The New Catholic Evangelization
Dan R. Smedra
There exists today the
clear need for a new evangelization. As the
year 2000 approaches, our world feels an urgent need for the Gospel.
Pope John Paul II
In an effort to mitigate widespread nominalism
and defection from Roman Catholicism over the past several decades
(1), as well as cope with the pandemic of homosexually-transmitted AIDS
(2) amongst its priesthood, the Papacy and the Catholic Church worldwide
have renewed support for both clerical and lay apologetics and evangelism.
Similar to the 16th Century Counter-Reformation, a new evangelization
effort is in full swing. Numerous Catholic apologetic websites have made
their debut on the Internet.
Like their Jesuit predecessors, many of the new
apologists are intellectual heavyweights skilled at argumentation and sophistry.
A key stratagem in their defense and promotion of Catholicism is to side-step
issues by claiming that critics do not understand the true Roman Catholic
Church or true
Catholics. This offense/defense is effected by something of a shell game.
Critics of Catholic life and practice will be told they don't understand and
then directed to Church teachings and documents, critics of official dogma will
be told they don't understand and then pointed to the apologists, critics of the
apologists will be told they don't understand...and around and around it goes.
For example, Baptist pastor David W. Cloud explains:
Roman Catholics...allege, I don't
understand Roman Catholicism and I don't have my facts right. These people
usually tell me that to understand Roman Catholicism properly I must read
some Catholic apologist such as Karl Keating or Keith Fournier or Peter
Kreeft. I have been answering these charges for sixteen or seventeen
years, since they were first made to me by Jesuit priests in Southeast Asia.
I base my views of the Roman Catholic Church directly upon its authoritative
declarations, such as the Council of Trent, Papal Bulls, Vatican II Council,
and the New Catholic Catechism. These contain the voice of
authoritative Roman Catholicism. Keating, Fournier or Kreeft are
Roman Catholics and they have their own opinions and interpretations about
Roman Catholicism, but they are not authoritative voices for the Roman
Catholic Church. Letting a Catholic apologist "explain" Catholicism is
akin to letting a political "spin doctor" explain what Bill Clinton said in
his last speech.
When I have wanted to know what genuine
Roman Catholicism is, I have gone directly to the top. I have built a
large library of Roman Catholic materials and I have taken the time to study
them carefully. I have visited Catholic churches and masses in six
countries and have talked with Catholics in many parts of the world. I
have been to Rome and have toured the Vatican. I have visited some of
the largest Catholic shrines. In reality, almost any doctrine can be
found in the midst of the Roman Catholic Church. There has always been
a multitude of opinions within the Roman Catholic Church, but there also has
always been an authoritative declaration of what the Roman Catholic Church
officially believes. Those who challenge me that I cannot properly
reject Roman Catholicism because (they allege) I don't understand it (in
spite of the fact that I have diligently studied its official writings), are
the same ones who have rejected Baptist doctrine and speak against it.
Apparently they are capable of understanding and rejecting Baptist doctrine,
but somehow I am not to be given that same power.
While several testimonies are available by
converts to Catholicism (Hahn, Currie, Shea, etc.), this critique begins with those we feel are
representative of the growing "evangelical" journey to Rome. Much has been
written regarding the reprehensible statements of charismatics and
neo-evangelicals: Pat Robertson (Christian Broadcasting Network), Chuck Colson
(Prison Fellowship Ministries), Don Argue (president, National Association of
Evangelicals), William "Bill" Bright (Campus Crusade for Christ), Bill McCartney
(Promise Keepers) and others. For example, see
The "Evangelical" Seduction by T. A. McMahon. However, our focus will
be on those evangelicals who have formally joined Catholicism like the Hahn's
As for my background, I was born and raised in Roman
Catholicism. A sort of Americanized, middle-class version of Frank
McCort's Angela's Ashes. Disillusioned by Catholic family life,
Church dogma, and corrupt church leadership, I became a new-creation Christian
in 1969 and have enjoyed growing fellowship with the Father and the Son -- Lord
Jesus Christ, for nearly thirty years. A brief testimony is available at
the word "background" above, but I would encourage the visitors to complete this
article before becoming side-tracked in any of the linked articles.
Finally, a word of advice to those very sincere
Catholics who are attempting to follow the Pope's call for a "new
evangelization" quoted above. Rather than expending precious energy to
convert non-Catholics to your sacramental system, zealous Catholics should focus
on converting the millions of their brethren who embrace modernism, and
the growing number of postmodernist Catholics, to a
BIBLICAL THEISM. Let this extreme hypocrisy cease!
This web page is
considered a dynamic document and will include added information as it becomes
Scott and Kimberly Hahn
NOTE: Former Presbyterian,
now converted Catholic, Scott Hahn has repetitively made the assertion that God
called him into Roman Catholicism. There are those, both Protestant and
Catholic, who feel that Mr. Hahn's testimony should be uncritically accepted and
that to offer an alternative explanation for the religious events in his life is
less than morally honorable. To his defenders we say, "We lovingly
Scott and Kimberly Hahn are former evangelical
Presbyterians who became Catholics in 1986 and 1990, respectively. To
document their conversion to Catholicism, they "jointly" authored the book,
Rome Sweet Home: Our Journey to Catholicism, Ignatius Press (Catholic).
One abbreviated account is available via Scott Hahn's own web site and entitled
THE SCOTT HAHN CONVERSION STORY: Protestant Minister Becomes Catholic.
A link is provided in the footnote section below. Scott Hahn received his
BA from Grove City College in Pennsylvania with a triple major of Theology,
Philosophy and Economics. He obtained his M Div from Gordon-Conwell
Seminary in 1982. In May 1995, he was awarded a PhD in Systematic Theology
from Marquette University (Catholic). Since 1990, he has served as
Assistant Professor of Theology and Scripture at Franciscan University of
Steubenville, Steubenville, Ohio (Catholic). A rather impressive pedigree,
The observations and comments made herein are
based upon information solely contained in Scott Hahn's testimony and other
articles available on the Internet together with my own experiences as a former
Catholic and then new-creation Christian of nearly thirty-five years. Had
I encountered Scott and Kimberly's story shortly after my conversion, having
been delivered from the spiritual darkness of Catholicism and as a babe to
Scriptural Christianity, I probably would have been mystified by the Hahns'
religious experience. However, subsequent to my new birth, a family
member's account of their conversion from Methodism to Catholicism, and then
from Catholicism to Scriptural Christianity would help provide an explanation of
how something like this might happen.
This evaluation attempts to focus upon select
theological issues, firmly believing that there exists a cause/effect
relationship between belief and behavior. I don't claim to comprehend the
complexity of emotional and psychological factors which may have come to bear in
the Hahns' individual lives. However, it is my opinion that Scott and
Kimberly did not find true spiritual sustenance in the Reformed [a term used to
denote those traditions with a direct heritage to the Calvinist wing of the
Protestant Reformation] realm and thus were progressively drawn to Catholicism
largely due to the inherent errors and deficiencies of their Protestant
background. At the heart of the problem, they failed, both past and
present, to receive and embrace a clear understanding of the Gospel of Grace, as
ministered by the Lord Jesus Christ via the writings of the Apostle Paul.
Rather than the Cross and Christ-life for spiritual growth, their
Presbyterianism served up the deadening standard of law as a "rule of life."
Tragically, these doctrinal errors laid the groundwork for their descent into
the realm of the largest expression of Christian humanism--Roman Catholicism.
Scott Hahn was born and raised in the liberal,
Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. He testifies of
having become a Christian during his teen years while associated with the
largely non-doctrinal, non-denominational youth group, Young Life. Later
in college, he served on staff of Young Life and there met his bride-to-be,
Kimberly who shared a Presbyterian background. Both Kimberly's
father and uncle were Presbyterian ministers. Scott writes:
I wanted to in effect repay God out of
gratitude for how He had used Young Life in my life to introduce me to
In his senior year of high school he wrote a
research paper explaining what he believed was the core difference between his
own Reformed background and the Roman Catholic Church. Repeatedly
throughout his testimony, Scott views himself as formerly a stalwart Calvinist,
as well as hardcore anti-Catholic.
I wrote a paper entitled Sola Fide. That's
a Latin phrase which means Faith Alone or By Faith Alone. It's
actually the phrase that Martin Luther used to launch the Protestant
Reformation. He said that we are justified, we are made right with God
by faith alone, not by any works that we might do. And for him,
that was the article on which the church stands or falls, as he put it.
And because of that, the Catholic Church fell and the Protestant Church
While Protestantism arose, the Catholic Church
did not fall. Not only did Scott have history wrong, his theology was
inaccurate as well.
Sola Fide was only one of the principles of the 16th century
Reformers. For Luther, Sola Fide was not the
cor ecclesiae--the 'heart of
the church'. For Hahn to claim that it
was preeminent for Luther (rather than preeminent in Hahn's own mind),
that Sola Fide was "the article on which the church stands or falls"
belies church history from the Reformation perspective and is simply wrong.
Herein lies the one fundamental misconception
and common error that possibly brought the Hahns down. Martin Luther's
dispute with the Catholic Church ran far deeper than
Sola Fide. At the center of the 16th century controversy was a
deadly serious disagreement regarding what it meant to be a "sinner"--the
consequences of mankind's Fall as first recorded in Genesis and then elaborated
upon throughout the remainder of Scripture.
At the core, the Protestants charged the Catholics with
having minimized what Scripture had to say on the subject of sin. This
theological conflict [over hamartiology] was recorded in a written exchange
between Luther and the religious humanist, Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam.
In an attack upon Luther's axiom, Erasmus published Diatribe seu collatio de
libero arbitrio (Discussion, or Collation, concerning Free-Will) on
September 1, 1524. In response to Diatribe, Luther penned De
Servo Arbitrio (The Bondage of the Will) which appeared in December 1525,
twenty-two years before the Roman Catholic Council of Trent. With
passion, Martin Luther wrote:
Now, my good Erasmus, I entreat you for Christ's
sake to keep your promise at last. You promised that you would yield
to him who taught better than yourself. Lay aside respect of persons!
I acknowledge that you are a great man, adorned with many of God's noblest
gifts--wit, learning and an almost miraculous eloquence, to say nothing of
the rest; whereas I have and am nothing, save that I would glory in being a
Christian. Moreover, I give you hearty praise and commendation on this
further account--that you alone, in contrast with all others, have
attacked the real thing, that is, the essential issue. You
have not wearied me with those extraneous issues about the Papacy,
purgatory, indulgences and such like--trifles, rather than issues--in
respect of which almost all to date have sought my blood (though without
success); you, and you alone, have seen the hinge on which all turns, and
aimed for the vital spot. (bold emphasis mine).
Contrary to Scott Hahn's statements, the issue of
Sola Fide was secondary in Luther's theology. As Luther laid out in
his Bondage, the essential issue, the vital spot was the subject of
human depravity and the will. He considered the issue to be the cor
ecclesiae--the 'heart of the church'. Both Erasmus and the Roman
Catholic Church argued that the Fall had not stripped man of his "free will";
while Luther stood for the Scriptural truth that unregenerate man, with volition
intact, was in bondage to sin. Although nearly 475 years have passed, the
conflict remains basically unchanged! Amazingly, few modern-day
Protestants, evangelicals, or Catholics have ever read Luther's own magnum
opus. For further detail regarding this issue and the widespread
error of Christian humanism, see my article THE UNHOLY
In addition, there was argument
over the authoritative basis for such views. In short, both sides
attempted to define the true meaning and consequence of the word "die" in
Genesis 2:17 and the phrase "in his [Adam's] own likeness, in his own image" in
Genesis 5:3. Theologian Lewis Sperry Chafer (1871-1952) framed the
importance of the issue in these words:
There is a justification for the fact that the two great doctrines--sin
and redemption--go hand in hand. It is sin that has drawn out
redemption from the heart of God, and redemption is the only cure for sin.
These two realities, in turn, become measurements of each other. Where
sin is minimized, redemption is automatically impoverished since its
necessity is by so much decreased.
After college, both Scott and Kimberly enrolled at the
neo-evangelical, Reformed/Covenant Gordon-Conwell Seminary north of Boston in
South Hamilton, Massachusetts. Gordon-Conwell is one of several American
Protestant schools which teach the Reformation "covenant" system of theology
(7). During the educational process, the student typically becomes
thoroughly indoctrinated in this restrictive approach to interpreting Scripture.
True to the seminary's pedagogic mission, Scott Hahn wrote:
I had come upon this strong conviction that if
you want to know God, you have to understand the covenant, because the
covenant was the central idea in all of Scripture.
While the concept of "covenant" is certainly an
important biblical doctrine, its overemphasis can obscure the self-evident and
inherent distinctions found during any unprejudiced examination of
Scripture. For the Reformed tradition, "covenant" represents a unifying
principle and an overarching interpretive key for understanding the Bible.
However, the desired results have eluded both former and modern-day heirs of the
Reformation. Consequently, while some are turning back to Rome, others
like leaders of the "reconstructionist" wing of the Reformed tradition, have
abandoned historical Covenant Theology and are attempting to hammer out new and
improved versions of the covenant scheme. For example, in the preface to
Ray R. Sutton's THAT YOU MAY PROSPER - Dominion By Covenant, publisher
Dr. Gary North writes:
...the author [Sutton] has found the key above
all other keys to interpreting the Bible. We have waited over three
millennia for someone to say plainly: "This is what the Bible is really all
about." No doctrine of the Bible can be properly understood without
the outline or covenant model found in this book.
...covenant theologians are wandering in a fog --
that is to say, for four hundred years, they have wandered in a fog.
Although covenant theology as a separate field is as old [new] as the
Reformation, and specifically the Calvinist wing, it has never been
definitively outlined before. This may seem incredible to scholars and
historians, but a careful reading of such supposedly magisterial histories
as those written about the American Puritans by Harvard scholar Perry Miller
will bog the reader down very fast. Miller did not outline the key
elements of what he called 'Federal theology' in any one place, nor have
subsequent scholars. There is a good reason for this: neither
did the covenant theologians. (8)
At one point, Scott Hahn's quest to understand the
insufficiency of Reformed theology lead to others who were also questioning:
During my third and final year at seminary,
something happened that represented a crisis for me. I was studying
covenant and I heard of another theologian studying covenant, a man by the
name of Professor [Norman] Shepherd in Philadelphia teaching at Westminster
Seminary. I heard about Shepherd because he was being accused of
heresy. People were suggesting that his heresy grew out of his
understanding of the covenant.
Then somebody told me, "Shepherd is calling into
question Sola Fide." What! No way. I mean, that is
the Gospel. That is the simple truth of Jesus Christ. He died
for sins; I believe in him. He saves me, pure and simple; it's a done
deal. Sola Fide? He's questioning that? No way.
I called him on the phone. I said, "I've
read your stuff on covenant; it makes lots of sense. I've come to
pretty much the same conclusions. But why is this leading you to call
into question Luther's doctrine of Sola Fide?" He went on to show in
this [phone] discussion that Luther's conception of justification was very
restricted and limited. It had lots of truth, but it also missed lots
When I hung up the phone, I pursued this a little
further and I discovered that for Luther and for practically all of Bible
Christianity and Protestantism, God is a judge, and the covenant is a
courtroom scene whereby all of us are guilty criminals. But since
Christ took our punishment, we get his righteousness, and he gets our sins,
so we get off scot-free; we're justified. For Luther, in other words,
salvation is a legal exchange, but for Paul in Romans, for Paul in
Galatians, salvation is that, but it's much more than that.
Sadly, Scott Hahn did not pursue the issue far enough.
Had he continued to search, he may have discovered other Reformed leaders who
had also come to understand the limitations of the Reformation view of
redemption. One such individual, Leonard Verduin (1897-1999), (A.M. from the
University of Michigan and Th.B degree from Calvin Theological Seminary) wrote:
We meet in Luther, to put it theologically, a
very heavy emphasis on the forensic aspect of salvation and a
correspondingly light emphasis on the moral aspect. Luther was
primarily interested in pardon, rather than in renewal [new life]. His
theology was a theology that addresses itself to the problem of guilt
[sins], rather that to the problem of pollution [sin]. There is an
imbalance in this theology between what God does for man
and what He does in man. (9)
The trapped Scott Hahn continues:
One of my most brilliant [?] professors, a man
named Dr. John Gerstner (10), had once said, "that
if we're wrong on Sola Fide, I'd be on my knees outside the Vatican in Rome
tomorrow morning doing penance." Now we laughed, what rhetoric, you
know. But he got the point across; this is the article from which all
of the other doctrines flow. And if we're wrong there, we're going to
have some homework to get done to figure out where else we might have gone
Scott Hahn never got the "homework" done. Had he
not been so negatively influenced by the anti-dispensational views of his
professors, he may have gotten an opportunity to study the following comments
made by ex-Presbyterian minister Lewis Sperry Chafer, Bible commentator William
R. Newell, and Christian author Miles J. Stanford:
The Reformers did not restore all features of
doctrine, and along with justification by faith retained the Romish notion
that the Church is the Kingdom, fulfilling the Davidic covenant, and
appointed to conquer the world by bringing it under the authority of the
Church. This idea has prevailed in spite of the clear, uncomplicated
testimony of the New Testament that this dispensation must end in
A theology [Covenant] which penetrates no further
into Scripture than to discover that in all ages God is immutable in His
grace toward penitent sinners, and constructs the idea of a universal Church
(continuing through the ages), and the one truth of immutable grace, is not
only disregarding vast spheres of revelation, but is reaping the unavoidable
confusion and misdirection which part-truth engenders.
To many the only body of interpretation which is
orthodox is that which was recovered by the Reformers, or that contained in
an ancient doctrinal statement. There is, however, a great body
of truth which the Reformers were unable to consider and which is lacking in
ancient creeds. (11)
According to Newell, "Almost all the theology of
the various 'creeds of Christendom' date back to the Reformation, which went
triumphantly to the end of Romans Five, and, so far as theological
development or presentation of truth was concerned, stopped there.
Consequently, you must not regard yourself as bound to accept all that legal
doctrine of sanctification, which has been, and still is predominantly, the
sine qua non of orthodox [Covenant] belief."
It was 350 years after the truths of
and new birth were reaffirmed [by Luther] that God restored
the truths of
identification and growth.
Foundational and far-reaching as the Reformation was, it proved to be but
the ground-work for the vast array of growth and related truths that God
made available through one, John Nelson Darby (1800-1882).
However, for Scott Hahn it was now too late.
While all Scripture is useful for "teaching, rebuking, correcting and
training in righteousness;" for Scott, all Scripture would receive the
preparatory "covenantal" spin. For some additional insight into the
"Covenant" system, see The Subtle
Errors of Covenant/Calvinist Theology and
Christianity in Contrast.
Little did Scott understand what lay ahead. His
continued obsession with the covenant viewpoint would form the bridge for his
journey into Catholicism and its erroneous sacramentalism. At one point, a
then skeptical wife Kimberly referred to Scott as "Luther in reverse."
Rather than repeat the details of his unfortunate story which is available at
the link shown in footnote #3 below, I am only including some highlights from
I began to turn to Catholic sources and read
In two years time, I had worked through several
hundred books, and I began for the first time to read Catholic theologians
and Scripture scholars. And I was shocked at how impressive their
insights were but even more, at how impressive their insights were which
agreed with my own personal discoveries.
I discovered in my study that being born again
does not mean accepting Jesus Christ as personal Savior and Lord and asking
Him into your heart -- although that is important and every believer,
Catholic or otherwise, should have Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and a
living personal relationship with Him. But I discovered what Jesus
meant in John 3 when He said that you've got to be born again.
He turns around and says that you've got to be born of water and spirit.
In the previous chapters He was just baptized with water and the Spirit
descended upon Him. And as soon as He is done talking to
Nicodemus about the need to be born from water and Spirit, the very next
verse says that Jesus and the disciples went about baptizing. I
taught that being born again is a covenant act, a sacrament, a covenant
renewal involving baptism. I shared this with my seminary students;
they were convinced.
And in all covenants you have an opportunity to
renew the covenant, and the act of covenant renewal is an act or a moment of
grace. When you renew a covenant, God releases grace, and grace is
life, grace is power, grace is God's own love.
Meanwhile, I was preparing my sermons and some
lectures ahead of John chapter 3. I was delving into John
chapter 6. I don't know how many of you've ever studied the Gospel of
John. In many ways it's the richest Gospel of all. But John
chapter 6 is my favorite chapter in the fourth Gospel. There I
discovered something that I think I read before, but I never noticed.
Listen to it. "Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly I say to you,
unless you eat the flesh of the son of man and drink His blood you have no
life in you. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life
and I will raise him up at the last day, for my flesh is food indeed and my
blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides
in me and I in him.'" I read that; I reread that; I looked at it from
ten different angles. I bought all these books about it, commentaries
on John. I couldn't understand how to make sense out of it.
Then the Liturgy of the Eucharist began. I
watched and listened as the priest pronounced the words of consecration and
elevated the host. And I confess, the last drop of doubt drained away at
that moment. I looked and said, "My Lord and my God." As the
people began going forward to receive communion, I literally began to drool,
"Lord, I want you. I want communion more fully with you. You've
come into my heart. You're my personal Savior and Lord, but now I
think You want to come onto my tongue and into my stomach, and into my body
as well as my soul until this communion is complete.
First, I began to pray a rosary. I was very
scared to do this. I asked the Lord not to be offended as I tried.
I proceeded to pray, and as I prayed I felt more in my heart what I came to
know in my mind: I am a child of God. I don't just have God as my
Father and Christ as my brother; I have His Mother for my own.
God had made it so clear in Scripture on Mary, on
the Pope, even on Purgatory from 1 Corinthians 3:15 and following, on the
saints as God's family, as my brothers and sisters in Christ. I was
explaining to friends of mine how the Family of God is the master idea which
makes sense out of all the Catholic faith. Mary's our mother, the Pope
is a spiritual father, the saints are like brothers and sisters, the
Eucharist is a family meal, the feast days are like anniversaries and
birthdays. We are God's family. I'm not an orphan; I've got a
What began as a doctrinal error, produced catastrophic
results. Scott and Kimberly Hahn are now willingly being used to draw
others into Catholicism. Scott has written the Forward to Patrick Madrid's
SURPRISED BY THE TRUTH, which is a collection of testimonies of recent
converts to Romanism. See the following:
Dave Armstrong - a disillusioned, liberal Methodist youth traces his
Wesleyan evangelical roots to their source, then surprisingly [?] converts
While many Catholics are delighted to hear of Scott
and Kimberly's conversion, a few traditional members of the Roman Church are
not so pleased. Of late, Dr. Hahn has become something of a voice for
the charismatic element within Catholic ranks, and upsetting the more
conservative members. See
A "Catholic" Charismatic Extravaganza.
We end with a quote from one the early Brethren
writers, C. H. Mackintosh and an email comment from a female RC convert (sheep
to the slaughter):
It would have been a
bold step from the church of Rome to the Church of God; and yet it will be
found in the end that there is not distinct neutral ground between the two;
for every church, or, to speak more accurately, every religious
denomination, reared up and carried on by the wisdom and resources of man,
be its principle ever so pure and ever so hostile to Catholicism, will be
found, when judged by the Word of God, to partake more or less of the
element of the Romish system--the usurper of Judaism.
...since my [recent] decision to become Catholic,
I wonder why everyone seems to have such a different experience leaving
rather that arriving....
- For example, see:
The Denomination Called Catholic, David R. Carlin, First
Things, Nov. 1997. Carlin writes, "The second reason for Catholic
hope comes with the recruits from mainline Protestantism. As liberal
Protestantism shows a continuing incapacity to resist secularism both in
society and in the churches themselves, anti-secularist members of these
churches will be faced with three options. One is to stay and fight, a fight
that becomes increasingly discouraging with the passage of time. A second is
to switch by joining a conservative Protestant sect. And a third is to join
the Catholics. There is no way of predicting what proportions will choose
which option, but Catholicism is already getting its share. These new
Catholics are deliberate and self-conscious opponents of the denominational
ideal, and their mere presence in the Church slows the Catholic drift toward
absolute denominationalism. If they are religious intellectuals, their
writing, teaching, and preaching slow it down even more. This is nothing
new—in the last two centuries some of the most effective Catholic opponents
of liberal religion have come from the outside: John Henry Newman in
England, Jacques Maritain in France, and others." The sad irony for
the Protestant defectors who become Catholic is that a similar form of
secularism has been at work in Roman Catholicism as well. The primary
difference is that Protestants are more apt to leave and create independent
churches, while Catholics engage in psychological denial regarding the
magnitude of the problems.
HOMOSEXUALITY in CATHOLICISM
YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND ROMAN CATHOLICISM .
THE SCOTT HAHN CONVERSION STORY: Protestant Minister Becomes Catholic.
- Systematic Theology, (Dallas, Dallas Seminary
Press, 1947), Vol. 2, p. 224.
- THE BONDAGE OF THE WILL - translated by J. I. Packer
and O. R. Johnston. (Fleming H. Revell, 1957), p. 319.
- A discussion of the various errors of Covenant Theology is
beyond the scope of this brief paper. But some short comments may be
helpful to the reader. While subject to intense debate, the roots of
Covenant Theology can be traced to a development within the
Reformation. Dr. Kenneth H. Good wrote in Are Baptists Reformed?:
- In this document [The Heidelberg Catechism
-1563] we begin to see the ecclesiastical, formal, and creedal
expression of what has come to be called 'Federal theology' or 'Covenant
theology.' This doctrinal development belonged essentially to the
second generation of Reformers, of which [the Heidelberg's] German
authors [Zacharius Ursinus and Kaspar Olevianus] were a part.
- While the Heidelberg Catechism did not
depart from the Reformed principle of Sola Scriptura, it did permit the
intrusion of three influences which eventually came to undermine the
Biblical and evangelical foundation upon which it was based. Here
we may observe: 1) the great influence of a creedalism which had a
tendency to displace confessionalism. 2) the official
sanction of Covenant theology as authoritative, which for the Reformed
began largely to replace Biblical theology. 3) the intrusion of an
experience-oriented faith in the place of one which rested primarily
upon the Scriptures.
Following the early formulation of Covenant Theology
in Germany, William Ames (1576-1633) and John Cocceius (1603-1669) further
developed this interpretive system. Again, Dr. Good:
- The Westminster Confession represents a
culmination or perfection of the 'Reformed Faith'...and it incorporates
the full-grown flower of a developed Covenant theology.
Former Presbyterian minister Lewis Sperry Chafer
understood the fallacies of Covenant Theology and the harm it had caused the
Church. Throughout his 8-volume Systematic Theology, he
issued numerous warnings. An excellent compilation of many of
Dr. Chafer's comments is available via the manuscript,
Dr. Chafer on Covenant Theology.
- The reader should also realize that the Reformed
tradition's ongoing attempt to discredit the 'dispensational' approach to
understanding Scripture, on the basis of its so-called recent origin,
remains both hollow and hypocritical. For an extensive scholarly
critique of Reconstructionism see Bruce Barron's HEAVEN ON EARTH? The
Social & Political Agendas of Dominion Theology, (Grand Rapids,
Zondervan Publishing House, 1992).
- The Reformers and Their Stepchildren,
(Grand Rapids, Baker Book House, 1980), p. 12.
- How tragic. The late Dr. John H. Gerstner was a
Christian humanist and rabid anti-dispensationalist. In his
bombastic book, WRONGLY DIVIDING THE WORD OF
TRUTH - A Critique of Dispensationalism, he made numerous false and
ludicrous statements. His irrational hatred was so extreme that he
stated that those who adopt a dispensational view of Scripture could not
possibly be born-again Christians.
- Systematic Theology, (Dallas, Dallas Seminary
Press, 1947) Vol. 4, p. 257, 156; Vol. 5, 261.
- Miles J. Stanford,
(Colorado Springs, p. 2). Prolific author, Miles Stanford has
provided a synopsis of the soteriological truth upon which Scriptural
Christianity is built. Our History in the First
Adam and Our History in the Last Adam
are two samples of the seventy-one chapters, from his classic,
THE COMPLETE GREEN LETTERS. Visit his Web site at
Miles J. Stanford.
- The Life and Times of Elijah: Concluding Remarks,
Miscellaneous Writing of C.H.Mackintosh, (Nepture, Loizeaux Brothers, 1898)
Vol. 5, p.147.
Comment received from a naive correspondent who was ready to
step into the snare of the Catholic Church.
Answer? Proverbs 1:17 states, "How useless to spread a net in full view
of all the birds!"
"...I wonder why everyone seems to
have such a different experience leaving [Roman Catholicism] rather than
The reader may also want to read Dr. Michael J. Vlach's
Why Are Evangelicals Converting to Roman Catholicism?.
"Michael has a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of
Nebraska (Lincoln) and a Master of Divinity degree from The Master’s
Seminary (John McArthur) in Sun Valley, California. He also has a fully
accredited Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from Southeastern Baptist
Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. Michael was also
an assistant pastor for five years at Indian Hills Bible (now "Community")
Church (Gil Rugh), also located in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Also, here is the Dr. Scot McKnight* article referenced by Dr. Vlach. From
Wheaton to Rome: Why Evangelicals Become Roman Catholic
"A desire for transcendence is a crisis about the
limitations of the human condition and a desire to go beyond the
human experience. This occurs, for the ERC [evangelicals who convert
to Catholicism], in four manifestations. First, the ERC wants to
transcend the human limits of knowledge to find certainty; second,
the ERC wants to transcend the human limits of temporality to find
connection to the entire history of the Church; third, the ERC wants
to transcend the human limits of division among churches to find
unity and universality in the faith and Church; and fourth, the ERC
wants to transcend the human limits of interpretive diversity to
find an interpretive authority. These four desires—certainty,
history, unity, and authority—are the four manifestations of the
ERC’s crisis of transcendence."
* - Dr. McKnight is a
professor at North Park University, Chicago, Illinois. While he is
"evangelical" only under the broadest of definitions and is
non-dispensational, he does provide insight
(as seen in the example above) to the sociological dimension of certain,
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