"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." - Jerome

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Why I Cannot be Roman Catholic

My investigation of the Christian faith has largely been executed in an historical manner. Such a journey often leads people to switch traditions. As for myself, I found myself most comfortable in Reformed Presbyterianism. But I also see some people look past Geneva (or even Wittenburg and Canterbury) to Rome. I must admit, at one time of reading Chesterton and Peter Kreeft, Rome looked like a magical destination. Yet, the more I study Historical Theology, the less Rome appeals to me. That is partly why I did this series, not just to bash Roman Catholics, but to explain why studying history led me away from Rome and not towards it. The areas in Romanism that attracted me (tradition, authority, etc) were not best preserved there. Instead, fidelity to a faith centered on Christ, that faith of the apostles and evident in so much of the history of the work of the Holy Spirit across time, leads me to Reformation Christianity. I want to do a few posts sometime on a more positive note of “Why I am a Reformed Catholic,” or Reformation Christian, or whatever, but I want to give some of topics I’d like to cover (Imputation, Word and Sacrament, Sola Fide, etc) a little more time to simmer in my mind, and allow myself some time to do some broader reading in systematics to best craft those posts. Let me know if there is any interest in such a thing or if I am writing these blog series just for my own benefit. Here is a recap of the Roman Catholic series:

Why I cannot be a Roman Catholic:

1) I believe in the catholic faith (and Rome departed from catholic teachings)

2) I believe in Tradition (as apostolic teaching, not mere transfer of authority)

3) I believe in Merit (Christ's Merit, not man's merit)

4) I believe Mary is the Theotokos (And points to Christ, not herself for devotion)

5) I believe in Authority (of Scripture above church, councils, and popes)


Andrew said...

It was a good series -you didn't 'sell' me on it- but it's good to hear a historical theology student on it.

I would be very interested in posts on Sola Fide, and imputation. I'd also like to hear about how sanctification and justification can be formally seperated. But that's all just me, you can do whatever you want and I'll still think it's good.

M. Jay Bennett said...

I've enjoyed these posts very much Jared. Nice work! Keep it up.

Beth said...

Hi Jared- Thanks for the post. When I have a bit more time, I want to read it more thoroughly. As an Eastern Orthodox convert who upholds many of the tenets that you prescribe to in the blog, I wonder why not consider Orthodoxy? And if you haven't had a chance, or maybe do not know about it, check out Ancient Faith Radio, an online Orthodox radio station full of podcasts and Orthodox music. A blessed Easter to you. Pascha for us is next week. Beth

Jared Nelson said...

Beth -

I appreciate many aspects of Eastern Orthodoxy, especially through the works of Jaroslav Pelikan and I tend to prefer the Eastern fathers to the Latin fathers in the Early Church. I would look forward to interaction on these 5 posts if you have any thoughts on their merits.

Mark Henderson said...

Hi Jared,

I found these posts very interesting. Almost 20 years ago now I began an intensive study of Christian theology after returning tot he practice of the faith as an adult. I basically came to the same conclusions as you via the same route - historical theology and history generally. Rome's claims just can't be justified at the bar of history, unless you posit a theory of development, a la Newman, which begins with a grain of truth, i.e. that udnerstanding of doctrine has deepned over time, but is then stretched beyond breaking point in the service of papal infallibility, etc.

Moniki Moraes said...

Maybe if you know the Fraternity of Saint Pio X you change your mind.

Anonymous said...

I grew up reformed and now I am entering the Catholic Church this Easter. My Response:
1) If the Rome does not define what is 'catholic' who does? You? Anyone with a Bible and a pulse?
2) Authority is both teaching and position. The hierarchy of the Church is there to keep the message the same as the apostles taught it.
3) The Church doesnt teach anything but the merit of Christ, you can only cooperate with grace, it originates from Christ read some St. Augustine.
4) Mary pionts to Christ, we venerate her to venerate Christ.
5)Protestants are now just realizing that Authority of the Scriptures is not enough, there are 3200 denominations that all think thier interpretation of the Bible is right. How is that not Christian relativism?
*To understand the NT you must understand the OT, you cant understand Mary without understanding the Ark of the Covanent, you cant understand the Eucharist without understanding Passover, you cant understand Baptism without understanding Circumcision, you cant understand the priesthood until you understand the priesthood (joke). In the end we are all brothers, we need to be united or we will all lose a lot.