Read about my family's conversion to Catholicism here.

Read about the Restoration of the Catholic Land Movement
here.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Letter to GSPCPCA

To our brothers and sisters at Good Shepherd Presbyterian:

This letter is to explain why we will be leaving Good Shepherd. We want to make sure our reasons are understood as much as possible, so you will not wonder why we left, and will not think it was for a trite reason. I do not expect you to agree with our decision, but my hope is that this decision will not be misunderstood.

Over the years at Good Shepherd, I have grown increasingly frustrated with the lack of unity in the Reformed community. After a family recently left our church for Eastern Orthodoxy, I felt a deep sense that something was very wrong with the state of unity among Christians. And at first, I thought they left for similar reasons as many other families have done over the past 9 years. Since my family has been at Good Shepherd, some people have left for the pickiest of reasons. Most recently a handful left us to form a new congregation of a 11 year old denomination called the CREC for reasons that I would say are anything but central to the Reformed faith. Another left with the particular desire to not be under any church authority at all! No pretense even. In my opinion, these people have not submitted to the authority of the church, which we Reformed believe is the arbiter of Scriptural Truth and interpretation, but rather they have become their own authority. They are rogues who have arrogated the authority of the Holy Spirit to themselves, placing their conscience and private judgment over the authority of sessions that they have sworn to be faithful to.

This got me thinking... What makes me submit to the session at Good Shepherd? I have always seen it as a Divinely instituted body put there to guide my family on the Christian path, but what if I disagree with them on some matter of doctrine? EVERY Reformed person I have ever talked to about this situation has said there is nothing wrong with leaving a church and placing my family under another session that agrees with my convictions. When I have mentioned points of disagreement with the PCA everyone has said I could and should leave if it is a big deal to me. What this means is that the authority of Scripture, which is supposed to be exercised through the church, is instead exercised through my personal interpretations by ME!

According to Sola Scriptura, as defined by Keith Mathison, Scripture is
'the sole source of revelation; [the] the final authoritative norm of doctrine and practice; to be interpreted in and by the church, and that it [is] to be interpreted according to the regula fidei.'.

The problem with this doctrine is that when a believer disagrees with the leaders he is supposed to submit to, he then finds other leaders that agree with his interpretation to submit to. This is not submitting to church authority, it is submitting to self. Submitting to yourself is just another way of saying you don't submit at all! There is a helpful way to remember this concept:

If I only submit when I agree, the one to whom I submit is me.
Anyone who has raised children can recognize the obvious truth of this. Or any wife that has tried to submit to a husband. Or submitting to an employer, etc... True submission is shown in conforming our mind to that mind to which we submit. If we are submitting to someone based on a shared set of beliefs, or because we agree with them, that is not true submission! It is actually a dangerous opposite of submission, because it can appear to be submission. If a disagreement never comes between a husband and wife in the entire time of their life together (bear with me I know it is far fetched) we could look at the relationship and see submission. But if inside her heart she is ready to split at the first sign of disagreement, she in no way is submitting to him. Apply this wife/husband scenario to church/Christ, and you can see where my mind is on this issue. We Protestants submit to our elders based on our agreement with them, and this is a faux submission. This is no longer an option for my family. I do not trust myself to interpret the Scripture when generations of brilliant Protestants (like Dr. Joshua Moon!) can not agree on what it says. If I listen to Josh, then I must ignore Mike Horton. If I listen to Mike Horton, I must ignore Doug Wilson, If I listen to Doug Wilson, I should ignore RC Sproul, and on and on it goes. If I come up with a synthesis of all these men's interpretations, then I have Professor David Meyer's interpretation, and he is an electronics technician, not a theologian. I am not inclined, (and nor should you be) to trust his interpretation.

So after coming to the above conclusions, what then? Should I just continue to form opinions and interpretations with lots of prayer and reflection? Should I just do my best to be part of the group I feel conforms most closely with Scripture? No, I can't because any options within this paradigm of Sola Scriptura lead to the same fateful conclusion that I am my own authority.

The only options left for me are:

A. Remain with Reformed Christianity and continue the cycle of “self submission”, knowing in my heart it is wrong.

B. Some form of non-theism,

C.“Choose-your-own-adventure” Christianity that I self consciously make up for myself and do not worry about submitting to church authority.

D. Submit to a form of Christianity that does not subscribe to Sola Scriptura and which has a interpretive authority which can plausibly claim to be led by the Holy Spirit, so as to remove myself as the authority.

Option A: I cannot in good conscience stay with option A I because within Sola Scriptura, I have no way of knowing if I am in schism from Christ's church. Whether I am in schism or not, the situation will look exactly the same from my perspective. I will consider myself to be following the Scripture whether I was in schism or not! If I was in grave error, my circumstances would look no different from being in the fullness of truth. Either way I would be surrounded by a session of my own choosing that would be quick to reassure me I was on the right path.

Option B: For the regenerate Christian that has tasted the beauty of Christ, this is not a real option.

Option C: This is a tempting option. Perhaps Christ is OK with us just making this stuff up as we go? Perhaps that is part of the plan? Pray, read the Scripture, come up with an interpretation, stick with it, and look around at the rest of Christianity totally disagreeing with you. Then pray everyone comes to see the “truth” of what you believe. Unfortunately the church in scripture was not like this. There was authority given and maintained by the Holy Spirit to lead the Church into all truth. (Jn. 16:13) So even though this is perhaps a more consistent position than Sola Scriptura, it is not an option for someone who desires to be “led” into all truth by the Spirit.

Option D: This makes the most sense. Catholic and Orthodox ecclesiology takes into account the fact that people will disagree about the content of divine revelation. Not that disagreement implies errancy or fallibility, but without a magisterium that is supernaturally protected from error, there is no way for me to be sure I am getting the interpretation that is the right one. If I am able to toss out the 7th ecumenical council (as nearly all Protestants do) because it doesn't match my interpretation, where will the tossing out stop? If church councils themselves are to be judged by a 21st century layman, theologically untrained, and unordained Christian like me, what is the point then of church councils other than to provide some really good advise from some really great men from the history of our faith? If they were not being guided into all truth by the Holy Spirit in these councils, with the expectation that all believers should submit to their decisions, then what use are they other than to help me form my own interpretation to submit to? The ecclesiologies that claim to have living, breathing successors of the apostles which are divinely gifted with the ability to define doctrine in certain situations are the only ecclesiologies that make sense.

That leaves two possibilities. Catholicism and Orthodoxy. Orthodoxy has stopped having church councils, would not be able to convene one if they wanted, and it can not claim the universality needed in the fourfold definition of the creed. (One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic) because it is still largely a regional church and not world wide. Also there is no unifying head to resolve differences.

The Catholic Church is the only option left. In many ways it is a bitter pill to swallow for me. I have been very critical of Catholic doctrine as a Protestant. Much that they believe I am not inclined to believe. But I will have to submit to the mind of what I must believe is the Church Christ founded.

To all of you I say that we have loved being at Good Shepherd. If left to my own opinions and interpretations, I would be right there with you guys. Josh Moon is going to turn that church into a shining gem in the PCA, I know it. The little changes he has made here and there are definitely heading Good Shepherd in a great direction. I wish we could speak to each member personally but that is just not possible. We have many friends that we will miss, but please know that we harbor no ill will, and on the contrary, see Reformed Christianity, and Good Shepherd in particular as bright spots in the Protestant world. We all wish for a unified Church. And while I don't expect you to agree with my decision, I hope you will see it as something I am doing out of a great love for Christ's Church and its unity.

Peace to all of you, our brothers and sisters in Christ.

David Meyer and Family.

88 comments:

  1. Hello David,

    I see that you were in fact at Good Shepherd, as I wondered in a previous comment :-)

    May I email you?

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  2. This is a beautiful love letter to your former church. I deeply admire what you are doing, and I will be praying for you all -

    With Yvonne, I say, Welcome Home!

    Laura Lowder
    Tiber Swim Team, 11/3/02

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  3. David,

    I was so distracted by the fact that we have shared a church home that I forgot, to my shame, to say what others already have: congratulations, and welcome home :-)

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  4. While I know your brothers in the PCA will read this and the ensuing "Welcome Home"s from Catholics with heavy hearts, I can't help but chime in with a hearty welcome home! I know from experience what a difficult decision it was, but I can also say from the same experience that it is well worth it. You'll be in my prayers as you move toward full communion.

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  5. David,

    Thanks for sharing this. The Lord be with you on the journey home.

    Andrew Preslar

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  6. David,

    For your decision to seek full communion with the Catholic Church, we rejoice with you and welcome you. May Christ our Lord continue to bless you and strengthen you and your family. And may He make you an instrument of His peace.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

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  7. You are lost in theological arguments. Join the RC Church if you wish it is simply another part of the body of Christ and his grace is found there also. Remember that the earliest followers of Christ were not learned men debating philosophical arguments, they were filled with the Holy Spirit and he guided their actions.
    Is a christian any less a christian for not belonging to a denomination, or for submitting or not submitting to some earthly authority.
    Submit yourself to Christ, his Word, and the Spirit, and he will lead you to where you will be the most effective instrument for his kingdom.

    God Bless.

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  8. May God bless you and keep you and your entire family

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  9. Mr. Meyer, my family and I too made the same difficult journey, having enjoyed years of rich teaching and fellowship in a wonderfully close and loving Reformed community. We love our Presbyterian and Reformed brothers and sisters, but certainly understand how tough it can be to travel the "Roman Road" and "cross the Tiber." The Lord's prayer in John 17 was truly a driving force upon which we would reflect during our conversion. We have enjoyed nothing but the wealth and riches Christ gave to His Church since our confirmation this past Easter Vigil.

    I pray blessings of the Triune God upon your family - may the Spirit of Christ lead you into the unity you seek in the bonds of peace. Welcome in the name of Christ our King!

    Brad

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  10. Dear David,

    May Christ's peace and blessings be with you as you prepare to enter the Catholic Church. Be a blessing to others. John 17!

    Dear Chris,

    You said that the earliest Christians did not engage in philosophical arguments, but simply were filled with the Holy Spirit. According to the New Testament, this is entirely incorrect. A prominent example is the Apostle Paul, who repeatedly engages in philosophical pleas to the people of Christ, particularly on the topics of justification and predestination. Even with the Holy Spirit, he and his brother Apostles were not (debate-free) floating in a medium of unshakeable truth. They had to argue and refer disputes for resolution and even hold a council to determine the truth. These are the ways in which the Holy Spirit works. The Holy Spirit does not "zap" us with truth in a way that makes philosophy or theology superfluous.

    Peace in Christ,
    Tom B.

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  11. Dear David,

    As a fellow convert from evangelicalism (though an unReformed, former Southern Baptist myself), I, too, am thrilled to welcome you "home" to the fullness of the Catholic Christian Faith.

    There will be a lot of humility to endure to go along with submission to the Teaching Authority of the Church. But trust me: there's a great peace and liberty that comes from this submission: for submission to Peter is submission to Christ.

    Ubi Petrus, ibi ecclesia,
    Diezba
    Diocese of Nashville

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  12. Wow! Somehow people found this blog I guess! Thanks for all the support! I just went to my first Mass yesterday at the Cathedral of Saint Paul. I could not recieve the Eucharist of course but I desired to. A lady said I could get a blessing but I didnt want to go up there and come away without Jesus. Hopefully soon!

    aquinasetc: Sure, please email me. Who are you you masked man? I went to Good Shepherd with you?

    Chris: you said:"You are lost in theological arguments." Theological arguments are a part of my decision, and the primary thing discussed in the letter to my church. That does not mean those are the only reasons. There are many aspects to personhood, and all of those aspects are in alignment in this decision. This is not math.

    "Is a christian any less a christian for not belonging to a denomination, or for submitting or not submitting to some earthly authority?"

    Yes he is less. He is being disobedient to his Master who bids him obey the church.

    "Submit yourself to Christ, his Word, and the Spirit, and he will lead you to where you will be the most effective instrument for his kingdom."

    Well put. This is what I have done and He led me to the Catholic Church.

    Also what Tom B. said!

    Thanks for all the comments! i'm getting misty here!

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  13. I for one would be curious to hear (or read) what your church said to you in response. Would you be willing to post on that?

    JJS

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  14. JJS:

    That is still in progress. I will ask the session if they are ok with me posting it when I am done dialoguing with them. That will be up to them. What is your motivation for wanting to see that if I may ask?

    -David

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  15. Just curious, I guess. It's just that the kinds of things you discuss are so far from most of our churches' radar, I'm interested in how they responded.

    If you want to email me once it's posted, that'd be cool. j.stellman(at)comcast(dot)net.

    Cheers!

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  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  17. David,

    I'm also in a period of discernment about the Catholic (and Orthodox) Church, though I haven't stepped as far as you have towards Rome. I second Jason's desire to see what your session has to say in response, if they are alright with it being made public.
    You can email me at barukh2@gmail.com if you can post their response here.

    Pax Christi,

    Spencer

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  18. I'm not sure where you got your assessment of the Orthodox Church. From my (limited) understanding, they will hold a council (and I assume you mean ecumenical council, because regional councils certainly haven't ceased) when such time as heresy threatens the church in a way that a regional council cannot fully address it. I'm also not sure what you mean by it being "regional" or "not world-wide:" do you define catholicity by geography? It seems to me that catholicity is more about the apostolic faith and traditions spread out over time and space, not geographic (or political) power at any given time.

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  19. Orthodox Churches since the schism have never held and Ecumenical Council, have never claimed to have done so, and openly admit that they do not know the criteria for a council to be an Ecumenical one.

    God bless you and your family, David, from another electrical geek who God knew needed to have a sure beacon of truth to lead him.

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  20. David,

    I posted some comments of congratulation for you over at Called to Communion. Embarrassingly, partially due to my excitement at this news, I misread (and simply missed) a couple of things, which will become clear when you read my comments! (They're not terribly huge mistakes though.) Congratulations again, brother! It will be wonderful for both of us to be "Home" soon! :-)

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  21. To you and your family, David: Welcome! You have been united to us through baptism and we rejoice that you will soon be united to us in the eucharist. My wife swam the Tiber and reached the Roman shores this past Holy Saturday. The witness of adults joining us is a wonderful witness to us cradle Catholics. To borrow a line found in our ordination rituals: "May God, who began this good work in you, bring it to completion."

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  22. David,

    To much of what you said, I say amen! I have found myself asking the same questions, and seeking for the same answers.

    There was a third option you have yet to consider: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (The Mormons) I am a member of this church, and it provides the very foundation you are seeking for: a magisterium or the true authority of God to interprete scripture.

    Our belief is that God's ultimate authority died with the first apostles and had to be restored. This was done through the Prophet Joseph Smith. Today we have a prophet, as was the pattern of the entire Bible, and he has the authority to interprete scripture.

    I would be happy to answer any further questions that you may have.

    God Bless!

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  23. Welcome home!

    My husband and I both made the trek from PCA to the Catholic Church many years ago. I miss the great church we had there, but we had to follow what God was leading us to do.

    I pray that this time will be a blessing to you and your family!

    Another Catholic homeschooling mom..
    Ouiz

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  24. David and family, welcome home! I, too, am a convert, but from the Southern Baptist tradition. My conversion was simultaneously painful and delightful, filled with much agony and joy. It was the hardest thing I've ever done, and was the best thing I've ever done. My extended family (parents, sibling, aunts and uncles, etc.) are totally scandalized, though, and my wife and children are suffering for it (family has already missed our children's baptisms and our oldest's first communion). I hope and pray your path into the Church is much smoother than ours, but if you do run into the occasional obstacle, keep the faith!

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  25. Derek said, "We believe that the authority of Christ's Church died with the first apostles and that it had to be restored. "

    What kind of a Savior would let that happen? Would a Savior who promised,

    "lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age." Matthew 28:20.

    "And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, [17] even the Spirit of truth" John 14.

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  26. Dear David

    I will be praying for you. My husband and I came into full communion with the Catholic Church at Easter Vigil 2007. I was born and raised a Missouri Synod Lutheran. The Lutheran Church that I loved became ensconced in relativism. As a parent I searched for the truth and fell in love with God all over again.

    You will find things that don't make sense and you will find things that do make sense. It's okay. Just take it all in and let it soak.

    God Bless you and your family, LeAnn

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  27. To Mark

    To Mark.

    The loss of priesthood authority does not mean that God does not love us, nor that God has left us alone.

    There simply lacked the authority of God to definitively interprete scripture for everyone.

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  28. Welcome David!

    Like Larsen, I was Lutheran and left for similar reasons. Now that I have, I can't believe I took this long (Catholic now for 4.5 months). The Catholic Church claims correctly to have the fullness of the faith.

    May God bless you and your family as you continue your journey.

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  29. Sorry for the second post, but I forgot to mention that you may be interested in the conversion stories of others. I maintain a growing on-line database of those published in blogs. It is at called simply Convert Stories.

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  30. Dear David and Family,

    Eminent Protestant Professor, Dr. Carl Trueman (Westminster Theological Seminary, Historical Theology and Church History), advises his students each year:

    Christianity’s default position is the Roman Catholic Church.

    Rome has a better claim to historical continuity and institutional unity than any Protestant denomination, let alone the strange hybrid that is evangelicalism.

    Dr. Trueman’s bottom line:

    Unless you wake up every day knowing why you’re a Protestant, you should do the right thing and become Roman Catholic.

    http://www.monergism.com/directory/link_details/33607/What-should-a-theological-church-look-like-MP3/c-614/

    Welcome home to the “default position”!

    Pax Christi,

    Allan Schwarb
    PCA convert to Catholic Church (2007)

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  31. David and family, what a beautiful story of faith and willingness to follow God wherever He leads. We came home to the Catholic Church in 2007 and though it hasn't been easy, we've never looked back. You will find it is much bigger inside than out! God bless you and welcome home!

    Susan Hubbard

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  32. Orthodox Churches since the schism have never held and Ecumenical Council

    That is debatable, given the importance of 5th Constantinople. (Even 4th Constantinople, pre-schism, is very important. The 1848 Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs calls it the 8th Ecumenical council.)

    have never claimed to have done so
    But have they needed to?

    and openly admit that they do not know the criteria for a council to be an Ecumenical one.
    There are a couple different criteria that are popular, but to say that no criteria is known doesn't follow. Which patriarch has claimed that he does not know of a criteria? But even whether such criteria must necessarily be formalized, whether some a priori standard can immediately distinguish a true council from a robber council, is not something I would take for granted. Still less, whether the Orthodox Church has needed to have one since the schism. Truth is not determined by expectations.

    (Sorry if I'm hijacking things here.)

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  33. Hey, あじ

    If there's already been and 8th ecumenical council, why Eastern Orthodox Partriarchs were trying to have another 8th ecumenical council in the 2oth century ? <a href='http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/towards.aspx">LINK</a>

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  34. Hey, あじ

    If there's already been and 8th ecumenical council, why Eastern Orthodox Partriarchs were trying to have another 8th ecumenical council in the 2oth century ? LINK

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  35. Don't worry about hijacking. The main point for me was who decides if there is a disagreement. I can see a chain of authority in Catholicism that goes to one guy. That seems pretty obvious to me that that is vital. Also Adrian Fortescue's book on the early Papacy was influential. To be honest some of the passages made me blush to have remained protestant so long hearing the church fathers speak. The other big one was the universality requirement. I do not see how Orthodoxy deals with this problem in a serious way.

    The council question was further down the list of objections for me. Ironically the Filioque probably ranks 2 or 3! Catholics and Protestants have it right!

    -David M.

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  36. Mr. Meyer,

    Two corrections re: Orthodoxy.

    1. As a previous commentator indicated, regional councils haven't ceased. As for ecumenical councils, they continued past the schism. In fact, Orthodox are currently preparing for a pretty big and important council to deal with the possible reorganization of the Church in America.

    It's simply incorrect to say the Orthodox "can't" have another ecumenical council. It's been a while since such a council was called, sure, but the Orthodox haven't had an internal crisis of heresy to deal with in a while. Plus there was the distraction of the Ottomans, communists, etc.

    2. I think you're misunderstand the meaning of the world "katholikos" in the Creed. It doesn't mean universal in a geographic sense. According to Orthodox ecclesiology, every local Orthodox Church is catholic in that it contains the fullness of the Church. The Orthodox Church would not cease to be catholic if, somehow, only one tiny parish was left in all the world. It was not any less catholic when it was confined to one tiny corner of the Roman Empire.

    In any event, God bless you all.

    Peace,
    Steve

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  37. Steve,

    Thanks for your thoughtful response. Your point #1 is good. The most convincing thing to me would be to say that "they have not had a council because one was not needed, but they potentialy could." OK, that's possible. But the great schism itself shows what happens if we do not unite under a unifying head: bishops go into schism. I know this begs the question a bit, but that is my thinking, question begging or not. It makes sense to me that the mustard seed would need to fill the earth by this time in history. Know what I mean?

    We cannot separate the physical realities of the Kingdom of God (the Church) from the spiritual ones. The church must fill the whole earth. The Catholic church fills the whole earth.

    So for me it is:
    1. Primacy of a unifying Bishop. (See of Peter)
    2. Filioque issue shows Holy Spirit guiding the See of Peter.
    3. Universality.

    I thought about it, but any one of these issues by itself would be enough to stick with Rome, let alone all three. But hey, you have all 7 sacraments, that's cool.

    Peace,

    David M.

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  38. Point 1:

    I presume you think the See of Peter stretches back to Apostolic times. Yet the primacy of a unifying Bishop didn't prevent schism with the anti-Chalcedoneans, or with the Orthodox, or with the Protestants, etc.

    I would offer that a court of ultimate jurisdiction is more useful in the context of a state than a Church. In a state, sure, you need ultimate authority because it's ultimately a question of force and someone needs to be holding the biggest gun. But the Church is based on love and humility. It's not the presence of an ultimate authority that prevents schism, but rather love and humility. In other words, Church unity is a mystery, a gift of the Holy Spirit.

    From an Orthodox perspective, I don't fully appreciate your concern to be honest. We can point to many, many examples from Church history where literally a handful, if not less, supported Orthodoxy (St. Gregory the Theologian when he was Patriarch of Constantinople, St. Maximos the Confessor in the years before the 6th Ecumenical Council, St. Mark of Ephesus at Florence, etc.). Yet the Church is still united, and the Church is still one, because that's simply what the Holy Spirit does in the economy.

    Point 2:

    I'd be curious to hear your take on this issue as well. From an Orthodox perspective, the Filioque is incorrect both theologically (it represents an impersonal and therefore flawed view of the Trinity, it confuses the immanent and economic understandings of the Trinity, etc.) and ecclesiologically (it's an impermissible exercise of authority by one Bishop, it rejects prior ecumenical councils which expressed universal agreement that the Creed not be changed, etc.).

    Point 3:

    Again, with respect, I think you're misunderstanding universality. It's not that the Church fills the world, but rather than the Church takes the world and offers it to God. Each local Church is universal because it is Eucharistic, and each Eucharistic assembly is unversal and catholic because we mystically place the whole world into the bread and wine and God then returns the world to us transformed, divinized. Again, could an early Roman opponent of Christianity have accused the Church of not being universal when it appeared to be just a sub-cult within Judaism with membership largely confined to Palestine?

    Forgive me.

    Peace,
    Steve

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  39. David -

    There are far more of us converts from Protestatism than you would ever suspect and I dare say you will find submission to the Church and her teaching sweeter and more peaceful that you anticipate. I would encourage you to go forward and receive the blessing until you can receive Christ again - God is not limited in meeting us where we are.

    Welcome home - may you grace abound to you and you dig in deep to the riches of the Mother Church!

    Blessings,
    Wendy

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  40. Hi David,

    We interacted a bit on the Called to Communion website. I must say that I am saddened to hear that you have decided to join the Roman Church.

    I wanted to point out that you are inaccurate in your blog posting here. You wrote: “ When I have mentioned points of disagreement with the PCA everyone has said I could and should leave if it is a big deal to me.”

    I would kindly direct you to my postings at the Sola vs Solo CTC website (http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2009/11/solo-scriptura-sola-scriptura-and-the-question-of-interpretive-authority/) where in both comments 801 and 810, I stated very clearly that splitting from a church over the paedo-communion issue was wrong even though you called it “heresy” to deny paedo-communion (strong words).

    It seems to me that you require a level of assurance which is by sight and not by faith when it comes to the leading of the Church by the Holy Spirit. If Christ were visible on this earth and leading us with infallible decrees, things would be clear and easy for all. There is no principled difference between that and having a vicar with the same charism of infallibility. Now, this is a fact and not reasoned argument. The epistemological quandary all finite beings find themselves in is not limited to this issue of ecclesiology. All our knowledge is contingent and ultimately rests on some faith proposition of “authority”. This again is a philosophical reality and not peculiar to Church authority in any way.

    Herein lies the issue. Rome promises to sort out all the theological quandaries with infallible decrees. From there, every doctrine flows. If one has an infallible vicar, then submission is easy and it is arguably the highest virtue (not love). However, the Scripture commands us to submit to all earthly authorities as well (eg: government, wives to husbands etc.) Are those authorities infallible? Is it possible for a Christian to decline to submit if that authority has crossed a boundary which scandalizes the conscience of that person or contravenes a commandment of God? If so, then in your argument above, there is no such thing as true submission to any fallible earthly authority. Either an individual must always obey the state, or if disobedience is permitted at some point, then they are really only submitting when it suits them in which case it is not true submission in your view and therefore obeying the command that is given in Scripture would be ultimately impossible.

    In Christ,

    Zoltan

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  41. Dear David:

    I want to join all the others in saying, "Welcome Home." I am so encouraged by your story and the stories of the other commenters. How beautiful all of you are to the Church!

    My dad was a convert too (about 60 years ago) and today his faith is more important to him than ever. He is recovering from a stoke in a nursing home. He prays the Divine Mercy everyday and spends his suffering for the good of the whole body. I think that's one of the best things about being a Catholic. Everthing can be offered up to Christ for his bride :)
    Know that we are praying for you and hope you find a parish with good music ;)

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  42. David,

    Welcome to this side of the Tiber from a cradle Cath. I always admire the courage it takes to makesuch decisions (probably why God placed me here to begin with, since I am a chicken).

    Steve, you seem to be a bit inconsistent. On the one hand, you claim a court of ultimate authority is not necessary for theological matters, therefore a magisterium such as the Catholicone is unnecessary. Yet on the other hand, you seem to agree authoritative councils are needed to combat heresy when they arise (and presume you recongize the authority of at least some of the councils). An Ecumenical Council is just another form of a court of ultimate authority.

    So, does there need to be a final authority on matters theological and moral, or not? Just how bad does a heresy (or loss of moral direction) need to be before a council is justified? Do we need to wait 300 years between councils without any further moral or theoligical direction in the meantime, or should a council be called every 10 years or so to deal with important, but perhaps not completely Church shattering items (the issue of artificial contraception jumps to mind as one of them)?

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  43. Dear David,
    I am deeply troubled by your decision to leave Good Shepherd. The vows made by your daughters just a few months ago were made before God and before God's ordained minister and elders. Those vows were serious, just as serious as any vow made in the Roman Catholic Church. Those vows were real and binding and precious. Walking away from our church tells your girls that their vows were whimsical, temporary, and groundless. Your girls will conclude that Pastor Moon has no authority as an ordained minister and that our elders also do not represent God's authority over our lives.

    I also want to say that you are tearing your family away from its church family, the people who love you, took vows at your children's baptisms, grieved for you when you went through miscarriages, and celebrated when your girls were born. We are a family, and your leaving is a painful and sorrowful event.

    God is just as much present at Good Shepherd on Sunday morning as He is at the cathedral or the Vatican. We worship in spirit and truth. Isn't that good enough?

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  44. David,

    The note by Anonymous does raise a fundamental point in which you seem to be in contradiction. If you made vows to submit to the leadership of Good Shepherd, how is it that you now break those vows?

    It seems you can only do so by deciding in your mind that Good Shepherd is not a church in any sense yet you use the term church referring to that body and Josh Moon as "Pastor". Such terms cannot be applied. Moreover, your warm tone does not cover the fact that though you refer to those at your former church as brothers and sisters, your denial that they are a church cannot be taken in any way charitably.

    I urge you to re-read the posting by RC Sproul Jr that you linked to on this page which I think you have read defensively. He rightfully pointed out that Trent was a polemical council specifically convened to address the doctrines of the Reformation. In that historical context, it is denying in many places the Protestant doctrine of Justification calling those who believe in such as "anathema". How can this be believed by RC's who then turn around and refer to Protestants as brethren? That is inconsistent if we truly hold to damnable heresy.

    In Christ,

    Zoltan

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  45. David,

    You wrote: "That leaves two possibilities. Catholicism and Orthodoxy. Orthodoxy has stopped having church councils, would not be able to convene one if they wanted, and it can not claim the universality needed in the fourfold definition of the creed. (One, holy, catholic, Apostolic) because it is still largely a regional church and not world wide. Also there is no unifying head to resolve differences."

    I think this is demonstratably false. Even popular works like Ware's The Orthodox Church state that there is no reason in principle that the Orthoox could not have ecumenical councils. This is evidenced in replies of the Eastern Patriarches to the Popes in the 19th century as well as a good many other documents. Second,m plenty of councils that became ecumenical were all calld in the East, some without either papal paticipation or knowledge..

    Second, Katholikos refers to the faith according to the whole, particularly the principal and apostolic sees-with respect to the Petrine sees, there were three-Rome, Alexandria and Antioch with other sees such as Ephesus, Jerusalem or Thessaloniki. The church was katholikos when it was a handful of men and women at Pentacost. If we went by your standard, there was no katholkos church between the 11th century and the 16th prior to the discovery of the new world when Catholicism was limited to France, Germany, half of Italy, on and off England and some of the Nordic states.

    There certainly is a unifying head and that being an ecumenical council, which is why an ecumenical council was the standard of judgment that pre-schism popes had to pass as is evidenced by Leo's Tome. Chalcedon set up a special commission to make sure Leo's Tome matched the teach of Cyril, since Cyril's Christology was the unquestioned standard. It was because the council judged that Leo agreed with Cyril that Leo's Tome was accepted and not because of a thesis of Petrine primacy. Consequently, if Orthodoxy has no principle of unity, then none of the first seven ecumenical councils did either. (Besides, the Orthodox have ecumenical councils past the first seven btw.)

    So I'd challenge you here that I don't think you've taken the Orthodox position seriously or spent a fair amount of time studying it prior to making a decision between the two options.

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  46. "Orthodoxy has stopped having church councils, would not be able to convene one if they wanted,"

    Remember, the east called the council of 879, then the west agreed on its authoritative status and then... a few centuries later, the west reneged and decided the council of 870 was the 8th council and anathematised the council of 879 which previously both east and west agreed on. What is the point of the papacy supposedly being able to tell us which councils are the real deal, when any number of centuries later it might change its mind and anathematise the one you were following?

    Just because you think the west supposedly has a simpler answer doesn't mean it is the historically tenable answer.

    " and it can not claim the universality needed in the fourfold definition of the creed. (One, holy, catholic, Apostolic) because it is still largely a regional church and not world wide"

    Firstly, what a load of rubbish.

    Secondly was Rome not the One Holy Catholic Church when in 1054 it was the one and only patriarchate who went off on its own and was still basically a regional church?

    And what is a regional church anyway? Where exactly is Rome that Orthodoxy is not?

    "Also there is no unifying head to resolve differences."

    Again, a simple answer is not necessarily an historically tenable answer. Explain where the church always believed in consulting the one head to resolve differences. Then show us where your magesterium has listed all the instances of papal infallibility so that we don't get confused about churches teaching.

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  47. Welcome home, David and family. It took me nearly two years to join the Catholic Church after realizing that yes, one could indeed, become Roman Catholic.

    It was so heartbreaking not to be able to receive Christ in the Eucharist at Mass - but how sweet He was when I finally came into full communion with Rome.

    That was 22 years ago - and I am still learning more and more each day about what it means to have a very real, personal relationship with Jesus Christ in the very church He established.

    All praise and glory to God -

    Catholic Out Loud and loving it!

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  48. All -

    To be in the Catholic Church you must believe the Catholic Dogma.

    You have never seen the Dogma, not even once -- this is not by accident.

    We list the Dogma on Section 3 of Immaculata-one.com.

    Sections 5.1 and 9 have the Dogma and citations that you must believe the entire Faith to get to Heaven.

    Mike
    Our Lady of Conquest
    Pray for us

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  49. http://www.goodcatholicbooks.org/francis/catholic-controversy/church-mission.html#CHAPTER_I
    Zoltan and the Anonymous said:
    If you made vows to submit to the leadership of Good Shepherd, how is it that you now break those vowsI am deeply troubled by your decision to leave Good Shepherd. The vows made by your daughters just a few months ago were made before God and before God's ordained minister and elders. Those vows were serious, just as serious as any vow made in the Roman Catholic Church. Those vows were real and binding and precious. Walking away from our church tells your girls that their vows were whimsical, temporary, and groundless. Your girls will conclude that Pastor Moon has no authority as an ordained minister and that our elders also do not represent God's authority over our lives.

    I also want to say that you are tearing your family away from its church family, the people who love you, took vows at your children's baptisms, grieved for you when you went through miscarriages, and celebrated when your girls were born. We are a family, and your leaving is a painful and sorrowful event.
    This is just emotional, but still right, but David misses the great fellowship and the faithful teaching in the Good Shepherd, but when you read the forementioned reference from De Sales's book, you see that overall the reformed minister lack true authority, as derived from the appostles,who has received it from Christ. So then, what is the true value of vows and such? I know this argument does not exclude other reasons that a convert like David, can have for still joining the RCC, though is concerned to leave the church. His decision taken with full conscience does not make him feel bound by the vows.

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  50. A question for those who suppose that vows David made at Good Shepherd ought to prevent him from leaving there for the Catholic Church:

    Catholics are bound by oath to remain faithful Catholics as well. Since you say that David should stay at GS by reason of a vow, what would you say to the Catholic who wishes to join GS? Would you counsel him to remain Catholic? I will guess that the answer is no.

    With all due respect, you can’t have it both ways. If in your opinion a vow is sufficiently weighty by itself to require a man to remain in the place that you approve, but it has no weight by itself to require a man to remain in a place you disapprove, then it seems to me that the vow is not the issue. Isn’t that right?

    But if that is so, then it seems out of place for you to appeal to the vow when David is leaving GS.

    Fred

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  51. Regarding Orthodoxy and Ecumenical Councils,

    The statements I made about the Orthodox Church post-schism not holding ecumenical councils nor even knowing what the criterion is for them was directly out of (Orthodox bishop(?)) Ware's book on the Orthodox Church.

    It does no good to reference councils held before the schism because those were ecumenical councils of the Catholic Church--the bishops of the "East" and the "West" were not sundered, so from Orthodox and Catholic points of view today we would say that those councils were held by "the Church."

    In any event the schism must be healed--let us work toward reunion in our small way in our comments here, as Pope Benedict and the Orthodox patriarchs (and other bishops) work toward unity from the top down.

    God bless!

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  52. One more point on the criterion (criteria?) for a council to be Ecumenical. I have heard it put forth by both Orthodox and Protestants (a Presbyterian specifically) that the criterion for an Ecumenical Council is the ratification by all five patriarchs: Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandria, and Jerusalem.

    Firstly, if this is true then any Ecumenical Council needs Rome, so any council held by the Orthodox (so, 1054 AD or after) without the bishop of Rome's ratification cannot be Ecumenical. I know of no councils the Orthodox have held that the bishop of Rome ratified.

    Secondly, this criterion fails for other reasons. For one, there was no Patriarch of Constantinople in 325 AD. The See of Constantinople was subject to the metropolitan authority of Heraclea until 381.

    Further, Ephesus in 431 AD and Chalcedon a bit later cause insurmountable problems for this criterion as well because the Nestorius, the Patriarch of Constantinople and Dioscorus, the Patriarch of Alexandria, were condemned in those councils, respectively.

    In Christ,
    Devin

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  53. Remembering of course that Jerusalem also wasn't made a patriarchate till 451 either.

    As I already said, Rome ratified the Orthodox council of Constantinople in 879. And then some hundreds of years later they repudiated it.

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  54. For "Anonymous's" comment dated July 4, the point is simply this: David (as with most Protestants that I have heard of who jump to Rome) came to this decision as far as I can see, because of a crisis which occurred in his church when certain members separated from the PCA to form a CREC congregation. (In other words, emotion was involved and this is not a merely vulcan exercise.) This separation caused no mean stir apparently and David opined about this openly on the CTC about how these schismatic members shrugged off the vows that they took to submit to their elders based on private judgement.

    My point here is to illustrate how he is now also shrugging off vows that he made. In so doing, he contradicts himself by using private judgement and "intuition" as he previously wrote. His decision also seems to make his letter disingenuous when he refers to Good Shepherd as a Church and Josh Moon as a pastor. He could not possibly mean that despite his warm (emotional?) appeals in the last paragraph.

    So my challenge still stands and I have yet to hear a RC refute what I wrote on June 27. I would further add that what Rome has evolved to today and the principles she holds to regarding authority now were not apparent in the early church and the fact that we have an "apostolic Church" in Eastern Orthodoxy as a thorn in the papal side is witness to that reality. Church history clearly demonstrates that Rome did not hold supreme authority in calling or ratifying church councils. Moreover, when Devin Rose writes of Nestorius and Dioscorus, how is that different that the heresy of pope Honorius I?

    The harsh reality for all is that Church history is complicated and I believe the Holy Spirit leads in ways less obvious than people like David and other RC's wish. David correctly wrote that as an electronics technician, he is not qualified to be a theologian. Yes and Amen. He should not write PUBLIC confessions of faith. However, he will be held privately accountable to what he believed as we all will and it is wrong to assert that one must reject Horton to embrace Wilson when in fact these men probably agree on 95% of doctrines. That fact about how we are individually judged before the LORD, cannot be shrugged off by maintaining we were blindly following official orders and dogma.

    Church history shows that those who bought indulgences thought they were following church teaching in so doing. They were wrong but in their day, they had no way of "knowing" that apart from official church teaching which seemed to support it. Now we have the Scriptures available to all. Those who wish to abdicate any private judgement do so at their peril. We are told we are to exercise judgement now in lesser things as in the glorification of heaven, we will be called to judge angels (1 Cor 6:3). If we have not matured beyond the understanding of an electronics technician and merely follow any doctrine that is deemed official in a certain generation (subject to future revision of course), then I charge that this is infantile and regressive not to mention dangerous.

    In Christ,

    Zoltan

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  55. For "Anonymous's" comment dated July 4, the point is simply this: David (as with most Protestants that I have heard of who jump to Rome) came to this decision as far as I can see, because of a crisis which occurred in his church when certain members separated from the PCA to form a CREC congregation. (In other words, emotion was involved and this is not a merely vulcan exercise.) This separation caused no mean stir apparently and David opined about this openly on the CTC about how these schismatic members shrugged off the vows that they took to submit to their elders based on private judgement.

    My point here is to illustrate how he is now also shrugging off vows that he made. In so doing, he contradicts himself by using private judgement and "intuition" as he previously wrote. His decision also seems to make his letter disingenuous when he refers to Good Shepherd as a Church and Josh Moon as a pastor. He could not possibly mean that despite his warm (emotional?) appeals in the last paragraph.

    So my challenge still stands and I have yet to hear a RC refute what I wrote on June 27. I would further add that what Rome has evolved to today and the principles she holds to regarding authority now were not apparent in the early church and the fact that we have an "apostolic Church" in Eastern Orthodoxy as a thorn in the papal side is witness to that reality. Church history clearly demonstrates that Rome did not hold supreme authority in calling or ratifying church councils. Moreover, when Devin Rose writes of Nestorius and Dioscorus, how is that different that the heresy of pope Honorius I?

    The harsh reality for all is that Church history is complicated and I believe the Holy Spirit leads in ways less obvious than people like David and other RC's wish. David correctly wrote that as an electronics technician, he is not qualified to be a theologian. Yes and Amen. He should not write PUBLIC confessions of faith. However, he will be held privately accountable to what he believed as we all will and it is wrong to assert that one must reject Horton to embrace Wilson when in fact these men probably agree on 95% of doctrines. That fact about how we are individually judged before the LORD, cannot be shrugged off by maintaining we were blindly following official orders and dogma.

    Church history shows that those who bought indulgences thought they were following church teaching in so doing. They were wrong but in their day, they had no way of "knowing" that apart from official church teaching which seemed to support it. Now we have the Scriptures available to all. Those who wish to abdicate any private judgement do so at their peril. We are told we are to exercise judgement now in lesser things as in the glorification of heaven, we will be called to judge angels (1 Cor 6:3). If we have not matured beyond the understanding of an electronics technician and merely follow any doctrine that is deemed official in a certain generation (subject to future revision of course), then I charge that this is infantile and regressive not to mention dangerous.

    In Christ,

    Zoltan

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  56. So my challenge still stands and I have yet to hear a RC refute what I wrote on June 27.

    It is by no means clear to me what exactly the challenge is in your comment from that date, but I have attempted a reply here.

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  57. John,

    You wrote "As I already said, Rome ratified the Orthodox council of Constantinople in 879. And then some hundreds of years later they repudiated it."

    This is misleading and inaccurate. We cannot, in a combox on a blog, continue the debate over that council and Photius, but lest the readers think that your portrayal is undisputed, I will lay out the counter-claims:

    When St. Ignatius finally died, Photius re-ascended. Pope John VIII was besieged in every way, aiding in the fight against the Muslims in Spain and in Sicily, battling the rapacious Vikings from the north, dealing with feuding Frankish lords, and every other thing--the last thing that he needed was an ambitious and cunning patriarch of Constantinople, but that is what he got with Photius' return.

    This council you speak of was presided over by Photius in which he read letters from the Pope--but not the originals--rather he _rewrote_ the letters, removing the admonitions and demands for apology that the Pope made and changing them to pronounce the highest praise for himself. A shameful act. The papal legates there were most likely deceived--it is unclear whether they were well-versed in Greek in any event. So to speak of this council being ratified then un-ratified is simply specious.

    For the translation of the actual text of the Pope's original letter (in Latin) and Photius' rewritten version (in Greek), see Dvornik, "Photian Schism". I read my account from Carroll's History of Christendom series, volume II.

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  58. aquinasetc, I posted a response on your blog "awaiting moderation".

    I have also posted it on my blog because I think it is too long for this blog given the inclusion of your quotations.

    It can be found at: christosphile.wordpress.com

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  59. Do you see on P207 of Dvornik that John VIII agreed to everything done at Constantinople for Photius' rehabilitation, and on P206 where it says John knew of these alterations but was willing to overlook it? And do you see on P210 where it says acts of the council were carried out in handing over Bulgaria to the see of Rome?

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  60. John,

    Time presses for me, so last comment for now. I reference Dvornik's book for the text of the two letters--do you dispute that Photius changed the letter? Dvornik has his opinions about how the situation happened--that's fine, but his is not the only opinion, there are lots, which is why Carroll calls this an "endless debate."

    But what is the point of the debate? This council occurred centuries prior to the schism. gotta run

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  61. I don't see why I should even entertain the idea that Photius changed some letters to make himself look good since it has nothing to do with whether the West accepted the council. If the council wasn't accepted then the East West schism would have started around 879AD, but since it didn't...

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  62. John, you can entertain multiple ideas representing different events comprising the complex whole.

    The Pope, who was embattled on all sides, decided that the most prudent course was to accept the rehabilitation of Photius and preserve unity in spite of Photius' deceptive conduct.

    Here's an excerpt from the wikipedia article on the affair (note that the article seems to have a pro-Orthodox bias as a whole):

    "According to [Protestant historian] Philip Schaff, "To the Greek acts was afterwards added a (pretended) letter of Pope John VIII to Photius, declaring the Filioque to be an addition which is rejected by the church of Rome, and a blasphemy which must be abolished calmly, and by degrees."

    Whether the council was confirmed by Pope John VIII is also a matter of dispute: The council was held in the presence of papal legates, who approved of the proceedings, Roman Catholic historian Francis Dvornik argues that the Pope accepted the acts of the council and annulled those of the Council of 869-870. Other Roman Catholic historians, such as Warren Carroll, dispute this view, arguing that the pope rejected the council. Philipp Schaff opines that the Pope, deceived by his legates about the actual proceedings, first applauded the Emperor but later denounced the council."

    The pope can be conned, at least for some time, as has occurred occasionally over the course of history, but ultimately the power to endorse, ignore, or repudiate the canons of a particular council remain the pope's.

    John, your tone is combative and comes across as acrimonious. I would assume that we both desire the unity of our Churches as Christ prayed we would be perfectly one, in John 17. This will be my last reply to you, so feel free to have the last word, but I encourage you to let old grudges die so that Catholics and Orthodox can follow Christ to unity.

    In Christ,
    Devin

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  63. To anonymous: Thank you for responding to my letter! It means a lot to me. I could not post my lengthy response to you in this comment box so I made a new post. It is here:
    http://newchristendom.blogspot.com/2010/07/reply-to-anonymous-good-shepherd-member.html

    Thanks!

    -David

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  64. I'm always happy to welcome a fellow convert to the Catholic Church - however I know how difficult and bittersweet it can be - I will be praying for you and your family
    ---todd

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  65. c matt,

    Forgive me, I was away at camp for three weeks without internet access and see you posed a question for me, which may be of interest to other readers and commentators.

    I think we might differ as to what an Ecumenical Council is. Though the Church is conciliar, it is not democratic. Council are not designed to see which side has a majority. Truth is not determined by majority. Rather, a Council is a microcosm of the Church. It is a gathering of people, in love and humility, struggling to find the mind of the Church as originally preached by the Apostles and "traditioned" from generation to generation.

    Councils that we know regard as ecumenical were, of course, rejected in their own time. Sometimes, literally only one or two people in positions of authority were properly in the Church when heresies gained strength. That those councils were subsequently generally accepted is a testament to the Holy Spirit acting in the Church as Christ promised us.

    Councils are not courts of ultimate authority. The Supreme Court is not the US, it is a body within the US which makes. The CEO of a corporation, with ultimate authority, is not the corporation. No Bishop is the Church, insofar as no one person can be the Church (excepting Christ, as the Church is His Body). A Council is not just a gathering within the Church but should be the Church.

    These matters cannot be quantified. The Holy Spirit cannot be manipulated by our fidelity to process. The Church does not run on magic, with councils being ecumenical or not depending on the ingredients we add to them or on the precise prayers we read. These are deep mysteries because they concern the intersection of our freedom and God's freedom. Freedom, by its nature, cannot be quantified.

    As for how often councils should be called, thank God I'm not in position to call councils so I can't answer that question. I do know that local councils happen all the time. I also know that Orthodoxy is not preparing for a general council, though only time and prayer will tell if it is properly ecumenical.

    Forgive me.

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  66. David:

    I just read the reasons why you are leaving the PCA for the Roman Catholic Church. Let me tell you that you HAVE NOT solve the problem yet in making that decision. Your problem is essencially epistemological: you want to be sure that you are in the correct church.

    You argue against private judgments, but you are doing exactly the SAME THING: you are exercising your own decision(which is fallible) for something apparently INFALLIBLE (which by the way, IT IS NOT). So, I will pray that you reconsider your decision and ask Jesus to show you that Rome CANNOT give you the CERTAINTY you are looking for.

    Thank you and God bless you.

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  67. Daviel D'Paz,
    Thanks for your concern. You said my problem is one of epistemology which is true in the sense that that is everyone's problem. But it is untrue in this case. You are mistaking my desire to find the Church which Christ intended His people to belong to with a desire for epistemic certainty concerning the identity of that Church. The former should be the desire of all believers in Christ, the latter is not possible for anyone, including the Pope. So you have misconstrued my motives in choosing Catholicism. (no doubt because I explain myself poorly)
    My motive is not total epistemic certainty that I am part of the Church Christ founded or of the content of divine revelation. My motive is the same as (I assume) yours is; to find the Truth, wherever that search may lead. If you studied and found sola Scriptura to be self contradictory, and at the same time found Catholicism’s claims to be consistent and surprisingly true, what would you do Daviel? Would you admit you had been wrong and seek communion with Rome, or just stick with what you know to be false?
    So my “problem” is not a desire for epistemic certainty concerning the content of divine revelation. That can never be found by anyone this side of the veil. My problem was trying to at least see sola Scriptura as making some coherent sense. If it does not make sense, and is found to be self-contradictory then wouldn’t you agree it cannot be true? Should I hang on to a doctrine that is internally inconsistent? Why?
    I have spoken with and corresponded with a very many Protestants such as you who say I have not solved my problem by going to Rome. I have interacted with them as a fellow Protestant earnestly, honestly, sincerely wanting them to answer a single question which they cannot answer.
    I will ask it to you, and I suspect you also will not answer it.

    Here is the question: Within the sola Scriptura framework, how can I tell the difference between human opinion and divine revelation?

    If you (or anyone else) can answer my question I will become a Protestant again.
    I will include the definition of sola Scriptura that I used as a Protestant:

    “Scripture is the sole source of revelation, it is the final authoritative norm of doctrine and practice, it is to be interpreted in and by the church, and that it is to be interpreted according to the regula fidei.”

    Below I quote Brian Cross in his article about sola Scriptura. I realized this described me.

    “The indirect way of making oneself one’s own ultimate interpretive and magisterial authority is more complicated and subtle. In this case the individual, based upon his own interpretation of Scripture, either establishes or chooses an ecclesial community that conforms to his own interpretation in matters he considers to be essential or important. Then, he ’submits’ to this institution so long as it continues to speak and act in accordance with his own interpretation of Scripture. If it deviates from his own interpretation of Scripture in matters he deems important, he repeats the process of either establishing or choosing an institution or congregation that conforms to his own interpretation in matters he considers to be essential or important.”

    Does this or does this not describe you? Don’t point at anyone else yet. Does it describe YOU.

    Peace to you brother.

    David Meyer

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  68. The link to the article on sola Scriptura I mentioned is here. It is a devastating argument for anyone who chooses to listen to it.

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  69. great answer - you are already a great apologist :)
    Sola Scriptura is indeed the Achilles Heel of Protestantism, and it's what made me decide that I couldn't remain Protestant, but it took a while after that for me to realize what you did, that the Catholic Church is the only option
    ---todd

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  70. David,

    I am on a similar journey, after years of pious trappings in the Baptist faith, we started searching for a new home. We traveled through both Luther and Calvin and finally ended up in the Anglican faith. But we still had questions and though we loved the church we couldn't quite settle. Then we tried a Mass, 2 years ago I would have not even considered stepping into a Catholic church. We loved the service and the more I study, the more I feel God calling me to Rome. I'm still struggling with some of the doctrine, and it's going to take time.

    But I know it's the right decision...

    There are some great books out there for people who are converting and address a number of the issues head on.

    God Bless and Congratulations.

    P.S. And don't let others try and guilt you with legalism, you have to do what God is calling you to do. He isn't constrained by legal commitments, and whose to say your family is not fulfilling them to it's fullest by doing this.

    -Paul-

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  71. Hello, David.

    I came across these posts when my daughter sent me the link, and I didn't intend to comment, especially so many months after your initial post. But after reading the sincere comments left here, I've changed my mind.

    It takes great courage to study as you have and conclude that you are in the wrong place. May God bless you richly for that.

    I speak from experience. I grew up as a Protestant, but by my mid-teens I had questions my pastor could not answer.

    I drifted through several Protestant denominations in my twenties, and then I was approached by Mormon missionaries (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints), and found more truth there, I thought. I joined their organization and was very active for many years. But as one who is a compulsive learner, I also continued to study, and to think, and to pray. And to my shock and sorrow, I came face to face with that organization's errors. Because I did love so much about that organization and its people, the pain of that recognition was almost unbearable and humbling in the extreme. I knew that I could no longer support their teachings, and would have to leave. That meant upsetting friends and very close family members, and has caused lingering damage to those relationships, despite my continued love for them.

    In time, like you, after more study and prayer, I was led to Catholicism, where I will contentedly remain.

    My real point in writing is to simply say that we all learn much as did St. Paul. With God's grace, we slowly or suddenly awaken to rays of new light. We grasp and act upon what we can understand, truth by truth, growing in stages more aware of God's presence and love. The development of our faith in and knowledge of God is a difficult birth, I think, for most of us.

    My love goes out to you and your family as you begin this part of your journey home. And at the same time, my love goes out to those at Good Shepherd and the others who commented here. We are all working our way home to God. I love knowing that you are all out there, caring enough to want knowledge of God and discourse to help increase your faith! And what great joy to know that He loves each of us every step of the way on our journeys!

    His Peace and His blessings to you all.

    Cheryl

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  72. Thanks for that Cheryl!

    Your story is great. I am always amazed how many different roads to Rome there are! The "Journey Home" on EWTN is my favorite tv show for that reason.
    Mormons are certainly some great people, I am sure breaking those ties was hard. Thanks for the encouragement and for sharing!

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  73. So another soul rejects sola scriptura for sola ecclesia. The Apostle Paul prophesied that things such as this would come when he wrote; "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths."

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  74. Anonymous:
    First off, why are you anonymous?

    Second, I could quote the same scripture to you and say it refers to you. Because it does. Your itching ears have led you to reject Christ's Church for a religion of your own making. Quoting it might make you feel better, but it elicits a *yawn* from me. Try to explain yourself better perhaps.

    Third, you make it sound as if I rejected sola Scriptura and in doing so I rejected the faith. That really is a bit odd. It is Protestants who have wandered off the path and accepted a new doctrine like Paul warned against. Show me sola Scriptura in the Bible. You cant. I mean come on, the doctrine is self defeating. Show it to me in the early Church. Oops. not there either.

    It is you, my anonymous friend, who have strayed away from the Bishops of the Church Christ founded. As Peter said of Pauls writings (which you have quoted wrongly) in 2 Peter 3:16:

    "as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures."

    Let me ask you one simple question:

    In Luke 10:16 Jesus, our great God and Saviour said this concerning those He sent out to preach His gospel: "The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me."

    So my question is: How would you know if you have rejected the ones Christ sent? I mean, what would look different from that rejection of the true faith and your current situation.

    For me the answer is a no brainer: Apostolic succession. For you it cannot be answered without being totally subjective, which in that case does not answer the question. So please, go ahead and try to answer.

    Peace,

    David Meyer

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  75. Dear David;
    Just read of your conversion. God bless you. Advent will be even more wonderful this year as the mystery of the Incarnation is revealed through the beautiful liturgy of the Church.
    Russ Rentler, M.D
    Tiber Swim Team 2004
    www.crossedthetiber.com

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  76. Thanks Russ! I was just informed by my Priest yesterday that I will be recieved into the Church and my wife and I will be confirmed on the 19th of this month! I am preparing for my confession as well. So the time is fast aproaching.

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  77. Hi David,
    This response is regrettably very,very late in coming. Please forgive me for letting you and your family leave GSPC and first reading this very thoughtful post without responding. It's hard to believe that you have been gone since July.

    The reason I am writing now is that after another family has left for what I understand are reasons similar to yours, I wanted to read your post again to try to understand the issue.
    I'm not sure that I'm any closer to comprehending your decisions, but this I know: you love the Lord and did not make this decision lightly.

    My main question is how do you handle the many differences between Reformed and Catholic doctrines? I'm not being judgmental, I'm seriously wondering how this happens.

    God bless you and Bridget and the children as you continue to love and serve Him.

    Debbie S.

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  78. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  79. Debbie, thanks for commenting, I made a long reply so I did a whole post out of it.

    http://newchristendom.blogspot.com/2011/03/how-do-i-deal-with-catholicisms.html

    -David

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  80. Yesterday, on the Reformed site Beggars-all James Swan from the Alpha omega ministries, re-posted a piece he did on my letter to my Church. The original was from 16 months ago (July 2010), and I only saw it a few months ago(!) because he neglected to inform me he had written it. (I thought that was weird)

    Anyway, I commented in the beggars all combox (Alpha Omega has no comments) and I thought I would link to it for reference purposes. The first commenter brings up a on topic point about perspicuity and seems to genuinly want to understand where I am coming from.

    http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2011/11/reformed-tiber-swimmers.html

    Perhaps I will do a response to the original 7-1-10 article at some point.

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  81. I suppose in a perfect world, folks would change for only positive reasons. David Meyers (and his family's) is mixed. He writes that the origin is difficulty with folks leaving his Presbyterian church, lack of submission, etc. Maybe he will find positives in the Roman Church, and yet he acknowledges there are aspects of Roman Church he has criticized and will find difficult to accept when he converts: that is realistic. I find that the converts to Roman Catholicism like Thomas Storck (former everything & Episcopalian), Steve Ray (former Baptist)and others have the fantasy of perfect Rome and must mock, condemn others who do not accept as they accept. They advocate that Catholics marry only Catholics, and in Catholic states/countries, non-Catholics must follow Catholic rules or get out of the country. I pray David Meyers will be different, meaning that in leaving the Presbyterian church, he will understand that others can stay, continue to wish them well, and celebrate his conversion.

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  82. I suppose in a perfect world, folks would change for only positive reasons. David Meyers (and his family's) is mixed. He writes that the origin is difficulty with folks leaving his Presbyterian church, lack of submission, etc. Maybe he will find positives in the Roman Church, and yet he acknowledges there are aspects of Roman Church he has criticized and will find difficult to accept when he converts: that is realistic. I find that the converts to Roman Catholicism like Thomas Storck (former everything & Episcopalian), Steve Ray (former Baptist)and others have the fantasy of perfect Rome and must mock, condemn others who do not accept as they accept. They advocate that Catholics marry only Catholics, and in Catholic states/countries, non-Catholics must follow Catholic rules or get out of the country. I pray David Meyers will be different, meaning that in leaving the Presbyterian church, he will understand that others can stay, continue to wish them well, and celebrate his conversion.

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  83. Hi Mick,

    No need to talk in the third person, I am here and listening. ;-)

    Just to be clear, whatever issues made me start to question the truth of the Reformed system, only the truth of Catholicism induced me to convert. And I fully admit that many of those same issues are present in Catholicism. Both groups involve sinful men. But I did and do maintain that the Catholic Church has a definitive way of determining what is and is not of the apostolic faith. They might be wrong (for sake of argument), but at least they have it. Reformed theology does not even claim to have that.

    "...and others have the fantasy of perfect Rome and must mock, condemn others who do not accept as they accept."

    The Catholic Church is by no means perfect, because she is comprised of human beings, which are (with few exceptions) not perfect. But as we would both (I assume) say in the creed, the Church is holy. I have read much of both the men you cite, and I don't think either one is living in a fantasy world. I think they believe (as I do) that the Catholic Church is the Church Christ founded on this earth. That it is the one true Church. That is not arrogant if it is true. And we believe it is true.

    "They advocate that Catholics marry only Catholics..."

    What is your point here? When I was a Presbyterian, I only wanted my children to marry Calvinists... because I believed that was the truth. Even now, that seems to be a very reasonable expectation for your kids... that they marry within their faith. It doesnt mean they should be shunned or not loved if they dont do so, but there is nothing wrong with having that expectation. Many Protestants have that expectation (PARTICULARLY in regards to their children marrying specifically Catholics), so I find it odd that you single that out as a problem you have with the Catholics you mention.

    "I pray David Meyers will be different, meaning that in leaving the Presbyterian church, he will understand that others can stay, continue to wish them well, and celebrate his conversion."

    I realize that others can stay, and I certainly with them well. And in our current cultural climate (Minnesota just passed gay marriage) I feel more kinship with my conservative Calvinist former churchmates than the vast majority of Minnesotans.
    But slouching toward relativism (as I believe your comment does.. perhaps I misread you?) is not the answer. When I was a Presbyterian, I did not believe the Catholic Church led to salvation for Christians. I believed Catholics could be "saved" in spite of their Catholicism, and I tried to respect the positive and truthful aspects of their faith, while clearly rejecting what I saw as error. And certainly I would never have wanted one of my daughters to marry a Catholic. Anyone who understands the Reformation doctrine (sola Fide and Sola Scriptura) and (if true) its implications would never want their children to marry a Catholic, as they could only see that as dangerous to their childs faith.

    I pray for unity of Christians, and certainly we (all christians, including Catholics) are not doing enough to bring that about. But the first step has to be honesty about where we stand in relation to one another, and trying to find common ground. Having our children marry each other does not work towards that goal. Having a reasoned respectful conversation between adult adherents can work towards that goal however.

    I wish you nothing but the best Mick. If you would like to talk further I am game. Peace to you and yours!

    -David Meyer

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