Wednesday, May 19, 2004

"Reformed Catholicism" (Paul Owen)

I found the following comment from Reformed scholar Paul Owen on Cor ad cor loquitur regular Kevin Johnson's blog a succinct summary of the distinction between more sectarian, exclusivistic (usually anti-Catholic) Protestants and those who are much more in touch with their historical theological heritage. Anyone who vigorously opposes the nonsense and illogic of James White (who calls him "Alexander the Coppersmith") and Eric Svendsen, deserves our gratitude and prayers (and of course this makes him about as popular in those circles as I am LOL). Good for you, Dr. Owen.
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Those who are complaining about the use of the term "Reformed Catholicism" due so from a position of profound ignorance. The Reformers viewed the leadership of the Catholic church as hopelessly corrupt in their day, but they did not deny a unity of faith with Roman Catholic believers. Calvin is quite representative of the mainstream Reformation in accepting Roman Catholic baptisms as valid, in acknowledging Catholic churches as still being churches of Christ (though lacking the "lawful form" of the church), and in regarding Roman Catholics as God's covenant children. The heart of the problem is the unbiblical sacramentology of Baptist schismatics. Baptist schismatics do not see the proper covenantal function of Trinitarian baptism, and hence they render asunder the visible unity which unites Protestants with their Roman Catholic brethren. They turn what is intended primarily as a God-centered sign of the divine commitment to the covenant community into a man-centered sign of the "faith" of the individual. Hence they exchange the objectivity of baptism as God's pledge to us for the subjectivity of baptism as our "sincere" pledge to God. Because Baptist schismatics hold to a Marcionite interpretation of the Old Covenant, they fail to see the continuity of covenantal structure within the progress of redemption. Hence, they reject the baptisms of those whose individual confessions of faith are deemed suspect because of a failure on the part of Roman Catholics to articulate with hair-splitting precision the precise mechanism of their justification. As if the validity of baptism as a sign of the unity of the New Covenant church (Eph. 4:5) depended upon an individual's theological precision! Trinitarian baptism continues to mark out Roman Catholics as God's covenant children, just as cirucumcision continued to mark out Israel as God's covenant children even in their desparate condition of apostasy and judgment (Gen. 17:7, 10 cf. Deut. 32:18-20). The theology of the Baptist schismatics stinks. Its fumes offend any biblically balanced person like the smell of a contruction site porta-potty at a fancy wedding. It is a subtle form of legalistic justification by works. God's ability to save me is contstrained by the purity of my theological precision. The god of Baptist schismatics sends people to hell for failing to accurately "exegete" all the relevant passages selected from a list of favorite proof-texts. No matter how sincerely one clings to the saving mercy of the Triune God for eternal life, a confusion of justification and sanctification, or a misunderstanding of the nature of free will is sufficient to condemn a person to eternal misery. Thankfully, biblically grounded Christians will reject Baptist schismatic heresy for the inarticulate, clumsy, historically clueless drivel that it is. Speaking as one zealous Reformed Catholic, I am frankly sick of this sectarian nonsense.
Mon May 17, 2004 @ 10:42:54
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See also Kevin's own blog entry:

"Our catholic, undoubted Christian faith"

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