As you may have heard, a few days ago Jason Stellman, a PCA pastor in Seattle area, announced on his blog that he was leaving the PCA because of questions surrounding sola Scriptura and sola fide.  By all appearances Stellman, a graduate of Westminster Seminary (Escondido) and the author of a 2009 book arguing for a Two Kingdoms theology, is leaving Protestantism for Rome. This move has generated even more interest because Stellman recently pressed charges against Peter Leithart in the Pacific Northwest Presbytery for deviating from the Westminster Standards with the latter’s Federal Vision theology. Not surprisingly, Leithart has weighed in on Stellman’s announcement, with Stellman explaining his actions in the Leithart prosecution here and saying more about his decision to leave the PCA here. If you’re interested, Doug Wilson and Carl Trueman have also had something to say about the whole mess.

What should be said about such an ordeal? I’ll leave it to others to dissect the ins and outs of Leithart’s trial and Stellman’s prosecution. I’m not qualified to do so. I’ll also leave it to others, for the time being at least, to mount a defense of sola Scriptura and sola fide. Without knowing Jason, I’m not going to judge his motives or how he’s handled the process. It looks to me as if Jason kept his ordination vows by making his reservations known to the presbytery and resigning his position. He appears to be a man of honesty and integrity, even with mistaken theological conclusions.

Instead of weighing in on any of that, I simply want to remind of us two points that we can easily forget when a somewhat high profile evangelical converts (or seems about to convert) to Rome.

1. Let’s remember that the traffic across the Tiber is not one way, not by a long shot. Because we live on the Protestant side of the river many people notice when one of our guys becomes Catholic. That’s natural when we may know the person’s books or have heard him at a conference or recognize him from the academy. But when a prominent Catholic becomes Protestant, we are unlikely to know about. How many evangelicals can name one prominent Catholic writer, speaker, or theologian alive and popular at the moment? I bet most evangelicals can’t think of more than two or three, like Scott Hahn and the Pope Benedict XVI, but Scott Hahn we know only because he used to be Protestant and the Pope is rather an unlikely convert. If there are Jason Stellman’s or Christian Smiths making the pilgrimage to Colorado Springs (or Grand Rapids, or Dallas, or Orland), few of us would know anything about it.

More importantly, we should remember that almost any Protestant church of any size in this country will be well populated with ex-Catholics. I know we have many in our congregation. They often come because their Catholicism was an empty tradition or they never knew the gospel or they never really heard the Bible taught. I’m not indicting every Catholic or claiming to explain every Catholic conversion to evangelicalism, I’m simply reminding us that the flow across the Tiber has benefited evangelicals more than it has Catholics.

Chris Castaldo, a former Catholic himself, understands the reality well:

According to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life’s U.S. Religious Landscape Survey Changes in Americans’ Religious Affiliation there are currently 15 million former Catholics in America attending Protestant Churches, two-thirds of whom do so as evangelicals. Inactive or “lapsed” Catholics are 27.5 million strong in the US according to the Pew Forum. They constitute roughly 10 percent of the U.S. population, making them the second-largest religious demographic in America behind Roman Catholics at 77.7 million and ahead of the Southern Baptist Convention (at 16 million plus).

All that to say, let’s not think the Catholic church is emptying our evangelical churches. Quite the contrary.

2. Let’s be cautious about tracing a straight line of historical determinism which can explain someone’s change of mind. Why steps occurred and what thinking got in place which led Jason Stellman to reject sola Scriptura and sola fide? Only Jason and the Lord know for sure, and maybe only the Lord. Was Two Kingdoms theology the gateway drug? Confessionalism? A high view of sacraments? An appreciation for history and liturgy? It could be all or none of the above. And even it were all of the above that would not necessarily indict anything on that list. Granted, there are some common themes that surface among converts to Rome (e.g., tradition, beauty, authority), but it’s best to stick with the stated reasons for jumping the good ship Protestant and refrain from the temptation to psychoanalyze.

The human head and heart are complex. Even when patterns and missteps are noted in hindsight, we should be wary of creating tidy sequences of first this, then this, then that. As David Powlison points out in his masterful essay “The Ambiguously Cured Soul,” this historical determinism is what mars so much of today’s counseling. We think Judy hates women because her mom was mean, but the same mean mother could have just as likely “produced” a Judy that craves the approval of women, or becomes addicted to bad men, or dedicates her life to making sure women have the affection she never knew. In the same way, it’s tempting to think we know which doctrinal emphases might lead someone to Rome (or worse). But as a general rule such warnings are worth little. Someone might first get attracted to Rome because of a robust view of church tradition, or because he read G.K. Chesterton, or because he saw A Man for All Seasons, or because he loves the music from The Mission, or because he once went on a tour of Italy out of his deep love for lasagna.

If our theology is unbiblical or imbalanced let’s talk about that. But if our theological interests overlap with those typically associated with Catholicism, don’t send out the doctrinal fire trucks just yet. There is no straight line from Wheaton to Rome, no one wrong turn at Orland Park that gets you on the fast track to the Vatican. I’m not sure what else Stellman might have gotten wrong on his way to leaving Protestantism, but I do know that he’s sadly getting sola Scriptura and sola fide wrong. And that’s what should concern evangelicals.

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77 thoughts on “Two Things to Keep in Mind When Evangelicals Turn Catholic”

  1. JasonFSU says:

    I must say that I belong to the “homeschool” community. Right now, it is definitely dominated by our Protestant bretheren. I know from personal experience that this movement to homeschool is a calling of faith! Our Catholic families in our very small Catholic parish – maybe a total parish of 400 families, has several families who homeschool, and the families that homeschool, like mine, have 4+ children. We, homeschool families, Protestant and Catholic alike, are the future of this nation. We are bringing into light more children, and brighter children than our selfish counterparts. It is NOW that we must unite, based upon our similarities, against the onslaught of the dying-off liberal left. Our children will be this nation’s, and perhaps this World’s leaders. Let us take this chance as Christians to find our our similarities and unite (even if we can’t come into total Communion – which I hope we ultimately can) and through Ecumenical goals push the benefit of Christian faith forward! Demographics show that atheists’ live birth rate is down – no wonder considering the push for at-will abortion and sterilization. WE ARE THE FUTURE OF THIS NATION AND THE WORLD. Let us unite in compromise, and then let us discuss those differences that cause the rift.

  2. david bacon says:

    Those who leave the Catholic Church may do so because of it’s rigidity to the Gospel. Those who leave the Protestant Church may do so because it has become too liberal. I realize that it is over simplifying things but that is how I few it. Jesus placed a tremendous load on Peter’s shoulders: Whatever he bound on earth would be bound in Heaven etc. Call it infallibility. Call it leadership. Catholic tradition is rigid. There have been many grave errors, some foolish (a flat versus round earth) and some serious (inquisition). The reformation tried and succeeded in re-forming the church Christ founded. In some cases, I think it has gone too far. As unconditional as God is with his love and forgiveness, He does demand a certain amount of loyalty.

    So some Catholics depart in disagreement with certain aspects of teachings. And some Protestants/Evangelical turn to the Catholic Church for just the opposite. They want everything in black and white. True, there is tradition. There is condemnation of certain lifestyles, not that they are addressed on Sunday, but as a matter of policy. In the Protestant faiths, ordination of openly gay folks is somewhat common. For some, that may have been too much since that lifestyle (not the individual) is condemned briefly in both the old and new testaments. For others, maybe it is the nonchalant attitude toward divorce or abortion. Who is to say? For what ever the reason, people leave one denomination for another. Maybe, some, after reading and studying the bible, turn to the Catholic church believing it to be the true Church, the church place in Peter’s capable hands. Possibly they want to belong to a church where there is absolute proof of Apostolic Succession. For those leaving the Catholic Church, it may be they have a more liberal view of what a church should be and what Jesus taught.

    I wrestle with thoughts along those lines each and every night. Each day, I read about the atrocities committed in the name of Islam. I condemn them. I view and on occasion comment on a news story and refer to the Koran as a fanciful hijacking of the Bible. I have even gone so far as to allude to their prophet being close to the anti-Christ. Each night I pray for forgiveness. This wrestling is non-stop, day and night. It is infuriating. I grew up Catholic in the 1950′s and 60′s. It is not comfortable trying to shake off certain Catholic beliefs. I quit trying years ago. I started attending the Episcopal Church in 1973, found it very comfortable, traditional, and Catholic. Today, I find it too liberal. I find myself being very judgmental of people and organizations during the day. Call it being a conservative. At night, in the darkness, I beg forgiveness and become more tolerant of others and their beliefs and lifestyles. Who am I to judge? Call it being liberal.

    Switching churches, not a common belief, is not easy to define. It is possible that the Holy Spirit guides these people, for the purpose of their individual salvation.

    This article, and the comments have been very entertaining and enlightening. I fear I will lose even more sleep. But I will continue to pray and believe.

  3. Guy Fox says:

    Members of Opus Dei and the Latin Mass crowd are not becoming born agains; Catholic conversions to Protestant (numerous) are in nearly every case the uncatechized. The worrisome aspect for Evangelicals must be the quality of the converts to Catholicism. See the “Called to Communion” blog is written by a dozen Westminster grads for a case in point. John Henry Newman was a great loss for the Protestant cause in the 19th Century and beyond. It is my prayer and prediction that these continued conversions (particularly the reversion of Evangelicals who were baptized Catholics) will power a great revival in the Catholic Church.

  4. Mark Gordon says:

    It is true that Evangelicals are very good at attracting nominal Catholics, or Catholics whose knowledge and understanding of their faith was poor. My own father, a Baptist minister, built a congregation from scratch in a heavily Catholic area by attracting nominal or ignorant Catholics. The interesting thing, though, is that converts to the Catholic Church usually don’t have the same character. Like the PCUSA pastor cited above, they are typically serious Evangelicals, already conversant in Scripture, theology and church history. That has long been the case, from John Henry Newman right through to Francis Beckwith. It is extremely rare for a knowledgeable, practicing Catholic to convert to Evangelicalism; and one almost never encounters a Catholic priest, bishop, deacon or theologian who converts. The flaws in Evangelical theology are too great, beginning with Sola Scriptura.

  5. John the ex-Protestant says:

    Joel,
    I may be pathetic and you may think my life has been meaningless but I know I am loved by God, and always have been. Can you say the same? I don’t question your doctrine but I must question your faith. You faith appears to be in Sola Fide and not in oor gracious loving God. Your words betray you.

    Bill, Barry and others,
    Thank you for your kind words. They belie a different relationship.
    The biggest factor in transitioning to the Catholic Church was the reading of the early fathers of the first 200-300 years, then Karl Rahner and even a few schismatic Catholics. I do have over 2000 mostly Protestant theological volumes so I am not totally ignorant of Reformed theology. I followed R.C. Sproul and others for years and still read their material.
    Sure our country was founded on Calvinist theology and revivals have come from those with less than perfect theology but socially the Catholics have done more for this country than any other religious group for the past 150 years. Doctrine doesn’t change people’s lives. The grace of God does. He will use whoever is available. It is a matter of the heart.

  6. Wesley says:

    i think part of the reason there is such difference between those who convert from Catholicism to Protestant and vice versa is that the protestants who turn Catholic are looking for a vibrant active faith while those Catholics who turn protestant are looking for an easy faith that is anti-biblical for Jesus Christ took his followers to count the cost, take up their cross(burden), and follow him. many evangelicals are looking for a rapture that they claim is found in scripture by taking verses out of the historical context placing in the presumed context of the rapture. they use this made up doctrine of the rapture to sit back and not care about leaving an inheritance for future generations. oh John there is a reason that Catholics have done more for this country in the last 150 years than evangelicals is that is about the time the rapture doctrine first appeared on the scene.

  7. Randy131 says:

    In the Bible Jesus sanctioned the Catholic Church in Mathew: Ch.16 Vs.13-19, and Jesus sanctioned all Protestant Churches in Mark: Ch.9 Vs.38-41 and Luke: Ch.9 Vs.49&50, and the person who wrote this article should be ashamed for attempting to divide GOD’s people just because they worship in different denominations. As far as the falsehood that Catholics are not taught scripture, if one attends Mass everyday for 3 consecutive years, they will be taught the entire Bible through the readings during the Mass, and the Sermons by the Priests explain what the readings mean. I am a Catholic, and may not know the scriptures as well as some, but I can assure you I know them better than most. What makes me sad is that most Protestant Churches don’t have what GOD the Father cursed His first hand picked King of Israel, Saul, for violating, and that is traditional ceremonial rites. Also as a Catholic, I can attest that no man is infallible, even when given the power to hold or release another of his sins, as Jesus gave to Peter, and is handed down to the leaders of the people of Jesus’s Church.

  8. ned kelly says:

    NOT belonging to either catholic or protestant i hope you are both smart enough to realise the fase teachings of both and be open enough to take the truth as a friend instead of clinging to ‘tradition’ at the expense of your soul.

  9. david brown says:

    Yeshua Ben Joseph….”Jesus the Christ of God” prayed that His Disciples be ONE.

    Hmmm…..Long ago the Catholic Church split between Rome and Eastern Orthodoxy and the Church of England and I believe it is about to split again between the American Church and Rome. Martin Luther saw the problem…..”SIN.” He set out to correct it….it resulted in man establishing ANOTHER Church of Jesus Christ…..”The Protestant Reformation.” This “pattern” has been going on the last 2,000 years and it hasn’t ended. Someone some where is establishing a “NEW” Church of Jesus Christ” as I type. Today we have over 500 denominations of Christianity not counting alternate forms of “cult” Christianity. The Campbellites tried to break this “pattern” back in the 19th Century by claiming “Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ” and it resulted in two “non-denominational” branches….The Church of Christ and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Mormon. (Incidentally, the Church of Christ and the Mormons have a bunch of their own schisms too!) The Gospel of Jesus Christ sure has been through a lot changes under the banner of Theological differences.

    Does this sound like an answer to Jesus’ prayer? I ask this question because I was born and raised Roman Catholic. I left the Church for eight years and worshipped in the Church of Christ. They convinced me they were the ONLY true Church of Christ. I believed them until I noticed the same hypocrisy there that I saw in the Catholic Church. I suspect this hypocrisy is a characteristic of ALL religions because ALL religions are made by men and ALL men are sinners. Ironically, I returned to the Roman Catholic Church AFTER reading the writings of Martin Luther and Erasmus of Rotterdam and I accept the Apostolic Authority of the Church ON THE PROTECTION OF THE GOSPEL. However, there are many doctrines I do not accept because they are un-Biblical like mandatory celibacy in the clergy. The Church even recognized the un-Biblical nature of the Doctrine of Limbo and it has been officially nullified by Benedict XVI. You may ask why I don’t leave again because I disagree with so much of Canon Law and Catholic Doctrine. The anwer is because of Martin Luther. He desired not to REFORM the Church but to correct it. Contrary to what many Protestants believe about the Catholic Church, including the the author of this article I am responding to, THEY DO teach the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the trappings of Tradition and Sacraments that tend to cause confusion leading the skeptic to conclude that the Catholic Church is not the Church established by Christ Himself. It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ that Saves a person, NOT the many doctrines and traditions all Churches have. I would also like to point out that the Protestant Reformation came long after the New Testament was assembled by the early Catholic Church. There would be no New Testament for the Protestants to follow if this were not true.

    It is also interesting to note that the Catholic Bible is complete in both Old and New Testaments. However, the Protestant versions of the Bible have removed the Books of Maccabees from the Old Testament. I suspect this was a reflection of the anti-Semitism present in the Reformation movement. The Roman Catholic Church became very anti-Semitic itself in the Middle Ages as indicated by the horror of the Spanish Inquisition. As with the nullification of the Doctrine of Limbo started by John Paul II and completed by Benedict XVI , John Paul II also officially purged anti-Semitism from the Church with his visit to the Knesset in Jerusalem, Israel when he asked forgiveness for this SIN for the whole Church. A reminder…Jesus did not say the Church would be Holy and without blemish…He said… “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Was He talking ONE Church or 500?

    I suggest that Christianity has failed in its’ duty to spread the Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We opine over the illusions of Islam and New Age movement that entraps so many people from knowing the Truth but we have ourselves to blame for that because we know Satan is a “toothless lion” so blaming him is a “cop out.” The Church should be VERY worried and REPENT because Jesus said “many of the elect in the Church will stray from the Truth in the end times.” It is happening with the new “Chrislam” movement….a hybrid of Christianity and Islam….. AND sadly…one of the most dangerous factors dividing the Church today is a surge in anti-Semitism rsulting in a Church that believes “Israel” IS the Church (Replacement Theology) and the True Church that is “grafted to the Fig Tree” through the Blood of Christ. The “Fig Tree” is Jacob…whose name was changed to Israel by God Himself. John 14:6 states that ALL men must be saved through Christ and in fact they are. The confusion is caused by those who do not understand Covenant Theology. The New Testament does not nullify God’s Covenants with Israel…it FULFILLS THEM. It is a New Testament in the Blood of Christ…NOT A REPLACEMENT COVENANT. God promised He would restore Israel and bring them “home” after the Diaspora caused by disobedience. He did NOT say the Jews will become Christians! Such arrogance because Jesus IS the Jewish Messiah! You say Jews rejected Him and still do. They do? News to me. According to the Bible they are waiting for Him to come and restore the Kingdom to Earth. We Christians too are waiting for His Second Coming to restore the Kingdom of God to Earth. First time for Jews….Second time for Christians? YES….that’s what the Bible teaches.

    It is hatred of the Jew that causes so many to not see this Truth and miss the most important SIGN Jesus gave concerning when He would return and restore the planet to the Kingdom of God. His Disciples asked Him when He would restore the Kingdom. He didn’t say when ALL people accept the Gospel (including Jews) and peace comes to Earth. (Believe it or not..some Christian cults teach this apostasy! The Gospel is for the individual to prepare for the restored Kingdom…..NOT restore the planet. That’s Aquarius astrology illusion or New Age “enlightenment” illusion.) Jesus answered His Disciple’s question with this statement….. …”When you see the ‘Fig Tree’ sprout leaves, you know that summer is near.”. Folks….He wasn’t talking “Fig Newtons!” Study the Old Testament…”The Fig Tree” is ISRAEL. Jesus’ Prophecy was fulfilled on May 14, 1948…..the restoration of the Nation of Israel after 2500 years. The “blossoms” appeared on the “Fig Tree” on June 11, 1967 when East Jerusalem was restored to Israel after the “Six Day War” with Egypt. The “fruit” is here and “ripening” as a result of the Yom Kippur war of 1973. The Iranian nuclear threat is not just for Israel …it is the final SIGN of the transition for the whole world. Anti-Semites and Replacement Theology Christians (oxymoron!) have no clue what is going on. I pray they repent soon because I am BIBLICALLY convinced we are the generation Jesus spoke of that will NOT experience physical death and will witness the RETURN of Jesus Christ EXACTLY the same way He left 2,000 years ago (Acts 1:10-11) and the restoration of God’s Kingdom to Earth under the Reign of Jesus Christ as King of Kings and Lord of Lords BECAUSE the Bible IS the INERRANT Word of God and FINAL AUTHORITY. (It’s the Lord’s Prayer folks….”Thy Kingdom Come Thy Will Be Done On Earth As It Is In Heaven.”)

    BTW….Islam sure know what’s going on and their plan is to STOP the restoration of God’s Kingdom (revealed in the Bible) and establish Sharia Law over the whole world under the dictatorship of the 12th Imam Al Mahdi. (For those who believe the Islamic belief IS God’s restored Kingdom under their god Allah…I suggest you read Joel Richardson’s “The Islamic Antichrist”)

    I am a retired Biology teacher and I am very familiar with the “battle” between Science and Religion especially over Darwinism and I have noticed that the factors involved in the “battle” are almost the same as in the “battle” between Catholicism and Protestantism. Both are driven more by emotion, prejudice and blind faith than by true facts. Ironically, I believe this emotional error common to both Science and Religion is based the common illusion that God is SEPARATE from His Creation and that He interacts with His Creation through the “supernatural.” God’s Laws are PERFECT and therefore He does not need to operate outside of His own PERFECT Laws I submit that the “supernatural” is the “un-discovered natural” and the new breakthroughs in Quantum Mechanics and String/Bubble/Brane Theory is rapidly verifying this Truth as the discovery of Quantum Entanglement has so eloquently revealed. Quantum Entanglement is easily demonstrated and it is not “fantasy” or “supernatural” and it WILL be the basis of the next generation CPU input and output ports. (Computer companies don’t spend billions of dollars on research on “fantasy”…follow the money if you seek truth!)

    Science, prior to the “Age of Enlightenment” of the late 19th and 20th Centuries, embraced Biblical Wisdom and in fact Science training required Biblical knowledge. Unfortunately Science has left Biblical Wisdom behind and as a result they view a Creation and Life that has “no cause”…. a violation of the Scientific principle of “Cause and Effect.” Science recognizes that Louis Pasteur’s proof that Spontaneous Generation is invalid and that this resulting Law of Biogenesis cannot be broken. (ALL life MUST come from pre-existing life.) Ironically, because Science is biased by Religion’s view of a SEPARATE God, they claim that spontaneous generation first occurred at the bio-molecular level and then eventually an entire living cell. (Miller/Urey amino acid experiment is used as evidence in this argument, however, the Laws of Thermodynamics prevents a “jump” to the nucleic acid “information molecules” (DNA and RNA) via the molecular collision mechanism because of chemical reaction energy barriers. Biochemical synthesis and pathways require enzyme catalyzed reactions to bridge the energy barriers and enzymes are functional proteins which are polymers of amino acids. The problem is you need the enzymes to break the energy barriers but the information needed for those enzymes is recorded in the DNA and the mechanism of transcription and translation that synthesizes those enzymes requires RNA . You will notice we are confronted with the same paradox as in “What came first, the chicken or the egg?”

    The answers to the above questions are easily answered when you realize God is NOT SEPARATE from His Creation and His Laws and the sad part is Jesus Christ revealed this Truth 2,000 years ago but instead of recognizing God, they made ANOTHER man made Religion out of Him. Pasteur added to this Truth in 1859 but again, we did not “get it.” The ANSWER is God and His Creation and His Gift of Life always existed and always will…no beginning and no end, BOTH the Bible and Cosmology reveals this Truth. This no doubt verifies that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God and FINAL Authority on man’s place in the Cosmos. “What came first, the chicken or the egg?” NEITHER!!!!!!

    Astrophysicist Stephen Hawking in his new book recently stated that the Laws of Physics are so constituted that God is NOT required for Creation. Obviously, he is making the same assumption about God being SEPARATE from Creation that Religion does. He also is stating that the Laws are the “Cause” of the “Effect” of Creation. Funny he should put it that way because the Bible says God is “The Word” (John 1) which is “language” and mathematics is the “purest form of language” there is so Hawking has actually inadvertently proved the Existence of God!

    One of the biggest obstacles involved in the “battle” between Science and Religion is Darwinism and that “man evolved from apes.” Well…I hate to break it to you…Religion has this part RIGHT but for the WRONG reasons and Science has it totally WRONG for Scientific reasons. Man did NOT evolve from apes because there simply was not enough time from the Simian base to Homo sapiens based on the nature of DNA mutation, the ONLY source of “new” natural genetic codes.
    (over 99% of mutations are lethal and less than 1% of those that are not lethal occur in germ tissue. (only ones passed on for Natural Selection to act on) In addition gradual speciation as a result of Natural Selection tends to disperse the genome to values lower than 95% common genome found in apes and humans. It was IMPOSSIBLE for the 5% genome that makes us human to have occurred through Darwin Natural Selection in the time available. Darwinism, however, is most definitely how the wonderful diversity of plant and animal life formed on this planet.

    The “key” to understanding how the first man Adam was Created is found in the Book of Genesis and since Science rejects Biblical Wisdom today…they miss this awesome Truth. The Bible states that “God Created Man in His Image”…and the clue to the mechanism He used is found in the plural nature of the passage…” Let Us Create Man in OUR Image.” (Gen 1:26) Christianity resolves the plural problem by creating the Doctrine of the Trinity. The Trinity is NOT Three God’s In ONE…it is 3 manifestations of the ONE TRUE GOD. The Book of Genesis was originally written in ancient Hebrew and the Word for God in the passage in Hebrew is Elohim which did not mean more than ONE God…it means exactly what it says.. “Let US Create.” The Scripture is written this way because it tells the Truth who God is. Jesus revealed this God in the Flesh because He was the Incarnation of our God. He made it VERY clear that God dwells within us and works through us and within and through His entire Creation. (Those who accept Me accept the Father and we will come into him and live in him. (John 14:23)

    So…man did NOT evolve from apes and God works through His Creation and His perfect Laws and not by “magic” as required by man’s fundamental interpretation of Genesis. How did God do it? Science reveals the answer but neither Science or Religion “gets it.” God Created man in His Image Through his Created Children via RECOMBINANT DNA Hybridization of Simian stock. This is the ONLY explanation that is compatible with the Bible that makes Biblical sense and eliminates the need for “blind faith” in “fantasy.” We are God’s Children and the Children of the Cosmos are our “brothers and sisters”…our Cosmic Family.

    The exciting Truth is that fulfillment of Biblical Prophecy tells us that Earth will soon be restored to the Kingdom of God when Jesus, the hybrid Starman (50% human through Mother Mary and 50% Divine through God’s intervention) returns to Earth (exactly the same way He left..Acts 1:10-11) to establish His NEW WORLD ORDER under His Reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords from His ancestor King David’s Throne in Jerusalem, Israel. The fulfilled Fig Tree Prophecy tells us THIS IS SO.

    In the Glory of God…..

    David Brown-Oswego, NY [email protected]

  10. Michael Snow says:

    I would disagree with your point number 1. I have been an evangelical Christian all my life and only remember one other conversion to Catholic faith being known widely [Elizabeth Elliot's brother]. I remember many stories about Catholics becoming protestants.

    But I suppose the experience and knowledge of rank and file Christians is much different than that of professionals.

  11. Francis says:

    @Michael Snow

    Please name some of these “many” Catholics becoming Protestants.

  12. Mrk says:

    I’m amazed at the number of “Catholic Apologists” overwhelming this board. To my evangelical brothers and sisters, be warned this is a growing trend, and I think the vapidness in many evangelical churches creates fertile ground for new converts, looking for more “liturgy” As for the more “educated” reformed folks converting, I have a theory it’s more about being “right”. In many testimonies there’s an underlying search for the “true church”, and the RCC makes a compelling case. My hope is that these folks dont discontinue their quest and act as “reformers” of some sort in the near future.

    As for the attacks on the 40,000 denominations of protestant churches, I say, “Please.” if you use the same logic to come up with that number, then there are over 750 Catholic denominations. Please stop with that meme. The other attack on Sola Scriptura meaning “anything” based on one’s private interpretation, try using that excuse on a cop who pulls you over for running a stop sign. Also, where is the RCC’s “official” interpretation of the Bible? You won’t find it. The three-legged stool (Magisterium, Scripture, Tradition) is really a one-legged stool(Magisterium) whenever there is perceived conflict. Also, the RCC did not official recognized the Bible until AFTER the Reformation (Trent). I’ll stop there….

  13. Doug Grok says:

    Ummm… actually, no. The One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church that was founded and given all authority by Jesus Christ, after setting the canon of the Bible in 325, CONTINUALLY “affirmed” it as such for the next 1,400 years. It never had to “officially” recognize the Bible as no one ever suggested there could be any other “version”. Until Martin Luther was not able to reconcile HIS personal “theology” with some of the old testament; specifically those that dealt with “purgatory” and praying for the dead. ML himself wanted to exclude James and Revelation from the New Testament as well but that, of course, would have been even more trouble. Your spurious “one legged stool” example falls flat (pun intended) when seen in the light of the fact that the Magisterium operates under the direct influences of scripture and tradition and cannot be separated from them. Give me one line, just one, from the CCC that is not a beautiful, clear, black and white rule for life here on earth. RCIA groups are forming today… Come home. God bless.

  14. Perhaps the reason for so many conversions to Rome is the inadequate understanding of Catholicism among protestants. Some the of the comments above reflect the dearth of understanding of Catholicism. “the RCC did not official recognized the Bible until AFTER the Reformation (Trent).” Where’s that from? A Chick tract I suspect.Once the evangelical protestant finds out what the Church says for itself and not some caricature, the heart and mind become open to conversion and the protestant absorbs the truth like a sponge.

  15. Renee Lin says:

    I think Jason Stellman answered the Chris Castaldo quote quite well in a blogpost written in April of last year:

    “The number of people who have left the Catholic Church is huge.” So begins Thomas Reese in his article for the National Catholic Reporter titled “The Hidden Exodus: Catholics Becoming Protestants.” According to a Pew Research Center report, one out of every ten Americans is an ex-Catholic, meaning that if all the ex-Catholics in this country formed their own church, it would constitute the third largest denomination in the United States.

    By all accounts, that is a staggering statistic.

    What I found interesting about Reese’s article is his assessment of the kinds of Catholics that are choosing to leave the Church. The common view among serious Catholics, at least in my experience, is that when people switch teams, Protestantism receives the worst of Rome’s members while it is usually the best and the brightest Protestants who defect in the other direction. Reese disagrees, saying, “We are losing the best, not the worst.”

    The difficulty comes in, however, when one understands what Reese means by “the best.” The Pew study suggests that while the vast majority of Catholics who convert to Protestantism become much more involved in their new churches than they were before, their reasons for leaving include “their needs not being met,” “their finding a church they like more,” and “their enjoying the style of worship of their new faith.” In fact, Reese goes out of his way to point out that “doctrine is not that important to those who become Protestant.”

    So let me get this straight: those who are leaving the Catholic Church for greener Protestant pastures are doing so not for any theological reasons, but primarily because they have found churches that they like better, but whose doctrine they don’t really care about? And these are Rome’s “best”?

    I almost don’t know where to begin, but I’ll just shoot off some rapid-fire responses and let you all weigh in with your thoughts: (1) Dear ex-Catholics, please do not come to Exile Presbyterian Church, because it is not the kind of place religious consumers tend to like; (2) If you do like it, it’s probably just a coincidence, as in, biblically-ordered worship just happens to coincide with your personal tastes at the moment, but when your tastes change, we won’t; (3) I kind of have to commiserate with the Catholics on this one. The church I pastor has lost our share of members due to the allure of seeker-friendly and consumer-driven churches (I just got a mailer from a church down the road that’s having a helicopter Easter-egg drop this Sunday. I’m almost tempted to send my kids there.); (4) Finally, the kind of people who will leave Saint So-and-So’s Parish for Mars Hill will eventually leave Mars Hill for Saddleback, and then Saddleback for Willow Creek. Whatever you hook ‘em with won’t hold ‘em for long, so you’d better sweeten the bait to keep them interested (or better yet, put them in a position of leadership so they feel indispensible).”

  16. Mrk says:

    Michael, An Ecumenical Council (not a magiterium) recognized(NOT created) our current NT canon in 397AD (I know there’s disagreement during this time as to “who was in charge (pope or local bishop/elders)” so we don’t need to go there.) which had been widely accepted for a long time prior. It was not until Trent, in RESPONSE to the Reformation that the Catholic Church officially recognized their complete canon, including the 14 books of the Apocrypha. I don’t even know what a Chick Tract is…..I know many ex-Catholics in my congregation who can run rings around most people on the CCC, Church History and the Reformation, so some of these theories don’t hold up.

  17. Rose says:

    I left the RCC about 30 years ago, mainly because I had become convince of the priesthood of all believers, which I found precluded the hierarchical polity of the Roman Church. I also was convinced that trans-substantiation and other aspects of the Mass (accept this sacrifice from our hands) was not Biblical. I was not rebaptised, and I have been concerned about the misconceptions and prejudices protestants have about works-righteousness and the RCC. I have since been tempted to “go home” for no other reason than the Presbyterian churches I have joined also seem to have a very hierarchical polity in practice, and often don’t understand the sacrament of the Lord’s supper to be anything other than a memorial, a view I also don’t see as Biblical. I almost feel like a Ron Paul supporter saying there has to be something different, both parties are headed in the same direction. The “something different” I think is a church sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. I’m not talking continuationist, though I find that many, as soon as I mention the Spirit, assume I am, just the Spirit-sensitive sensibilities of reformers like Calvin.

  18. Sabine says:

    Interesting. There are gateway drugs in the Protestant theology?
    You really think so? Do you tell us that some Protestant doctrines must be accepted without question? Because those who think too much about this or that, are in danger of becoming Catholic?
    This is new. Protestant scholars usually accuse the Catholic Church just take that attitude.

  19. Bill says:

    Reading the many Catholic views here is rather interesting because of the level of deception or ignorance in their responses. They seem to insist that those leaving the RCC were shallow nominal Catholics that never understood the depth of actual Romanist doctrine.
    Well, I left Romanism many years ago and never turned back. I was raised in a serious RCC family. My mother had spent time in the convent. My brother attended RCC seminary, studying for the priesthood and left as an avowed atheist. My sister took two runs at the convent, only to leave disillusioned both times. My other sister was raped by a thoroughly serious Roman Catholic layman in our parish.
    I went to RCC school for 12 years, was taught the Baltimore Catechism, knew my Catholic doctrine, went to church every Sunday, served diligently as an altar boy, wore the medals of saints for the various reasons taught by the RCC, partook of the sacraments, and was taught to pray the rosary faithfully at night, etc, etc.
    Through the influence of the priests and the insanity of the nuns in high school I became disillusioned with the hypocrisy of the RCC and started drifting.
    However, God is gracious and I began reading the Bible on my own. It didn’t take long to figure out that much of what I imbibed in the RCC wasn’t found anywhere in Scripture and was often contradicted by it. (This, of course, is why the RCC forbade its members to read the Bible or translate it in the common language.) When I was honestly struggling with questions, I approached our local priest about them and was castigated as someone that wasn’t willing to stand for the faith. But what was that faith?
    As a Catholic, I was raised with stories of the Saints, to whom I was to pray, only to be told by priests and nuns after Vatican II that many of these accounts were either untrue or exaggerated. (So much for an infallible church.) As a child I was given a pamphlet entitled “Our Lady of Fatima’s Peace Plan”. Once again, it was filled with ideas that had no Scriptural basis. To this day, I defy any Papist to defend the doctrines taught therein from Scripture. (BTW – If it matters to the RCC apologists, it contained the Imprimatur from the Archbishop of Indianapolis, 1950.)
    Of all the supposed serious Protestants that swim to Rome, not one of them has ever written a biblically credible defense of Mary as the “Queen of Heaven”, the command to convert the world to the “Immaculate Heart of Mary”, the idea that Mary gives us grace at the hour of our death, or the absurd notion that the Son of God “cannot refuse” the dictates of His mother (all of these are found in the above mentioned pamphlet).
    So, Jason Stellman, Scott Hahn and anyone else can go to Rome. But they do so only by whitewashing those teachings of Romanism that obscure the gospel and denigrate the work of Jesus Christ.
    But when RCC apologists imply that the only ex-Catholics are those that are ignorant of the doctrines taught therein, they are either misinformed in what they say or are outright lying.
    By the grace of God, I have found a home in a Reformed church – warts and all. I have had my life turned around by the love of Jesus Christ and the Spirit of God through the holy and infallible Scriptures and am convinced that living by God’s word is possible without a pope because Jesus lives.
    I have read the attacks by the Romanists against Protestants and, by grace alone, I am secure enough in Christ to know that I needn’t tremble over their slings and arrows. In Christ alone I have been set free from the bondage of sin, forgiven, and released to serve the living God. Therefore, I don’t need the historicity or security of the papacy to bolster my courage or direct my steps.
    I suppose that those who are convinced of Romanism will simply disregard my thoughts as those of a disgruntled malcontent. So be it. Jesus Christ is still my Lord, His word is my infallible standard, and the Church of which He alone is the head (which comes in many shapes) is my family as well as the family of all those that take refuge in Him alone.

  20. Alray says:

    Mary’ Queenship is based on a number of elements. First, Mary’s maternal relationship to Jesus, the King of Kings. Second, the Blessed Virgin’s association with Jesus’ work of redemption. Third, the royal dignity possessed by all members of the Church, including Mary, which is fully realized in heaven. This last element is, in a sense, an extension of Mary’s association with Jesus, only under the aspect of her relation to the Church. Scriptural explanations of these points can help Protestants recognize Mary’s royal dignity.

    Mary’s Maternal Relationship With The King Of Kings: The Queen Mother

    Mary’s Queenship is first based on her maternal relationship with Jesus. Here the ancient Hebraic notion of the Queen Mother applies to Mary as Mother of the Messianic King, Jesus Christ. In ancient Israel, the most important woman in the monarchy was generally the queen mother, not the queen. In the southern kingdom of Judah, the kings’ wives were apparently never “queens.” It was the queen mother (Hebrew, gebira or “Great Lady”), the king’s mother, who was honored and who wielded authority as a counselor to the king.

    In 1 Kings 2:19, Bathsheba, the queen mother of Solomon, is honored by her son, who stands to greet her and pays her homage when she comes to him on a matter of state. The Bible declares, “Then he sat down upon his throne, and a throne was provided for the king’s mother, who sat at his right.”

    Furthermore, the queen mother often advised the king. Proverbs 31:1-9, for example, summarizes the advice King Lemuel’s mother gave him on how to govern. Included are warnings to the king against focusing on his harem and against excessive drinking, as well as an appeal that he care for the poor. The close link between the king and the queen mother can also be seen in Jeremiah 13:18. Jeremiah warns of the judgment to come on the monarchy and includes the queen mother: “Say to the king and to the queen mother: come down from your throne; From your heads fall your magnificent crowns.” Apparently, not only the king but also the queen mother wore a crown.

    Psalm 45:9 refers to the Queen Mother standing at the king’s right hand, arrayed in gold. Hebrews 1:8-9 applies this psalm to Jesus as Messianic King. By extension, Psalm 45:9 would then apply prophetically to the Messianic King’s Mother, Mary.

    Which brings us to the New Testament. These texts provide the Old Testament background to Mary’s role in the New Testament. At the Annunciation, the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would conceive and bear a son whom she would name Jesus. Then Gabriel declared, “The Lord God will give him the throne of his David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end” (Lk 1:32-33; RNAB). Since Jesus is certainly the Messianic King, it follows that Mary’s role is that of the Queen Mother of the Messianic King. This explains why St. Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, would say to her younger cousin, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Lk 1:43; RNAB).

    This is the language of the royal court, with the subordinate (Elizabeth) addressing a royal superior (Mary). Elizabeth was honored, not merely by the presence, in utero, of the child Jesus, but also by Mary herself. Elizabeth said, “Who am I that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?” Elizabeth was honored by the presence of Mary because she is the Queen Mother of the Messianic King, Elizabeth’s Lord.

    Mary’s royal dignity as Queen Mother is also evident in Revelation 12, the heavenly vision of the “woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Rev 12:1). The vision depicts the Woman as “Queen of Heaven” insofar as she is both a queenly and heavenly figure — the Woman wears a crown of twelve stars and appears in the sky, in heavenly glory — clothed with the sun and with the moon beneath her feet.

    Furthermore, the Woman is a mother. According to v. 2, “she was with child and she cried out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery.” Verses 5-6 state that the Woman “brought forth a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne.” Verse 17 refers to “the rest of her offspring . . . those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus.”

    The “male child . . . who is to rule all the nations” is the Messiah; the reference is drawn from the Messianic Psalm 2. But who is the Woman? Some commentators have argued that she is the Church, not Mary. Others see the Woman as the Old Testament People of God personified, e.g., the Daughter of Zion. Both of these interpretations have merit, for both express aspects of the Woman. Yet neither of these interpretations is sufficient by itself. Mary must also be included in the passage, though the case for a Marian interpretation of the text is not as obvious as it may seem at first glance.

    For one thing, the Woman gives birth “in travail,” seemingly contrary to the tradition that Mary was exempt from the pangs of birth. Second, immediately after giving birth, the child is “caught up to God,” something difficult to understand in terms of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem. Third, many of the early patristic commentators on the text saw the Woman as Israel or the Church.

    And yet there are also problems with these non-Marian interpretations. The Dragon, i.e., the devil, pursues the Woman after she gives birth to the Messiah. Unable to attack her, the Dragon then makes war against the Woman’s other offspring. If the Woman is Israel, how is it that the Dragon pursues her and makes war against her children? These children are clearly disciples of Jesus (Rev 12:17). Why would Israel be depicted as the Mother of Jesus’ disciples, which is what would be the case if the Woman were simply Israel? Furthermore, is it likely that John would depict Israel as the Mother of the Messiah?

    On the other hand, if the Woman is the Church, how do we account for her giving birth to the Messiah? One plausible explanation is that pains of birth refer not to the physical birth of the Messiah, but to Jesus’ Crucifixion. There are at least two reasons for this. First, because the text says immediately afterward the child was “caught up to God” — which fits better with the resurrection and ascension of Jesus than His birth in Bethlehem. Second, because the Lord Himself speaks of His disciples suffering over their loss of Him as like a woman in travail (Jn 16:21).

    Even so, there are still problems with the Woman as the Church. For one thing, the Dragon and the Child are individual persons. It seems inconsistent that the Woman would refer to a collective such as the Church or even Israel, when the other two figures in the text are individuals. For another, the Church seems to be the Woman’s “other offspring” — although one could argue that the Woman is the Church as Mother in relation to individual Christians as her children. A third reason why the Woman seems not to be the Church — or at least not only the Church — has to do with the fact that the Book of Revelation is part of the Johannine corpus of writings. In John’s Gospel, the “Woman” is clearly the Mother of Jesus, who, it must be noted, was at the crucifixion and there referred to by Jesus as “Woman” (Jn 19:25-27; cf. Jn 2:4). If the childbirth in travail does refer to the crucifixion, then the Woman of Rev 12 could just as well be Mary at the foot of the Cross, as the Church. The other Johannine reference to “Woman” — Jn 2:4, the wedding at Cana — only strengthens this view. There, “Woman” clearly refers to the Mother of Jesus.

    A fourth problem with the Woman of Revelation 12 being the Church: the vision of the Woman is based on Genesis 3:15, where God tells the serpent (i.e., the Dragon; cf. Rev 12:9) that God will put enmity between the serpent and “the woman,” and between His offspring and hers. The Woman of Genesis 3:15 is Eve, but if the text is interpreted messianically and prophetically, it applies to Mary. Revelation 12 seems to be such a messianic and prophetic interpretation of Genesis 3:15, so it seems likely that the Woman is Mary.

    That said, elements of the other two interpretations can be brought together in a Marian interpretation (cf. Redemptoris Mater 24, 47). After all, Mary typifies God’s People of both the Old Testament and New Testament. She was a true daughter of Israel, indeed, the “Daughter of Zion” awaiting the salvation of the Messiah (cf. Zeph 3:14-17 and Lk 1:28,30-31). At the same time, she was also the first person of the New Covenant, for through her Immaculate Conception she was the first to benefit from the salvation of Christ and through her faith in the angel’s message to her, the first explicitly to believe in Jesus as Savior.

    Mary is at once the “personal summa” of Israel – at least of the faithful remnant of Israel — and of the Church, the new Israel. In that respect, she gives birth to the Messiah — not only in Bethlehem, but in her collaborative suffering at the Cross. She also becomes Mother of the Church there, for by the word of her own Son Jesus, she becomes Mother of the Beloved Disciple, who becomes her son (Jn 19:25-27).

    Perhaps the best interpretation of the Woman of Revelation 12, then, is Mary as the embodiment of the People of God in the Old Testament and New Testament. Since this Woman is a royal heavenly figure — the Queen of Heaven — it follows that Mary is the Queen of Heaven; she is Mother of the King “destined to rule the nations with a rod of iron.”

    Mary’s Cooperation In Jesus’ Work

    Mary also has a royal dignity because of her cooperation in Jesus’ kingly, redemptive work. Her grace-enabled cooperation helped introduce the Kingdom of God in the person of her Son Jesus. Her “yes” to God’s plan at the Annunciation was the means by which God in Jesus inaugurated the Kingdom (Lk 1:26-38). And her ongoing cooperation with the divine plan throughout Jesus’ ministry also furthered the Kingdom. Finally, Mary suffered with the Messianic King, her Son, at the foot of the Cross. If the Cross is the means by which Jesus entered into His Kingdom, defeating Satan and purchasing mankind with his blood, then Mary’s association with Jesus’ kingly suffering on the Cross has a royal quality to it as well. On the Cross was Jesus, the true “King of the Jews” (Jn 19:19-22), and at the foot of the Cross was the Queen Mother to the King (Jn 19:25-27), sharing in her Son’s sufferings (Lk 2:35) and therefore His royal glory.

    Another way to understand Mary’s queenly dignity in her cooperation with her kingly Son: her role as the New Eve, collaborating with her Son, the New Adam, in the redemption of the world (cf. Rom 5:12-19; 1 Cor 15:21-23). Christ’s victory over sin establishes His Kingship as the New Adam. Mary cooperated in that as the New Eve, hence she shares in His royal dignity. In his encyclical on the Queenship of Mary, Pope Pius XII taught:

    If Mary, in taking an active part in the work of salvation, was, by God’s design, associated with Jesus Christ, the source of salvation itself, in a manner comparable to that in which Eve was associated with Adam, the source of death, so that it may be stated that the work of our salvation was accomplished by a kind of “recapitulation,” in which a virgin was instrumental in the salvation of the human race, just as a virgin had been closely associated with its death; if, moreover, it can likewise be stated that this glorious Lady had been chosen Mother of Christ “in order that she might become a partner in the redemption of the human race”; and if, in truth, “it was she who, free of the stain of actual and original sin, and ever most closely bound to her Son, on Golgotha offered that Son to the Eternal Father together with the complete sacrifice of her maternal rights and maternal love, like a new Eve, for all the sons of Adam, stained as they were by his lamentable fall,” then it may be legitimately concluded that as Christ, the new Adam, must be called a King not merely because He is Son of God, but also because He is our Redeemer, so, analogously, the Most Blessed Virgin is queen not only because she is Mother of God, but also because, as the new Eve, she was associated with the new Adam (Ad Caeli Reginam, no. 38).

    The Royal Dignity Of The Church’s Members, Including The Mother Of The Church

    We have seen that Mary’s Queenship is based on the Old Testament figure of the Queen Mother and upon her Mary’s grace-enabled collaboration in inaugurating the Kingdom of God. Yet we can understand Mary’s Queenship in another way — as the fullness of that royal dignity possessed by all members of Christ’s Church. This is an extension of Mary’s collaborative role in the redemption of Christ the King, insofar as Mary is the archetype of the Church and of all Christians.

    Christian royal dignity is based on our union with Christ the King. All the baptized share in Christ’s kingly office, as seen from the New Testament’s repeated references to Christians “reigning” with Christ, either now by virtue of Jesus’ kingly presence in heaven or in the Age to Come. For example, in Luke 22:29-30 Jesus says to the apostles, “I confer a kingdom on you, just as my Father has conferred one on me, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom; and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (RSV). In Ephesians 2:6, Paul speaks of all Christians as now “seated” with God “in the heavens in Christ Jesus” (RNAB). 1 Peter 2:9 refers to our kingly dignity in Christ: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (RNAB).

    According to the Book of Revelation, Jesus has made His followers “a kingdom and priests” that “will reign on earth” (Rev 5:10; cf. Rev 1:6) — provided, of course, that we remain faithful to him. This corresponds to what Paul writes in 2 Timothy 2:11-12: “If we have died with him, we shall also live with him; if we endure, we shall also reign with him” (italics added). In Revelation 2:26, the Lord Himself declares, “He who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, I will give him power over the nations, and he shall rule them with an iron rod, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received power from my Father” (RSV). We have already seen in connection with the Child of the heavenly Woman of Revelation 12 that the phrase “ruling with an iron rod” comes from the Messianic Psalm 2. Here it is applied not only to the Messiah Himself, but also to His faithful followers. They will share in the Messiah’s kingly reign and authority. As Jesus puts it in Revelation 3:21, “He who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I myself conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne” (RSV). Revelation 20:6 says, “Blessed and holy is he who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and they shall reign with him a thousand years” (RSV). After the thousand years of the Millennium, according to Scripture, ” . . . night shall be no more; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they shall reign for ever and ever” (RSV; Rev 22:5; italics added).

    Except for Luke 22: 29-30 and Revelation 12, the aforementioned texts refer to faithful Christians in general. Yet if they apply to all faithful Christians, then surely they also apply to Mary specifically, especially given her deep union with her Son. If all faithful Christians are to reign with Christ as “kings” and “queens,” it makes no sense to object to calling Mary “Queen,” for she, too, is a faithful follower of Jesus — the preeminently faithful follower of Jesus, in fact.

    Christian royal dignity also comes from one of the underlying principles of discipleship and divine service — the humility of service. The true disciple humbles himself and puts God first. As a result, God exalts him and honors him (1 Pet 5:4-5). This is what the Lord meant when He said, “For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Lk 14:11) and “Let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves” (Lk 22:26). As John Paul II writes in Redemptoris Mater (no., 41), “to serve is to reign” in the kingdom of God. Mary’s humble service to God of saying “yes” to the Incarnation and the Crucifixion of her Son established her as “Queen” of the New Covenant, reigning with her divine Son.

    One aside worth mentioning: some feminist Catholics defend Mary’s Queenship by proposing Mary as the “divine feminine” element needed to “balance out” the “masculine” divine imagery of Scripture and traditional theology, i.e, God as Father. This is a serious mistake because it is apt to be understood as confusing the distinction between the Creator and even the greatest of His creations, the Blessed Virgin. In effect, it confirms all the worst stereotypes of Catholicism.

    Objections To Mary’s Queenship

    We have considered what the Church teaches about the Blessed Virgin’s Queenship and why the Church teaches it. Now we turn to some specific objections often raised against the doctrine.

    1. The Queenship of Mary makes her “the Fourth Person of the Trinity,” giving her a divine dignity that no mere creature can claim.

    But this objection doesn’t engage what the Church actually believes about Mary; it is based on 1) a misunderstanding of Marian teaching; 2) a deliberate misstatement of that teaching; or 3) an invalid inference from an exaggerated, distorted practice of some misguided Catholics. Catholicism teaches that only God is King in the absolute sense. Even so, through Jesus Christ, God shares His royal dignity with others, as we have seen, making them a “royal nation” hence “kings” and “queens” in heaven. By calling Mary “Queen,” Catholics claim only a derivative royal for Mary, not an absolute one possessed by God alone.

    2. Giving Mary the title of Queen or Queen of Heaven succumbs to the idolatrous worship of a feminine, pagan deity condemned in the Old Testament. According to anti-Catholic Fundamentalist author Dave Hunt, “The only ‘queen of heaven mentioned in Scripture is an idol which was worshipped by the pagans and to which the Jewish women gave offerings, bringing the wrath of God upon them” (A Woman Rides the Beast, p. 441).

    It is true that the Old Testament refers to a false divinity known as the Queen of Heaven (cf. Jer 7:18; 44:15-17) — apparently the Assyrian-Babylonian fertility goddess Ishtar. But since the Catholic Church doesn’t worship Mary as a deity — whether as Ishtar or any other goddess — the objection is flawed. Furthermore, the fact that a false goddess in the Old Testament was called “Queen of Heaven” does not mean Mary cannot rightly be given the title in an altogether different sense, as the Queen Mother of the King of Kings in New Testament. False deities in the Old Testament were often called “God” or “Lord”. Does that mean we cannot invoke the true God by these titles? The fact that a particular title is idolatrously used in one context doesn’t preclude it being non-idolatrously used in another. The fact that the Devil (or the wicked King of Babylon, depending on your interpretation) is called “the morning star” in Isaiah 14:12 does not mean we cannot use the same title to refer to Jesus, as in 2 Peter 1:19 and Revelation 22:16.

    3. Many heathen converts to Christianity in the early Church retained from their pagan roots a need for a feminine deity. Mary came to fulfill this need and many of titles formerly given to pagan feminine deities were transferred to her.

    The problem with this objection is that it succumbs to the same sort of reductionism Protestants rightly reject when it is applied to Jesus. If we argue that Catholic doctrine regarding Mary’s Queenship is just “baptized paganism,” cannot the same be said (as it is said by many anti-Christian writers) of the Incarnation, death and Resurrection of Jesus? Pagan myths of dying and rising gods abound: Dionysius, Osiris, Adonis, etc. Parallels can certainly be drawn between them and the Christian doctrines of the Incarnation and Redemption. But such parallels prove nothing — certainly they do not prove that Jesus Christ is just one more dying god myth. Likewise with the role of Mary in Catholicism vis-à-vis pagan goddesses.

    Sometimes anti-Catholics get so worked up about Marian devotion that things, which should be obvious to them, get missed. For example, in his book Babylon Mystery Religion (p. 18-19) anti-Catholic Fundamentalist Ralph Woodrow states, “The Egyptian goddess Isis was often represented as standing on the Crescent moon [emphasis his] with twelve stars surrounding her head. Even this was adopted and applied to Mary, for in almost every Roman Catholic Church on the continent of Europe may be seen pictures of Mary the same way! The accompanying illustration below (as seen in the OFFICIAL BALTIMORE CATECHISM) pictures Mary with twelve stars circling her feet!”

    To this noted Catholic author and theologian Father Peter Stravinskas has aptly replied, “One wonders if Woodrow would be willing to indict not only the Catholic Church on this score but also the author of the twelfth chapter of the Book of Revelation” (Mary and the Fundamentalist Challenge, p. 109). Woodrow claims a pagan origin for what, in fact, comes straight from the Bible — the New Testament image of the Queen of Heaven. His anti-Catholic, anti-Marian bent is so strong and he is so eager to find a link between Catholic doctrine and paganism, he misses the scriptural reference.

    Regarding the pagan parallel theory, Protestant theologian Karl Barth — no friend of Catholic teaching about Mary — declared: “It is not recommended that we should base our repudiation [of Marian doctrine] on the assertion that there has taken place here an irruption from the heathen sphere, an adoption of the idea, current in many non-Christian religions, of a more or less central and original female or mother deity. In dogmatics you can establish everything and nothing from parallels from the history of religions (Church Dogmatics, Vol. 1, p. 143).

    Notwithstanding certain fears Martin Luther had about a misuse of the term, he taught that the title “Queen of Heaven” was “a true enough name and yet does not make her a goddess” (Luther’s Works, Vol. 21, p. 327).

    4. Calling Mary “Queen” unduly singles her out; all the saints in glory are kings and queens in Christ.

    This objection succumbs to the mistake of unnecessarily opposing truths that are complementary, not contradictory. The fact that all the saints in glory have a royal dignity does not mean Mary should not be given the title “Queen,” anymore than the fact that in the New Testament all believers are called “holy” means that the apostles cannot be called the “holy apostles” (Eph 3:5). Furthermore, while all the saints in heaven can claim a royal dignity, Mary alone is the Queen Mother of the Messiah in the literal sense. Finally, Scripture itself declares that “all ages shall call” the Virgin blessed (Lk 1:48). Why? Because she is the Mother of the Messianic King, in other words, the Queen Mother. And if Scripture itself singles out Mary in a special way as the one especially blessed by God to be the Mother of the King of Kings, then how can it be objectionable for Christians to acknowledge this?

    5. While Mary’s Queenship may have some biblical basis, especially that of the Queen Mother, Catholic teaching and practice goes well beyond anything we find in the New Testament.

    The premise of that objection is that something, which goes beyond (but does not contradict) the New Testament, must ipso facto be inauthentic and therefore must be rejected by Christians. But this premise is itself “beyond” the New Testament’s teaching in that nowhere do we find such a position, either implied or spelled out, in the New Testament.

    Furthermore, the Queenship of Mary “goes beyond the New Testament” only in the sense that it makes explicit what is implicit in the New Testament, the way the doctrines of, say, the Trinity and the two natures of Christ make explicit, respectively, the relationship between God, Jesus and the Spirit and the Uncreated Word and the humanity of Jesus. The term “Trinity” isn’t in the Bible, but the doctrine of the Trinity is. Similarly, nowhere in the Bible is Mary directly called “Queen of Heaven,” though the doctrine of her Queenship is there.

    One other point, some people object to what seems extravagant language regarding Mary. Part of the objection is based on a failure to see the theological grounds for Marian doctrines. But part of it is also a lack of appreciation for how the language of Scripture regarding royalty has been taken up and applied to Mary. When we consider how the Psalms refer to the Old Testament kings (and even their queen mothers), it can be off-putting, especially for those raised in a democracy. We must recall that the monarchy was a divinely established office and that the language used to address royalty was divinely inspired. There is nothing wrong with Christians, by analogy, using similar language for the royal dignity believers have through Christ, nor for applying that language in a special way to Mary, who is Mother of the King and herself in the royal line of David.

    6. Calling Mary Queen of Heaven contradicts her humble status as the lowly “handmaid of the Lord.”

    As we have seen, God’s pattern throughout Scripture is to exalt the humble. Why, then, should not this principle apply to the lowly “handmaid of the Lord” who believed God’s Word and humbly cooperated with his saving plan? As argued above, it is precisely because of her humble service that Mary is made Queen of Heaven. In the Magnificat, Mary herself declared, “For He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for He who is mighty has done great things for me . . . He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree” (Lk 1:48-52).

    Conclusion

    Many Protestants have trouble with Mary’s Queenship because they wrongly regard it as usurping divine privileges and as succumbing to the idolatry of pagan feminine divinities. Of course, these Protestant difficulties are only deepened when Catholics give undue emphasis to the Queenship of Mary or fail to understand it in proper relation to the Kingship of Christ and the royal dignity of all Christians. On the other hand, if Catholics show how Mary’s Queenship flows from the Kingship of Christ and is the model of the royal dignity of all Christians, we can reduce or eliminate Protestant objections. As with most Marian doctrines, the key to non-Catholic acceptance of Mary’s Queenship, especially for Protestants, is linking the doctrine to Jesus Christ.

  21. Phillip Ratliff says:

    Do you know the stats, of Evangelicals who become Catholic, and vice versa?

  22. SJ says:

    Oh my. Don’t know where to begin. !) You forgot Peter Kreeft and John Bergsma among others 2) Dear Mr. DeYoung – Please consider that there might be reasonable, non-superficial reasons for joining the Catholic Church. I’m a convert from Calvinism myself.

    You list virtually all glib, superficial reasons (“someone might first get attracted to Rome because of a robust view of church tradition, or because he read G.K. Chesterton, or because he saw A Man for All Seasons, or because he loves the music from The Mission, or because he once went on a tour of Italy out of his deep love for lasagna.”) which belie a bias on your part. It seems almost as if you mean to say that only someone who has thrown reason, logic, history, and common sense out the window would leave Reformedland for Catholicism. You make the jump seem brainless and superficial. It is an insult really.

    Please consider that many reasonable people who have a deep love for the Lord, for the Scripture, and for theology have deeply held spiritual, theological, historical, evangelical, philosophical, and reasonable reasons for joining Rome. (See also the website calledtocomunion.com for highly astute, Biblically supported theological discussions in favor of Rome).

    This bias –towards assuming the move is superficial and lacking substance — clouds this entire article imho.

    Please consider — quite simply — that some have, as I have joined the Catholic Church because they found Jesus there. Because Jesus revealed Himself to them in ways they did not know possibly as a gospel believing Protestant. I for one had no idea that Presence of Christ could be so closely experienced on this earth as it is in Catholic Mass.

    I joined the Catholic Church because of Jesus.

    I joined the Catholic Church because I love the Lord and want to be obedient to Him. Many people, as you mention, do leave the Church because they at times don’t receive good catechesis or explanation on how to find Our Lord through the Church and the Mass.

    God uses Protestant churches too to lead people to Him. But just because some do not automatically find Jesus in His Church doesn’t mean that He’s not there. The problem is in one’s receptivity, not in a lack of His Presence in the Catholic Church and teachings.

    Please also consider that Sola Scriptura has many, many, many fatal flaws embedded in it. If Sola Scriptura ‘worked’ so to speak, everyone would need to quit his or her day job to study Hebrew and Greek and look at rabbinical commentaries and Biblical discources to find the “TRUE” meaning of each passage of Scripture. It would take an army working around the clock full time to unveil the real meaning of each passage. Is this really what Our Lord intends?

    Also, even among those Protestants where there ARE full-time theologians, the amount of disagreement as to the “real” meanings of texts beggars belief. Is one to go with the Dispensational path of interpretation? The Arminiam view? The Reformed view? the Anabaptist view? the Quaker view? the Pentecostal view? the Church of Christ view? and on and on.

    At the end of the day, how does one know that one’s own interpretive ‘camp’ has gotten it right? After all, there are at least 15,000 (at any given moment) other Protestants in other interpretive camps, all crying allegiance to Sola Scriptura, claiming the same thing!! Yes none of them agree with one another.

    If ‘Sola Scriptura’ is so bulletproof, why wouldn’t there be agreement on basic doctrines? Why so many denominations, each claiming Sola Scriptura?

    There are greater minds our there who have discussed these things in greater detail than me. I’m only presenting you with the bare-bones minimum of problems presented by things Protestant.

    I am happy to call myself Catholic and to finally be a part of the Church. It is the first church where I can truly say that my head and my heart and my will are all finally in agreement. (I just hope I can stay that way). It is the most Biblical, reasonable, gospel-centered thing I have ever done apart from accepting Jesus personally…accepting Him corporately in His Church.

    Grace to you.

  23. SJ says:

    Also, to the commenter Bill, above. I’m deeply sorry and saddened about your experiences in the RCC. Please know, however, that horrible things happen in all churches because of sin and human free will. These things do not, a priori, make a church’s doctrine or teachings necessarily right or wrong.

    I was sexually assaulted by a former Anglican priest for example. It happens everywhere. This is the problem of sin. It is not the way God means for things to be which is why we need a Savior.

    I’m sorry you had such bad experiences in the RCC. However having bad things happen at the hands of churchpeople does not automatically mean that the Church herself is a ‘false church’ or that God is false. “Let God be true and every man a liar.”

    Also, the RCC emphatically does not forbid anyone from reading the Bible. Every Mass is embedded with Scripture (the liturgy of the Word) from Old and New Testament alike. Mass and Bibles are in the vernacular.

    I’m not sure if you are referring to the 1500s? in which case there is an entirely different historical context.

    But the statements you make do not describe the Church today or for the recent centuries.

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Kevin DeYoung


Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church (RCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. He and his wife Trisha have six young children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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