Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Untold Story of the Ecumenism of the Trenches

This week, in addition to being the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade and the 40th annual March for Life, is also the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. It’s fitting that these two events should overlap, since the pro-life movement seems to have done more to draw together Catholics and Protestants, particularly Evangelicals, than any official ecumenical talks. It’s fittingly been dubbed “the ecumenism of the trenches,” and this cooperation has only increased in the face of the HHS Mandate, with Evangelical schools like Wheaton joining the fight for religious liberty.

AHA’s philosophy, in a nutshell.
That’s not to say that there haven’t been some trials and tribulations in that relationship. In fact, the latest bump in this relationship occurred recently, with a rather poor-timed feud between the Crescat (who is Catholic) and the pro-life group Abolish Human Abortion (who do really good work, but really don’t care for Catholics). At the heart of the dispute are two facts, as was explained in an open-letter written by one of their bloggers.  First, AHA believes that the only solution to the problem of abortion is the Gospel.  Second, they “do not affirm the same gospel as the Roman Catholic Church,” going so far as to call the Catholic Gospel “satanic.

There is a certain irony in all of this.  The blogger Rhology, the author of that open letter, is a Southern Baptist.  And the Southern Baptist Convention was vocal on the issue of abortion, even before Roe.  The only problem: they were on the wrong side.  This oft-overlooked history was pointed out recently by Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, in a fascinating article for the Washington Post :
Two years before Roe, the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution calling for “legislation that will allow the possibility of abortion under such circumstances as rape, incest, clear evidence of fetal abnormality, and carefully ascertained evidence of the likelihood of damage to the emotional, mental, and physical health of the mother.”

That resolution reveals two very important aspects of this story. First, that the language of “the emotional, mental, and physical life of the mother” was already in use and, second, that the convention called for the legalization of what would become abortion on demand. After Roe, the language about emotional and mental health would be used to allow virtually any abortion for any reason.

Did Southern Baptists have any idea what they were doing? The leadership of the denomination’s ethics agency was then pro-abortion, but the convention itself passed the resolution. Clearly, no pro-life consensus then prevailed among Southern Baptists.
And when the Southern Baptists, along with much of the Evangelical world, looked ready to simply go with the flow on abortion (as they had with contraception), who was it who saved the day?  The Catholic Church:
From a 2009 Pro-Life Vigil
While most evangelicals were either on the wrong side of the issue or politically disengaged, Roman Catholic leaders were on the front lines opposing abortion as a fundamental assault on human dignity. By the late 1960s, the Roman Catholic Church was fighting demands for the legalization of abortion nationally and state by state - opposition that preceded the 1968 papal encyclical Humanae Vitae.

By the time Roe was handed down, Catholic leaders had developed sophisticated arguments and growing organizations to fight for the pro-life cause. In 1967, six years before Roe, Catholics had led in the creation of the National Right to Life Committee. The Catholic tradition, drawn largely from the natural law, became the foundational intellectual contribution to the development of a united front against abortion. Nevertheless, for evangelicals to join the movement in a decisive way, arguments drawn directly from Scripture had to be formed and then preached from the pulpits of evangelical churches.

Those arguments captured the conscience of the evangelical movement and produced a seismic shift within the movement and within the political life of the nation. From the 1980 U. S. presidential election until the present, the pro-life movement has been populated, funded, and directed, for the most part, by evangelical and Roman Catholic leaders. Beyond that, the emergence of crisis pregnancy centers and support systems for women considering abortion have come from the work of millions of pro-life Roman Catholics and evangelicals at the grassroots.
There are a lot of ways of reacting to this news. We could view it in a triumphalistic way, in which the Catholic Church (or at least, the Magsterium) stood strong even while Evangelicalism blinked. Or we could view it as a silver lining in Evangelicalism’s ability to change core beliefs over the span of a few years or decades. Evangelical believers are even more pro-life than their (nominally) Catholic brethren these days.

But perhaps the most edifying reaction is to remember that we’re strongest when we work together. The story of pro-life Evangelicalism can’t be told without reference to the cooperation and support of their Catholic brothers and sisters. That’s a legacy to continue, not to lightly throw away.

50 comments:

  1. First, AHA believes that the only solution to the problem of abortion is the Gospel.

    When I'm king I'm going to make it mandatory that everyone who wants to call themselves "Christian" must write out a no-less-than 10-page, single-spaced essay explaining the history and etymology of the word "Gospel" from Ancient Greek, though Latin, various forms of German, up to modern English of today, offering examples from documents in all those languages showing the word and how it changed phonetically through time, as well as expounding in a manner that makes it clear beyond a reasonable doubt that they know the full and complete history of the development of both the Old and the New Testament, and how both of those documents came about, with full and complete citations of all their sources both modern and ancient.


    Maybe at that point they'll realize that without the Church, the Bible, the New Testament, and the recorded words of Jesus specifically, is fairly silent on the topic of abortion. Without the Catholic Church putting its foot down, there not much in the Bible that's against abortion...

    My personal hope/theory is that Jesus most likely realized that his disciples may not have been the intellectual elites of their day, but they shouldn't need God Himself to tell them (In such a way that they would have written it down) that killing babies in the womb is a bad idea with serious consequences and repercussions both in this life and the next.

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  2. Yeah... I'm the founder of AHA and this just isn't fully representative of what we think (at all). We don't think that all Catholics are satanists (like this article suggests we do) and we do believe that we are co-belligerents against abortion standing along side Catholics and others who desire to put an end the most vicious act of dehumanization ever practiced by man on this planet.

    THe poster you site above as our philosophy in a nutshell is good, but that is not our philosophy in a nutshell. We don't put it in a nutshell. We typed it out on our "About us" and "Who we are" pages easily found and read at our website abolishhumanabortion.com .

    For the record, we agree that Catholics have been at the forefront of the ProLife Movement and have been the principal group leading the fight against abortion for the past 40 years. We have never said otherwise. Indeed, that is why we are Abolitionists and not prolifers.

    To understand the contentious nature of such a divide, study the history of the rise of Immediatist Abolitionism in the 1830's after the forty years of anti-slavery activism carried out in this country by the American Colonization societies and less evangelical religious forces in the north.

    We have a common enemy in abortion and to fight we need not have all things in common or even be in the same trench. That has been going on for quite some time and the fruit on the tree is sparse. Many babies have been saved, but they will continue to need to be saved so long as we continue to fail at outright abolition. Which is what we are seeking. The two works are consistent.

    Russell Hunter
    A//A


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    1. The open letter written by Rhology calls Catholicism "satanic" and says that we teach a false gospel. Can you understand why we might find that offensive (especially given that it is untrue)?

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    2. Russell,

      Thank you for responding directly. I would like to clarify a few points with you, if possible. First, you said that you “don't think that all Catholics are satanists (like this article suggests we do).” I’m glad you don’t think we’re satanists, but that’s not quite what I suggested. Rather, I suggested that AHA “goes so far as to call the Catholic Gospel ‘satanic.’” And they have, more than once.

      As near as I can tell, the whole kerfuffle with the Crescat flared up when one of AHA’s founders, Toby Harmon, wrote on your Facebook page: “we do not consider Catholics brothers in Christ or Christians at all. We will not seek unity with a Satanic religious system.

      Rather than retracting this absurd claim, AHA responded by posting the open letter I referenced in the above post, in which Rhology doubles down, saying:

      if you're all upset about our having used the word "satanic", reason with me a moment. A candidate for the esteemed position of "The Gospel" has two possible sources - God, or Satan.

      The Council of Trent, which is, again, a higher authority than mere Roman Catholic laypeople, has said that the Gospel we proclaim is anathema. The enemy of God and the enemy of human souls is Satan. [....] If Trent felt the freedom to call our Gospel a work of the devil, we will not apologise for returning the favor the other direction.

      So that is at least two different AHA members using your organization to call the Catholic religion satanic. Which is what I claimed in my original post, and which you now seem to deny. So please, clarify this matter by giving a straight answer: does AHA endorse or reject these characterizations about Catholicism?

      ----

      Second, you state that you “are co-belligerents against abortion standing along side Catholics and others,” but a few paragraphs later, seem to suggest the opposite, that the fact that “Catholics have been at the forefront of the ProLife Movement” is “why we are Abolitionists and not prolifers.” So which is it? Are we working in this fight together? Or is our presence at the forefront of the pro-life movement enough to make you not calling yourselves pro-life?

      I.X.,

      Joe

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    3. JoAnna,

      Yes, we can see why that might offend you. The Bible tells us that the Gospel is an offense to those who don't believe it. (If I may be so bold again, if you were more familiar with the Scripture, you might've known that without my having to tell you.) (And it's not a good thing to be ignorant of the Scripture.)


      Joe Heschmeyer,

      Trent's statements were 450 years before Toby or I opened our mouths. Why won't you deal with that fact?

      You may be certain that something that appears on our blog and which remains is as "official" as it gets. Nobody has given us a reason to think what I said was wrong. All we've heard are gripes about how mean we are, and all the while the Council of Trent is the 800 lb gorilla in the room. Deal with the gorilla, please.

      What makes you think that those two statements from Russell are incompatible? Please be specific.

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    4. Rhology, you misunderstand. It is not the Gospel that offends me - quite the contrary. I love the gospels as well as the Bible in its entirety. What offended me was the statement that the Gospel of Christ was "satanic." I find that very offensive and it surprises me that you do not.

      I'm so glad to hear that you agree with the Catechism of the Catholic Church! "The Church 'forcefully and specifically exhorts all the Christian faithful. . . to learn the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ, by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures. Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.'" (para 133)

      Someday, perhaps, you may open your mind to the Truth of the Scriptures, and the fullness of Truth that is in the Catholic Church. I will pray for you.

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    5. JoAnna,

      Rhology was referring specifically to the Gospel as defined in Romans 3 and 4. Galatians 1:6-10 is especially pertinent here. The book of Galatians is written to denounce those who are adding to the Gospel, making a Gospel that is different than what Paul had preached to them. Clearly then, people can utter that which is not the true Gospel of Peace, masquerading it as the true Gospel. Now, the obvious question is where do these false gospels originate? They originate from the father of lies. I really don't see how it can be any other way. To be blunt, a practicing RC who is upholding Trent should be using terminology similar to this about protestants. I don't see why this is shocking. These things really are that important, and we really are that different in how we view the Gospel. Glossing over it just to be politically correct really is not a loving action.

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    6. thechemist, then neither you (nor Rhology) need fear because the Catholic Church has not added anything to the Gospel. Our Scripture contains the exact same New Testament as Protestant bibles, and everything the Catholic Church teaches is supported by Scripture and the early Church fathers.

      Rhology may not agree with Catholic Church interpretation of Scripture, but he has no authority to declare that his private, individual interpretation of Scripture (warned against in 2 Peter 1:20) is right whereas the authority of 2,000 years of unbroken Church teaching by the apostles and their successors, including St. Peter and his successors (who were clearly given authority to teach by Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew) is wrong.

      Also, the Catholic Church teaches that all other religious systems do contain some elements of the truth, so no, I can't condemn act Protestant or non-Christian sect as being 100% satanic or as preaching a 100% false Gospel, because some of what they teach is true. And while I believe some theology may be wrong and/or from Satan, I do not condemn the PEOPLE as Satanic and I'm glad to work with them to abolish abortion if they are trying to do so.

      When I was Lutheran, I was honestly seeking God's will and trying to do it to the best of my ability. I wasn't conducting black Masses in my bedroom and worshiping Lucifer.

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    7. Read Galatians 1. Do the Judiazers not have elements of truth to what they were saying? Were they not merely adding some extraneous beliefs? Did Paul say they had a different Gospel? no one is saying that other faith systems do not have some elements of truth mingled with falsehood. However, the composite is false and must be rejected.

      while I believe some theology may be wrong and/or from Satan, I do not condemn the PEOPLE as Satanic and I'm glad to work with them to abolish abortion if they are trying to do so.

      This is precisely what we have been saying. I am glad we agree. The core belief system may be false. These ideas must originate someplace or from someone, who might that be? This is a statement about the belief system (and has been that way in ALL of the communication from AHA) not about individual Catholics. Likewise, we can work toward the common goal of ending abortion. As Russ Hunter said above though, this does not mean we need to be in the exact same trench to do it.

      BTW, 1 Peter 1:20 is speaking about the process of writing Scripture. Rhology is not writing Scripture. He is interpreting what is written. Everyone has to interpret everything. You have to interpret Scripture, just like you have to interpret any pronouncement from Rome. It is a basic element of human communication.

      Peace.

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    8. "BTW, 1 Peter 1:20 is speaking about the process of writing Scripture."

      It's 2 Peter 1:20, actually.

      My interpretation of this verse is different than yours. Based on the context, I believe it refers to reading Scripture, since anyone writing at that time would not know they were writing Scripture.

      So how do we know whose interpretation of that verse is correct?

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    9. Right, it is 2 Peter. Slip of the finger. You raise an excellent point. How exactly does one know if their interpretation is correct? Before I get there, let me be clear. Every dogmatic statement coming from the Magisterium requires an interpretative step. Unless you assert that step is infallible, then any criticism about faulty interpretation cuts both ways.

      So, just how does one know if they are properly interpreting anything? I would argue that they take the normal meaning of the words at their face value, bearing in mind the genre they are reading. Passages ought to be read within the context it was written and interpretation must be faithful to that context. Moreover, an interpretation of Scripture should be consistent with the rest of the Scriptures. This was written fairly quickly, but I think it gets the main points across.

      About the 2 Peter 1:20 passage. Here is 2 Peter 1:16ff,

      16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

      Peter starts in vs 16 by saying that he is not following cleverly devised myths. Instead, he was an eyewitness of Christ's majesty. He then reminds his readers that he was present at the transfiguration; he saw the glory of Christ. Because of his experience, he has the prophetic word “more fully confirmed”. This is key to understanding versus 20 and 21. What prophetic word was more fully confirmed. It must be the Old Testament Scriptures, for they must have existed prior to his experiences. Otherwise, how could they be more fully confirmed? Peter then admonishes people to pay attention to what he is saying, and he then discusses the origin of those prophecies. In vs 20, we see that no Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. This is about the origin of the prophecy. It is not talking about someone’s interpretation of those prophecies. This is made especially clear in vs 21, where Peter next explains that prophecy is divine in origin. It is not “by the will of man, but men who spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” This passage is not talking about how someone interprets the prophecy, but the source of authority behind a prophecy.

      I believe it refers to reading Scripture, since anyone writing at that time would not know they were writing Scripture.

      But these Christians had the Old Testament Scriptures! It is not as if they were totally void of any Scripture whatsoever. It is true that Scripture was being written during the first century, and the process was not completed at one moment in time. Furthermore, it is true that there was a period of time in which people recognized that which God inspired. However, it is not true that they did not recognize they were writing Scripture. Here are some examples. First, Peter calls Paul’s equates at least some of Paul’s writings as Scripture in 2 Peter 3:15,16. Second, Paul quotes Luke as Scripture in 1 Tim 5:18.

      Thank you for the very insightful question.

      Peace,
      The Chemist

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    10. The Chemist,

      First, I am thankful that you are standing for life of the unborn.

      Second, sorry to jump into the convo but given this statement: "I would argue that they take the normal meaning of the words at their face value, bearing in mind the genre they are reading."

      I was wondering what your position is on Peter's place among the twelve particularly given Matthew 16:16-18. Second, and perhaps more importantly what about on real prescense, particularly given John 6 (read especially in light of the context of Judaism) and the words of the last supper? Or how about Pauls words to Timothy and Titus or the what James says about works?

      There are plenty of rabbit holes we could dive down including the veracity of Scripture or how the Gospel is to be kept pure without a clear and authoritative Church or how the Apostles and those they taught could have been such failures at passing on the pure Gospel but Mr./Mrs. X were so succesful at recovering/spreading the true Gospel. If trent is the major issue then why was the Church right in all the time before Trent? So many questions but I'm sure neither of us have adequate time. I just thought my above questions, given your statement, would be straightforward enough for all of us to ponder.

      In Christ
      Cary Balser

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    11. Cary,

      Have you never encountered any explanations of these verses before? A large number of individuals have discussed them on the Internet, written books over them, and preached sermons on them. I commend those to you. I don't have the time nor energy to write them up in a blog combox because they require careful wording and precise language. It was difficult enough writing up what I have with three little ones under five. In fact, I already found one sentence above that is worded incorrectly. I just don't think I can devote the time to do this at the level it requires. I apologize.

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    12. thechemist,

      that's fine. i understand, i have two under two right now and we both work so i am certainly empathetic. However, I do feel that you should go making such blanket statements as you had before. In fact, why would/should such statements require such complicated and precise wording? These are things I think you should ponder. I do wonder simply when you feel the Church lost the true message of the Gospel?

      Cary

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  3. "we are co-belligerents against abortion standing along side Catholics and others who desire to put an end the most vicious act of dehumanization ever practiced by man on this planet."

    Russell, While I appreciate your words your actions communicate a very different story. You certainly did not "stand with" Catholics and Evangelicals the other night at the Tulsa March for Life. Rather, you were our only protesters, standing on the side of the March yelling the "gospel" at all of the people walking by. The few sentences I heard were protests against wild misconceptions of what the Church actually teaches. You sounded ignorant and only communicated divisiveness to us and to any who were observing the March. So, what is your goal? Do you want to end abortion or do you want to evangelize Catholics? You cannot do both. If it is the latter, I assure you that your misunderstandings of Catholic theology will not get you very far. If you try to do both, all you will serve to do is alienate Catholics and destroy your own efforts.

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    1. Too bad nobody took a video to post on YouTube.

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    2. It's also too bad no one got a video of the man screaming Hail Mary's at those preaching the Gospel. It's funny that you say you revere Mary and worship Christ but try to drown out those preaching the Gospel of Christ with veneration to His mother....A//A

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    3. Just as there can be no New Adam without a New Eve, there can really be no preaching of the Gospel without the veneration of the Mother of God--the first creature to be saved by Christ.

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    4. Brad, I didn't see that happen, and I won't justify his response. But his response does not justify theirs. Simply put, they were combative, and it was unnecessary and unhelpful. It put a black eye on the purpose of our gathering.

      I have been deeply saddened by the antagonistic attitude of many in AHA. There are many things AHA says, that need to be said, but I have not seen in AHA the holy discernment required of a prophet. A prophet said many unpopular things for the good of their hearers, but they listened to the Holy Spirit to know when and how to say it. I have not seen the same consideration from many in the AHA.

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    5. Brad, since Protestants are the ones who supposedly base their lives on Scripture as the sole rule of Faith, shouldn't you be better at following scripture?

      Scripture lays out very specific methods for handling conflict. You can point a finger and say "They started it." But you are still responsible for your response.

      Philippians 4:5 says "Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near."

      Colossians 3:12-17 instructs, "Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."

      In combativeness you stand condemned, outside the word of God. The Gospel is enough to cut to the heart of the matter without combative methods.

      AHA seems to get immediately defensive when someone calls them on the carpet. All I can say is, He who lives by the sword will die by the sword. The message has power without needing to add your anger to it. Your combativeness only lessens the impact of His Holy Word.

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    6. Kristin,

      the other night at the March for Life wasn't somewhere we were facing abortions, was it? No, it was a cute little march of 2000 people. We are unapologetic in our commitment to sharing the Gospel with those who need it, and Roman Catholics need it.

      When we say "stand with", we mean that we share the same goal and there are numerous ways we can participate together in its pursuit. Marching in a MFL where those worthless prayers were offered, where the Gospel was not proclaimed, where the fact that many of us do not believe the same Gospel was simply covered up and ignored, is not one of those ways. No, what we said from our open-air perch was true. You haven't challenged our content; rather, you seem to want to play Tone Police.

      What precisely were the wild misconceptions?

      You said:
      So, what is your goal? Do you want to end abortion or do you want to evangelize Catholics? You cannot do both.

      But this is a naked assertion. What is your argument to that effect? Don't assert it; prove it is so.


      all you will serve to do is alienate Catholics and destroy your own efforts.

      Our primary efforts are to exalt Jesus, and the primary way of doing that is proclaiming the Gospel. No, I don't see a way that your complaints have shown we're not doing that.

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    7. Taylor said:
      Just as there can be no New Adam without a New Eve, there can really be no preaching of the Gospel without the veneration of the Mother of God--the first creature to be saved by Christ.

      1) The Scripture never even implies anything even close to this. This is nothing less or more than tradition talking, and tradition that nullifies the Scripture.
      2) Adam was married to Eve. Mary was not married to Jesus. Mary is not the new Eve. Scripture never calls her that, never even implies annything even close to it.
      3) Why stop with venerating the first creature to be saved by Christ? Why not venerate every single one before we proclaim the Gospel of Jesus?
      4) Once again, the Gospel we proclaim is very, very different from the Roman one. It's not even up for debate, honestly.

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    8. Tim Putnam said:
      Simply put, they were combative, and it was unnecessary and unhelpful.

      The preaching of the Gospel is unnecessary and unhelpful?
      I entirely disagree that we were combative. Just b/c you didn't like what we had to say doesn't mean we were combative. It means you didn't like what we had to say. What is your argument we were combative?
      I'd call someone standing in front of us and foaming at the mouth while screaming the Rosary over and over "combative", actually.

      First, Shane preaching during the march.

      Then, me preaching.

      Then, me preaching after the speeches were over and the blasphemous prayers were prayed.

      Then my Q&A that followed immediately after. You'll hear Toby in there too:



      It put a black eye on the purpose of our gathering.

      If you think the preaching of the Gospel put a black eye on your gathering, I see every reason to rejoice at that black eye and to pray for the destruction of those kinds of meetings. Make no mistake; every knee will bow to Jesus; I pray yours will bow sooner rather than later.


      I have not seen in AHA the holy discernment required of a prophet.

      Since you're defending an event that featured lowest common denominator spirituality, completely omitted the Gospel, and has cast aspersions on the preaching of the Gospel, I don't see much reason to put a lot of stock in your discernment.


      Philippians 4:5 says "Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near."

      There's a time and a place for gentleness. There's also a time and place for throwing over tables and for preaching "Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand." A proper biblical theology has a way to account for ALL of the relevant texts, not a few isolated prooftexts as you seem to favor.


      The Gospel is enough to cut to the heart of the matter without combative methods.

      1) Like throwing over tables?
      2) The Gospel requires some method of communicating it. The one Jesus used was "talking". Kind of like what we did. Since the Gospel is an offense in and of itself, people often mistake its bare proclamation for hatred/mean-spiritedness/combativeness. When in fact it's pretty clear they're covering over their conscience, which is bothering them. That would seem to be what's happening here, unless you can give me some reason to think that Jesus' favored method of Gospel proclamation is a bad idea.


      AHA seems to get immediately defensive when someone calls them on the carpet

      The irony of this statement is overwhelming. We have for weeks merely been about the business of being Gospel people in all facets of life, and we have caught a serious amount of complaints from Roman Catholics who are mad at us for being Gospel-centered. I explained that in the open letter. I commend it for your review.

      Just b/c we don't think we're wrong and are actually bothering to interact with you about it doesn't mean we're "defensive". "You're just being defensive" is a throwaway label; the first person to apply it to the interlocutor wins! It's a rhetorical ploy, unworthy of this topic. This is serious business. Let's talk seriously.

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    9. He who lives by the sword will die by the sword.

      It should go without saying that this is badly out of context.


      The message has power without needing to add your anger to it.

      Who said we were angry? Loud volume is not necessarily anger; we had to speak loudly so people could hear us.
      And YOUR message has no power at all, especially the milquetoast, worthless one proclaimed from the stage at the end of the march. God will not honor those who completely neglect His Gospel.

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  4. Oh dear. Somebody seems to have fallen to the "keep your rosaries off my ovaries" slogan of the pro-abortion crowd.

    Don't worry, dear AHA members. Catholics won't make you recite Gospel verses - the Lord's Prayer, what the Angel Gabriel was commissioned by God to say to the Virgin Mary, the greeting Elizabeth gave to the Virgin - if you join us in the effort to abolish abortion.

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  5. http://blog.abolishhumanabortion.com/2012/02/correcting-false-views-of-oklahoma.html

    I took that to mean that oral contraceptives are not considered abortifacient by AHA?

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    1. You would be mistaken about that. Any oral contraceptive I know of includes the at least tertiary effect of thinning the placental lining to prevent implantation and that is by definition a chemical abortion. But that has to be taken on a case by case basis. If an oral contraceptive were to hypothetically come out that only, say, suppressed ovulation, that would not be abortifacient.

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  6. Of course it's an abortifacient--does AHA consider it to be so?

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    1. AHA has an FAQ entry on this topic. In short, we oppose any contragestive form of birth control. As Rhology pointed out, oral contraceptives may function in this manner. AHA does not have a formal position about true contraceptive methods (e.g., barrier methods).

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  7. Hello,

    I have a few comments on the post and also on the subsequent comments here.

    First, The Crescat has shown herself to be a rant artist, unfortunately not someone to take seriously.
    The ill timing was, also, entirely of her doing. A mole in a private FB group took a screenshot of an AHA admin making a candid - and entirely true - statement, which was sadly offensive to some Internet Roman Catholics, and that includes The Crescat. That screenshot made the rounds among RCs who want to destroy AHA's work and purloin the label "abolitionist" for their own. It's an entirely dishonest thing to do, worthy not of commendation, but of contempt.

    You sound like you don't agree with us that the solution to sin is the Gospel. If I may be so bold, this shows that you are the mission field. You are not one of God's children. Rather, you are His enemy, and you will come under His wrath unless you repent of thinking you know better than He what the solution to sin is. The Apostle Peter once found himself saying what you say here, and Jesus told him "Get behind Me, Satan". I fear greatly for the soul of any who do not love the Gospel, and you appear to be among them.

    Yes, the SBC has gotten things wrong in the past. Yes, RCC has been more prolife longer than the SBC. So what? I can tell you plenty more things that are wrong with the SBC; just ask. What's the point of even saying that? It seems to be your only point, what's more. I'm left wondering why you even wrote this article.

    You said:
    The story of pro-life Evangelicalism can’t be told without reference to the cooperation and support of their Catholic brothers and sisters. That’s a legacy to continue, not to lightly throw away.

    We see it as a narrative to regret, to have shame and sorrow over, and to change immediately. See, our primary goal is to exalt Jesus as He has revealed Himself to be. It is not to save babies. That's a necessary consequence of living a life entirely surrendered to Jesus, but not the primary focus. We may be POLITICALLY stronger when we are together, but political power is not the solution to sin. The Gospel is, and the Gospel is not stronger when we pretend that those who don't believe it do believe it. And you don't believe it.

    I invite you to prove me wrong. I explained the Gospel in the open letter. Tell me you affirm it 100%, in an unqualified manner, and we can talk about why you have so far remained a member of a church that anathematised that Gospel 450 years ago. You can't and won't affirm it, though; we both know that. And so our cooperation is necessarily limited, though there are many ways we can cooperate. But, to quote my fellow street preacher, if the Gospel's being proclaimed at a pro-life rally causes the pro-lifers to be offended...then the movement needs to be reformed...and yes, I do use the term "reformed" purposefully.

    Peace,
    Rhology

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    1. Rhology,

      I went to OU and in fact I recognized at least one person in your group (via your site) that I had as a classmate in several of my courses. Kind of interesting to me, so in a way a group like yours hits home a little close in different ways than other anti-Catholic accusers may be. I was actually a Lutheran at the time, so to hear you act like the Council of Trent was directed specifically at you, when it was directed at the time at a group I was involved with, strikes me as odd. You are simply one of 30,000+ other denominations in the U.S.

      How come you do not assault the Maronites, Byzantines, Syrio-Malabar, Eastern Orthodox, etc? They ultimately preach the same Gospel as us, and not as you. By the way, all except the Eastern Orthodox are in union with the Pope, are not Roman Catholic, and are scattered across the world--in union with the Pope, I emphasize again.

      What is the Gospel? The Gospel is Christ crucified for our sins (1 Cor. 23)--and we are all sinners!

      Here's the thing: perhaps you see the use of science, ethics, natural law, etc., as anti-Gospel. Far from it. If Christ by His death pours out grace, then it reaches all corners of nature to some extent. There is some proverb that says something like, "Let the tiger come down from the mountain before you try to tame it." This is exactly what St. Paul did when preaching the Gospel in Romans. Sometimes you cannot appeal to the spiritually dead instantly with the claims of supernatural life and forgiveness of sins, so you have to appeal to what is assuredly written on their heart.

      Furthermore, you continue to ascribe adding traditions, etc. But St. Paul says hold fast to the Traditions which have been taught (2. Thess 2:15), and that the Church is the pillar and foundation of Truth (cf. 1 Tim. 3:15). So are you contradicting St. Paul? And of course, no where does it say in the Bible that we are to use the Bible alone. Again, St. Paul contradicts that.

      You may not be aware, but you can look for the "Church Fathers" and find people who were literally disciples of the Apostles. The Apostles taught them everything Christ did. And yet, they preach the same Gospel as the Catholics, and some of their writings were written at or about the same time as the Apostles wrote the Epistles; and many were circulated before the Church codified which Gospels and Epistles should form the New Testament.

      Ultimately, of course the solution to the sin is the Gospel. Perhaps people here are too flustered countering this and that to directly answered you. But I have no qualms in doing so. If you don't believe that we think Christ crucified is absolutely necessary, 100%, and grace needed 100%--then why do we have crucifixes as the central theme as Catholics?

      In closing, you say that we anathematized the Gospel. What an a priori assumption. You are a Protestant group---daughters of daughters of cousins of any other denomination that came before you--leaning heavily on much of the theology of the Catholic Church from which you ultimately sprung. Why do you think that you have the Gospel? As a former Lutheran, who followed the original Protestant, I can tell you how much he twisted St. Paul's letters, as do you--see 2 Peter 3:16.

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    2. If you have the Gospel, then do you confess your sins to people who have the authority to bind and loose (John 20:21)? Do you have bishops and priests--episkopoi and presbyteroi? Do you teach that we should hold fast to any traditions passed down (as in 2 Thess. above?) Do you have elders that anoint the sick (James 5:14)? Do you teach that faith without works is dead (James 2:14)? Those are actually integral to dispensing the Gospel--so if you don't have them, then you must not be preaching the full Gospel.

      In closing, I ask that you actually talk to a good Catholic about what we actually believe, then reflect on why you don't believe them--when they are contained in Scripture in ways that perhaps you do not understand or comprehend. After all, there can only be one true interpretation. Why not discuss with a priest in OKC or Norman? If you don't, wouldn't you be wary of breaking the Commandment that we should not bear false witness?

      And as a former Lutheran, I'm even insulted that you think you are carrying on the Reformation, so perhaps you should chill on that.

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    3. Hi Taylor,

      You are simply one of 30,000+ other denominations in the U.S.

      So is Rome.
      This is just another misleading Catholic Answers canard.
      Here you go.
      Also, check this out. And this.


      to hear you act like the Council of Trent was directed specifically at you, when it was directed at the time at a group I was involved with, strikes me as odd.

      I'm a Reformed Baptist, and my spiritual forebears in the 16th century were partially Calvinist and partially Anabaptist, so...
      Also, the language of Trent doesn't say anything about Lutheran in the canons I've cited. It says "If anyone believes... let him be anathema." That's pretty straightforward.


      How come you do not assault

      We're not assaulting anyone.


      They ultimately preach the same Gospel as us, and not as you.

      They fall under the same biblical condemnation as Rome does, sadly.
      I'm very familiar with EOdoxy, thanks.


      What is the Gospel? The Gospel is Christ crucified for our sins (1 Cor. 23)--and we are all sinners!

      Roman dogma does not hold to that Gospel, even that too-simplified version. That is because Roman dogma teaches that YOU must merit, partially, your own justification. You must be baptised. You must partake of the sacraments. You must suffer purgation in Purgatory. The Mass does not perfect you.
      So no, our gospels are quite different.


      Here's the thing: perhaps you see the use of science, ethics, natural law, etc., as anti-Gospel.

      No, that's not what any of us think.


      But St. Paul says hold fast to the Traditions which have been taught (2. Thess 2:15),

      Catholic Answers canard #2.
      And how can you prove that these traditions
      1) were not of identical content, whether by word of mouth or by letter?
      2) are not entirely contained in the NT?
      You can't.
      **AND** the standing command of the Lord Jesus is to test all traditions in light of Scripture - Mark 7.
      That's not the Roman structure. That's the Reformedigelical structure.


      that the Church is the pillar and foundation of Truth (cf. 1 Tim. 3:15).

      Catholic Answers canard #3.
      1) A pillar and foundation hold something else up - the Scripture.
      2) That letter was written to non-Pope non-apostle Timothy.
      3) That letter was written to non-Rome church in Ephesus. So I suppose the church at Ephesus is the pillar and foundation of the truth? Why aren't you the Ephesian Catholic Church?
      4) What is your argument this applies to the modern RCC?


      And of course, no where does it say in the Bible that we are to use the Bible alone.

      Yeah, it really does.


      And yet, they preach the same Gospel as the Catholics

      Not the earliest ones. There's a solid sola fide passage in First Clement.
      Even if it were true, Jesus said to judge the traditions of man by Scripture.


      If you don't believe that we think Christ crucified is absolutely necessary, 100%, and grace needed 100%--then why do we have crucifixes as the central theme as Catholics?

      The problem between us is not the necessity of grace, but the sufficiency of grace.


      In closing, you say that we anathematized the Gospel. What an a priori assumption

      I quoted Trent. It's not an assumption.


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    4. Why do you think that you have the Gospel?

      Because God lovingly guarded His Scripture for us to have today.


      If you have the Gospel, then do you confess your sins to people who have the authority to bind and loose (John 20:21)?

      Your argument that this applies to people going fwd, not to the apostles, who are dead now?


      Do you have bishops and priests--episkopoi and presbyteroi?

      Those are the same thing in the NT, and yes, my church has those.


      Do you teach that we should hold fast to any traditions passed down (as in 2 Thess. above?)

      Yes, AND that we should them in light of Scripture. It's BOTH.


      Do you teach that faith without works is dead (James 2:14)?

      Most certainly.


      I ask that you actually talk to a good Catholic about what we actually believe, then reflect on why you don't believe them

      I have done that many times, thank you.


      Why not discuss with a priest in OKC or Norman?

      Why would I do that? Is he infallible?
      Can I be sure that he's not a liberal? Can I be sure he's not been hidden from the authorities by the RCC hierarchy for past child molestation?


      If you don't, wouldn't you be wary of breaking the Commandment that we should not bear false witness?

      You've given me no reason to think I have misrepresented RCC in any way so far.


      And as a former Lutheran, I'm even insulted that you think you are carrying on the Reformation, so perhaps you should chill on that.

      As someone who has spent some significant time talking to Lutherans recently, it has never been clearer to me why further reformation is needed, though Lutheranism is a definite step in the right direction from Rome. It's a pity you decided to head backwards.


      Peace,
      Rhology

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    5. Rhology,

      Unfortunately, I don't have time to respond to every comment you raise, but I did want to respond to your comment directed to me, specifically. You said:

      “You sound like you don't agree with us that the solution to sin is the Gospel. If I may be so bold, this shows that you are the mission field. You are not one of God's children. Rather, you are His enemy, and you will come under His wrath unless you repent of thinking you know better than He what the solution to sin is. The Apostle Peter once found himself saying what you say here, and Jesus told him "Get behind Me, Satan". I fear greatly for the soul of any who do not love the Gospel, and you appear to be among them.”

      One of the reasons people have suggested that AHA is defensive is because of this kind of tactic. Rather than addressing what I actually said, you take a wild (and unfounded) guess that I “don't agree with us that the solution to sin is the Gospel.”

      But let me address your actual substance. Yes, I love the Gospel. And yes, I think that abortion is both a sin and a crime against humanity. But let’s make some important distinctions. Inasmuch as abortion is a sin, the only solution is Jesus Christ, and Him Crucified. But the action of abortion can be regulated quite apart from salvation: someone who hasn’t accepted Christ can still recognize abortion as a moral evil, and reject it.

      This isn’t just hypothetical, either . We saw this exact progression in Dr. Bernard Nathanson. He became pro-life before his acceptance of the Gospel. Currently, roughly 10% of atheists believe abortion is wrong in all cases. So clearly, recognizing abortion as wrong is not contingent upon previous acceptance of the Gospel. On the contrary, recognizing abortion as wrong can even help prepare souls for accepting Christ.

      I.X.,

      Joe

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    6. St. Paul says the Church is the pillar and foundation of _truth_, not Holy Scripture. You are inserting that, just as Luther inserted [alone] after the word "faith" in the passage in Romans. Furthermore, even if you used Scripture, you miss the obvious point that without the proper foundation, everything else is on shaky ground--such as biblical interpretation.

      Anyway, if you want to be sure you don't get a liberal priest, contact one at St. Damien's parish in OKC. They are with the FSSP (not to be confused with the FSSPX--the FSSP is in communion with Rome). He is not infallible, as we do not believe priests to be infallible. But perhaps you would be courageous to discuss with an authority figure of the Church in person.

      You may also enjoy perusing relevant sections of ScriptureCatholic.com or any of Joe's posts.

      Also, Catholics believe in the sufficiency of grace. It is the efficacy which is based on our actions. After all, St. Paul does say that "Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church" in Colossians.

      And I gladly affirmed my acceptance of the Council of Trent at my confirmation, just so we're clear that Trent does not embarrass Catholics.

      Peace be with you.

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    7. So exalting the Gospel = defensiveness. I'm not sure I follow that line of reasoning, to be honest.

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    8. Agreed: I don't follow that logic, either. Of course, that wasn't remotely what I'd said, but I suppose there's none as blind as them that don't want to see.

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    9. St. Paul says the Church is the pillar and foundation of _truth_, not Holy Scripture.

      But this does not respond to the point I made.


      even if you used Scripture, you miss the obvious point that without the proper foundation, everything else is on shaky ground--such as biblical interpretation.

      If biblical interpretation is shaky, all interpretation is shaky, including the question of which church is the right one.
      This point of yours proves too much.


      if you want to be sure you don't get a liberal priest, contact one at St. Damien's parish in OKC. They are with the FSSP (not to be confused with the FSSPX--the FSSP is in communion with Rome)

      Why would I need to contact some special group-within-a-group in the RCC? This sounds like you don't have the unity you so often claim.
      And who are you to guide me or anyone spiritually as to whom we need to talk to? I'm being 100% serious. Why are you even in this position?


      But perhaps you would be courageous to discuss with an authority figure of the Church in person.

      How is a priest authoritative if he is not infallible and can't be trusted not to be liberal? Is it because of his associations, or because of his doctrine?
      If the former, why isn't association with RCC enough?
      If the latter, that's what *I've* been saying.


      Catholics believe in the sufficiency of grace.

      That is flat untrue. The very idea of suffering purgation in Purgatory is directly contradictory.


      After all, St. Paul does say that "Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church" in Colossians.

      And your argument that this does not refer to his missionary and discipling work, rather than some sort of purgation and suffering to partly merit his own salvation?
      Hint: the Bible does not contradict itself.


      I gladly affirmed my acceptance of the Council of Trent at my confirmation, just so we're clear that Trent does not embarrass Catholics.

      Then you fully understand why I wrote the open letter the way I did. Excellent.

      Peace,
      Rhology

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    10. "Peace, peace, and there was no peace."

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  8. I'm Catholic, yet I don't have a problem with AHA's statements that Catholic doctrine is satanic. We often talk about the dangers of relativism, yet we get offended when the opposition rejects relativism. Either Catholic doctrine is completely true or AHA's very novel, very personal interpretation of Scripture is completely true. It cannot be both. And if you hold that your version of the Gospel is the only true version, then it is not unreasonable to hold that any other version is satanic. The devil is, after all, the enemy of truth.

    That said, I think AHA is going about it the wrong way. Catholic pro-life groups will not hesitate to say that Christ and Him crucified is the only way to overcome the attrocity that is abortion, but when we engage a godless culture we don't bash them over the head with Bibles and soapbox sermons. We engage them on common ground, Reason. Since human reason is corrupted by the fall, we also pray for God's grace to supplement it.

    Anyway, I would just ignore AHA from now on. If they want to bash Catholics or any other deviant from "True Christianity", let them. We should be secure enough in our faith not to let that faze us. They really ought to change their name though, since by their own admission they are not primarily about abolishing abortion.

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  9. Rhology,

    Regarding "Canard #2": We don't have to prove what you claim regarding 2 Thess. We are holding what that Scripture states. It is you who are asserting that the written Scripture is the exact same as the orally delivered word of God spoken of in that passage. What you have to prove is where the Scriptures teach that. You must prove your theory by Scripture. There is no such teaching in the Scriptures. It is a "tradition of men" created by Protestants in order to do away with the teachings in Scripture that clearly command adherence to oral tradition. Paul commands us to hold to both. The question is where is yours? You have been commanded to hold to oral tradition. You must claim that the oral and written tradition "have the same content" but that is never taught in Scripture. The burden of proof is on you to show, biblically, why you are able to reject one of its commands. You are not given the power to reject the commands of Scripture for unbiblical assertions.

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  10. After AHA came out as blatantly anti-Catholic, I wasn't surprised to see some of my Reformed friends jump at the opportunity to double down on their support of the organization. In fact, a few of them went so far as to emblazon AHA logos across their Facebook profiles and "banner" photos and suddenly advocate for AHA loudly on their news feeds. Some of these folks really rejoice for an opportunity to be divisive. :(

    Interestingly, I believe at least a few of them would take issue with many of the things "Rhology" says here in this comments thread. It's also interesting to note that Rhology avoids answering questions from well-meaning Catholics here (citing a lack of time to do so), yet makes an exception for dissecting every declarative sentence the Catholics here provide in their own defense. I hope Mr. Rhology decides to sincerely think about some of the very excellent questions posed to him here. I did. And I'm no longer Reformed. :)

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    1. I hope Mr. Rhology decides to sincerely think about some of the very excellent questions posed to him here.

      Ah, see, that's the thing. There haven't been any of those. There's no need to reinvent the wheel and answer things that have already been dismantled many times before. Anyone who wants the truth has plenty of opportunity to find it.

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    2. After AHA came out as blatantly anti-Catholic

      Oh, and AHA is not anti-Catholic. You may THINK we are, but that is because you don't know what "anti-Catholic" means.

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    3. Christina, I humbly ask that you please refrain from telling people that you were Reformed earlier in your life. You have repeated this claim here, on your website, and elsewhere. The fact is, you were never a member of any Reformed congregation. You may have had Calvinistic leanings at one time and expressed an interest in those teachings, but that's a far cry from being Reformed.

      I'm not here to call you a liar. I just think you were (and perhaps still are) very confused about Reformed theology and not very learned regarding its various distinctives. I exhort you to set the record straight, especially in the personal testimony you posted on your website. As for these "Reformed friends" to whom you referred above, who are they? I'm not aware you had any.

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    4. Josh, I humbly refuse your request, especially considering you have no earthly idea to which congregations either I or my husband have been a part of in the past. (And are you anticipating a list of my Reformed friends? With respect sir, I hardly know you.)

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  11. Josh, out of curiosity, I clicked on your name, which led me to your blog, wherein you describe yourself as a "Reformed Baptist." You are exhorting Christina here to stop saying that she was once Reformed-- but surely you know that more than a few people in the Reformed confessional tradition(s) don't consider Reformed Baptists to truly be Reformed.

    I know this from my own experience, because I used to be a Reformed Baptist myself. I was sometimes told by others who also held to the "five points of Calvinism that I, a supposed "Anabaptist," was not genuinely Reformed. I was informed that there is much more to being Reformed than holding to the five points, even though, as a Reformed Baptist, I also held to a form of covenant theology.

    I write all of this mainly to say that, given the fact that some in the Reformed confessional tradition(s) would deny that you are Reformed, you are in an interesting place, insofar as your questioning of Christina's (former) Reformed credentials. I don't think that you would deny mine though. I used to be a member of a congregation which holds to the New Hampshire Confession of Faith, an historic "Reformed Baptist" confession. At the time, I sometimes wished that the congregation subscribed to the 1689 London Confession, the one to which you subscribe, as I thought that to be a stronger confession on some points, but overall, I was happy with the New Hampshire Confession.

    In 2010, after a very humbling period of intense Biblical, theological, and "church-historical" study and prayer (which I was involved in with a Calvinist elder in my congregation of that time), I returned to the Catholic Church-- the church which I had, for years, like you, believed was a "false church teaching a false gospel." I don't expect you to be anything but saddened (and, perhaps, disgusted) by my "reversion," but it may encourage you to know that I was "disciplined" by the elders for it. If you are interested in how a committed "Reformed Baptist" could possibly become convinced to return to the Catholic Church, I recommend, as a start, that you spend some time reading the articles at the site, "Called to Communion." All of the official contributors there were once Reformed (i.e. holding to the Five Sola's of the Reformation and to Reformed confessions of faith and being committed members of Reformed congregations).

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    1. I appreciate your thoughts, Christopher. I am well aware that there are some paedobaptists who would not consider credobaptists to be Reformed. Of course I would take issue with that statement, but I would also stress that that's probably a minority opinion even among paedobaptists. The only major doctrinal distinctive which separates Reformed Baptists from others in the Reformed camp is the issue of baptism--we're even united on the point of covenant theology (as opposed to, say, dispensationalism). There's a paedobaptist seminary professor who happily assigns Greg Nichols' Reformed Baptist treatise on covenant theology to his own students.

      My issue with Christina is the fact that she's not probably using the term "Reformed." The broader issue here is the fact that being Reformed goes well beyond the five points of Calvinism. Unfortunately, the term "Reformed" gets attached to anything remotely Calvinistic which is a mistake. If we're lovers of truth, then we ought to be as accurate as possible when describing these things.

      I am familiar with the "Called to Communion" website. I appreciate the recommendation.

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  12. You people give me a headache. As far as Rhology is concerned, it's fairly obvious that he is one of those unfortunate people who is Just Right, and everybody who disagrees with him is Just Wrong. No argument or discussion point you can offer is going to budge him in any way, because he is convinced that any statement that is pro-Catholic-teaching comes straight from the mouth of Satan, and he must close his ears to it. Leave him alone and let him hate us in peace. ;)

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