Francis Beckwith

Francis Beckwith is going to hell.

Actually, I don’t believe that at all. He has, however, deconverted from evangelicalism and reconverted to Catholicism. Here’s his story.

I must admit, I only felt this way once before. It was the summer of 1996, and pro-wrestling was in a bad place. WWF story lines were way over the top, and WCW was continuing to suck like it always did. Then, out of nowhere, two guys from WWF start “invading” WCW. Fun enough. But the gut wrenching moment came when Hulk Hogan joined forces with them, turning heel for the first time. This outraged so many rednecks at the event that they started pelting the ring with garbage like Hogan had just surpassed Dale Earnhardt for wins at Talladega. I sat in amazement as Hogan switched teams, as he left the good guys and joined the bad guys.

Sadly, this is how many bloggers are portraying Beckwith’s turn. I wish I could say I had taken the high road, yet I could not deny that the whole time I was reading his article I was struck with the same feeling I had when Hogan joined forces. It was a sheer mix of unbelief, mixed with sadness. The question I have sought to answer over the weekend is: do I, or any other crazy Christian bloggers, have the right to be upset?

I actually had no problem with Frankie’s reasoning when it came to doctrinal issues. I totally agree that the church has totally blown the reformation way out of proportion, to the extent that you would have a hard time figuring out if certain guys ever thought the church existed between the Creeds and Luther. That being said, I created a list of my problems.

- For someone who knows the gospel well, Beckwith will have a hard time that the Catholic church makes the person and work of Jesus the central issue.

- For someone in touch with the university culture, Beckwith will have a hard time making a case for the cultural relevancy of how the Catholic Church does church.

- For someone who bases their entire work on logic, Beckwith will have a hard time explaining the Eucharist.

- Beckwith should also have a hard time explaining the lack of checks and balances within the Catholic Church structure.

- Beckwith should have a hard time explaining infant baptism.

- Beckwith should have a hard time explaining how many people who are confirmed haven’t truly repented of their sins, and really don’t know Jesus.

BIG PROBLEM — I HAD TO ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS FOR THE CHURCH

– Most evangelical churches don’t even make the person and work of Jesus the central issue.

- Obviously some people find the Catholic Church relevant (like Beckwith’s nephew, and a few of my co-workers to be specific).

- At least the Catholic Church focuses of Jesus’ death each week, how often do most Evangelical churches choose to “remember” Jesus’ atoning sacrifice?

- Evangelical church structure. Right, that’s going well (google pastor and arrested and see what happens)

- Infant baptism. Wait, Evangelical churches do that. Wait, John Piper’s church
accepts (correction:is friendly to) those baptized as infants. Crap.

- How many people have “accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior” and have never repented of their sins, and don’t really know Jesus?

My major problem in seeking to answer the questions that bothered me about Beckwith’s turn is that they all were true of Evangelicalism as well. If we look hard at Beckwith’s reasoning we will see a man who sincerely loves Jesus, and has found a Church that enables him to worship Jesus. Most bloggers need to realize that Francis could smoke them in a debate, so it might be best to put down the Mac for a while and pray about it.

I am not saying I am in love with how the Catholic church, or how it operates. Nor am I saying that I would ever encourage someone to go to a Catholic Church. I am simply saying that I grabbed by bag and gathered as many stones as I could, but when I looked into my heart, I couldn’t find a single good reason to even throw one stone.

Matt

14 Responses

  1. Matt,

    Just for clarification. Bethlehem Baptist (where John Piper is pastor) does not accept infant baptism as meeting one of the qualifications for becoming a member of the church. The church did discuss changing the rules to allow this in certain specific cases, but the proposal was withdrawn and no changes were made at that time.

  2. Matt,
    after reading the bulk of evangelical reactions in Beckwith’s blog post, as well as on some other blogs, your post made me feel o.k. again about being an Evangelical. Thank you for dropping rather than hurling your rocks.

    From Vienna, Austria,
    Wolf

  3. stones are heavy anyway, may as well put them down and eat a sandwich!

  4. Let’s face the truth. If you believe that you are saved by grace alone, not human work can save you. If you say that an act of free will, the acceptance of Jesus Christ as your personal savior, saves you, then you don’t believe in salvation by grace alone. You make salvation the result of your own human act of choice. Luther and Calvin both understood this and rejected “believer” (my own work, my act of will, saves me baptism). Arminianism and its spawn, believer baptism, was imported into Protestantism by Jacob Armininius who borrowed it form the Spanish Jesuit, Luis de Molina. Go read Richard Muller’s work on this. Baptists are nothing but works-righteous Catholics in another guise. American evangelicalism is a stink in the nostrils of the Reformers.

  5. Matt,

    Let’s just say this is one of my favorite blog posts of all time…by anyone. Incredible truth, honesty and humor.

    It is people like you that keep Protestant-Catholic dialogue going in the right direction. Truth and good natured.

    Peace,
    Kevin
    (a Catholic revert)

  6. This “cradle” Catholic welcomes Dr. Beckwith. Former Baptist minister, Scott Hahn, and former Presbyterian Minister, Marcus Grodi are amongst many, many who have “crossed the Tiber” back to the true church and do a wonderful job of explaining Catholicism to our separated brethern. I hope Dr. Beckwith will do likewise. Again, welcome back and God bless.

  7. Thanks for openly sharing your thoughts on how you processed the news. Most reactions on both sides have been what one would expect, but your discussion was refreshingly different.

  8. Much Ado about Nothing. Trading one delusion for another? The fables are the same……the same fundamental and arrogant beliefs. The only difference is that he will now be supporting church payments to victims of pedophiles. Both systems believe in hell and I fail to see the morality of belief in eternal punishment. To borrow from Chistopher Hitchens, “Religion poisons everything”.

  9. Patrick the only problem with your comment is that it assumes some things are bad, such as pedophilia being somehow wrong. I would like to know how you came to that conclusion and on whose authority is it wrong? Yours? If if is religion that poisons everything you first have to tell me why is it bad that everything is being poisoned by religion, so what? And what is poison? Just a few things I need to understand before I can process your comment.

  10. […] I wrote during the last 20 minutes of my lunch break. Last Monday I wrote a blog entitled “Francis Beckwith” In it I compared the evangelical world’s reaction to Beckwith decision to revert to […]

  11. So, the hard-core Prots are torqued that he left, and claim he is betraying the Reformation. Well, YEE-HAH! Go for it Dr. Beckwith! The Deformation needs all the traitors it can get.

  12. THE BIBLE AND HISTORY!

    I recommend that no evangelical or Protestant dive and get drowned in the Church History. It is a dangerous path for them. Why? Because they will rise up and find that they have been saved by the LORD through HIS 2000 year old church.

    Cheers!
    Lalit.

  13. I was a student of Beckwith at TGS in the late 90’s. I have not spoken with him about his conversion. However, I do know, whether you agree with it or not, the decision was not made without much soul searching and analysis.

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