October 24, 2014

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May 27, 2014


Waypoints

After more than ten years on the front lines of the Anglican wars, I have made a major change. This past Easter vigil, my family and I were confirmed in the Roman Catholic Church.

It’s a measure of what a long and strange journey it’s been for me over this past decade that I’ve even had to entertain the question of what kind of reaction this might cause among people I’ve never even met, or the political ripples it might send out through the various quarters of my allies and opponents.

I was raised in a straight-from-central-casting, large Southern Baptist church: The building occupying an entire city block, the Sunday service televised, communion (as it were) once a year, consisting of saltine crackers and Welch’s grape juice.

After about a decade as a more or less unchurched young adult, I married a Catholic girl, in the Catholic church, but due to a dismal experience in pre-marriage counseling classes, we quickly drifted away from the church. Following her parents - who reconciled a Catholic/Methodist marriage by joining the Episcopal Church - within a few years we were also received into the Episcopal Church. Nearly a decade of quiet, uneventful participation was followed by another decade of, shall we say,  intense participation, beginning with the fallout from the consecration of Gene Robinson in 2003 : Before that, I was sitting quietly in the back pews. Soon after, I was one of the most visible Anglican laymen on Planet Earth.

That is not how I planned it to be, or even how I would have predicted it would be, but as we all know, God has his own plans for us and they are rarely what we would have chosen if left to our own devices.

Another thing I could never have predicted was that a denominational change which for most people would be a very private, and very quiet event, would for me have the potential to be a very public one that might generate some amount of noise.

Like many of you reading this, I’ve felt as though I’ve been in exile these past ten years. Unlike most, though, every one of those years I’ve been scrutinized by rectors and wardens and vestries wherever I’ve gone. With high visibility comes increased surveillance: Why am I here? What are my intentions? Do I plan to “make trouble” at their parish?

With the exception of a couple of those years when I was blessed with an orthodox rector, I’ve sat in the pew with my family, on guard for whatever false teaching or doctrinal nonsense might come out of the pulpit. Ten years of it is nerve-wracking and exhausting.

Last year when Bishop Duncan Gray announced he would allow same-sex blessing in the Diocese of Mississippi, that was the last straw. I wrote at length about the nature of Gray’s betrayal and his repeated lies to Mississippi Episcopalians about his position over the years, and in the process discovered where my line in the sand was. I have not set foot in an Episcopal church since.

In our search for a new church, we reviewed the culture and leaders of all the ones on our short list. There were churches with solid teaching and worship, but anemic or non-existent youth groups (a major consideration with a 12-year old daughter). There were churches with vibrant youth groups but some major dysfunction in other areas (for example, an outrageous sex scandal at a well-known local church). There was a very distressing sense - in a town with more churches per capita than almost anywhere in the nation - of water, water everywhere but nary a drop to drink. I am not a Baptist or a Presbyterian, certainly not a Pentacostal or a megachurch non-denom. And I’m not about to drag my family from the fire of the Episcopal church into the frying pans of the Methodist or Lutheran churches.

We opened the web sites for the few other ones on our short list. There, front and center at the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle, was the announcement that the new dean was none other than the priest who had married us 22 years earlier: A Vietnam war refugee, who as a young seminarian had fled the country after the fall of Saigon, rescued by American Marines after three days at sea in an open boat. These are the kinds of signs ones looks for in times like this, and in the refugee offering shelter to another refugee, it seemed like as good an explanation as any.

We began attending services in March of last year. At first just once a month, then with increasing frequency. One morning I noticed that my daughter had recited the confession and the Creed purely from memory, while I still had to read the text to keep from reciting the Anglican versions. A month or so later, we were literally having to drag her - I mean, knock on the door and walk in and take her by the arm - from Sunday School to get to Mass on time. It was impossible not to see that she was very, very happy, a perception punctuated by the knowledge that all she has known her entire life is that her parents have been in a very public and very pitched war with her church.

So for me, a move to Rome is not about a revolution in my theology, and certainly not about a rejection of Anglicanism. It is about a very painful choice between two dilemmas:

On the one hand there is Anglicanism, an expression of faith that in the abstract - its doctrines and theology - is as nearly perfect as I believe man has ever succeeded in achieving, but which in practice has unraveled into a chaotic mess. There is of course the heresy and false teaching that infects all but a handful of Episcopal parishes in this diocese - including its bishop, its cathedral, its dean, almost all of its clergy, and a distressing number of the few laypeople who have made the effort to pay attention and learn what’s happening - but the promise of the orthodox Anglican movement outside of The Episcopal Church never materialized either. Populated as that movement is by many good people, it has the institutional feeling of something held together by duct tape and baling wire. It is beset by infighting and consecration fever, and in several of its highest leadership positions are people of atrocious judgement and character.

On the other hand there is Roman Catholicism, some of whose doctrines give me serious pause, but which in practice has shown itself to be steadfast in its opposition to the caprices of the world. Even the horrific pedophile priest scandal forces one to concede that Pope Benedict’s purging of the ranks, while not complete, was at the very least spirited, and based on a firm rejection of the “everything is good” sexual sickness that’s all but killed the Episcopal Church.

Over the past twenty years I have come to believe that worship is, properly, sacramental and liturgical in nature. The Catholic church provides that for me in abundance. And, I never have to worry about my rector - to say nothing of my bishop - advocating same-sex blessings from the pulpit, hoisting a pro-abortion banner, marching in a gay-pride parade, or indulging in universalism or Marcionism or Pelagianism or any other heresies the Episcopalian glitterati have decided is fashionable this month.

This is not to say that I find no fault in the Roman church - far from it. I would describe this new pope, for instance, as somewhere between a disappointment and a disaster. But then, that’s exactly how I’ve described the current and former Archbishops of Canterbury too.

The final point I want to make is an acknowledgement of the difficult position this puts some of my fellow bloggers in, all of them for one reason or another but especially the ones who have maintained a vigorously oppositional stance to the Roman Catholic Church and do not deem it to be a viable theological or gospel choice. I understand their difficulty with my decision - in fact, as should be obvious, I share in some of their difficulties - and I want to make it clear to them and to this site’s readers that in no way is Stand Firm now a “Roman Catholic blog” simply because I have joined that church. In “standing firm,” I have always seen myself as standing firm for orthodox Christianity. And while I understand that some may see Roman Catholicism as precisely not orthodox, by the same token I see the Anglican format, in my locale, as untenable, and non-Anglican formats as undesirable. My family and I need more than abstract doctrine with which I find no fault; we need a place for my child to worship the risen Christ without the danger of false teaching in the particularly important areas of the nature of Christ and sexual morality (areas with which I have no arguments with Rome), and to get the guidance and experience of a spiritually reliable and structurally mature youth program, something that is lacking in both the Episcopal and continuing Anglican churches in the area.

My choice to leave Anglicanism is a painful, personal one - but it does not change the identity of the blog which, though I am its founder and webmaster, is more than simply Greg Griffith. To be clear, Stand Firm has always been an Anglican blog that comments on a wide variety of subjects and issues beyond Anglicanism, and that is what it will remain, even while we have, now, writers from two different non-Anglican entities. Further, bloggers will continue to write as they please about their particular Reformed theology and Anglican vision of the Gospel.

I know some of our readers and allies in the Anglican wars have already gone to Rome. I know many others would never dream of it. I can’t predict how many people will care about my decision, but I can hope that my explanation here helps them understand why I made it.

As a consequence two things seem clear to me:

One: As I have discussed this move with several people I respect immensely, one common agreement has been that I should refrain from suggesting that conversion to Roman Catholicism is a decision that should be made lightly by anyone fed up with the Anglican mess. I think this is right for several reasons, but mainly because that’s not what I want: I don’t want to encourage a move to Rome for anyone, as long as Anglicanism is viable for them in their situation. So as a matter of blog policy, and to preserve the primarily Anglican character of the site, that is the stance I will adopt. As a practical matter it won’t make much of a difference. Writing effectively on the conflict requires tremendous amounts of constant attention, and as long-time readers know, the past few years have seen me writing less and less on specifically Anglican matters (and certainly on theological matters), in favor of wider cultural and social matters. I will continue, as I always have, to lend my technical expertise to the support of the writers here, with the goal of defending the Christian faith and defeating revisionism wherever we can. And of course, occasionally I’ll chime in on various political and social matters - even where they touch on ecclesial issues - as I find the time.

Two: Since the heady days of 2006 we have enforced a policy whereby we don’t allow converts to other denominations to use our comment threads as opportunities to bray about the superiority of their new home, and recite litanies of why everyone should abandon TEC or Anglicanism and flee immediately to [insert superior new denomination here]. I am not using this announcement to do that, and we will continue to enforce that policy on this post.

As should be obvious, I could use and would appreciate immensely everyone’s prayers. This has been a very difficult decision for my family and friends.


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193 comments

Thank you for all of your efforts over the past decade. Don’t keep so quiet on this blog. I expect to read new insights form your current perspective. Remember, there is no denomination that is not under assault.

[1] Posted by Undergroundpewster on 5-27-2014 at 09:39 AM · [top]

oops.. “From” not “form” and how come you can’t put an self-edit function in these comments?

[2] Posted by Undergroundpewster on 5-27-2014 at 09:40 AM · [top]

You have my prayers.  And your decision to become Roman Catholic doesn’t bother me one bit.  I understand your struggles and respect your decision.  TEC is a horrible place to be for those of us still clinging to diminishing islands of orthodoxy.

[3] Posted by Br. Michael on 5-27-2014 at 09:42 AM · [top]

We’ll miss your efforts in the Anglican Communion, Greg, but I am grateful that you have found a new spiritual home that will faithfully point you and your family towards Jesus. Many folks at IRD have also swam the Tiber, including our past chairman J. Budziszewski and past presidents Kent Hill and Jim Tonkowich.

I pray that you will uphold the Gospel with and bless the people at the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle.

[4] Posted by Jeff Walton on 5-27-2014 at 10:07 AM · [top]

God bless you, Greg.  My family and I were received into the Catholic Church from TEC this Easter, too. 

During my time as an Episcopalian, Stand Firm was an essential tool as I tried to keep up with what my home diocese (DC) and national Episcopal leaders were doing.  My earliest memory of relying on Stand Firm was when I was on a business trip to Florida during the 2006 General Convention.  In those dark ages before Twitter, I remember sitting on an airplane before takeoff, repeatedly hitting “refresh” on my Blackberry to get live updates from SF and the T19 backup page about what was happening on the Convention floor.  That’s when it first dawned on me just how aggressively liberal and hostile to historic Christian teaching the church’s national leadership is.  Quite an education, to be sure. 

It can be terribly isolating not to be on board with the changes being pushed by a left-wing diocese.  Among its many benefits, the site helped me realize that my family and I were not alone in being dismayed at the direction of TEC

My prayers for those discerning their own futures in the Diocese of Mississippi, the Diocese of Washington, and beyond.  Staying and leaving are both difficult in their own way. 

Thank you for all you do to keep up this site.  Please do continue to blog here about the next steps in your Christian journey outside Anglicanism.  I’m sure that can be done without changing the character of Stand Firm.

[5] Posted by Pigeon on 5-27-2014 at 11:18 AM · [top]

Greg,

May His mercy and peace attend you! 
SF has been a major part of my journey for the whole period.  I would have taken that swim, myself, all those years ago, but to follies of youth hindred me.  The local priest welcomed me, but my participation would have violated RC doctrine, so I maintained TEo affiliation as long as possible, then to a continuing Anglican group, was ordained and now fully retired (of it all).
Go in peace,  to love and serve the Lord!

[6] Posted by Chip Johnson+, cj on 5-27-2014 at 11:30 AM · [top]

Greg, I know there will come a day eventually for every Episcopalian who is trying to stand firm in the faith handed down to us from the saints when the choice is unavoidable: “Choose this day whom ye shall serve,” the situation will say, and each of us will have to choose.  It will not be on the same day for everyone—for some (such as yourself), it will come when SSBs are introduced; for others, it will be the alteration of the BCP to allow same-sex marriages; for others it will be when a SS version of the Bible is officially adopted for readings; and for still others it will be still further and different outrages against Scripture and tradition. But come that day will.

Consequently, there is not one of us who should not repeat every day to ourselves: “There but for the grace of God go I.” Christ’s Church is under assault, and the outcome is (as always) in his hands. The best that each of us can do is to ensure that our path to weekly traditional worship of the risen Christ is not blocked, and when it is, to act to get around the obstacle—as you have.

Your faith is matched by your fortitude. And that should be an example worthy of any of the rest of us. Godspeed in your new home of worship!

[7] Posted by A. S. Haley on 5-27-2014 at 11:51 AM · [top]

Beautifully written Greg.  You and your family will be in my prayers.

[8] Posted by Karen B. on 5-27-2014 at 12:04 PM · [top]

I am very moved by your story, Greg.  I have to say, you picked an interesting time to come aboard the Barque of Peter - now that we have Pope Francis, who seems to elicit reactions from “It’s the end of the world!  The ruination of the Church is upon us!” - not alone from very Traditionalist sorts, but he’s garnered the disapproval of solid orthodox types I have no quarrel with -  to delighted capering from the Spirit of Vatican II lot who think all their birthdays have come at once grin

And unfortunately, there are a lot of poor to weak priests and bishops, lots of parishes where the attitude is “The official line in Rome is such-and-such but if your conscience tells you otherwise” and winking at abuses of all kinds, and much, much, much too much of the mushy and banal and lack of solid teaching and preaching.

You sound like you’ve landed on your feet in a solid parish, though, so congratulations!

As the time-honoured greeting to new converts goes: Welcome aboard, now grab a bucket and start bailing!  wink

[9] Posted by Martha on 5-27-2014 at 12:30 PM · [top]

For a very personal decision, may it be the right one and fruitful for you and your family.  As a small point, when you mention the frying pans of Methodist and Lutheran churches, I hope you didn’t include the LCMS.  That is where I found a home and I have found it to be solidly orthodox, liturgical and sacramental.  I too, find Anglicanism in theory to be a wonderful thing, but the implementation has become increasingly fractured and overwrought.

[10] Posted by Daniel on 5-27-2014 at 01:27 PM · [top]

Our family made the same trip about six years ago—and, like you, the spiritual well-being of our child made it all important to find a safe place for him to learn about the Lord. I cried in leaving TEC, being a cradle Piskie (and my mother is still a little miffed at me), but it was definitely the right choice, made in love not anger, with prayer and consideration of what we felt God was calling us to do. Some are called to stay and some to leave, but all to discern God’s will for their own lives.

[11] Posted by Branford on 5-27-2014 at 02:40 PM · [top]

I hear you, brother.  Believe me. 

A few years ago, I fell into a similar situation, moving from TEC into the ACNA.  The honeymoon lasted about two months, after which I would (at least once every week, more like 2-3x) wonder what the hell I had done. 

I stayed put,

and am now glad. 

That’s not to say, “I stayed put and I am ga-ga about the ACNA, which I feel is the nearest to a perfect denomination, rah-rah, blah-blah.”  Far from it.  I am here because .. it’s the least objectionable solution for me and mine, here where we Are, at this Particular Time. 

Some of them may try to turn you into one of their zombies, like every other denomination.  Don’t let them.  Take this with you:  The militant version of the Bride of Christ isn’t perfect, but it is being made perfect.  It is also regarded as perfect.  It’s an Already / Not-Yet thing. 

Now my friend, take that thought and quietly squirrel it away in the Holy of Holies in that part of you that is Distinctly Greg, that the Baptists and the Episcopalians didn’t muck up. 

Meanwhile, I’ll see you at the front.  wink

[12] Posted by J Eppinga on 5-27-2014 at 03:39 PM · [top]

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

I saw you go quiet in DC, so. . .this is you journey. Thank you for the update! May He continue to bless you and your family.

Adiós. . .

Bob †
. . . still ridin’ for the brand.

[13] Posted by Bob Maxwell+ on 5-27-2014 at 04:07 PM · [top]

Greg, I respect and admire your decision to follow the Lord to where you believe He wants you.  I hope that you and your family will find the spiritual peace that you wish for.  Having made several denominational changes in 86 years, I recognized their shortcomings as creatures of man, with all our human frailties. 

But I regret that your voice will no longer be heard in the good fight of Anglicanism.  I would suggest that Stand Firm be led by someone engaged in that struggle.

[14] Posted by profpk on 5-27-2014 at 04:13 PM · [top]

profpk,

I appreciate your support and your kind words.

However, Stand Firm is a sole proprietorship and that won’t be changing. I will still be offering my commentary on cultural and social issues where they touch on Anglicanism, I just won’t be “in the trenches” as I’ve been in years past.

[15] Posted by Greg Griffith on 5-27-2014 at 04:21 PM · [top]

Thank you for sharing your story of struggle and it’s recent resulting changes in your life.  I especially hope your daughter continues to grow and be happy with the changes.  I would be interested to know more about your dissatisfaction with “the Anglican movement outside The Episcopal Church” since I feel some of that also.

[16] Posted by ADaniel on 5-27-2014 at 04:30 PM · [top]

God bless you, Greg!  For some time now, I have been missing your formerly more frequent postings on Stand Firm.  I hope, now that this decision is behind you, we will be able to read your insightful and engaging contributions on a variety of issues more frequently. 

I appreciated your statement that, “Anglicanism, an expression of faith that in the abstract - its doctrines and theology - is as nearly perfect as I believe man has ever succeeded in achieving….”  The idea of Anglicanism is still too compelling and the issues of the Reformation are still too real for me to take the path you did, so I continue to maintain hope for the Anglican Realignment—despite the shortcomings you noted.

Finally, the piece to which you linked—the one you wrote about the fall of Duncan Gray—ought to be required reading for every Episcopalian.  It is particularly timely for those in Upper South Carolina right now, given the decision their bishop has just made on same sex blessings.  You have spoken clearly and forcefully to precisely the dilemma every Episcopalian must face.

Robert Munday+

[17] Posted by ToAllTheWorld on 5-27-2014 at 04:35 PM · [top]

RE:  “Stand Firm is a sole proprietorship and that won’t be changing. “

Greg, thank you for your candor.  While I am okay with the idea of an RC being community organizer for an Anglican blog, I and many of my compatriots in the StandFirm Commentator Community have for some time been troubled by some of the things you have said in private, and many things you have stated publically.  Specifically, your negative attitude towards Kenesian Economics, and positive attitude regarding antiquated American ideals quaintly placed for our amusement in the Bill of Rights. 

While amusing, these things have no place in American Society, and need to be rooted out at whatever means at the disposal of People That Know.  Something something yelling I’m out of popcorn in a crowded theater, and all that. 

Towards that end, the following will happen, two weeks hence.  The Department of Emimem Domain (of which I am Presumptive Grand Pubah) shall, with 2/3 majority, overturn your so-called “ownership” of StandFirm.  Of that I am eerily confident.  You will be banned for life for speaking on so-called ‘Bill-of-Rights’ issues, whether to serve port or whiskey with cream of fish soup, and all other topics which we will define at our meeting and if necessary, subsequent meetings, or subsequent times in which I will act in what I feel is the best interest of my underlings whom I serve. 

In the interests of maintaining the appearance of fairness and capitalism, I/we will set a term which is fair market price for y/our blog, less reasonable origination fees, at terms that are attractive to prospective talk-show hosts.  W/I suggest you play nice with us/me, lest you have to take more money than originally deemed necessary to said closing. 

We understand how you feel.  But really brother - it’s better this way.  Best to just capitulate so that we can put this untidy business behind us as quickly and painlessly as possible. 

Yours Very Seriously,
Spike Fontman A.O.B.S.,
Senior Research Fellow, Dewey, Cheatum, and Howe.

[18] Posted by J Eppinga on 5-27-2014 at 05:03 PM · [top]

Funny stuff, Moot - I know where profpk is coming from, and I didn’t mean for my remarks to be catty. Stand Firm, though, represents a decade of my life’s efforts. It has at time placed tremendous strain on my family, but has also made lifelong friends of many very smart, very strong, and very faithful people. I won’t be relinquishing it any time soon.

[19] Posted by Greg Griffith on 5-27-2014 at 05:17 PM · [top]

Greg,

My first reaction when I saw the title was that it had to be one of those gags, such as the one from several years ago about Harmon+ giving up blogging. Far from it, and movingly told.  While I took a different path out of TEC, in many ways it mirrors my struggles, and many others.  Enjoy the feeling of having a heavy weight lifted from your shoulders.

APB

[20] Posted by APB on 5-27-2014 at 05:29 PM · [top]

You’ve summarized the dilemma many of us face or have faced.  I remember all my old TEC friends accuse me of wanting to find a “perfect Church.”  How about just finding a church that isn’t a steaming pile?

With the exception of clergy, who I hold to a higher standard, my attitude has been “Stay or go, life’s too short to live in a state of perpetual ecclesiastical angst.”  Unless you subscribe to Anglicanism as the “one true visible Church,” I can’t see how you surveying the ecclesiastical landscape at least, isn’t an option.  Despite the best efforts of AMiA, ACNA, GAFCON, etc. I just got the feeling there was something structurally wrong in Anglicanism that was incapable of stopping the headlong lurch into the void.  While ++Welby is still a book in the writing, I’m not encouraged.

Hopefully you’ll not go crazy bending your brain to the RC doctrines that give you pause.  Hopefully you can reach a point of neutrality on those subjects if you can’t accept them with enthusiasm.  When it comes to much of RC doctrine, for me it’s a matter of accepting the premise at which point I can see the conclusion of the Petrine office, infallibility, the Immaculate Conception, etc..  That’s why I’m still more likely to be Orthodox than RC if forced to choose.

Via con Dios!

[21] Posted by Bill2 on 5-27-2014 at 05:35 PM · [top]

May God bless your journey, and your family’s.

I have long felt that there is no perfect church on this earth.  With God’s grace some day we will all understand.  In the meantime all each of us can do is the best we can, where we are, which is not in some perfect world but in the very real places we live and worship.

[22] Posted by Katherine on 5-27-2014 at 06:55 PM · [top]

Well then, welcome to the barque of Peter. You cannot but realize that we have our nutcases as well.  There are individuals who call themselves Catholics who advocate all of the positions you are fleeing from in Anglicanism.  The difference is that we do have a doctrine which cannot be changed by a vote in convention.  But that doctrine is not always preached.  You may have found a place in which it is, and that is wonderful. But it is sure to happen as you travel that some Sunday you will worship in a parish where there is a group which marched on Easter with a rainbow flag and a sign saying, “Accept human diversity.”(Happened in a very popular growing Catholic parish in a town near Binghamton NY a few years back.)  You will encounter a pants suit nun talking some form of gnosticism…etc etc.  I hope this will not be enough for you to leave us.

What bothers me is that you seem to have joined the Catholic Church the way you would join a Protestant denomination, joined it as the best denomination for you in your current place and circumstances.  Becoming a Catholic is something much more than that.  Furthermore,  you admit to reservations about some Catholic doctrines.  If you mean you have difficulties with some of them, ok. Newman said that a thousand difficulties do not equal one doubt.  If you are a Catholic, you believe what the Church teaches because the Church teaches it.

Also, you were not “confirmed into” the Catholic Church, as if confirmation mean professing a particular denomination’s doctrines.  You are received into the Church by your profession of faith.  You were confirmed because it is one of the sacraments of initiation of Christians into the Church, and it is a sacrament dependent on orders; you had never received it before.

[23] Posted by eulogos on 5-27-2014 at 08:13 PM · [top]

In conclusion, please go on reading and studying Catholicism, and of course, praying the prayers of the Church, and bringing any doubts to God in prayer.  A very powerful way that Catholics pray, is to pray before the Blessed Sacrament.  You should start to say the Rosary.  Because I fear if you don’t develop a more Catholic attitude towards being Catholic, that you might not stay a Catholic. 

Perhaps you wrote the way you wrote here to make your comment more palatable for the audience here.  If so, I think you went too far, almost to the point of denying what you professed at the Easter Vigil, when you said that you believe everything the Catholic Church teaches to be revealed by God.

[24] Posted by eulogos on 5-27-2014 at 08:24 PM · [top]

Greg,
“On the one hand there is Anglicanism, an expression of faith that in the abstract - its doctrines and theology - is as nearly perfect as I believe man has ever succeeded in achieving, but which in practice has unraveled into a chaotic mess.” I reckon this struck a cord with me too. I began a Baptist, became LCMS and wound up Anglican. As it turned out my Father’s family were Church of Ireland before coming to the U.S. I guess it was in my DNA all along. I consider myself reformed Catholic. God has blessed me so much as a lay person that becoming a deacon and a priest just seemed like where God was leading me all along.
I understand your frustrations, appreciate your many fine articles and wish you the best. The cool thing about changing denominations is that Ultimately, Christianity is non denominational and we are still brothers in Christ. Blessings and go in peace to love and serve the Lord.

[25] Posted by Fr. Dale on 5-27-2014 at 08:24 PM · [top]

Thank you, Greg, for Standing Firm.
You have been given much, and you are continuing to do much with it.
And for standing firm.
The Lord bless you and your family in worship and fellowship together.
May your new family byword be a much less strenuous, and more forward looking, “Wachet auf!”

[26] Posted by Rob Eaton+ on 5-27-2014 at 08:24 PM · [top]

Greg,
Perhaps I will write something longer and more fitting over the next couple days, but in the meantime, may God bless you and your family.  My thanks to you for standing firm for all these years, and continuing to do so.  And for the comfort and support provided by Stand Firm in my own journey through these troubled times.  Especially for all your help during that little ruckus over a certain would be bishop in N Michigan.

TJ

[27] Posted by tjmcmahon on 5-27-2014 at 08:30 PM · [top]

Greg, this old lady has travelled from denomination to denomination over the years and the many moves about the country.  The walls between denominations are man made, not of God’s doing.  There is no “perfect church” and if there were, you and I would not be permitted entrance.  I stand with Steve Brown, “Everyone who belongs to Jesus belongs to everyone who belongs to Jesus.”  Our Lord will continue to bless you, your family, and your service to Him…Just as He has in the past.  You will always be in my heart; you and the rest at Stnd firm have been a blessing to me.
Frances Scott

[28] Posted by Frances S Scott on 5-27-2014 at 08:44 PM · [top]

I’m delighted that you and your family have found a measure of peace at your new church home.  Praise God!

[29] Posted by Jill Woodliff on 5-27-2014 at 09:41 PM · [top]

Greg,
I hope and pray that this move on your and your family’s part proves beneficial to all of you. May God bless you all richly. You are not giving up the fight, you are now just going to be fighting on a different front and from a different perspective. Being an active Christian is always a struggle, no matter where you are.

You have my prayers and best wishes for your future growth and joy in your new faith tradition.  You have my thanks for all your labor to keep the Torch of Truth burning in a very perilous time.

Take care and never give up the search for the Truth and the Beauty of Holiness!

Allen

[30] Posted by Allen Lewis on 5-28-2014 at 12:00 AM · [top]

Damascus Roads and all that, little brother.  Delighted that you found rest.

[31] Posted by Christopher Johnson on 5-28-2014 at 03:04 AM · [top]

It seems to me that all Churches are not error free.  Yet if you compair the errors and apostasy in the Catholic Church and TEC there is simply no contest.  The Catholics have not abandoned the clear teachings of Christ and of Scripture, TEC has.  The Catholics have not fallen to heresy, TEC has embraced it.  To be sure there are islands of heresy swimming in the Catholic sea of orthodoxy, but there are only islands of orthodoxy swimming in the TEC sea of heresy.

I say all this as a cradle Episcopalian.  It saddens me to see what TEC has become and it saddens me even more that the Global South has seen this and has dithered in supporting North American orthodoxy.  When and if I finaly leave TEC I very much doubt that I will remain Anglican.

So again I say God speed, Greg.  Be the best Christian and Catholic you can be and may the Grace of God and the blessinigs of our Lord, Jesus Christ be with you and continue the witness on this site.

[32] Posted by Br. Michael on 5-28-2014 at 05:05 AM · [top]

This is something we’ve been heartbroken about for the last two months or so. I do not think of this as a happy thing or a good thing. Rome denies the gospel, the article upon which the Church stands or falls. I have the deepest respect and love for my friend Greg and completely understand his stated reasons…but I cannot rejoice in this and pray that one day he might be led back to a protestant congregation.

[33] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 5-28-2014 at 05:54 AM · [top]

Blessings on your family Greg.

[34] Posted by driver8 on 5-28-2014 at 06:52 AM · [top]

Greg,
Thank you for the Stand Firm blog.  Some time ago, I started an essay entitled, “Somebody stole my Church”.  I chose Anglicanism when I got married because I was comfortable with the doctrine as expressed, in the Book of Common Prayer.  I know that no earthly church is perfect.  But the Church I was confirmed in in 1966 is not the same Church I serve now as a retired priest.  Somebody stole that church.  But so far, my local parish and diocese have not strayed, and that is the important thing.  I lead a Bible Study group where we are all searching for the truth.  When my diocese follows the others in North America I will have to make a decision about where to worship.  In the meantime, Stand Firm and T 19 help me to keep informed and give me hope.

[35] Posted by Chuck Lockhart on 5-28-2014 at 07:27 AM · [top]

As a long time Anglo-Catholic who almost followed my similarly long-time spiritual director across the Tiber a couple of years ago, I feel I can really empathize with some of what you must have experienced in the process of this decision.

As a couple of folks mention here, ACNA is by no means perfect and may succumb to one of more of its dysfunctions before all is said and done.  BUT, at least on a day to day basis I can pastor my little parish and deal with the issues of our congregation without outlandish heretical behavior like we see in TEC intruding every chance it gets.  I mean it in all sincerity when I say I pray daily for my friends still in TEC, trying to fight the good fight.

I agree with what eulogos wrote above; learning to pray before the Blessed Sacrament and adore it in liturgy along with praying the Rosary are important.  And if you can, reaching out to the Blessed Virgin to intercede for you and your family on the issues you all face may become a source of great comfort to you.

What eventually drove my spiritual director [he also had been an ACNA priest] to swim was the potential for more denominationalism.  That might get me too if ACNA does not play its cards right; especially the selection of the new ABP.

But now you are in a place where that trap is off the table.  You can relax, you can enjoy, soak it in, let it heal, and let it draw you closer to Christ.

God Bless,,,,,,you have done a lot for me that you don’t know, and I wish the best for you all.

Warren+

[36] Posted by Capt. Father Warren on 5-28-2014 at 07:29 AM · [top]

In the words of Fr. Richard John Neuhaus:

In the mystery of Christ and his Church nothing is lost, and the broken
will be mended. If, as I am persuaded, my communion with Christ’s Church
is now the fuller, then it follows that my unity with all who are in
Christ is now the stronger. We travel together still.

Welcome home.

[37] Posted by Already Gone on 5-28-2014 at 07:36 AM · [top]

I’ve followed this for a while, trying to discern whether (and how) to comment. A relative was confirmed in the Roman Catholic Church some years ago, after no longer being being able to put up with the open conflict in Anglicanism. I pointed out, as others have noted, that the Roman Catholic Church faces the same contemporary cultural issues as everyone else. He responded that their response is different. I noted that the Roman Catholic catechism is the size of a phone book, containing dogmas and doctrines found nowhere in Holy Scripture, and thus not necessary for salvation. He was OK with that.

My prayer and blessing was that by making that journey across the Tiber, he would find a closer relationship with God in this earthly life. Greg, I offer the same prayer to you and your family.

#23, the comment “You were confirmed because it is one of the sacraments of initiation of Christians into the Church, and it is a sacrament dependent on orders; you had never received it before.” - them be fightin’ words. wink

[38] Posted by Ralph on 5-28-2014 at 07:58 AM · [top]

The RC Church denies the Gospel?  Matt, please explain what you mean by that. 

Warren Musselman

[39] Posted by Warren M on 5-28-2014 at 08:08 AM · [top]

Dear Greg
I pray that over time this journey will become less a “what I left” journey, and more about what attracted you to Rome. Chiefly, I pray that you will have fresh encounters with Christ our Lord, who always blesses our obedience to his leading.

[40] Posted by Temple1 on 5-28-2014 at 08:08 AM · [top]

It denies sola fide

[41] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 5-28-2014 at 08:09 AM · [top]

Hi Greg,

As one of the resident Roman Catlicks, a few words.

1) Better you come in than Tony Blair!!  I made sure Cardinal Cormac (my one time Bishop and man I used to respect) EXACTLY what I thought of that farce.  If he’s eligible – so are you!
2) Yup, the Catholic Church has a mass of weaknesses and, while I do not know what the level of pastoral care is in America, in the UK I tell you it’s non-existent!
3) I do know a LOT of UK and US priests and religious are in open rebellion against the Church. So you will find some issues in the Catholic Church.  But… heresy is not institutionalised into the Church and there has been some cleaning up.

So with that in mind, let me welcome you in the words of G.K. Chesterton… “Come on in!  It’s awful!”

More seriously…  You cannot enter the Catholic Church with doctrinal reservations.  The Catholic Church does not work that way.  Well, not unless you’re Cardinal Cormac and “I know better than Jesus ‘cause I love da Gays” Tony Blair.  Sigh.

But, to help…  I was born and raised Catholic but spent a LOT of time among Protestants, enough to doubt a lot of Catholic dogmas including:

Papal Infallibility, Tradition equal to Scripture, Mary ever Virgin, the Immaculate conception and… well, frankly all the extra Marian dogmas.  There was other stuff as well.

Well, long story cut short, the internet came along and I had the chance to research for myself what the Church taught and why and allowed online written debates between Catholics and Protestants.  What I read, and re-read and re-read… stunned me.  For years and years I though the Catholic Church was just making stuff up as it went along.  What I read countered that assumption rather dramatically.  After nine months I was unable to refute the Catholic Church and accepted her theology completely.

You have to do likewise.  Because this is a Protestant blog and I am not here to prothelyse, I am not going to give links here.  But if I may suggest some reading, two people immediately come to mind for starters:

Dave Armstrong (Biblical Evidence for Catholicism) and Scott Hahn.

You probably want to read the stories of other Catholic converts who had the same doubts as you to see how they were resolved.  Trust me, it helps.

That’s all for now.  I do know how disconcerting it can be to face all those weird, ‘extra-biblical’ dogmas but, personally, once I understand where the Catholic Church was really coming from, things made a lot more sense.  More I dare not say here now.

Perhaps you might like to PM me at:

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

No pressure.  Your call. Just trying to help.  Won’t be upset of offended if you don’t drop by.  Oh yeah, in regards to Pope Francis, while I do think his pastoral approach is over the to and inappropraiet for a Pope AND he does not seem to get where the real battle it at all… He still thinks it’s about economics when it’s now about theology… He is not the raving liberal/heretic the media make him out to be.  But perhaps for another time.  I like Francis but he seems stuck in the 1980’s when the world was different.

To everyone else:  No attempt to proselytise here, just to advise before Greg does something he may regret!!  That’s gotta be fair!

[42] Posted by jedinovice on 5-28-2014 at 08:15 AM · [top]

Matt, if I may add a teeny, tiny bit of nuance to the statement that Catholic deny justification by Faith Alone…

Technically we don’t!  As in, someone who comes to Christ with no good works at all, who throws himself upon Jesus’s feet, just barely hoping for forgiveness and redemption can.. indeed… WILL be saved!  As such we believe in justification by Faith Alone.  Indeed, we can go the whole ten yards with the more Reformed Protestants to the point of Initial Justification.  [I have shocked a number of Protestants who thought you had to earn Salvation in the Catholic Church.]

Where we diverge is less in justification, believe it or not, and more “Once Saved Always Saved.”  The Catholic Church holds that one may lose their Salvation through mortal, unrepented sin and remaining in a state or grace requires active co-operation with God.  It does not mean amassing X number of good works that equals Salvation but, more, co-operating with God and remaining in a state of grace.

Yes, I know from a strict Calvinist perspective active co-operation = works which denies faith alone.  Also, Once Saved, Always Saved is a critical tenet of both Lutherism and Calvinism and those the Catholic Church denies.  There we disagree.  But the Catholic Church is not Pelegian and puts faith first and, at the point of of initial justification, holds to justification by faith alone.  Thus death bed conversions count.

Just so there is no misunderstanding.  Catholics can go part of the way on justification by faith alone – one reason why Pope Benedict held the Church needed to borrow more Martin Luther.  Benedict knew his stuff.

[43] Posted by jedinovice on 5-28-2014 at 08:30 AM · [top]

Hi Jedinovice…saying that you accept “initial” sola fide is to deny sola fide. Your comment belies a misunderstanding of the doctrine and the reformation controversy. Trent was very clear. The difference is in the ground of justification. It is, for Rome, the infused Righteousness of Christ which produces meritorious works (by grace) and it is upon the basis of these that a person is determined to be righteous.

[44] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 5-28-2014 at 08:34 AM · [top]

All that being said, I think you are absolutely right about the implications of moving to Rome. Either accept and submit to all of its doctrine or do not go.

[45] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 5-28-2014 at 08:38 AM · [top]

OK Matt, I am not going into a debate here.  Greg has to read up on these matters for himself and work it through one way or the other.  All I will say is that Catholic Church does believe in infused righteousness - oh yes!  But it also holds to imputed rightousness at the point of initial conversion.  Does this match Reformed theology?  In no way.  In Reformed theology our good works “are as dirty rags” and only the imputed, alien righteousness of Christ can save - period.  Got it.  I intend no refutation here.

I just wanted to clarify what the Church teaches.  You are at liberty to disagree, as is Greg ultimately, but not on formal confirmation into the Church.

Yeah, it’s all or nothing.

[46] Posted by jedinovice on 5-28-2014 at 08:57 AM · [top]

jedinovice, thank you so much for your comments. our priest told Greg about the very same authors, btw. thank you, also, to everyone who has sent their prayers and encouragement <3

[47] Posted by stacey on 5-28-2014 at 09:05 AM · [top]

If I may add to the authors mentioned by jedinovice, I would suggest a man named Brant Pitre who lives in the New Orleans area.  He has two very accessible books and a third that is actually his doctoral thesis (I think) that is hard to find, as well as read.  He also has numerous teachings available on CD and podcast where he explains various Roman Catholic doctrines from a Biblical perspective.  His book on the Eucharist is simply awesome.

[48] Posted by ADaniel on 5-28-2014 at 09:18 AM · [top]

>jedinovice, thank you so much for your comments. our priest told Greg about the very same authors

dats cos dey r gud.  grin

[49] Posted by jedinovice on 5-28-2014 at 09:26 AM · [top]

thanks, ADaniel!

[50] Posted by stacey on 5-28-2014 at 09:41 AM · [top]

ADaniel, I second your recommendation of Brant Pitre.  The only thing I have read by him is Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist, which I recently finished as a part of a class on the Gospels, which I took from Trinity, in Ambridge, PA.  The book was excellent, and I recommend it to everyone, not just to Roman Catholics.

[51] Posted by Warren M on 5-28-2014 at 09:49 AM · [top]

Mr. Griffith,

I’m not so sure you have found a safe haven.  Many RC priests and clergy are practicing homosexuality or homosexually inclined.  I wouldn’t want my grandson alone in a confessional or room with most of them.

From Cardinal O’Brien, to Archbishop Favalora to Bishop Lahey to Marciel Maciel to innumerable ‘gay’ priests, it isn’t safe.  That doesn’t count the nuns who are often off on their own theological and social agenda rabbit trails.

Recently, LifeSite News reported Pope Francis kissed and concelebrated with Fr. Michele, a radical homophile priest/author who wrote, “homosexual love is a gift from (God) no less than heterosexual.”

The Roman Catholic Church is not often a good source of sound Biblical education and preaching (though some Baptist converts are helping them along).

Sorry to be a naysayer, but since 2003, I have thought about crossing the Tiber numerous times over the years, but each time, there were sharks and stingrays. 

The Continuing Churches are a safer alternative, as well as the Orthodox, Bible-adhering Lutheran groups and the PCA.

[52] Posted by St. Nikao on 5-28-2014 at 10:00 AM · [top]

PS - Of course, you and your family may have been called to the RCC to help them sort out their own gay problem.  (They have a no gay priest policy on paper, but definitely not in practice)

Just be very cautious - remember the Pontificator!

[53] Posted by St. Nikao on 5-28-2014 at 10:05 AM · [top]

Excellent.  It took awhile, but I do believe we have found bottom.  That said, I suspect some will keep digging.

[54] Posted by Capt. Father Warren on 5-28-2014 at 10:21 AM · [top]

Greg,

I have come very close to making the jump to the RCC myself, less likely now with the present Pope.  I am currently in the ACNA but have a wait and see attitude concerning its long-term viability.  There’s way too much incoherence in its polity and ecclesiology, and much depends on who is chosen as the new ABP next month.

I wish you and your family much happiness and peace in your new church home.  I may be in the next pew one of these days if the ACNA fails to maintain traction.

[55] Posted by evan miller on 5-28-2014 at 10:35 AM · [top]

Greg, I understand your choice and appreciate your openness.

If, God forbid, my small Anglican parish dissolved, I would find myself in a similar position.  There is no other non-TEC Anglican parish for miles, and will NOT join TEC.  But I don’t want to return to less liturgical traditions either.

So would I become a house Anglican or go RC? (And I do respect the RC diocese here.)  I pray I never have to make that choice.

May God bless you and your family.

mark aka wannabeanglican

[56] Posted by Newbie Anglican on 5-28-2014 at 10:56 AM · [top]

As always, A. S. Haley is spot on!

“Greg, I know there will come a day eventually for every Episcopalian who is trying to stand firm in the faith handed down to us from the saints when the choice is unavoidable: “Choose this day whom ye shall serve,” the situation will say, and each of us will have to choose.  It will not be on the same day for everyone—for some (such as yourself), it will come when SSBs are introduced; for others, it will be the alteration of the BCP to allow same-sex marriages; for others it will be when a SS version of the Bible is officially adopted for readings; and for still others it will be still further and different outrages against Scripture and tradition. But come that day will.

Consequently, there is not one of us who should not repeat every day to ourselves: “There but for the grace of God go I.” Christ’s Church is under assault, and the outcome is (as always) in his hands. The best that each of us can do is to ensure that our path to weekly traditional worship of the risen Christ is not blocked, and when it is, to act to get around the obstacle—as you have.

Your faith is matched by your fortitude. And that should be an example worthy of any of the rest of us. Godspeed in your new home of worship!”

[57] Posted by Greg [not Griffith] on 5-28-2014 at 11:13 AM · [top]

“Christ’s church is under assault, ....” !!!!  And that is why all Christians who are orthodox in faith and understanding MUST stand together.  We don’t have time to refight the Reformation.  If we give way to bickering the athiests and secularists and sexual libertines will roll right over us.

[58] Posted by Br. Michael on 5-28-2014 at 11:35 AM · [top]

Greg, I respect your decision and am glad that your decision is “not a rejection of Anglicism” I wish you well and hope you will be happy there. This will not be good-by because I still look forward to reading the articles posted on Stand Firm.
Although I would not want to hinder anyone who wished to go to Rome, I will not choose that option because, like Matt, I believe in the sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for salvation and I hope that through the work of Gafcon, the ACNA, the ministry of Bishop Lawrence of South Carolina and those who are faithful defenders of the faith, the reform that is so needed will take place.

[59] Posted by Betty See on 5-28-2014 at 12:27 PM · [top]

Always on your journey from the left end of the pew to the center of the pew to the right end of the pew to the door out to the door in to the RCC and to the end of the race run well, go with the Lamp who is the Lamb lighting your way.
(From one who is still somewhat church-rootless, whose Facebook - Religion has for some time and will always read “Mere Christian” smile )

[60] Posted by Milton on 5-28-2014 at 12:53 PM · [top]

Mr. Griffith -

I think we grew up in the same Baptist Church I even went through the Episcopal Church for 16 happy years.  I hope that as time passes, you share my experience of gratitude for the graces I obtained through those two traditions.  The Baptists have a profound understanding of the personal nature of our relationship with Christ, and an effective means of transmitting Biblical knowledge.  Anglicanism has a deep reverence and appreciation for parish life that us Catholics should emulate.

eulogios wrote:

...a more Catholic attitude towards being Catholic, that you might not stay a Catholic. 

While there is always the possibility that a conversion may not “stick”, I am optimistic (I think I was born that way).  I know that some days my attitude towards being Catholic goes something like “what have I gotten myself into”.  And that’s after 27+ years.  grin

In all seriousness, you stood up and said before God and His people that you believe all that the Catholic Church teaches to be revealed by God. I wasn’t expecting that phrase and was honestly shocked by the frank totality of it.  But over these long years, as it sinks in millimeter by millimeter, I find myself more readily believing it.  I am encouraged by your understanding that you aren’t escaping anything by entering the Catholic Church.  More than an escape, though, I pray you find a fullness and completion among us that carries you and your family towards the consumation we all await

In reality, I am tempted from time to time to take the easier path, but being Catholic is in my bones now. That’s one reason why cafeteria Catholics, theologically Episcopalians, often don’t leave. All of which is to say that I wouldn’t worry too much about what you don’t know or question, or what you come to dislike. It will pass.  Good Friday leads to Easter Sunday, and let me tell you, being Catholic, you will encounter many Good Fridays. 

God bless you.

[61] Posted by Words Matter on 5-28-2014 at 12:57 PM · [top]

Sadly, I shall miss Stand Firm as an expositor of the faith received by the saints.  I have found it possible to hold that traditional faith in the midst of a small TEC church that is struggling to stay alive.  Their theology is not mine, but their worship is.  As a retired academic, I lead them in religious study, carefully avoiding stating my position.  That is a continuation of proper teaching methods wherein students do not know where you stand, so that they are forced to come to conclusions on their own. 

My point is that you do not need a denominational hierarchy to tell you what you should believe.  However. the RC church does offer comfort and security in its absolute doctrine that appeals to adherents, regardless of its failings.  I shall miss Sarah, Matt, Jackie, David, Tim, A.S., and others.  I hope their work goes on elsewhere.  I have even started a little effort on my own for Anglican Evangelicals.  Yes, there are some, right in the middle of TEC!

Y.I.C.

[62] Posted by profpk on 5-28-2014 at 01:24 PM · [top]

Hi profpk, as we’ve noted today, our work will go on just fine right here at StandFirm.  Blessings to you.

[63] Posted by Sarah on 5-28-2014 at 01:34 PM · [top]

Great, Sarah, then you should lead it.

[64] Posted by profpk on 5-28-2014 at 02:11 PM · [top]

Greg is the owner of this blog—and I’m happy he is.  Otherwise it wouldn’t exist.

If you’re saying you can’t read SF because of his conversion, I understand.  Greg, David, Matt, and I have painstakingly addressed the issues that would have prevented our blogging here, and thanks to all of those efforts over the past months and Greg’s graciousness, our consciences are free.

But everybody is different, and StandFirm isn’t for everybody, as we’ve always said.  And I do understand people will have different viewpoints on this issue.

[65] Posted by Sarah on 5-28-2014 at 02:26 PM · [top]

Greg, you’ve taken a great leap, but a wise and solid one.  I admire your faith in Our Lord and commiserate with your struggle.  Your situation is unique because of your deeds and reputation, but my wife and I have a slightly less difficult situation.  We moved to Costa Rica 8 years ago and, thanks to letters from our Anglican rector and bishop in Dallas, the Roman bishop here issued written permission for us to receive communion in the Roman Catholic Church in Costa Rica.  Recently, my wife has joined the Roman Church, but I’m still hanging on to Anglicanism.  Really, the only time it makes a difference now is when we visit our friends in Texas. 

Thanks be to God that Anglicans aren’t slaughtering Romans any more (or vice versa), but that was more about royalty and politics than religion.  I’m sure that Almighty God was not amused.

You have so much to offer this website 10 years after its founding and I pray that you will continue to lead and contribute along with Sarah, Matt, et al.  They won’t always agree with you but I hope they won’t let this break up a proven good thing.  I believe you when you say that the site will remain Anglican in spirit and I don’t think that Romans, Eastern Orthodox, or even Anglicans have a corner on the faith.  With the Anglican Communion hemorrhaging with false doctrines, surely the faithful can put aside their differences and defend the common cause.

[66] Posted by RicardoCR on 5-28-2014 at 03:43 PM · [top]

God bless you on your journey, Mr. Griffith.  If I could offer any advice it would be to jump into the deep end with both feet and don’t look back.

[67] Posted by Nikolaus on 5-28-2014 at 07:28 PM · [top]

Welcome home, Greg—will be praying for you and your family.

Pope St. Gregory the Great, pray for us!

[68] Posted by Clare on 5-28-2014 at 08:26 PM · [top]

Welcome to the Catholic Church Greg.

I’m a Catholic who has read this blog for years now because I was waiting to see if Catholicism was going to go the same way as the Anglican Communion. So far we are “standing firm” but it has been so painful to watch the Anglican Communion and the Episcopalians wrench themselves to pieces.

I converted from no formal religion and I was received into the Church in Easter 2002. I think becoming a Catholic is a bit like learning to drive, you don’t really get the hang of it until you’ve got your licence and you’ve started driving. Now that you are received, you’ll find over the next few years that Catholicism will seep into you - at least that was how it was for me. I found Catholicism to be like a husband (although the Church is really the Bride of Christ smile you fall a little deeper in love every day as you get to know them more fully.

Also don’t be too discouraged about Pope Francis, popes come and popes go, some popes were terrible men, but the Church just keeps on going and the Barque of Peter hasn’t sunk yet.

[69] Posted by kailash on 5-28-2014 at 10:30 PM · [top]

Also, to all those protestants who are so committed to the Scriptures, it was the Church, who in her wisdom, gave you the New Testament, so maybe be a little less derogatory about the Bride of Christ, eh?

[70] Posted by kailash on 5-28-2014 at 10:36 PM · [top]

I dont have much to say on this as a committed Anglican who made peace with my choice a long time ago. But I would love some clarification as to what Greg meant by ACHA leaders having atrocious judgement and character. I’ve been reading SF for years and that comment mysteries me. How do you arrive at such a conclusion? Based on what evidence? That is a pretty serious accusation.

[71] Posted by StayinAnglican on 5-29-2014 at 11:54 AM · [top]

And how exactly are Roman leaders so much better in terms of character? I’m not trying to be combative. Just genuinely curious. Personally I dont believe that there is any safe haven for orthodox Christians. All you do is exchange one awful set of circumstances for another.

[72] Posted by StayinAnglican on 5-29-2014 at 12:00 PM · [top]

Also, to all those protestants who are so committed to the Scriptures, it was the Church, who in her wisdom, gave you the New Testament, so maybe be a little less derogatory about the Bride of Christ, eh?

So it is your contention that today’s Roman Catholic church is the Bride of Christ as opposed to the Church catholic?

[73] Posted by Jackie on 5-29-2014 at 12:42 PM · [top]

Kailash,
I don’t know what or who you refer to when you refer to “the Church” but I as a Christian Protestant I believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God and He through Jesus Christ gave us the New Testament.
If you are interested in the part the Catholic Church played in giving us the New Testament or the Bible you can find a detailed history here

http://www.greatsite.com/timeline-english-bible-history/

[74] Posted by Betty See on 5-29-2014 at 01:19 PM · [top]

Kailash, The Roman Church also tried to keep the Bible from the people…while working a scam to get their money for indulgences, prayers, buildings, etc.

Thank God for Wycliff, Luther and many others who challenged that awful tyranny and who died for the common layman’s right to read the Scriptures and be fed from them, to be able to reason for him/herself what is contained therein.

[75] Posted by St. Nikao on 5-29-2014 at 01:43 PM · [top]

#70, God gave us Holy Scripture, all of it, in His wisdom. The Roman Catholic Church has given all of Christianity some wonderful studies of Holy Scripture (in this era, I’ve been a big fan of Raymond Brown), some wonderful theologians, and more than a few false interpretations, dogmas, doctrines, and other teachings.

Anglican clergy show us, on a regular basis, how very fallible they can be in their teachings. The TEC Presiding Bishop is a good example of that. In all of Christendom, I think only Rome pretends that its Bishop, a mere human like the rest of us, can be infallible.

It’s my understanding that Rome also pretends that it has the only authentic Holy Orders, and (thus) the only authentic sacraments! What an unimaginable heresy! That silly notion would suggest that my TEC parish priest is not in Holy Orders, that my wife and I have never been confirmed, that we were never united in valid Holy Matrimony, and that I have no means of being in communion with God.

Again, Godspeed to Greg - may your encounters with the Roman Catholic Church and its catechism keep your mind sharp, and your eyes on the Word of God, as revealed in Holy Scripture. I do believe that the Path of Salvation can be found in the Roman Catholic Church, but watch out for the rabbit trails, etc.

[76] Posted by Ralph on 5-29-2014 at 05:57 PM · [top]

Greg —As one who has followed Stand Firm and you for over eight years, I have to say I was stunned, though not surprised at your decision. I have read and felt your anguish over those years as you have encouraged so many souls here who were encountering the same things.

It saddens me that you were unable to find an non-TEC Anglican Church in your area who could meet your needs and especially the needs of your family. While I do not know you personally, I know you to be a committed man of God and Christ, faithful to scripture as the holy word of God.

This will not change regardless of the denomination you serve because as someone said earlier, Christians are all brothers and sisters in Christ.

God blessed me enormously when he led me to an ACNA Anglican Church where I believe that I have not only received what you are seeking but where I also feel the strong presence of God everywhere I turn.

Interestingly, I have never, in the almost 10 years I have been in the Anglican Church, experienced the chaos and uncertainty that you have expressed. And, I promise you, I have been extremely observant. I have met and socialized with Archbishop Duncan, as well as many of the other top bishops and leaders in the Anglican Church of North America.

And while many have strong and differing opinions of a variety of issues, they have been able to put them aside for the good of the whole Church. I have not found one of them to be of “atrocious judgment and character.” Quite the contrary, I have found most of them to be God-fearing, warm and generous though often, not particularly pious. 

Your perspective is clearly different from mine and I am very sad that your experience has not been similar to what I have encountered.

Please be assured that I sincerely wish you well and I will pray that God sends you the comfort and blessing that you so deserve in your role as a Christian soldier fighting against the heresy that has overtaken our former Church. In the end, I think we all know that God will win.

I will be looking forward to your commentary from your new perspective and I will be very, very interested in your on-going adjustment to Rome.

I hope Father Matt will lighten up and accept that God may be leading you in that direction for a reason that we don’t understand. The swim across the Tiber is not one way. I know plenty who have made the swim back. I wish you well.

[77] Posted by Grateful on 5-29-2014 at 06:00 PM · [top]

You have my prayers.  May the Grace of Our Lord be always with you.

[78] Posted by Paula Loughlin on 5-29-2014 at 06:42 PM · [top]

Matt,

I am sorry that you are hurting.

[79] Posted by Paula Loughlin on 5-29-2014 at 06:49 PM · [top]

#75, You seem to have fallen for the common misunderstanding of what “infallible” means with respect to the Pope.  It doesn’t mean that he can’t make a mistake (like an arithmetic error), it means that once he has made an official pronouncement, it can’t be challenged.  It’s like, “The buck stops here.”  Of course, the Cardinals can suggest changes to a Papal Bull before it’s adopted, but once announced, only the Pope can change it.  That’s why they have such an army of clergy supporting him, to make sure that he gets it right the first time.  Can you imagine that kind of authority in TEC?  I hope not.

I’m not Roman, but I have a lot of RC friends.

[80] Posted by RicardoCR on 5-29-2014 at 07:23 PM · [top]

Oops, it’s a good thing I’m not the Pope.  I believe my comment was addressed to #76.

[81] Posted by RicardoCR on 5-29-2014 at 07:30 PM · [top]

#80, I’m reminded of the story of Darius and Daniel, in which a decree of the King cannot be changed even by the King himself - even to save a life. There’s a similar moral to the story of Jephthah and his daughter.

Only God can make an infallible pronouncement. No man can do that with the absolute certainty of getting it right the first time.

Before I get into trouble (again) with the bloggers by elaborating on “Papal Bull,” I think I’d better sign off.

[82] Posted by Ralph on 5-29-2014 at 07:42 PM · [top]

Although I used to comment regularly on this blog, I have refrained from making any comment here for over two years.  Until now.

Greg,

Thank you for sharing the story of your spiritual journey.  Thank you for continuing to devote yourself to this valuable blog and to standing firm for the orthodox Christian faith.  Thank you for your long and costly leadership in the Culture War.

I can readily understand why you swam the Tiber.  I may well do so myself someday. If, and it’s a big if, IF I ever give up on Anglicanism.  Moreover, as a priest in the ACNA, I admit that your withering critique of our fledgling movement as the current main Anglican alternative to TEC in North America is all too apt.  We are indeed pretty much a motley collection of disparate groups held together, as you say, by duct tape, etc.  Like the bumble bee, it’s a wonder that the thing flies.

Like Dr. Bob Munday, among others above, I haven’t yet given up on Anglicanism, although I’m actually far more critical of classical Anglicanism than you are, Greg. For example, I would never say that historic Anglicanism is in theory about as god as it gets.  Far from it. 

The enormous differences between the High Church, Low Church, and Broad Church wings of Anglicanism are so great that as far as I’m concerned, Anglicanism has no real theological integrity or coherence.  Lke the ACNA, it too is basically held together by duct tape and chicken wire.  Or to change the metaphor, the glue has always been more political and social than religious, with a certain love for all things English and the Established nature of the CoE as a national church being two essential factors that have long held Anglicanism together.  It is no accident that Anglicanism has never gained more than a tenuous foothold in places outside the former British Empire.  But in a post-colonial world, where native English speakers are now a minority of the Anglicans on the planet, that glue has lost a lot of its grip.

But this I will say, publicly and for the record.  IF (and its a big if), if I ever do give up on Anglicanism, my mind is made up as to where I’ll go.  And I’ll be crssing the Tiber too.  I won’t lose even a single night’s sleep tossing and turning as I mull over the options.

Matt, Sarah, and David Ould are right about one thing that keeps me lingering on this side of the Tiber, or the Thames.  I agree with the principle enshrined in Article XX of the historic 39 Articles.  Yes, Rome has erred, seriously and inexcusably, on some crucial and essential matters, not least when it comes to a proper understanding of justification by faith apart from works.  But if the Protestant reformers were basically right with their Sola Fide principe, they were dissastrously wrong with their twin principle of Sola Scriptura.  It is above all the fact that I hold firmly to Sola Fide, while resolutely rejecting the Sola Scriptura principle that keeps me lingering on this side of the Tiber.

Yes, Rome has erred, and badly.  But not as badly as anicent Antioch, Alexandria, and Constantinople did.  Nor are the Protestant reformers exempt from catastrophic error.  If Rome has erred seriously, Wittenberg erred at least as badly on some crucial points.  And Geneva erred even worse.  And Zurich and Edinburgh worse yet.

Nor does it stop there.  Canterbury has erred too.  Article 29, for example, is blatantly wrong, with its implicit rejection of the Real Presence.  As an ex-Presbyterian, I will never, ever go back to Reformed theology in any form.  I have turned my back forever on the theology of Calvin, Zwingli, Bucer, and Bullinger alike.  I have no more liking for the Reformed theology of Cranmer, Ridley, Latimer, John Jewel, or Matthew Parker.

I can’t, and won’t, ever go back to being Protestant.  If I ever get so fed up with the theological incoherence and so tired of the disciplinary anarchy within Anglicanism that I just can’t take t anymore, I too will cross the Tiber and submit to the papal obedience.  I have been certain of that for many years.

But I continue to hope that Anglicanism may yet evolve into the genuine Protestant-Catholic hybrid that it has the potential of being.  Or put another way, Anglicanism still appears to me to hold the best practical chance of becoming the truly “3-D” church that I long for so aredently, a church that’s genuinely and authentically evangelical, catholic, and charismatic, all at the same time and with undiminished intensity.

But if I ever give in to despair about that, I too will become a Roman Catholic.  But I will never, ever, go back to being a Protestant, and especially not a Reformed Protestant.

Thanks again, Greg.  Your courageous, sacrificial service over the last ten years has been an inspiration to many of us.

David Handy+

[83] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 5-29-2014 at 08:15 PM · [top]

I once bemoaned the fact that I didn’t live in the Diocese of Fort Worth. I did everything in my power to try to get there but nothing worked out. Now I know why. Four years ago I made the same move you did, Greg. A year and a half of RCIA finally broke down my resolve. I can’t believe I fought it for so long. God is so good!

[84] Posted by Enough on 5-29-2014 at 08:25 PM · [top]

  I have turned my back forever on the theology of Calvin, Zwingli, Bucer, and Bullinger alike.  I have no more liking for the Reformed theology of Cranmer, Ridley, Latimer, John Jewel, or Matthew Parker.

So no BCP for NRA. QED.

[85] Posted by David Ould on 5-29-2014 at 08:56 PM · [top]

RE: “I can’t, and won’t, ever go back to being Protestant.”

Said the man who supports WO.

[86] Posted by Sarah on 5-29-2014 at 09:01 PM · [top]

and who would withhold the sacrament of initiation from covenant children.

[87] Posted by J Eppinga on 5-29-2014 at 09:14 PM · [top]

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/leading-episcopal-trad-goes-to-rome/

“I still write about Catholicism, of course, as I write about most forms of Christianity. Religion is what I’m most interested in, and besides, this is a news and opinion blog, not an advocacy blog. I don’t know him, but if I were Greg Griffith, I would leave Stand Firm, and focus instead on resting and repairing the damage of a decade of intense ecclesial combat. Continuing to fight the Anglican wars after one has left for Rome not only makes Griffith a less potent combatant, it also keeps him from fully re-orienting himself in his new church. Continuing to fight battles after the real battle — the one for your own soul, and your own future — has been concluded is a waste of time and energy that ought to be focused on learning how to the the best member of your new church that you can be. You don’t want to be the guy who has just married his second wife, but who spends a lot of time thinking and talking about the awful first wife he divorced.”

Thoughts?

[88] Posted by Greg [not Griffith] on 5-30-2014 at 12:42 AM · [top]

Thoughts?  I think Dreher should take his own advice, since he never quite writing about the Catholic Church.  Rod Dreher isn’t someone you should listen to. Make up your own mind in fellowship with folks you trust.

And yes,  there is history behind that.

[89] Posted by Words Matter on 5-30-2014 at 01:50 AM · [top]

Thoughts? It sounds like something 815 would put out.

[90] Posted by Undergroundpewster on 5-30-2014 at 07:26 AM · [top]

UPDATE - the “greg” in #88 is NOT Greg Griffith… his comment name has been changed to avoid confusion.  I am editing my comment accordingly.

Thoughts?  GG’s practice of Roman Catholicism will be informed by his Episcopalian experiences - both positive and negative. Who doesn’t do a lot of compare and contrast when changing churches (or even job, school or neighborhood?)  So the idea that he has to shut up and move on isn’t realistic.

Also, SF covers a range of topics.  GG’s series on the Second Amendment wasn’t tied to denominational identity.  And, as we keep reminding people, it is HIS site. 

I think the issue of SF’s identity is a live topic, however, since the Anglican wars have pretty much died with a whimper.  TEC has voted to be a small parish, withering away while doing things that please a few loud “families.”  SF could find smoking gun evidence that the 815 gang was spending church money to bulldoze poor people’s homes in order to build a gay spa, and most people would just wave it off. 

So all of us - in TEC or out - could get caught in a dull cycle of tongue clucking here on SF.  Maybe we are already there.

[91] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 5-30-2014 at 08:07 AM · [top]

Fine ... drag me out of “retirement ...” (last time was “by chance” to see Snarkester’s opid).

Blessings to you, Greg and your family. I’ll say folks probably expected me to swim long before you. I could not, going to RC school for my primary education, I know the official lines and where we differ. I do not take quite the line Matt+ does of “deny,” but do think official line “confuses” the gospel. I guess holding to invisible Church, I have no problem with many (by the number maybe even a majority) of the Elect being inside Rome. My point really is not to debate those points and probably will return to a “radio silence” mode as whatever task I was called was fulfilled, maybe not the way I’d desired, but over none the less. I did want to write a note of support and encouragement, to bear witness to Jesus and Christ in your new context, for we’re always called to preach the Gospel inside and outside the Church.

I throw no stones, for I’ve often wondered what I’d do if not in the DC area (which forms now Anglican plants like wildflowers, every time I peek, there is a new one ... but so far ... found a “safe place” and am happy ... though where ever I go seems to spout into being a big wig in that context, which is not a happy thing for me). So if in a rural town with few choices, I really do not know what I’d do and my choice might be all difficult.

The comment policy says

“Our unofficial policy on staying or leaving is this: Go where God calls you, and go with our blessings, but don’t belittle someone who has received different orders.”


Therefore, I’ll trust the LORD called you to be where you and your family are called to be. I pray that you remain a faithful witness in that context and continue to point folks to Jesus. I may disagree with things so would be a first order heretic to RCC, I have no ill will anymore and pray nothing but blessings for you and your family.

[92] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 5-30-2014 at 08:27 AM · [top]

Over on T19, Kendall Harmon has been kind enough to post several SF posts.

I don’t want to correct New Reformation Advocate’s [NRA] comment over there since it sullies the thread, but it will be corrected here.

NRA states: “Indeed, as regular readers of both blogs wil know, I became so frustrated with the stubborn, hardcore Protestantism and ultra-conservatism of Matt Kennedy and Sarah Hey in particular that I stopped posting comments at SF over two years ago.”

Actually NRA stopped posting comments at SF because he was asked to cease from posting series of lengthy essays—one after the other in comment after comment on one post, treating the comment thread as a blog—and after a series of warnings and requests, those essays began being deleted, whereupon he stopped commenting.  We can point right to that series of threads with direct links.

This comment is placed in this thread so that the record is clear.  I’ll place it in the other thread as well.

Anybody who wants to comment or discuss is welcome to send a private message, but not here in the comments.

[93] Posted by Sarah on 5-30-2014 at 09:20 AM · [top]

Hi, Sarah,

Yes, you rightly did insist that I stop posting the long chain of all too verbose comments that I often used to do here.  That was rude of me, I regret it, and I did my best to repent of that sort of monopolizing of a vigorous public discussion.  It was in part my desire to show real repentance that has kept me from seeking to re-enter the fray here at SF.  For whatever reason, I find myself less tempted to wax quite so long over at T19, although the comment you just referred to is indeed excessively long.

Anyway, I’ve paid my grateful tribute to Greg, and so I think I’ll drop back into self-imposed silence once again.

But first, let me respond to your humorous jibe above in #86, Sarah.  I actually enjoyed it.  Yes, it’s true that I am an ardent supporter of WO, as odd and paradoxical as that must sound.  I thus belong to the Diocese of Albany, Diocese of Dallas stream of the Anglo-Catholic tradition, rather than the Ft. Worth, Quincy, or FiF stream.  And if I ever do follow Greg’s example and swim the Tiber, I will probably continue to be an advocate for WO as an RC, although I’d do so with all the respect for my opponents that I could muster, working within the system for gradual change that would doubtless take generations to come to pass.  That is indeed one of the reasons why I linger on this side of the Tiber.

Cordially,
David Handy+

[94] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 5-30-2014 at 10:18 AM · [top]

Hi NRA—you are always welcome to post here, and I am fond of you [through cyberspace].

[95] Posted by Sarah on 5-30-2014 at 10:26 AM · [top]

I’ve given considerable thought to Greg’s harsh comments about ACNA leadership.  It’s still not quite clear to me which leaders he means.  However, there’s been a good bit of discussion here at SF about the Chuck Murphy-led AM.  A comment over at T19 reminded me of where exactly Greg is located in MS.  An internet search for “Anglican Church Jackson MS” brought up an AM parish and an REC parish.  A search of ACNA parishes in MS revealed none claiming “Jackson,” although the REC parish may have been there.

So the result of my limited and quick search, far less intensive than Greg’s, shows that the ACNA is not particularly active in Mississippi, and that the parishes available to him were either, perhaps, too small to offer the proper support for his daughter, or connected to one leader whom he disapproves.  I continue to feel that he has prayerfully done the best for himself and his family where he is as he sees it, which is all any of us can do.

I could wish that his condemnation of the ACNA option had been more localized.  Now that TEC-Mississippi has gone over the edge, perhaps we can expect ACNA activity to pick up in the Delta.  There are still a number of TEC dioceses in which people have not yet begun their exodus.

[96] Posted by Katherine on 5-31-2014 at 12:25 PM · [top]

#96, with no malice intended, let me modify you comment slightly from

shows that the ACNA is not particularly active in Mississippi

to

ACNA is very active in Mississippi, but numerically very small at this point

You might say we are hoping that Bp. Grey will do for parish seekers what Obama has managed to do for gun sales.

[97] Posted by Capt. Father Warren on 5-31-2014 at 12:41 PM · [top]

Thanks for the correction, #97.  As I said, I did only a quick internet search.  If our small 1928 parish had all of the families who attended for a short time and then took off for other places, we wouldn’t be a small parish.  They didn’t want to stick around and build something; they wanted it to be big, now.  Having some experience of raising adolescents, I can see their thinking, although I’m sorry about it.

I hope indeed that you will begin to draw more worshippers.

[98] Posted by Katherine on 5-31-2014 at 01:38 PM · [top]

Blessings on you and your family.

[99] Posted by shewhoistired on 6-1-2014 at 12:33 PM · [top]

#80,  Thanks for your input.

Here’s the official definition of infallibility:
“immune from fallacy or liability to error in expounding matters of faith or morals by virtue of the promise made by Christ to the Church”.

Basically, in our current context, it’s why the Romans don’t have female priests, bishops, or archbishops and we do.  The church wasn’t designed as a democracy and we have trouble understanding that.

[100] Posted by RicardoCR on 6-2-2014 at 11:42 AM · [top]

And if I ever do follow Greg’s example and swim the Tiber, I will probably continue to be an advocate for WO as an RC, although I’d do so with all the respect for my opponents that I could muster, working within the system for gradual change that would doubtless take generations to come to pass.

It will take more than “generations” to come to pass

From now Saint John Paul II

When the question of the ordination of women arose in the Anglican Communion, Pope Paul VI, out of fidelity to his office of safeguarding the Apostolic Tradition, and also with a view to removing a new obstacle placed in the way of Christian unity, reminded Anglicans of the position of the Catholic Church: “She holds that it is not admissible to ordain women to the priesthood, for very fundamental reasons….

Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.

http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_letters/1994/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_19940522_ordinatio-sacerdotalis_en.html

[101] Posted by Already Gone on 6-2-2014 at 12:43 PM · [top]

Already Gone makes a good point (#101). 

Years ago Cardinal Timothy Manning told a television interviewer that women’s ordination is just “not in the cards” in the Catholic Church.  Sufficient proof that Manning was right is supplied by the passage from Ordinatio Sacerdotalis quoted above by Already Gone.

But to top it off I just wanted to point out that in 1995 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in a document discussing Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, stated that the teaching that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women “requires definitive assent, since, founded on the written Word of God, and from the beginning constantly preserved and applied in the Tradition of the Church, it has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium (cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium 25, 2).”

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19951028_dubium-ordinatio-sac_en.html

[102] Posted by slcath on 6-2-2014 at 04:05 PM · [top]

“Also, to all those protestants who are so committed to the Scriptures, it was the Church, who in her wisdom, gave you the New Testament, so maybe be a little less derogatory about the Bride of Christ, eh?”

Hi Kailash at #70, I have no problem with your prescient warning about being derogatory, but I don’t think you may realise that protestants don’t share your view about the origin of the scriptures.

In our view, the church did not give us the scriptures.  Rather, the scriptures are the Apostles’ written commands which they left to guide the church.  From the moment of its first existence, the Church was under the authority of the apostles.  When they left this earth, they left their writings, which means the church continues under apostolic authority to this day.

You don’t have to agree with that position, of course.  I am just saying that we wouldn’t accept that the Church gave us the New Testament, except in the sense that the Church testified to that which the apostles had commanded her, and preserved their written commands from apostolic times.

[103] Posted by MichaelA on 6-2-2014 at 05:53 PM · [top]

“But if the Protestant reformers were basically right with their Sola Fide principe, they were dissastrously wrong with their twin principle of Sola Scriptura.”

Fr Handy,

“Sola scriptura” is not a doctrine of the protestant reformation. The phrase was used by medieval theologians at least as far back as Grosseteste (early C13) and Aquinas (mid-C13).  The protestant reformers used it in the same sense, that only canonical scripture had certain divine qualities which set it apart from all other books, and made it in effect the highest principle in doctrinal matters.

Nor is sola fide a protestant doctrine.  The great medieval theologian Thomas Bradwardine expounds it thoroughly in his treatise against Pelagianism in the church (early C14).  I suggest looking at the section in “De Causa Dei” 1.43 that commences: “Sola fide sine operibus praecedentibus fit homo iustus. …”.

The protestant reformers saw themselves as ensuring that the best of medieval and patristic theology survived in the Church, when worldy accretions were threatening to swamp them.  Many others disagreed that this self-characterisation was correct, and still do.  But what we cannot do is pretend that the magisterial reformers saw themselves as some sort of “new broom” sweeping through the church and beginning from scratch (as modern liberals like to see them) – they definitely did not see themselves that way.

[104] Posted by MichaelA on 6-2-2014 at 06:10 PM · [top]

Michael A, you write (#103) that from “the moment of its first existence, the Church was under the authority of the apostles.  When they left this earth, they left their writings, which means the church continues under apostolic authority to this day.”

As I see it, one problem with this theory is that not all of the New Testament was authored by Apostles.  I am speaking of the Gospel of Luke, and the Acts of the Apostles.  The author of these books—the evangelist Luke—is not usually considered to be an Apostle, at least in the stricter sense.  He himself did not seem to consider himself an Apostle.  (Cf. Luke 6:13-16; Acts 1:1-2

So how is it that Luke and Acts legitimately form part of the New Testament canon?

[105] Posted by slcath on 6-3-2014 at 01:48 PM · [top]

“It’s my understanding that Rome also pretends that it has the only authentic Holy Orders”
Ralph, this is not correct. Rome considers the orders of the Orthodox to be authentic, even if their clergy are not in full communion with Rome.

Greg—I share the same sentiments as #42 and #23 regarding doctrine. Are you willing to post a reply, or another post maybe? As a Catholic myself, I share the same concerns about your statements that they do. God bless—Dave

[106] Posted by DavidSh on 6-3-2014 at 03:41 PM · [top]

“As I see it, one problem with this theory is that not all of the New Testament was authored by Apostles.  I am speaking of the Gospel of Luke, and the Acts of the Apostles.”

Hi Slcath, a fair question, and you might have mentioned Mark’s gospel as well.  Paul in 1 Timothy 5:18 quotes from Luke’s gospel and calls it Scripture.  Why does he do so?

The answer is that Luke-Acts and Mark were written under the direct authority of apostles, and for that reason were accepted as authoritative by the church.  It was not necessary that an apostle physically write scripture, so long as the words were his and he approved them.  [The same principle applied in the Old Testament – see Jeremiah chapter 36, especially verse 7].

I have not yet found a modern theologian who can sum up the argument better than Irenaeus did in the second century AD:

“We have learned from none others the plan of our salvation, than from those through whom the Gospel has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public, and, at a later period, by the will of God, handed down to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith.  … For, after our Lord rose from the dead, [the apostles] were invested with power from on high when the Holy Spirit came down [upon them], were filled from all [His gifts], and had perfect knowledge: they departed to the ends of the earth, preaching the glad tidings of the good things [sent] from God to us, and proclaiming the peace of heaven to men, who indeed do all equally and individually possess the Gospel of God. Matthew also issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect, while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome, and laying the foundations of the Church. After their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, did also hand down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter. Luke also, the companion of Paul, recorded in a book the Gospel preached by him.”
[“Against Heresies”, Book III, Chap 1]

Thus in the protestant position, the authority of Luke-Acts and Mark is apostolic authority, even though the men who wrote down the words were not apostles.

I hope that clarifies.

[107] Posted by MichaelA on 6-4-2014 at 04:43 AM · [top]

MichaelA, one cannot reliably determine that Luke and Acts “were written under the direct authority of apostles” (and that other books ultimately not received into the Canon were not) simply by reading the books.  To reliably make that determination one necessarily relies on the authoritative witness of the Church of Christ.

[108] Posted by slcath on 6-4-2014 at 07:32 AM · [top]

Jednovice, post 43,
With regard to justification by faith alone, would you explain why time in Purgatory is required by the Catholic Church in addition to Faith in the sacrifice of our Savior Jesus Christ?
Isn’t His sacrifice sufficient?

[109] Posted by Betty See on 6-4-2014 at 08:10 AM · [top]

#107 -

Pardon my butting in, but Mark used to be widely considered as reflecting the testimony of St. Peter.  Luke was a companion of St. Paul, but obviously, the Gospel of Luke cannot reflect the memories of St. Paul.  More likely, it would have come from Paul’s mentors in/around Antioch.

accepted as authoritative by the church

And that is the real issue and is what is usually mean by Catholics who claim that the Church gave us the bible. There were many texts written, but only those few are recognized as canonical.  It’s perfectly true that the Holy Spirit inspired both the writing and the recognition of canonical authenticity, or apostolic authority.

Betty See -

While I’m butting in, why not in reply to your 109. grin

Isn’t His sacrifice suffienct?

That raises the question: sufficient for what? For forgiveness, absolutely. The Catholic Church teaches nothing other than that.  However, that’s not what purgatory is about.  Let’s take an example.

Mother dresses the young child for church and gives clear instructions to stay in the house. But it’s a pretty day, so the boy goes out to play and falls in the mud. He cries, apologizes, and receives the mother’s forgiveness.  But I still need a bath and change of clothes, which are purgatory.

Another example: I have spent the day in the fields with my grandfather and, like him, come in sweaty and dirty. I’m welcome at the table, but really want to wash up. There being no air conditioning (this was in the late 50s), a full bath would be nice. And that would be purgatory.

Finally, from C.S. Lewis - when the dentist finishes pulling the tooth, he gives you a cup of water and tells you to spit.  And that’s purgatory.

The Catholic Church actually teaches next to nothing about purgatory. It’s only a couple of paragraphs. The first makes clear that forgiveness is definitively gained by Jesus on the Cross.  Purgatory is purgation - cleaning up. And to me it’s a doctrine of immeasurable comfort.

[110] Posted by Words Matter on 6-4-2014 at 09:53 AM · [top]

Why would it have to be Paul’s memories? The book of Acts ends with Paul awaiting a hearing before Caesar. There is no reason to believe he wasn’t alive while Luke was being written.

[111] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 6-4-2014 at 11:27 AM · [top]

If he was alive during the writing of Luke, it still couldn’t be his testimony, since his personal knowledge of Jesus doesn’t extend back to the Lord’s life.  In fact, it doesn’t extend back to the first few chapters of Acts.  Peter is the focus of those chapters, suggesting that Luke got his information from sources in Jerusalem.

I would have to research some, but I bet that an educated man like Luke would have obtained the testimonies of various primary sources. Certainly, following Paul around, he would have had access to apostolic sources who were there during the Lord’s life. 

Sort of a first century google.  grin

[112] Posted by Words Matter on 6-4-2014 at 12:08 PM · [top]

It could very well be his testimony that he received from any of the other apostles. Or he could have received it directly from Jesus himself. Regardless it is perfectly accurate and supremely authoritative because Paul as an apostle stands behind it.

[113] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 6-4-2014 at 01:11 PM · [top]

With regard to his gospel, given his prologue there is no reason whatsoever to doubt that Luke’s testimony is built on the accounts of the apostles he interviewed personally and who oversaw and affirmed his record.

[114] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 6-4-2014 at 01:12 PM · [top]

If you’re interested, here’s a fantastic book by Michael J. Kruger on the meaning of the canon and how it was given and received. http://www.amazon.com/The-Question-Canon-Challenging-Testament/dp/0830840311 It should answer your questions comprehensively with regard to Luke and all the other Nt writings.

[115] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 6-4-2014 at 01:14 PM · [top]

Matt, if I understand correctly, you state (#113) that Paul as an apostle “stands behind” the Gospel of Luke, thereby assuring its accuracy and authoritativeness.  I have two questions.

1.  How do we know that Paul stands behind the Gospel of Luke so as to ensure its accuracy and authoritativeness?

2.  Does Paul likewise stand behind the Acts of the Apostles so as to ensure its accuracy and authoritativeness?

[116] Posted by slcath on 6-4-2014 at 02:00 PM · [top]

Hi sclath,

1. I saw your earlier query to MichaelA…I suspect his answer will be the same. I have absolutely no problem and am in fact happy to see the early church as providing an accurate witness to support the apostolicity of the New Testament documents. This does not, as I am sure you will acknowledge, establish the infallibility of the church nor does it establish the supreme authority of the church. It just means we have reliable historical witnesses to verify the apostolicity of the NT.

2. yes.

[117] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 6-4-2014 at 03:02 PM · [top]

Unless we assert that Luke is not an honest account of events, his description of Paul’s work from about Acts 20:7 forward is in first person plural, indicating that he (Luke) was with Paul.

Verses not from Luke, like 2 Timothy 4:11 and Colossians 4:14 also say that Luke and Paul were together at various points in the Apostolic ministry.

Also there is some important theological convergence between Luke and Paul, especially the idea of Jesus as the “new Adam.”  Compare Luke’s genealogy (Luke 3:38) with Paul’s teaching in I Corinthians 15:45-49 and Romans 5:12 and following.

[118] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 6-4-2014 at 03:06 PM · [top]

“With regard to justification by faith alone, would you explain why time in Purgatory is required by the Catholic Church in addition to Faith in the sacrifice of our Savior Jesus Christ?  Isn’t His sacrifice sufficient?”

For those who might be interested—Jerry Walls, at Houston Baptist University, has written a very good introduction to the doctrine of purgatory and from a Protestant perspective:  italic Purgatory: The Logic of Total Transformation (Oxford University Press, 2011).

[119] Posted by anglicanconvert on 6-4-2014 at 04:11 PM · [top]

Matt, I offer this in response to your comment in #117.

If we affirm that the New Testament is without error, we must affirm that the ecclesial process that designated the New Testament books as canonical is likewise without error.  (This infallibility would necessarily include a finding of apostolicity insofar as that finding may have been necessary to a determination of canonicity.)

In other words, if the determination that any given NT book is canonical is itself not infallible, it follows that we have lost the certainty that the book in question is infallible. 

So, as a practical matter, the ability to affirm that the NT is without error rises or falls with the infallibility of the Christian Community’s determination of the NT canon.

[120] Posted by slcath on 6-4-2014 at 04:21 PM · [top]

<blockquote> The Catholic Church actually teaches next to nothing about purgatory. It’s only a couple of paragraphs. The first makes clear that forgiveness is definitively gained by Jesus on the Cross.  Purgatory is purgation - cleaning up. And to me it’s a doctrine of immeasurable comfort. <\blockquote>
Well that must be why people are so keen to get their time in purgatory reduced and why the Roman Catholic Church itself offers time off purgatory in the form of indulgences etc

Because it’s such a comfort.

[121] Posted by David Ould on 6-4-2014 at 04:27 PM · [top]

Hi Sclath,

I disagree. To establish the apostolicity of the NT does not require an infallible, inerrant witness any more than to establish that Robert E Lee led confederate forces at Gettysburg requires infallible inerrant witnesses.

[122] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 6-4-2014 at 05:10 PM · [top]

Matt,

The question whether the Gospel of Luke is indeed properly part of the NT canon, and therefore can be affirmed as being inspired by the Holy Spirit and without error, is quite a different sort of inquiry than whether Robert E. Lee led Confederate forces at Gettysburg.

One is a matter of faith, and the other is a matter of easily verifiable historical fact.

[123] Posted by slcath on 6-4-2014 at 05:27 PM · [top]

Hi Sclath…not really. All that is necessary is to establish that the NT has apostolic warrant.

[124] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 6-4-2014 at 05:45 PM · [top]

“To reliably make that determination one necessarily relies on the authoritative witness of the Church of Christ.”

Slcath at #108, you are almost there.  If you had said: ” To reliably make that determination one necessarily relies on the *reliable* witness of the Church of Christ”, then you have the protestant position in a nutshell.

It’s a factual question – either a book was written by or under the authority of the apostles, or it was not – its not a question of authority to decide between teachings.  From its first existence, the Church knew which books were of apostolic authority and which were not.  When heretics within the church attacked the authenticity of books (and tried to add books of their own) in the 2nd and 3rd century, then the church made diligent enquiry to re-confirm what the earliest Christians knew – which books were of apostolic authority. 

Athanasius’ famous festal letter makes precisely this point – he didn’t determine for the first time which books were scripture, just as no church council ever did so.  Rather, they researched and confirmed which books had always been scripture, from the moment they were written:

“In proceeding to make mention of these things, I shall adopt, to commend my undertaking, the pattern of Luke the Evangelist, saying on my own account: ‘Forasmuch as some have taken in hand,’ to reduce into order for themselves the books termed apocryphal, and to mix them up with the divinely inspired Scripture, concerning which we have been fully persuaded, as they who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word, delivered to the fathers; it seemed good to me also, having been urged thereto by true brethren, and having learned from the beginning, to set before you the books included in the Canon, and handed down, and accredited as Divine; to the end that any one who has fallen into error may condemn those who have led him astray; and that he who has continued stedfast in purity may again rejoice, having these things brought to his remembrance.”
[St Athanasius, Festal Letter 39, 3

Note Athanasius’ point – the canonical scriptures are those which were delivered to the church by those who “from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word”. 

From the protestant perspective, the witness of the early church to the identity of the apostolic writings is tremendously important.  Just as the Jews were the keepers of the Old Testament oracles of God (Romans 3:2), so the church was the keeper of the New Testament oracles of God.

[125] Posted by MichaelA on 6-4-2014 at 06:57 PM · [top]

“but obviously, the Gospel of Luke cannot reflect the memories of St. Paul.  More likely, it would have come from Paul’s mentors in/around Antioch.”

Words Matter at #109, with respect this is a red herring.  We can speculate till the cows come home as to which teachings the apostles received by direct revelation from God and which they received by talking to other apostles, reading OT scripture etc.  Note the wise words of Irenaeus which I extracted above:

“After their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, did also hand down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter. Luke also, the companion of Paul, recorded in a book the Gospel preached by him.”
[Against Heresies, 3.1.1]

The point is that the gospel of Mark was believed to be the teaching of Peter, faithfully recorded by Mark.  In the same way, Luke-Acts was believed to be the teaching of Paul, faithfully recorded by Luke.  That is the only basis on which these books were accepted as authoritative by the church.

“And that is the real issue and is what is usually mean by Catholics who claim that the Church gave us the bible. There were many texts written, but only those few are recognized as canonical.”

But those many texts were not written by apostles (or their amanuenses).  If they were, then they were recognised as canonical.  I think its important to be precise with our language here – if you are suggesting that there were other books authored by apostles, and the church decided not to include them in the Canon, then I would say that is not the protestant position, and we would assert that there is simply no evidence for this whatsoever.

As we are constantly reminded, by Irenaeus, Athanasius, Tertullian etc, the books that were scripture were recognised as authoritative by the church from the first moment they were published.

[126] Posted by MichaelA on 6-4-2014 at 07:00 PM · [top]

“How do we know that Paul stands behind the Gospel of Luke so as to ensure its accuracy and authoritativeness?”

Words Matter at #116, in the same way that we know that the epistle to the Galatians was authored by Paul and not by Pliny – the testimony of the early church. 

I suppose we could say that Paul himself in his second letter to Timothy states that Luke’s gospel is scripture, but it still comes back to the first point – how do we know that the letter to Timothy is authentic?  The answer is the same – the testimony of the early church.

“Does Paul likewise stand behind the Acts of the Apostles so as to ensure its accuracy and authoritativeness?”

Given that we are told so by the early church, why would we believe otherwise?  That’s even assuming that its correct to talk about Acts of the Apostles as a separate book – arguably its really the second section of Luke’s gospel.  But Luke expressed it as a separate book and Tertullian and Athanasius treat it as such, so we may as well do so also.

[127] Posted by MichaelA on 6-4-2014 at 07:02 PM · [top]

“If we affirm that the New Testament is without error, we must affirm that the ecclesial process that designated the New Testament books as canonical is likewise without error. “

Slcath at #120, that is almost right.  I have no doubt whatsoever that the Church’s testimony is factually correct.  If Jesus is who he says he was, then he has both the power and the will to ensure that his teachings were faithfully delivered, first by the apostles whom he commissioned to do just that, and then by the church faithfully preserving their teaching. 

And if Jesus wasn’t who he said he was, then we are all wasting our time anyway.

But there was no “ecclesial process that designated the New Testament books as canonical”, if that is meant to imply that the church had a choice about which teaching it accepted.  The only authority which the church had (in this area) was to testify which books were of apostolic origin.  In the beginning this was easy – everyone knew which books and letters were apostolic.  As the heretical attacks on scripture mounted in subsequent generations, it became more difficult, many were led astray, and search and enquiry was needed to refute the heretical attacks.  But as late as the 4th century AD when the heretics finally gave up (on this issue), the leaders of the church kept coming back to the same question – which books are known to have been apostolic from the beginning of the church?

Its like preaching the gospel – I have authority as a Christian to preach the gospel, but I have no authority to determine the content of the gospel.

“In other words, if the determination that any given NT book is canonical is itself not infallible, it follows that we have lost the certainty that the book in question is infallible.”

I don’t have a problem with that way of looking at it, so long as we understand that the “determination” was not a decision by the church as to which of various writings had acceptable theology, but rather a testimony to authorship. 

One last thing to put all of this in context – fundamental to the protestant position is that the Lord gave His teachings to His church through the apostles, just as he gave it through the prophets in the Old Testament:

“I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Saviour through your apostles.” [2 Peter 3:2]

[128] Posted by MichaelA on 6-4-2014 at 07:06 PM · [top]

Thank you for the reference to Irenaeus. As I mentioned above,  I knew that Mark reflects the testimony of Peter,  but couldn’t remember from whence that came.

And I’m fine with allowing Paul to provide the imprimatur to Luke/Acts, but it can’t be his personal testimony, because he wasn’t there.

As to apostolic teaching,  the Scripture says that all of Jesus’ words and deeds are not included in the New Testament.  The full import of that statement is beyond the scope of this discussion, but it certainly leaves room for apostolic witness outside of that which eventually became the Canon. 

In fact,  that the Lord passed to us his teachings through the apostles is substantially what the Catholic Church teaches - CCC 105:

105 God is the author of Sacred Scripture. “The divinely revealed realities, which are contained and presented in the text of Sacred Scripture, have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.“69

“For Holy Mother Church, relying on the faith of the apostolic age, accepts as sacred and canonical the books of the Old and the New Testaments, whole and entire, with all their parts, on the grounds that, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author, and have been handed on as such to the Church herself.“70

Come to think of it, that is substantially what I learned in the Baptist Sunday Schools of my youth. I wonder what the Orthodox say about it.

[129] Posted by Words Matter on 6-4-2014 at 07:52 PM · [top]

Words Matter, post 110, I am a Protestant and have no desire to defend the Roman Catholic Church’s understanding of Purgatory, I will leave that to you and your fellow Catholics.

[130] Posted by Betty See on 6-4-2014 at 08:58 PM · [top]

You asked a question,  I answered.  Unfortunately,  your question misrepresented Catholic doctrine, so this is not about defending anything,  but about telling the truth.

[131] Posted by Words Matter on 6-4-2014 at 09:17 PM · [top]

WM at #129,

If its helpful, Tertullian also says “that Gospel which Mark published may be affirmed to be Peter’s whose interpreter Mark was. For even Luke’s form of the Gospel men usually ascribe to Paul.” [Against Marcion, Book IV, Chap 5]

Good point re the Catechism of the Catholic Church - but then, I think most protestants would agree with over 95% of the CCC if they actually read it!  There’s a whole lot of stuff in there about heaven, hell, creation, sin, redemption etc… smile

The protestant position would differ from the CCC on whether the apostles left any witness apart from their writings.  For example, we see John 20:30-31 as stating that everything necessary for us has been written down, whereas a Catholic theologian would see that passage as stating there is room for other teachings of the apostles to be handed down through oral transmission.  I think that fairly sums up the difference.

[132] Posted by MichaelA on 6-4-2014 at 09:22 PM · [top]

Well that must be why people are so keen to get their time in purgatory reduced and why the Roman Catholic Church itself offers time off purgatory in the form of indulgences etc

Because it’s such a comfort.

The comfort comes from the knowledge that God is completing the work that He has begun, the sanctification of the Believer.  As a former priest explained in my RCIA class, “the elevator only goes up!”  Indulgences, in contrast, has to do with the doctrine of the Communion of the Saints and “bearing one another’s burdens.”  You don’t understand the doctrine if you do not ground it in communion of believers.

[133] Posted by anglicanconvert on 6-4-2014 at 09:37 PM · [top]

Indeed,  MichaelA, the passage from John is used by Catholic theologians as part of the discussion about Tradition, but as I said,  that’s really another discussion.  I mentioned John 20 only as a response that the apostles may have written other texts.  But that really is speculation, arguably idle speculation.

The point is well taken that the scriptures as we have them are complete in themselves.  I’ll have to go back and review that section of the catechism.  The point in posting 105 is to illustrate that all Christians,  at least in the west, do substantially agree about the nature and source of Scripture.  We certainly do have variant views on some process issues, which might be fun to discuss over beer. Or coffee in my case, since I don’t drink.  😂

[134] Posted by Words Matter on 6-4-2014 at 09:52 PM · [top]

The comfort comes from the knowledge that God is completing the work that He has begun, the sanctification of the Believer. 

It’s an entirely bizarre comfort if the pope blesses me by giving time away from it and the truly holy get to miss it out altogether.

In fact, I’d go so far as to state in no uncertain terms that it would be far better to simply acknowledge the dogma for what it really is rather than trying to explain it away.

[135] Posted by David Ould on 6-5-2014 at 04:05 AM · [top]

Jesus agony was insufficient for you. You must still suffer to atone for your sins. But don’t worry, you won’t go to hell.

[136] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 6-5-2014 at 06:49 AM · [top]

In fact, I’d go so far as to state in no uncertain terms that it would be far better to simply acknowledge the dogma for what it really is rather than trying to explain it away.

I am not sure why you think that anyone is trying to “explain it away.”  My comment was on the issue of the comfort a believer might find in the doctrine.  And I would affirm again that understanding indulgences in relation to the doctrine of purgatory can only be understood in the context of the Communion of the Saints.

You must still suffer to atone for your sins. But don’t worry, you won’t go to hell.

Is this not what any Protestant doctrine of sanctification affirms also?  Temporal sanctification involves suffering, sometimes even martyrdom, as God molds one’s character into Christlikeness.  That one suffers for one’s sin after one is saved seems entirely uncontroversial. I would have thought that, of anyone, Reformed theologians would have less problem with this element of the doctrine of purgatory than other elements.

[137] Posted by anglicanconvert on 6-5-2014 at 07:40 AM · [top]

re: “Is this not what any Protestant doctrine of sanctification affirms also?”

Not at all. We certainly suffer here and that is certainly a part of our sanctification…but our being sanctified has nothing to do with the work required to enter into heaven.  That work was accomplished fully and finally on the cross. It is on the basis of his sinless life that we enter glory, not on the basis of the cleanliness or lackthereof of our souls before we die.

[138] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 6-5-2014 at 07:51 AM · [top]

simply acknowledge the dogma for what it really is rather than trying to explain it away.

Or, in your case, Mr. Ould, simply explain it. You, and Mr. Kennedy have misstated the doctrine of the Catholic Church. Charity demands I assume it is ignorance rather than malice, which would be a violation of the 8th commandment.

but our being sanctified has nothing to do with the work required to enter into heaven.  That work was accomplished fully and finally on the cross

It’s nice you accept the doctrine of the Catholic Church on this.  Of course, having learned about purgatory from an Anglican source, I have never found this a valid ecumenical debate.

[139] Posted by Words Matter on 6-5-2014 at 08:16 AM · [top]

My dissertation supervisor in graduate school was a cradle Church of England Anglican.  He was instrumental in my becoming an Episcopalian in the first place.  (I was received into the Episcopal Diocese of Ft. Worth by Bishop Pope at St. Andrew’s where Jeffrey Steenson was Rector.)  When I told him of my reception into the Roman communion, he responded with an interesting dichotomy.  He suggested either you can choose a local church that believes what you understand to be Gospel truth while that church’s hierarchy does not—the way of faithful local churches in the Episcopal Church—or you can choose a denomination that may have the right doctrine but which its congregants don’t practice—the way of Roman Catholicism.

As I reflected on what he said, I came to the conclusion that spiritually and emotionally, I in fact did fit better with the latter choice.  There was, and is, something about the constancy and enduring nature of the Magisterium that fit with my own makeup.  I became Roman Catholic ultimately because I believe that it represents Biblical Christianity.  Now I don’t say that to be contentious as much as to state my own history, but part of my journey to that conversion was simply becoming spiritually tired of the doctrinal battles within the Episcopal Church specifically and the Anglican tradition generally.  I was greatly attracted to a communion that I did not have to fight over Nicene Christianity and sexual ethics every time I turned around.  Maybe now I have to fight with individual Catholics about doctrine and sexual ethics—and I certainly have to endure awful music—but I don’t have to worry about the teaching of the Church.  That has been no small comfort to me!

I don’t know Greg Griffin, but what I read suggests a similar experience, at least, on this issue of having to fight with the TEC over the Gospel.  Obviously, his journey differs from mine and his reasons will differ from mine.  I do hope that he finds the same spiritual peace flowing from the Church’s commitment to the Gospel.

Welcome!

[140] Posted by anglicanconvert on 6-5-2014 at 12:28 PM · [top]

Hi Words Matter…actually the CCC is quite clear:

“1030 All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.”

The work of Christ is insufficient. His blood and sinlessness is not enough.

So, no, I do not accept the abhorent teaching of the Roman Church on this. Instead as I noted:

“our being sanctified has nothing to do with the work required to enter into heaven.  That work was accomplished fully and finally on the cross”

which is in contrast to the Roman doctrine: “You must still suffer to atone for your sins. But don’t worry, you won’t go to hell.”

[141] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 6-5-2014 at 12:49 PM · [top]

The work of Christ is insufficient. His blood and sinlessness is not enough.

Of course, that is the polar opposite of what the CCC actually says, but you seem unable (or unwilling) to take the text at face value, so I leave you to God. 

“You must still suffer to atone for your sins.

No, Jesus atoned for my sins.  Thanks be to God, he doesn’t leave me in the stench of sin, I will become all that God made me to be.

[142] Posted by Words Matter on 6-5-2014 at 01:58 PM · [top]

Hi Words Matter

The text is quite clear. The men and women in purgatory are not yet purged. The blood of Christ is not enough. Their own earthly penance has not been enough…so they must bear in the body

I’m glad that you believe that Jesus atoned for all of your sins.

But that belief is inconsistent with the doctrine of purgatory as this Roman tract illustrates:
http://www.catholic-forum.com/members/catholictracts/tract117.html

[143] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 6-5-2014 at 02:04 PM · [top]

Matt, as you state, paragraph 1030 of the CCC reads:

“All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.”

You find this teaching “abhorrent” because, you say, it denies the sufficiency of the work of Christ.

Your reasoning is faulty because you are over-simplifying the teaching of the Church.  By the same sort of reasoning, the following passages of Scripture could also be said to deny the sufficiency of the work of Christ:

Matthew 7:21:  “Not every one who says to me ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

Matthew 10:22:  “…But he who endures to the end will be saved.”

Matthew 12:36-37:  “I tell you, on the day of judgment men will render account for every careless word they utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Matthew 16:27:  “For the Son of man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay every man for what he has done.”

Matthew 19:17:  “If you would enter life, keep the commandments.”

Romans 2:6:  “For he will render to every man according to his works…”

Romans 6:16:  “Do you not know that if you yield yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?”

Romans 6:22:  “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the return you get is sanctification and its end, eternal life.”

Hebrews 5:9:  “…and being made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him….”

James 2:24:  “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.”

Revelation 22:12:  “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense, to repay every one for what he has done.”

If anyone really wants to understand the Church’s teaching on justification, purgatory, and related issues, and the Scriptural bases for these teachings, I would suggest a careful reading of the Decree Concerning Justification of the Council of Trent, as well as paragraphs 1030 to 1032 and 1987 through 2016 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

[144] Posted by slcath on 6-5-2014 at 02:34 PM · [top]

I have no idea who wrote that tract.  I do know who wrote the catechism. In fact, the tract expresses one way of thinking about purgatory.  Another, equally Catholic, way of looking at it is that purgatory is part of heaven, a “mud room”, if you know that term. 

In any case, you have demonstrated again, that you are incapable of reading a text (at least, a “Catholic” text) on it’s own terms and applying it with integrity. Simple distinctions such as “temporal” and “eternal” or “atonement” and “purification’ seem to escape you. Therefore, it’s hard to have a rational conversation, since you insist on imposing your imagination on clear texts.

My own thinking on the subject is heavily influenced by C.S. Lewis, an Anglican. Perhaps you might read The Great Divorce, though purgatory and hell are not his primary concerns.  In fact, I think he makes the point that heaven, hell, and purgatory are less “places” than how we relate to God. Each begins in this life and comes to completion in the next.

I believe a passage I referenced above is from Mere Christianity, or maybe one of his essays. I do like his image of rinsing after the dentist has done his work. Of course, if you want to spend eternity with a mouth full of blood, that is your perogative.

[145] Posted by Words Matter on 6-5-2014 at 04:07 PM · [top]

Ah, an honest-to-goodness Catholic source on purgatory and heaven. I go in through Fr. Kimil, but the source is Peter Kreeft.

1) Purgatory is a part of Heaven. It is not a distinct “place” between Heaven and Hell. Purgatory is Heaven’s anteroom in which the elect are prepared, cleansed, healed, matured, and sanctified. It is the wash-room, where we shed our dirty clothes and plunge into a hot bath before entering the majestic palace of the King. Purgatory is therefore temporary. There are only two eternal destinies—Heaven and Hell.

2) Purgatory is joyful, not gloomy. Whatever pain may attend the process of purification, it does not diminish the profound joy and triumph of Purgatory. The holy souls have passed through death into life and know that their ultimate destiny is now secure. The sufferings of Purgatory are more desirable than the most ecstatic pleasures on earth.

3) Purgtory is a place of sanctification, not justification. Only the forgiven and justified enter into the final purification. Sin is not paid for in Purgatory but surgically removed. The doctrine of Purgatory neither challenges nor diminishes the finished work of Christ on the cross.

4) Purgatory is a place of education, not works. Purgatory is not a second chance to merit salvation through good deeds but an opportunity to acquire “a full understanding of deeds already done during our first and only chance, and a full disposal of all that needs to be disposed.”

http://pontifications.wordpress.com/2008/02/04/purgatory-as-self-knowledge/

Again, I have no interest in your religious beliefs, only that you not mis-represent mine.

[146] Posted by Words Matter on 6-5-2014 at 04:13 PM · [top]

Nice try words matter, I certainly understand the distinctions Roman apologists make…I simply think they are fatuous and casuistic. The distinction between temporal and eternal for example is one that Protestants make as well. It’s just that we believe Christ completed the fullness of the work necessary to atone for all sins of both category. We do not think there are any consequences of any sort to bare before the divine vision. For Rome, there does remain the problem venial sins, the consequences for which, must be completed by “suffering” purgatory…or should I say utter joy and laughter and light…since it turns out purgatory is such a wonderful place apparently wink. Makes you wonder who would do the work necessary to even earn an indulgence.

I’m not misrepresenting the roman catholic position at all. I’ve not once said that Rome would articulate her views in the way I do and provided links and quotes to Roman sources so readers can see how she does articulate them. I have asserted, however, that her doctrine of purgatory amounts to a repudiation of the full completed work of Christ on the cross.

You may, of course, disagree. I’m fine with that. But

[147] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 6-5-2014 at 04:53 PM · [top]

Nice try words matter, I certainly understand the distinctions Roman
apologists make…

So far, Father Kennedy, you don’t show that you understand it.  You consistently and, apparently, intentionally, to misrepresent Catholic doctrine.  I am fine with agreeing to disagree on these matters, but so far as I can tell from your comments, you are not representing Catholic doctrine correctly.

[148] Posted by anglicanconvert on 6-5-2014 at 05:19 PM · [top]

Fr. Matt,
How would you understand this phrase from the prayers of the people Rite I page 330?

And we also bless thy holy Name for all thy servants
departed this life in thy faith and fear [especially__________],
beseeching thee to grant them continual growth in thy love
and service

[149] Posted by Fr. Dale on 6-5-2014 at 05:32 PM · [top]

Hi Anglican convert, nope. No misreprestation at all. If I purported to articulate Roman doctrine as the Romans do then, yes, that would be misrepresenting their position. Instead I have asserted that despite their articulations and distinctions and apologies the effect of their doctrine is thus…

[150] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 6-5-2014 at 05:54 PM · [top]

Hi for dale, certainly those in glory grow in knowledge, love and all the communicated attributes. But this is not the same as purgatory. There is no stain to be removed. We are simply being moved from glory to glory as our capacity to love God and pour that love out is enlarged. That being said, I’m not comfortable with the prayer.

[151] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 6-5-2014 at 05:58 PM · [top]

Re: misrepresenting…for example, if my friend were to say…I am going to give you my entire ice-cream cone but i am going to eat half of it as your gift of gratitude to me for giving you this wonderful gift…and I were to say: “so really, you are giving me half of your ice cream cone, not the whole thing…” I would not be misrepresenting his position. I would be asserting that his position amounts to something his articulation denies. If I repeated back to him his offer purporting to express what he has said as he said it and or meant it, then used my formula instead, that would be misrepresentation.

[152] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 6-5-2014 at 06:05 PM · [top]

I am typing with thumbs…I meant Fr. Dale…apologies

[153] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 6-5-2014 at 06:07 PM · [top]

Matt Kennedy, I almost congratulated you on a semi-cogent argument in your #147. Then I re-read it. with other comments, and far from being cogent, you are lapsing into incoherence. Let me explain.

the distinctions Roman apologists make… are fatuous and casuistic. The distinction between temporal and eternal for example is one that Protestants make as well.

So when Catholics make these distinctions, they are “fatuous and cauistic”. But Protestants also make them…  right.

the fullness of the work necessary to atone for all sins of both category.

There you go again.  Catholics don’t believe they are “atoning” for anything. That was done on the Cross.  Here’s what the Church actually teaches atonement:

614 This sacrifice of Christ is unique; it completes and surpasses all other sacrifices.441 First, it is a gift from God the Father himself, for the Father handed his Son over to sinners in order to reconcile us with himself. At the same time it is the offering of the Son of God made man, who in freedom and love offered his life to his Father through the Holy Spirit in reparation for our disobedience.442

Jesus substitutes his obedience for our disobedience

615 “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous.“443 By his obedience unto death, Jesus accomplished the substitution of the suffering Servant, who “makes himself an offering for sin”, when “he bore the sin of many”, and who “shall make many to be accounted righteous”, for “he shall bear their iniquities”.444 Jesus atoned for our faults and made satisfaction for our sins to the Father.445

Neither the Catechism, nor Peter Kreeft, not the one link you provide indicate in any way that Catholics think they are “atoning” for anything.

You see, for us, salvation from justification through sanctification is a work of Grace, obtained for us by Christ in his unique sacrifice. I may suffer as a consequence of my sins, but it is not an “atonement”. 

I have asserted, however, that her doctrine of purgatory amounts to a repudiation of the full completed work of Christ on the cross.

Of course, the Catechism doesn’t support that contention; in fact, it refutes it.  Words don’t mean what you say they mean, Matt. They mean what they mean.  That’s why…. oh you know what’s coming:  That’s why words matter.  grin

<i>

Let me stress again that your religious opinions are yours, and I have no interest in refuting them. Moreover, insisting on an honest presentation of Catholic (or Orthodox or Baptist, or Anglican, for that matter) does not constitute “apologetics”.  It’s simply a call to integrity.

[154] Posted by Words Matter on 6-5-2014 at 07:37 PM · [top]

Hi Words Matter

re “Matt Kennedy, I almost congratulated you on a semi-cogent argument in your #147. Then I re-read it. with other comments, and far from being cogent, you are lapsing into incoherence. Let me explain…”

Given your misunderstanding of the pretty clear concept of “misrepresentation” I’m not surprised you also struggle with recognizing cogency. 

re: “the distinctions Roman apologists make… are fatuous and casuistic. The distinction between temporal and eternal for example is one that Protestants make as well. So when Catholics make these distinctions, they are “fatuous and cauistic”. But Protestants also make them…  right.”

Ah, I see where you are confused….again on the level of cogency. It is not the presence of distinctions that makes the arguments from the Roman side fatuous and casuistic but the application of such arguments to deny the actual force of the doctrine promoted.


re: “There you go again.  Catholics don’t believe they are “atoning” for anything. That was done on the Cross.  Here’s what the Church actually teaches atonement…614 This sacrifice of Christ is unique; it completes and surpasses all other sacrifices.441 First, it is a gift from God the Father himself, for the Father handed his Son over to sinners in order to reconcile us with himself. At the same time it is the offering of the Son of God made man, who in freedom and love offered his life to his Father through the Holy Spirit in reparation for our disobedience.442 Jesus substitutes his obedience for our disobedience 615 “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous.“443 By his obedience unto death, Jesus accomplished the substitution of the suffering Servant, who “makes himself an offering for sin”, when “he bore the sin of many”, and who “shall make many to be accounted righteous”, for “he shall bear their iniquities”.444 Jesus atoned for our faults and made satisfaction for our sins to the Father.445…Neither the Catechism, nor Peter Kreeft, not the one link you provide indicate in any way that Catholics think they are “atoning” for anything.”

Yes, no doubt. But the church also teaches that in purgatory the temporal consequences for venial sins are endured by the redeemed sinner…Catholic Answers explains:

“The purification is necessary because, as Scripture teaches, nothing unclean will enter the presence of God in heaven (Rev. 21:27) and, while we may die with our mortal sins forgiven, there can still be many impurities in us, specifically venial sins and the temporal punishment due to sins already forgiven”
http://www.catholic.com/tracts/purgatory

So as you explain: “You see, for us, salvation from justification through sanctification is a work of Grace, obtained for us by Christ in his unique sacrifice. I may suffer as a consequence of my sins, but it is not an “atonement”.

But of course this is to artificially narrow the definition of “atonement” so that you may say Christ’s death atones for all of our sins while, in fact, his sacrifice does not take away the consequence for all of our sins. We endure some suffering, some consequence, for some sins.

You can, of course, say that suffering as a consequence of your own sins is not to atone for your sins by narrowing the definition…but the reality is the same. The death of Christ is insufficient. His atoning work has not removed from you the fullness of the consequences of your sins or there would be no consequence to suffer in purgatory.

re: “Of course, the Catechism doesn’t support that contention; in fact, it refutes it.”

No, the CCC does not “refute” my assertion. It certainly asserts otherwise. Refute. No.

Re: “Words don’t mean what you say they mean, Matt. They mean what they mean.”

On that we agree…which is why I used the word “casuistry” above to describe Rome’s assertions.

re: “Let me stress again that your religious opinions are yours, and I have no interest in refuting them.”

Great. Me neither.

re: “Moreover, insisting on an honest presentation of Catholic (or Orthodox or Baptist, or Anglican, for that matter) does not constitute “apologetics”.  It’s simply a call to integrity.”

Sure. And as just about any article I’ve written on the topic (feel free to check the archives) makes plain, when I set out to presenting Roman teaching as Romans would present it, I’ve had very very few objections from Roman Catholic readers…and the same is true for the well-read Romans who attend my Christian ed series’ on various Reformation topics(eulogos above for example)...but such was not my aim here. Here my aim has never been to articulate the Roman view and then give a point by point refutation. Instead, I’ve merely asserted the Protestant position regarding various Roman doctrines, purgatory in particular and explained why I think, despite the various Roman protestations to the contrary, that the Roman view reduces down to a denial of the fullness of Christ’s atoning work.

Is this “misrepresentation”...of course not.

In the same way many Roman Catholics I’ve debated say, for example, that Protestant views of soteriology, in particular the doctrine of imputation, reduces down to the suggestion that God is involved in a kind of noble lie.

Now, Do Protestants “say” God commits a falsehood?

No.

Is this suggestion by Roman apologists a misrepresentation? Of course not. They are only arguing that our position, which they know well, amounts to involving God in a lie. And that’s fine. That’s a “cogent” position even though I disagree.

[155] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 6-5-2014 at 08:19 PM · [top]

The old Testament supplies an example that illustrate the truth that forgiveness of sins does not necessarily remove all temporal punishment.

2 Samuel 12:13-14:  David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.”  And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die.  Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the LORD, the child that is born to you shall die.”

Another examples:  Numbers 14:20-23 (people of Israel).

[156] Posted by slcath on 6-5-2014 at 09:32 PM · [top]

Words Matter,
It seems to me that our Anglican belief regarding this discussion is expressed most clearly on page 334 of the Episcopal Church Book of Common Prayer:

All glory to Thee, Almighty God, our heavenly Father, for that thou, of thy tender mercy, didst give your only Son Jesus Christ to suffer death upon the cross for our redemption; who made there, by his one oblation of himself once offered, a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world; and did institute, and in his Holy Gospel command us to continue, a perpetual memory of that his precious death and sacrifice, until his coming again.

[157] Posted by Betty See on 6-5-2014 at 10:13 PM · [top]

Betty See,

What you quote is substantially what I quoted from the Catholic catechism above. 

Mr. Kennedy,

Apparently your MO is to continue repeating yourself until people realize your not worth won’t time on and leave.  Which I am doing,  grateful that my happy memories of being Episcopalian, nourished in the Graces particular to the tradition included people filled with the joy of the Lord.

[158] Posted by Words Matter on 6-5-2014 at 10:48 PM · [top]

Words Matter,
We can tell you what the Roman Church has historically proclaimed about Purgatory but we cannot tell you what cradle Catholics who went to Catholic schools have been taught about Purgatory, if you talk to some people who grew up Catholic you might get a different picture of that concept.

[159] Posted by Betty See on 6-6-2014 at 12:13 AM · [top]

I’ll settle for what the Church teaches.

[160] Posted by Words Matter on 6-6-2014 at 12:35 AM · [top]

Let me explain that:  churches,  in fact all organizations of any size, have people running around saying all sorts of things that may or may not reflect the actual beliefs of their group.  There are lots and lots of Catholics. Some are crazy, some are ignorant, some are simply in need of basic conversion. I see no reason to give credence to the ramblings of people like that.

So, yes,  I will stick with what the Church teaches.

[161] Posted by Words Matter on 6-6-2014 at 12:56 AM · [top]

Fr. Dale, post 149, I would like to point out that the prayer you posted does not imply a need for further suffering.
In my opinion we can grow in love and service (wherever we are) when we realize how grateful we are to our savior Jesus Christ for saving us from the suffering that we know we deserve.

[162] Posted by Betty See on 6-6-2014 at 02:20 AM · [top]

Hi Words Matter

re: “Apparently your MO is to continue repeating yourself until people realize your not worth won’t time on and leave.”

Sure I completely understand your bowing out. Your particular MO has been to wave your arms about and say: “but the Church teaches this….” And, of course, I’ve acknowledged, quoted, and repeated with you what the Roman Church teaches. My point has been that the effect of the teaching is to deny what she affirms, the full atonement of Christ. You want to say that is misrepresentation. In fact, you’ve only demonstrated that you don’t know what the word actually means.

Have a great day!

[163] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 6-6-2014 at 02:45 AM · [top]

#162. Betty See,
I did not post the prayer as an example of purgatory. To me it argues against what some modern theologians call “soul sleep”. I was however interested in what Matt+ had to say about it. I’m not sure why he is “not comfortable with it.”
Additionally, it bothers me when commenters use the term Mr. Kennedy. If they don’t recognize his orders then “Matt” or “Dr.” would be fine without the additional disrespect.

[164] Posted by Fr. Dale on 6-6-2014 at 07:16 AM · [top]

Fr. Dale,  Mr. was once the standard (and honorary) address to protestant/reformed ministers, and to Anglican ministers prior to the resurgence of Anglo-catholic accouterments vestments, smells, bells, etc..

[165] Posted by St. Nikao on 6-6-2014 at 07:33 AM · [top]

Accoutrements, that is. 

Oh for a spell check, edit button or the grace and self-control to preview my own comments!

[166] Posted by St. Nikao on 6-6-2014 at 07:35 AM · [top]

“The old Testament supplies an example that illustrate the truth that forgiveness of sins does not necessarily remove all temporal punishment. 2 Samuel 12:13-14: ...”

Hi Slcath at #156, that is quite true.  And I think most theologians of all types would agree that temporal punishment or judgment can fall upon forgiven people in this life.

The point of difference is whether we believe that such temporal punishment can occur after death.  Protestants tend to look at passages like John 5:28-29, or the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Luke 16:22-26), and see no room for such a teaching.  Those who believe in purgatory obviously see things differently.

To illustrate the difference, Aquinas in the Summa cites Augustine, City of God I, 8 as proof for purgatory, but when one reads the whole passage, Augustine is referring throughout to testing in this life - he never mentions judgment or tribulation after death.

[167] Posted by MichaelA on 6-6-2014 at 07:53 AM · [top]

Hi Fr. Dale,

I’m not comfortable with the prayer because it might be and has been understood to support the idea of purgatory.

As for the Mr. thing…thank you. I personally am fine with Mr. instead of Fr. and, actually, prefer it since I tend to be more evangelically minded. But thank you so much for the concern.

[168] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 6-6-2014 at 08:05 AM · [top]

I think it would be really interesting to see a debate between Fr. Kennedy and a Catholic apologist- this blog where he has the “bully pulpit” is not conducive for it at all.

[169] Posted by via orthodoxy on 6-6-2014 at 08:22 AM · [top]

Hi via orthodoxy…you should check out some of my discussions with my friend Michael Liccione (who writes sometimes for First Things) both on my own fb page and on his. It’s, of course, not a classic debate format…but we do end up dealing with many of the issues and the give and take is usually instructive for both sides.

I do not see that I have used the “bully pulpit” here on this thread? Have I instructed anyone to cease and desist or have I prevented anyone from expressing a different view?

[170] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 6-6-2014 at 08:37 AM · [top]

Not overtly I believe. And yet there is a bit of “respect my AUTHORITY” ethos present here, though it be unintentional. It is a fine line you walk, and I admire your efforts, if not your viewpoints, for the most part.

[171] Posted by via orthodoxy on 6-6-2014 at 09:02 AM · [top]

MichaelA -  #167

The point of difference is whether we believe that such temporal punishment can occur after death. 

Accurately (and, better, charitably) put, in my opinion. If I may ride your coattails, I suggest that a variety of Catholic/Protestant disputes arise from our differing understanding of the meaning and process of passing from this life to the next. Broadly speaking, Protestants draw a brighter line at that junction than Catholics, and that has implications for not only purgation, but also a host of issues wrapped around “the Communion of Saints”, which we both affirm, but understand differently. 

Best wishes.

Fr. (Father) Dale -

Indeed, I was confirmed Episcopalian in a low church diocese where most priests were called “Mister”. In fact, thinking back on Mister Charles Sumner (Mistah Sumnuh, in Texas talk), I think of a man who demonstrated a spiritual paternity that warranted “Father”, although I think he preferred “Mister”.

And now you’ve set me to thinking about Charles Sumner and his identical twin, Tom, rector of St. John the Divine in Houston. They were the senior priests of the diocese in those days, so at diocesan affairs, they were the last priests in procession. The joy on those twin faces made you have to think the Parousia had come.  grin

[172] Posted by Words Matter on 6-6-2014 at 10:20 AM · [top]

Hi via orthodoxy…I see, well, so long as commenters follow the commenting policy which everyone seems to have done above, they are free to debate, disagree with, repudiate etc…our positions as long as they like. We can’t control how people feel internally about our authority. But I don’t believe we’ve ever used the authority to shut down dissent.

[173] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 6-6-2014 at 10:49 AM · [top]

Via orthodoxy,
I don’t how you can get the impression that Matt is saying “respect my AUTHORITY”, I think that Matt is simply stating the fact that he and other Protestants respect the AUTHORITY of SCRIPTURE.

[174] Posted by Betty See on 6-6-2014 at 10:56 AM · [top]

Matt, I read your post in #155 as a clear rejection of the the Catholic teaching on the “temporal consequences of sin.”  (See CCC paragraphs 1263-1264.)

Indeed, you state quite forcefully,  in response to Words Matter:

So as you explain: “You see, for us, salvation from justification through sanctification is a work of Grace, obtained for us by Christ in his unique sacrifice. I may suffer as a consequence of my sins, but it is not an “atonement”.

But of course this is to artificially narrow the definition of “atonement” so that you may say Christ’s death atones for all of our sins while, in fact, his sacrifice does not take away the consequence for all of our sins. We endure some suffering, some consequence, for some sins.

You can, of course, say that suffering as a consequence of your own sins is not to atone for your sins by narrowing the definition…but the reality is the same. The death of Christ is insufficient. His atoning work has not removed from you the fullness of the consequences of your sins or there would be no consequence to suffer in purgatory.

One of the premises of your argument is that Christ’s death removes all the consequences of our sins, so that for baptized believers there remains no suffering as a consequence of sin.  But the Epistle to the Romans contradicts this premise.

In Romans 7:21-24, St. Paul describes an enduring consequence of sin for the Christian:  “So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.  For I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members.  Wretched man that I am!...”

Then, in Romans 6:23 St. Paul identifies death as another consequence of sin:  “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Of course, these two passages are well-known to Protestants.  I would venture to say that in reality almost all Protestants agree with the Catholic Church that concupiscence (inclination to sin) and death are “temporal consequences” of sin that do not simply disappear when a person comes to faith.

[175] Posted by slcath on 6-7-2014 at 05:50 PM · [top]

I’m thankful for those commenters, on the subject of Purgatory in particular, who have showed Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety and Fear of the Lord—you know who you are!

In any case, brothers and sisters, a joyful Feast of Pentecost to all!

Veni Creator Spiritus

[176] Posted by Clare on 6-7-2014 at 06:26 PM · [top]

Hi Sclath

Re: “One of the premises of your argument is that Christ’s death removes all the consequences of our sins, so that for baptized believers there remains no suffering as a consequence of sin.”

yes. I would, as I noted above, say that God allows us to experience the consequences here and now in order to mature us and drive us further into his arms, but that at the point of death there are no more consequences to experience. The difference is that the consequences are not given to us in order to make us pure enough to enter into heaven. Christ alone has accomplished that. Positionally we are pure and clean and righteous from the moment of faith.

[177] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 6-7-2014 at 08:04 PM · [top]

Much of our suffering on this earth is a result of man’s inhumanity to man. I think that Jesus taught us to love one another because He did not want us to suffer.

[178] Posted by Betty See on 6-8-2014 at 12:32 AM · [top]

John 3: 16-17
16. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.
17. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world: but that the world through him might be saved.

Matthew 5: 38-39
38. Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
39. But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil: but whatsoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn him the other also..

Speaking simply as one who sits in the pews, I have to say that I trust the words of Jesus more than I trust the words of men (or women) and their earthly councils. I don’t even believe that human suffering always purifies, sometimes it brings out the worst in people.

I believe that God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit forgive and that is why I am a grateful Christian.

I pray that the ACNA will find a true Christian to lead them as Archbishop but I also realize that they are only human.

[179] Posted by Betty See on 6-8-2014 at 10:38 AM · [top]

Greg’s Change of Address


Your old Prophet Micaiah was off for some time on a sabbatical to the Backside of the Desert, where he managed to get his prophet recertification, and also meditate on the answers to all the problems afflicting our world.  After coming home to my juniper tree, I fired up my trusty IBM 8088, hacked into SFIF, and was surprised to see that Greg had again reignited the Reformation. 

I noted that this prompted a few people to raise several problems and questions.  I shall now provide the definitive answers to these matters, thereby restoring the unity of the Body of Christ.

The lynchpin issue in all this is this question:  is the Roman Catholic Church a real Christian church? 

The answer is absolutely, NO.  But neither is the Baptist Church, the Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church, the Salvation Army, the Four Square Gospel Pentecostal Church, etc. 

Now Prophet Micaiah, no doubt to the surprise of many, strongly believes in the One True Apostolic Catholic Church (TOTACC).  It is a temple constructed of gold, silver, and precious stones, built atop the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, whose corner stone is the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Now over the years, many have added various appendages, rooms, and even sheds, constructed out of wood, hay and stubble, to the point where often times the original edifice can hardly be seen. 

So, you see, the Church is not a denomination, or a building, or even “invisible.”  To even think that these physical things are Christ’s Church reminds one of the proverbial army recruit, who, when he was asked to list his church preference, without hesitation wrote down “brick.”

So how do you join the real Church? Well, you can’t.  Instead, the Holy Spirit comes and takes hold of you, regenerates you, generates faith in you, brings you to Jesus, and baptizes you into Christ and His Church (I Corinthians 12:13). Now you want to find other Christians, gather together with them, learn more of Christ, love and care for one another, and worship together.  Isn’t it amazing how we can sense when others are believing Christians?

So what name do these congregations of believers go by?  Certainly not by a single ordinance, or a locale, or a dead hero of the faith, or names like “Church of God,” “Church of Christ,” TEC, etc.  I searched the Scriptures looking for the name of Christ’s Church, and then one day in Acts I came across just what His Church was called: “The Sect that is Everywhere Spoken Against!” (Acts 28:22)

What are that Church’s teachings?  Well, to start with, the essentials of the Apostles’ Creed.  Salvation is by faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  In these teachings, we hear the pure gospel of salvation unpoisoned by the false “gospel” of added works “righteousness” (Galatians 1:6-9).

Now many of these congregations may travel under various denominational flags, but the assembly of all the believers is the actual Church.  Many congregations will have their distinctive, and even peculiar, points of doctrine or exclusive cultural heritages.  This analysis answers the question about why there is splintering into the various denominations.

In fact, the RCC was the very first Protestant denomination! They fell out with the Turkish faction, and declared that everybody should pray facing Rome.  I liken it to the restaurant selections we have in our communities, where there is a choice of Chinese, Mexican, Soul Food, Greek, etc.  There is no one Universal Restaurant, and this is a good thing. They don’t even have to fight each other. 

So too there are many gatherings of believers around the world that bear differing labels, but I can worship with them and feel at home, if I hear the true Gospel proclaimed there, even though there are certain customs that I myself might prefer.

So what can we deduce about Greg’s change of address?  As he has said, he felt out of place in TEC.  I would too.  I wonder how he stayed there for so many years.  Finally he looked around and found a group where he felt comfortable, and that he thought would be safe for his family. He likes the service, music, people, pastor, and youth program. 

In short, he has come full circle back to his roots and become a Congregationalist, for in his apologetic, we find code words that tell us he looks at the local situation, and not at the Huge Denomination or its leaders.  This no doubt is a skill he learned in TEC.  How many good Episcopalians have told me, when we discussed the torrent of evil coming from their leaders, that they were not interested in what 815 or the pointy headed perverts did.  All they were interested in was their local parish. 

All of which reminds me of the story that the great William F. Buckley, Jr. related about the time when he informed his sainted mother that the RCC had decided to drop the Latin liturgy.  His mother firmly rejected this decision, proclaiming that she would only use Latin.  Buckley then informed her that none other than the Pope had decreed it. She replied “Sshhh!  I was a Catholic before he was born!” Sooner or later, all of us are revealed for the secret Congregationalists that we are.

Now, I am sure if, later on, Greg sees that the RCC is not a Christian gathering after all, or that it proclaims a false “gospel,” he will move on, re-joining us in our journey upon our Via Dolorosa, searching for true Christian fellowship. 

For myself, I have been searching for years for the perfect French Onion Soup, or a Lemon Icebox Pie like my mother made. 

The blessing is in the journey and the searching.  Jesus promised to travel with us, and one day finally to take us to His house in Glory, which will be perfect.

How big must the congregation be to be valid?  Well, Jesus said, as few as two or three—so long as He is in our midst, hallelujah!

[180] Posted by PROPHET MICAIAH on 6-10-2014 at 01:54 PM · [top]

I wish there was a “Like” button on here.  Nice job, Prophet Micaiah.

[181] Posted by ADaniel on 6-10-2014 at 02:00 PM · [top]

Amen and amen, Prophet Micaiah!


Christian love and many ‘likes’ to you.  :8-)

[182] Posted by St. Nikao on 6-10-2014 at 02:30 PM · [top]

I “Like” too, Prophet Micaiah.

[183] Posted by Betty See on 6-10-2014 at 02:30 PM · [top]

The “prophet” has spoken? 

With respect for his opinions, we instead accept the authority of Holy Mother Church.

“So there shall be one flock, one shepherd.”

[184] Posted by Clare on 6-11-2014 at 07:12 PM · [top]

I am eternally grateful that I am a member of that flock, under the one shepherd.

[185] Posted by MichaelA on 6-11-2014 at 10:00 PM · [top]

Since its a very comforting passage of scripture, here are the words our Saviour spoke to us:

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.  I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” [John 10:14-16]

Whilst in a sense we are no more than dirty, daggy sheep(!), the difference is that our Shepherd died for us, and by his blood redeemed us.  Whether we are in the sheep pen of the jews, or the sheep pen of the gentiles, we are truly one flock.

[186] Posted by MichaelA on 6-11-2014 at 10:32 PM · [top]

MichaelA @ 185,

Indeed.

@ 186

See CCC , pars. 2089, 817-822, 836, 838, 855.

[187] Posted by Clare on 6-12-2014 at 08:14 AM · [top]

Post 186, MichaelA, I Like!

[188] Posted by Betty See on 6-12-2014 at 09:47 AM · [top]

Greg,

A blessed Feast of Corpus Christi to you and your family!  It’s also the Feast of Saint Thomas More.

Saint Thomas More, pray for us!

[189] Posted by Clare on 6-22-2014 at 05:50 PM · [top]

Welcome home, Greg! You and your family will continue to be in my prayers.

[190] Posted by gilgarza on 6-22-2014 at 07:55 PM · [top]

I haven’t been on Stand Firm in a while, and I was greeted with

[191] Posted by Nellie on 6-26-2014 at 07:36 PM · [top]

Sorry! Something happened - and my comment posted before I finished.

I was surprised, to say the least, to read your news, Greg. Welcome! My husband and I made the journey back to Rome last fall. We were born and raised Roman Catholics, and had been in both Lutheran and Episcopal churches over the years. We were in the Episcopal Church since 2005. Over the years, we learned more and more of what was happening in TEC, and ultimately couldn’t live with it. Your reasoning so closely parallels ours when we made our decision to go home. Since we’ve been back to Rome, we’ve had not one moment of regret, but only peace and joy. Rome is not without its faults, but the Roman Catholic Church does stand firm. Three things that happened in our own Episcopal congregation (in addition to what’s gone on in the larger Anglican church) that really made us see that we had to swim were: 1)Planned Parenthood calling the church to ask the rector to march with them at the state Capitol, and being shocked that he wouldn’t because he’s Episcopalian; 2) the annual matching gifts by the Endowment Committee to Planned Parenthood; and 3) the arrival in our congregation of a woman, formerly RC, who declared herself to be on a “journey” to find a church, because her RC parish was anti-choice. My husband and I could no longer be part of a church people liked because it was soft on abortion. The parish the woman objected to for its strong pro-life stance is now our parish, and one reason we love it is that the priest is not afraid to take a stand against abortion, and has mentioned it as an evil in his homily. We’re so happy to be home. We never fully appreciated it before, but as T.S. Eliot said, “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” After 8 months, I still have to bring a good supply of tissues to Mass with me, because I’m so grateful to be home that I find myself shedding tears of joy.

[192] Posted by Nellie on 6-26-2014 at 08:00 PM · [top]

Greg,

Interesting that the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul (not a movable feast – always on June 29) falls on a Sunday this year.  Again, blessings to you and your family.

“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.  I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Mt 16:18-19

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

2 Tim. 4:7-8

[193] Posted by Clare on 6-29-2014 at 05:22 PM · [top]

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