Thursday, May 05, 2011

Why Rome is not Chellis' Enemy

(I began this post a year-and-a-half ago. In God's providence, I never published it. Now, it appears that Mr. Chellis has taken the next step in his progression, as reported by Bryan Cross.)

William Chellis has written an article declaring his friendship for Rome. Chellis begins:
Some readers may be disturbed about the DRC [De Regno Christi - the name of the website] trend toward inclusion of Roman Catholics. I wish to say a word in response. I am not unfamiliar with the Reformed Confessions’ descriptions the Bishop of Rome as the anti-Christ. I am also perfectly aware that our theologians have often argued that the Mass as a form of idolatry. I understand that there are many conservative Protestant for which these statements are meaningful. While I understand these things, I cannot affirm them. In fact, the more I learn about Roman Catholic theology and church history, the more respect I have for our brothers and sisters in Christ within the Roman Catholic communion.

Chellis begins his article, as you can see, with a strange kind of false dichotomy. He contrasts having respect for our brothers and sisters in Christ within the Roman Catholic communion with viewing the Mass as idolatry and the pope as the Antichrist. To the extent that we have brethren in the Roman communion, our respect for them does not alter the theological or eschatological analysis of Scripture. Truth is objective: it's not a matter of being polite and respectful (as indeed we ought to be) or being rude and disrespectful.

Either Scriptural theology provides the conclusion that the mass is idolatrous or it does not. That question is not influenced by whether we are seeking to be respectful of others or not. Either the office of the papacy is "the Antichrist" or it is not: that question too is not influenced by whether we are trying to avoid disrespect.

Chellis attributes his "respect" (which he seems to equate with non-affirmation of the above two Reformation-era views) to "the more I learn about Roman Catholic theology and church history ... ." Again, this seems to be somewhat disconnected. To the extent that we have brethren in the Roman communion, our respect for them should be based on their union with Christ and not with information about the theology of their church or its history.

One still wonders, though, what Chellis is learning about Rome's theology and church history that is endearing her to him? My own experience has been just the opposite: the more I learn about Rome's theology and history, the more I realize what an un-Biblical and dangerous religion it is. In fact, my concern grows for those who are a part of that communion, just as my concern for the souls of Muslims grows as I learn more about Islam.

Chellis continues:
Of course, the primary focus of De Regno Christ[i] has always been the relationship between Christ and culture. Does Christendom have a better friend than Benedict XVI? Which communion did more to press the Kingship of Christ over the nations in the 20th Century? The Reformed Presbyterians, the Christian Reformed, the Presbyterian Church in America, or the Roman Catholics? To ask the question is to answer it. Therefore, does it no[t] behoove us to listen to the voices of Roman Catholic friends of liberty, tradition, and the West?
(same source)

Chellis asks the question: "Does Christendom have a better friend than Benedict XVI?" He asks it rhetorically, apparently thinking that the answer is "no." Yet from the perspective of the Reformation, the question is whether the Gospel has a worse enemy than Benedict XVI (B16), and the answer is "no." B16 attempts to usurp Christ's unique role as head of the church. B16 anathematizes the gospel of Scripture through his adherence to Trent. Worse of all, B16 promotes his own religion as though it were Christian, so as to (if it were possible) deceive the very elect.

Chellis asks: "Which communion did more to press the Kingship of Christ over the nations in the 20th Century? The Reformed Presbyterians, the Christian Reformed, the Presbyterian Church in America, or the Roman Catholics?" Chellis assumes the answer is that Roman Catholics did this, but one is left scratching one's head as to why Chellis thinks this. Christ's Kingship is tied to the gospel, but Rome has not been promoting the gospel either in the 20th century or the present century. Thus, the RPCNA and PCA (and even the CRC), who have all been promoting the gospel, have done more for the kingship of Christ than the church that has multiplied statues purporting to be of Christ and encouraged the worship of bread and wine as though it were very Christ.

Chellis' comment, "Therefore, does it no[t] behoove us to listen to the voices of Roman Catholic friends of liberty, tradition, and the West?" is also puzzling. They may be our friends (in some sense) for a variety of reasons, but when it comes to the gospel, they are (sadly) the enemies of the kingdom of heaven (as were once we).

Chellis concludes:
The cause of Christ’s Kingship has many enemies in the wor[l]d. Traditionalist defenders of Roman Catholicism are not among them.
(Same source)

Here at last we see what Chellis has been speaking of when he identifies his spiritual brethren. He means the traditionalist Roman Catholics as distinct (we assume) from the liberal Roman Catholics and the nominal Roman Catholics. These would be Roman Catholics who actually believe what Rome teaches. But what Rome teaches is not the gospel. If there are members of the Roman communion who are true believers in Christ, they are not following what Rome teaches. If there are those who have trusted in Christ but have not yet left Rome, they are not going to be able to stay "traditionalist" for long as the Spirit works in their lives.

[This is where I had ended my draft.]

I am sad to see that Chellis is now referring to himself as an "Augustinian Anglo-Papist," but I understand that it is because he never truly saw the horror of Rome's idolatry, and of the attempted usurpation of God's authority that is the papacy. May God be pleased to return Mr. Chellis to the church! Let us all, as much as we care about him, pray to that end.



Coram Deo said...

Sounds like he's enamored with the Great Harlot's seductions.

He would do well to carefully meditate upon the Proverbs and studiously avoid her house.

In Christ,

louis said...

The reason the Reformers identified the pope as the antichrist is because they recognized that if we are the true church, then Rome is its opposite. Conversely, as traditional Romanists acknowledge, if Rome is the true church, then we protestants are all heretics and schismatics. Both sides simply can't be Christian at the same time.

It befuddles me when people convert to Rome and act like we're all just one big happy Christian family, as if Rome is just another church, only with more "beautiful liturgy." What are they thinking? Seriously.

Andrew said...

I remember reading the Chellis post at the time on De Regno Christi, as I recall I unsubscribed shortly after.

This seems to be merely the working out of something already decided at that time, and before.

Perhaps Rome is what happens when political theology rules the roost.

Nick said...

I too await his reasoning for converting, since converting for the wrong reasons is not a good testimony. There is a clear trend, however, of conversions on the intellectual level from Protestantism to Catholicism, but not the other way around.

As for putting out a blanket statement that the Mass is idolatry, that doesn't help anyone unless there is some specific reasons why. If it's a matter of using images, then that's hardly a good objection since many Protestants see nothing wrong with using images in the context of worship (nor does the Bible). If it's because you don't believe the bread really becomes the Flesh of Christ, and thus to worship it is bread-worship, that idolatry is of a different nature since the argument really is whether it is Christ or not (because if the Catholic side thought it only bread, the Catholic side never would adore the Host in the first place).

Fredericka said...

Nick wrote, "There is a clear trend, however, of conversions on the intellectual level from Protestantism to Catholicism, but not the other way around."

Nick, From what I've heard, if all infants baptized Catholic continued to practice that religion, then the percentage of Catholics in the U.S. population would be around one-third, not one-fourth as at present. That percentage has been stable for decades, but only because of a continuing influx of Catholic migrants from places like Mexico. For example the Pew organization states, "While nearly one-in-three Americans (31%) were raised in the Catholic faith, today fewer than one-in-four (24%) describe themselves as Catholic." ( Many of these people have gone from 'Catholic' to 'unaffiliated,' but also to 'Protestant.' Are these people intellectually lacking, if so how would one ascertain that?

Constantine said...

Nick asserts,

There is a clear trend, however, of conversions on the intellectual level from Protestantism to Catholicism, but not the other way around.

1.While conversions to Rome are often highly publicized, I, for one, would like to see the statistical data. The conversions that go the other way seem not to get such a generous spotlight. Think, for example, of the former Dominican priest, Richard Bennett. Bennett was as highly educated as the priesthood could make him, but was still saved by God's grace. And his ministry has documented literally dozens and dozens of conversions of former priests and nuns. (

2.Asserting “intellectualism” is a non-Apostolic norm. After all, Christ chose twelve “flunky fishermen” to carry his message. All twelve of which had flunked their rabbinic training. If intellectualism is an indication of anything, it is of the dead spirit of those whom Christ repeatedly repudiated. The Pharisees and the Sadducees were the intellectuals of Christ's day.

3.Moreover, this “intellectual emigration” has presided over a devastating theological and moral decline in Catholicism:

This, from an ardent Romanist, Pat Buchanan:

(a)Liars may figure, but figures do not lie. Kenneth C. Jones of St. Louis has pulled together a slim volume of statistics he has titled Index of Leading Catholic Indicators: The Church Since Vatican II.

(b)# Priests. While the number of priests in the United States more than doubled to 58,000, between 1930 and 1965, since then that number has fallen to 45,000. By 2020, there will be only 31,000 priests left, and more than half of these priests will be over 70.

(c)# Ordinations. Today, there are 3,000 priestless parishes, 15 percent of all U.S. parishes.

(d)# Seminarians. Between 1965 and 2002, the number of seminarians dropped from 49,000 to 4,700, a decline of over 90 percent. Two-thirds of the 600 seminaries that were operating in 1965 have now closed.

(e)# Sisters. In 1965, there were 180,000 Catholic nuns. By 2002, that had fallen to 75,000 and the average age of a Catholic nun is today 68. In 1965, there were 104,000 teaching nuns. Today, there are 8,200, a decline of 94 percent since the end of Vatican II.

(f)# Religious Orders. In 1965, there were 912 seminarians in the Christian Brothers. In 2000, there were only seven. The number of young men studying to become Franciscan and Redemptorist priests fell from 3,379 in 1965 to 84 in 2000.

(g)# Catholic schools. Almost half of all Catholic high schools in the United States have closed since 1965. Parochial schools suffered an even greater decline. Some 4,000 have disappeared, and the number of pupils attending has fallen below 2 million – from 4.5 million.

(h)# Attendance at Mass. A 1958 Gallup Poll reported that three in four Catholics attended church on Sundays. A recent study by the University of Notre Dame found that only one in four now attend.

(i)# Only 10 percent of lay religious teachers now accept church teaching on contraception. Fifty-three percent believe a Catholic can have an abortion and remain a good Catholic. Sixty-five percent believe that Catholics may divorce and remarry. Seventy-seven percent believe one can be a good Catholic without going to mass on Sundays. By one New York Times poll, 70 percent of all Catholics in the age group 18 to 44 believe the Eucharist is merely a "symbolic reminder" of Jesus.


Rome has been devastated by this intellectual emigration. Long may it continue!


Nick said...


It is no secret there is a wave of secularism sweeping across all of Christendom, and many Catholics and Protestants are caught up in it, ending up effectively "unaffiliated". This has nothing to do with intellectual conversions, since the grand majority are simply buying into materialism and secularism as their day to day philosophy.

I'm not saying 100% of those who leave the Catholic Church do so without thinking, but an extremely high percentage do. The minute percentage that leaves for intellectual reasons to go Protestant are almost unheard of in the blogosphere. The same cannot be said of Protestants who become Catholic for intellectual reasons, they have a strong presence in the blogosphere, and I would say make up a much larger percentage (keeping in mind 90% who leave Protestantism or Catholicism do so for secularism).

To prove my overall point, all you have to do is stop and ask yourself if there is a Protestant counterpart to Called To Communion.


#1 I also would like to see statistical data, but such is not easy to come by. The conversions to Rome are often publicized because they are people worthy of mention. On the flip side, I don't recall any such conversions to Protestantism (nor would I put Richard Bennett in the intellectual conversion category since he admits in his conversion story he barely even knew the Bible even after years as a priest).

#2 I realize the terminology 'intellectual conversion' is poor and can be misleading. I'm not saying Christianity is about smarts at all. What I'm trying to get across is that too often people convert for the wrong reasons, rather than striving to know what their original institution really taugth and what their new institution really taught before making the leap.

#3 This is largely irrelevant since someone failing to live by Gospel moral standards does not in itself make the theology false. The disaster you describe is due almost entirely to the wave of liberalsim that swept across the west these last 50 years hitting Protestants and Catholics. (Note how many mainline Protestant denominations today openly accept homosexuality) This kind of reasoning is exactly my point regarding intellectual conversions, since such people can distinguish between official theology and whether an individual obeys that theology.

Coram Deo said...

I for one will be glad when the Lord wipes the false religion of Romanism from the face of the earth, and casts that harlot into the abyss.

I specifically pray imprecatary petitions down upon the Romanist religion whenever I medidate upon the Lord's Prayer.

May she be consumed by His wrath for her multiplied blasphemies.

In Christ,

Fredericka said...

Hi Nick, I downloaded the Pew report for more detail on the Catholic retention rate, which is, according to the chart on page 30 (Retention of Childhood Members Among Groups, U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, February 2008, Pew Forum):

Among those raised Catholic:
68% non-converts (remained Catholic);
18% converted to another group;
14% converted to no religion = 100%

Of the 18% of those raised as Catholic who joined another group, the authors mention, "But overall nearly one-in-ten Protestants were raised in the Catholic Church." (U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, February 2008, Pew Forum, p. 29).