Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Is Dr. Francis Beckwith Being Personally (Not Just Theologically) Maligned and Attacked for Becoming a Catholic? You be the Judge

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Dr. Craig L. Blomberg: Protestant NT scholar and Dr. Douglas Groothuis: evangelical philosopher: both on the staff of Denver Seminary, offered vastly different reactions to the reversion of Francis Beckwith

Now granted, sometimes it is a fine line between strong theological disagreement (even of the anti-intellectual, anti-Catholic sort) and personal attack. I acknowledged this fine line in my critique of what I felt were anti-Catholic champion James White's own personal swipes and insults against Dr. Beckwith. Some points are arguable.

Nevertheless, merely disagreeing strongly with Catholicism is one thing. Casting aspersions upon one's motivations and integrity and honesty and making unwarranted judgments and condemnations wholly unrelated to theology are quite another. Some anti-Catholics have been claiming that Dr. Beckwith has not been personally attacked, and that all the personal insults and ad hominem nonsense in this controversial affair have been coming, rather, from Catholics, and that Protestant criticisms have been entirely in the theological realm and not personal at all (and even implying that this is the usual state of affairs at all times).

After citing remarks establishing the above premise, I shall document relevant comments that have been made by anti-Catholics (or, as the case may be, non-anti-Catholic Protestants who still feel led to personally attack a new Catholic convert), and then (to end on a positive, encouraging note) comments by Protestants who regret and condemn such personal attacks.

Rather than document everything to a tee (which often causes Blogger to go crazy, for some reason), here are the links to the locations I shall utilize in my documentation (to be indicated by bracketed numbers):

1) The thread underneath Dr. Beckwith's first public post on his return to the Church (383 comments as of this writing!).
2) The second post by Dr. Beckwith and its discussion thread.
3) Kacy Sandidge's blog thread No. 1.
4) Boar's Head Tavern forum.
5) Thread on Greg Koukl's Stand to Reason blog.

Personal Attacks Aren't Occurring; Only Protestants Are Being Pilloried by Catholics (So We Are Told)

Who is attacking Dr. Beckwith as a person. I'm reading that he is being attacked, but I haven't read anyone actually attacking Dr. Beckwith as a person. We all know Dr. Beckwith is a well respected man, a good thinker, etc. . . . he is not a jerk for doing so, and I know if [presumably "of"] no one who will call him names such as this or even worse.

(Jeff Downs, associate of James White, 5-5-07 [1] )

These folks believe this is about persons. James White. Francis Beckwith. It isn't. This is about the truth of the gospel.

(James White: 5-6-07)

If you are a Protestant, or more so, a Calvinist, don't you realize folks can misrepresent you, attribute every possible evil motive to you out of gross ignorance, and you are to remain completely silent? Well, yes, that seems to be the climate of things today, sad to say. . . . this is about the gospel and how men are saved.

(James White: 5-6-07)

. . . our refusal to engage in the same kinds of behaviors common in our critics, . . .

(James White: 5-7-07)

After reading this entire comment page [which would include all the comments up to Jeff Pement, in the next section] , I would like to add that Mr. Beckwith has not been attacked at all as some have assumed, but has been lovingly warned.

(Deborah, 5-7-07 [1] )

Documentation of Lack of Charity and Non-Theological Personal Attacks On the Integrity, Honesty, and Character of Dr. Francis Beckwith

I guess if open theism is evangelical then bowing down to wood and stone should be as well.

(Jason Wallace, 5-5-07 [1] )

As an ex Roman Catholic, and as one who strives to reason with my unsaved Roman Catholic family held captive to its bogus claims, I feel nothing but shame toward people like yourself. You may well be a respected theologian and smart guy, a great philosopher and all that, but to me, you are a traitor and a stumbling block for the truth of the gospel.

(Mark, 5-5-07 [1] )

Then we are all anathema, who hold to justification by faith? This is, after all, the infallible teaching of the Church. Frank, that's why it's personal. I wouldn't mind so much if a person just changed their mind about theology, but when they join an association that declares me accursed, how can I any longer think well of them? From what I know of you, I like you very much, but this is an occasion for sorrow.

(Glenn Peoples, 5-6-07 [1] )

Apostasy in the evangelical church is in full swing! How one who claims to be a Christian, can go back to the abomination that is the Catholic church has to be deceived by Satan! Saints, statues, sacraments, sex and Satan all wrapped up in one. "Come out of her my people!"

(Jorge Moreno, 5-6-07 [1] )

. . . why this pretense of well-wishing to your evangelical "colleagues", indeed this surfeit of sycophantic welcoming on the one hand, lauding the potential for "peace and understanding" and on the other hand the qualified good wishes of evangelicals. With all your learning you cannot discern the most simple of Biblical doctrines: Christ is the Head of the Church, and the Holy Spirit is the Vicar of Christ. What magnitude of sin for the one man to assume a role that usurps both offices.

Go your way, Dr. Beckwith. In your place may God raise up 100 men with the stomach for truth and who will continue to preach it though none will follow, as did Jeremiah and Isaiah.

(Charles Tysoe, 5-6-07 [1] )

And so we now see the philosophies of men and all its humanistic enticements are reflective of Rome’s adulterous tangibles.

(Phil Bradshaw , 5-7-07 [1] )

So why anyone would want to throw away Christ to turn towards the “Traditions and commandments of Men” is unfathomable and sad indeed! In doing so Christ will profit you nothing and you have fallen from grace and hence salvation.

(John, 5-7-07 [1] )

Though I consider you a brother in Christ, you have lost my respect as I am keenly aware of the mental gymastics one must be involved in to be in agreement with RCC apologists, and to arrive at "The Roman Catholic Church is the one, true, Church that Jesus Christ founded." Dr. Beckwith, you of all people should know that that is the claim of every Cult that ever was.

(Jeff Pement, 5-7-07 [1] )

Your post made me ill. To think that someone would go back to the Whore of Revelation 17 and base his decision (according to your post) upon the tripe of the Church Infants (you call "fathers") who consistently contradict the APOSTLES and Jesus Christ. Such is a fulfillment of prophecy. A dog returns to his vomit.

However, it is fitting that the Evangelical Theological Society would find it's president fornicating with Rome. . . . You are one of thousands who are deluded and living a lie as we approach the end of this present world. You will answer for this reproach upon the blood of Jesus Christ and His martyrs. You did not once mention the 20 million souls butchered by the Whore you now join yourself to.

This is not intended as an insult, but as a statement of fact. You have succeeded in making me sick this night. May God have mercy on your blind soul. And rest assured. I will continue to fight your Whorish "mother church" and her soul damning false gospel until the Lord takes me home and the Beast arrives to assume his post in the city on seven hills.

(Pastor Greg Miller [King James Only], 5-7-07 [1] )

Please do not attempt to convert your Evangelical students to Roman Catholicism. Please show some integrity.

(Lee Edward Enochs, 5-7-07 [1] )

Biola has Eastern Orthodox professors such as John Mark Reynolds and Thomists like Moreland, William Lane Craig, Doug Geivett and the M.A. in philosophy department over at Talbot School of Theology was essentially a Jesuit, natural theology and middle knowledge School passing itself off as an "Evangelical" institution. Your conversion to Rome does not suprise me, since your band of Thomist brethren were essentially espousing semi-Pelagian and Molinist views of human nature and God's foreknowledge in the first place. I am, however, very disapppointed in you, that you chose to accept the Presidency of the Evangelical Theological Society and chose to make a public spash and renounced your Evangelicalism mid way through your tenure as ETS presidency. Surely, this movement towards Rome did not happen for you over night and you had some inclinations about your possible inclinations that you might convert to Roman Catholicism, why did you choose to take the post and subsequently embarrass ETS? I think it shows a lack of integrity on your part Sir, . . .

(Lee Edward Enochs, 5-8-07 [1] )

Charitable, Sensible Protestants Who Decry the Personal Attacks and Ad Hominem Hogwash

White seemed to be implying that Beckwith couldn't possibly have been led to return to Catholicism by a love of the truth (however mistaken). In fairness to White, I think this is a necessary result of conservative Reformed theology. Calvinists simply cannot admit that people might possible come to wrong positions through a sincere love of the truth. Their whole theology would collapse if they admitted this. They have to find some other reason why people made "erroneous" choices. Certainly lots of other Christians play this game as well, but I think conservative Calvinism forces people to do so.

( [Anglican] Dr. Edwin Tait, aka "Contarini" [3] )

What an array of responses you've received, which doesn't surprise me either but still saddens me how folks can express their concern or disagreement with such vitriol.

( [distinguished NT scholar] Dr. Craig Blomberg, 5-7-07 [1] )

I'm also saddened by some of the responses your decision has received. I hope mine will be perceived as a bit more charitable.

(ChrisB, 5-5-07 [1] )

Most of the Protestant comments left for you here are disgusting. The kind of bile being raised up in their throats has no place in one who would call themself [sic] "Christian." . . . I am horrified by the condemnations and judgments pronounced by those who would call me brother. Shame on all who did so. What a blight on the name of Christ.

( [Baptist seminarian] "thecachinnator", 5-6-07 [1] )

Although I am saddened to hear him drop away from the thinking of the reformers, I am sure that there was a lot of thought and prayer that went into this.

Honestly, I would rather hear Dr. Beckwith speak for himself about what he believes than assume that he is going to go worship Mary now. Some of the comments I have seen are assuming a lot...principle of charity people.

(Kevin Closson, 5-8-07 [2] )

Doug Groothuis, on his blog, makes this incredible statement–”Frank has done the right thing by resigning his position as President of the Evangelical Theological Society, a position he never should have held, given this sad development.” A POSITION HE NEVER SHOULD HAVE HELD? You mean the ETS was supposed to see into the future? Sorry, the world of “Minority Report” is not here yet. I love the way otherwise supposedly intelligent people turn to total illogic when their sensibilities are offended–how DARE someone choose Rome over the Five Solas that Jesus and Paul preached!

(Tom Hinkle [4] )

I'm more than embarrassed by how my fellow protestants are acting toward Frank. They're talking as if he converted to Mormonism. For Christians to ask his position on 16th century purchases of indulgences explains how ignorant we are of modern Catholicism.

Frank isn't a dummy, nor are many of our best theologians who are devout Catholics. This is a devout brother who simply switched denominations. I must be missing something but it seems like a lot of this feeding frenzy appears to be over the perception that God has gone over to the Devil's side.

(Doug TenNapel, 5-7-07 [5] )

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