On Converting to Rome
March 26, 2010
Thanks, Rick. It was interesting in reading Fr Steel's "testimony" how prominent the issue of authority was. I found the following the most interesting piece of what he said:
It strikes me that this is a key wrestling point in this whole situation. In my mind (and this will seem ironic to some in this debate) confessionalism goes hand-in-hand with biblical authority. It is precisely because we esteem Scripture as the supreme authority that we seek to codify what we believe the Bible to teach in confessional documents and we teach these things to faithful men who are able to teach others also (Jude 3-4; 2 Tim 1:13, 2:2). And this cycle of confessionalization ultimately relates to the authority of the church, which declares its doctrine under the authority of Christ the King.
When we forsake confessionalism (and its concomitant, biblical authority), then we are set adrift in a world of competing (and sectarian) truth claims. And that will be the case not only within Presbyterianism, but Baptist life, Anglicanism, Methodism, or any other "Protestant" denomination. We will then search for an authority that can provide a sure word in the midst of confusing, competing truth claims. And the only authority that has proved stable enough is the one provide by the Roman see and its apostolic succession.
As the nineteenth-century theologian John Williamson Nevin demonstrated, a deep questioning of confessionalism on behalf of a more "catholic" faith inevitable brings about a longing for a strong voice to speak a sure word; Nevin himself nearly "swam the tiber" over similar issues that Fr Steel mentioned. When converting to Rome, the issue that must go is biblical authority and its necessary hand-maiden, confessionalism.