Skip to comments.An OPC Pastor Enters the Catholic Church
Posted on 06/21/2014 1:28:22 AM PDT by Al Hitan
Let me begin this conclusion by ending at the beginning: My wife Cindy and I entered into full communion with the Catholic Church because we came to see that this Church is the Church established by Jesus Christ. We came to this realization in large measure by spending time in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, reading other positive presentations of Catholic teaching, and speaking with flesh and blood Catholics in all walks of life and vocations. The many misconceptions we had about what Catholics believed were cleared away as we dug deeply into the teaching resources of the Catholic Church and talked with actual Catholics. We began to recognize that all the Church taught and claimed was verified and confirmed in the Bible, by history, and in the lives of the saints. Over time we came to understand that the Catholic Church represents the fullness of what Christ wanted to reveal to his people; that it possesses all the gifts that our Lord wanted us to have; and that the Church in its liturgy, its apostolic teaching, the Eucharist, the sacraments, and its saints, serves as the definitive place where Gods grace is on full offer. The reason being it is the Church of Jesus Christ most fully and rightly ordered through time. Yes, unquestionably a profound claim. But it is the one made by the Catholic Church in all ages, and it is the claim we have come to accept.
This is your invitation to test and see. I assure you that there is no lack of evidences for her divine origin. Such are openly verifiable and abundant. One need only the willingness to discern them. Whatever my personal story may be, the proof of the Catholic Churchs divine origin resides in the realm of history. The evidences are public, out there for you to examine. You are not at the mercy of my personal judgments concerning this claim about the Catholic Church. Instead you are free to investigate the facts of the Churchs perduring existence, her miraculous life, her divine teachings, the abiding fruit of her mission in the world from the time of Christ even down to our present day. The clues are all there; they await you. You need only begin to pursue them.
From what I could tell, this hasn’t been posted previously. It’s an interesting conversion story that I thought other Catholics might enjoy reading.
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Fascinating, thank you.
I only take one exception: “No man can forgive sins, right?”
Yes, we can, if the sins are done to us or ours. Indeed, we are obliged to. Forgive us our trespass, as we forgive those who trespass against us. Sort of an important line, and often overlooked.
The act of human forgiveness of sins is not for the benefit of the sinner, though that may happen. It is like a funeral - the corpse doesn’t care, but it helps the mourners deal with the death.
If you want a religion, Catholic is nice...Jesus is calling people to a RELATIONSHIP...He gave us His life and His WORD...man gives religion.
Not really surprising..
The OPC observes and worships the pope’s calendar, the pope’s sabbath day and the pope’s holy days...(albeit they do have a little issue with december 25 unlike most other denominations)
Most protestant daughters are built on that same foundation with those same observances and worship premises they get from mother...
Yeah. That Mother Theresa. She didn’t have a relationship with Jesus, did she?
“We came to this realization in large measure by spending time in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “
Right there is the problem. The Word of God is what he should be reading.
This statement rather betrays him. In all actuality, a firm reading of Augustine, for example, only shows one thing: that the greatest expression of Augustinian theology is Reformation theology, not the Catholic. Even on things like transubstantiation and predestination, Augustine falls on the Reformation side. Calvin's understanding of the sacraments was, itself, entirely Augustinian. He did not invent it. He was taught it from Augustine, perhaps improving in some points, but largely the spirit is that of Augustine's, and Augustine's from the Apostles. Those Catholics on this forum familiar with my posts on the matter are well aware of what Augustine has to say on these matters, and I doubt there are very many left who would oppose me on it.
The Reformers also did not flee from the writings of the Church Fathers. They did not even claim to be anything other than Catholic. From the essay "Catholic Calvinism":
"In 1536, a 27 year old exile from France addressed Roman Catholic King Francis regarding a new religious movement that Francis opposed. This exile takes pains to deny that the teaching of the movement is, in fact "new" and "of recent birth." To the contrary, says the humanist scholar, the gospel preached in this movement is as "ancient" as Paul's gospel. Winchester Moreover, "if the contest were to be decided by patristic authority, the tide of victory would turn to our side."1 For the young Jean Calvin, the reform of the church entailed a rediscovery of the scriptures--and a rediscovery of the scriptural theology of the patristic writings from the church's first five centuries.
Thus, it is not surprising that as Calvin's ministry and thought developed, he went to great lengths to deepen his knowledge of patristic theology and spread this knowledge to others. In a move that would please today's Anglo-Catholics, Calvin promoted the radical idea that John Chrysostom's sermons should be made available in the vernacular French. Not only scholars should read the church fathers, but ordinary Christians--just as Christians should also be reading the Bible. Of course, Calvin did not agree with everything he read in patristic works--indeed, this would have been impossible, given the diversity of thought in the patristic period. But the Reformation was a restoration of the scriptural theology of the early centuries of the church--and until the end of his life, publishing The True Partaking of the Flesh and Blood of Christ--Calvin continued to draw deeper and deeper upon the "ancient fathers" of the first five centuries, who were "of a better age of the church."2"
Now this guy writes like he is utterly unfamiliar with these facts, and with the writings of Augustine. And even sounds as if he himself was not familiar with these writings before hand, despite the very real emphasis and study of the church fathers promoted by the Reformers. If he did, how does one square the fact that the Church Fathers directly disagreed with doctrines the Roman church declares infallible and from the mouth of the Apostles directly? The claim of Romanism is that it's teachings are historical. So, why then are they not historical?
By the way, one last comment. I was hoping he’d actually say something specific about those “reformation doctrines” that he thinks are not that important. Like all Catholics, however, he entirely bypasses the issue and focuses on: Church authority.
Now what boots church authority if your soul is damned? What authority does a church have, if all its doctrine is authority and lacks a real doctrine on salvation aside from “submit to the Pope”?
After falsely asserting that the Church Fathers all shared the same doctrines on the Eucharist, ignored the Solas as somehow unimportant (does this fool know nothing about Augustine’s great battle with Pelagius? Where do you think we get Sola Gracia and Sola Fide? Since when do we only care about the Eucharist and Church authority?), and other such things, I thought that maybe he would explain his earlier assertion that the Catholics all accept our “Solas” but in a “properly understood” way. Any real Presbyterian ought to know that the question of church authority is insignificant to these questions. If he can show that we indeed misunderstood the Papists all along, and that, really, they really do think that we are saved by Grace and not by our merits, this would be ground breaking. It would heal the rift! But he does not, and instead goes straight from his assertions on the Church Fathers and flees to lame nonsense on “authority,” as if the earthly structures of the church obsess us as much as it does him!
But he does not, and instead goes straight from his assertions on the Church Fathers and flees to lame nonsense on authority, as if the earthly structures of the church obsess us as much as it does him!
...ah, once again set straight by our Protestant friends...whatever would we ‘papists’ do without your constant correcting...?
Delusional. Did Calvin teach the will was free? Augustine insisted on it.
Because this is a conversion piece you have the advantage of knowing that we didnt always accept this profound claim about the divine origin of the Catholic Church. And therein lies the curiosity of our story. I was a Presbyterian minister and pastor in a conservative denomination. My theology was solidly Reformed, having been educated at a reputable Reformed institution known both for its orthodoxy and pastoral emphasis. As a pastor I was committed in my ministry to classical Reformed belief and practice. Even now I remain grateful for the Reformed faith, as youll see. So the question naturally is, what happened? What instigated our study of Catholicism? What moved us to have a change of heart about the Catholic faith?
Our decision to leave Presbyterianism for the Catholic Church surprised many. We can sympathize given that in the past wed have been incredulous if told wed be Catholic one day. And yet looking back now from our vantage point we can trace the trajectory that led us to full communion with the Catholic Church, and its a trajectory that progressed naturally and imperceptibly over time - a growing appreciation for the necessity and role of the visible Church; a deepening understanding of the sacramental nature of the Christian faith; the apostolic quality intrinsic to Church authority; the unique function of the Minister of the Gospel in the liturgy and life of the Church; the inescapable dynamic of tradition within the Christian Faith; and an increasing awareness of the implications of the adjectives one and catholic as used by the Nicene Creed to identify the Church of Jesus Christ. Each of these areas of faith track back from where we are now as Catholics to where we were when Reformed. They prepared the way for us to give serious consideration to the Catholic faith when the time came.
Welcome home, ping!
He also gave us His Church. You know, that thing that is the pillar and ground of the truth.
They came to our church in Rockford a time or two. Wonderful people, they have sacrificed much.
Contra epistulam Manichaei quam uocant fundamenti liber unus 5.6
Augustine uses the term "free will" in two different ways. In the sense of the unbeliever, it is free only to sin. In the sense of the believer, it is now free to do good. This is his response to the Christian monks who wrongly interpreted his teachings as encouraging inaction on the part of the Christian. Augustine says that we "we walk, we do, we obey" with our will, but this itself is only the evidence of God's grace making us to walk, to do, and to obey. It is God who makes us good, not we ourselves:
Can you say, We will first walk in His righteousness, and will observe His judgments, and will act in a worthy way, so that He will give His grace to us? But what good would you evil people do? And how would you do those good things, unless you were yourselves good? But Who causes people to be good? Only He Who said, And I will visit them to make them good, and, I will put my Spirit within you, and will cause you to walk in my righteousness, and to observe my judgments, and do them (Ezek.36:27). Are you asleep? Cant you hear Him saying, I will cause you to walk, I will make you to observe, lastly, I will make you to do? Really, are you still puffing yourselves up? We walk, true enough, and we observe, and we do; but it is God Who He makes us to walk, to observe, to do. This is the grace of God making us good; this is His mercy going before us. Augustine - Against Two Letters of the Pelagians, 4:15
All our good merits are only wrought in us by grace, and -when God crowns our merits, he crowns nothing but his own gifts. (Augustine, Letter 194)
Have just men, then, no merits? Certainly they have, because they are righteous. But they were not made righteous by merits. For they are made righteous when they are justified, but as the apostle says, they are justified freely by his grace. (Ibid)
The difference between the man who falls away, by the way, and the man who remains in the faith, is entirely God's grace. In the one, He chooses to give the gift of preserverence, in the other, He does not.
I assert, therefore, that the perseverance by which we persevere in Christ even to the end is the gift of God; and I call that the end by which is finished that life wherein alone there is peril of falling. (Augustine, On the Perseverance of the Saints)
But of such as these [the Elect] none perishes, because of all that the Father has given Him, He will lose none. John 6:39 Whoever, therefore, is of these does not perish at all; nor was any who perishes ever of these. For which reason it is said, They went out from among us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would certainly have continued with us. John 2:19. (Augustine, Treatise on the Predestination of the Saints)
Augustine did teach Baptismal regeneration, but his solution with the problem of apostates was this: That the elect receive the gift of preserverence, while the apostates, like Judas, must inevitably fall away, since they were never of the elect. It is only grace which causes man to differ, and not their merits.
For who makes thee to differ, and what has thou that thou hast not received? (1 Cor. iv. 7). Our merits therefore do not cause us to differ, but grace. For if it be merit, it is a debt; and if it be a debt, it is not gratuitous; and if it be not gratuitous, it is not grace. (Augustine, Sermon 293)
Furthermore, Augustine teaches that God can change the will of man at any time, and if He does it not, it is in justice, and if He does it, it is in mercy. All of this is exactly our teaching:
And, moreover, who will be so foolish and blasphemous as to say that God cannot change the evil wills of men, whichever, whenever, and wheresoever He chooses, and direct them to what is good? But when He does this He does it of mercy; when He does it not, it is of justice that He does it not for He has mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardens. And when the apostle said this, he was illustrating the grace of God, in connection with which he had just spoken of the twins in the womb of Rebecca, who being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of Him that calls, it was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. And in reference to this matter he quotes another prophetic testimony: Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. But perceiving how what he had said might affect those who could not penetrate by their understanding the depth of this grace: What shall we say then? he says: Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For it seems unjust that, in the absence of any merit or demerit, from good or evil works, God should love the one and hate the other. Now, if the apostle had wished us to understand that there were future good works of the one, and evil works of the other, which of course God foreknew, he would never have said, not of works, but, of future works, and in that way would have solved the difficulty, or rather there would then have been no difficulty to solve. As it is, however, after answering, God forbid; that is, God forbid that there should be unrighteousness with God; he goes on to prove that there is no unrighteousness in Gods doing this, and says: For He says to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. (Augustine, The Enchiridion on Faith, Hope and Love, Chapter 98. Predestination to Eternal Life is Wholly of Gods Free Grace.)
But that world which God is in Christ reconciling unto Himself, which is saved by Christ, and has all its sins freely pardoned by Christ, has been chosen out of the world that is hostile, condemned, and defiled. For out of that mass, which has all perished in Adam, are formed the vessels of mercy, whereof that world of reconciliation is composed, that is hated by the world which belongeth to the vessels of wrath that are formed out of the same mass and fitted to destruction. Finally, after saying, If ye were of the world, the world would love its own, He immediately added, But because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. And so these men were themselves also of that world, and, that they might no longer be of it, were chosen out of it, through no merit of their own, for no good works of theirs had preceded; and not by nature, which through free-will had become totally corrupted at its source: but gratuitously, that is, of actual grace. For He who chose the world out of the world, effected for Himself, instead of finding, what He should choose: for there is a remnant saved according to the election of grace. And if by grace, he adds, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. (Tractates on the Gospel of John, 15:17-19)
For one final blow, note Augustine's interpretation of I Tim. 2:4: Who Will Have All Men to Be Saved. This passage, and others like it, are usually applied by the Papists to prove that grace is universally given, and that what makes men to differ is their rejection and disobedience.
Or, it is said, Who will have all men to be saved; not that there is no man whose salvation He does not will (for how, then, explain the fact that He was unwilling to work miracles in the presence of some who, He said, would have repented if He had worked them?), but that we are to understand by all men, the human race in all its varieties of rank and circumstances,kings, subjects; noble, plebeian, high, low, learned, and unlearned; the sound in body, the feeble, the clever, the dull, the foolish, the rich, the poor, and those of middling circumstances; males, females, infants, boys, youths; young, middle-aged, and old men; of every tongue, of every fashion, of all arts, of all professions, with all the innumerable differences of will and conscience, and whatever else there is that makes a distinction among men. For which of all these classes is there out of which God does not will that men should be saved in all nations through His only-begotten Son, our Lord, and therefore does save them; for the Omnipotent cannot will in vain, whatsoever He may will? Now the apostle had enjoined that prayers should be made for all men, and had especially added, For kings, and for all that are in authority, who might be supposed, in the pride and pomp of worldly station, to shrink from the humility of the Christian faith. Then saying, For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, that is, that prayers should be made for such as these, he immediately adds, as if to remove any ground of despair, Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth [I Tim. 2:1-4]. God, then, in His great condescension has judged it good to grant to the prayers of the humble the salvation of the exalted; and assuredly we have many examples of this. Our Lord, too, makes use of the same mode of speech in the Gospel, when He says to the Pharisees: Ye tithe mint, and rue, and every herb [Luke 11:42]. For the Pharisees did not tithe what belonged to others, nor all the herbs of all the inhabitants of other lands. As, then, in this place we must understand by every herb, every kind of herbs, so in the former passage we may understand by all men, every sort of men. And we may interpret it in any other way we please, so long as we are not compelled to believe that the omnipotent God has willed anything to be done which was not done: for setting aside all ambiguities, if He hath done all that He pleased in heaven and in earth [Ps. 115:3]. as the psalmist sings of Him, He certainly did not will to do anything that He hath not done. (Augustine, Enchiridion on Faith, Hope and Love, Ch. 103. Interpretation of the Expression in I Tim. 2:4: Who Will Have All Men to Be Saved.)
"Now, in regard to the canonical Scriptures, he must follow the judgment of the greater number of catholic churches; and among these, of course, a high place must be given to such as have been thought worthy to be the seat of an apostle and to receive epistles. Accordingly, among the canonical Scriptures he will judge according to the following standard: to prefer those that are received by all the catholic churches to those which some do not receive. Among those, again, which are not received by all, he will prefer such as have the sanction of the greater number and those of greater authority, to such as are held by the smaller number and those of less authority. If, however, he shall find that some books are held by the greater number of churches, and others by the churches of greater authority (though this is not a very likely thing to happen), I think that in such a case the authority on the two sides is to be looked upon as equal. (Augustine, NPNF1: Vol. II, On Christian Doctrine, Book II, Chapter 8. See also John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, Part 1, Vol. 11, trans. Edmund Hill, O.P., De Doctrina Christiana, Book II, Chapter 8 (New York: New City Press, 1996), p. 134.)