Book Critique of Return to ROME by Dr. Francis J. Beckwith

Return to ROME
By Francis J. Beckwith

7 – Evangelical and Catholic

Page 119: Soon after my resignation my colleagues on the ETS executive committee issued a press release. It was a gracious and charitable statement that offered to its membership and the wider Christian world an argument as to why a Catholic could not be a member, let alone the president, of ETS. My friends on the committee were more than generous in their comments about my performance as 2006 program chair, as well as my academic work and its contributions to the church universal. I was deeply moved by this, and consider myself blessed to have served with men of such exceptional gifts and Christian charity.
Note: Is Rome filled with the idols of Catholicism?
Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols. Acts 17:16

Page 121: The ETS doctrinal statement assets more than just a view of scripture. It also makes a claim about the nature of the Deity, that “God is a Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each an uncreated person, one in essence, equal in power and glory.” But this claim and all the rich metaphysical ideas it imports without attribution from the victorious side of the intra-Christian debates of the fourth century that resulted in the Nicene Creed – “person,” “one in essence,” “equal in power and glory” – are not explicitly stated in the inerrant Bible that the ETS maintains is alone the Word of God. Assuming that the ETS believes that its formulation of is an item of revelation, theological knowledge that one could not have arrived at without God’s having chosen to reveal it. For this formulation is not a deliverance of natural theology, something that one could discover with unaided natural reason. But this would mean that ETS accepts “a more expansive view of verbal, infallible revelation,” which puts ETS in precisely the same position it attributes to the Catholic Church.
Note: Does Dr. Francis J. Beckwith know that God is the creator?
Psalm 100:3 Know that YHWH, He is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture. (Father)
John 1:3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. (Son)
Psalm 104:30 You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; and You renew the face of the earth. (Holy Spirit)
Genesis 1:26 Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit)

Pages 121-122: Suppose, however, the ETS denies that its formulation of the Trinity is theological knowledge, asserting that it is merely the organization’s belief – take it or leave it. But that doesn’t seem right, since the first half of the doctrinal statement (the ETS view of scripture) is claimed by its proponents as a true description of the nature of the Bible. Its proponents do not merely maintain that this belief is “their tradition,” which they believe those outside of that tradition are not required to embrace. Rather, they actually believe their doctrine of scripture is true and that others ought to believe it as well. So, it seems fair to say that the Trinity formulation is on par with the ETS view of scripture.
Note: Does Dr. Francis J. Beckwith know that God is eternal?
Romans 16:26 but now has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith, (Father)
Micah 5:2 But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. (Son)
Hebrews 9:14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Holy Spirit)

Page 122: First, although no one doubts that the founders of ETS had the Protestant canon in mind when they used the word “Bible,” they were sophisticated enough to know that most Christians in the world, both East and West, belong to communions that accept the Catholic canon, which is the canon recognized by the local councils of Hippo (AD 393) and Carthage III (AD 397). Although some individuals in the Church raised questions about whether the deutero-canonical books should be included in the biblical canon, no synod, council, or body within Western or Eastern Christendom explicitly rejected these books as non-canonical prior to the Reformers doing so in the sixteenth century.
Note: Why did the dark-age Catholic Church include extra books?
Deuterocanonical books is a term used since the 16th century in the Catholic Church and Eastern Christianity to describe certain books and passages of the Christian Old Testament that are not part of the current Hebrew Bible. The term is used in contrast to the protocanonical books, which are contained in the Hebrew Bible. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.
Note: Does Dr. Francis J. Beckwith know that Judith is a fictional book?

Page 123: Second, at the 2006 meeting, while I was serving as President-Elect, the membership passed a resolution that added this statement to the bylaws: “For the purpose of advising members regarding the intent and meaning of the reference to biblical inerrancy in the ETS Doctrinal Basis, the Society refers members to the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy not only does not provide a list of canonical books, it states that “it appears that the Old Testament canon had been fixed by the time of Jesus. The New Testament canon is likewise now closed, inasmuch as no new apostolic witness to the historical Christ can now be borne.”
Note: Why did the dark-age Catholic Church include extra books?
The Westminster Confession of Faith, a Calvinist document that serves as a systematic summary of doctrine for the Church of Scotland and Presbyterian churches worldwide, recognizes only the sixty-six books of the Protestant canon as authentic Scripture. Chapter 1, Article 3 of the Confession reads: "The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the Canon of Scripture; and therefore are of no authority in the Church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings." Wikipedia Encyclopedia.
Note: Does Dr. Francis J. Beckwith know that Judith is a fictional book?

Pages 123-124: Third, because the list of canonical books is itself not found in scripture – as one can find the Ten Commandments or the names of Christ’s Apostles – any such list, whether Protestant or Catholic, would be an item of extra-biblical theological knowledge. Take for example a portion of the revised and expanded ETS statement of faith suggested by the two ETS members following my return to the Catholic Church. It states that “this written word of God consists of the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments and is the supreme authority in all matters of belief and behavior.” But the belief that the Bible consists only of 66 books is not a claim of scripture – since one cannot find the list in it – but a claim about scripture as a whole.
Note: Why did the dark-age Catholic Church include extra books?
Judaism and most Protestant versions of the Bible exclude these books. It is commonly said that Judaism officially excluded the deuterocanonicals and the additional Greek texts listed here from their Scripture in the Council of Jamnia (c.70-90 AD). Wikipedia Encyclopedia.
Note: Does Dr. Francis J. Beckwith know that Judith is a fictional book?

Page 124: Thus, if the list of canonical books and the ETS statement as a whole (the statement on scripture and the statement on the Trinity) are themselves items of inerrant theological knowledge – which the ETS must accept in order to ward off the charge of incoherency – then, again, the ETS accepts “a more expansive view of verbal, infallible revelation” than the ETS claims to accept. For this means that the ETS, according to the executive committee’s letter, requires that its members accept at least three truths as items of theological knowledge, the first two of which are clearly extra-biblical: (1) the list of canonical books, (2) its formulation of the doctrine of the Trinity, and (3) the statement on biblical inerrancy.
Note: Does Dr. Francis J. Beckwith know that God is omnipresent?
Jeremiah 23:24 "Can anyone hide himself in secret places, so I shall not see Him?" says YHWH; " Do I not fill heaven and earth?" says YHWH. (Father)
Matthew 28:20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen. (Son)
Psalm 139:7 Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? (Holy Spirit)

Pages 124-125: In the Second Vatican Council’s 1965 Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Dei Verbum, the Catholic Church affirms, just as the ETS affirms, that the Bible is God’s inerrant word written. The inerrancy of scripture was also affirmed in 1870 by the First Vatican Council: These books (of the Old and New Testament) the Church holds to be sacred and canonical not because she subsequently approved them by her authority after they had been composed by unaided human skill, nor simply because they contain revelation without error, but because, being written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author, and were as such committed to the Church.
Note: God is not the author of error.
The Book of Judith is a deuterocanonical book, included in the Septuagint and the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christian Old Testament of the Bible, but excluded from Jewish texts and assigned by Protestants to the Apocrypha. The book contains numerous historical anachronisms, which is why many scholars now accept it as non-historical; it has been considered a parable or perhaps the first historical novel. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.
Note: Why does the Magesterium continually confirm fictional error?

Page 124: According to the Church, the Bible itself, though infallible, arose from the life of the Church, in its liturgical practices and theological reflections. It is a source of theological truth, to be sure, and uniquely the Word of God written. But the Church maintains, quite sensibly, that the Bible cannot be read in isolation from the historic Church and the practices that were developing alongside the Church’s creeds – creeds that became permanent benchmarks or orthodoxy during the same eras in which the canon of scripture itself was finally fixed. So, for the Catholic, the Magesterium and the Papacy are limited by both scripture and a particular understanding of Christian doctrine, forged by centuries of debate and reflection, and, in many cases, fixed by ecumenical councils. Consequently, the Catholic Church and its leadership are far more constrained from doctrinal innovation than either the ETS or the typical Evangelical megachurch pastor.
Note: The Catholic magisterium has changed like shifting sands over time.
The debate concerning the Magisterium, papal primacy and infallibility, and the authority to teach in general has not lessened since the official declaration of the doctrines. Instead, the Church has faced contrary arguments; at one end there are those with the tendency to regard even technically non-binding papal encyclicals as infallible statements and, at the other, are those who refuse to accept in any sense controversial encyclicals such as Humanae Vitae and who consider the dogma of papal infallibility to be itself a fallible pronouncement. The situation is complicated by changing attitudes toward authority in an increasingly democratic world, the new importance placed on academic freedom, and new means of knowledge and communication. In addition, the authority of theologians is being revisited, with theologians pushing past the structures laid out for them by Pius XII and Paul VI and regarding themselves purely as academics, not in the service of any institution. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.

Page 126: What’s more, Augustine, whose genius helped rid the Church of the Pelagian and semi-Pelagian heresies, would not be welcomed in ETS or as a faculty member at virtually any evangelical seminary, because the Bishop of Hippo accepted the deutero-canonical books as part of the Old Testament canon, the deposit of sacred tradition, apostolic succession, the gracious efficacy of the sacraments, the Real Presence of the Eucharist, baptismal regeneration, and the infusion of God’s grace for justification.
Note: Augustine allegorized Scripture after Rome fell to the barbarians.
Augustine originally believed in premillennialism, namely that Christ would establish a literal 1,000-year kingdom prior to the general resurrection, but later rejected the belief, viewing it as carnal. He was the first theologian to expound a systematic doctrine of amillennialism, although some theologians and Christian historians believe his position was closer to that of modern postmillennialists. The mediaeval Catholic church built its system of eschatology on Augustinian amillennialism, where Christ rules the earth spiritually through his triumphant church. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.

Page 127: As post-Vatican II Catholicism has become more attentive to scripture, precisely because of its willingness to take Protestantism more seriously than in the past, early twenty-first century Evangelical Protestantism has become more aware of the debt it owes to the Catholic and Orthodox traditions in which and from which creedal Christianity developed alongside of and in relationship with the formation of the canon of scripture. Evangelical Protestantism’s increasing appreciation of these traditions is most evident in the growing scholarship in patristic studies and medieval Christian philosophy, the expanding interest in the spiritual disciplines and contemplative prayer by thinkers like Dallas Willard and J.P. Moreland, and the rising though selective incorporation of high church liturgical practices in the Emergent Church movement as well as by some low church Protestant congregations.
Note: Saint Paul would not recognize the Catholic Church as being Christian.
Now concerning things offered to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies. And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him. 1 Corinthians 8:1-3.
Note: How many Catholics offer praise and prayers to their idol statues?

Page 128: At the end of the day, I am an Evangelical Catholic because I believe in the Evangel, the Gospel, the Good News, and that it is a gift of God that ought to be embraced and lived by everyone. As an Evangelical, indeed as a Christian, I have an obligation to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. I am Catholic insofar as I believe that the Church is universal and that its continuity is maintained through history by the whole of its membership, the Body of Christ, and not merely as a collection of isolated individuals in personal relationship with Jesus. I also believe that this Catholic Church is under the direction of the Holy Spirit working through the Church’s Magisterium, the Apostles’ successors.
Note: Why did the Catholic Church promote and build on the Mariology heresy?
The council of Ephesus also approved the creation of icons bearing the images of the Virgin and Child. Devotion to Mary was, however, already widespread before this point, reflected in the fresco depictions of Mother and Child in the Roman catacombs. The early Church Fathers saw Mary as the "new Eve" who said "yes" to God as Eve had said no. Mary, as the first Christian Saint and Mother of Jesus, was deemed to be a compassionate mediator between suffering mankind and her son, Jesus, who was seen as King and Judge. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.
Note: Saint Paul never mentioned Mary in all of his epistles.

Page 129: Although it may be difficult to detect from much of what I have written in this book, my return to the Catholic Church had as much to do with a yearning for a deeper spiritual life as it did with theological reasoning. Since becoming Catholic, I have become much more prayerful, I read the Bible far more often, and I am increasing more aware and appreciative of the grace God has given me to live a virtuous life. I sometimes find myself silently praying a “Hail Mary” or an “Our Father” while driving or working out. I am not averse to asking particular saints to pray for me, or to recite the prayers of some of my favorite saints, such as Thomas Aquinas. When doing this I gain a greater sense of that of which I am a part, the wonderful Body of Christ that transcends time, space, and death itself. Since becoming Catholic I have participated in such practices as praying the rosary and praying the Stations of the Cross. These practices are rich and good, but the sacrament of reconciliation (or confession) has been the most liberating aspect of my Catholic experience so far. Although many Catholics acquire a deeper walk with God through the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, I have found confession to be the place in which I experience the gratuitous charity of our Lord at its fullest.
Note: Saint Paul would not recognize the Catholic Church as being Christian.
And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of  human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:1-5.
Note: Will you return to Jesus Christ or remain in the idols of Catholicism?