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"...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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  • « D.A. Carson on Piper's "The Future of Justification" | Main | New Missions Blog »

    Before you convert to Roman Catholicism... (Top Ten List)

    At his blog at www.aomin.org, my friend, Dr. James White writes:

    Last week I received the following e-mail, and I felt it would be best to share my response here on the blog.

    Dear Mr. White, For someone considering converting to Catholicism, what questions would you put to them in order to discern whether or not they have examined their situation sufficiently? Say, a Top 10 list. Thanks.

    When I posted this question in our chat channel a number of folks commented that it was in fact a great question, and we started to throw out some possible answers. Here is my "Top Ten List" in response to this fine inquiry.

    10) Have you listened to both sides? That is, have you done more than read Rome Sweet Home and listen to a few emotion-tugging conversion stories? Have you actually taken the time to find sound, serious responses to Rome's claims, those offered by writers ever since the Reformation, such as Goode, Whitaker, Salmon, and modern writers? I specifically exclude from this list anything by Jack Chick and Dave Hunt.

    9) Have you read an objective history of the early church? I refer to one that would explain the great diversity of viewpoints to be found in the writings of the first centuries, and that accurately explains the controversies, struggles, successes and failures of those early believers?

    8) Have you looked carefully at the claims of Rome in a historical light, specifically, have you examined her claims regarding the "unanimous consent" of the Fathers, and all the evidence that exists that stands contrary not only to the universal claims of the Papacy but especially to the concept of Papal Infallibility? How do you explain, consistently, the history of the early church in light of modern claims made by Rome? How do you explain such things as the Pornocracy and the Babylonian Captivity of the Church without assuming the truthfulness of the very system you are embracing?

    7) Have you applied the same standards to the testing of Rome's ultimate claims of authority that Roman Catholic apologists use to attack sola scriptura? How do you explain the fact that Rome's answers to her own objections are circular? For example, if she claims you need the Church to establish an infallible canon, how does that actually answer the question, since you now have to ask how Rome comes to have this infallible knowledge. Or if it is argued that sola scriptura produces anarchy, why doesn't Rome's magisterium produce unanimity and harmony? And if someone claims there are 33,000 denominations due to sola scriptura, since that outrageous number has been debunked repeatedly (see Eric Svendsen's Upon This Slippery Rock for full documentation), have you asked them why they are so dishonest and sloppy with their research?

    6) Have you read the Papal Syllabus of Errors and Indulgentiarum Doctrina? Can anyone read the description of grace found in the latter document and pretend for even a moment that is the doctrine of grace Paul taught to the Romans?

    5) Have you seriously considered the ramifications of Rome's doctrine of sin, forgiveness, eternal and temporal punishments, purgatory, the treasury of merit, transubstantiation, sacramental priesthood, and indulgences? Have you seriously worked through compelling and relevant biblical texts like Ephesians 2, Romans 3-5, Galatians 1-2, Hebrews 7-10 and all of John 6, in light of Roman teaching?

    4) Have you pondered what it means to embrace a system that teaches you approach the sacrifice of Christ thousands of times in your life and yet you can die impure, and, in fact, even die an enemy of God, though you came to the cross over and over again? And have you pondered what it means that though the historical teachings of Rome on these issues are easily identifiable, the vast majority of Roman Catholics today, including priests, bishops, and scholars, don't believe these things anymore?

    3) Have you considered what it means to proclaim a human being the Holy Father (that's a divine name, used by Jesus only of His Father) and the Vicar of Christ (that's the Holy Spirit)? Do you really find anything in Scripture whatsoever that would lead you to believe it was Christ's will that a bishop in a city hundreds of miles away in Rome would not only be the head of His church but would be treated as a king upon earth, bowed down to and treated the way the Roman Pontiff is treated?

    2) Have you considered how completely unbiblical and a-historical is the entire complex of doctrines and dogmas related to Mary? Do you seriously believe the Apostles taught that Mary was immaculately conceived, and that she was a perpetual virgin (so that she traveled about Palestine with a group of young men who were not her sons, but were Jesus' cousins, or half-brothers (children of a previous marriage of Joseph), or the like? Do you really believe that dogmas defined nearly 2,000 years after the birth of Christ represent the actual teachings of the Apostles? Are you aware that such doctrines as perpetual virginity and bodily assumption have their origin in gnosticism, not Christianity, and have no foundation in apostolic doctrine or practice? How do you explain how it is you must believe these things de fide, by faith, when generations of Christians lived and died without ever even having heard of such things?

    And the number 1 question I would ask of such a person is: if you claim to have once embraced the gospel of grace, whereby you confessed that your sole standing before a thrice-holy God was the seamless garment of the imputed righteousness of Christ, so that you claimed no merit of your own, no mixture of other merit with the perfect righteousness of Christ, but that you stood full and complete in Him and in Him alone, at true peace with God because there is no place in the universe safer from the wrath of God than in Christ, upon what possible grounds could you come to embrace a system that at its very heart denies you the peace that is found in a perfect Savior who accomplishes the Father's will and a Spirit who cannot fail but to bring that work to fruition in the life of God's elect? Do you really believe that the endless cycle of sacramental forgiveness to which you will now commit yourself can provide you the peace that the perfect righteousness of Christ can not?

    Posted by John Samson on August 21, 2007 02:30 AM

    Comments

    Interesting. I am studying Orthodox; How would you ask similar questions to those considering Orthodoxy? Since Orthodoxy is different in many respects to RCism, and Protestantism is from R.C. background, there must be some serious questions to ask.

    Thank you,

    In Him, david.

    David,

    Dr. White wrote the above article on Roman Catholicism after more than two decades of dilligent study in this field. Though I am somewhat familiar with Eastern Orthodoxy, I do not feel qualified to write a suitable top ten list on this subject. However, I would point you to some very helpful articles on the subject (if you have not already seen them) at the www.monergism.com site... just use the search engine to look up Eastern Orthodoxy and the articles can be viewed there.

    Every blessing,

    Prof. Mark Knoll (who recently moved from Wheaton to Notre Dame, yet not as a conversion to Catholicism) and Carolyn Nystrom have published a very insightful work entitled "Is the Reformation Over? An Evangelical Assessment of Contemporary Roman Catholicism." (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005). On page 119 they make this comment: "We estimate that Evangelicals can embrace at least two-thirds of the Catechism (of the Catholic Church)". Are you familiar with this work and would you agree with the quoted statement?

    Sincere regards,
    Willem Bronkhorst

    Dr. Robert Morey just released his book on Eastern Orthodoxy. You can buy it at biblicalthought.com It is small, but chock full of history and he challenges three main ideas in EO: icongraphy, becoming divine and tradition. Remember, one church's saint, is another person's heretic. I would also bring up the Babylinian captivity of the church.

    yes, Morey's book is out and is fairly unreliable. I have read the whole thing and it is filled with misquotes of the type you see in a Watchtower publication. I'd stick with Letham or Fairbairn,even though they aren't perfect, they are much better works by far.

    QUOTE: "yes, Morey's book is out and is fairly unreliable. I have read the whole thing and it is filled with misquotes of the type you see in a Watchtower publication. I'd stick with Letham or Fairbairn,even though they aren't perfect, they are much better works by far."

    ...said Perry the Eastern Orthodox adherent.

    Makes you wonder why an Eastern Orthodox-friendly blogger would recommend stearing clear of a book that claims to thoroughly refute the Eastern Orthodox religion and demonstrate it's almost entirely pagan corruption.

    To Stephen Macasil,

    Morey's book is corny. The protestant scholar Daniel B. Clendenin did a way better job.

    I read Morey's book & P.Robinson is correct. Morey is a hyper cynic who shot himself in the foot plenty of times in that book. Most of the arguments he used can be used against him and protestantism in general. He thinks the "Apostles creed" & "The Athanasian Creed" are Eastern Orthodox creeds. For someone that claimed to do alot of studying in regards to ORthodoxy...half he time, he really didn't know what he was talking about. Those are not Eastern Orthodox creeds!!! And alot of protestants embrace those creeds that Morey called "fraudulent". Alot of the stuff in the book is mere dismissial & declaration. All he says is "fraudulent! fraudulent! fraudulent!"

    He thinks Saint Papias, and alot of the other early christians just didn't exist!!! Now what kind of scholarship is that?

    And the sad thing is, alot of un-informed protestants will believe this crap.


    I already refuted 60% of the book. To be honest it's nothing more than an over groan jack chick tract.

    One can easily find another Reformed protestant that will say the opposite of what Morey is saying on any givin topic......not to mention other protestants in general. Morey tries to speak for all "evangelicals", but in doing so he is only shooting himself in the foot.


    JNORM888

    I am a very proud Catholic and it is truly painful to see this kind of message coming from a non-Catholic Christian. If any person feels a deep calling from God to be in one Christian religion over another, who are we to question that calling?
    The best thing you can do for someone considering conversion is to love them and pray for them to openly receive Christ in the denomination through which He will best reveal Himself to that individual. If it's Catholicism, have them read the Catechism of the Catholic Church- you can even read it for free online! This book contains the teachings of the Church and explains why the Church upholds these teachings. It even explains the meaning behind the sacrament of penance and reconciliation and makes it abundantly clear that only God forgives sins.

    JNORM888,

    Would you mind quoting the page #'s and paragraphs where Morey makes the claims you assert he makes?

    Thanks

    hmm.. luv it )

    To tell you the truth....except for the ANGLICAN worship, protestants have really shipwrecked the Christian Faith when it comes to adoration, reverence, and a sense of God's presence in the Eucharist. The whole pentecostal...praise band....worship leader....contemporary whatever...has worn true Christianity so thin...that people seek deeper vocabulary that usually is found in the Catholic Tradition.

    Randy,

    I would suggest that being contemporary is not really the problem. God forbid that we would seek to be archaic just for the sake of it. The issue is substance rather than style.

    Why is it that there are so many attacks on the Roman Catholic Church? But God works in mysterious ways, by presenting such challenges, you only strengthen the fervor of those who want to be Catholics. The Truth itself is undeniable, if they search far and deep enough given all these objections, they will find that Roman Catholicism is the true Church founded by Christ himself and that the RC adheres to the teachings of Christ himself.

    It's very silly to think that some odd number of years later, since the conception of the very first Christians who lived during the life time of Jesus, that some amazing genius like Luther finds the truth to Christ's teachings. Ask yourself whether this so called Reformation is truly inspired by the Holy Spirit, or whether it's just a moment of spiritual weakest and human pride where one leaves one's faith?

    But all Catholics and non Catholics alike, rest assure that Christ truly is the way. B/c of the universality and truth of the Catholic Church as Christ's Church, if you are saved you are saved through the graces of the Catholic Church, whether you know it or not.

    For Christ is the head of the Catholic Church and St. Peter holds the key to heaven. Whether you recognize it or you don't, the Catholic Church is the embodiment of Christ's teachings, from the apostles themselves.

    Due to human nature, it's not surprising that there are so many denominations. Even Christ was selective of his apostles, and not all of his apostles were faithful to him. The left, they broke away, just as the many there are so many denominations that sprung from the Church of Rome.

    Though other denominations teach the truth, you seriously cannot deny the validity of the Catholic Church. Where did the Protestant Church come from, if not from the Roman Catholic Church. No matter how far you choose to run away, you carry a part of the Catholic Church with you, no matter how much a prodigal sun runs away, one day he will return home.

    * pardon all my previous typo errors

    As yourself this question: If Protestantism is anymore correct that Roman Catholicism, what does that make of other religions out there? How about Islam? Study the Koran and it's scary to see its similarities to the Bible. It's so easy to tell the same stories and so much easier to modify the simplest details! Through out history, how many times have people claim to be prophets, modify/create their own sacred scriptures, make their own religion? Scientology, Seven Day Adventist, Mormonism, etc.

    Religion itself is made at the whim of humanity, out of curiosity, and self proclaimed enlightenment. Why did one choose Christianity over Buddhism? Hinduism? Shintoism? or even Atheism?

    Humans reach God from our own paths, and look what we get? DIFFERENT RELIGIONS in all their justified values. So what is the ultimate truth, and how can your tiny little brains recognize God if it were not for his Revelation?

    If it were due to a true embodiment of the truth, and faith given from heaven..... and if you believe Christ is the way. You seriously cannot deny his apostles who followed him, the first Christians who learned from the apostles, the work of St. Paul, the early Churches founded. Peter was there leader, and after Peter's death, we have Linus, up until Benedict the XVI.

    If you believe in the Bible, you cant be silly enough to not ask yourself why you believe the Bible has any validity. Why is it that the Bible is more valid than the Koran? It's just a book with historical texts written by ancient scholars. To find truth and to rely on it word for word, makes absolutely no sense!

    Sola Scriptura: I believe in the truth, holiness, and infallibility of the Bible simply b/c it was written so in the Bible. How then is this not circular reasoning?

    The Truth of the Bible is in the writers of the Bible and the fact that the Church choose those books to be inspired by the Holy Spirit. The Catholic Church wrote, and complied the Bible according to it's teachings. Teachings that were passed down from the apostles and evangelists themselves. If the Bible has any validity, it's validity is in the interpretation of its authors and of the people closest to the authors themselves.

    *ask, their, its

    Aside from my haphazard typing, I hope I've contributed somewhat to all of our intellectual understanding and search for truth.

    Whether we agree with each other or not, let's not forget that: Christ is love and that we all need to care, respect, and cherish our brothers and sisters in Christ.

    I actually did examine all the arguments pro and con regarding the Catholic Church before I converted. Seven years later, I am now more than ever convinced that the Catholic Church is the Church founded by Jesus Christ and His hand-picked Apostles with Peter as the head.

    God bless you.

    just two things- why was the foundation of Lutheranism called a reformation if Martin Luther simply split from the church and didn't change any of the imoral practices he saw? It's almost like calling the founding of America the reformation of England- that would be just plain silly. and why didn't you mention Martin Luther's "Von don juden en lugen" (in English The Jews and Their lies) along with the other works listed? I feel it would be just as important to read so one could understand luther's post "reformation" ideals. After all, before he left the church, he wrote of how the Jews were our brothers and we should evangelicaly show them the way to Christ!

    God Bless!

    Robert Joseph,

    For what I consider to be a very fair and balanced approach to the subject of Luther and the Jews, I recommend the following three short articles by Dr. Carl Trueman:

    http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2010/08/luther-and-the-jews-i-the-prob.php

    http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2010/08/luther-and-the-jews-ii-the-con.php

    http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2010/08/luther-and-the-jews-iii-lesson.php

    I think the above "warning" before
    converting to Roman Catholicism is
    kind of ridiculous. I was born
    a Christian, my grandfather was an Episcopalian, from a fairly long line of same, even many ministers.
    In some ways these people, including my father did not even
    come close to "living " their faith
    in the hardship of the 30's 40's
    the paid pretty much a lip service, and kind of snobbish pride at being Epicopalian, but my
    Mom did seek Christian prayer when
    the going was rough. We inherited
    not just the Anglican church from
    my grandfather, but a dominant gene disease called Huntingdon's
    which took him, and two of his
    children (including my father) and
    two of his grandchildren. By
    sheer "luck of the draw my siblings and I escaped.

    In a way my decision to join the
    Catholic church isn't joining Rome,
    but the actual lovely Catholic
    church around the corner and its
    wonderful leader Father Warren
    Metzler, who without a word of
    persuasion, "shows doesn't tell"
    what a true Christian faith can
    do for a person, his flock at all
    levels. I'm starting "what this
    church dubs "Religous Education on
    Thursday. Father Metzler greeted
    me, this new face in his flock at
    the door, with his wonderful smile,
    warm hand , ant the words, "There
    you are!" How canI not join his
    church, and yes square that, a
    good, committed, life long obedient to the holy order he took,
    and for my money and remaining few
    years (I'm 77) that makes for a
    good start. We'll see where things
    go from here.

    I think the above "warning" before
    converting to Roman Catholicism is
    kind of ridiculous. I was born
    a Christian, my grandfather was an Episcopalian, from a fairly long line of same, even many ministers.
    In some ways these people, including my father did not even
    come close to "living " their faith
    in the hardship of the 30's 40's
    the paid pretty much a lip service, and kind of snobbish pride at being Epicopalian, but my
    Mom did seek Christian prayer when
    the going was rough. We inherited
    not just the Anglican church from
    my grandfather, but a dominant gene disease called Huntingdon's
    which took him, and two of his
    children (including my father) and
    two of his grandchildren. By
    sheer "luck of the draw my siblings and I escaped.

    In a way my decision to join the
    Catholic church isn't joining Rome,
    but the actual lovely Catholic
    church around the corner and its
    wonderful leader Father Warren
    Metzler, who without a word of
    persuasion, "shows doesn't tell"
    what a true Christian faith can
    do for a person, his flock at all
    levels. I'm starting "what this
    church dubs "Religous Education on
    Thursday. Father Metzler greeted
    me, this new face in his flock at
    the door, with his wonderful smile,
    warm hand , ant the words, "There
    you are!" How canI not join his
    church, and yes square that, a
    good, committed, life long obedient to the holy order he took,
    and for my money and remaining few
    years (I'm 77) that makes for a
    good start. We'll see where things
    go from here.

    I think the above "warning" before
    converting to Roman Catholicism is
    for me, overkill I was born
    a Christian, my grandfather was an Episcopalian, from a fairly long line of same, even many ministers.
    In some ways these people, including my father did not even
    come close to "living " their faith
    in the hardship of the 30's 40's
    they paid pretty much a lip service, and kind of snobbish pride at being Epicopalian, but my
    Mom did seek comfort in Christian prayer when the going was rough. We inherited
    not just the Anglican church from
    my grandfather, but a dominant gene disease called Huntingdon's
    which took him, and two of his
    children (including my father) and
    two of his grandchildren. By
    sheer "luck of the draw "my siblings and I escaped.

    In a way my decision to join the
    Catholic church isn't joining Rome,
    but the actual lovely Catholic
    church around the corner and its
    wonderful leader Father Warren
    Metzler, who without a word of
    persuasion, "shows doesn't tell"
    what a true Christian faith can
    do for a person joining his flock at all
    levels. I'm starting "what this
    church dubs "Religous Education" on
    Thursday. Father Metzler greeted
    me, this new face in his flock at
    the door, yesterday, the first Sunday in Advent, with his wonderful smile,
    warm hand , and the words, "There
    you are!" How can I not join his
    church, and yes square that, a
    good, committed, life long obedient Christian myself, to His holy order , having become a bit
    disillusioned with the Protestants
    of late,or the ones down the street.
    and for my money and remaining few
    years (I'm 77) that makes for a
    good start. Joining a church with
    a strong, loving, Peace activist,
    and loving leader. We'll see where things go from here.

    I'd like to address a few of Dr. White's points from the original article. John Samson, I'm curious to hear your thoughts about what I proffer here.

    For #9, why didn't Dr. White proffer any recommendations? If he has good "objective histories" which accomplish what he claims they will, why not list them? I think an actual survey of actual Church history will reveal the early Fathers to have been overwhelmingly Catholic(/maybe Orthodox). I think Dr. White makes no recommendations because he can make no recommendations.

    For #8, Dr. White has the same problem. If there's substantial historical evidence in early Christianity which debunks Roman Catholic theology, surely some Protestant apologist has compiled it. Why not mention some credible resource(s) for the reader's benefit?

    In #7: "...why doesn't Rome's magisterium produce unanimity and harmony?" It does, among those who accept the Church's authority. Those who reject it have always been removed from the Church, from Arius to Luther. The Church doesn't define absolutely every aspect of possible contention, so one *could* count legitimate disagreement between Catholics as "disunity" or something likewise. However, the Church does make clear what Christians can and cannot validly disagree about. Without the voice of the Church, we end up at... Protestantism. Regardless of how many denominations exist (and I'm willing to accept well below 33,000), they're still far too many.

    In #5, why can't Dr. White at least touch on specific issues of contrast which he detects between Catholic doctrine and the mentioned portions of Scripture? His argument boils down to "guys, there's totally a conflict here". I'm sorry, but I don't buy that as a good argument.

    Regarding #4, if there are really conflicts between "traditional Catholic doctrine" and "modern Catholic doctrine", why not at least mention some specific issues? He cites no specific issues, which gives the curious reader nothing to work from.

    As to #2: yeah, the perpetual virginity of Mary is totally a false doctrine. Good thing it was only ever accepted by heretics like John Calvin.

    Well, this is awkward.

    Most of these arguments really go no further than asserting "there's totally a conflict here, guys!" I don't expect him to systematically hash through back-and-forth doctrinal points in this setting, but he should at least cite specific conflicts and mention resources for curious readers. This article wouldn't have kept me from becoming Catholic.

    Well now, this didn't really put a dent in my looking into Roman Catholicism. White sounds like a whiner as usual. Exactly, how is Calvinism which denies you free will somehow superior to Roman Catholicism which includes giving you grace and an extra dose of mysticism? I see the true conflict here.

    The discussion on this post is very interesting. As an (orthodox) Lutheran, I would like to point out a couple of points:

    --Lutherans never chose to leave the Church Catholic. We were kicked out. We still consider ourselves "catholic", just not Roman Catholic.

    --Lutherans are the only Protestants who believe the 2,000 year old core doctrines of the Faith: God saves sinners (monergistically) in Holy Baptism, and Christ is truly bodily present in the Holy Sacrament of the Lord's Supper to enrich our salvation and for the forgiveness of sins.

    --The early stages of the Reformation, which we refer to as the "Lutheran Reformation" had NOTHING to do with Salvation. It had everything to do with "Satisfaction". For an explanation, click here:

    http://www.lutherwasnotbornagain.com/2013/10/the-lutheran-reformation-was-about.html

    Many Reformed Protestants, including Baptists and evangelicals, are under the impression that the Reformation began due to a dispute over the Doctrine of Salvation. They are wrong. The first episode of the Protestant Reformation...the LUTHERAN Reformation...was not about Salvation...it was about Satisfaction.

    Let me explain.

    The Catholic Church in the early 1500's was teaching that in order for a Christian to enter heaven, he had to be purified of the sins which he had committed after his salvation; and for the overwhelming majority of catholic Christians of that era, salvation had occurred in their infant Baptism. There were very few adult converts to Christianity in that time, as had been the case in the Early Church. All of Europe had been Christian for hundreds of years.

    During the preceding centuries, the Church in Rome had come up with the false teaching that Christ did not make satisfaction for ALL of your sins when he died on the cross. Christ only made satisfaction for original sin, the sin you inherited from your Grandfather Adam. All sins committed after salvation were YOUR responsibility. You needed purification of these "post-salvation" sins in order to enter heaven as "perfect"...sinless. So, from a few vague passages of Scripture, the Church of Rome came up with the concept of Purgatory; a place for Christians, in which their souls are purified by fire: a place where Christian souls burn to pay for their "post-salvation" sins. Once you have spent an adequate amount of time paying for your sins in the flames of Purgatory, you then get released and allowed into heaven.

    In the early 1500's, the Pope was building his grand, luxurious palace in Rome, St. Peter's Basilica. Someone came up with a brilliant idea: Let's sell indulgences! Let's tell the Christian people that they can give money to the Church in exchange for the forgiveness of the temporal punishment for post-salvation sins. Translation: Give money to the Pope, and he will reduce your time in Purgatory! The money started pouring in! If you had the money, you would have been foolish not to shell out some cash to the Church to cut down the number of years that you would be roasting in Purgatory on your own personal "Purgatory spit", right?
    Continued here:
    http://www.lutherwasnotbornagain.com/2013/10/the-lutheran-reformation-was-about.html

    What a bunch of crap!

    Hey, I guess Jesus couldn't get the job done, so he had to raise up Luther 1,500 years later?! B.S.

    Man is "not saved by faith alone" - it is in the BIBLE! (James). It is well know that Luther ADDED the word "alone" to Romans! WHAT!? Adding to the Word of God?!!!

    Your post is just B.S. Find out for yourselves what the Church teaches. Don't rely on a blog, for Pete's sake.

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