What’s God saying ?

Wondering in to a Christian bookshop for a quick browse. A lovely friendly sales assistant says hello as she shelves books. She hesitates for a moment, then pulls a book from the shelf and gives it to me saying it was excellent. She’d recently heard the author speak and thought I’d enjoy it.

I look at the book. It is by Mark Shea and is called By What Authority?: An Evangelical Discovers Catholic Tradition. I read the blurb. It is about a former evangelical Christian’s conversion to Catholicism and tells his journey of coming to the conclusion that Rome was, after all, the one true church.

So, how to interpret that little exchange in the bookshop? The sales assistant didn’t know me from Adam. We’d had no conversation. This was the only book of its kind.

I ask myself, ‘Gosh do I look like an ‘evangelical’ or something?’ That’s vaguely alarming.

OR

Is God trying to tell me something!?

OR

Something else come to mind?

 

Comments, as ever, welcome

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6 thoughts on “What’s God saying ?

  1. Hi Norman – or that huge black zipped KJV.

    Does raise interesting questions: numbers of ‘conversions’ from evangelical Christianity to Catholic Christianity have been well documented and studied (and vice versa). As someone I heard say recently, going to an evangelical church service is a bit of a ‘crap shoot’ in terms of ‘what you get’ – songs, liturgy (unlikely), sermon content, prayers, length, music, leadership structures. Can be wonderful, can be less so.

    Some themes behind the ‘return to mother church’ is liturgy, historical continuity, authority as opposed to the freewheeling unpredictable and more sometimes and very local forms of evangelical church life.

    Or, as I think Carl Trueman has said, evangelicals need good reasons not to be Catholics if Catholicism is seen as the ‘default’ historical position of Western Christianity

  2. Some of the most unnerving experiences I have had on the evangelistic front have been with devout Roman Catholics .As far as I can remember I was seen as unsaved and in great need of coming in from the cold in order to get under the umbrella of Rome. There was no real exchange of ideas as these devotees were not going to listen to reason. It reminds me of the many talks I have had with Mormons and Jehovahs Witness folk? My way or the highway type idea? Now …there is always something to learn as the Lord never lets us away that lightly….and its this I think..:.Do I .. as I try to bring the light of the Gospel to bear in someones life come across as someone who has got all the answers and will just not listen to the philosophies and invariable mish mash of ideas that people hold dear in order to make sense of life outside of Gods Kingdom? Sobering? Plank removal anyone??!!

  3. I must admit i was rattled by this line of thinking some time ago and it does have some good points to it . It goes like this:

    Sola Scriptura necessarily devolves into owns own self deciding what interpretation of the bible is truth. Therefore protestantism has no principled way of distinguishing between opinion and truth- even if they turn out to be in agreement . Therefore God must have left a mechanism that doesn’t require an assent of opinion but rather an assent of faith -this mechanism is the magisterium .

    I believe its a fair enough argument as far as it goes. The assent of faith would have occurred when Jesus and the apostles were around- for at that time if you wanted to know what was true you just asked them and you had to agree! But in the end all though Protestantism does have an “epistemological hole” within in it but in the end i have to believe that Catholicism does too.For if the magisterium was indeed guided by the Holy Spirit then we wouldnt see revision but i think we do in which case the mageisterium’s claims are just wishful thinking and the catholic is actually in the same state as the protestant when it comes to finding truth.
    For me the question is raised then is why is God ok with allowing us an authority (the bible) that is in some parts ambiguous? Would he have not wanted more definitiveness to our beliefs??

  4. Here is what i just said restated better:

    if nobody on earth after the Apostles has the same degree of divine authority as theirs to say which propositions are and are not de fide, then the question where to draw the line between theological opinions about the data of revelation and divine revelation itself reduces, always and necessarily, to a matter of opinion. And that effectively renders the entire subject of divine “revelation” a matter of opinion, not of revelation. That is the reductio of denying divine teaching authority to some entity justly deemed “the Church.” As Newman so pithily put it: “No revelation is given, if there be no authority to decide what it is that is given.” Such an authority cannot of course decide on its own “what is given”; to serve its function, it can only do so with the subject matter and the authority Jesus Christ has given it. But if such authority has in fact been given it, then when it interprets Scripture and Tradition in a manner intended to bind the whole Church irreformably, the Holy Spirit guarantees that those interpretations will not be false.

  5. Richard, sorry for the fantastically delayed response. haven’t got back to the blog for a while.
    “why is God ok with allowing us an authority (the bible) that is in some parts ambiguous? Would he have not wanted more definitiveness to our beliefs?”

    I think that’s a fascinating question. I started writing a response but it turned into a whole post on its own. I’ll tidy it up and post it …. blessings

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