Thoughts so far on Rome Sweet Home (1)

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My wife and I have been reading the book by Scott and Kimberly Hahn regarding their conversion to Catholicism. We decided to do this as part of our Lenten reflection and time with each other in response to the recent discussions in our community. So far, we have only gotten to the point where they made it past the issue of contraceptives. Well, they made it there, but we didn’t.

But first, let me state why I think reading books like these are important. Why? Because it makes us address our own supposed steadfastness in our own current faiths and traditions. Sometimes, like with this book, it makes us address our own Catholic bigotry, reliving the conspiracy theories, the end of the world theories in which Rome is Babylon and all other churches are her daughters with blasphemous names. Good times! But, we should have to deal with those who are so steeped in their on own dogma and doctrine but eventually find themselves in that which they despised.

Why?

Scott’s story is one like many Americans. He was raised culturally Christian but only later came to the Faith. I note neither Scott nor Kimberly (who was raised with real faith) dismisses any of their conversion experiences or lives of faith led before they joined Rome. They was Reformed and heavily so. It wasn’t until he started to read the text for himself, that he came to a different conclusion. Admittedly, I would agree with his view of Justification. I know, I’m a heretic, but honestly, if you are going to burn me for something, don’t let it be for anything so simple. I’ve got loads of heresies to tell you about.  Scott doesn’t see neither himself or the Reformed tradition as heretical; instead, he seems Luther as wrong on that issue. No biggie. He can still continue to even preach in a Presbyterian Church with his heart full of heresies. We haven’t really gotten any further. If you are reading the book, then you’ll know where we are at.

His Catholic bigotry is pretty full on. I mean, being raised in a more conservative home, Catholics were the devil’s minions. Catholics were worse off than Jews, Muslims, and Baptists. As a matter of fact, for the most part, they were behind saving anyway, so why bother? At least Hahn is honest in his, and I believe, if we were equally honest, we’d agree with him in that our anti-Catholic views are not really based on Catholic doctrine so much as they are based on what we’ve been told about Catholic doctrine and practice. I remember my wonderful grandmother who in a moment of anti-Catholicism, spewed some pretty vile stuff about them one day. That has stuck with me for a while, and frankly, in my youth, I considered her saved because of her feelings to Rome! How does this play in John 17? Anyway, it is refreshing to read Hahn acknowledge his bigotry and to know that I am not alone.

His take on the covenant of marriage and the use of contraceptives, while theological is not to my theological or practical uses. There are a lot of ‘other side of the’ issues to what he is saying, but I also understand his view of covenant (over all) and have pretty well come to see that for myself along the way. Further, as I said, I support his view of Justification because I believe it is (more) Scriptural. Sola Fide is hardly purely Scriptural, but then again, neither is Sola Scriptura. Let me say that when I say ‘purely Scriptural’ I mean of course, that at least Sola Fide is Scriptural, but unless you read all of Scripture, you’ll be left with something that Steve Anderson preaches which is that all you have to do is to believe, nothing else, and you are set for life. I do not believe that. I believe that we grow in Grace and Holiness and that Faith, any faith, is dead if there are no works. I can affirm Sola Gratia and Solus Christus and yes, Soli Deo Gloria. The central issue then is Sola Scriptura. The question which keeps coming back to my mind simply is whether or not there is historical evidence of the canon descending from heaven, or if it took years of Tradition to affirm our biblical canon? Go with the latter, because it’s true. Canon was affirmed by Tradition. To completely remove Tradition (and no, I don’t agree with all Traditions under the banner of Christian) is to remove the basis of much of the early Christian faith. I mean, the (two of the) Evangelists wrote from Tradition. So can we honestly say Sola Scriptura (although I suspect that for many, what they really mean is Solo Scriptura) is the true method of the Church? (Not counting the Creeds which we interpret Scripture by, or theology which we interpret Scripture by, or biblical studies or contexts, or hermeneutic structures as well…)

Anyway, just some thoughts here or there about this book.

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8 Replies to “Thoughts so far on Rome Sweet Home (1)”

  1. Joel: Thank you for being open-minded and for your fair interaction with this book. True ecumenism is something that is very important to me. As a Catholic, I studied at both Azusa Pacific University (B.A. in Theology and Philosophy) and at Fuller Theological Seminary (Ph.D.). It astonishes me at how unwilling Catholics and Protestants are to engage in honest and open discussion sometimes. More than anything else, what disturbs me are straw-man arguments and misrepresentations. From the bottom of my heart, thanks for your willingness to engage in constructive dialogue.

    1. Michael: Your experiences have been similar to my own. I returned to the Catholic Church back in 2006, but my masters degree is from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. I have actually started contributing here a bit (as long as Joel and his co-bloggers don’t say anything that would really get me in trouble and as long as he continuously feeds me free books). But, I wouldn’t do so if the dialogue wasn’t open and honest. I wholeheartedly agree that what disturbs me more than anything else is strawmen and misrepresentations. If someone is going to disagree with me, fine. If I am going to disagree with someone else, fine. But, let’s disagree about what we actually believe, rather than just about what we think the other person believes because someone ill acquainted with the actual issues has told us so.

      1. Jeremy; its good to have you on board. I made a comment on the wrong thread and so I will repeat it here..

        I enjoy engaging with RC theology. Certainly to understand it – you first need to understand that its written in the context of church community…whereas it appears too much of the Protestant is individualistic.

        However my stumbling block in regards to crossing the Tiber is to do with the veneration of Mary and Communion….plus I’m married and called into the pastoral ministry.

    2. Thank you, Dr. Barber. I believe that ecumenism is a call issued by Christ, and have taken John 17 to heart in a rather deep way. I hope that the dialogue can continue.

  2. Jeremy:

    “If someone is going to disagree with me, fine. If I am going to disagree with someone else, fine. But, let’s disagree about what we actually believe. . .” Well said!

    Craig:

    Thanks for your willingness to have an open and honest dialogue. Of course, Mary is a HUGE stumbling block for people. I think I need to explain my perspective on Mary as a Catholic over at TheSacredPage.com. There’s a lot there–and much misinformation!

    Peace!

    1. I think that if we start off with Christ as the “Truth” and work from there we have a clear and mutual guideline as to how to engage.

      I had a look at your blog Michael – well done!

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