Hvilke grunner kan føre en person til Den katolske kirke?

Francis Beckwith forlot Den katolske kirke, og noen av grunnene for det nevner jeg i denne posten. Her presenterer jeg noen grunnene til at han kom tilbake til Kirken. Han sier dette i et interessant intervju, som man kan lese her. Jeg syns det mest interessante er det han sier om rettferdiggjørelsen; er det det forensiske (å bli erklært rettferdig) eller det mer aktive effektive aspektet som er viktigst? Les vider selv:

I read Truth and Tolerance by Ratzinger and portions of his Introduction to Christianity. Out of curiosity, I picked up a book I saw while browsing the stacks at a local bookstore: David Currie, Born Fundamentalist, Born-Again Catholic. I was not entirely convinced by all his arguments, but he did raise some issues about the Church Fathers and the Catholic doctrines of the Eucharist and infant baptism that led me to more scholarly sources.

In early January 2007, I began reading the Early Church Fathers and the Catechism, focusing on the doctrines that I thought were key. I also read Mark Noll’s book, Is the Reformation Over?

This led me to read the “Joint Declaration on Justification” by Lutheran and Catholic scholars. While consulting these sources, I read portions of a book by my friends Norm Geisler and Ralph MacKenzie, Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and Differences. It is a fair-minded book. But some of the points that Norm and Ralph made really shook me up and were instrumental in facilitating my return to the Church.

– What was their take on the issue you had just read about, justification?

For example, in their section on salvation, they write: “Although the forensic aspect of justification stressed by Reformation theology is scarcely found prior to the Reformation, there is continuity between medieval Catholicism and the Reformers”. Then when I read the Fathers, those closest to the Apostles, the Reformation doctrine was just not there.

To be sure, salvation by grace was there. To be sure, the necessity of faith was there. And to be sure, our works apart from God’s grace was decried. But what was present was a profound understanding of how saving faith was not a singular event that took place “on a Wednesday,” to quote a famous Gospel song, but that it was the grace of God working through me as I acquiesced to God’s spirit to allow his grace to shape and mold my character so that I may be conformed to the image of Christ. I also found it in the Catechism.

There was an aesthetic aspect to this well: The Catholic view of justification elegantly tied together James and Paul and the teachings of Jesus that put a premium on a believer’s faithful practice of Christian charity. Catholicism does not teach “works righteousness.” It teaches faith in action as a manifestation of God’s grace in one’s life. That’s why Abraham’s faith results in righteousness only when he attempts to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice to God.

Then I read the Council of Trent, which some Protestant friends had suggested I do. What I found was shocking. I found a document that had been nearly universally misrepresented by many Protestants, including some friends. I do not believe, however, that the misrepresentation is the result of purposeful deception. But rather, it is the result of reading Trent with Protestant assumptions and without a charitable disposition.

For example, Trent talks about the four causes of justification, which correspond somewhat to Aristotle’s four causes. None of these causes is the work of the individual Christian. For, according to Trent, God’s grace does all the work. However, Trent does condemn “faith alone,” but what it means is mere intellectual assent without allowing God’s grace to be manifested in one’s actions and communion with the Church. This is why Trent also condemns justification by works.

I am convinced that the typical “Council of Trent” rant found on anti-Catholic websites is the Protestant equivalent of the secular urban legend that everyone prior to Columbus believed in a flat earth.

– You dug even further back than Trent, though.

I returned again to the Fathers and found in them, very early on, [confirming] the Real Presence, infant baptism and apostolic succession, as well as other “Catholic” doctrines. Even in the cases where these doctrines were not articulated in their contemporary formulations, their primitive versions were surely there.

But what was shocking to me is that one never finds in the Fathers’ claims that these doctrines are “unbiblical” or “apostate” or “not Christian,” as one finds in contemporary anti-Catholic fundamentalist literature. So, at worst, I thought, the Catholic doctrines were considered legitimate options early on in Church history by the men who were discipled by the apostles and/or the apostles’ disciples.
At best, the Catholic doctrines are part of the deposit of faith passed on to the successors of the apostles and preserved by the teaching authority of the Catholic Church. At this point, I thought, if I reject the Catholic Church, there is good reason for one to believe I am rejecting the Church that Christ himself established. That’s not a risk I was willing to take.

After all, if I return to the Church and participate in the sacraments, I lose nothing, since I would still be a follower of Jesus and believe everything that the catholic creeds teach, as I have always believed. But if the Church is right about itself and the sacraments, I acquire graces I would have not otherwise received.

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