October 17, 2017

Questions about the journey: If you started at a different place, would you still be here?

In all of my recent “conversations” with my reformed friends and detractors, I’ve had one question that I’ve really wanted to ask. It occured to me as we were talking about my acceptance of my Roman Catholic friends as fellow Christians, but it really goes to a certain kind of perspective on your own journey.

I could ask it different ways, but let’s do this:

Assume for a moment you were once a professed Roman Catholic. How many of you believe you would have, by your own study of the Bible, come to believe what you currently believe, and/or would have come to the convictions you now hold? Or do you believe you would have likely remained in the Catholic Church?

I am particularly curious if my Calvinist friends believe that, if they had been born Catholic, they would today, be Calvinists and would have left Catholicism?

Not trying to start a fuss. Just curious.

Comments

  1. Michael,

    That is an incredibly sadistic question for Calvinists when you think about it…a good one nonetheless.

    Personally: I have no clue. I guess that’s why God placed me demographically where He did.

  2. I think of like this: God had chosen me (a every other Christian) before the foundation of the earth. And he pulled me from the place I was living into a relationship with Him. I believe that I’d be a calvinist whether I grew up Catholic or not. I grew up with little Christian influence, when I began to attend church, I was going to a very Arminian church, but through my reading of the Bible relized somethings in the Bible didn’t match up with what the pastor was preaching.

    I think whether we were catholic or not, if God called us into a relatioship with Him we could come up with the same convictions that we each hold now. By being obedient by reading scriptures and praying we would get to know God and He’d reveal things to us.

  3. Patrick says:

    I grew up agnostic, spent some wasted time on self-worship, and ended up being baptised a Southern Baptist. Was fine there until the Calvinist preacher started obviously force-fitting scripture to his own theology. After discussions in which he was unable to produce clear scriptural evidence for his convictions, I began looking for a church where the Bible was taught and believed. And found it. Last Easter, I was confirmed in the Roman Catholic Church.

    I don’t know if this answers anything, but I think it is fair to say that people can go the other way and do it for love of God and his written Word. To me, the real irony is that so many of the hardcore Calvinists I have known get angry when I don’t simply accept their theology as a given. If they are right and we are all predestined to whatever our future will be, then why can’t they accept that I am predestined to be a Catholic and believe in free will? Why do they get angry when I ask this?

    -Patrick

  4. I’d like to think that I’d remain a Calvinist by conviction while maintaining membership within the Roman Catholic Church. It’s hardly an issue to break fellowship over. Besides, there’s no telling how long I’d stay under that conviction. Theology is moldable. And the Roman Catholic Church is not an exception. If I really became serious about the issue, I’d hope to reform the Church as part of the Church – not leave and start my own church. (Boo on the Reformation.)

  5. I sometimes find myself wondering what would have happened if I’d returned to faith in a Baptist church (and thus possibly undergone “re”-“baptism” – this was a major issue for me in the first couple of years after I returned to faith) or in the Roman Catholic Church (in which I was baptised as a baby). My answer, after prolonged and deep reflection is: *shrug* “Dunno”. 🙂

    But in any case, I think the question unduly privileges individual study of the Bible. What matters first of all is the proclamation of the Gospel by the church in the preaching of the Word and the administration of the Sacraments (see Article V of the Augsburg Confession – http://www.bookofconcord.org/augsburgconfession.html#article5 – and parallels in other Reformation confessions such as the Thirty-Nine Articles).

    The question really is: “Would the preaching of the Gospel have awakened faith in me had I been born in a Roman Catholic Church?”

    The answer would have to be: “Maybe. But equally, there are false teachings in the RCC that could have diverted me away from the Gospel, from faith in Jesus Christ alone as my Saviour”.

    I’ve had a post in mind for a couple of weeks that may be relevant to this question: this discussion may help me get round to posting it. Let’s give away some of the punchline: the impetus for reformation, and for preserving the pure Gospel, is not so much the salvation of people who could not otherwise be saved – though that is a part of it – as zeal for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and a desire not to see Him misrepresented or misdescribed.

    In other words, the question is not, “Can a Roman Catholic be saved?” (which is equivalent to the question, “Can the Gospel be found *at all* in the Roman Catholic Church?”), but: “Where can that Gospel be found in its fullest and purest form?”

  6. And Scott: all very well saying you’d remain a Calvinist within the RCC, and “boo on the Reformation” for doing otherwise, but you forget that the RCC threw out the Reformers, rather than their choosing to leave. I suspect you’d find the same thing might happen to you once you made your Calvinistic beliefs known (particularly over the Lord’s Supper).

    The approach you advocate sounds suspiciously like LibCath cafeteria Catholicism – “I want to be regarded as a good Roman Catholic, even though my personal opinions differ radically from Church teaching” – and, as has been pointed out on a number of occasions since the election of Benedict XVI, “the cafeteria is now closed”. 🙂

  7. Not wanting to be funny, but isn’t the question near nonsensical? God put us into whatever upbringing we had and used it to bring us into whatever understanding we now have. You can’t remove one aspect (your upbringing) and keep hold of the other (your current understanding). To ask the question ‘but what if this had happened?’ is not appropriate because it didn’t happen. What happened happened and happened because God worked it out that way. Maybe the answer shows my Calvinistic leanings, but y’know whatever.

  8. Sparticus….that is the most Calvinistic answer to an open-ended question I’ve ever read 🙂 You win the pony.

  9. It has nothing to do with being “a good Roman Catholic.” The Church is the Church and your believing community is your believing community.

    I am not particularly educated on the history of the Reformation, but I do know that if you are excommunicated and hold any sort of stock in the need to make the visible Church a single, identifiable entity, than rather than start your own church, the faithful thing to do would be to respect the authority which excommunicated you and persistently seek restoration.

  10. …this isn’t a question that can really be answered, you know…

    …but I won’t let that stop me!! I apologize if I’m not your intended audience.

    Assuming that my character and motivation would not change overly much, then I’m a guy of roots – I think the best understanding is that which builds off the primitives. And while I recognize the importance of the Bible in spiritual formation, I have never accepted it as merely being dropped out of heaven as many are apt to do. Rather I saw it being transmitted down throughout the generations, and so I sought to understand the generations that had maintained and brought me my faith and their understanding of Scripture.

    The short of it is that I see why the Catholic Church is as it is today, and I see it as the best attempt at maintaining the transmission of faith through the generations from the time of Christ and the Apostles. I don’t know how my faith would be manifested in me differently (or at all) had I been another person in another place and time – but if I came to a faith in Jesus and kept the same kind of desire for an understanding rooted in beginnings, I imagine I would have come to Catholicism regardless.

  11. Good question. I am Lutheran. I was raised Southern Baptist and went through Charismatic and other evangelical churches and became Calvinist for a while. I did consider Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox because of the historical link to our roots. We have lost alot of our Jewish roots as well. I became Lutheran because of the emphasis on God’s grace and the theology of the cross and You can’t figure God out. There is mystery and paradox. You cannot work out logically predestination and God’s will for all to be saved. I believe in the theology of the cross.
    If Catholicism reformed as Luther wanted then yes I would be Catholic.
    I see more damage in fundamentalist circles who condemn people who do not believe as they do.

  12. I was Super Catholic Girl in High School, graduated with an award for excellence in Theology! From there I began a downward spiral. When I hit rock bottom, examined my life, and discovered I had pretty much broken every commandment but one ( and it’s not the one most people think it is) I went to mass. There is a part in the Mass where the priest holds up the host and says “Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him who takes away the sins of the world” to which the people answer “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and my soul will be healed.” This happened shortly after I had the expericne I wrote about in my blog “What do you mean, you don’t know my name?” Anyway, I had a very strong sense of the LORD saying to me “come” so I recieved Holy Communion.
    But I knew that according to the church law, that was a big NONO! Since I hadn’t been to mass or confession for over 4 years. So I went to confession. I went to a strange church, I sat and watched the priests take their places, and chose a young one, but when I confessed my sin, he went off on this rampage about how if I had died with that sin on my soul I would have gone strait to hell. Then he gave me my penance, say 5 Our Father’s and 5 Hail Mary’s. And my old sacastic self took over and exclaimed, if my soul were damned to hell, how is saying a set of words over and over again going to save me? That is why I am not a Roman Catholic anymore. BUT, I do believe that Catholics can be saved believers and that hearing the Gospel will not lead a person to leave “The Church”. One of my noncatholic friends sent his daughter to a Catholic high school. This young lady was very intellegent and a very deep thinker. She came home one day and exclaimed that her religion teacher said, “not all Christians are Catholic, but all Catholics are Christian.” Her dad asked what she thought about that statement and she answered, “if a Catholic is not a Christian, then he isn’t really a Catholic either.”
    sorry for rambling. this was an interesting question and the comments were thought provoking as well.

  13. How does this not degenerate into a social analysis of the foundations of all faith, and just undercut the possibility that when humans see God it’s because of a true ability to grasp the truth?

    Or you only asking it because Calvinists believe in predestination more than others?

  14. I don’t know if my testimony bears on your question but I will try and briefly tell you my journey.

    I was born into a Catholic family and was raised as a Catholic the first 14 years of my life. Not a strict Catholicism by any means. My parents never went to mass because my mom was a divorcee. I was baptized as a baby, received first communion around 6 or 7 years old and was confirmed at around 12. From 13 to 14 my brother and I would leave for Mass every Sunday but only stopped at the church long enough to grab a bulletin and then off to the woods to play! 🙂

    Around 14 or 15 my mother and father started attending an Evangelical Free Church and I never stepped foot inside a Catholic Church again for 35 years except once in the early 80’s when on vacation in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. At 20 I committed my life to the Lord and proceeded to study the Bible and read ministry by various authors. I became pretty much Calvinistic in my thinking. I attended a Bible school for a while and even pastored a small house church fellowship for 2 years. I have been in and out of most of the major denominational churches and non. In recent years I spent 7 years among Plymouth Brethren (very Calvinistic) and then house churches again.

    About 3 years ago I started really studying the early Church fathers and came to the conclusion that my Protestant/Calvinistic faith was not the faith of the early Christians but the faith of the early Christians was more like that held by the Catholic Church of my youth. Needless to say this disturbed me greatly but I kept reading and studying and praying much! I want to be an authentic Christian and to be in the line of truth and not heresy or schisms.

    One thing I had to seriously deal with was the early church’s belief in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. They did not believe that the bread and wine were symbols as all Protestants believe but were in fact Christ in flesh. With this burning issue on my heart I found that only the Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox maintain this important belief of the early Christians.

    That opened the door for me to really study what the Catholic Church holds and believes. I was surprised by what I learned.

    Not fully convinced of Christ in the Eucharist I decided, just out of curiosity, one day to go the chapel at a near by Catholic Church during Eucharistic adoration. A week and a half before this I had severely injured my back and was unable to even go to work for two days but when I was able to work the pain persisted but not enough to keep me bedfast. I went to the chapel with my body wracked in pain and another severe headache that I was experiencing since the injury. I spent about 40 minutes in the chapel and all I can say is that I had somewhat of a mystical experience as I asked the Lord to lead my wife and I into the fullness of truth. I can’t say I had an out-of-body experience but very close. Needless to say I walked into that chapel wracked with pain and walked out well without any pain whatsoever and neither has it returned. Consequently I decided to inquire what it would take for us to come into full communion with the Catholic Church. We love the Church and are coming to love it more every day! It has been many years that I have been on a “quest” and have not had any real rest except in my devotion to Christ. Now I have rest and peace as I believe I have found my home and where Christ has always wanted me.

    Anyway, that’s my testimony. I hope it’s not too long.

    Philologus

  15. Brandon says:

    I was not raised in a reformed/calvinistic church or home. I often relate to how you describe your upbringing in a rural backwards southern fundamental church. As I was coming to my knowledge of reformed teachings, I became a big concern to my family and church. My Mom made me go talk to a pastor friend of hers to make sure I was still a Christian. There was a lot of confrontation (admittedly most of it my fault) on the topic of reformed beliefs, yet I felt that scripture testified to its truth too strongly to let it go. That was atleast 5 years ago, so while I am not very familiar with how entrenched people become in the Catholic faith, I know how deeply entrenched I was in my fundamentalist faith from childbirth on, and I couldn’t imagine it being any stronger than what I learned. I think the thing about my fundamentalist upbringing that would separate me from Catholics, is the emphasis on Sola Scriptura. Sola Scriptura was the foundation upon which my fundamentalism, and now my reformed beliefs rest. With Catholics, there is an entirely different foundation. I think I would lean towards a ‘yes’ answer, but not emphatically.

  16. Well,

    I have some personal experience with this. Now, I, myself, grew up in an SBC church and did not become a Calvinist until Seminary (very similar story as John Piper, except without all the crying). But my wife did grow up Catholic and began to question the church’s teachings in college. Her whole family was catholic and many of them left before this time (which actually caused more friction in the family and didn’t make her want to leave the church). Still she began asking all the wrong questions to her priest (by the way she was an altar girl or whatever it is that young girls do in the mass), who eventually told her that she should leave the church. She didn’t become a Calvinist until just before she met me (after some more study on her part).

    Also, though, I also experienced this in the church I attended in New Orleans, LA, a most Catholic haven. Most of the people we baptized came out of a Catholic background right into a reformed church. Mainly this happened through a process of several months, but when they did leave, they were generally pretty steamed about how the Catholic church decieved them in regards to the teachings of the Bible on salvation, Mary worship, and the sacraments (among other things).

    So I do think it is possible for current calvinists to have left the Catholic church after they come to a knowledge of the truth. I think it is really hard to remain (at least it was for those I have known, including my wife), once you see the major problems with their theology.

    Soli Deo Gloria,
    D.R.

  17. Patrick says:

    I hope I don’t derail the actual conversation, here, but I wanted to bring up one little topic that might be useful in the discussion.

    Where does the Bible teach Sola Scriptura?

    Can anyone name one passage (in context) that clearly states that scripture alone is the pillar and foundation of truth?

    -Patrick

  18. Love ya Patrick, but let’s not go there on this thread 🙂 Trying to keep this a non-debate discussion. Email responses are fine. Thanks.

  19. Patrick,

    Can you cite one scripture that states the Roman Church is the pillar and foundation of truth?

    I believe that scripture is the final authority or the norm for faith and practice but not like what the fundamentalists and some believe(inerrancy).
    I believe Christ is the truth(Word of God) and scripture is the means that we encounter Christ.
    Word and Sacraments are where we recieve Christ and forgiveness of sins

  20. Guys…………..PLEASE don’t make me close the thread. Keep to the topic. Debate this elsewhere. THanks.

  21. I grew up in the (United) Methodist Church. I never heard about either the redeeming work of Christ, or about John Wesley, until I went off to college. I came to Christ because of an inner longing (as best as I can characterize it). I’ve never had much patience with religious clap-trap, so IF I had been raised a Catholic, and IF that upbringing had been about the same as most of my Catholic friends growing up, I suspect I would have had the same inner longing in college which eventually led me to Christ, and Christ alone.

  22. It works like this: you are effectually called (regenerated); then you experience conversion (faith and repentance). The process of conversion involves getting understanding by finding the truth in the Bible and the truth in doctrine, because you have to know what you are to have faith in and what you are to repent of. Regeneration gives you the ability to find the truth. In this search for the truth in the Bible and regarding doctrine it doesn’t matter where you were before effectual calling. You enter a new world. You start anew. And with the Spirit of Truth in you you will find the Truth, if you make the effort. And the Truth is five solas, doctrines of grace, covenant of redemption theology.

  23. Patrick says:

    Sorry, Michael. Now that I think of it, that would not add to the discussion the way I sort of thought it would when I typed it. Not entirely sure how I thought it was going to help the discussion, but I did.

    Anyone who wants to answer me, please feel free to e-mail, but don’t respond on this thread.

    On topic, I think that it is possible and right for people to change their beliefs based on the evidence around them. I heard about one fellow who was working on the Human Genome Project who started out as an atheist but was convinced by what he saw in studying DNA that a higher intelligence was involved. His own studies of what he probably thought was unrelated to religion led him to a personal conviction that there is something more than just the physical world we see around us.

    My point in relating that was to say that if we are honest with ourselves and those around us, we all know we should use our God-given reason when we approach our faith. Once we have faith in the bare essentials of Christian doctrine (God exists, God made us, Jesus is God’s son, Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead, there is some way we can have forgiveness because of Jesus’ death), we have to use our reason to determine what expression of the Christian faith is the most true to the actual intent and teaching of Jesus. An honest Christian, who has the integrity to stand up for his beliefs ought to be willing to change them if he becomes convinced that God’s actual wishes are different from the man’s background and former beliefs. For some, that apparently means coming to a place where they believe and profess a Calvinist theology. I am not throwing rocks, but I personally find that position hard to believe in, since I went the other way and ended up crossing the Tiber. This was because of intellectual and spiritual integrity and desire to follow where I am certain God is leading me.

    Mike, don’t you have an answer to this one? What do you think is the answer to your own question?

    -Patrick

  24. Funny, I been calling the generalized question you ask the “Gilligan’s Island Test” for many years. Take any doctrinal belief you hold…. baptism, eternal security, the rapture, etc, and put it to the Gilligans’ Island Test. If you inhabited an Island, and a bible dropped from the sky, and you read it cover to cover, and then studied the issue, would your conclusions match your current belief? You have no benefit of anyones commentary, pre-prejudice, thoughts. Just you, a blank mind, and the bible. Yes, I know the Holy Spirit also, but I can’t explain so much division that we have give that he will guide us into all truth… but that’s another discussion.

  25. Anthony Footit says:

    I’m curious of something… I spent a good deal of my life as an agnostic/secular humanist. I was born a Catholic, and baptised as such then, but I’ve most definitely denied Christ since then… During the (2-3 hour long…) Easter Vigil service I attended, new members of the Church were baptised, and then we repeated the same vows given by our new brothers, and then we were sprinkled with that same water. (Some actually from the Jordan!) So… I admit myself that I needed to be baptised again. Was I? I think so. That water was *cold*.

    Wait… I’m Catholic because my parents were. It was a homecoming for me. I went to a Methodist service once with a friend’s family, and I was very confused by it. I felt very… out of place. If I were born a Calvinist, I imagine I probably wouldn’t have gone back to the Church at all. I’d probably convert to Judaism. 😉

  26. Benjamin Nitu says:

    Romans 10:17 NIV
    ” … faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ”
    God’s special revelation, the Bible, should be placed back to its high place.
    Sola Scriptura does not mean, as others believe, that we are not interested in church’s history or tradition, but rather that our final authority will always be the Bible.
    That’s the reason Reformers insited on translating the Bible and teach people how to read; they wanted people to read the Bible for themselves.
    If God inspired the Bible, then it is logical to believe that we can individualy understand it.
    God’s word is perfect, our theology might not, but the challenge remains for us to grow deeper in understanding his word.
    God bless you all

  27. Rick, your “Gilligan’s Island” test (“just you, a blank mind, and the bible”) is easy to answer from church history: 95%+ chance you’d end up as some sort of heretic.

    The whole point is that God never intended the Bible to be read by single individuals with blank minds somewhere on a desert island, but to be read, proclaimed, digested, confessed by the *church*. The Bible is addressed principally to the *church*, not just to us as individuals. Yes, it speaks to us as individuals, but only insofar as we are individuals who are also members of Christ’s body, the church.

    Separating the Bible and the church is always a recipe for disaster, whether you end up with a churchless Bible or a Bible-less church (both of which are really oxymorons).

  28. Not a Catholic. Not a Calvinist.

    Was an Adventist, but went the other way when I read Romans 10:9.

    Haven’t darkened the doors of too many churches, because every time I think about it, I feel like I learn more simply going to the place in my mind where God is.

    I couldn’t have stayed safe in a church building after God kicked down my hearts door.

    So, here I am, God’s Renegade Girl, proud to be on Satan’s Hit List, and depending on Him for everything, even the strength to stay here in the Desert of the Real.

  29. As the former Cardinal Ratzinger stated in one of his books, If one thinks one’s faith is a matter of accident that one was born into it, then weakens faith by making it nothing more than a habit, and not a thing of grace. (this is a very poor paraphrase.)

  30. Umm….didn’t Martin Luther grow up in a Catholic church and become for the most part a Calvinist?

    As in science, I think one exception proves the rule false, back to the drawing board.

    We all miss some of the truth, but if truth can only be found by being in the right place at the right time, we are in trouble. This also leaves out the whole role that God and His Spirit play in bringing people to greater understanding of Himself.

  31. I don’t think it’s that truth can or can’t be found under only one set of circumstances, I think the question revolves around how you interpret the truth based on your experiences.

    The Bible is Truth, but Calvinism or Arminianism or Preterism or whatever is an interpretation of that truth.

    Based on that, I definitely think your journey would look a lot different from a different start point. For me personally, I started from a suburban Arminian evangelical background and have gravitated towards Open Theism as well as more Orthodox churches. I’m still seeking, but I’ve come around a different way. Had I been raised different, I might be in a different place now. Of course my girlfriend was raised in a Calvinist Evangelical background and she’s going the same direction as me. Go fig.

  32. “Umm….didn’t Martin Luther grow up in a Catholic church ***and become for the most part a Calvinist?***”

    As Alice from the Dilbert cartoons would say: “Must… control… fist… of… death…” 🙂

  33. UGADawg47 says:

    The key part of the question asked is “by your own study of the Bible.” Now granted, each person brings his/her own preconceived notions to his/her own study of the Bible. And having never been a Roman Catholic I don’t bring any RC biases to my study of the scripture. Conversly Roman Catholics don’t bring any conservative Southern Baptist biases to theirs either. So in answering the question, I have to assume that I am/was Roman Catholic and try to read the Bible with their beliefs and understandings. I say that to be fair and honest in my response. So here goes my attempt:

    If I’m reading the Bible, as a Catholic, it occurs to me that certain teachings of my church are just plain wrong and others are at least questionable.

    On the question of Mary the mother of Jesus, it seems that she obviously was a virgin at the time of the conception of Jesus, but did not remain a virgin, per the teaching of the RCC, for the rest of her life. Mark 6:3 indicates that he had brothers and sisters. And even the commentary from the New American Bible(a Roman Catholic translation) says “The question of meaning here would not have arisen but for the faith of the church in Mary’s perpetual virginity.”

    On the subject of the Mass, Jesus said that it was his body and his blood, so perhaps Transsubstantiation is true. However, the writer of Hebrews says Christ offered Himself once for all (Hebrews 7:27; 10:11-14). So while the bread and wine may literally be the body and blood of Christ, it cannot be a sacrifice.

    On the subject of the Papacy/Bishops/Priests, Peter does seem to have a prominent place in the early church, but he doesn’t seem to be the head. Further there is little if anything to support the idea of apostolic succession, even if Peter was the head. And even if Peter was the head and apostolic succession is true, there is no record of Peter being in Rome, unless it is meant by Babylon in First Peter 5:13 (which incidently I don’t believe). And even if he did eventually go to Rome, how do I know his apostolic successor was in Rome and not Jerusalem(where he spent most of his ministry). Furthurmore Peter was married (Matthew 8:14-15), so he couldn’t have been the Pope. Wait a minute, he couldn’t have even been a priest. And Paul says for a Bishop to be the husband of one wife(First Timothy 3:2), so the church must be wrong on this issue also.

    Well, I’ve rambled on for too long here, but I think I would be convinced that the church is wrong on at least some of its teachings.

  34. I think the sentence “….Martin Luther….a Calvinist..” opens up a black hole in the universe somewhere. Yeow! 🙂

  35. Patrick says:

    UGADawg-

    Thanks for trying to see it from the Catholic perspective!

    Couple of qiuck thoughts, though. Would you not go to your pastor if you felt that your church (whatever leaning it has) was acting in contradiction to the Bible? We are specifically told to correct erring brethren. If you just read the Bible and assume that since your reading doesn’t jive with what you see in the church, the church must be wrong, but you don’t check with the person accepted by the congregation as the local authority figure on doctrine and teaching, are you not in the wrong? I always go to my pastor when something doesn’t jive. That’s part of his job, after all. If he can’t explain why his teaching and the Bible don’t agree, I can look elsewhere for answers, but there certainly might be very good reasons why I didn’t understand an apparent discrepancy before.

    While I won’t debate the doctrines you bring up on this forum (e-mail me if you want my thoughts), I think it is a vital thing to not try to be a Christian in a vaccuum. Jesus didn’t just hand His disciples a book and tell them to follow the instructions. He established a community of faith, which is what the Church is supposed to be. As such, some are teachers, others are ministers in other ways.

    And, in brief, for a thousand years priests could be married. The discipline (not doctrine) of priestly celibacy in the Roman Catholic Church came about largely from political reasons, not theological. It honestly could be removed by the Pope at any time. Some speculate that it might one day be, due the current shortage in priests.

    -Patrick

  36. John H,
    I don’t debate that the “Gilligan’s Island” test is ludicrous, but intended only for introspection. As a Southern Baptist, the Rapture is taken as Bible fact. Although when I ask my friends who throroughly believe in the rapture, their best evidence of it is that there are a bunch of Left Behind books about it. They really don’t have a clue as to why they believe in a rapture, other than what has passed by word of mouth, rather than the Bible. (Hope my belief on the matter isn’t too obvious). Anyway, we Baptists are certain we are more informed to God’s designs than the Catholics who base their beliefs on Church tradition as well as the Bible.

    BTW, every Baptist church I’ve ever been to has a Piano on the left and an Organ on the right, just as the new testament prescribes. Glad I’m not one of those foolish Catholics.

  37. Hey that is cool, my church has a piano on the left and an organ on the right. I’m glad to find out that we are truely Biblical and Baptist.

    Oh, put away the fist of death and close the black holes, I was only making a point that it is possible for a Catholic to move out of the RCC into a more reformed viewpoint. Martin L was obviously in the RCC and was moved by Scripture to change direction.

    So I suppose that if I had grown up in the RCC the same would be possible for me. There is far more evidence in Scripture for a Reformed viewpoint and the 5 Solas (I will keep away from the dreaded “C” word here) than an RCC perspective on doctrine.

  38. Rick,

    Thanks for the clarification. I still think the test is misleading even as a basis for self-examination, because it is not only *not* the basis on which we “do theology”, but it is the precise, complete, polar opposite of how God intends us to know Him through His Word.

    The question, rather, should simply be: “Where do you find that in the Bible? Show me!”

    Take the Trinity or the Incarnation, for example. It would be a remarkable person indeed who could read the Bible “stone cold”, with no previous knowledge of Christianity, and come away with the orthodox doctrines of the Trinity and Incarnation. It took the church hundreds of years to wrestle with the biblical data on these complex issues.

    However, now the church has determined what the biblical teachings is on these topics, it should now be possible for any Christian to see how those teachings are arrived at from Scripture.

    Just as with any other field of learning: in maths, for example, it usually takes a genius to come up with a new mathematical concept for the first time, but often those concepts can then be readily understood by those at undergraduate level or below.

  39. I come back from being away a few days later and WHERE IS MY PONY? Obviously God does not want me to have a pony.

  40. Kelty Broadstone says:

    The seventh point of calvinism teaches that this is the best of all possible worlds, no alternatives, no what-ifs etc. etc. no would I have ended up here or there

    This is absolutely the best of all possible worlds for which God through His Incarnate One lifts us into His infinitely glory in Christ Jesus

    Which is to say, there is no other “possible” world, God could not have done it any other way

    iMonk, perhaps you can come back to Calvinism now that are two other points which you can embrace and by which your humanity is affirmed Incarnationally

  41. Some graffiti from an Australian Anglican forum

    Free will is a foregone conclusion
    God made me an Arminian
    Choose life, choose Calvinism

  42. Kelty –

    If this is the best of all possible worlds, I have to question God’s potency. If the best he could do was a fallen world where men are but worms before him and none are righteous not even one and all of our works are dead and none even seek God, then he probably should have refrained from doing anything.

    Patrick –

    I like your thoughts on teaching as it relates to the Church and community. I think Protestants threw out alot of baby with our bath water when we got rid of Church authority and community ideals. Nowadays if a church says something hard for us to swallow, we just quit and find a new one more to our liking. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s just growth avoidance.

  43. Well, I *did* start out Roman Catholic, swung over to Protestantism after college (though I have no idea whether the people I hung with were Calvinists), and now I’m swinging towards Catholicism again, but I might swing back, or get off the pendulum at the Episcopalian stop. I shall be pleasantly surprised whichever happens. 🙂

  44. Something that is very interesting to me about the question is that it presupposes that wherever the answerer is right at the moment (Calvinist, RC, wherever) is going to be, in the answerer’s mind, the “right” place. I’m wondering how many people believe that they currently have the most complete understanding of truth, and how many people see wherever they are in their faith as one more step towards something greater and larger?

    (In the first case, the question is in some ways more urgent. In the second case, the second could almost be “If you started out from someplace else, would you still get where you are going?” )

  45. The initial question is faulty. You aren’t “Catholic” or “Calvanist” – you are a disciple of CHRIST. One of the major problems of the Church (with a capital C) is the fact that we are so segregated in mentality and spirituality. We close ourselves into our little church home and forget about the larger world of believers. Christ most certainly wants us to worship together and we obviously can’t all do that in one big building. So we divide up according to style of worship, a few issues of doctrine, the people we know and love, and the practical location of the building. Occasionally we go to or stay at a church for unholy reasons. But those 5 (and maybe a couple more) reasons are ALL IT IS. I think that God knows which congregation would be the best medium to grow each of us into mature believers, and He calls us to those congregations just like He calls us into ministry of other sorts. It’s a bit pluralist to view Calvanist Truth as different than Catholic Truth. God IS Truth. If we are in God, then any belief we have that is OF God is Truth. Scripture sums it up nicely:
    “10I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. 11My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”

    13Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul? 14I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15so no one can say that you were baptized into my name. 16(Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) 17For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
    Christ the Wisdom and Power of God

    18For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written:
    “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

    20Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.

    26Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29so that no one may boast before him. 30It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”” 1 Cor 1:10-31