President of Evangelical Theological Society received into Catholic Church

I love this kind of news. I have liked Francis Beckwith ever since I heard him speak at a Biola University apologetics series in the late 1990s (1998 perhaps?), and then read his book, Relativism, co-authored with Greg Koukl. Of course, this was before my own reception into the Church.

The following quotation is taken from his account of his return to Rome, at the Right Reason blog. Most of the entry is about his decision to resign as the president of the Evangelical Theological Society, but this part speaks to his reasons for rejecting Evangelicalism for Catholicism:

As you probably know, my work in philosophy, ethics, and theology has always been Catholic friendly, but I would have never predicted that I would return to the Church, for there seemed to me too many theological and ecclesiastical issues that appeared insurmountable. However, in January, at the suggestion of a dear friend, I began reading the Early Church Fathers as well as some of the more sophisticated works on justification by Catholic authors. I became convinced that the Early Church is more Catholic than Protestant and that the Catholic view of justification, correctly understood, is biblically and historically defensible. Even though I also believe that the Reformed view is biblically and historically defensible, I think the Catholic view has more explanatory power to account for both all the biblical texts on justification as well as the church’s historical understanding of salvation prior to the Reformation all the way back to the ancient church of the first few centuries. Moreover, much of what I have taken for granted as a Protestant—e.g., the catholic creeds, the doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation, the Christian understanding of man, and the canon of Scripture—is the result of a Church that made judgments about these matters and on which non-Catholics, including Evangelicals, have declared and grounded their Christian orthodoxy in a world hostile to it. Given these considerations, I thought it wise for me to err on the side of the Church with historical and theological continuity with the first generations of Christians that followed Christ’s Apostles.

He’s going to have to take a lot of abuse from the less reflective Evangelicals on this decision.

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22 Responses to “President of Evangelical Theological Society received into Catholic Church”

  1. PB and J Says:

    i appreciate unity. i believe that the Body of Christ should be unified. so i dont mean to be offensive to anyone. but just because the roman church is the oldest today, doesnt mean that roman catholicism in its present view is more like the early church.

    i just finished a church history book on early christianity. and i have spent a fair amount of time in the past few months researching the early church, reading many of the primary sources (the “fathers” of the “Catholic” Church). and to be honest, i think that though protestantism has little in common with the early church, i think the Roman church far misses the mark as well.

    and as far as justification, i dont think that either side is entirely right.

    however, that is not the most important thing. i dont think that the point is to imitate the early church, but to grow into maturity as the Body of Christ. and as such, we fail to even remotely appear like the early church. there is almost nothing left of our roots. in order to find our roots, i think we need to search more into the Hebrewness of the early church. the church was always intended to be a community, like jewish communities today. the church was always meant to help the needy. the church was never intended to have pompous ministers (protestant or catholic). the church was never intended to have monstrous building, but to BE the Temple. the church was always intended to follow Jesus up the road to calvary (not in the stations of the cross, but in his life). the church was always intended to make disciples (which neither protestant nor catholic truly understand because we arent jewish).

    so there are many, many, many, many things that are different from the early church. and i dont think the doctrine (catholic of protestant) is that much different. sure there are some differences, but minor at most. the vast difference comes from our lives. we no longer LIVE like Christ.

    it is here i think we fail, catholic and protestant.

    so unity in the Roman church, okay. i dont really care whether the Body is catholic or protestant, but i DO care that the Church is living like Christ’s body.

    shalom
    peter

  2. Curly Says:

    PB & J,

    I think you make some good points, such as that unity is a good thing and that we should live more like Christ.

    Where you lose me is in your paragraph about what the Church was intended to be. You see Hebrewness as a sort of guidepost. The early Church Fathers disagreed with this perspective; one might even say that Paul disagreed with you, since he rebukes Peter for “Judaizing” (Galatians 2:14). And when you say “like the Jewish communities today,” I don’t know what you mean. Are you suggesting that the Jewish concept of “community” is unchanged from the first century? Or that non-Jewish communities somehow have the concept of “community” wrong?

    Your statements about pompous ministers and monstrous buildings are ultimately subjective. I assume you are not a pure spiritualist—i.e., that you agree that the Church needs ministers and buildings, or at least agree that materiality is not in itself a bad thing.

    Your comment raises many questions.

  3. PB and J Says:

    curly

    as far as myself, i am certainly not a “pure spiritualist”. in fact, i would say i am much more a materialist than most christians. however, the materialism to which i am referring is the philosophical kind. i believe that Christ came for the eternal world, yes, but also the material world here and now. however, i dont think that the Church ever needs a building, nor a full time minister. certainly many of the early christians werent full time “ordained” ministers. in fact, paul clearly wasnt full time and he definitely wasnt ordained for his first 15 yrs or so of ministry.

    anyway, to the more important point. i think you mistake hebrew foundation for something its not. i by no means think we should be like the “judaizers”. thats not what our roots are anyway. however, the “antinominist” paul even calls himself a “pharisee” present tense, and he fulfills a nazarite vow. and he keeps the Sabbath. and and and and.

    now you may argue all kinds of things about the “church fathers”, and you are right that some were antisemite, but that doesnt make them right. but how can you get around Jesus’ words about fulfillment of Israel? how can you ignore paul saying that we are grafted into judaism? you see, paul and peter and Jesus and all of the very earliest church never considered themselves “christians”. this term first came from antioch and it was a label that the unbelievers gave them. in fact, the “christians” called themselves followers of the Way, or disciples of Messiah, or part of the Sect called the Way. (sect of what you might ask, yes thats right, judaism)

    it is very unbiblical and unhistorical to reject jewish heritage. i dont mean we should be like modern jews who (for the most part) have no hope in Messiah. however, the Church is jewish. think of this analogy:

    there is an oak tree that grows up healthy and strong. then after years and years of winter and spring, winter and spring, the oak’s strength begins to fade. it can no longer draw water from the ground very well because the branches are all dead. its leaves no longer bud in spring. etc. so the owner of this oak decides to cut off the dead branches. then he grafts in new branches that originally came from a maple tree. these branches are young and healthy. they have good circulation and bring new life to the old oak. but when these branches begin to fade, will not the owner cut them off just like he did with the natural branches? and is not the tree still called an oak because of its roots and trunk, even though its branches are maple?

    you see, for a long time “christians” wrongly called jews evil because they blaimed them for Christ’s death. but to be honest this just isnt fair. jews were the first believers. and in case you didnt realize it, ALL of the apostles were jewish and they never renounced their judaism. and most importantly, Jesus did not reject judaism, but brought fulfillment and entrance for the gentiles to it.

    peter

  4. Minister Fred Hatchett Says:

    I am cut and dry. Catholicism is not Christianity, but Ancient Babylon Mysteries in present time. Catholicism’s problem- Worship of Mary and then some.

  5. Curly Says:

    Minister Hatchett . . . sounds like it’s time for you to sit down with the Catholic Catechism and read what it actually says. Sounds like when it comes to the RC Church, you are just like a liberal on the topic of abortion: no need for data, because you already know the answers! I’ll pray for you, my friend. Here’s a link to the Catechism online.

  6. PB and J Says:

    curly

    i wasnt attacking the catholic church. i disagree with “minister” fred’s attitude. so i would like to share some of the catechism that you mentioned.

    460
    “The Word became flesh to make us “partakers of the divine nature”:78 “For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God.”79 “For the Son of God became man so that we might become God.”80 “The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods.”81”

    495
    “Mary’s divine motherhood

    Called in the Gospels “the mother of Jesus”, Mary is acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her son, as “the mother of my Lord”.144 In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father’s eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly “Mother of God” (Theotokos).145″

    964-970
    “964 Mary’s role in the Church is inseparable from her union with Christ and flows directly from it. “This union of the mother with the Son in the work of salvation is made manifest from the time of Christ’s virginal conception up to his death”;[502] it is made manifest above all at the hour of his Passion:
    Thus the Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the cross. There she stood, in keeping with the divine plan, enduring with her only begotten Son the intensity of his suffering, joining herself with his sacrifice in her mother’s heart, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this victim, born of her: to be given, by the same Christ Jesus dying on the cross, as a mother to his disciple, with these words: “Woman, behold your son.”[503]

    965 After her Son’s Ascension, Mary “aided the beginnings of the Church by her prayers.”[504] In her association with the apostles and several women, “we also see Mary by her prayers imploring the gift of the Spirit, who had already overshadowed her in the Annunciation.”[505]

    . . . also in her Assumption
    966 “Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death.”[506] The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her Son’s Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians:
    In giving birth you kept your virginity; in your Dormition you did not leave the world, O Mother of God, but were joined to the source of Life. You conceived the living God and, by your prayers, will deliver our souls from death.[507]

    . . . she is our Mother in the order of grace
    967 By her complete adherence to the Father’s will, to his Son’s redemptive work, and to every prompting of the Holy Spirit, the Virgin Mary is the Church’s model of faith and charity. Thus she is a “preeminent and . . . wholly unique member of the Church”; indeed, she is the “exemplary realization” (typus)[508] of the Church.

    968 Her role in relation to the Church and to all humanity goes still further. “In a wholly singular way she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope, and burning charity in the Savior’s work of restoring supernatural life to souls. For this reason she is a mother to us in the order of grace.”[509]

    969 “This motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the consent which she loyally gave at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, until the eternal fulfilment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation …. Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix.”[510]

    970 “Mary’s function as mother of men in no way obscures or diminishes this unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows its power. But the Blessed Virgin’s salutary influence on men . . . flows forth from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rests on his mediation, depends entirely on it, and draws all its power from it.”[511] “No creature could ever be counted along with the Incarnate Word and Redeemer; but just as the priesthood of Christ is shared in various ways both by his ministers and the faithful, and as the one goodness of God is radiated in different ways among his creatures, so also the unique mediation of the Redeemer does not exclude but rather gives rise to a manifold cooperation which is but a sharing in this one source.”[512] ”

    i think they speak for themselves.

    may the peace of our Lord be with yall
    peter

  7. Minister Fred Hatchett Says:

    Mary also stated that she was in need of a savior. If you can’t find this and other scriptures showing this by the end of the day I will.

    Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix.”[510]

    But not in the Word of God. The first two are given to the Holy Spirit.

    We are not gods in the sense of divinity. I think you need to read Psalms and do serious study of that scripture and how it is used by Jesus in the Gospels.

    Jesus put Mary and the rest of his family in their place, Matthew 12:48-50

    Please use scripture when trying to make points, not man-made edicts.

  8. Minister Fred Hatchett Says:

    46And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,

    47And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

    What person unstained from sin needs a savior?

    48For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

    49For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.

    50And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.

    51He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

    52He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.

    53He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.

    54He hath helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy;

    55As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

    http://www.biblegateway.com

    966 “Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death.”[506] The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her Son’s Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians:
    In giving birth you kept your virginity; in your Dormition you did not leave the world, O Mother of God, but were joined to the source of Life. You conceived the living God and, by your prayers, will deliver our souls from death.[507]

    Mary has no ability to deliver our souls from death. Only the BLOOD of JESUS does that.

    Not one single scripture suports this. Mother-Son worship began thousands of years before it was adopted ny the Catholic Church.

  9. Minister Fred Hatchett Says:

    Quick question- Can Roman Catholic Clergy Marry? If not, WHY?

  10. Curly Says:

    Minister Fred,

    I have a question for you. Where exactly in Scripture do you derive your “Scripture Alone” principle from?

    And how does that help understand why we consider some writings to be Canonical Scripture, and others not?

  11. PB and J Says:

    curly and fred

    i am not sure, but i think yall both just ignored the quotations from the catechism. i put that stuff out there because i think there are some pretty radical statements in there. curly you told fred to read it, then how come you arent reading it yourself. you see, if you had, i think you would see why some people feel a little concerned about the catholic dogma. because the catechism (not just hearsay) says mary plays a role in our salvation and that she is a redeemer and that she is perfect, without sin, and and and. also, it says that we will all become gods. check out 460. it says God become man so that man could become gods. the catechism is quoting athanasius in that. athananius is the founder of a doctrine that believes we will become exactly like God without being God himself. this sounds a lot more like mormonism than christianity.

    as for your question at the end, curly, i think you bring up a very good pt for fred. unfortunately, those who criticize catholicism often cite that “scripture alone” bit. but that is just ridiculous. you see, if we read the scriptures without context, you can make them say whatever you want it to. also, we are so far removed from paul’s day, that many of the issues he wrote of are not understood in our day without proper context. also, paul himself contextualized. and JC did in a huge way. so its not “unchristian” to have the cultural context be important as well. at the same time, there has always been tradition of judaism and those of us who believe in Christ. these traditions are necessary to live out our christian lives.

    i just was reading irenaes’ against heresies yesterday. and i thought it was very interesting because he (one of the first christian writers, a man who knew polycarp, one of the first disciples of the 12 disciples) says that we must use Scripture and tradition to guide us. very true.

    with that said, curly, i think tradition is very poorly defined today. you see, irenaes wasnt refering to the roman traditions, but the entire church. this means everywhere. and he never places rome as its head to decide dogma as the catholic church claims today. instead, irenaes says that rome is the center where all the Church meets to determine what tradition we should follow. this doesnt mean that the bishop of rome is the one to decide tradition, but the church as a whole.

    anyway, i think that there is a middle ground between the typical catholic and typical protestant positions. neither is entirely right. which means, FRED YOU SHOULDNT BE CONDEMNING SOMEONE WHO GOD HASNT CONDEMNED.

    and CURLY, YOU MIGHT WANT TO STUDY YOUR OWN DOGMA A LITTLE MORE TO SEE IF IN FACT IT DOES LINE UP WITH YOUR TRADITION AND HISTORY AND SCRIPTURE.

    i am sorry if i spoke too critically. i hope yall both learn to recognize the validity of each other. i pray that some day we will all be together in unity. i dont think that our Church will ever unify while people are unwillingness to recognize the merit of each other, but more importantly we must all humble ourselves and admit that we ourselves may be wrong.

    may we find unity in humility that comes frmo Christ
    peter

  12. Curly Says:

    Peter,

    The reason I said nothing when you posted from the Catechism was not because I was ignoring it, but because I had no objections to the material. Fred made a sweeping statement about Catholicism, equating it with “ancient Babylon mysteries” and saying categorically that it is “not Christianity.”

    Any Protestant who has read extensively in the Catechism, rather than just hunted out individual references to specific topics like Mary, will know that the Catholic Church is indeed Christian.

    Objections like Fred’s (and Peter’s) are addressed by Mark Noll and Carolyn Nystrom in their 2005 book Is the Reformation Over? An Evangelical Assessment of Contemporary Roman Catholicism.

    The authors note that the first thing Protestants generally object to about Catholicism is that they “think Mary is a god, and the pope is their dictator—and then there is the whole question of celibacy” (p. 115). They note that such comments are produced in part by “mistaken inferences, partial understanding, and incomplete apprehension.”

    And here’s the quotation for those who think Catholicism is “not Christianity”:

    “Evangelicals or confessional Protestants who pick up the Catechism will find themselves in for a treat. Sentences, paragraphs, whole pages sound as if they could come from evangelical pulpits, including passages on topics such as the nature of Scripture or the meaning of grace and faith. [. . .] We estimate that evangelicals can embrace at least two-thirds of the Catechism. These parts [. . .] contain a common orthodoxy, a common devotion to God [. . .], and a common understanding of holy living.” (pp. 116-119)

    All I ask is that Fred give credit where it is dishonest to withhold it.

    And Peter, since you seem worried about Mary’s status as Mediatrix: Catholics don’t put her on the same level as Jesus. Her intercessory power derives from Him. John Paul II said the following at a General Audience in 1997:

    In proclaiming Christ the one mediator (cf. 1 Tm 2:5-6), the text of St Paul’s Letter to Timothy excludes any other parallel mediation, but not subordinate mediation. In fact, before emphasizing the one exclusive mediation of Christ, the author urges “that supplications prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings be made for all men” (2:1). Are not prayers a form of mediation? Indeed, according to St Paul, the unique mediation of Christ is meant to encourage other dependent, ministerial forms of mediation. By proclaiming the uniqueness of Christ’s mediation, the Apostle intends only to exclude any autonomous or rival mediation, and not other forms compatible with the infinite value of the Saviour’s work.

    We should not be opposed to the idea of “subordinate mediation,” especially if we are in the practice of praying for others!

    – Peace –

  13. Minister Fred Hatchett Says:

    I will lay it out like this. If you look at the many doctrines of the catholic church, the are found wanting for scriptural support. Indulgences, purgatory, “post-mortem” sainthood (who gave the catholic church the authority to grant sainthood?), praying to DEAD “SAINTS”, transubstantiation, etc, etc. There is no room in scripture for “subordinate” mediation. Mother-Son WORSHIP has been going on for a long time. The catholic church is the responsible party for much of the paganism that has been introduced to the Christian Church.

    I will admit that many catholic theologians have sound theology until they mention the above doctrines that are found lacking scriptural support.

    Please answer the question of the MAN-MADE rule that clergy cannot marry.

  14. Curly Says:

    Fred,

    It surprises me how vehement many Protestants are about clerical celibacy in the RC Church. Sometimes they claim that celibacy is the root of sexual misconduct among the Roman clergy . . . but this is without merit, since one need only read the news to find numerous examples of married men—and married clergy—involved in every kind of sexual aberration.

    Regarding your question, though: the priest imitates Christ in his celibacy. There is biblical support for celibacy, also:

    Matthew 19:12, “For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.”

    1 Corinthians 7:32, “But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord:
    33: But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.”

    And if you look at the Catechism, which I’m convinced you have not done, and probably have no intention of doing, Catholics do not condemn other Christian ministers for marrying. The opprobrium on this point is strictly one-way: we don’t have a problem with the fact that Protestant ministers, or Eastern Orthodox priests, marry. But celibacy is a gift, and as Paul says, enables a man to devote himself more exclusively to the things of God.

  15. Minister Fred Hatchett Says:

    I Timothy 4:1-3
    1Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

    2Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;

    3Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.

    The practice of forbidding to marry must have been something going on during Paul’s time or he was speaking prophetically. This verse and practice of forbidding to marry is connected to the previous two verses.

    They do not condemn other Christian ministers because the catholic church sees itself as an independent entity. It does not see OTHER Christians as true to the faith. Besides, we are not talking about Christian Ministers, we are talking about Catholic ones. Ever read I Corinthians 9:5?
    And how does the catholic church reconcile that its first supposed Pope, Peter, was a married man?

  16. Curly Says:

    Fred,

    What you are doing is using a decontextualized passage in order to support your existing bias, thinking that the general authority of Scripture dispenses you from having to consider the text as a whole and from actually seriously studying the doctrines against which you are prejudiced.

    I apologize for repeating myself here, but these things bear repeating: Christ is our high priest and our perfect model for the priesthood. I don’t think it inappropriate to imitate him. Do you? Paul points out the very real practical benefits of celibacy in 1 Cor. 7; Christ himself praises making oneself a “eunuch” for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven in Matthew 19:12. Of course, Paul and Christ also make clear that marriage is a good and sacred thing.

    But why you or anyone would so aggressively denounce clerical celibacy is beyond me.

    Following are a few problems I see standing in the way of an easy and obvious use of 1 Timothy 4 against the Catholic position. (Warning for those uninterested or likely to lose interest.)

    The passage does indeed speak of “forbidding to marry,” but it seems that the whole context should be considered before we rush to a conclusion that this verse forbids mandatory clerical celibacy.

    How are we to understand the phrase “the latter times”? Celibacy has been an ideal for priests in the Eastern and Western churches since antiquity, and a rule (to varying degrees) for nearly as long.

    What entails “departing from the faith”? Does this mean “departs entirely,” or does it mean “departs in one detail but not in others”? If a church mandates something you consider unbiblical—clerical celibacy—but preaches the undisputed Gospel of Christ crucified, does that suffice to be able to say that it has “departed from the faith”? Your vehemence in favor of clerical marriage makes it sound as if you think it’s THE cornerstone of the Christian faith.

    Verse 3 says “forbidding to marry, AND commanding to abstain from meats.” To be considered as having departed from the faith, does a man or church have to satisfy both requirements here, or just one? If just one, by what authority can that decision be made to read “OR” for “AND”? If both are required in order to judge that someone has “departed from the faith,” please explain whether “forbidding to marry” means “forbidding ALL marriage” or “forbidding SOME marriages, but not others.” Also the word “meats”—does this mean “meat” literally? Is it metaphorical, referring to carnal pleasures (as would be suggested by its yoking with the idea of marriage)? If it means meats literally, then does it mean ALL or SOME? If “all meats,” then the Roman Church is not at fault here. If it means “some meats,” there is precedent for this in Acts 15:29, where the apostles forbid other Christians from eating meat sacrificed to idols. If it is meant metaphorically, then the Roman Church is not at fault, insofar as it doesn’t enjoin strict asceticism even on those for whom it mandates celibacy.

  17. Minister Fred Hatchett Says:

    No one has the right to forbid marriage Curly. The Bible is clearly indicative of this fact. This FORBIDDING of marriage found its origins in NON-Christian faiths (monks as an example). Abstinence from meats and marriage should be left to the FREE-WILL, not the command of a man-made church.

    You still have not explained the marriage of Peter!!!!! Who enacted this ecclesiastical celibacy? I do not see anywhere in the Bible where this COMMAND exists. It is a man-made, self-righteous doctrine.

  18. Minister Fred Hatchett Says:

    “Perhaps the final blow against priests’ ability to marry came during the Council of Trent (1545-1563) – and through a technicality. It was at this time that the church asserted that no one could be considered to have a valid Christian marriage unless that marriage were performed by a valid priest and in front of two witnesses. Before this, private marriages performed by priests or, indeed, just about anyone else, were common in some areas. Sometimes the only people who were there was the officiant and the couple. Now, however, such clandestine marriages were impossible – and this effectively eliminated marriage for the clergy.

    The Council of Trent, called in order to combat the challenges posed by the Protestant Reformation, also made a very interesting statement regarding the church’s position on “family values”:

    “If anyone says that it is not better and more godly to live in virginity or in the unmarried state than to marry, let him be anathema.”
    A further and very important factor in the push to require celibacy for clergy was the problematic relationship the Roman Catholic Church had with real estate and inherited land. Priests and bishops were not just religious leaders: they also had political power over the people. When they controlled land, which was at the time the basis for any political power, that land could either go to the church or to the man’s heirs when he died.

    Naturally the church wanted to keep it and retain political power itself; the best way to do that was to ensure that there weren’t any rival claimants on the land, and keeping the clergy celibate and unmarried was the easiest way to accomplish this goal. Making celibacy a religious obligation was also the best way to make sure that the clergy obeyed.

    Thus, the history of clerical celibacy in the Roman Catholic Church is one of contingency and political expediency – there was nothing necessary about it, and that’s why it cannot be regarded as a an essential feature of the priesthood today. That is also why there are so many married Roman Catholic priests in the world.” http://atheism.about.com/od/romancatholicism/a/celibacy_2.htm

    How many Popes and Councils will be necessary to keep people in bondage?

  19. Curly Says:

    Fred,

    I don’t think it matters that Peter was married. You are assuming a lot of things: first, that any rule not clearly defined and written in stone from day one is somehow invalid; second, that the Church is hypocritical for having “allowed” its first pope to have been married; third, that anything “man-made” is also somehow invalid. I reject these assumptions.

    You also assume that all decisions of the Catholic Church are based on political expediency and on “keeping people in bondage.” I know I am not going to convince you of anything, but people choose to be Catholic, and choose to be Catholic priests, and there is nothing the Church can do to force them either to become this way, or to stay this way. People are free to do what they wish, and no pope or council can change this. But the master of the house certainly has the right to set the rules for those who live there. Every church operates on this principle; those that do not, do not survive.

    I find it somewhat amusing and dismaying that you would hold up “atheism.about.com” as your authority on this issue. Nothing like running to atheists and agnostics when we have questions about faith.

    Until God softens your heart to the point where you are at least able to concede that Catholicism is Christianity, this debate is in vain. I thank you for your comments and hope you stay faithful to those truths that I know you and I share (based on your comments on other posts).

  20. Brother Phil Says:

    A Visit to the Early Church

    ….and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls…. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers….And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done… And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house….Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily…( portions of Acts 2:41-47)

    Once upon a time…..there was a church that worked. Its members loved each other, took care of widows and orphans, fed the hungry, and transformed cities. It taught the Scriptures, built believers to maturity, and satisfied the longing their hearts to touch God. This church didn’t just talk about the power of God: it healed the sick, raised the dead and cast out demons. It won the lost with incredible effectiveness, discipled, equipped and empowered its converts to minister. Its effectiveness was not limited to one culture or ethnic group.

    It is the church we have all been looking for but never found…a church we have never seen, but I fervently believe we soon will. It is a church that will work in any generation and it is the Church as God designed it. This incredible church was not a myth or a fairy tale. It is well documented in historical records. It was a church made up of real people with real problems but it was characterized by a life and power the world could not resist. It became the most powerful institution the world had ever seen.

    A lot of Christians assume that on the day after Pentecost, Peter went out and rented a big building, put a steeple on top, hung up a sign that read, “First Baptist church of Jerusalem,” and started holding services the next Sunday. Most of us have not stopped to even grasp what the New Testament Church really was. Everything which follows is based on historical descriptions of the first century church either from the Bible or early Christian literature.

    As we begin, you are not going to see much that is familiar. Most of what we associate with church today didn’t even exist at that time. No building, no steeple, stained windows, pulpits, pews, hymn books or bulletin. No coats, ties or liturgy. None of that surfaced until a 1,000 years later. The early church lacked all these things and yet possessed power far beyond anything we comprehend today.

    Let’s go visit. It’s AD95, roughly 60 years since Pentecost. We arrive at a house church. Even when a church grew to 20 or 30,000 members its primary unit was the house church. Occasionally, they all came together in some big meeting but not often. We arrive on Saturday evening (the first day of the week on our Lord’s calendar began Saturday at sundown). We are warmly welcomed at the door by our host and now comes the shock of church as you have not known it.

    Across the courtyard there is what seems to be some kind of party going on. People are playing flutes, lyres and tambourines while others sing, dance, and clap to the music. You recognize the words of the songs as Praise to Jesus so you relax. What you are witnessing is the way the early church praised God. This type of worship is foreign to nearly all of our churches of today. But, nonetheless, this is how the historical records say worship was done. It was a free and joyful celebration with a great deal of singing and dancing. Most gatherings would begin with people getting in a ring, or several concentric rings, and dancing Jewish ring dances like the Hora. Clement of Alexandria documented this in his writings as did Ambrose of Milan who led St. Augustine to the Lord. St. Basil did the same.

    Somber worship didn’t become prevalent in the church until the fourth century when the church was overrun by the asceticism of pagan philosophy.

    So, here we are singing and dancing and there arises spontaneous shouts of praise and others shout “amen” in agreement. As we worship, we are overwhelmed by the love and acceptance of the people. After a lot of this everyone sits down for a meal right in the middle of church (see 1 Cor. where Paul describes this, not to mention Jude and Peter). This feast occurred weekly and was called a love feast….their word was Agape. A woman of the house began it by lighting candles and saying a prayer of thanksgiving. Then one of the leaders would raise a cup, bless the Lord and pass it around. Next he would break a loaf of bread, offer thanks, and then pass it person to person. This is the Lord ’s Supper in the original context. It is a joyful time centered on devotion to the Lord. Believers talk and share things of God. They share testimonies, recite and discuss Scripture and sing praises to the Lord. There were few Bibles but most of the believers had large portions of what constitutes Bible memorized.

    During the meal, one of the leaders stands and reads a letter they received that week from an apostle named Junia. Junia was not one of the original 12 apostles for by this time there were many apostles in the church. Many today would be surprised to learn that Junia is a woman (Romans 16). The leader of this gathering had written her asking questions a few weeks before and she has carefully responded to each one. The people hold her in high regard and listen attentively.

    After the meal, worship begins again and proceeds until a change in the atmosphere begins to take place. The air seems to thicken. A tangible sense of the Presence of God comes and rests on the place (1 Cor. 5). This tangible presence of God is the hallmark of most of the great revivals of history but it was common then. It that presence sinners are saved, backsliders return and repent, and the miraculous is common. These people assembled as living stones forming the Temple of God. Some begin to fall to the ground in worship. Others stop and are silent, welcoming the Lord’s presence. Now the ministry begins to take place. The Holy Spirit begins to sovereignly manifest His gifts on the people.

    A woman on the far side of the court yard stands and gives “a word of knowledge “for healing” and a man cries out in need and people cluster around him to pray and he is instantly healed.

    Someone else stands up and reads a passage of scripture. Another man, a teacher, explains the passage.

    A woman stands and gives a beautiful prophetic song. Many are so touched by its beauty and anointing that they begin to weep.

    Prophetic words are given and there are tongues and interpretation. Through it all the people move in and out of worship.

    At one point a man nervously stands and says he has come because his young daughter is blind and needs healing. He and his family are neighbors who do not know Jesus but they have come even though they are self conscious. Nonetheless, they have come to ask the group to pray for their daughter. Immediately, those with the gift of healing come and stand with the elders as they anoint the little girl with oil and pray. Tears stream down her face as she exclaims “ I can see, I can see!” Her mother embraces her and in 4 or 5 minutes the whole family gives their hearts to the Lord.

    Another prophetic word is given revealing the secrets of someone’s heart. That person comes forward and says “I don’t know Jesus but I know God is here. I want to know HIM.”

    Ministry continues …. this is how much of the evangelism of the early church took place…by the working of miraculous power of God right in the midst of His people. Most Christians today don’t have any concept of that happening but it was the norm in the early church. Irenaeus, writing around AD195, said prophetic words, tongues, miracles of healing, were common in church. He went on to say that people were frequently raised from the dead through the prayers of the believers in those gatherings.

    Now our meeting has run late into the night but no one seems to notice. Finally, the meeting begins to break up as the sense of the Spirit’s presence begins to lift. Even so, there are several small groups still gathered in prayer. As the people are leaving there is a great deal of hugging and kissing. It seems like FAMILY REUNION and it is! It is the weekly reunion of the FAMILY OF GOD!

    This was the nature of the church at Antioch, Corinth, Ephesus, Colossae and Jerusalem. This is the church that took over the entire known world in 300 years. An apostle would go to a city and start a church and within a few years there would be tens of thousands saved and the entire region would be affected. Nothing could stand against it….Nothing!

    The greatest surprise to most Christians today about that church would not be the miracles or dancing or singing. No, No! It would be the JEWISHNESS of the church. This was the church before it broke from its roots. It was an intensely Messianic Church and was most often founded by a man who never renounced his Jewishness, the Apostle Paul. Most Christians think the apostles rejected Judaism but nothing could be further from the truth. Most Christians assume that early Christians were Anti-Semitic. That isn’t true. They observed the Sabbaths, feasts, rituals and worship in the Temple and synagogues and they held their house meetings and built the most powerful church in the history of the earth.

    To the early church Judaism was the root through which its life was nourished. Through that God given heritage, the church received vital keys to its power and growth. Christians were grieved that many Jews rejected their Messiah, but the rejoiced in the lavish inheritance God had given them through their Jewish roots.

    For 300 years the church followed the Pattern of God, established by the Apostles and experienced a life and power the world could not comprehend! Then, in the fourth century a pagan Roman ruler instigated a compromise that caused this Jewish heritage to be removed and, cut off from the living roots the early church died and became a corrupt political organization having wealth and military power but with little spiritual reality. It was dead for over a 1,000 years until the protestant reformation and God began His process of restoration. He restored His Word, He restored salvation by faith and not works, and recently began restoring the gifts and empowering of the Holy Spirit. The final part of that restoration is at hand. The restoration of the church to its Jewish roots.

    Just as Jesus came at a kiros time, we are in a kiros time…an appointed time…a time for the restoration of the lost inheritance and the life and power the church once enjoyed. Is that the kind of church you want? It is most certainly the kind, God wants.

    In humble obedience, I bring this message to you whom I love so deeply.

    Glenn

    Credit given: “The Messianic Church Arising” by Dr. Robert D. Heidler – (Prophet Chuck Pierce’s Pastor)

  21. Curly Says:

    Brother Phil, surely you can’t be serious when you say that the church didn’t have any buildings “until 1,000 years later”! They met outdoors or in private homes till the 11th century? Please . . . the archaeological record is clear on this, and besides, church buildings still stand that predate the year 1000. Liturgy, too, dates from well before the 11th century (though I do believe men’s ties date from some time later).

    And this is classic:

    Then, in the fourth century a pagan Roman ruler instigated a compromise that caused this Jewish heritage to be removed and, cut off from the living roots the early church died and became a corrupt political organization having wealth and military power but with little spiritual reality. It was dead for over a 1,000 years until the protestant reformation and God began His process of restoration.

    Where to begin? I’m curious: how do you define “pagan”? Was Constantine “pagan” after he became a Christian? Should we reject the Nicene Creed because it was formulated by a Church with “little spiritual reality”? What a brusque dismissal of over 1,000 years of theological development. Even your heroes of the Reformation tended to extend their approval to the Fathers of the first 6 centuries—not just 3, as you do; and while they agreed with you that the Church was dead till 1517, they were wise enough not to dismiss patristic and medieval theology in toto, as you do.

    The rest of your narrative, where it isn’t purely imaginative, is really poor history. Your approach seems anti-intellectual and overly simplistic.

  22. Brother Phil Says:

    Yahshua’s LOVE is very simple . Just like a fellowship should be simple.

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