A Response Going Back to the Beckwith Reversion

   This e-mail just came in, going back to the discussion of Beckwith’s conversion a few months ago. It is illustrative again of how converts tend to be folks who only listen to Rome’s side, and it is rare, very rare indeed, to find one who actually asked themselves the question, “I wonder if anyone has responded to this stuff?”

Reading your article regarding Beckwith (the head of the ETS) from May 3rd brings me to respond. I agree with your statement that “it is far beyond my comprehension and understanding.” This is apparent by your remarks. I know that most Catholic as well as Protestants cannot stand up and explain their faith and these may be the ones that will sway with the direction of the wind, but those who do comprehend and understand will not. Your argument implies that a Catholic does not have a biblical background of understanding and thus lies their problem. You apparently have not studied enough.

   Such is possible, but, if that were the case, Brenda, after nearly three dozen debates with the leading apologists of Roman Catholicism, wouldn’t that be rather obvious?

Alot of what you read gives you the impression that the “come home to Rome” articles are based on everything but the scriptures. Not so.

   There is, of course, a vast difference between citing Scriptures (which every religion that expresses any fealty to them does) and handling them consistently and accurately. Here’s an excellent example for you:

I would have not coverted if not for the study of scriptures along with historical fact. One of the many examples would be linking Christ having the authority and passing the authority to Peter with the Keys while linking this to Isaiah 22 -keys given to the Prime Minister of the Kingdom as well as linking it to the two times in the Old Testament (forshadowing the new) where Joseph and Daniel were given information by God, after which they speak it and then are given a position of second in command in the kingdom… certainly is one of the many numerous reasons I see and that I converted and will remain with the Church that Christ established and promised that he would guide into all Truth.

   I would have to ask, then, if you find reason to reject this use of Isaiah 22, would you then leave the Roman communion? Did you, before you converted, consider replies to Rome’s claims? Here is a brief commentary that I wrote on the text in my book, The Roman Catholic Controversy eleven years ago:

I comment briefly on the novel attempt by Roman Catholic apologists to apply Isaiah chapter 22, and the key to the house of David, to Peter himself in Matthew chapter 16. Such an attempted connection is logically necessary for the Roman position, for there must be some effort made to establish succession in this passage, for Matthew’s words make no mention of it. Yet, upon what basis do we identify the keys (plural, Greek: klei/daj) of the kingdom of heaven, which are associated plainly with the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, with the key (singular, Greek: klei/n as cited in Rev. 3:7; some LXX manuscripts have “glory” instead of “key,” while other manuscripts have the singular form of the term “key” klei,dan. The Hebrew of Isaiah 22:22, x;Tep.m; is singular as well) of the house of David, which is Messianic in nature? And should we not instead accept the interpretation given by the Lord Jesus himself, when he cites Isaiah 22:22 of Himself in Revelation 3:7, “And to the angel of the church of Philadelphia write: He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this.” Jesus has, present tense (Greek: o` e;cwn), the key of David. He does not say that He gives this key to anyone else. Indeed, when we look at how the Lord introduces Himself in each of these letters, the descriptions set Him apart from all creatures. Should we not then reject such an obvious attempt at eisegesis, and instead stay with the plain meaning of Scripture? I pause only briefly to note that I am unaware of a single Father of the Christian faith in the first 700 years of the Christian era who ever connected Isaiah 22:22 with Matthew 16, and then applied this to Peter’s supposed successors. Few interpretational stretches are as devoid of patristic support as this one.


   Now, remember, Brenda, that Rome is attempting to provide validation for a claim of ultimate authority. You cannot found claims of ultimate authority, infallibility, etc., on mere probability arguments. That is, Rome’s claim to be the final and infallible authority cannot be based merely upon arguments like, “It is possible that this particular text might be taken in this fashion.” All that can lead you to is “Rome might be infallible.” Ironically, Brenda, Rome has not infallibly interpreted this text (some would argue Rome has not infallibly interpreted any text), so you cannot even claim Rome’s authority for your interpretation of the text. Therefore, you have to answer some questions: upon what textual basis do you dismiss the difference between the singular key of the house of David and the plural keys of the kingdom? Why is it that the citation of this text by Jesus Himself in Revelation, which would have been after the time of Peter, is not taken as normative, as it is with any other Messianic passage? Why does Jesus use the present tense of the verb after the Roman position would demand that there was already a singular bishop of Rome (though, historically, the monarchical episcopate in Rome did not develop until much later)? How can Jesus possess the Messianic key of David after the bishop of Rome already possesses it as a symbol of his authority? And can you provide any early writer in the first half a millennium of the Christian church who interpreted the text as you do today? If not, why not?

I am sure that you are aware of the Catholic reasonings for many understandings, but when I read the things you write I see anger (which is not from God) and I see Pride and arrogance and pray that you are being open to Truth and not swimming in “your” truths and not closed to God’s Truth.

   It is very easy to project your desired feelings onto others, Brenda, and I’m sure it helps you to get past the substance of my arguments to accuse me of anger, pride, arrogance and the like. However, I would like to challenge you to actually document your accusations. The few times in the past when folks have actually tried to do so, the results have been most educational.

St. Paul states to study the Sciptures daily, which at the time he wrote this it would have been addressing the Old Testament which forshadows Christ and His Church, which has constant typology to why I will put my trust in the Church Christ founded and not in some man’s opinion such as yours which seems to be lacking compared to all that I read.

   There is great irony in the claim that Christ founded the Roman Church. There was, of course, no church in Rome when Christ was on earth. The Church at Rome came into existence through missionary work, and not that of Peter, I might add. Until the middle of the second century the Roman Church had a multiplicity of elders, not a single bishop. The growth of the power of the bishop of Rome in later centuries had far more to do with politics and historical development than anything else, and even with all of that, you will not find anyone in the see of Rome who believed everything you must believe as dogma as a faithful Roman Catholic today for at least a thousand years from the church’s founding. So while I know it sounds real pious and nice to speak of “trusting Christ’s church,” you are in reality doing nothing more than trusting a particular modern embodiment of belief that has insuperable historical and logical contradictions to overcome, let alone its biblical problems.

I pray that God touches your heart and mind and leads you home. In many conversion stories you read that leave you wanting for stories of leading them to Christ is not really a problem because most alread love Christ and are searching for a closer relationship with him through Truth.

   What an intriguing claim—somehow these converts, without Rome’s help, have come to know the truth about Christ, so much so that they can truly love Him, but, evidently, that’s not enough? They need to fall in love with Rome, too, so that they “come home”? You seem to have missed the point of the criticism of the conversion stories. Conversion in Christianity is conversion to Christ. In Rome, it is conversion to…Rome. I have watched enough episodes of Coming Home to know the routine, and it remains striking that there is such a large difference in how we view “conversion.” I think it says a lot.