Over the past several years, as conflict has increased–not just in the Episcopal Church, but in every denomination (and no, I don’t think its just the mainline…)–many people I have known through their theological writings have left their denominations and joined the Roman Catholic Church. All of these people, some of whom I’ve had personal contact with, are faithful Christians who, looking at the discord within Protestantism whether that manifests itself as ongoing schism or moral laxity, became disgusted.
From that perspective, the allure of Rome, the “Eternal City” is very compelling. When one sees the moral confusion of the Protestant Churches, the moral clarity of Roman doctrinal statements comes as a breath of fresh air. But this allure can be deceptive–while the official documents of the Roman Church in regards to morality, may be supremely admirable, as is its defense of Christian society from the onslaught of secularism, the disease that has infected the public statements and now practices of many Protestant Churches has also infected Rome… indeed, its manifestation may be even more insidious.
I want to be clear, I think there is a great deal to respect about Rome. As I have been put the question by many–from seminarian classmates to one professor–as to why I am not Roman Catholic (I should point out, one fellow seminarian also asked me why I wasn’t a Missouri Synod Lutheran) I went through a period of reflection as to why exactly I am not, and do not feel called to be a Roman Catholic. Additionally, I was exposed to a number of wonderful and faithful Roman Catholics at the Acton Institute’s Toward a Free and Virtuous Society Confernece in Grand Rapids, who helped me to see during our discussions where our perceptions were still quite far apart on some issues.
My hope, in the next series of posts, is to examine from a theological perspective and then a practical perspective why I will not be swimming the Tiber (to the chagrin of some liberal protestants who would love to see me and others go). Later, I will examine what is keeping me from swimming that other body of water, the Bosphorus, which I am probably closer to theologically than I am to Rome.
I want to thank Ithilien for his reflections on The Breakdown of Protestanism and The Case for Protestantism, as they provided much food for thought and inspiration.