinction between an apostle and a bishop. A Bishop is a lower office of authority. Therefore, I do not dispute that Peter ordained bishops, or even the bishop of Rome.

But there is no evidence of him giving his apostolic keys of authority. The apostolic keys permit one to be a prophet, seer, and revelator like the prophets of old. Bishop is not the equivalent of an apostle.

To answer your question: Neither Joseph Smith nor Oliver Cowdery acted alone, they both witnessed the event together.

Though the evidence you provided is good, it still does not equate to direct eye-witness accounts by he who was ordained, or he who saw him be ordained.

Allan said...

Dear David and Family,

Eminent Protestant professor, Dr. Carl Trueman (Westminster Theological Seminary, Historical Theology and Church History), advises his students every year:

Christianity’s default position is the Roman Catholic Church.

Rome has a better claim to historical continuity and institutional unity than any Protestant denomination, let alone the strange hybrid that is evangelicalism.

Dr. Trueman’s bottom line:

Unless you wake up every day knowing why you’re a Protestant, you should do the right thing and become Roman Catholic.

Welcome home to the “default position”!

Pax Christi,

Allan Schwarb
PCA convert to Catholic Church (2007)

JoAnna said...


I've investigated the Mormon faith and find it extremely improbable. I do not see Joseph Smith as any sort of reliable prophet, and the Book of Mormon is very factually inaccurate and not supported by any non-Mormon archeological findings or evidence. See here, for example:

linda p said...


My heart is moved to ponder aloud: why is it when talking about Church Unity no one speaks about unifying the dates of Easter, when we know how Christ's Resurrection is celebrated by one part, while the other part is entering His Passion. The Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ is utterly divided and torn apart especially every Easter.

If we are One Body in Christ, we ought to suffer and lift Christ together, as one. We can achieve this by making the first step: UNIFYING THE DATES OF EASTER. The Orthodox use the Julian calendar and Catholics use the Gregorian calendar. We must pray for Church Unity in unifying the dates of Easter.

Jesus promised that if we do this, the Holy Spirit will come in full force and enlighten our intellect to show us how to proceed for Complete Unity and Peace in the Church so that He can enable us to fulfill Jesus' prayer, "Father, may they all be one in me, as I am One in You, so that the world may know that You sent Me."

The Holy Spirit can not act upon us if we remain divided because "If a kingdom is divided from itself, that kingdom cannot stand" (Mark 3:24). The Holy Trinity is perfectly united and One and this is what the Church, the members of the Body of Christ should be IN OUR HEARTS. By Unifying the Dates of Easter, we allow the Holy Spirit to do the rest IN Us.

Hear and listen to Our Lord:

“I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you,
but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.”
(1 Cor 1:10 RSV)

In the TRUE LIFE IN GOD messages, Jesus says,

“Brothers have you done everything you can to preserve the unity of My Body?” (March 10, 1990)

“Every Easter season I must drink of the cup of your division since this cup is forced on Me… …the more time passes for them to unite the dates of Easter, the more severe their sentence this generation will receive.”
(May 31, 1994)

"As the Father sent Me I am sending you, go now and meet your Brother and unite the dates of Easter, then I shall give you the gift of love and restore your sight,; I do not want you to perish in your own folly; double indeed is My grief; double My groaning; go and glorify Me by unifying the dates of Easter" (December 7,1994)


R.C. said...

It would be possible to reply to "Constantine" in kind; e.g. "At first I thought Constantine's post was legitimate, but as I went on I realized some Catholic poster was merely doing a send-up of what he saw as the illogical positions held with such naïve certitude by some Protestants."

That would be possible; it would perhaps be funny if well written; it would certainly make a legitimate point.

But it would be churlish rather than charitable. And Constantine's original post came across similarly: Churlish rather than charitable. We should always remember that it is possible for intelligent persons to be honestly wrong.

Constantine, to argue against someone, you ideally ought to follow Aquinas' example: Know his argument better than he does.

But you don't. The objections you raise are, yes, the kinds of things that a Presbyterian would have learned or considered. But they're also the first and easiest things to fall, when one begins to consider the arguments of either the Catholic or Eastern Orthodox expressions of Christianity. You raise them as if
Mr. Meyer, or Dr. Beckwith, would never have heard of them and would obviously, on hearing them, be stunned into silence. In reality they were long ago seen through, and if any uncertainty about the Catholic faith remains, it is on entirely different topics, which you have not raised.

In short, the game is currently being played out on the north-end thirty yard line; you're somewhere near the south-end ten looking around for the ball.

To join everyone else, you must learn where the game is currently being played; that is, to participate in the conversation, you must find out not only where it started, but how far it has progressed since its inception and what is being discussed now.

I recommend the following as a quick catch-me-up syllabus:

1. The New Testament was canonized in the late 300's. By whom was it canonized, and what were their opinions about the Eucharist, the Bishopric, Apostolic Succession, the Old Testament Canon, Sacramental Confession, Baptismal Regeneration, the number of Sacraments, and prayers for the dead?

2. The very first Christian in writing to propose using the same New Testament canon we use today was Athanasius ca. 375. What were his opinions on the topics listed above?


R.C. said...


3. Prior Christians had no fixed NT canon, though of course the learned had access to all 27 books we use today, plus the Didache, Hermas' The Shepherd, the letter of Clement of Rome to the Corinthians, and some other items which they now and again treated as canonical. Hebrews, Jude, John's Apocalypse, and other items we now consider canonical were treated as non-canonical. And, a majority of Christians could not read, especially laity. Those who could might have a small library containing a gospel or two and a few of Paul's letters; or, he might not.

Given that,

(a.) How did a person in AD 50, or 75, or 100 know what was correct Christian doctrine? If he wanted to get "authentic Christianity" and suspected he wasn't getting true doctrines from the pulpit, by what authority could he judge what he was hearing? (The apostles couldn't be everywhere.) If he happened to have a copy of Hebrews or Jude, how could he know to treat these as authoritative?

(b.) Same question, but for a lay Christian in AD 125.

(c.) Same question, but for a lay Christian in AD 150. Then, 200, 250, 300, 350.

By AD 400, of course, you could answer, "He could judge it by the Bible, including the New Testament." Assuming he could read, and had a copy, and was learned enough to understand a by-then outmoded form of Greek.

The issue here is to provide a workable standard for knowing the central doctrines of the Christian faith which could have functioned correctly at all times and in all places, and for which there is historical evidence of it having been actually in use by Christians at all times and in all places.

It has to work before the New Testament has been finished, when there isn't an apostle around. It has to work after the New Testament was finished, but when nobody yet knew what did and didn't belong in it (and when the brightest lights in your local area all opined it consisted of nothing more than the 4 gospels and the Didache).

It has to work after the apostle John has passed away, for a layperson who has no or minimal access to any Christian writings.

It also has to make sense of the behavior of the early Christians. Here are some questions along those lines:

4. The proto-counsel at Jerusalem met (Acts 15), made a decision, and issued that decision on the basis that "it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us." What? No citing Scripture? (They couldn't, because their ruling directly contradicted the only Scripture available at the time, the Old Testament.) They didn't cite Scripture, yet Christians regarded their ruling as authoritative? Why? What kind of authority did they have?

5. Matthias was chosen to replace Judas Iscariot, whose office of leadership was vacant because of his betrayal and death. What kind of office did Judas leave behind? If his office continued after his death, and had successors, why shouldn't the offices of the other apostles have successors?

...and so on.

I have no illusions that you yourself haven't already thought of some kind of answer to some of these questions. Perhaps all of them.

But look at your answers: Did anyone else give the same answers as you, to these questions, at any point prior to AD 1500? (Treat that as Question 6.)

If not, why not? (That's Question 7.) Surely the topics came up, over those 1500 years, right? (If they didn't come up...why not?)

When you have answers to these questions which could persuade an impartial person (say, a friendly atheist or Buddhist), then you're ready for the conversation as it now stands.

You'll have found the line of scrimmage.

R.C. said...

Regarding the LDS Church:

It is excellent in many ways.

It would indeed be persuasive, were there archaeological evidence and independent attestations for its historical claims.

Sadly, there isn't. To buy into it, one has to take on faith an awful lot of claims about what should be knowable history between AD 33 and the 19th century.

One also has to hold that persons such as Irenaeus and Polycarp and Ignatius of Antioch got some pretty significant doctrines entirely wrong, despite having not only learned Christianity from an apostle or a disciple of an apostle, but having been so well-catechized and deeply entrusted by that apostle (or those the apostle taught) that he was made bishop.

It is not, then, that LDS doesn't provide a relatively internally-consistent system (though folks such as Dr. Beckwith could offer criticisms in that department). It is more that it is entirely inconsistent with the last 1,900 years of history.

To be believable, a Christian tradition needs consistency both internally with itself and externally with the kinds of evidence that even atheist archaeologists find reasonable. I find that LDS hugely deficient in the latter area.

Mark Gordon said...

From another brother who crossed the Tiber 13 years ago, WELCOME HOME!

Theresa said...

But there is no evidence of him giving his apostolic keys of authority. The apostolic keys permit one to be a prophet, seer, and revelator like the prophets of old. Bishop is not the equivalent of an apostle.

hi Derek;

Christ gives Peter the keys in Mathew 16, where he also seems to be quoting Issiah 22-( I am going from memory so I may have the chapter wrong.) If Christ is quoting Issiah then it can be concluded he is giving Peter keys to an office which will have successors.

I of course think the catholic church is the Authoritative church or as the good professor calls it the default church. Having said that I maintain a high respect for the people of the Mormon faith who I have met.

Edith Humphrey said...

Dear David:

It is good to read your letter. I wrote a similar one last year when I was received into the Orthodox church. Would you like to correspond? (Thanks, by the way, for your comments on Charles Ray's blog).

Peace of Christ!
Edith M. Humphrey