Thursday, September 14, 2006

Altar Boyz N da Hood


DJP said:

He asked my question. Am I getting this right -- he is insisting that he knew the Gospel, and now has turned his back on it for Rome, knowingly and deliberately?

I'm wondering: if that is not apostasy, what would be? Or what am I missing? Sincerely?

Do we have different estimates of the Gospel? or of Rome? or of apostasy?
9/13/2006 5:43 PM

Dave said:

Hi Steve,

In the position you are in, it was wise to use evasive humor. If you continue to admit that I may still (possibly) be in a state of grace and refuse to apply the word "apostate" (and all the unsavory aspects that conjures up) to me, then you have to deal with your less charitable mates like DJP and no doubt many other fans of yours who think like he does.

If you change your mind, then I believe you will have to struggle with a great deal of cognitive dissonance and explain how an apostate unregenerate person can write all the stuff that I write, much of which even you would agree with, including, e.g., my strong defenses of the Bible just last night in responding to Ed Babinski on the "last days" / false prophecy issue.

So either way, you'd be in the hot seat, now that your mythical scenario of my allaged former blissful ignorance and superficiality was shown to be precisely that: blissfully ignorant and superficial.

I don't fit into the category you thought I was in. And I know that gives you pause, because you are a thoughtful person, and know better than to make the silly quick judgments of folks like djp (who couldn't even comprehend my half-jesting reply) and travis, etc.

You may not admit this publicly, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist . . . even this little crack of sorts gives me hope that you can reason your way out of the morass of self-defeating anti-Catholicism some time in the not-too-distant future.


It’s always possible that I’ll disappoint both sides in this debate, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

I’m not saying anything I haven’t said before in more general terms.

1.I draw a distinction between a credible profession of faith and a saving profession of faith.

I don’t think that a Catholic qua Catholic can render a credible profession of faith.

But this doesn’t mean that it’s impossible for a Roman Catholic to be saved. It’s possible to find the gospel in Catholic tradition because it’s possible to find near ‘bout anything in Catholic tradition.

Catholic tradition is so diverse that it’s a theological buffet, and different Catholics are drawn to different strands of its far-flung tradition.

You have the Augustinian and Jansenist tradition (e.g. Pascal). You have the mystics. You have the church fathers. You have the Scholastic theologians. And so on and so forth.

Catholicism is like the hood. Many children are lost to the hood. It would be very imprudent to raise your kids in the hood.

Still, there are some kids who manage to escape the gang violence and drug culture.

I warn people away from Catholicism the same way I’d warn a parent away from the mean streets of the hood. It’s perilous and foolhardy to go looking for the Gospel in the Church of Rome. Still, God in his providence can save an individual despite the unpromising surroundings.

2.Even at its best, you’ll never find the unadulterated gospel in Catholic tradition.

Still, one doesn’t need to be a perfect theologian to be saved. John and Charles Wesley, Dwight Moody, and Billy Graham, to name a few, profess a very flawed theology, but I don’t doubt their salvation on that account.

2.I also draw a distinction between the laity and the clergy. Someone like Rahner, Raymond Brown, or Benedict XVI is going to be far more self-consciously consistent about his theological commitments than the average layman.

There are Catholic laymen who, because they’re involved in group Bible studies with their Evangelical friends and coworkers, end up with a personal theology that is more Evangelical than their church.

3.Apropos (2), many Evangelical immigrants to Rome bring along a certain amount of contraband theology stashed away in their luggage.

As I’ve observed in the past, they are often far more conservative than cradle Catholics or the clergy. Indeed, they’re often at odds with their adopted denomination.

So guys like Dave Armstrong and Scott Hahn present an artificially Evangelicalized version of Roman Catholicism.

Consider Hahn’s use of covenant theology to defend and explicate Catholic dogma. This is clearly a carryover from his Presbyterian past.

He’s grafting elements of one theological system onto elements of an opposing theological system.

So they end up with a sterile hybrid theology that isn’t consistently Catholic or Protestant.

4.The reason that an apologist like Hahn is successful in bringing Evangelical fence-straddlers over to the Rome fold is precisely the because he has erected an Evangelicaloid bridge between the two traditions.

When Evangelicals read about his version of Catholicism, it looks uncannily familiar. A family resemblance. They’ve seen it before. The shock of recognition. A long lost son. Twins separated at birth. This is what we always believed!

5.When they present Catholicism, the outside surface of the door has a heavy coat of Evangelical paint, while the inside surface of the door has a Catholic coat of paint.

Kind of like the Gingerbread house in Hansel and Gretel—with Evangelical icing, sprinkles, gum drops, M&Ms, marshmallows, and candy canes on the outside, along with a yummy aroma from the chimney.

6.I’m on record as stating that the Catholic church is an apostate denomination.

But apostasy is a matter of degree, and it’s possible to be saved in an apostate denomination.

One could argue that the CRC, ECUSA, PC-USA, and ELCA are apostate denominations, but not every member thereof is an apostate.

It is prudent to belong to an apostate denomination? Is it prudent to raise your kids in such a denomination?

Dude, chillin’ in wit ma popish homiez in da hood be hazardous to ma spiritual health and wellbein’.


  1. Steve,

    It's clear that you're a homeboy on the inside. I'm sure you would like to wear your hat with the brim to the side, with your baggy pants and Iverson jersey, but that would bring you too much "Reformed" ridicule. Seriously though, your illustrative post was truthful while still being gracious. Perish the thought, though, of you reasoning your way into Roman Catholicism as Mr. Armstrong suggests....

  2. steve hays, the reason hahn is so convincing to us former evangelicals is because he proves stuff from the bible. have you ever read any of his books? if you had, i'm very surprised you're not swimming the tiber.

  3. Anon,

    You've got to be kidding, right? The day a Roman Catholic uses consistent exegesis to prove any of their errant doctrines from the Bible, I'll jump the Grand Canyon. Let's hear the biblical defense of the Assumption of Mary, or of her not having any other children, or of the veneration of relics and the saints, and statues. Let's hear the defense of saying that the Bible teaches that as long as you are sincere in your religion, regardless of what that might be, and as long as you live up to the light you have, then you are going to heaven. I think it's quite difficult to defend a doctrine that doesn't exist in Scripture. Even when your apologists read history back into Scripture the arguments are spurious and weak at best. So, if you can refer me to these "proofs" from the Bible, I will very interested in reading them....thanks

  4. Anon,

    At this point I don't remember what all I have or have not read of Hahn.

    But I don't read Catholic popularizers and lay apologetes to learn about Catholic theology.

    I read them to study the bad arguments for Catholicism.

    For my knowledge of Catholic theology, I go higher up the food chain to the likes of Ratzinger or Rahner.

  5. Thanks for the fuller response, Steve.

  6. I don't know that I'd use the word "apostate" to refer to Rome. And I really don't see how it can refer to the CRC.

    What I've always thought (although I grew up RCC, so this is their definition) is that "apostate" refers to someone who turns away from Christ. From a Catholic standpoint, I am now a heretic, but not apostate. The PCUSA is now apostate in that they have turned away from the Trinity. The RCC, as anyone will notice, defends the Trinity more fiercely than all of us protestants combined. They defend Christ with equal vigor. Yes, they do preach false doctrines about Christ, but in the end they will still defend Him. Will their lack of apostacy save them? No way, they still have the difficult choice of following the Gospel or their doctrine. But still, their Christology is sounder than that of "bishop" Jefferts-Schorri.

  7. and I'll quickly add that your comparison of the RCC to a ghetto is quite accurate. It's not a hellfire sentence, but it's not the best place to be.

  8. Steve Jackson9/14/2006 9:00 PM


    Yes, Rome defends "Jesus" and "the Trinity", but what Catholics are free to believe about these questions has become increasingly broad. For example, Raymond Brown was named to the Pontifical Biblical Commission even though he believed that Jesus held a "superstitous" view of demonic activity. And Cardinal Kasper doubts that Jesus performed miracles.

  9. > "So guys like Dave Armstrong and Scott Hahn present an artificially Evangelicalized version of Roman Catholicism."

    Don't forget Gerry Matatics, the former Calvinist pastor whose name appears in current editions of Rome Sweet Rome as a prior convert who helped guide the Hahns across the Tiber, but who has subsequently become a Sedevacantist of some sort or another. (Perhaps he found that new Priest was but old Presbyter writ large...)

  10. Gavin,

    1. For me, Christology includes the work of Christ as well as the person of Christ. Both are equally important.

    2. Likewise, if a denomination becomes sufficiently liberal, then it's apostate as far as I'm concerned.

    3. I'd include liberal ethics as well as liberal theology in my definition.

    4. The RCC turned its back on the Gospel with the Council of Trend.

    5. In addition, Vatican II codified modernism.

    6. Contemporary Catholic scholarship undercuts NT Christology. And the same scalpel can be applied to historical theology.

    Steve Jackson mentions Kasper and Brown. We could add Fitzmyer and Schillebeeckx.

    When seminarians and college students are taught this stuff, there's nothing to prevent the RCC from going the way of the other liberalizing and dying mainline denominations.

  11. Steve I have a question: Do you consider the CRC liberal enough to have come to the apostate label?

  12. I have responded on my blog:

    Neither Fish Nor Fowl: My "Hybrid" (??) Post-Conversion Faith

    Dave "Theological Chameleon" Armstrong

  13. >Perish the thought, though, of you reasoning your way into Roman Catholicism as Mr. Armstrong suggests....

    This distorts what I wrote, which was that Steve might reason himself out of anti-Catholicism, not Protestantism. The two are not identical. The vast majority of Protestants are not anti-Catholics.