8 Reasons Why Rome Still Calls

PCA Pastor and Former Catholic on the ways Rome appeals to those who have left

In the postmodern, emergent, post-Christian church hungry to try and connect with first century Christianity I’ve often said we should stop monkeying around with all of the candles and just go back to Rome if we’re going to go this route. Rome has better sets, costumes, props, and scripts. I’ve been in the Sistine chapel and it is a feast for the eyes. There is a scene from the movie the Godfather II where a priest goes through an old neighborhood with the elevated Monstrance (essentially a holder for the consecrated Eucharist) and worshippers follow, fawn, and kiss it. Believe it or not, this harkens back to my childhood many times when I actually thought Jesus was inside of it.

 

1. It represents the religion of my youth
I grew up Roman Catholic, attended Catholic Grammar School and high school. I was a member of a Catholic youth group the Columbian Squires, and the State Chief Squire of California. My friends, family, and social group were all Catholics. There is a strong sense of common values and community in the local Catholic Church that is often rarely duplicated in the local Protestant church.

2. It pulls on my legalism
Our fallen ‘natural’ setting is that of works. And as Michael Horton has said the entire ceremony of the mass is designed as a theology of approach. From the act of confession prior to the Mass, dipping the hand in holy water, genuflection, up to the moment of ‘consecration’ of the Eucharist, it is all designed to purify the parishioner to make him worthy of receiving Christ. It gives me something to do. The Mass is the quintessential ‘do better’ meal.

3. It draws on my idolatry
All eyes were on Rome with the election of a new pope. We long inside for a worshipful connection to God, ever since being booted from the Garden for our self-worshipping idolatry. Augustine said, “Our hearts our restless until we find rest in thee.” Our legitimate, God-ordained mediator is Jesus Christ but our fallen hearts are temporarily satisfied with a flesh-and-blood man in white with red shoes as the “Vicar of Christ.” The problem comes when the mediator retires- no idol ever promised, “I’ll never leave you or forsake you.”

4. It mesmerizes my eyes.
In the postmodern, emergent, post-Christian church hungry to try and connect with first century Christianity I’ve often said we should stop monkeying around with all of the candles and just go back to Rome if we’re going to go this route. Rome has better sets, costumes, props, and scripts. I’ve been in the Sistine chapel and it is a feast for the eyes. There is a scene from the movie the Godfather II where a priest goes through an old neighborhood with the elevated Monstrance (essentially a holder for the consecrated Eucharist) and worshippers follow, fawn, and kiss it. Believe it or not, this harkens back to my childhood many times when I actually thought Jesus was inside of it.

5. It appeals to my lack of faith
Faith is the evidence of things hoped for, the substance of things not seen. Rome’s posture is exactly opposite of this. In arguing with Catholics over images priests told Calvin that images help people who cannot read to understand the Bible. Calvin said, “Teach them to read.” Growing up Catholic I saw Jesus on the cross every Sunday, St. Patrick in the school hallway, Mary stepping on a snake, baby Jesus with a small globe. They were just part and parcel of my youth. You don’t need faith to be a Catholic. It is literally right in front of your eyes.

6. It teeters on the mystical
The “smells and bells,” the elevation of the Eucharist, the sparkle priestly robes, the twinkle of the candles hark back to a time when people actually believed in something holy. A remarkable thought in our present day profane society. And this taps into the postmodern value of one’s experience is what is true, a recapturing of Eden, of what seems now to be lost to us.

7. It permits my autonomy
There is the “official Roman Catholic Doctrine” reflected in Church Councils and in the catechism, papal decrees and such. Then there is what the average Catholic believes. And the gap between the two is wider than the Grand Canyon. Ever since the Reformation the Roman Catholic Church has essentially lost its teeth to enforce its doctrine. So the average Catholic can believe what he or she wants, appealing to a plethora of saints, or not, divorcing and remarrying for a fee (I know because this happened to my parents). I can be a ‘good Catholic’ and virtually believe whatever I want, mix in whatever I want and stay in the good graces of the church.

8. It legitimizes my isolation
No matter how long I stay away that I can always come back. Official Catholic doctrine states I am one of the “separated brethren.” Rome’s current thrust is seen in their program “Catholics Come Home.” The door is open. And like the old commercial for Motel 6, “We’ll leave the light on.” The only problem is that there is darkness inside.

Dr. Christopher Faria, D. Min, Ph.D., is a retired Army Chaplain and PCA Teaching Elder Church Planter at Westminster Presbyterian Fellowship in Falcon, Colorado.

×

Give The Aquila Report to 100 friends for only $5. / 9 days left in the 2014 matching funds campaign. Donate now!