This morning I read through the first contribution (aside from his conversion story) by former OPC minister Jason Stewart, who has joined the “Called to Communion” blog. For those who are not familiar with it, this blog ostensibly exists so that formerly “Reformed” converts to Rome may ply their trade in calling others into Mother Church. It is a regular source of amazing examples of how outward profession of Reformed orthodoxy is no guarantee of inner dependence upon the righteousness of Jesus Christ, let alone a true commitment to the truths that truly bring peace to the soul that rests upon the divine truths of sola gratia, sola fide, solus Christus, and, of course, the constant center of their relentless attacks, sola scriptura.
I have often commented that one who has wholeheartedly cast oneself upon the finished and perfect work of the Messiah, hung upon Calvary’s cross, once for all time, can never turn from that the treadmill of sacramentalism that is the essence of Rome. To trade the intimate and immediate access of the true believer in Christ who, by union with Him, has access to the very throne of God, for the confessionals and “priests” and penances and never ending masses–none of which ever grant full peace with God–is beyond the realm of possibility. I conclude, then, that those who engage in this act of apostasy–and I dare not show God and His gospel the disrespect my culture demands of me at this point by softening the proper and truthful description of the act–while they may have professed with soaring words these truths I hold so dear did not, in fact, ever experience them, for one who has will, in the words of Jesus, persevere in them to the end. The blog, then, is a sad spectacle of fulfillment of the scriptural axiom that those who refuse to love the truth will be caused to love a lie. It is an almost daily reminder to myself, and to all who have a great measure of God’s light in His Word, to honor that light, and love His truth, for if we play games with that truth, we may well find ourselves loving a lie.
This morning’s blog article was a fictional conversation meant, I gather, to bolster Rome’s claims relating to divine tradition and to function as an attack on sola scriptura. My good brother TurretinFan is writing a response to that element, but I wanted to note the rather obvious conclusion one would have to draw from the analogy Mr. Stewart has utilized. Given that the events of Acts 15 involved the Apostles of the Lord, and included divine revelation, it follows inevitably, if Mr. Stewart’s argument has any meaning, that he is claiming continuing divine revelation for Rome as well. Otherwise, why attempt to draw the correlation? Many have noted that in reality, though Rome denies revelation outside of the canon of Scripture formally, the reality is her Marian dogmas, and in particular the last two thusly defined (Immaculate Conception and Bodily Assumption) partake very clearly of “revelational” character. One cannot, with a straight face anyway, rationally assert that either dogma is found in any form in either Scripture or “tradition,” no matter how you define that wonderfully nebulous final term. So in reality, Stewart’s analogy does work, as long as you are talking about the non-official, but much more realistic, recognition of Roman authority claims. It really shows you that Rome’s apologists seek to defend a minimized Roman set of authority claims, while at the same time believing dogmas based upon a much more expansive, yet undefended and ungrounded, “realistic” set of authority claims.
Do I think Stewart has even thought through the ramifications of his own example? Probably not. He is in the honey-moon stage of the conversion syndrome, and for most, Rome’s claims are not really subject to critical analysis at this point. Just as he missed the devastating insights into Rome’s historical blunders in Salmon’s work, it is doubtful he is aware of the fact that his example proves far too much (or far too little, depending). But it is a very useful example of what Rome is really saying, even when her defenders are not aware of it!