Saturday, July 28, 2012

Stellman to Join Roman Church

I miss this picture when it was
part of Stellman's original blog.
Almost two months ago, Jason Stellman resigned from the Presbyterian Church in America because he no longer believed in sola fide and sola scriptura.  This led to accurate speculation that his public interaction with Roman Catholics on the internet had made an impact.  Many (ourselves included) made the educated guess that he might be leaning towards becoming a Roman Catholic, and that suspicion has now been confirmed.  In a piece that was posted over at Called to Communion (evidently, that is the place to do this sort of thing) called "I Fought the Church and the Church Won," Jason stated the substance of his decision.
My stated reasons for stepping down were that I could no longer in good conscience uphold my ordination vow that as a PCA minister I sincerely accept the Westminster Confession and Catechisms as containing the system of doctrine taught in Holy Scripture. More specifically, I no longer see the Reformed doctrines of Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide as faithfully reflecting what the Bible teaches, which is why I will, Lord willing, be received into full communion with the Catholic Church sometime in the next several months.
What is most remarkable about the reasons he gives in the post are the very "protestant" methods which he used to arrive at a very personal judgment: "But what Catholicism is, I have come to discover, is true."  I am fine with coming to believe that a self-authenticating authority is right.  People do that every day by the help of the Holy Spirit when they believe the Scriptures.  But Rome's view is not that the Scriptures are self-authenticating.  For Rome, the teaching magisterium authenticates the Scriptures.

The thing is, the Called to Communion apologetic method is to tear down a person's faith in the perspicuity of the Scriptures so that one has no choice but to look around for a source with its own claims of authority, i.e. the teaching magisterium.  But if the Scriptures aren't clear enough to be understood in the first place, then the conclusion that the Bible teaches submission to Roman authority is self-defeating.  The Roman Catholic apologists tell you to go to Scripture to see if what they say is true, and then they tell you that you can't know what the Scriptures really say until you accept their parallel claim to authority.  However, a counter-argument for the inperspicuity of the magisterium can easily be made (this book is a great example).  If one is left with an inperspicuous Scripture and an inperspicuous Church, then all one has left is skepticism.

Another way to illustrate the irony of Jason's journey from Protestantism to Catholicism is to liken the journey to traveling a subway.  Jason's journey was through a tunnel that modern Bunyan might call 'Personal Judgment'.  Now that he has passed through that tunnel, the Pope will blow the charges behind him and tell him what a terrible way that was to travel.

For those interested, who don't live in the blogosphere, I'll show you some points of interest:
  • In the comments section over at the latest GreenBaggins post, Jason has already shown that he is now an amateur apologist for the Roman Catholic Church.  Those interested may want to see for themselves.
  • James White has written a response here and then a follow-up response here.  Jason met with during his final season of decision (call it what you will) and James shares some thoughts on their conversations together.
  • Another point of interest, which some may be interested in, is that Jason's article at Called to Communion has been taken down.  When I asked the webmaster at CtC about this he said it was removed for "personal reasons" though they hope to have it up again at some point.
  • Turretinfan has also done sort of a blow by blow commentary on Stellman's original article.  It is here that one can still read the substance of Stellman's original article from CtC.
Given the fact that for some time Jason blogged for us here at Bring the Books, we wanted to comment how delighted we are that Peter Leithart isn't claiming that Bring the Books is a gateway drug to Rome.

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