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1991 Issue 2

It has recently come to our attention that there have been several ministers from conservative Presbyterian churches, who have gone into the Roman Catholic Church or into the Greek Orthodox Church. It seems irrational for anyone who is knowledgeable of the Reformation and the Reformed Faith wanting to go to Rome.

The Reformation began with the rediscovery of the Bible by the Reformers. They then rediscovered the Gospel of the Bible, namely, justification by faith alone. For one to abandon this understanding of the Gospel for the perverted message of Rome defies understanding. For a person to make such a move indicates that he has never embraced Jesus Christ as He is presented in the Gospel as taught in the books of Romans and Galatians.

America is in the midst of the most serious spiritual declension in her history, and it is affecting every aspect of our life and society. We have changed gods. And our new gods are failing us, and we are experiencing worsening consequences. When did this decline begin? Ten years ago? Fifty years ago? When did Israel's decline begin, which eventually led to her destruction at the hands of the Babylonians? Jeremiah gives us the answer: (Jer.32:31-33).

ANTITHESIS: A REVIEW OF CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIAN THOUGHT AND CULTURE claims to be "the new vanguard of Christian thought and culture," and I agree that it is. I know of no periodical superior to it. But what else would you expect from a publication so closely identified with Greg Bahnsen!

Most of the sixty pages of the September/October 1990 issue of ANTITHESIS dealt with "Reflections on Roman Catholicism." The most important articles in this issue were:

"Romeward Bound: Evaluating Why Protestants Convert to Catholicism" by David Hagopian.
"New Confusions for Old: Rome and Justification" by Roger Wagner
"Enduring Anathemas of the Roman Catholic Eucharist" by Douglas Jones
"The Concept and Importance of Canonicity" by Greg Bahnsen
"Issue and Interchange: Does Scripture Teach SOLA SCRIPTURA?" by Douglas Jones

This fresh, up-to-date, and intellectually vigorous critique of the fundamental errors of Roman Catholicism is thoroughly biblical, sensitive, persuasive, entertaining, and easy-to-read. The reason for this critical reflection on Roman Catholicism's doctrines of justification, the Lord's Supper, and the canonical authority of the Bible is the recent defection of several Presbyterian ministers to Roman Catholicism. Each of these articles is written with clarity and scholarship. Each reveals the author's thorough, familiarity with his subject and his total commitment to the finality of Biblical authority.

If space allowed we would print the entire six pages of this important article. The sections we must omit are the first three pages on historical background and the last page on the "fulfillment" of prophecy. The heart of the article is reprinted here with permission. The complete article is so important, that I recommend you purchase it for yourself.

The concern of the article is this: since the Protestant Reformation of the Sixteenth Century there have been drifts in Protestantism back to the unbiblical emphases of Roman Catholicism. Robbins begins his article with these words: "The sixteenth century rediscovery of the Bible's objective message of justification by faith alone invaded the consciousness of men with divine power and changed the course of history. The Protestant movement was founded upon a restoration of the primacy, supremacy and all-sufficiency of the Bible and justification by faith."

The nailing of Luther's ninety-five theses to the Church door in Wittenburg on October 31st, 1517 was the event that more than any other event marks the inception of the movement called the Protestant Reformation. It is well that we should celebrate that event (cf. Psalm 77: 11). If we are to honour God, our remembrance will proceed from profound gratitude to him for the light that shone in the midst of darkness, and for the emancipation that occurred when the Reformers were cut loose from shackles of superstition and idolatry.

What was the light that arose in darkness? What is the heritage the Reformation has bequeathed? The issues at stake were not questions removed from the deepest and highest interests of men. They were issues that concern the human soul in its relation to God and ultimate destiny. They were intensely religious. I am going to focus attention on two of these.

All of Loraine Boettner's books are helpful to Christians who are seeking to understand the great truths of Biblical, Reformed Christianity. Writing as a Christian layman, his books are some of the most readable in my entire library. His book, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, transformed my life and my preaching.

Boettner's book, Roman Catholicism, is no less important. It is the clearest and most thorough critique of the teachings of Roman Catholicism from a Reformed Christian perspective that I know of. I earnestly pray that these "tastes" of this book will only whet your appetite to buy the book and "devour" the whole thing.

Roman Catholics differ a great deal one from another. And the Roman Catholic Church is quite different in Ireland from what it is in Holland or the U.S. But in spite of these differences there is a specific kind of religious tension in most Roman Catholics: The typical Roman Catholic is unsure of grace.

This may come as a surprise to some. Traditional Roman Catholicism has been given over almost entirely to structuring, rationalizing, and preparing for grace. This is what Thomas Aquinas is all about.

Two of the greatest proponents of Biblical, Reformed Christianity in the Twentieth Century were Benjamin B. Warfield and D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, both of whom, as would be expected, had pronounced views on Roman Catholicism. In fact, both of them wrote on the subject. This article is only an abbreviation and summary of their comments, with the hope that the reader will obtain their works and read them for themselves. The two works drawn from here are Warfield's book, THE PLAN OF SALVATION, (Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. CO., 1955, Grand Rapids, Mich.), especially chapter III, entitled, "Sacerdotalism," and Lloyd-Jones article, ROMAN CATHOLICISM, (THE TRINITY REVIEW, March/April 1985, Number 42, The Triniry Foundation, PO Box 169, Jefferson, Md.).

Spurgeon's tabernacle, on "London Road," south of the Thames and Westminster Abbey, may fairly stand as the representative of "Anglicanism" and "Dissent" in England. Around the former more Protestant influences are centered than around any other non-established place of worship. The latter is the Mecca of English Episcopacy; more even than St. Paul's, the virtual cathedral of the metropolitan diocese, because in the heart of the inhabited city, and beside the "Palace of Parliament," or, as we should call them, the "capitol buildings" of the Empire. Westminster is, moreover, a fair type of Anglicanism, because its "Moderate" and "Broad Church" Dean Dr. Stanley, keeps out the excesses of ritualism, and directs his worship along those medium lines acceptable to the average churchman. It is proposed to let the experiences of an attentive observer on the same Sabbath, as he passed from the one to the other sanctuary, tell their story plainly and simply, touching the two types of Christianity.