Monday, November 08, 2010

Beggars All: Reformation And Apologetics: “We are the Church” according to Calvin, and it is Rome that needs to repent and return to the truth

Beggars All: Reformation And Apologetics: “We are the Church” according to Calvin, and it is Rome that needs to repent and return to the truth

56 comments:

Christine said...

http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2009/10/stanley-hauerwas-on-reformation-sunday/

Christine said...

I encourage everyone to read the original exchange between Carl Trueman and Bryan Cross of Called to Communion, both of whom are total class acts in how they express themselves. It's all quite misrepresented on Beggars All. Commenter Steelikat mixes it up with Bugay et al, adding some refreshing Christian charity and humility.

John said...

The thing I like about called to communion is the level of civility one sees in the comments on that blog, something often lacking on the beggars all blog.

John said...

Christine,
I just say your comment on Beggars All. Just a warning, prepare for them to attack you. Best to sometime ignore their rudeness.

John said...

Here is an iteresting account of a few that have decided to return to Rome.

http://catholicquestioning.blogspot.com/2010/11/anglican-wisdom.html

Christine said...

Thanks for the advice. You're right, they are scary-mean. I just really liked that spunky, funny Steelikat. I'll stay away.

Jennie said...

I haven't read all the comments yet, but what made you think they were mean? What I did read didn't give me that impression.

Christine said...

I think they're sarcastic and arrogant pretty much always - sorry to say. I've been following that blog and TurretinFan very occasionally for quite awhile, much longer than yours. The portrayal of the Carl Trueman/Bryan Cross discussion is a perfect example. Twisted nastily beyond recognition. Called to Communion shows how it can be done - and I as much as anyone need to heed that example.

I've unintentionally offended you with my comments about this in the past, so I'll leave it there.

Jennie said...

I have noticed in the past on TF and Beggar's All that sometimes there is sarcasm and what I would call rudeness, but I kind of put it down to me being oversensitive. All of the posters don't do that, though. I have noticed one or two Catholics that are very rude and sarcastic as well on those blogs. From what I read so far, I also liked SteeliKat's comments.

Christine said...

The postings themselves are usually combative in tone and ascribe ignorance/malice/stupidity to Catholics. You're right, definitely not all the commenters are nasty - but mostly! And I don't doubt that one or two Catholics are rude as well :)

Again, I think it's even more evident when you look at Called to Communion and how that is conducted. I don't say that because it's Catholic - I'm sure there are Protestant sites as well that seek to engage in fair-minded, respectful, constructive and common-ground-oriented dialogue with Catholics. Beggars All and T-fan are not that!

There are Protestants with great blogs that can be appreciated by everyone. They are not the ones who target Catholics day after day after day after day after day . . .

Jennie said...

I have gotten the impression over time on these blogs that in dealing with certain Catholic Apologists and those who want to be seen as apologists, that the Reformed bloggers have gotten used to being sarcastic and combative with these sarcastic and combative Catholics. I'm not talking about the Called to Communion ones, who mostly are very civil from what I've seen, but about a few 'official' Catholic Apologists who have been around for a while, and also one or two that like to pretend to be apologists but only succeed in being obnoxious. One is Matthew Bellisario, who frequented both blogs for a while, and who I though should have been called 'Matthew Belligerent'. He always called protestants 'prots' and was very annoying.

Jennie said...

I'm not saying that 'the Catholics started it.' I'm saying that both sides have gradually adopted this type of communication from dealing with each other. I don't know who started it.

Christine said...

King Henry the VIII. He started it.

Jennie said...

Oh dear. Don't get ME started on that! :)

Christine said...

Yeah - let's not go there!

I have read and re-read your excerpt from Merton re:suffering. Very profound - thinking of showing it to my husband, who is medium-depressed, and certainly suffering. I plan to think on that passage more because there is so much there to unpack, and I see there some things I need to apply in my life.

Jennie said...

I thought Merton's statement about suffering was very helpful too. It's very simple, but profound, and remembering it is helping me to focus on a persistent problem that I have had all my life of avoiding suffering and not submitting to God in that area. As I said under that post, I have been learning bit by bit to submit and trust, knowing that God works everything for good "for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose."

Christine said...

Jennie - it was cool how you questioned them on Beggars All, with your Catholic readers in mind. Nice!

Please indulge me in a Steelikat comment that had me laughing out loud. He'd accused the Beggars All commenters of disrespect and gotten some blowback. Here's his response to the crabby person with the handle of Truth Unites . . . and Divides, who had asked Steelikat "Are you the judge of what is disrespect?"


steelikat said...
Truth,

I've thought of another way to answer your question:

Here's the question again, rephrased for rigor and clarity:

Is it true that the person who uses the handle "steelikat" on blogger is the person who is assigned the task of determining for all the other people in the world whether their behavior is respectful?

What assumption necessarily underlies that question? Simply this: That their exists a person who has been assigned the task of determining for all the other people in the world whether their behavior is respectful.

If that assumption is true, it could be the fact that I just happen to be that person, but how likely would that be? About a one in seven billion chance (since their are seven billion people in the world). So if we take the underlying assumption to be true, the answer to your question would be "not likely, there's only a one in seven billion chance of it."

But what if the underlying assumption is false? I submit that obviously it is false, most normal people know how to behave respectfully, they learn that in childhood, and it doesn't even occur to them that they need to seek out some "judge" of behaving respectfully in order to know how to do so. If that is the case, your question is meaningless and unanswerable--the only response is the one I gave you: you have to learn on your own how to behave respectfully, you aren't going to have a "judge" you can call to help you, and until you do that you ought to avoid interacting with other people.

Leo said...

It's funny, but I read the comments as well and agree that Steelikat has an objective approach to Faith. He does not fit the mold of most of the rest of the posters from what I read.

Interestingly enough, there seems to be a real egoism as if a number of these posters have done such extensive research that they know what the Church is really all about. The problem is that Jesus said that "unless you come as a child, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven."

Most of them seem to miss the fact that there are no small children who claim to be scripture scholars. Once a person has deeply experienced Mary, Jesus in the Eucharist, etc., they can never leave the Church unless they choose to turn from God.

What is sad to me is that those like John B. think they knew the Church but are simply mistaken. It is almost like listening to an outsider telling me what my family is like when I know that the person really does not know. They may be dealing with anecdotal evidence but missing the real people.

Many of them on that site also display an actual bitterness that I can't seem to put into words, but the love of God just seems to be missing.

Heck, I could write books about all of the things that have been wrong in the Church. Those who spend their lives accusing the Church of the evil actions by its members would be wise to consider the following: Satan constantly accuses us of our sins before God... That should give pause to think.

Jennie said...

Christine,
I enjoyed reading Steelikat's comment above and his others. He's got a different perspective than the others which is helpful to the conversation. I haven't had time to read all the conversation yet, since I've been occupied with other things lately. I was gone all day yesterday, and will be busy the rest of the weekend, so may not be able to answer all the comments until later. I apologize for that.

Jennie said...

Leo,
I'm not sure, but I think what may be happening in the blogs in question is a narrowing of attitude and thought that comes from dealing with the same people and the same subjects for a long period of time. But I've seen the same thing in the Catholic apologists and commenters as well. I've seen it in myself also, from being focused on this narrow subject for so long. Of course, because the blog world is an insulated world, we are also not seeing what is going on in the real lives of those we speak to, and so it's possible we're reacting on a basis of misunderstanding because of incomplete knowledge, which is actually what you are saying about them in regard to the Church. Yet, you are not seeing them and their church completely either.
Another thing that I wonder about is whether maybe they have come to be antagonistic out of self-defense, because if one get's too close one may let one's guard down. I sometimes feel the same way. If we believe the truth is at stake, then it's important to be on guard, but also to show love. It's hard to balance that.

Christine said...

I think that you, and all of us here commenting, try to show love. We may fail at times, but we try - and, more importantly, we think it matters.

I do not see that effort, nor do I see the value of love expressed, in the other places we have been discussing.

Christine said...

Beggars All is especially mocking and patronizing today (Nov 14). :(

John - it's taking all my strength not to comment there!

Jennie said...

Christine,
are you talking about the new post on the Pope, or the continued comments on the post about 'disrespecting Rome'?
I think the continued discussion is interesting, as much as I've read, and goes along with some things we've mentioned in comments here the past few days.
The post about the pope I glanced through but haven't read carefully. It does have a silly tone to it, and is apparently saying the pope's personal beliefs are kind of 'out there' and not orthodox. I can see that the tone might be offensive to you. I think John B. is trying to be lighthearted about it. Maybe it would be better to just state it seriously, since it is a serious thing if the pope is in error even according to RCC doctrines.

Christine said...

Yeah, I'm speaking of the latest post, not the comments of the other discussion. The very kindest way I can say it is that the author certainly does not have a self-esteem problem. Wow. Well, I guess the "nibby nobby nooby" is symbolic of his whole approach. There, I've vented.

Jennie said...

Christine,
I do agree with John B's evaluation, though I could have done without the goofy song lyrics.

Christine said...

Yes, I saw your comment there. Jennie, you are agreeing with someone's BLOG, where they can say anything, edited however they want.

You are endorsing a site that each and every day searches for a way to mischaracterize, mock and parody the Church. And you're all good with it.

You realize, my intention is not to make this pope, or any pope, look good in any way ;-)
The adorable wink notwithstanding, all is revealed in this statement of John B. Oh, at Beggars All, we are so lighthearted and fun!


So you are qualified to evaluate Teilhard de Chardin (it's so nice that John tells us dumb folks how to say "Shar-dan"), and you are qualified to judge Pope Benedict like this: It sounds like one of those science fiction movies or books where some cold-hearted alien is describing human behavior and development from the outside looking in, without any understanding or empathy, not that the Pope is a cold-hearted alien, but that is how it strikes me

I'm sad and disappointed. Yet again.

Jennie said...

Christine,
I'm not sure what I have to do to be 'qualified' to evaluate de Chardin or Pope Benedict. I'm only giving my impression of his tone, which is the same impression I always get when I read his writings. And I think de Chardin is considered unorthodox by the Church, isn't he?
I'm not at all in sympathy with the pope, or the Jesuits to which de Chardin belonged. I'm not in sympathy with many of the teachings of the RCC. I never will be. I agree with quite a bit of what John B. says, though sometimes he and others there may have a weird sense of humor and sarcasm that I know you find offensive. I'm not sure how to judge where the line is on the use of humor against someone in power, though I speak out in some cases that strike me.

Leo said...

And, by the way, Cardinal Ratzinger was not protected from teaching error until he became Pope Benedict XVI. The Holy Spirit preserves the office from ever teaching error. A person is not protected until he assumes the office.

Christine said...

De Chardin and Benedict have written SO MUCH! Beggars All takes a scrap, interspersed with nonsense, just to maintain his vilification of the Church that keeps him secure in his arrogant know-it-all stance.

Jennie, you just cannot condone it. Who does that? What would you think of me if I had a blog that EVERY DAY quoted some protestant out of context, caricatured and amused myself with ripping and twisting YOUR brand of Christianity. What if I decided that Dietrich Bonhoeffer (I could include a pronunciation key with that) was not Catholic and so I will find a misleading quote of his, post it, spread it, vilify him - WHY would anyone do this? It is wrong, it is an unholy alliance and bad example for you to ally yourself. Unless you are a very different person than I thought. And that could be, because I've been told I'm kind of a Pollyanna. Please just think about it - the lack of charity and love.

Jennie said...

Christine,
don't forget that I didn't link to that particular post, and don't link to all the posts at Beggars All. You brought it to my attention. If someone is a friend, one tends to overlook some of their idiosyncrasies, but someone not in sympathy, as you are not with John B. and the others there, tends to see everything in a bad light. I will take what you have said into account, and that's one main reason I don't link to all their posts.

Jennie said...

I don't know what kind of person you think I am, but I'm kind of a naive and sheltered person in some ways, except that I have a brother who has a very sarcastic sense of humor (the Catholic brother, by the way) and I have learned to appreciate that sort of thing, maybe too much. So sometimes I am very sensitive and kind, but then it might be overridden by something that strikes me funny. Maybe not a good thing always.

Christine said...

I love sarcastic humor. That's why I thought Steelikat was hilarious. I feel like the "Hey - just joshin' around" doesn't really describe at all what is happening there.

I appreciate that you do have reservations and that you have heard me out.

I am interested in the fact that you agree with Beggars All, "except the Calvinism". Isn't that a pretty big divide? What would you say are your most important stands that oppose Calvinism?

Jennie said...

Without looking it up to remember the '5 points of Calvinism' I disagree on limited atonement and irresistible grace, and I'm not sure about total depravity, unconditional election, and perseverance of the saints. Not sure because on total depravity I don't really know what it means and hear different definitions of it; on unconditional election I think maybe since God foreknows who will believe, He elects those who will believe; on perseverance of the saints I think that it is possible for someone to become apostate and defect from the faith, but maybe maybe those who persevere are the only ones who truly believed in the first place.
I think that we can't really understand election and predestination fully, and that it is an issue that we should leave unresolved as far as scripture leaves it unresolved, and show love and forebearance toward each other on our different perspectives on this.

Christine said...

If scripture "leaves unresolved" the question of whether or not we can lose our salvation, and whether we have free will or are predestined, and whether we are unregenerate or sanctifiable, then in your view, Jesus intent was that these are eternally open question?

They seem to me to be of crucial importance, and that only one version can be true, and that truth matters.

The love and forbearance go without saying and have nothing to do with, although there is precious little of that around for Catholics.

Jennie said...

then in your view, Jesus intent was that these are eternally open question?

They seem to me to be of crucial importance, and that only one version can be true, and that truth matters.


No, I don't believe they will be an eternally open question. I believe God gives us the knowledge He wants us to have, and withholds what He doesn't want us to have, or what we can't understand yet.

Truth matters, but is it really necessary that we understand everything about predestination and election, or is the incomplete understanding a way that God asks us to trust in Him, and to love each other in spite of our different views?

Christine said...

God doesn't want us to know whether or not we can lose our salvation? But it doesn't really matter?

Jennie said...

I think it's unclear so that we can seek the answer and not be complacent about it. It certainly matters whether we can lose our salvation, but I think it's better that it's unclear.
Here's one for you: God doesn't want us to have assurance of salvation? But it says in 1 John 5:13 "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God."

Christine said...

I love those kind of questions. I have to get off the computer for the night and tend to things, but we'll get into it tomorrow. I dare to hope that we may actually have some common ground on this one.

Hope others will respond as well.

Christine said...

I think we'll find common ground because we've agreed before that all of scripture has to be taken into account.

Even in the I John passage you've cited, there's a prayer "that you may continue to believe", acknowledging that you might not!

There are many passages that give us a beautiful confidence and hope in eternal life.

But then there are those others, like:
Make no mistake about this: no fornicator (those who have sex before marriage), no unclean or lustful person - in effect an idolater - has any inheritance in the kingdom (heaven) of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with worthless arguments. These are sins that bring God's wrath down on the disobedient.[Ephesians 5:5-6; NAB]

And Paul "working out his salvation with fear and trembling". More Paul: "For if we deliberately sin after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful prospect of judgement." [Hebrews 10:26-27]. Certainly Paul was a faith-filled Christian - but he didn't have "assurance".

He had, and we should have, the virtue of hope. If we have assurance, there's no need for hope.

What about "Forgive our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us"? Yikes.

Not sure of the citation, but there's a verse about "there is sin that leads unto death" - aka "mortal" sin. Catholics believe that sin is only "unto death", i.e. losing your salvation, if you KNOW that your action (or inaction, I suppose) is seriously wrong, you are in your right mind, AND you know that in this sin you are choosing to reject God.

I was raised with the "once-saved, always-saved" idea. It always bothered me. I've heard some Christians say that if a "saved" person falls into serious sin, that proves they were never really saved in the first place. The infamous Candy used to always say that as her "cover all the bases" answer.

God created us to be free, and apparently wanted his children to choose Him freely.

Even though Catholics are often accused of feeling they have to please God with works, etc., and live in fear, that has never been an emphasis I hear as a Catholic. We don't talk about salvation quite like evangelicals do. Frankly, the sermons we hear in church are always based on the scripture readings for that Sunday, and we go through the whole Bible on a 3-year cycle, so we hear about salvation roughly as often as it appears in scripture, if that makes sense.

My evangelical pastor was a fantastic preacher, and I miss that sometimes. However, he picked and chose his topics, and there was much of scripture that I never heard. We only heard the passages that imply eternal assurance.

Jennie said...

He had, and we should have, the virtue of hope. If we have assurance, there's no need for hope.

I always think of hope not as "I hope I'll go to heaven" but as "Christ has begun a good work in me, and I know that He will finish it, so I look forward to that future with hope and faith." I do believe we can have assurance of salvation and that Paul's teaching doesn't contradict that.
I do agree that we must persevere in our faith, not on our own power but by the grace of God, continuing to live by faith as we began by faith. All is by grace, and all is by faith, like in Hebrews 11. Faith isn't saying a prayer to escape the fear of hell and then forgetting about it and living for ourselves.
It's true that in many evangelical churches, there is not an understanding of the Christian life being a continued walk of faith in which we are being perfected and must persevere. It's true that this is often because of the belief in a very shallow form of 'once saved always saved' which probably is aggravated by the narrow view of scripture that many have, which you mentioned above also. I tend to forget that aspect of many evangelical churches because my husband is constantly studying all through scripture and talking about it, and my pastor uses lots of scripture passages from all over the Bible too when he preaches. There are shortcomings in all churches, and we all have things to learn and improve on.

Christine said...

So "assurance of salvation" means something different than "once saved, always saved"?

I am using "assurance of salvation" to mean that you cannot lose your salvation even if you choose to reject God after initially coming to faith.

Perhaps that is not the definition.

Jennie said...

I don't think of them as the same thing. 'Once saved always saved' in the form you mostly see in Baptist churches is not biblical because it doesn't take into consideration whether someone is really 'in the faith' in the first place, or whether they are holding fast to Christ now.

Assurance of salvation is a continuing assurance based on the faithfulness of God and our faith in His ability to hold us and help us to hold fast to Him. We have assurance because of our mutual relationship in which His Spirit bears witness to our spirit that we are His. It's love given and received.

Christine said...

I hope you are not using the Candy rationale. Because that approach implies that a "true" Christian is no longer free to make choices.

But I don't think you are saying that because you add that consideration must be given to "whether they are holding fast to Christ now". You add that we have "faith in His ability to hold us and help us to hold fast to Him". If we need help to hold fast to Him, and of course we do, then that means that otherwise we could let go.

That sounds like we do not disagree. Unless you'd prefer that we do :)

Christine said...

A very quick minute researching "doctrine of assurance" showed that Lutherans, Methodists and Calvinists all claim belief in "assurance" but Luther, Wesley, and Calvin each had a different idea of what it means.

The once-saved-always-saved idea seems to be known as "eternal security" and is, as you said, most prominent among certain Baptists and certain non-denominational Evangelicals.

Jennie said...

I hope you are not using the Candy rationale. Because that approach implies that a "true" Christian is no longer free to make choices.
I'm not sure what the 'Candy rationale' is specifically, but I do believe people are always free to make choices. I do believe that God will bring discipline to bring a believer back to Himself, but that the believer can possibly refuse to comply, and there will be consequences, whether temporal or eternal, I'm not certain.
Basically, nothing can remove us from His hand, except possibly our own choice to continue in rebellion.

Christine said...

Agreed.

Moonshadow said...

I'm butting in, I know, and haven't read all the comments here which don't appear to be wholly on-topic anyway.

But when Trueman says this, in his review of Noll's Is the Reformation Over, it's a deliberate swipe at evangelicals:

the obvious conclusion, therefore, should be that they [non-creedal, non-historic evangelicals] do the decent thing and rejoin the Roman Catholic Church. I cannot go down that path myself, primarily because of my view of justification by faith and because of my ecclesiology; but those who reject the former and lack the latter have no real basis upon which to perpetuate what is, in effect, an act of schism on their part. For such, the Reformation is over;

Myself, I'm sick and tired of being a Reformation Christian's slur. That "You may as well be a Catholic" is used here by Trueman either to demean or even, perhaps, to shake awake.

What's your reaction, Jennie, if Trueman were speaking to/about you directly - "You may as well be a Catholic," hinting that your reasons aren't good enough for him?

Jennie said...

Hi Teresa,
I may need some more background before I can answer. Which view of justification is he talking about, and who specifically rejects it? And about ecclesiology, is he talking about evangelicals who are independent of a hierarchical clergy, or what?
Off hand, though, there's alot more reason for staying separate from the RCC than those two things, so I don't think it's an accurate statement to say 'for such, the reformation is over' unless they have also accepted the Mass, use of images in worship, Mary and the saints as intercessors, Mary as a principal almost divine figure that believers look to in heaven, the priesthood, purgatory, mysticism, etc..

Moonshadow said...

He has in mind a "mere Christianity" Christian, if you remember the preface to Lewis' book:

I hope no reader will suppose that "mere" Christianity is here put forward as an alternative to the creeds of the existing communions - as if a man could adopt it in preference to Congregationalism or Greek Orthodoxy or anything else. It is more like a hall out of which doors open into several rooms. If I can bring anyone into that hall I shall have done what I attempted. But it is in the rooms, not in the hall, that there are fires and chairs and meals. The hall is a place to wait in, a place from which to try the various doors, not a place to live in. For that purpose the worst of the rooms (whichever that may be) is, I think, preferable.

Trueman sees most of evangelicalism in Lewis' hall. Would he find you also in the hall?

Jennie said...

Teresa,
I don't know if Trueman would 'find me in the hall.' But being in the hall, to me, implies that one is not really in the church, not really in fellowship with Christ and the body of Christ, where the real life is. Just because I don't accept and belong to a church that belongs to an ecclesial authority structure doesn't mean I am not in fellowship with Christ. We have a local body with an authority structure and we have very definite beliefs and encourage a definite way of living in accord with God's word and with one another. That's a family and a home in which Christ can come and share with us.
Trueman may be right about some, but without knowing more about what he is trying to say, I'm not sure.

Moonshadow said...

I asked the wrong question, sorry.

Would you be insulted if Trueman placed you and your church family in the hall? Because, maybe he's not saying it of you, but he's saying it of a vast number of evangelicals. That doesn't bother you?

Jennie said: "Trueman may be right about some"

I guess that doesn't bother you.

But, anyway, so also like Lewis, Trueman says, "the worst of the rooms (whichever that may be) [read 'Catholicism'] is ... preferable."

Jennie said...

Again, I'm not clear on what Trueman is basing his view of these evangelicals. Why does he think they are in the hall? If they really are in the hall and not in fellowship, that bothers me. Him saying that doesn't bother me unless he knows what he's talking about.

Christine said...

Here's the link. See what you think.

http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2010/10/trueman-and-prolegomena-to-how-would-protestants-know-when-to-return/

Jennie said...

Christine,
I'll look at the Called to Communion article soon. I've been out of town and didn't have time to comment much. My sister and Mom took me and my two older daughters to the Celtic Thunder show at the Fox Theater in Atlanta on Saturday afternoon. It was lots of fun, and I'm thinking of getting my husband a kilt for Christmas. Therefore I have NOT been thinking about theology this weekend, though I have read your comments.

Christine said...

I've seen Celtic Woman three times, but not Celtic Thunder. Sounds like fun.

Jennie said...

I've seen Celtic Woman on PBS, and it's very good, too. I like Celtic Thunder even better, because of the humor in it.