Return To Rome

A few years ago I read about Francis Beckwith, the former president of the Evangelical Theological Society converting (or rather, returning) to Catholicism.  It rocked the evangelical world, that such an eminent theologian could leave protestantism to return to Rome.  Well, Francis has written a book entitled “Return To Rome” which chronicles his journey out of the Catholic church and then back into it.  Here are my quick hit thoughts on Beckwith’s book:

Here is Beckwith’s take on the “folk mass” – one of the American Catholic church’s implementations of the Vatican II reforms:

Looking back, I believe that the Catholic Church’s weakness was presenting the renewal movements like the charismatic movement as something new and not part of the Church’s theological traditions.  For someone like me, interested in both the spiritual and intellectual grounding of the Christian faith, I didn’t need the “folk Mass” with cute nuns and hip priests playing “Kumbaya” with guitars, tambourines and harmonicas.  And it was usually not done very well, if my experiences and those of many of my friends and scores of my contemporaries with whom I have spoken and corresponded are correct.  Combine that with a watered-down and intellectually vapid presentation of the Gospel, and is it any wonder that many of us made the mad dash to where we saw Christ lifted up in Evangelical Protestantism?  Instead of playing to its strengths – historical continuity with the early church, theological sophistication, a high view of scripture, a true counter-cultural understanding of the human person and social justice, and profound and life changing spiritual practices and traditions – the American Church offered to the young people of my day a lousy pop music, a gutted Mass, theological shallowness, and “social justice” pabulum that was a proxy for far left politics.”

Ouch!  But if you change the phrase in the last sentence to “far right politics” then you get a good description of a lot of contemporary protestant churches.

  • A very good discussion of the doctrine of justification and the reformed position versus the Catholic position.  It was puzzling out this doctrine that was the tipping point for Beckwith to return to Catholicism.
  • Beckwith makes a strong case that converting to Catholicism is compatible with his evangelicalism.
  • Beckwith’s views the issues strictly on a theological basis and doesn’t really deal with praxis issues.

That’s all for now!