Perhaps Jason Stellman Can Feel Our Incredulity

It has to be one of the longest discussions in blog history (following an unbelievably long post — doesn’t Bryan Cross know the difference between a blog and a theological quarterly). The comments totaled over 1,100 though the word count has to be in the millions. Meanwhile, comments kept going for almost 18 months. The target was sola scriptura and the arrows were the standard CTC assertions about the magisterium, papal infallibility, tradition, and THE church. But inside those comments were several poignant remarks made by none other than Jason Stellman. Here is one exchange on the Protestant’s decision to join a communion and the Roman Catholic convert’s decision to cross the Tiber and whether both are examples of private judgment:

Stellman: Thanks for the interaction, it is helpful.

We necessarily make use of private judgment in the discovery of divine authority. But once we discover that divine authority, we subordinate our own judgments to it. That’s true for Protestants and Catholics alike. The fundamental point of difference between Catholics and Protestants is that the Catholic believes he has found living divine authority in those having the succession from the Apostles, and a Sacred Tradition from the Apostles and a written form of the Word of God as the Bible, while the Protestant would not claim to have found the first two, but only the latter.

But all that says is that the fundamental difference between a Catholic and a Protestant is that the former believes Catholic theology, while the latter doesn’t. I mean, if we’re both using our deliberative faculties, but you come to believe in the Magisterium and I do not, then I still fail to see why you get to slap yourself on the back.

If we both went to Baskin Robbins and surveyed their 31 flavors, and I chose vanilla (hey, I’m Presbyterian, remember?) and you chose Rocky Road (no hidden meaning there), we can debate the merits (ahem) of our respective choices, but I don’t see how either of us is more a company man while the latter is maverick.

Now of course, if you vow from that moment on to eat Rocky Road forever, even if they tinker with the recipe in a way that makes you a bit uncomfortable, and I make no such vow, THEN you can say that you’re a more submissive guy and I’m more of a rogue.

Now swinging back to the point under discussion, I completely agree with you that you are more submitted to your church than I am to mine. But it’s not like we both “discovered the Church’s divine authority” but I alone rejected it. No, you believe you discovered it by means of your own personal study, while my own personal study yielded a different conclusion. So the difference between you (a Catholic) and me (a Protestant) is that you adhere to Catholic theology, while I do not. And likewise, the difference between me (a Presbyterian) and James White (a Baptist) is that I adhere to Presbyterian theology while he does not.

Yes, James White and I each reached our conclusions through private judgment, but so did you.

Bryan Cross: No, that’s not all it says. Your redescription of what I said reductively eliminates some of the relevant content of what I said. I’m not simply saying that the Protestant believes Protestant theology, and the Catholic believes Catholic theology. The person becoming Catholic does not just come to believe a theology; he discovers a living divinely-appointed authority, and that discovery then shapes his theology. The person becoming Protestant does not discover such a thing, and so remains his own ultimate interpretive authority in shaping his theology. This difference has nothing to do with back-slapping; it is simply the reason why the Catholic is not subject to the tu quoque objection, in response to our argument that there is no principled difference between sola scriptura and solo scriptura with respect to the holder of ultimate interpretive authority.

In the peace of Christ,

Stellman’s frustration is rising.

Stellman (in response to another Roman Catholic): I think I need to just give up, because we’ve been talking about this for over a year and I still can’t see your point.

You say that “The Catholic is Catholic [not because he believes Catholic theology, but] because he believes it is the visible Church vested with the authority of Christ and graced with divine revelation and preserved from error.” But isn’t the belief that “the visible Church is vested with the authority of Christ and graced with divine revelation and preserved from error” itself Catholic theology? Isn’t that the WHOLE ISSUE that we disagree on?

So when you say that “the Catholic believes Catholic theology because he is a Catholic,” I scratch my head in bewilderment. As Bryan has repeatedly said, the convert to Rome doesn’t surrender private interpretive judgment until he has joined the church, but uses it in order to “discover a living divinely-appointed authority, and that discovery then shapes his theology.” So at the most crucial stage in the game, namely, when you are reading the Scriptures and the fathers about apostolic succession and weighing all the evidence against the Protestantism that you are now beginning to doubt, you are admittedly not yet submitted to Rome, but are still in the deliberative, investigative stage. Now regardless of which road you take (to Rome or Geneva), the decision you make is NOT made out of deference to a Magisterium, since you’re not yet convinced of its authority. Sure, once you are, you bow to it. But first you must make that determination, that “discovery.” So my question is, what constitutes it a “discovery” (which is good) rather than a something you reject? It can’t be the case that you come to believe that the Magisterium is the Magisterium because it says it is (else I’ve got a bridge to sell you). And it has already been stated that it’s not a leap into the dark. So the only other option that I can see is that you came to believe that the Magisterium demands your submission because you weighed the evidence and found it satisfactory and in accord with your private interpretation of the facts as you understand them.

So putting aside the differences between us once we’ve chosen our road (since I’ve admitted that you’re way more submitted to your church than I am to mine), I see no difference between the way we each come to make our respective decisions.

Please tell me what I’m missing, because it seems that you are every bit as subject to the tu quoque objection as we are.

I could add a few more, but I think these exchanges show that the disbelief expressed here at Old Life with CTC was once the possession of Jason Stellman. He even introduced the phrase “bragging rights” to suggest how CTC came across with their all right, all Rome, all the time arguments:

My only point in all of this has been that you guys lose all bragging rights (for lack of a better term) when you concede that at the most crucial moment—deciding that Rome’s Magisterial authority is in fact Christ’s authority—you are relying on private judgment every bit as much as I was when I finally embraced TULIP.

And it did not end there. Jason much later, over a year, brought up a few reservations about the bodily assumption of Mary and Rome’s claim to add nothing to the “deposit of faith”:

Can you see how we Protestants hear this claim that the CC adds nothing to the original deposit, then look at beliefs you hold (such as the Assumption of Mary), and then scratch our heads in utter bemusement?

In the case if the Assumption, it’s not like you’re just connecting some doctrinal dots and reaching a theological conclusion that took a while for the Church to recognize, but rather, you are making a claim about an absolutely incredible event that is purported to have actually happened in history, one that no one seemed to have noticed at the time, or for the several centuries that followed.

My point here is not to debate the Assumption, but simply to ask how utterly bizarre Rome’s most important claim is when compared with her teachings on so many extra-biblical subjects.

The commbox is inactive, but Jason Stellman’s questions still need answers.

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38 thoughts on “Perhaps Jason Stellman Can Feel Our Incredulity

  1. DGH, regarding the Assumption of Mary, I heard this on a tape. I can’t quite cite the source, but it was a lecture by Fr. Robert Barron at Christendom College, I believe. The mentor of then Joseph Ratzinger was surprised to hear that Pope Pius XII either was considering, or had already promulgated the dogma. He was asked about it. And the response he gave was to say, “well, the wisdom of the Church is greater than my own wisdom”.

    The lesson to be drawn from this, which is exhibited by some of what you see from the Called to Communion gang, is that “the Church that Christ Founded(TM)” has always had “authority”, not to create new dogmas, but to “interpret” the biblical and historical data.

    Therefore, whether or not there is historical warrant for such an event having occurred, “the Church that Christ Founded(TM)” has the *authority* to promulgate such dogmas in such a way that (to cite CCC 87) “the faithful receive with docility the teachings and directives that their pastors give them in different forms.

    So, while you may need an answer to Jason’s question on this, he has put himself in a position that he needs never question it again, if he intends to remain Roman Catholic.

    (Now, in my case, there were SO MANY questions of that nature, that I just decided that the wisdom of “the Church” had put itself in a position so as to need to be questioned directly.)

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  2. In his dialogue with CTC, Jason Stellman stated: “It can’t be the case that you come to believe that the Magisterium is the Magisterium because it says it is (else I’ve got a bridge to sell you).”

    I think that, it the end, this is exactly what it boils down to: The Catholic faithful ultimately believe in the authority of the Roman church and its Magisterium because they presuppose the authority of the Roman church and its Magisterium (i.e., the Roman church is infallible in its dogma and morals because the Roman church says it is infallible in its dogma and morals); whereas consistent Protestants ultimately believe in Scripture alone as the only infallible rule of faith and practice because of the authority of God Himself speaking in the Scriptures (i.e., we believe the Bible is the Word of God and hence the only infallible rule of faith and practice because God Himself says so in His Word). “The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man, or church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.” (Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 1, Section 4)

    In terms of practical outworkings, the Roman church does not ultimately rest its authority on “Scripture plus Tradition” (as opposed to “Sola Scriptura”); rather, Rome’s position basically boils down to “Sola Ecclesia” (“the church alone” – i.e., because the Roman chuch imagines itself to be the infallible interpreter of both Scripture and Tradition, Scripture and Tradition teach what the Roman church says it teaches; which, in effect, places the Roman Magisterium above both Scripture and Tradition).

    So those are really the only two options: Sola Ecclesia or Sola Scriptura. An infallible church (“trust Mother church” as I recently heard a devout Roman Catholic express to me) or a fallible church entrusted with the task of interpreting an infallible Scripture. The consistent Protestant uses his fallible private judgment to arrive at a point of embracing the infallible authority of Holy Scripture, and then submits without reservation to that infallible authority. The convert to Rome likewise uses his private judgment to arrive at a point of embracing the supposed infallible authority of “Mother Church,” and then submits without reservation (and in a spirit of docility, as referenced above) to that allegedly infallible authority. In my exercise of “private judgment” (and in line with the corporate ecclesial judgment of the major historic Protestant communions) I believe the evidence, fairly judged, overwhelmingly supports the claims of “Sola Scriptura”; whereas much biblical, exegetical, and historical evidence can be brought forward to refute the pretentious claims of Rome’s “Sola Ecclesia.”

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  3. “The person becoming Catholic does not just come to believe a theology; he discovers a living divinely-appointed authority, and that discovery then shapes his theology. The person becoming Protestant does not discover such a thing, and so remains his own ultimate interpretive authority in shaping his theology.”

    And what could Cross possibly be thinking here? There are plenty of us former evangelicals who came to embrace Protestantism and then had to warm up to things Reformed churches taught, not least shedding individualistic faith for institutional religion. What an incredible assertion. After all, since some of us Prots understand that while the Catholic mind is primarily driven by ecclesia (and secondarily by scriptura), it sure would be nice to see some acknowledgment that the Prot has some sense of ecclesia.

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  4. Geoff writes;

    “In terms of practical outworkings, the Roman church does not ultimately rest its authority on “Scripture plus Tradition” (as opposed to “Sola Scriptura”); rather, Rome’s position basically boils down to “Sola Ecclesia” (“the church alone” – i.e., because the Roman chuch imagines itself to be the infallible interpreter of both Scripture and Tradition, Scripture and Tradition teach what the Roman church says it teaches; which, in effect, places the Roman Magisterium above both Scripture and Tradition).”

    Sean; This is correct, it’s not a three-legged stool, it’s a three-screen filtering process stacked one on top of the other, and the scripture filter is on the bottom and as far as the pew-sitter is concerned it’s a filter added only fairly recently. Higher critical method works very well for them because it posits an expansive oral tradition that was in place along with the community of faith, long before the words were committed to writing. So, it gives them an historical basis for setting the both the sacred tradition and magisterium over the canon. For the RC the church births the canon, for the protestant the canon births the church.

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  5. If the commbox is inactive how did you come up with these?

    My wife reminded me last night of how I made her throw out her rock-and-roll tapes 20 years ago when we were engaged. I was a fundamentalist, baptist type at the time. Today I have hundreds of rock-and-roll CD’s. I’ve got a better haircut today, too.

    We all change over time, sometimes even 180 degrees, but I don’t think a move to “Rome Sweet Home – The Church That Jesus Christ Himself Founded (TM)” (thanks, John) is a move I’ll make during this lifetime.

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  6. Well, I don;’t know dgh. I still think Rome is a proud, vicious, wicked, blind and stupefying fideism that contradicts Scripture, reason and history whenever it gets a chance.
    But hey, I could be wrong. I am still working out this personal judgement infallibility internet chrism thing that anoints my personal choice of Rome as the right church. Obviously Bryan didn’t get a cardinal’s hat for signing up. Rather he seemed to settle for being a more benign hammer of the heretics on the web where instead of the embrace of the Iron Maiden, we get choked on all the verbiage pouring out of his keyboard, none of which is to the point, which is the point.

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  7. Geoff,

    While your argument, of which I am in agreement, and the following supporting text will not convince the RCs since the authority of Scripture for them comes in second, third, or fourth place; for those who want to see your view of Scripture supported by Scripture and Bryan’s view of authority refuted by Scripture, Acts 17: 10-12 are very helpful in this regard.

    “And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed; also of honorable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.”

    The Berean’s did not simply take what Paul and Silas said and believe it because Paul and Silas said it (i.e. the way RCs take what comes from the Magisterium), but instead, they heard the exposition of Paul and Silas, they searched the Scriptures to see if what Paul and Silas said was true and finding their preaching to be in accord with Scripture, they believed! There is hardly a better Scriptural example that answers this question of authority so well.

    As has been at times hinted and at times said clearly, the RCs put the authority of the church above the authority of Scripture, which is contrary to the teaching of the Scripture itself. But because the RCC teaches that the authority of the church is above the authority of Scripture, any contradiction between the RCC and the Scripture must be ignored and the RCC is to be believed in all matters and opinions, even as they change over time. The Scripture ultimately becomes somewhat of a necessary burden for the RCC as with it they are able to trick the masses (masses referring to people, not the ceremony with cannibalistic wording attached) into thinking that they actually teach the Scripture. If followers were not a concern, one would have to wonder how long Scripture would remain even as small a part of the RCC as it is now.

    Reading the responses from the RC folks makes me all the more thankful for the Reformation and the grace and mercy of God in opening the eyes of some to the truth. At the same time it is sad to see a demonstration in the intensity of the chains binding tens of millions in the darkness and bondage that is Rome.

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  8. On strictly a doctrinal basis, I do find it hard to understand Jason’s transition of positions. At least with the Anglican John Newman, the Catholic bent was evident in his Oxford tracts. Interestingly, over at GB, Jason seems willing to still engage the argument on the basis of Scripture, which I find, well, interesting. Hopefully, some pause to reconsider will be had by him from these discussions.

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  9. Darryl,

    I appreciate your helpful contributions on OL to this discussion: lots of good stuff.

    This particular thread affords me an opportunity to address something that I’ve been thinking–and perhaps other have–but have hesitated doing, lest I appear as unkind or uncharitable, neither of which I wish to be, to Jason.

    Given the kind of interchanges that Jason had over at CTC and given where he is now headed (not yet in the RCC, as I understand it), it would seem to me that it would behoove Jason to be a bit quieter about these things. It seemed on his blog–“Creed Code Cult”–that he might be heading in that direction when he wrote two months ago (in June), that it was “time to go dark” and to “fade to black.” I realize that he meant that specifically with respect to his aforementioned blog, but it seems like a good general principle, if I may say so sincerely and without rancor.

    Jason, you’ve been trained as and have been a Presbyterian minister. You’ve publicly defended the Reformed faith and have questioned Rome, to which you’ve now gone over. Does it not become you, at least for now, to retire from the public eye? If you’ve come to regard what you formerly taught as in error, should you now immediately become the teacher of the opposite (though not appointed in any way by the magisterium that you have come to revere)? While the folk at CTC appear as self-appointed, in typical American religious fashion, you especially should not be over-eager to become a spokesman for what you so recently openly opposed.

    I suppose that there is no way to soften my view any further, but I think it unseemly for you to be doing what you are now doing. Perhaps no one else thinks it improper for former Presbyterian ministers to become aggressive apologists for Rome while barely having arrived there, but I do. Your flip-flop and open advocacy of a church in which you hold no teaching office, over against the doctrines of one in which you did, seems out of place and a bit like whistling in the dark, as if trying to convince yourself by talking to us. Jason, I don’t know you personally, but thank God for the evident gifts that He has given you and urge you to think about backing off your forceful internet advocacy of something that you’ve scarcely embraced and arguing against that tradition of which you were so recently a minister.

    Thanks, Darryl, for this forum in which we may openly air such–a sentiment that I think needs to be expressed.

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  10. Alan D. Strange (addressing Jason Stellman) wrote: “I suppose that there is no way to soften my view any further, but I think it unseemly for you to be doing what you are now doing. Perhaps no one else thinks it improper for former Presbyterian ministers to become aggressive apologists for Rome while barely having arrived there, but I do. Your flip-flop and open advocacy of a church in which you hold no teaching office, over against the doctrines of one in which you did, seems out of place and a bit like whistling in the dark, as if trying to convince yourself by talking to us.”

    GW: Spot on. Rev. Stellman, having previously taken solemn vows before God wherein he claimed adherence to the Westminster Standards, and having held official ministerial office within the PCA, ought to be much more circumspect about publicly airing his doubts about sola scriptura and his (apparent) sympathy toward and/or leanings in the direction of Rome. In my opinion I think he would be wise to fade out entirely from public view for at least five years while he wrestles through these issues and comes to solid convictions about them. (After all, this kind of radical change in theology — jumping over the Tiber from Geneva to Rome — is not something that can be done thoughtfully or carefully or wisely in a short period of time; especially when the one making such a radical change has had the advantage of seminary training and has served in the gospel ministry.) While Rev. Stellman is certainly to be commended for having the integrity to step down from his ministry in the PCA church he had been serving; at the same time his ongoing presence on the internet at this time when he is undergoing a radical paradigm shift in his theology seems to me to demonstrate a certain narcissism, as well as a certain immaturity and lack of wisdom on the part of Mr. Stellman. (Or at least it comes across to me that way.)

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  11. Alan Strange,

    Your would-be sage advice does not do justice to the actual content of Jason Stellman’s comments, either here or in various threads on the blog, “Green Baggins.”

    So far as I can tell, Jason has been arguing for his own convictions, not specifically Catholic dogma, on primarily exegetical grounds. Exegesis of (most of) the sacred text, at least in its literal sense, is something that he has been amply trained to do. If he has not been so trained, then your complaint is with WSC, not Jason himself. Furthermore, Jason is well practiced at scriptural exegesis, given his seven or so years as teaching elder in the PCA.

    As for online ecumenical, evangelistic, and/or apologetic activities undertaken by lay persons on their own initiative, these must be judged on their own merits. The Vatican actually encourages such activity, provided that it be undertaken with charity and in conformity with Church doctrine.

    To all appearances, you are simply looking for a pretext to vent some steam over the matters of Jason’s resignation and the existence and activity of CTC. It would be more seemly of you to actually engage in the conversation, reasonably, and on substantial matters.

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  12. No, Mr. Preslar, my complaint is with Mr. Stellman. Not with WSC or even with you, who, from your CTC bio, spent a small bit of time in the OPC before moving through your “Reformed phase” to the Byzantine rite. I’ve been a minister in the OPC for twenty-two years and have moderated her General Assembly (in 2008). I think that I am in a position to address Jason, as a fellow Reformed minister, that you are not in with relation to me.

    And as to what you think it would be more seemly for me to do, I have, on several prominent blogs, substantively interacted with these matters, Mr. Preslar. I’ve never done what I’ve done here with anyone else in any public forum. My habit is customarily to interact substantively. Sorry that you’ve missed it, even as you have in this attempt to call me on the carpet. I remain convinced that Jason would best serve his own spiritual welfare and cause by, at least for now, fading to black as he earlier promised.

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  13. Alan and Geoff,

    I am glad you both stated what I had been thinking. Beside the propriety of Jason becoming a public apologist for a faith he only recently embraced, what about love for the people he recently hurt? I’m sure Jason’s local church is still reeling from a pastor denying what he taught them for years. It seems if you cared at all about your former flock you would go away for awhile and let them heal. I have witnessed many pastors over the years lose or leave their Protestant churches over moral or doctrinal matters; behind almost every one was one besetting sin: narcissism.

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  14. Alan,

    I did not realize that it was the custom for Reformed minsters to remonstrate with one another on matters of personal conduct by posting comments on public blogs addressed to a third person. But since this is how and where you have chosen to express yourself on this matter, it falls to you to be critiqued both for the manner of your address, which is unseemly (something better taken up in private, addressing yourself directly to Jason), and the substance of it, which fails to take into account that Jason is arguing on exegetical grounds, something that he is well-equipped to do.

    I have never heard of you before, and I am sure that there are several prominent blogs that I do not read. So it is understandable that I have missed your substantive interaction on these issues. But I have heard of Jason, and do read the blogs on which he has been commenting, early on in his post-Reformed phase. This is the only time I have seen your name appear. If it is your custom to interact substantively, I’ll have to take your word for it.

    Andrew

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  15. I’ve posted on this blog, before, Mr. Preslar, which is the blog of my fellow OP office-bearer and friend, D.G. Hart.

    Perhaps before assaying to reply to me as you did, you should have done some research. But you see, that’s the whole problem with this whole thing, isn’t i.e., the blogosphere? It creates the illusion of everyone being on a level playing field. We’re not. Yet you’ve spoken to me, and continue to do so, in a way that I would never speak to a cleric in your church, with whom I disagree, but would interact respectfully.

    I continue to find it supremely ironic that those who are part of hierarchical churches seem to have little respect for that when it comes to the internet, where there is this presumed level playing field. I addressed Jason publicly because everything that I cited is public. If you were a PCA or OPC office-bearer telling me Jason is simply exegeting Scripture and the fact that he’s overthrown the faith of which he was so recently a teacher is unimportant–that would be one thing. I would even consider it different if you were a hierarch of the Roman Church telling me that everything Jason is doing is perfectly fine. At least, I would regard you as having some right to do so.

    As it is, I do not recognize you as having any such right to speak to me as you do, especially given that I am not over at CTC commenting (where I would expect this) but, again, at the blog of fellow OPCer Darryl Hart who does know me and who does understand from where I am coming.

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  16. The bottom line is that anyone who posts on the internets just has to have thick skin. We all offend each other a bit, but the conversation is good and gives us a lot of food for thought. If I met anyone I have interacted with on Old Life personally I would shake their hand and thank them for the interaction.

    Hey, it’s way better here than on Facebook, anyway. What a mess that is posting something and having the girl you went to high school with 25 years ago and an elder in your church arguing about it.

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  17. Alan,

    Let me remind you of what you wrote, at the end of your first comment (above):

    “Thanks, Darryl, for this forum in which we may openly air such a sentiment, that I think needs to be expressed.”

    If you chose to express your sentiments in this forum, then it is up to you to recognize the nature of the forum, and therefore the referent of the “we” who may openly air their sentiments (or thoughts). Per the moderator’s custom, this includes Protestant clergy and laypersons, as well as non-Protestants. This is not your own congregation, nor the general assembly, but a public forum in which truth claims, opinions, and yes sentiments are exchanged and critiqued, and must stand or fall by their own merits, or lack thereof. My mode of interaction with is predicated upon the nature of the forum, the merit of your comments, and my experience on this blog, in which no one (hitherto) has invoked any position they hold, in any ecclesial community, as insulating them from criticism. My address to you has been the same as my address to D.G. If you prefer that some title be used in my address to you, then please indicate this when you enter your name, because that is what I go by when addressing other persons online. Otherwise, I will continue to use the form of address that is customary in this forum (first name).

    And make no mistake about it: What I am offering you is not disrespect, it is criticism. Specifically, I am criticizing (1) your disrespectful and dismissive characterization of Jason’s change of position with respect to what the Bible teaches concerning the rule of faith and the nature of justification by faith, (2) your characterization of his exegetical arguments as being aggressive apologetics on behalf of Rome, and (3) your sarcastic characterization of the website for which I write, and whose mission I (obviously) support.

    I make no comment on the wisdom (or lack thereof) of your brotherly admonition to Jason, that he refrain from such activities in the (near?) future. But you have mischaracterized his activity in this regard, and your position in your denomination does not excuse you for doing that, nor does it insulate you from criticism, in this forum, as explained above.

    Andrew

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  18. Ah, but Andrew. You still don’t get it.
    When anybody offers criticism of “the church that Christ founded”, disrespect is the first thing out of the mouths of its adherents.
    Two, an assertion is not an argument, or more to the point, proof positive of anything besides the author’s opinion.

    Thus your #1: the disrespectful and dismissive characterization of Jason’s change of position with respect to what the Bible teaches concerning the rule of faith and the nature of justification by faith.
    IOW even at this late date, the reformed still consider romanism to be theological heresy, if not vomit. Nothing has changed, even if the CtC think it has or even should.

    But the CtC pride themselves on being ex protestants, do they not? Or are we really talking about a bunch of narcissistic prima donnas to boot? (Neither has Mr. Stellman encouraged me to think that he knows what he is talking about either as reformed or now quasi romanist, but whatever.)

    That he has changed his position is a given.
    That it is correct, you assume in your #1 – as Rome does, because maybe, just maybe 1. it is a wicked vicious and stupefying idolatry that ignores Scripture, reason and history whenever it can get away with it and 2. you have bought into it.

    IOW welcome to the debate. Don’t leave your private judgement at home. You’ll be lost without it, which as a consistent Romanist should be a given.

    Yet we are thankful for the hypocritical inconsistencies, eh?
    IOW there is still hope for you if you would repent of and renounce your faith in all the pomp, pride and sinful works of the pope in place of simple repentance and faith in Christ and his once for all, perfect and sufficient sacrifice for sin upon the cross at Calvary.

    Thank you.

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  19. (Neither has Mr. Stellman encouraged me to think that he knows what he is talking about either as reformed or now quasi romanist, but whatever.)

    My apologies. Let me clarify, in all fairness to Mr. Stellman.

    Neither has Mr. Stellman encouraged me to think that he knows what he is talking about when it comes to Romanism either as reformed or now quasi romanist, but whatever.

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  20. Dear Mr. Preslar:

    I don’t accept that you get to set the terms for Internet behavior. Those terms are set for us in the summary of Christian ethics (the Ten Commandments) and they’re not quite the same as yours (“the internet is a certain kind of place that exempts me from respect that I might show elsewhere”). I’ve made a judgment about Mr. Stellman’s current activism, have questioned the wisdom of it, and have called for him for his own and other’s wellbeing to desist. Most people get that and I daresay that any number of RCC clergy would get it.

    He has broken his lawfully taken vows, he has forsaken his service to his people, he has rejected the truth of the gospel, the beautiful solas of the Reformation, embracing in its place the barren and enslaving sola ecclesia. I simply would like him to have the decency of a bit of quietude after such (or at least keeping it located to something like CTC), not coming onto this and like sites with his sarcastic and mocking replies (I suppose that you’ve missed these).

    Having said all that, however, I must admit that I am not surprised–disappointed, but not surprised– with all the noisiness: much talk commonly accompanies those seeking to justify themselves.

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  21. Not to pile on to what’s already been said by Revs. Strange, Willour and Bordow. But I will attest that Jason Stellman’s defection to Rome sent me reeling. I had followed his blog for years, learned much from him and considered him something of a hero for his courageous and public stance for Reformed confessionalism. I’m a relatively well-informed layman, and when I say “reeling,” it wasn’t anywhere close to a knock-out punch … more like a hard blow to the stomach. I’m not complaining about it because in God’s providence, things like this are ultimately strengthening. But if I feel the impact as I do, I’m sure others must also. If Jason was having serious doubts back in 2008, I can’t help but wonder if he shouldn’t have withdrawn from the public eye back then, perhaps stopped blogging, even considered not publishing the book (which came out in ’09 I believe), anything to minimize the ripple effect that his possible defection would cause. I need to try to refrain from judging of course, since I have no idea what he was dealing with. But these are things I’ve been thinking….

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  22. David R,

    I had a similar experience in college when a good friend of mine, strongly Refromed and a leader in Reformed University Fellowship, suddenly and unexpectedly became Catholic. Her conversion sent me “reeling”, but it also forced me to consider whether or not I had 20/20 vision concerning the Catholic Church. Could it be your wearing goggles and don’t know? Could it be that the Catholic Church is something much different than you may think? I assume that Jason will be writing a good deal in the years to come and I’d encourage you to consider the factors that lead him to Catholicism with an open mind.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

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  23. Jeremy, speaking of open minds, what is your explanation for Reformed opposition to Rome that you find here? Is it a sign of sin, perversity, resisting the Spirit? I’m wondering if in the end you believe that converting to Rome is the work of the Holy Spirit, like the illumination that comes with effectual calling in our circles? In which case, if Protestants are already Christians in the sense of believing the cardinal doctrines, does converting to Rome become a kind of second blessing?

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  24. Alan,

    I am not setting terms. I am describing the terms of Internet dialogue. You are considered a duly ordained minister of the Gospel in your own ecclesial community. I respect that fact. But from my point of view, you are a layperson. I accord you the same respect, and offer you the same kind of criticism, that I would offer to anyone else not in holy orders.

    Regarding the Ten Commandments: I refer you to the one that forbids bearing false witness against one’s neighbor, in light of your use of quotes within parenthesis, attributing to me a position that I have never articulated, and which is not implied by anything that I have claimed.

    Regarding the nature of Jason’s actions: Your somewhat rhetorically charged description (which further confirms my thesis that you are just letting off some steam) presupposes that which is in dispute between us. Granted the Catholic position, it follows that Jason has in fact broken vows to which he is not bound, in the eyes of God or in the eyes of the Church, because schismatic vows are not lawful. He has set aside the stunted and formally heretical understanding of the Gospel that is held in the Reformed tradition, and moved towards the fullness of the Faith once and for all delivered to the saints, and perhaps is coming into full communion with the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church that Christ founded.

    I have noticed sarcastic comments and replies in many places on this website, and on many other Reformed sites. It is difficult not to, as they abound, and come mostly from your quarter. If Jason has occasionally responded in kind, he might be justified by appeal to self-defense. You all have not exactly kept quiet about his resignation–speculation, accusation, and insult Jason-ward abound. If noisiness and much talk, sans serious thinking, count as indicators of those seeking to justify themselves, then the micro-denominational Reformed communions in America must be chock-full of guilty consciences. I wonder what sort of inward condition is betrayed by gratuitous, public calls for other people to be quiet?

    Andrew

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  25. Erik,

    No, actually she wasn’t dating. I think everybody at CtC would agree that coming into the Catholic Church has been a blessing to their marriage, but most would also agree that there was a time when they didn’t think their marriage could hold up during the transition into the Catholic Church.

    My wife didn’t become Catholic until 6 months after me even though she had been raised Catholic. She had fallen in love with this know-it-all Reformed guy in college (me) who had convinced her that everything about Catholicism was wrong. It took her a while to pray and read on her own before coming into the Church.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

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  26. Jeremy Tate,

    Could it be your wearing goggles and don’t know? Could it be that the Catholic Church is something much different than you may think?

    I’m assuming from your post that you were Reformed before you went over to Rome. I’m curious: Did the gospel seem like truly good news to you when you initially became Reformed? (It sure did to me after a number of years in broad evangelicalism.) Did the Catholic gospel seem like better news when you became Catholic? Did questions like this enter the picture for you?

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  27. Good questions, David.

    And, Mr. Preslar, no, to answer an earlier question, I had no thought that you need address me by a title (not sure what suggested that to you), but thanks for letting us know (not that it was a secret), perhaps reminding us, of your rank sectarianism.

    Mr. Preslar said, “You are considered a duly ordained minister of the Gospel in your own ecclesial community. I respect that fact. But from my point of view, you are a layperson. I accord you the same respect, and offer you the same kind of criticism, that I would offer to anyone else not in holy orders.”

    Mr. Preslar’s church unfrocks me. I do not return the favor, being truly Catholic. I regard an RCC cleric as misguided and not ministering the pure gospel, but if he was in no sense a cleric, I would regard a baptism performed by him as no Christian baptism in any sense. Now, to be sure, there is an internecine Presbyterian debate about RCC baptism and some fine Presbyterians, for particular theological reasons, do not regard an RCC baptism as valid.

    Many, perhaps most now, do, however, believing, as did the Reformers, that the RCC retained a remnant of the truth and the true church. It is Rome that demands all submit to her (historians of all sorts routinely agree that you can’t speak of the Roman Catholic Church in any sense that she exists today until Trent). Roman hegemony is not a pretty thing and seems quite foreign to the humble faith of our Lord and His apostles.

    I know, Mr. Preslar, that I am not in your eyes a cleric in any sense is part of the whole argument. I get it. I am not in communion with the Roman church and cannot thus be a Christian cleric of any kind from your perspective. But in my book that is sectarian and shows that for you the visible church is paramount and central where I see the testimony of the Word to be that Christ is paramount and central.

    For us confessional Presbyterians, Christ and His saving work is paramount. He, by the work of the Spirit, creates the church. For you, the church creates everything that you cherish. For me, Christ is the one whom I cherish and the church is the context in which I learn of and cherish Him. He makes us part of the church and defines the faith for us, in His Word, illumined by His Spirit.

    For you, the church defines and creates the faith; for me, He defines and creates the faith and brings me into it in the church. For you, Jason has come to the place of safety–the church; for me, he has left the place of safety–Christ alone. I fear where the CTC folk will really end up.

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  28. Jeremy Tate wrote:

    “My wife didn’t become Catholic until 6 months after me even though she had been raised Catholic. She had fallen in love with this know-it-all Reformed guy in college (me) who had convinced her that everything about Catholicism was wrong. It took her a while to pray and read on her own before coming into the Church.”

    GW: I don’t in any way mean to be critical of your wife, but I am struck by your assumption that a mere 6 months is sufficient time for someone who had supposedly become fully convinced of the Reformed Faith and had wholeheartedly embraced that Faith to adequately work through all of the issues (theological, ecclesiastical, etc.) that radically separate Geneva from Rome, and thus to make a fully-informed and educated choice to revert to Rome. I’m sorry, Mr. Tate, but a mere 6 months is not “a while”; it is barely enough time to begin researching the issues, especially on issues of such eternal weight and consequence (such as Rome and Geneva’s radically different understandings of both the gospel and eternal salvation).

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  29. You all have not exactly kept quiet about his resignation–speculation, accusation, and insult Jason-ward abound. If noisiness and much talk, sans serious thinking, count as indicators of those seeking to justify themselves, then the micro-denominational Reformed communions in America must be chock-full of guilty consciences. I wonder what sort of inward condition is betrayed by gratuitous, public calls for other people to be quiet?

    No, Andrew, it is more like embarrassment for someone who used to be a brother in the faith. Like how can you fall for such simple Simon arguments? Jason makes much of his argument in #32 over at Green Baggins, which Lane has recently started to answer, but really. Nothing Jason says or quotes cannot be taken to mean sanctification, much more the most perspicuous texts on justification in Roman he avoids like the plague. And trading on the ignorance of his audience, at least his own congregation who obviously were not taught these things, if he is still stumbled by them, he is causing more trouble.
    No doubt he feels justified in doing just that and far be it from me to tell him what to do, but still nobody likes to see somebody make a fool of themselves, particularly when it comes to being seduced by the Roman whore.
    As for sarcasm, Jason is no stranger to snark himself, much more if CtC wishes its arguments were taken more seriously, perhaps if the question begging, circular reasoning, logical fallacies and errors in fact were reprobated, you might get some traction among protestants, particularly ex roman ones.

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