Fall from Grace – OPC Pastor Converts to Roman Catholicism

Former OPC pastor Jason Stewart decided to leave the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) as a pastor for full communion into the Roman Catholic Church. His blog post outlines his reasons and I must say they would not be surprising for someone that was raised Roman Catholic, but I find them untenable for a former pastor of the Reformed Faith.

He has three reasons for defending his decision. Here are high-level problems with his reasoning:

1. The positive principles of the Protestant Reformation – For his authority on this position he references a book written and I quote: “The Spirit and Forms of Protestantism by Louis Bouyer was recommended to me. Bouyer was a Lutheran minister who converted to Catholicism mid-last century.” The main thesis of the book is that each of the major points addressed in Reformation were rooted in Roman Catholicism. Yes that is true, which is why those points had to be reformed and when dipolomocy failed to reform them, more drastic measures were necessary. Notice how there is no defence of this position biblically which of necessity he has to accept for both his arguments and his decision to convert to Roman Catholicism.

2. The writings of the Church Fathers – His next argument is that the early church fathers were throughly Roman Catholic in what they taught and believed. I think he have a plethora of golden nuggets of theological wisdom from the early church fathers, there is also mixed in with them truth and error. Let’s just take one of the early church fathers, Origen as an example:

“Origen taught the pre-existence of souls, universal salvation and a limited hell, doctrines for which he was posthumously condemned as a heretic.”

3. The question of Church authority – His view in this area is nothing new as Roman Catholicism goes as he clings to Matthew 16:18 as defending the need to have a universal bishop in the form of the pope. What’s ironic is what he says about where the church gets it’s authority in his attempt to refute Sola Scriptura: “In contrast to this “Scripture alone” position, the Catholic Church teaches that the Church, not the Bible, is the pillar and foundation of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15)” Wait a minute. Did he just use the bible that the bible was not the pillar and foundation of truth, but that the “Church” is? To me that is like saying everything is relative and then asking the person who said that it that was a relative statement! He essentially cuts the branch he is sitting on to make his argument. An argument made of sand.

In conclusion let’s just take a look at one Roman Catholic Pope in the form of Benedict IX:

Benedict IX was Pope from 1032 to 1044, again in 1045, and finally from 1047 to 1048, the only man to have served as Pope for three discontinuous periods. He was also one of the youngest Popes (reigning from around age 18-20). He reportedly led an extremely dissolute life, and also allegedly had few qualifications for the papacy other than connections with a socially powerful family, although in terms of theology and the ordinary activities of the Church he was entirely orthodox. St. Peter Damian described him as “feasting on immorality” and “a demon from hell in the disguise of a priest” in the Liber Gomorrhianus, a treatise on papal corruption and sex that accused Benedict IX of routine homosexuality and bestiality.

He was also accused by Bishop Benno of Piacenza of “many vile adulteries and murders.” Pope Victor III referred to “his rapes, murders and other unspeakable acts. His life as a Pope so vile, so foul, so execrable, that I shudder to think of it.”

Benedict gave up his papacy for the first time in exchange for a large sum of money in 1044. He returned in 1045 to depose his replacement and reigned for one month, after which he left again, possibly to marry, and sold the papacy for a second time, to his Godfather (possibly for over 650 kg /1450 lb of gold). Two years later, Benedict retook Rome and reigned for an additional one year, until 1048. Poppo of Brixen (later to become Pope Damascus II) eventually forced him out of Rome. Benedict’s place and date of death are unknown, but some speculate that he made further attempts to regain the Papal Throne.

The argument will be made that he was forced out of Rome, but the Roman Catholic doctrine states that he was the vicar of Christ while he was executing this office. Let the reader beware and consider.