Examining Francis Beckwith’s Return to Rome.

returntoromeA while ago I wrote a post about an ecumenical meeting at Wheaton College between Francis Beckwith and Timothy George. For those who do not know, Francis Beckwith was baptized and raised as a Roman Catholic, where according to his web site, “…his faith journey led him to Protestant evangelicalism. He [then] became a philosophy professor at Baylor University and president of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS). And then, in 2007, after much prayer, counsel, and consideration, Beckwith decided to return to the Catholic church and step down as ETS president.” 1

Now, firmly entrench in Rome, Beckwith is doing his utmost to preach the merits of Catholicism with individuals like Timothy George and others in the “evangelical” camp helping the cause through their ecumenical discussions. For those who want to better understand some of the key doctrinal issues that separate Roman Catholicism from Biblical Christianity, I’ve included a link below to a series of messages by TBFaceTony Bartolucci, pastor/teacher of Clarkson Community Church in NY. These messages address in very detailed fashion Mr. Beckwith’s return to Rome, which he has documented in his book “Return to Rome – Confessions of an Evangelical Catholic.”

The messages are much more in-depth than the coverage given by James White on his Dividing Line program, which is I included in my prior post (they still are good to listen to). For those who take the time to listen to thee messages, I fully believe you will be greatly blessed and benefited. Not only so your faith is bolstered, but also so you can better minister to Roman Catholics. And so that you can rebuke those in our midst who join hand-in-hand with Catholics calling then brethren.

The messages can be found here, where I have included Tony’s introduction to the messages explaining why he took the time to give them.

As I have stated in the first part of this series, my motivation in pursuing this topic has nothing to do with personal animosity toward Dr. Francis Beckwith or Roman Catholics in general. I was a Roman Catholic. I know what it is like to have my religion challenged and attacked. I left the Roman Catholic Church kicking and screaming all the way. I wanted to remain a Catholic. However, God would not have it. In 1981 he drew me in, fighting all the way, to a repentance that is unto eternal life (2 Timothy 2:25).

Having come through the other side I now cherish the simple Gospel of grace and loath any system that would pervert this precious truth. I abhor what I know will appear to many as an attack on a man. The desire of my heart is to be humble and gracious, while not compromising a God-honoring tenacity for the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3).

In fact, I don’t particularly enjoy having to do this series. I would be among the first to raise a hand in reply to the question, “are you ready for this series to be done with?” But I am literally compelled to address not only the book, but in doing so, a much larger issue: the Gospel of grace verses [sic] the gospel of Rome.

Like most anyone, I like flying under the radar. I don’t want to be a lightning rod for controversy, to have my name flamed on the internet. But I also know that the closer one gets to the front lines of the battle, the higher the likelihood that one will find himself in the proverbial cross-hairs. So be it.

I’m sure that, like so many Roman Catholics, Francis Beckwith is a very nice guy. I’ve listened to his interview with Greg Koukl on the latter’s program, Stand to Reason. I mourn for him; for his very apparent inability to see that which only those with the eyes of faith (eyes sovereignly granted by God) can see. I would welcome a phone call from Dr. Beckwith in order to discuss these things with him.

My prayer is that God will use this series, and perhaps a forthcoming book, to strengthen genuine believers in the most holy faith, bring faith to those who are doubting, and to save others, snatching them from the fire while hating the garment polluted by the flesh (Jude 20-22). Soli Deo Gloria! 2

End Notes:

1 – Return to Rome. Confessions of an Evangelical Catholic. http://web.me.com/francis.beckwith/Return_to_Rome/home.html [Accessed 11/3/2009]
2 – Why am I doing this? Tony A. Bartolucci. Clarkson Community Church, Clarkson, New York. 585-637-6070. http://www.tonybartolucci.com/Sermons/whytiber.htm [Accessed 11/3/2009]