- May 6, 2007 at 2:05 am #1664
The president of the Evangelical Theological Society has returned to the Catholic Church. The ETS is not, by and large, a Catholic-friendly institution (one of the founding members mentioned at a public Q&A that a particular phrase was included in the ETS statement of faith “because we didn’t want any Roman Catholics in the group”) and a number of people, I am not sure if they are members or not, have expressed gratitude that he has stepped down as president and removed himself from the executive council.
However, that is not the catalyst for this post (I would have similar feelings if, for example, a cardinal suddenly became Baptist).
The backstory: Several bloggers had somehow heard of the president’s reversion to Catholicism and posted their opinions even though he had not made his decision public yet. In response to this, the former president shared on his blog the story of what had brought him back to the Church, what he had planned to do about his position (he sent a letter to the executive committee asking them to decide whether he should remain as president or resign), and his formal resignation (since he could now see that would be best for the ETS).
In the comments on that post, one person left:
[quote:23g04f5l]Dr.Beckwith, I am very sorry to hear you are going back to Roman Catholicism. I was raised Catholic also but realized I can never get assurance of my salvation and that Justification through the sacraments in not biblical and falls under the anathema of Galatians 1:8,9. The Roman Catholic canon is different by including the apocrypha which was declared canon in 1563 at the council of Trent. Roman Catholic authority is the Magisterium, Tradition and Scripture, not Sola Scriptura. So the reason I would not go back to the Catholic church is because to them, Scripture is not sufficent to function as the infallible rule of Faith. They do not have the Gospel of Grace Alone through Faith Alone in Christ Alone based on Scripture Alone. Romans 3:28,4:3,5, 5:1,6:23,10:9-13.John 3:16,36,5:24,6:47, Gal 2:16,Eph 2:8,9,2Tim 3:15-17[/quote:23g04f5l]Reading this puts me in a quandry as far as giving the benefit of the doubt.
On the one hand, he could be trying to apologize Dr. Beckwith. But that would require him to believe that Dr. Beckwith is somewhat of an idiot such that he would not be aware of the issues.
On the other hand, if the person actually thinks and communicates that way, it is sad and scary. There is no evidence of independent thought, just rote recitation of stock “facts”.
Most of the other comments fall into three camps. The first are from Catholics welcoming Dr. Beckwith. The second are Evangelicals sad to see him go. And the last are people lamenting his rejection of the Gospel. It must be disheartening for someone who was so respected in the Evangelical Christian world yesterday to see how quickly these last have turned their backs on him and tritely consigned him to hell.May 6, 2007 at 4:14 am #8244
Apparently the writer believes that Dr. Beckwith must have been tricked by Satan.
One would think he would be aware of those issues. This could have been a great thing in that other Evangelicals start asking questions about how such a prominent person could switch. And then hopefully that would lead to the conversion of many others.May 6, 2007 at 5:37 am #8245
Sad indeed that they who deny that a priest in the confessional can judge that a someone is sincere about their sorrow for their sins, and if not moved to believe that remind the person in the confessional that remores for offending God is essential to a valid absolution, impose a penance, let alone absolve, by the autority of and in the name of Jesus. That a priest cannot in or outside of the confessional condemn someone to hell, yet they can.
I also like the misrepresentations that the Council of Trent which simply re-affirmed what former councils had held as the Canon, is labled again to be the decisive moment that the Canon of Scriptures was formulated. Another attempt to lie to the masses and make them believe that the issue of the Canon only came up in the 16th Century, or the assertion that Faith in Christ is not found in the Catholic Church. While we do believe that Christ has given us the Sacraments and the assistance of the Angels, and that those who have died in union with Christ also compose the Church and can advocate for us, they only do so because Christ Jesus through His cross has elevated their works, rather than believing that our works without the Graces of the Cross of Christ have any merit.
It is apparent to those who would see, the Christ(s) they teach are false Christ(s) based on the changes that each of their denominations (or each believer) have (has) made to what was believed and preached by the Apostles and the Early Church, which had been delivered to them by Christ Himself.May 7, 2007 at 12:06 am #8246
I find that the ignorance of the Catholic faith is almost overwhelming.
First I think it starts with your everyday Catholic in the pew. A lot of Catholics are not aware of the beauty of the Catholic faith. I think overall spiritual formation must be much more aggressive at the parish level.
There is a real Catholic hatred in some Protestant circles that rival religious fanaticism. The desire to accurately portray facts concerning the Catholic faith among the fanatical faithful simply does not exist.
We need to live the Catholic faith to display the beauty of the faith. We each have a “work” to do for the kingdom. A ‘work” that can only be realized by each one of us in fulfillment of being conformed into the image of Christ.
When we do not do that “work” the image of Christ is obscured in us and we are not fulfilled in our faith. The work of God is hindered.
There is a beauty of the faith that only we are able to do as a part of the Body of Christ.May 17, 2007 at 12:35 am #8324
Evangelical Leader Returns To Catholicism
Move Reflects Narrowing Gap Between Denominations
By Alan Cooperman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, May 12, 2007; B09
The president of the Evangelical Theological Society, an association of 4,300 Protestant theologians, resigned this month because he has joined the Roman Catholic Church.
The May 5 announcement by Francis J. Beckwith, a tenured associate professor at Baptist-affiliated Baylor University in Waco, Tex., has left colleagues gasping for breath and commentators grasping for analogies.
One blogger likened it to Hulk Hogan’s defection from the World Wrestling Federation to the rival World Championship Wrestling league.
“This is a sad day for all true sons and daughters of the Protestant Reformation, for all who lived and died for its truths,” Douglas Groothuis, a professor at the evangelical Denver Seminary, said in a posting on Beckwith’s own blog, adding sternly: ” . . . you are embracing serious theological error.”
Beckwith, 46, said in a telephone interview that he had expected some repercussions in academic circles but was stunned by the public response. He said strangers have called him at home to berate him, and that his Internet server was overwhelmed by 2,000 e-mails a day to his personal Web site, which in the past seldom generated more than 90 a day.
“It’s beyond anything I’ve ever experienced,” he said.
Beckwith is not the first, or even the most prominent, evangelical to switch to Catholicism in recent years. Others include Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), theologian Scott Hahn and the Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, editor of the journal First Things. On the other side of the equation, the Catholic Church has been losing droves of ordinary worshipers to the Pentecostal form of evangelicalism, particularly in Latin America.
Beckwith said his decision reflects how dramatically the divisions between evangelicals and Catholics have narrowed in recent decades, as they have stood shoulder to shoulder on issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage and school vouchers.
The stormy reaction, however, is a reminder of the gaps that remain, particularly on such theological questions as whether to baptize infants and how human beings gain “justification,” or righteousness in the eyes of God.
Beckwith said he was raised as a Catholic in Las Vegas and was “born again” as an evangelical during his teens, at the height of the countercultural “Jesus movement” in the 1970s. He earned a master’s degree and a doctorate in philosophy from Fordham University, a Jesuit institution, but then taught at Protestant schools, including Trinity International University and Baylor.
He said that for many years he agreed with the criticisms of the Catholic Church made by Martin Luther and other leaders of the 16th-century Reformation, who emphasized the authority of the Bible alone — rather than the pronouncements of church leaders — and who argued that justification resulted from the grace of God, not from good deeds.
But his thinking began to change, he said, as he read more deeply into Catholic theology, including works by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI. After studying Ratzinger’s book “Truth and Tolerance” last year, he said, he called a prominent evangelical philosopher, read him a passage about whether theology is really knowledge, and asked him to guess the author.
“He reeled off the names of a bunch of evangelical theologians,” Beckwith recalled. “I said, ‘No, it’s Ratzinger!’ And he said, ‘So he’s one of us!’ ” Beckwith said he was also deeply affected by a joint declaration in 1999 by the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church on the doctrine of justification, which he said went a long way toward eliminating this historical source of division.
“I do agree with Protestants that there is no good I can do, no work I can perform, that would justify me,” Beckwith said. “But there are many places in scripture that say there’s an obligation Christians have to take on the character of Christ, and that contributes to their justification. The Catholic solution is: I am required to take on the character of Christ, but it is not my power that does it, but God’s grace.”
Chuckling gently, Beckwith said that in discussions with fellow theologians over the past year, he suddenly found himself making “Catholic-type arguments” about natural law and truth, arguing that everything found in the Bible is true, but not everything that is true is found in the Bible.
“At the end of the day, the reason for the Reformation was the debate over justification. If that is no longer an issue, I have to be Catholic,” Beckwith said. “It seems to me that if there is not a very strong reason to be Protestant, then the default position should be to belong to the historic church.”
On his blog last week, he said he wrestled with whether to inform the Evangelical Theological Society immediately of his intention to return to Catholicism, or to wait until the end of his term in November. He said he and his wife prayed for guidance and received an answer when a 16-year-old nephew asked him to take part in his Catholic confirmation ceremony tomorrow. “I could not do that unless I was in full communion with the church,” Beckwith said.
Because Baylor does not require its faculty to sign any statement of beliefs, a university spokeswoman said, Beckwith’s change of heart will not affect his teaching post. And because he was baptized and confirmed as a Catholic in his youth, he did not have to undergo conversion — he simply had to go to confession and receive Holy Communion. He did so in a quiet ceremony April 29 at a small church in Bellmead, Tex
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