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Discussion in 'Cults & World Religions' started by Backwoods Presbyterian, Jul 24, 2012.
I Fought the Church, and the Church Won - Called to Communion
While I will use google for this question but I would much rather read wiser men on this board who can respond;
The Reformed take on scripture is it is the final authority of God's word. He does not speak any new revelations to this day. This being Sola Scripture
The Catholic view is Solo? Does this imply the Catholics see the word of God as truth but not the final truth? Jason seems to make a stance against the scripture writings of Paul; does the Catholic Church deny the writings of Paul or not embrace them as they would the gospels?
Jason has forgotten his Bible passages.
This looks specific to me.
(Mat 28:18) And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
(Mat 28:19) Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
(Mat 28:20) Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
(Joh 10:16) And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
I am sorry but I could only read so far. This thing is so fraught with stuff he has forgotten and the Devil has taken away from him.
This is reminding me of the parable. Now I don't know Jason's mind nor heart but his words. But it appears he has forgotten a lot or he never read much of the scriptures even though he had to learn theology. They do go hand in hand. I fear for his soul and I am not going to speculate that he will go to heaven or hell. God knows. But he surely can't justify this move nor a lot of what is being said here if he truly did read the Bible. BTW, Calvin's institutes are full of the Church Fathers. Wow! Thought he was well read. Now he is imbibing too much on something he probably shouldn't be imbibing on. Sober up brother. It is time. We still love ya.
Reading Called to Communion, I am constantly impressed by these former Protestants' ability to forget the basics of our doctrine and faith. They curiously enough never weigh difficulties they encounter with Protestantism against even worse difficulties in Catholicism.
They seem to enjoy the fact that the Catholic church gets to do the hard work of interpretation of Scripture for them, but they refuse to address gross extrapolations of doctrines not to be found anywhere near Scripture (case in point: Mary the co-redemptrix).
They seem curiously silent on these points. Well, we'll pray that in God's grace he continues to work on the hearts and minds of Catholics and draw them to the gospel of grace. I have so many ex-Catholics in my life who are now Reformed Christians it's incredible!
I once spoke with a lovely lady, an RC coworker for a few days at a temp job, who after awhile began to speak about the differences between Protestants and Catholics. The biggest one she cited was that we could just pray anywhere at the drop of a hat, just walk into God's presence and address him. I explained that I think it is because we know Christ loves us. We look at the cross and see Him laying down His life for our salvation. When did Mary or any other saint do that? Why would we need to go to anyone else to get Him to think kindly of us, when He is the one who poured His life out in the greatest expression of love? We look at Him there suffering for our sin and know He has thought kindly of us from the beginning of eternity. We don't need an intercessor with God -- He is our intercessor. And so we can come to Him anytime knowing His heart is for us. I could see a light coming on in her eyes. She looked like she was going to try it at home.
Another RC girl I spoke with cited one of the differences being that we could be assured of our salvation. She was a very staunch, good Catholic, very unwilling to admit any lack in her faith. When I spoke about assurance of faith, she looked almost hungry and hunted. Again, she had an image of Mary in her car, and she prayed to the saints and to Mary.
When we moved into this house, there was a statue of Mary in the yard, and this prayer in the bedroom: 'Our Lady, the Mother of Fair Love, Thou unto the King of Kings wert a gate to earth and us. We must go to Christ through thee. We can reach him only thus.' This dear old lady died in this home with that on the wall.
I have been in Mexico and I doubt any of these people would be very proud of faith in many of its expressions there. But just taking my contact with American Roman Catholics, my heart breaks for people who wander in this direction. People can talk about all these things as if they were what our faith is in, rather than our faith being in Christ. When Jehovah's Witnesses came to my door I told them I wasn't even going to listen because I wasn't about to give up my Divine Lord, my only hope in life, the Lord I know who bought me with His blood, for anything they were peddling. And I *closed the door*. Why did Mr. Stellman not say that the day he was confronted with the claims of the Catholic church? Was he ignorant that they teach people to pray to Mary?
I can only think people are leaving assurance, peace, boldness before the throne of grace, the comfort of the love of God -- in leaving their first love. I pray Mr. Stellman will find himself unable to pray to anyone other than the Lord whose name he was baptised into.
This is a straw man in my estimation.
The Reformed do believe that the Church is important for understanding the Scripture. But the Church isn't infallible nor is it inerrant as the scriptures are. The Church is not the final authority. It is dependent upon its King and the Holy Spirit for understanding the Scripture. St. Paul tells the Ephesians as a congregation to be understanding what the will of the Lord is. 1 Corinthians 2 says the spiritual man only understands the things of the given to us by God. It is written for our edification and growth. All of Scripture is inspired. Not the Church. Wow!. I know those who think the Roman Catholic, excuse me, (some would prefer the one and only Catholic Church) have always interpreted scripture inerrantly. But if we examine their claims then we must also understand that even the Early Church made many mistakes. It even started with St. Peter who after he was told the Gentiles were clean returned to shunning them watching Judiazer's make them fall under self justification by circumcision again. Thank the Lord for St. Paul and the Council of Jerusalem who had to deal with the issue. It was handled in a Presbyterian way I must say. At least it appears that way according to Acts 15. I am grateful the Lord said the gates of Hell will not prevail. I actually don't think the Church ever went away and that it took many detours and had to have many warnings as Chapter 2 of Revelation states even back in the day. The Church is not inerrant but it is Victorious in Christ. Revelation chapter 2 proves this.
Dear Jason: the Church Won? You Didn't Even Throw a Punch, My Friend
I don't think I can say this definitively or dogmatically, but when I see folks leave the sure mercies in Christ's person us-ward as revealed in His word for the formulas of receiving "grace" through observing the Roman "sacraments" – "grace" dispensed by the RC organization – I say, "Can these people truly have known the Savior's person, known His heart toward them, to exchange it for a formula?"
While living in a Greek Orthodox country many years I observed that some people found it easier to obey numerous intricate rituals and austerities of religion rather than simply rending the heart, owning our helplessness and utter dependence, and casting ourselves upon His sure mercies and undeserved favor – given freely to those who so trust Him. The flesh works to please Him; the spirit simply cleaves to Him.
Does anyone know if Mr. Stellman ever sought guidance from within PCA leaders?
Am I the only one that expects within ten years to hear that Stellman's is a committed agnostic? I don't think the guy has the respect for and submissive attitude toward authority over him that will be expected of him as a member of the Romanist church...
I do know this--that the party in question met with prominent and able men from his seminary who sought to dissuade him and rather than listening to his professors assayed to instruct them.
I've commented here before about the dangers of an overly objective view of the Christian faith and Church, one that downplays the ministry of the Holy Spirit, an ecclesiology that swallows up soteriology--this and other matters are involved in such defections. There's a difference between faith and sight and without true faith, believing and trusting in that which we do not see, there are those who fall away. We had an alumnus who did it and left the OPC. It was not what he was taught. WSC has had this now (and one before graduating).
It's heartbreaking--and reminds me all that much the more what I must be doing in helping to train our students. The soundest of institutions have had men do this, pointing to the sort of thing that Steve raises in #8 and the necessity of the work of the Holy Spirit.
Noting the link above to James White's blog and White's comments there--while he is not a PCA pastor, I think his counsel was quite pointed and any good PCA pastor would have said as much.
Jeremiah 2:11-13, 19
Ironically, another convert to Rome, Francis Beckwith, has coined a term that captures the spirit of the age: "egopapism." Veith defines it "as the belief that you yourself are your own infallible religious authority."
We live in an era when all too many see themselves as their own religious authority. Retreating to Rome will not solve the problem for such as these. It will only exacerbate the tendency to reject confessional boundaries.
I pray that God will show mercy on this man's former congregation in this trying time and that this man will repent of this wickedness.
I was accused of this by a Catholic tonight because of this thread. He also accused the Reformers of such. Then he made a comment, "No, I believe that Catholic ecclesiology makes better sense of scripture and history" I turned to the topic of whether the Church was innerrant and I asked, "So you decided they have always been inerrant from history past? From the Popes decisions?"
He responded with, "I'm not sure what you are asking about it being inerrant. the Church is not impeccable but its dogmatic definitions are inerrant, yes."
My position was that he had to come to place and say "I believe." He was the one who decided what he believed and as an autonomous reasoning being he trusted in something with a faith. I am not so sure he could understand that. Either way the conversation ended up going in this direction next.
As a side note let me put this observation here. If the Q'ran claims the same should we just follow it? Why or why not? Are we not called to test the spirits?
Now for the next thing.
I first tried to responded to some of his claims by responding to the below statement by Jason.
The conversation just went on about sacraments and context of scripture. It is sad that we have to deal with this issue and sin. It is sad that the idolatry we have in our hearts just wants to arise and destroy the truth and simplicity found in Christ. I am not out to offend anyone. I have friends on all sides of life and we get along very well. They know I love them personally and that it isn't based upon their holding to Christ. It is based upon my Union with Christ and obeying him by loving those who are not like me, as the Father does.
Anyways, I have been studying all day and this evening. I am tired. I need to go to bed. Be Encouraged guys.
Assuming that his rejection of what he thinks is Reformed doctrine is settled--I hope it isn't but let's say it is--Was I the only one hoping he'd turn Orthodox or Anglican? I'm really sympathetic to what a paradigm shift does to a person (it's not easy to argue between traditions) but from what I read of his earlier stuff, the points about which he has the most issue put him...well...in the good graces of most churches outside more confessional Reformed churches. Didn't he just become a high-church Arminian? Why Rome?
It's rather strange to see educated folks reject a certain modern, individualistic, congregational form of Christianity that thinks Christianity began around 1500, and then... they agree to papal infallibility, intercessory prayer, purgatory, damnation upon dying in a state of mortal sin, etc.? Doesn't seem to follow.
Apart from the theology - why would any sane person want to join a cult whose senior officials seem to be locked in a serious, no holds barred, power struggle. I would have thought that the revelations as to the number of priests who spied for the Polish communist government - not to mention the 6800 priests under suspicion of child sex abuse in the USA alone - might also give pause for thought as to the moral soundness of the RCC.
Ken, I don't know. As one who sat in the RCC (consciously) for 35 years and gradually came, only by God's grace, to know how evil it was (if not the full extent of that evil), I'm perhaps further from understanding how one could go the other way than others are. The Lord will have mercy upon whom He will, and others He will leave in the misery of a cult. To some He will give eyes to see and ears to hear and to others, He will not. It's all of grace, obviously -- unmerited grace at that. It's only by His gracious looking with favor upon some of us that we become squeamish at the very thought of attending mass again, whether for a family event or whatever, or that we can't even look upon expensive "gift" rosaries that have been shoved to the bottoms of drawers we seldom look into, etc. Stellman's embrace of Rome was always "in the works" in God's eyes, as conversely, was the salvation of each one of us, whether we came out of Rome or not. I praise Him today as always, for He has loved each of us here with an everlasting love. If Stellman is also loved, he'll be back within the true church in God's timing; if not, well, God's will has been done.
I also kind of hoped that. Partly because I always enjoyed the EO's aesthetic more than the RC and probably because I have a disproportionate dislike of the RC. I am so exposed to the RC on a daily basis (went to a RC college and work at an RC hospital crucifixes in every room), that on top of disagreeing with it theologically I just do not like it because I think it is tacky, hopelessly superstitious and sentimental. So I can share in that bizarre feeling that I wished he walked away from the faith and into something cooler.
The interesting thing is that I haven't heard anything from any of the faculty of his seminary. I wonder why they haven't said much. Interesting fact is that there was another guy who went to a certain reformed seminary (recently) and came to the conclusion that Rome was right. Is there something in the milk? What should one do if this young man was seeking counsel but didn't receive any?
Let's all just put the genetic fallacy to rest here. If there was a true pattern of men leaving one seminary, it might be reason to reevaluate within and without the institution. BTW, I happen to know that a SINGLE man going off the reservation gets his mentor's and past supporters worked up almost inevitably into a frenzy of self-examination. "Was it something I said...or didn't say?"
The fact is that even several men going off together or serially doesn't of itself prove anything about the school that trained them. While I think it highly unlikely, given the investment involved, it is not impossible that some men go get a theological education at a Reformed institution in order to make a "splash" in about 10 years, doing things like this. It's not impossible, because in essence that's the path that ScottHahn took. Read his and his wife's little biopic, and you can see how he started at WTS with a trajectory out of the Reformed faith.
Do I believe there's a big conspiracy to embarrass Reformed Seminaries? No, but the fact that one or two guys, from one school, in a year or two go off in the same direction proves nothing at all about the school. And the fact that there was another guy from another conservative school did the same thing also proves nothing. If it hasn't happened in every school yet, just give it some time.
Finally, don't assume that no one tried to talk these guys out of their moves, just because you may not have heard anything. I know that JJS had talks with his profs and his session. The session has basically two choices: they can work with their pastor to help him if they think its worthwhile, and the people won't suffer any worse no matter what happens. Or they can tell him immediately to resign, because the next step is a congregational meeting, followed by seeking the Presbytery's consent--and he's gone. He will not win that fight.
JJS's session seems to have taken taken the first route, and to his credit JJS brought himself to his Presbytery when he says his mind was too far away from his vows. The dude in PA was more of a prevaricator, who hid his intentions pretty much right up to the end, kept preaching and taking a paycheck, until he bailed--having already joined himself to Rome. He left a stinkbomb behind, and a lot of shattered trust. Regardless of how a man leaves, how does it feel to be a church that called "the wrong guy," in a manner of speaking?
Bottom line: we need to stop all public queries about the integrity of the men's schools, sessions, presbyteries, and others. The issues are fundamentally individual and spiritual. In some cases, these men are honest, and find themselves changing and getting consistent with their deepest convictions. Sometimes they are dishonest, perhaps first with themselves, then with others. These very same events have happened since the 1500s in every place. The profiles of the men are different. In a smaller set of churches, the effect of a departure is magnified, as is such a move in the age of internet-instant communication. These things are (thankfully) unusual, but they aren't unheard-of. These recent events are a reminder to us of that fact, and of how vulnerable the church is, if Christ is not our watchman on the wall.
I agree with that to a certain point, but if said departing seminarian says "Hey, this professor said 'x' in seminary!" then at the very least it should be examined. You're right that seminaries are too quick to be blamed, but at the same time error can and (as we have seen in the history of the church) does enter them. Seminaries are made up of men, and men are not infallible.
I think the point is that ultimately we are responsible for our own theology. In the same way that many of us on this board went to liberal or Arminian schools, and yet went on to reject those things, many men will go to solid, conservative seminaries and equally reject those things despite what they may or may not hace been taught. I think it also ironic that this only causes concern when it happens at a reformed seminary. No one is going to call up New Orleans seminary and demand an explanation as to why David Platt is a Calvinist.
Yes, and since this (to my knowledge at least) is NOT something that can be applied to this case, then there is no reason whatsoever to make the above statement, and the appropriate thing is to follow Pastor Bruce's advice.
I hope it didn't come across as if I was suggesting anything of the sort. I whole heartedly believe this seminary is a great seminary, including the faculty. The men within that faculty are very godly men. I think my choice of words were wrong. Sorry for any confusion in my statement.
It appears that the link posted above was removed from the Called to Communion site at Jason's request. He has not explained why. I am not at all sure why Jason has found it necessary to make this a public process. I don't see how this can be of help to his family or former congregation. He could have met with his congregation and submitted his letter of resignation quietly, but he has (IMO) taken a much more self-serving route.
I think Rev. Buchanan's post addresses the issue well, but wanted to answer a few questions that arose in this thread directly:
1) I can say with certainty that Jason consulted with both WSC faculty and alumni (many his friends and former classmates). A meeting took place on our campus shortly before he announced his resignation from the PCA. As far as the perceived silence of the WSC faculty on this issue, I don't get it. Dr. Horton has posted a few things at the White Horse Inn Blog. Dr. Clark has re-posted some blog posts/articles on his page at Westminster Seminary California. Our faculty positively defends the Reformed Confessions at every opportunity and regularly contrasts them with the teaching of Rome in the classroom. They are very concerned about these situations. I am not sure what more needs to be said.
As an aside, I think that it is interesting (though troubling) that far more often graduates of theological seminaries leave the ministry due to moral failings than theological ones. Each can be quite devastating to congregations, yet these theological defections seem to receive much greater attention (within Reformed circles at least). Do we have a greater obligation to respond because this is a theological failing?
2) I should also make it clear that these two recent WSC grad transitions to Rome are quite different (besides the fact that they were enrolled at WSC nearly 10 years apart). Although Mr. Lim was in good standing as a member of a Reformed Church when he arrived at WSC, it is quite apparent from his explanation of his conversion that he was questioning the Reformed/Protestant Faith before he arrived at WSC. To my knowledge, he did not disclose any of these concerns to the faculty until he had made a decision to join the RC church. At that point many did reach out to him, but he could not be persuaded to reverse his course. You will also noticed that Mr. Lim did not mention in his post the seminary from which he graduated. I am sure this was added by the folks at CTC for effect.
3) One of the troubling things about this situation, in my opinion, are the responses. It is the "confessionalism" or "Two Kingdoms" or an "Over-emphasis on ecclesiology" or a "a Lutheran view of Justification." We all want to know why, but none of the quick explanations that have been showing up on blogs since Jason first announced his resignation come close to getting at the complexity of this situation. If you look at the list of contributors at the Called to Communion site you will several former Presbyterians (from many denominations) and a variety of seminaries. It is impossible to point to any particular theological or educational defect that unifies these situations.
I think the lure of Rome has to do more with comfort and stability of being in a large, unshattered (as oppose to Protestant's many denominations, and organized church that 'claims' to have roots as the 'true church.' Of course I can't say for each individual one but it seems likely that they aren't necessarily one of so much theological motive (praying to mary, saints, etc. etc.) as that stability rather than saying your a protestant who has many different factions that supposedly ignore unity and people are their own popes and ignoring supposedly age old ecclesiastical tradition in regards to scriptures amongst the many other things (at least as is seen to those on the outside).
I could be wrong, but that seems why people are also lured to Eastern Orthodox and their doctrine seems farther off (more mystical) than RCC.
Depends on who you ask...history or Rome.
We have had several people who were members on the board jump ship for pastures that seem rather definitely less green. We have to recognize that those who are unstable and vulnerable will probably show that at some point, in one way or another. What else can we do? And let us learn to exhort one another daily, while it is called today, lest any of us be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
We stand by grace; if God did not preserve us, there is no doctrine so unbiblical, no cult so absurd, that it could not take us in. Let us take heed lest we fall.
I edited my post, I mean in the sense, not fractured in the way us protestants are...if you read the rest of my post I make that clear, and of course not trying to bash myself or other protestants. But I believe some 'vulnerable people' as Py3ak says would rather want unity no matter the cost and buy into that whole 'true church' thing.
I apologize if that seems abrasive.