"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)


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  • « How are you doing spiritually? by Pastor John Samson | Main | How may I know I'm elect? »

    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 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,


    Posted by John on July 16, 2006 01:00 AM


    Wow, what a great testimony to the grace of God! I was very encouraged to read how the Lord has used your ministry to impact the life of one of your readers.
    Thank you so much for posting this!

    Wow, what a blessing. This site is definitley a blessing to me and shows that all words of men must be held against the bench that is God's Word. Amen.

    Soli Deo Gloria

    As a former Roman Catholic who eventually came to a Reformed understanding I can relate to much of your experience.

    I would encourage you to keep reading this site and other good reformed sites.

    You don't mention a church you attend. I would highly recommend you find a Bible believing church ASAP if you have not done so already--perhaps the guys here can help with that if you need some (But I can't speak for them)

    That was one of my biggest mistakes when I left RCism--not getting into a Church body to be edified. I had some stumbles that I could have avoided. But now I have learned from that.

    God is good.

    Great letter, and very encouraging! His remark that "Most Christian website are a load of garbage" is very sadly true. I've noticed many confused looks from committed Roman Catholics when I discuss theology with them, and they learn that there are such things as Protestants who think Christians actually have to obey Christ, that tradition doesn't need to be eradicated from the church, and that shoving tracts into people's faces in parking lots isn't effective evangelism. Some Catholics in my own family only know Protestantism as containing either extreme liberals or "Bible-Thumping Know-Nothings," to quote this particular gentleman. Let's pray we'll be an effective and intelligent witness to correct that impression!

    I am a Catholic with a strong appreciation of the Reformed Tradition. I must say that I find Calvin closer to the Bible than 'Calvinism' is. Calvin agrees with, or develops many points of Thomas Aquinas. I consider Reformed Christians as my close brothers in Christ.

    Christ is in our midst!

    I am a Catholic as well deepening my appreciation of the Reformed Tradition. Thank you for your work on this site.

    I am a former Roman Catholic myself. I "feel his pain" so to speak. My prayers are with this brother and I agree with the impact of this site. This site was a large part of my Calvinism.

    I am a former Calvinist and a recent convert to the Roman Catholic Church.
    I left the (Calvinist)Christian Reformed Church after my parents separated (Divorce was out of the question)
    My mother was lovelessly excommunicated on account of leaving my father with whom was impossible to live. After all her suffering the elders of the church could not find a bit of charity in their hearts: they had to uphold the righteousness and the vengeance of the Jealeous Calvinist God.
    Life in my youth was a veritable walk through a mine field where every little misdemeanor (ie riding your bike on Sundays or having a beer with your friends) would blow you down strait to hell, which I believe was located right undeneath the cheerless whitewashed 'meeting' area where every Sunday we were admonished with 39 and a basketful of points which could be made in the sermon. I was considered particularly depraved and lost all my friends on account of my parents separating. When I came to Canada I vowed I would do without all that gloom and sin and steely eyed rejection. I met however a cradle Angglican girl who refused to marry me if I did not become Anglican. That was a far more christian environment and worship than I had ever experienced in my life.I became a follower of Christ in worship and service. However the Anglican Church became what it became and recently I found that Church teaching were still completely intact in the RC Church. It was like coming home for the first time in my life.Every mass to be in the presence of Christ through his Word and Sacrament. To be forgiven
    each time when you have failed once more. No gloom and doom but the promise of eternal life with God for every one who through God's Grace wills to follow Him with all his mind and heart and deeds without this horrible predestination clause. Blessings to all of you in Christ.

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