Evidently there is no “tolerance” amongst the uber-tolerant “Reformed Catholics” for believing that the gospel is what defines the Christian faith. One of their number, who has moved a very, very long way away from where he once stood and from what he once professed, taught, and even preached, recently wrote an article titled “Noisy Gongs and Clanging Cymbals.” In it he makes oblique reference to me, of course, and my stand on the fact that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation, the gospel is definable beyond “Jesus is Lord,” and Rome’s gospel is not the gospel once for all delivered to the saints. I guess there is tolerance amongst the rC’s for Papal Infallibility, Marian devotion (goodness is there with this fellow!), Masses and purgatory, but none for believing the solas of the Reformation are true and actually matter. In any case, it is a very sad, but very sobering example of not only the double standard inherent in all such ecumenical, truth-compromising movements (You conservatives are so mean! You are so intolerant! Purgatory isn’t all that bad! But if you hold firm to your beliefs, we will call you noisy gongs and clanging cymbals and deny that you do what you do out of love!), but in this case, how far one will go from what one once professed.
We are not the first generation to see this, but until you do see it, close at hand, the words of Scripture can tend to remain somewhat distant. John, the last of the apostles, as an aged man, well knew this truth. He wrote to the infant, small, struggling church, wracked with heresy and division (1-3 John). And he had to write about those who had once been a part of their fellowship, even those who had stood before their congregations, joined in the Lord’s Supper, sang the hymns—but who were now false teachers, leading many astray. He spoke of those who had gone out:
They went out from us, but they were not [really] of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but [they went out], so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. (1 John 2:19)
You see, if you are truly OF the faith, truly OF the fellowship of the saints, you REMAIN there. You are not like those who are double-minded, who sway with every breeze of doctrine, who are constantly discovering some “new truth” to follow after. There is something about the faith to which you have dedicated your life, and upon which you have cast yourself and your eternal destiny, that does not allow one to sit idly by while Christ and His work is dragged through the mud, and even worse, when your supposed brothers and sisters give clear and compelling evidence that they no longer believe the gospel is clear enough to affirm any specifics regarding it outside of “Jesus is Lord—in some very warm and emotional fashion, but it is up to you to decide just what that means, and if you choose an alternative Jesus, that’s great, too!”
We read from our “Reformed Catholic” blogger, “…not the least of which is that few of our own brothers and sisters have accomplished the incredible things this most recent Pope has accomplished.” Have you noticed the confusion on the part of so many between being a great leader, an administrator, and traveling speaker, etc., and the issues of the gospel and salvation? “He said great things about abortion, so the gospel doesn’t matter!” “He managed to hold all the sides together in Roman Catholicism, so being dedicated wholly to Mary is irrelevant!” Has clarity of thought been banished for a season? He goes on,
We should mourn with our Catholic friends and brethren. They have lost a giant man–one responsible for so much good in this world. A man whose long tenure at the Vatican literally changed the world around him.
That’s wonderful—what did he do to change Rome’s false gospel and hence free millions from bondage to sin and death? What did he do to correct the idolatry of Mariolatry (answer: he was one of the chief reasons for its great expansion; his views encouraged the push for the dogmatic definition of the 5th Marian Dogma)? If you free a man politically, but enslave him for eternity, have you done him a favor? Is this really that confusing and complex an issue?
I saw one site criticizing Pope John Paul II posthumously by pretending that he had nothing to do with the gospel. He didn’t defend or advocate the classic doctrines of the Reformation–that supposedly makes him something other than Christian (as if the classic doctrines of the Reformation were actually the gospel of Jesus Christ!).
There you go! This man would have once answered, “Well of course the classic doctrines of the Reformation are definitional of the gospel! Good night, if you think otherwise, you are saying the Reformation was a mistake!” But now we have the direct repudiation of these truths, for no matter how hard you try, once you make justification or the sufficiency of the singular sacrifice of Christ a mere matter of “doctrinal study or disagreement” you have denied the essence of these biblical truths. Personally, I wish those who hold these views would be open and honest and up-front and simply repudiate them outright. It is truly sad to see people throw a crumb toward the great divine truths represented by the solas while shoving them into a dark corner in the name of “catholicity” and “unity.” It is even worse when those doing so once claimed a heart-felt commitment to them.
I say his conduct–an obedient faith–quite clearly displayed the gospel and the living reality of the death and resurrection of Christ.
Really? So when he writes this in his will and testament, this is being obedient to Christ and His Word?
I do not know when the moment will come, but like everything else, I place it too in the hands of the Mother of my Master: Totus Tuus. In the same maternal Hands I leave everything and everyone with whom my life and vocation have linked me. In these Hands I leave, above all, the Church, as well as my Nation and all humanity.
Oh, I forgot: this is the same blogger who quoted from JPII’s Redemptoris Mater and asked, “Where’s the heresy here?” Again, the fall is great, the distance of the fall greater. He continues, “The ability of Pope John Paul II to have endured the great illness and suffering that he owned even to his death should help us better understand our own suffering in and for Christ.” I wonder, did this writer learn anything from how Ezra Taft Benson lived his last days? If not, why not? Yes, that question requires consistency, which means it will not be answered, but that is the point of asking it.
I am hopeful that one day many of my Reformed brothers and sisters can see the good without the supposedly necessary qualifications and reservations about what they think is bad in Roman Catholics–especially for a man like Pope John Paul II.
And I long for the day when this writer will join Andrew Sandlin in abandoning the self-descriptive use of the term “Reformed.” When the day comes that “Reformed” means “the gospel is irrelevant, unknowable, disputed, impotent,” I will be the first to throw it in the trash heap.
We do ourselves and the gospel a disservice when we try to speak otherwise because the reality is just so utterly undeniable that our petty claims to the contrary do nothing but help us be the noisy gongs and clanging cymbals Paul warned us about in his legendary chapter on love.
Ah, the wonders of post-modernism: speak of Paul’s chapter on love, ignore Paul’s epistle to the Galatians. How wonderfully warm and fuzzy and oh so very acceptable—and yet how utterly treasonous to Paul, to the gospel, and to the oaths this man once voiced before others as a minister.
Significantly easier to handle, for me, anyway, is the panegyric offered by Fred Barnes of The Weekly Standard. When he starts off “John Paul II was beloved by Protestants, too, because he was the world’s greatest defender of orthodox, Bible-based Christianity” I can just say to myself, “He’s a commentator: you can’t expect even a conservative politico to know what ‘orthodox, Bible-based Christianity’ actually is.” Actually, he’s an Episcopalian with enough sense to know his American leaders are diluting Christianity—but that does not translate into a knowledge of the gospel. And I truly grieve when I read things like this: “Sure, important differences remained between Protestants and Catholics, but John Paul II made them seem small.” That’s the Dobson line from yesterday, and it still has the same meaning, “Nice guys get to heaven without the gospel.” Which means, “The gospel really doesn’t matter; it isn’t the power of God unto salvation” OR, even worse, “The gospel is saying ‘Jesus’ with some regularity + being nice and doing good things.” Either one should make any semi-biblically literate person cringe to realize that our worst predictions were spot-on: there is a famine in the land for the word of God, and for the gospel contained therein.
STHKETE KAI KRATEITE