Co-Authored by Adam Lewis and Spencer Hargadon
For about a week Adam Lewis and I will be putting out our response to this article: “Why I Am Not Roman Catholic”. We will be snail mailing this to the author as well as it is the most efficeint way to reach him.
Challies’ article quickly falls into typical errors and accusations commonly found within some forms of Protestantism. Among them is the temptation to define his beliefs by articulating what he is against (Protests), rather than a profession of a universal (Catholic) creed and tradition. These are his own words, “In this series I am exploring some of the things I do not believe as a means to explaining what I do believe” (Challies, “Why I Am Not Roman Catholic”). The response that follows is not an attack on Challies’ character (ad hominem) or a questioning of his devotion to the Lord. In actuality, it presumes that he and his subscribers are of such character and devotion that they would not desire to bear false witness.
Let’s begin with the title. The title “Roman Catholic” is widely used in both the secular and religious world. It is a title that can be used with no intention at all or, unfortunately, is used as a pejorative. A kind of religious bigotry that largely comes from Protestantism’s Eurocentric worldview. Challies’ frequent use of “Rome” as interchangeable with the Catholic Church is reminiscent of the latter. While the earthly Pastor of the Catholic Church is the Bishop of Rome, it is misleading to name all Catholics “Roman”. In the West, we are predominantly of the Latin (Roman) rite, however, there are over 25 rites (stylistic differences in worship, different ways of approaching Church disciplines, and diversity in theology, but unity in Doctrine), including Greek, Byzantine, Maronite, Coptic, and Syromalabar to name a few . We are, after all, God’s universal Church…
The article is riddled with errors, however not all will be addressed since not all claims seem thoughtful enough to merit a response. For example, when Challies refers to “church history,” apparently it’s all the way back to the glorious ancient days of John Calvin and his murderous theocracy at Geneva. He also throws in (lacking a single footnote or example) the “long saga” of Protestantism’s fight against the Church. Hopefully, he does not intend to side with Albigensianism , which had such poor gnostic theology on the body that suicide was encouraged. This is the point, these appear to be scarecrow tactics as Challies creates a plethora of broad sweeping false dichotomies without precise definitions or clarity of his own personal theology. Thus, it is unreasonable to respond to all the false accusations, and quite difficult. Not because the fullness of Truth is on his side but because he never actually makes a solid or precise claim for himself, other than, “I was raised that way”. With an attempt at precision, we defend reasonableness, research, objective truth, and Our Lord’s Church, by confronting the major false accusations. We hope to do so with, “gentleness and reverence, keeping [our] conscience[s] clear” (1 Peter 3:16).
As this work is co-authored we both contributed to one another’s efforts, but Mr. Hargadon was directly responsible for Claim 1 and the Appendix, and Mr. Lewis took on Claims 2 & 3. Any personal ‘I’ statements found in those sections is indicative of that person.
2. Keating, Catholicism and Fundamentalism: The Attack on “Romanism” by “Bible Christians”, pg 45.