The response to my outrageous act of actually commenting on Francis Beckwith’s return to Roman Catholicism has been highly educational. One thing comes across loud and clear: the advocates of Rome, while they are rightly quick to defend themselves when the secular media seeks to silence their freedom to speak out, are just as quick to act like the media in seeking to silence anyone who would disagree with them theologically. The double standard (read that, “hypocrisy”) that is found in article after article, comment after comment, is truly amazing. Here is an example that I just ran across (and btw, I have a Google homepage item that scans blogs and posts headlines relevant to my searches: that is how I ran across this, and the previous “James White really annoys me” article I will note below):
Francis Beckwith – conservative philosopher, President of the Evangelical Theological Society and blogger – has “swam the Tiber.” This caused hyper-calvinist James White to hyper-ventilate.
Read White’s post for his typical lack of charity. White accuses Beckwith of abandoning the search for truth and says that Beckwith has been damned by God.
But when a 20-something student at Beckwith’s college dares – dares! – to call White on his uncharitable post because she is a member of the parish that Beckwith joined, White descends on her little blog with a phalanx of Calvinists.
Fun ensues. Read the comments.
It should be noted that it was White who “outed” Beckwith in the first place. That kind of “outing” thing is certainly popular by those who want to enforce a rigid adherence to an ideology and make sure that everyone stays on the politically correct reservation, but it is the opposite of what the idea of charity and freedom of conscience ought to imply.
And it should be further noted that White is willing to jump in with both feet to criticize another person’s post but he does not allow comments on his blog.
Finally, charity compells the observation that Mr. White probably needs to make a fundamental change in his schedule of values. Monitoring the internet 24 by 7 for comments by college students can’t be healthy.
Note that while I sought to focus upon 1) the ETS situation (which has been primarily resolved by Dr. Beckwith doing the right thing) and 2) the issue of the gospel, men like Peter Sean Bradley have very different goals. I was accurate in all of my comments regarding the situation when it developed. Rome’s defenders cannot even show me the respect of accurately representing my actions, words, or beliefs. Let’s point out the problems:
1) “This caused hyper-calvinist James White to hyper-ventilate.” If I were to refer to Bradley as a Feeneyite, for example, I would have to demonstrate, from a fair, proper reading of his writings, that my characterization is accurate. If his writings specifically disavow the moniker, then I would have to go beyond this to a full documentation of why his own self-professed position should be overthrown and my description accepted. That is what honest men and women do, those bound by some kind of morality and ethics. This kind of behavior does preclude you from producing sensationalistic material, but it is likewise just basic morality.
Any examination of my writings, my website, etc., will demonstrate not only a rejection of the epithet “hyper-Calvinist,” but it will likewise provide extensive counter-argumentation. Evidently, I am bound by ethics and morals about which Mr. Bradley seems to know nothing.
Secondly, I would invite my readers to compare the moonbat outrages appearing in the blogosphere this weekend with the original article I posted late Thursday evening. I am at least thankful that they are posting the link, so that those who are not gnawing on the furniture in anger can read what I actually said and therefore ask themselves, “Hey, where did all the hyper-ventilation go?”
But this is very important to note: evidently what these folks find most objectionable is that I am a consistent Calvinist. I believe as men in my tradition have believed for a very long time. But we are not allowed to believe this, or, if we do, we must hide in shame! How dare anyone actually believe that the gospel is definable, and that Rome’s gospel is not the biblical gospel at all! How arrogant! How mean spirited! How…Pauline! Yes, these folks are far more influenced by post-modernism and squishy Western thinking than they are by biblical categories. So, should I dare comment that I cannot possibly understand how anyone could truly embrace the gospel of grace, with the glory of God as its focus, the perfect work of the Incarnate Son as its matrix, the power of the Spirit as the one guaranteeing its accomplishment, and the life-lifting, soul-securing peace of God that it brings because of its doctrine of justification (Romans 5:1), and then turn from this to embrace Rome’s substitute, with its never-ending sacraments, its imperfect, incomplete work of sacrifice in the Mass, its sacerdotal priesthood, its eclipse of the glory of Christ through the exaltation of Mary, and the myriad of other “additions” that are actually “subtractions” from the gospel, like indulgences and purgatory, these folks simply lose control! “He’s mad! He’s angry! He’s hyper-ventilating! He’s….BALD!” The fact that I have said the same things for years and years on end completely escapes them. I simply should say nothing at all, for from their perspective, I really do not have the right to believe what I believe at all. (By the way, here is a free version of the sermon I preached the weekend after John Paul II died wherein I lay out the issues of the gospel in reference to Roman Catholicism. Nothing has changed since then, but, evidently, I do not have the right to be a consistent, historical Calvinist on these matters).
2) “Read White’s post for his typical lack of charity. White accuses Beckwith of abandoning the search for truth and says that Beckwith has been damned by God.” I wonder how many of this man’s readers will click on the link and go, “Uh, wait a minute…what he wrote was quite different than your summary, and, in fact, a very good case can be made that your summary…really lacks charity.”
3) I “descended” on no one. My RSS feed showed a blog article using my name and referring to the Beckwith reversion. I asked simple, fair questions of anyone who would answer. I did not direct anyone else to the blog, nor did I ask anyone else to post there. But if it is in the Internet, it is available for all to see, as anyone should know. The title of the blog article was “James White annoys me to no end.” Here is what I asked:
May I ask, please, that you take the time to show me where, in my article, I in any way, shape, or form, “slandered” Dr. Beckwith? Could you explain, from my own words, please, where I even *implied* anything about “politics”?
May I likewise ask you to please explain to me how you think someone such as myself, committed whole-heartedly to the gospel of the grace of God, should respond to Dr. Beckwith’s actions? If a Cardinal of the Roman Curia became a Baptist tomorrow, tell me, how would you respond? Would you think this is an “equally valid” expression of the faith? Would you “rejoice” with him?
Is there anything I have said in response to this that is in any way, shape, or form, inconsistent with what I have said in writing, in preaching, and in debate, since I first engaged Gerry Matatics in debate in Long Beach in August of 1990? If so, what is it?
I truly do not understand why my words are subject to such uncharitable, imbalanced, and grossly unfair readings. I, at least, attempt to accurately understand the words of those in the Roman communion, why do you not seek to do the same in return?
If anyone “descended” on this blog, it was Dave Armstrong, who decided to flood it with his normal verbal floods. Bradley’s claims are simply false.
4) I find it very sad that a common theme of most replies I have seen thus far is that I somehow “outed” Francis Beckwith. I find this claim tremendously unworthy of any thoughtful person. Did Dr. Beckwith hide behind a screen at the parish church on April 26th? Did the priest swear the congregation to secrecy? Surely not! This was not done in secrecy. How my noting it can be called “outing” someone is beyond all rational defense.
But what is more, it is clear that post-modern muddled thinking is rampant in this instance as well. These folks believe this is about persons. James White. Francis Beckwith. It isn’t. This is about the truth of the gospel. That is why I made reference to the event. This is about the fact that the faithful have been called to the defense of the gospel from the very beginning. We are called to agonize in defense of the gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation. And when someone in the position of Francis Beckwith goes back to the church of his youth, this opens up the discussion of the key issues of the Reformation once again: what is the source of our knowledge of God’s truth? What is the gospel? Rome’s advocates have jumped quickly upon the topic (see the comments on Beckwith’s announcement for an example), as I knew they would. The inevitable attacks upon sola scriptura and sola fide are already in full bloom. I simply sought to do what I could to direct the conversation to what really matters in announcing the event. All accusations of “outing” or anything similar thereto are absurd on their face.
5) Regarding comments: So what? I do a twice-weekly live webcast. I challenge Mr. Bradley to call the toll free number to make his case. 877-753-3341. I will be live, and discussing this very issue, on Tuesday morning, 11am PDT.
6) As noted before, Bradley seems ignorant of current Internet technology, i.e., automatic notifications via blog searches.
There are some very interesting comments posted in the thread on Beckwith’s blog. I wonder why I am the “bad guy” in all of this, when we read:
This is a sad day for all true sons and daughters of the Protestant Reformation, for all who lived and died for its truths.
Having abandoned the distinctives of the Reformation (which are deeply rooted in Holy Scripture), you are embracing serious theological error. I wish I could say otherwise, but conscience-bound, I cannot.
By joining Rome, you are putting an institution above God; you are putting men (and I mean males) ahead of the pure gospel of Jesus Christ (See Galatians 1:6-11).
However, you are doing the right thing to resign from your position at ETS.
I have appreciated much of your writing over the years, but I lament what you have now done.
Amen and amen. But I do, in fact, know why I am the “bad guy.” Just go back and watch the video clips I’ve posted over the past two months.
More on this as time allows.