The Appeal of Swimming the Tiber

By Tim Butler | Posted at 12:56 AM

A friend of mine posted a link on Facebook to this piece yesterday. I think the article does a good job of explaining some of the reasons why people have left the Reformed world for Catholicism while also noting very clearly some of the core beliefs that are lost when one goes “swimming.” I think his points about what makes Catholicism attractive ought to urge us Presbyterians to think critically about what we do well as part of the body of Christ and what we could improve on. In some cases, we could simply do a better job and deal directly with those yearnings people have that we are currently inadequately caring for. In other cases, the best course of action is simply teaching why we don't do or believe certain things (and, as an important companion, why we do and believe other things).

Call it my historical bias, but I also think we need to spend more time teaching people within the Church about church history. The things that people of faith have faced before are far more relevant than many of us are prone to think. In relation to the topic of the blog post I linked to above, I think that plays out in two very clear ways. First, church history helps us to understand why the Reformation happened and see how it has historical continuity with the church as a whole. Second, thoughtful study of church history helps us to think through how we apply tradition within the church today.

Re: The Appeal of Swimming the Tiber

Joel, thanks! :)

Jason, I wasn't talking to Catholics, per se, so much as my own Presbyterians. The problem, as we've discussed many times before, is that I have to accept that the litmus test you've chosen is the right one before the Catholic church becomes the clear, correct answer. That is, I must assume the conclusion that the Catholic church is right in many of its claims before its claim of continuity and authority makes more sense than the claim of the Reformers. As I read history, I don't see anything to justify such an assumption, however.

Posted by Tim Butler - Jun 07, 2012 | 1:30 PM

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