Sunday, September 20, 2009

Return to Rome

I just finished reading RETURN TO ROME: CONFESSIONS OF AN EVANGELICAL CATHOLIC by Baylor University Professor and former President of the Evangelical Theological Society, Professor Francis J. Beckwith.

Beckwith's book is very good and I would recommend it to everyone who is interested in conservative Evangelical Christians converting to Catholicism. Or, in Beckwith's case, re-verting to Catholicism. Beckwith describes how he was brought up in the Catholic Church but because of the slippery, loosey-goosey theology and catechism which was going on in the late 60's and 70's, he slipped away and joined an evanglical protestant group.

After describing why he left Catholicism in the first place, Beckwith then describes why he came back. The last chapter is devoted to refuting the position of the Evangelical Theological Society which pretty much threw Beckwith out and declared that no Roman Catholic can claim to be an Evangelical Christian. Evangelical meaning one who has a high view of sacred scripture and accepts the Bible as the Word of God. Beckwith forcefully refutes this contention, showing that without the Catholic Church there would be no Bible to begin with.

Beckwith has a couple of good quotes which are worth repeating:

"However, my conservatism, ironically, developed out of my liberalism. I was taught by my parents that one of the roles of government was to protect the "little guy" and to make sure that those not well off should be given a chance to succeed and make a decent living. But in my early twenties I began to notice that self-described liberals had no interest in protecting the littlest guy of all, the unborn, and that they often advanced policies that inhibited economic growth, and thus harmed those who most needed the wealth produced by free markets, the poor and underprivileged. So, for me, true liberalism is conservative, for it strives to protect and nurture, indeed conserve, those people, institutions, and practices that advance the common good and thus provide a framework for human flourishing."

I found this quote from Carl R. Trueman, Professor of Historical Theology and Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary fascinating:

"Every year I tell my Reformation history class that Roman Catholicism is, at least in the West, the default position. Rome has a better claim to historical continuity and institutional unity than any Protestant denomination, let alone the strange hybrid that is evanglicalism; in the light of these facts, therefore, we need good, solid reasons for not being Catholic . . ." Trueman then goes on to state why he has good reasons to continue to protest the Church of Rome and always will. They are just not good reasons. 'Nuff said.


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