Why I'm on This Side of the River

Recently there has been a small stir in the blogging community over a post by a former NSA student explaining how the Federal Vision made him Roman Catholic. I'm not actually here to comment on that particular post but I would like to offer my thoughts on how the Federal Vision has kept me on this side of both the Tiber and Bosphorus.

A little background. My freshman year of college was quite an experience (as freshman years of college always are). My distress over the shallowness of the worship I saw and the evangelical silliness all around me made me hunger for beauty and depth. As I had a couple of Roman Catholic friends and one friend who was in the midst of conversion, I went to the Catholic church here in town a couple of times, and liked what I saw. Here was history. Here was beauty. Here was depth. It was through the invitation of my prayer leader that I first attended Blue Ridge Reformed Church (now Providence Church) and to my amazement, here were all those things as well. So my speculation about Rome was put on the backburner as I worshipped in an FV church (before the FV issue hit the fan). For a year after this, I was youth pastor at my Baptist church back home, before realizing that I didn't belong in the Baptist world anymore, and returning to Providence. Then, since my senior year of college when I was introduced more formally to the FV issue, and even more so as I have learned more since, I have developed certain deeply held convictions that prevent my considering a trip to Rome or to Eastern Orthodoxy. A few of these convictions are (in no particular order):

1. I believe too strongly in the Sanctam Ecclesiam Catholicam , the Holy Catholic Church.

2. I believe too strongly in Church authority.**

3. I admire too strongly the teachings of the Church Fathers.

4. I believe too strongly in the holiness of Mary, the God-bearer.

5. I believe too strongly in the efficacy and spiritual reality of the sacraments.

So, even though many of my favorite authors are Roman Catholic, and even though I can partly understand the draw that such a tradition has, I cannot in good conscience entertain the thought of breaking with the doctrines that I have been taught, which are, I believe the Biblical doctrines of the faith and of the apostles.

(And my son's name is Luther. How would that go over in a Catholic school?)

**Note, I realize that many people who go to Rome or Byzantium also have a somewhat highish view of Church authority, but only if the authority is wearing a chausable and a pointy hat.

Comments

Hi, Rich:

Interesting post. I think you make some good points, but could you expound more on how your high view of Mary precludes Romanism/Orthodoxy? This is troubling for me, since I, too, want to honor our fathers in the faith. How do we honor the church fathers when we deny a doctine most of them believed in (and which the early reformers either accepted, e.g. Luther, or did not explicitly deny, e.g. Calvin)? I think it's obvious that Marian dogma had little foundation in Scripture. So, we're left with the troublesome fathers.

I really don't want to believe catholic doctrine about Mary, but it does create tension if we want to honor the fathers.

How do you resolve the dilemma? Just curious, as a fellow learner ...

And thanks for the link to RLI!