I have been reading about how the SBC is slowly becoming catholic for a while now. And, anyone who is a part of the convention knows that this is far from reality. There is a lot you can say about the SBC: irrelevancy to world around it, unbiblical guidelines for ministry, use of funds — all that to say, I am not one who always tows the party line. However, this connection that Watcher’s Lamp makes is strange to me.

They make the comparison between the catholic practices of the stations of the cross and the prayer journey with signs and symbols that will be taking place at the Convention this year. First off, let me say that the practice is very similar. It seems (from the two sentences provided) that participants will go from station to station, be reminded of an aspect of God with a symbol, and stop to pray. How horrible could that be? In either case, no one is praying to the icons or symbols. Nor is anyone confusing Catholic theology with that of SBC protestantism. I am sure it will be a series of pictures from the 10/40 window, baptist churches, and various other images that will remind pastors to repent, give thanksgiving, and pray for the needs of the world.

Why is it that we have such a hard time with symbols and icons in the Christian faith. I mean, it seems like Jesus was constantly using images and symbols when he spoke. Everything from mustard seeds to a lost coin became iconic for who we are to become, and how we are to live. Heck, I don’t think that anyone would argue that we should stop taking communion in remembrance of our Lord because the Catholics have created transubstantiation. I think Jesus understood that so much of our learning process is visual, not just auditory. If he set up symbols and icons to remind us of the truths of God, why shouldn’t we? Or are we dismissing it simply because the Catholics came up with it first?

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48 Comments(+Add)

1   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
May 19th, 2008 at 1:43 pm

The SBC is becoming more ecumentical, but I do not see a doctrinal shift toward baptismal regeneration and good works theology. However, the phenomenon of “protestants” becoming Roman Catholic, including baptist preachers, continues to grow.

The Catholic TV network even has an entire program with an hour interview each week with protestant converts, many of whom were evangelical preachers. When I first became a Christian that was unheard of.

2   Jim    http://www.watcherslamp.blogspot.com
May 19th, 2008 at 2:35 pm

A few thoughts…

A former Roman Catholic would ask why are we (SBC)attempting to emulate an unbiblical, RC devotion?

Why did Jesus warn against praying in public? Why did He say pray in the closet? No doubt one reason is because our hearts can be tempted by pride in public devotions.

We fool ourselves by thinking this is a static & neutral spiritual issue. The slippery slopes of Compromise and Ecumenism, regardless of appeal, is dynamic. It’s a train that slowly takes the passenger to a destination they never intended.

If we (SBC) only acted like we believed in Sola Scriptura.

3   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
May 19th, 2008 at 2:43 pm

Why did Jesus warn against praying in public?

Because the pharisees made a habit of praying in public for the purpose of demonstrating their righteousness.

Why did He say pray in the closet?

Actually, the phrase was in relation to a ‘prayer closet’ – which was formed by placing your prayer shawl over your head and arms. You could still be heard, but not recognized, thus removing the element of pride from the equation.

We fool ourselves by thinking this is a static & neutral spiritual issue. The slippery slopes of Compromise and Ecumenism, regardless of appeal, is dynamic. It’s a train that slowly takes the passenger to a destination they never intended.

Actually, it is an issue of the ad homenim that says – “because the RCC did it, it must be wrong”.

If we (SBC) only acted like we believed in Sola Scriptura.

Oh please.

You’re arguing for Solo Scriptura, not Sola Scriptura – the common cry of modernism that wishes that time would be frozen in place (typically about 40 years before their own birth).

4   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
May 19th, 2008 at 3:08 pm

Chris – you make some valid points, however there is an issue of Roman Catholic conversions from evangelicals. Have you read Michael Spencer’s revelation concerning his wife’s conversion? He deserves credit for transparancy, but that phenomenon is increasing and is without controversy unbiblical.

The particulars you dealt with are actaully not the issue, salvation by works is what drove the reformation away from Rome.

5   Nathan    
May 19th, 2008 at 3:22 pm

Rick,

do you think this prayer walk experience is promoting salvation thru works?

6   shammah ben agee    http://endtheapostasy.blogspot.com
May 19th, 2008 at 3:35 pm

Hmmm… symbols and icons. So should we carve a mustard seed out of marble and light votive candles to it?
There is nothing scriptural about the rcc at all.

Do we have to have yet another lesson in pharisaism, as if we are all ignorant of the tallit and its use?
Whether one is a 1st century jew or a 21st century gentile, the same principle applies.
I would suggest you study the difference betwen solo and sola scriptura instead of building yet another strawman.
Arrogance run amock. That indeed makes you an expert on pharisees and a proponent of NOLO scriptura.

7   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
May 19th, 2008 at 3:35 pm

You know what, Nathan, I have prayer walked myself with and without a church structure. I do not believe that is the issue. Considering the state of prayerlessness in the church, we should take anything. I do not see the Roman Catholic connection.

I like incense, I like Gregorian chants, and I like candles. Oh my, I just realized – I’M CATHOLIC.

Please address me as Father Frueh from now on. My German relatives would disown me. Luther lives!!

Nathan, I will say if you do not vote you are lost! :)

8   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
May 19th, 2008 at 7:08 pm

So should we carve a mustard seed out of marble and light votive candles to it?

No – your choice of preposition (to it) would mischaracterize what is being done, though.

There is nothing scriptural about the rcc at all.

I’m sorry you seem to be so filled with hate toward part of the body of Christ.

Do we have to have yet another lesson in pharisaism, as if we are all ignorant of the tallit and its use?

Perhaps you can direct me to the scripture where it says that tallit are ontologically sinful. Perhaps you ought to take that up with Jesus (who wore them) and the woman who was healed by touching the tzit-tzit on his tallit. Mnemonic devices are not the problem, unless it is the created and not the Creator being worshiped.

I would suggest you study the difference betwen solo and sola scriptura instead of building yet another strawman.

I have done so, and what was described above by me as SOLO (not SOLA) Scriptura is an accurate assessment – an example of the Regulative Principal gone awry and the common cry of “discernmentalists” who like finding new and interesting ways to find fault because either a) “we’ve never done it that way before”; or b) “The RCC once did that (or still does it in some form) and therefore it is damnable”.

9   Dave Muller    http://blog.thewebsiteguy.com.au
May 20th, 2008 at 7:05 am

Solo Scriptura

I picture a Christian zealot in the Millennium Falcon roaming the galaxy for sins. I find all these silly terms created simply as a way to narrow who’s in. I really don’t understand what they have to do with anything.

10   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
May 20th, 2008 at 7:08 am

Very funny Dave. :)

11   John Hughes    
May 20th, 2008 at 7:13 am

“Solo” scriptura is new to me. Article to reference please. :-)

12   Chris P.    
May 20th, 2008 at 7:39 am

Here are two links

This article by Keith Mathison

http://www.modernreformation.org/default.php?page=articledisplay&var1=ArtRead&var2=19&var3=main

and this link to his fine book on the subject of sola scriptura

http://www.amazon.com/Shape-Sola-Scriptura-Keith-Mathison/dp/1885767749/?tag=fishtheabys-20

No one here seems to understand the difference betwen the two.

13   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
May 20th, 2008 at 7:39 am

John – my poor theological understanding between the two is this.

Sola Scriptura believes that only Scripture can be used by the church to come to spiritual truth.

Solo Scriptura believes that every individual believer, apart from the church and its offices and gifts, can come to spiritual truth.

Arguments like these are very unattractive to me. Latin words and man made phrases and incomplete creeds, its just so…well…Calvinistic. I just picture scholars with robes and hats going back and forth over nuanced doctrinal issues while the world dies spiritually.

I prefer Hans Solo! :)

14   Timothy Bell    http://catmandudespeaks.blogspot.com/
May 20th, 2008 at 8:43 am
There is nothing scriptural about the rcc [Roman Catholic Church] at all.

I’m sorry you seem to be so filled with hate toward part of the body of Christ.

Without comment to the main topic of the thread, I do want to address the above.

Just because Shammah Ben Agee doesn’t believe the RCC is scriptural at all, doesn’t mean he *hates* them. Just like I believe that homosexuality, thievery, and drunkeness is unbiblical doesn’t mean I hate homosexuals or thieves or drunks. You can believe something is unbiblical or that someone is doing unbiblical things and *not hate* them. I too believe that RCC in it’s doctrine is mostly unbiblical (at least) but that doesn’t mean that I hate all Catholics. So Shammah Ben Agee is likely to be talking about the RCC *doctrine* versus the Catholic themselves. To say that he *hates* Catholics would be over-reaching speculation in my view.

15   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
May 20th, 2008 at 9:06 am

Solo Scriptura is basically taking the Regulative Principal to extreme – the difference between believing that Scripture is the greatest authority of truth (Sola Scriptura) vs. that it is the only source of truth (Solo Scriptura).

Some, like the writer in one of Chris P’s links, see the rejection of creeds and traditions as a form of Solo Scriptura, though it is deeper than this. One can eschew creeds, traditions and systematic theologies without subscribing to Solo. What it comes down to is whether or not one adheres to the Regulative or Normative Principal as guiding the faith and practice of the church. (Mark Driscoll did an excellent teaching on this earlier this year.)

Within my own church’s tradition, there are two primary branches that split over this back in the mid 1800’s – one branch (Independent Church of Christ, A Capella) went the Solo route in which only those things taught in scripture are acceptable for worship and practice in the church (thus, they have no musical instrumentation in worship, among other things). The other branch (Independent Christian Church, Nondemonimational) went the route of the Normative principal (still fitting with Sola), which said that only those things prohibited in Scripture are prohibited from worship and practice in the church.

So, Solo Scriptura can take the form of rejecting anything outside of scripture as authoritative (like automatically rejecting practices from the RCC not found in scripture, but not violating scriptural prohibitions – or automatically rejecting first century Jewish/Christian practice from extra-Biblical records but not found in Scripture) or a more extreme form, rejecting anything not instructed in scripture as acceptable for the church (like musical style, church meeting time, etc.)

16   Neil    
May 20th, 2008 at 9:34 am

I find the inability of some to recognize the difference between methods and meaning to be amazing. So, if you propose we are to avoid anything the Roman Church does (or has ever done) it would carry more weight if you were consistent about it.

Neil

17   Neil    
May 20th, 2008 at 9:39 am

Our church does a modified “Station of the Cross” every Good Friday. It is thoroughly biblical and one of our more spiritually meaningful services.

Neil

18   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
May 20th, 2008 at 9:43 am

Neil – nothing wrong with that. Chris, the sola vs. solo thing is just another debate topic that parses things so fine the argument itself sucks the life out of the Word over which they argue.

19   shammah ben agee    http://endtheapostasy.blogspot.com
May 20th, 2008 at 9:50 am

My My
Your rhetorical spin on my statements are amazing.
Timothy obviously understood what I said re: the rcc, why are you unable to?
I do not hate anyone. However I will say with absolute certainty none of the practices of the rcc are scriptural. Shall I list them?
The holy sacrifice of the mass, adoring the wafer,transusbstantiation, goddess worship,membership in the rcc as the only means of salvation, this includes baptismal regeneration, veneration od relics, praying to the dead, Mary as mediator between us and her son,etc etc. too many to put down here.Their practices are the fruit of teaching unbiblical doctrine and the the notion that the church has auhtority over the word. IOW the very foundation of man made dogma and doctrine is demonstarted by their man made practice and ritual.
I do not see how you arrived at the conclusion that I am expressing hatred toward catholics. Most of my relatives are still in the rcc.There may be catholics who are truly regenerate, but the institution has nothing to do with it.
As for my reference to the mustard seed icon, I was demonstrating the fact that we do not build altars to Jesus use of symbols. The rcc however builds all kinds of altars and they dont even use the symbols and metaphors that Jesus used.
As for the tallit, where did I infer that it is ontologically sinful? The hebrews were told to make and wear them. Jesus wore one as I am sure the apostles did. I was making a comment re: your penchant to hammer us with judaism as if we are all ignorant of these things.
Solo scriptura is not the regulative principle awry. It is a subjective and relativistic approach to interpretation which would make it more in ine with the post modern church.
I personally disagree with the RP in that we can sing the entire bible and not just the psalms, and the use of instruments is not forbidden.
I also find those who are just so far above the usage of the terms solo, sola, whatever, to be the epitomy of holier than thou. They care more about lost souls than the theologian types who discuss the unimportant things such as the scriptures.. This is based on what knowledge?
You call us gnostic? I care enough about the lost to make sure that what I am telling them is proper truth.

No one here seems able to exegete comments let alone the bible.
There is one true church, and the rcc is not it.

20   Neil    
May 20th, 2008 at 9:52 am

Rick,

Of course, I agree… but others here would not since even if there is nothing wrong with it, in and of itself, it’s wrong because someone else does it…

Neil

21   Neil    
May 20th, 2008 at 9:55 am

On the other hand… on Maundy Thursday we set up a bunch of stations throughout the building and encourage people toward various devotional exercises. Some within our fellowship are uncomfortable with this.

When you press them as to why or what is wrong – the only thing they can come up with is varying degrees of “Because of who else does this…” nothing inherently wrong with the event itself.

I guess people are inherently tribal.

Neil

22   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
May 20th, 2008 at 9:57 am

Neil – the real problem is that many who overreact to things like prayer stations (which is just providing different requests or focuses) maybe do not pray at the cross at all. I am a partial mystic at heart and yet I certainly see a danger is doctrinal melding.

23   Brett S    
May 20th, 2008 at 10:07 am

A few thoughts from an actual, living, breathing Roman Catholic:

“Or are we dismissing it simply because the Catholics came up with it first?”
I’ve tried to find other viewpoints, but sadly that’s often what I run into.

As an amateur Catholic catechist, I’ve spent the past year trying to understand reformed/protestant/evangelical theology a little better (mostly so I can give a more accurate/fair presentation to my inquisitive students). I’m constantly amazed that people who claim to follow such rigorous systematic theologies seem to lack any common sense. A blind eye is turned to the Catholic origins of such things as the BIBLE, and the trinity; but devotions, symbols, saints, and crucifixes are Bad because, well they’re Catholic.

Also (from the original post), it’s not quite fair to say that Catholics “created” transubstantiation, anymore than they “created” the incarnation in Mary’s womb. They just came up with the fancy words to describe it.

24   Neil    
May 20th, 2008 at 10:11 am

If we (SBC) only acted like we believed in Sola Scriptura. – Jim

Jim,

I don’t see the connection between Sola Scriptura and the use of symbols. How does the use of the latter deny the former? Maybe you could elaborate on how their use (action) violates Sola Scriptura?

Neil

25   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
May 20th, 2008 at 10:12 am

Welcome, Brett –

I understand where you’re coming from, and agree. I would note for you that a number of the writers here don’t follow systematic theologies, as such, preferring to defend Christianity (as a whole) than our theological system of choice (or predestination :) )…

26   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
May 20th, 2008 at 10:13 am

I don’t see the connection between Sola Scriptura and the use of symbols. How does the use of the latter deny the former? Maybe you could elaborate on how their use (action) violates Sola Scriptura?

Neil,

This is where I assumed Solo and the Regulative Principal were coming to play…

27   Neil    
May 20th, 2008 at 10:17 am

Brett S.

I would argue it’s silly, shallow, and wrong to oppose implementation of something based on some supposed taintedness by Roman Catholics, at the same time I would take issue that Roman Catholics are the originators of the doctrine of the Trinity.

28   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
May 20th, 2008 at 10:26 am

Brett – the things you mentioned are really not the issue. The Roman Church teaches salvation by works. They are not alone in this, but that is the reason for the Reformation.

29   Neil    
May 20th, 2008 at 10:37 am

I should have said that as well –

Welcome Brett S.

Neil

30   Brett S    
May 20th, 2008 at 10:48 am

Neil,

It’s my understanding (I’m willing to be corrected) that the Nicene Creed settled the doctrine of the triune God. I don’t think there were any Southern Baptists in attendance at that meeting.

Rick,

I am certain that the “Roman Church” does not teach “salvation by works”. The Catholic Church teaches (as I teach my students) that salvation is by the Grace of God.

My understanding of history is that the main reason for the reformation was bad/sinful/hypocritical Catholics (in addition to politics); but that’s not really the issue of this post.

31   Brett S    
May 20th, 2008 at 10:54 am

Thank you for the welcome!
Peace

32   nathan    http://www.nathanneighbour.com
May 20th, 2008 at 11:01 am

Protestants don’t worship icons? Go into any church building and renovate the place…. taking down the obligatory polished and stained cross on the stage. See how many people will leave over it. We did at our SBC church, and 75 people left. Don’t tell me that protestants don’t have our icons.

33   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
May 20th, 2008 at 11:04 am

Brett – These are two quotes from Vatican II.

“Basing itself upon Sacred Scripture and Tradition, it teaches that the Church, now sojourning on earth as an exile, is necessary for salvation.” That is works including the necessity of baptism. The document also suggests that one can lose his salvation by not continuing in good works.

This sentence is about the salvation of those in other religions.

“Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience.”

Notice the “strive by their deeds”. It seems as if the word “grace” is defined as empowering to do good works towrd salvation. An accepted evangelical definition would be that through faith God’s grace saves us without any consideration of works, and in fact, adding works pollute the grace offering.

The main thrust of the Reformation was “The just shall live by faith” and it was in direct opposition to the works oriented Roman Church. I appreciate the opportunity for dialogue.

34   Neil    
May 20th, 2008 at 11:19 am

It’s my understanding (I’m willing to be corrected) that the Nicene Creed settled the doctrine of the triune God. I don’t think there were any Southern Baptists in attendance at that meeting.

‘Tis very true. Though I would argue that there were no Roman Catholics either…

Neil

35   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
May 20th, 2008 at 11:24 am

Neil – John the Baptist preached in southern Judaea so the Southern Baptist’s chain was unbroken! At the Nicene Creed was the great x 20 grandfather of W. A. Criswell named Ebeneezer Criswell! :)

The Trinity is not the issue either.

36   Brett S    
May 20th, 2008 at 12:43 pm

Neil,

You’re probably right that the people at that council would not have called themselves “Roman Catholic”. But I do find a comforting historical continuity in the fact that the Nicene Creed in still publicly professed in every roman rite Catholic church both as a statement of belief, and as and act of public worship.

37   Brett S    
May 20th, 2008 at 1:03 pm

Rick,

I’m no theologian, but I do pray and read the word of God, and I have a love for studying the bible, the catechism, and church history.

I have read many of the Vatican II documents (my favorite and most familiar one being “Dei Verbum”). I haven’t studied all of the Vatican II documents, but I would agree that some can be confusing when taken out of context.

Catholic doctrine teaches that salvation is through Jesus Christ. He’s the only one that gets to judge who’s saved and who’s not. I enjoy studying theology, but I find myself agreeing with Mother Teresa (on theologians): “They talk too much. Pick up a broom and help someone sweep the room; that says enough.”

38   Tim Reed, Owosso MI    http://churchvoices.com
May 20th, 2008 at 1:10 pm

Brett is hitting all the hot buttons. Roman Catholicism, Mother Theresa, and servanthood.

39   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
May 20th, 2008 at 1:20 pm

Brett – Catholic theology teaches that sincere and pious adherants of the other religions of the world will be saved. It specifically mentions kind and loving Muslims. Do you agree? And if so, where in the Scriptures is that taught.

That theology is at the core of what it means to be saved. True servanthood can only be exhibited by a born again believer in Jesus Christ, not by everyone who “picks up a broom”.

40   Neil    
May 20th, 2008 at 1:35 pm

You’re probably right that the people at that council would not have called themselves “Roman Catholic”. But I do find a comforting historical continuity in the fact that the Nicene Creed in still publicly professed in every roman rite Catholic church both as a statement of belief, and as and act of public worship.

True and most Protestant churches would hold to it as well, though most do not recite it regularly. That (and the date of the council) is why I would say the origins of trinitarian theology are a shared heritage, not one that originated in any one’s particular past.

Neil

41   Brett S    
May 20th, 2008 at 2:18 pm

Rick,

No, I don’t agee with your statement; but it is not catholic theology. The bible assures us that Jesus Christ is the “the way, the truth, and the life”. The bible also assures us that God is sovereign, and he alone decides who’s saved. So whether he saves a sinful catholic, a Truly Biblical protestant, a pious Jew, a good Samaritan, or a thief on the cross; they are saved by Jesus Christ. We are not saved because we are kind and loving, we are saved because Jesus Christ suffered, died, and rose again for us.

Some may say that’s a contradiction, but I believe it’s one of the great Christian paradoxes, revealed by the Word of God.

42   Brett S    
May 20th, 2008 at 2:27 pm

Neil,

Agreed, I think the Roman Catholic Church is committed to (and will rejoice) in having the Nicene Creed as a “shared heritage” for all Christians.

Even the parts about “one holy catholic and apostolic Church”, and “one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.”

43   Neil    
May 20th, 2008 at 3:15 pm

And you hit the two phrases that some, if not most, Protestant churches would take issue with… the use of “catholic” and baptismal regeneration.

As for “catholic” – this is due to ignorance on the meaning of the word when used apart from “Roman Catholic.” Plus guilt by association as evidenced above by those who say protestants cannot use anything that catholics do.

As for the latter – most of us just disagree with it.

Neil

44   Brett S    
May 20th, 2008 at 5:02 pm

Neil,

Thank you for restoring my faith in the common sense of my fellow Christians.

45   Neil    
May 20th, 2008 at 6:17 pm

Brett S.,

Well now you have done it – kinds words of agreement from a Roman Catholic… my fate is sealed. :)

Anyway, like some others I do have some serious theological/biblical issues with Rome.

But I refuse to lower myself to the silliness of opposing passing from Station to Station, with certain prayers at each and devout meditation on the various incidents in turn just because Catholics do…

Neil

46   Dave Muller    http://blog.thewebsiteguy.com.au
May 20th, 2008 at 8:01 pm

The Trinity is not the issue either.

Ah Rick, one of the few normal Christian friends I have :)

I prefer Han Solo!

Just remember – he didn’t shoot first! I’m actually drawing a serious parellel to this that creeds shouldn’t shoot first.

47   Tim Reed, Owosso MI    http://churchvoices.com
May 20th, 2008 at 8:04 pm

Just remember – he didn’t shoot first! I’m actually drawing a serious parellel to this that creeds shouldn’t shoot first.

Not even Apollo Creed?

48   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
May 20th, 2008 at 8:30 pm

What do you call a “doctrine” that is ambiguous at best in the Scriptures, no one can understand, no one can explain, evry illustration is a joke, and was so nebulous that godly men had to finally just agree without having a lead pipe lock Scriptural explanation?

The Trinity. How can we completely substantiate its absolute truth if we cannot explain it? What is the difference between:

* God is one person revealed in three distinct manifestations

* God is revealed in three distinct persons

And by the way, Jesus said they were all one and if you see Jesus you see the Father, and the Scriptures use the Holy Spirit and Jesus interchangeably when referring to who dwells inside a believer. Let me put it this way, I believe in the Trinity, whatever that means!

The obvious issue throughout church history is the deity of the Lord Jesus. That is paramount and has redemptive truths attached to it. To say that because a man who believes in salvation by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus, is not saved because he believes Jesus is a revelation of the Father or vice versa, is to add to salvation.

The core issue is: Is Jesus the exclusive divine Savior and is salvation by faith in Him alone? (no baptism, no good works, no church membership, no communion, nothing)