Roman Catholic Considers Reformation Theology
I received this email several days ago and thought visitors to the site might find it encouraging. The author has agreed to let me post it but I have removed his name and location per his request:
My name is ________ and I am a 2nd year MA student at ____ College, I am applying to PhD programs this fall and hope to eventually study Medieval Philosophy/Theology (Augustine through Aquinas). I want to thank you for the amount of effort you put into your website and the careful research you have done. Most Christian website are a load of garbage but your has helped me sort out a lot of useful and thought-provoking information.
This particularly became apparent to me this year as I struggled with whether or not in good conscience I could remain a Roman Catholic. I had an evangelical conversion my freshman year at college and (after some bumpy experiences) slowly and painfully grew in my faith. I never really bought into the conservative Trentian orthodoxy but I struggled for a long time because I honestly was scared by most of the crap I saw in "Protestantism" particularly the Bible-Thumping Know-Nothings.
After some encounters with convinced conservative Trentian Catholics, I eventually felt like I had to become a Protestant simply because I was tired of making excuses, making compromises on Grace and the Gospel. The Reformation had always been an interest of mine, especially the Augustinian tradition within Western Christendom. I found your articles, especially on the differences between monergistic and synergistic regeneration very enlightening and fundamental in helping me understand why ultimately I felt something was wrong with Catholicism. In particular I found the "confessional" nature of many of the resources opening up to my eyes that a serious and historical Protestantism was a distinct possibility. (Or maybe I just became a Jansenist :) ) Anyhow.
I don't know if I am a Calvinist per se, although I definitively feel an affinity for the Reformed Tradition and am attening a Congregationalist Church that is very much Reformed. I see a lot of the validity behind the 5-Points but I am also worried about going too far in emphasizing God's freedom. (I am still a Thomist, maybe a Reformed one). But I do get the sense, especially the more and more I pray about it, that the Calvinist distinctives are the right side of the fence to fall on, especially given the man-centered nature of most of contemporary Christianity across the board. I've spent a lot of time reading the resources you provide, they have greatly shaped my thinking, even as a Christain philosopher, about what exactly is Christianity per se. I am in a weird boat though, a very reluctant Protestant (and perhaps Calvinist!) I am a Catholic in everything except my theology, and then I mostly support Luther and Calvin and the Augustinian tradition that produced them. (Part of the reason I can't stand "Bible-believing Christians", if only they believed in the Bible!) Perhaps by God's grace I will be fully Reformed one of these days, and doing so without actually becoming one the Calvinists that the Internet Monk doesn't like too much. Oh well.
I want to wish you all the luck in this ministry and pray that the Lord blesses it and uses it to transform many lives. Our society and the Church has far too much denied the reality of Biblical truth and the Biblical wordlview, reason informed by faith in revealed truth. (Maybe I am a Calvinist after all! I sound like one, have even started defending TULIP from time to time just to get a rile out of people). I know how much though what you say and write in the website must annoy lots of people's misconceptions about what is Biblical and Evangelical Christianity. But I thank the Lord for your witness. I will keep you and your work at monergism.com in my thoughts and prayers. It was so refreshing to stumble across it on the web. Most Christian ministries act more like businesses than orginazations serving the world in the name of Christ. May God richly bless you and continue to guide you in the good work you are doing,