On the Upside

James White takes an I-told-you-so pose in the face of Jason Stellman’s post about how difficult life as a Roman Catholic convert has been. On the one hand, Jason seems to have no sense for how he comes across. First, he was surprised that his Chamber of Commerce posts on behalf of his new religious hometown would strike those in his old Protestant neighborhood as infuriating. Why not simply follow your conscience and shut up about it? Now he also provides his former co-religionists with an excuse for grandstanding. (Hey, wait a minute. Maybe Jason was playing the tempter. Pretty clever.)

On the other hand, White does not refuse the temptation but decides to gloat:

Rome never satisfies. It can’t. All the pomp and circumstance, all the liturgical fanfare, can never truly answer to the true needs of man. Since Rome has abandoned the gospel of grace and replaced it with a synergistic man-centered sacramentalism, she will never be able to offer to men anything but distractions, never true answers, to his real need. . . .

When it comes to Jason Stellman, I know one thing: I warned him, clearly, passionately, without question.

Actually, Mr. White, if you read Jason’s post, how can you say that Roman Catholicism doesn’t satisfy when Jason affirms explicitly that it does? And how can you, Mr. White, make it seem as if adversity for religious convictions is somehow a vindication of sola gratia? After all, didn’t our Lord say:

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matt 10:34-39)

But there is a silver lining here for Protestants who don’t spiritualize everything and turn a blind eye to human suffering. It is that Jason must have been a heck of a Presbyterian pastor:

. . . I am denied entrance into the church I planted (where my family still attends on Sundays) — I wasn’t even allowed to attend the Christmas Eve service last year and just sit and sing the hymns. To most of my old Calvinistic friends I am simply a traitor to the gospel.

That sounds pretty rough and Jason’s original cheerleading for Rome likely accounts for some of this roughness, though I am only speculating. But that sort of resolve on the part of Jason’s family and former congregation, as painful as it is for him, is likely a tribute to his ability to minister the word and cultivate in both his family and congregants a commitment to what the Bible teaches. Is it any consolation to Jason that he was seemingly a successful Protestant pastor?

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