What’s Wrong with the World

The men signed of the cross of Christ go gaily in the dark.


What’s Wrong with the World is dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ. Athwart two hostile Powers we stand: the Jihad and Liberalism...read more

Exploring Christian Identity: Can You Be Catholic and Evangelical?

(Update: Apparently, not everyone is thrilled about my article. See, for instance, this commentary. File this under: "More Catholic than the Pope.")

Chis Castaldo, Pastor of Outreach and Church Planting at College Church (Wheaton, Illinois), is moderating my public dialogue with Timothy George on September 3 at Wheaton College (Edman Chapel, 7 pm). Below is a video promo of the event. It is produced by Pastor Castaldo. (He plays all the characters).

Speaking of Evangelical Catholicism, I just published an article in the Josephinum Journal of Theology, "Evangelical and Catholic." You can find it on my website here. The article is adapted from portions of Return to Rome. You can find out more about the Wheaton College event here.

(Originally posted on Return to Rome blog)

Comments (7)

Great Piece Dr Beckwith. I have post and linked.

Francis Beckwith (Catholic Revert) Revisits Evangelical Theological Society Controversy


One can be Catholic and Evangelical if one takes Catholic to mean one who is in communion with the Church of Rome and Evangelical is understood in the traditional meaning of the world i.e witnessing to the Gospel, in this way it would be proper to call Saint Francies Xavier an Evangelical Catholic . Obviously one cannot simultaninously hold to two differing theologies/ecclesiologies ect.

What most protestant evangelicals need to realise is that by the 4th century (although beggining in the 1st) the moniker 'Catholic' came to denote Othordox Christians who had always recognized the Bishop of Rome as the successor to St Peter and placed themselves under his governance and preserved the teachings of the apostles.

This is why although Lutherans and High church Anglicans keep the word 'catholic' (small c) when they pray the Nicean Creed (most protestants have substituted Christian in here) they cannot be said to believe in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church and no appeal to the original pre-Christian meaning of the word can change that.

Jack, I think that saying

the moniker 'Catholic' came to denote Othordox Christians who had always recognized the Bishop of Rome as the successor to St Peter and placed themselves under his governance

and then following it with

and preserved the teachings of the apostles

sort of presumes what needs to be shown. The question is, WHY IS IT that Christians who recognize the Bishop of Rome as the successor to St. Peter and governing the whole church were called "catholics" (small c) to begin with, and thus gradually have a tradition develop out of which came the term "Catholic" (Large C)?

I think that the obvious Catholic understanding is that these Christians understood the Church instituted by Christ to be one not only invisibly one by the union of all the members to Christ, but also one visibly, so that one public institution subsumes all of the local churches as organs into one public body. And therefore there was of necessity one visible head of that public body, just as there was one visible head of the Apostles. And this necessarily implies that the one Church instituted by Christ is meant to be the Church of all Christians. I.E. universal - "catholic".

I think that the "preservation" of the teachings of the Apostles is connected integrally to the Unicity and Catholicity - you cannot achieve anything that is visibly a "preservation" without the authority of the Apostles continuing to speak.

But I would also suggest that Protestants who disagree with the notion of Catholicism (Large C) would probably disagree with the notion that the small c catholicism initially came to be precisely through, by reason of, a recognition of the visible successor of Peter continuing to exercise the unifying and universal authority of Peter. They better object to that, or their use of "catholicity" will ultimately undermine any supposed rationale for a break with the Bishop of Rome.


My basis for the second paragraph comes from the letters of St Cyril of Jerusalem and St Augaustine (both in the 4th century)

St Cyril in his Catechetical lectures urges the following

"If ever thou art sojourning in cities, inquire not simply where the Lord's House is (for the other sects of the profane also attempt to call their own dens houses of the Lord), nor merely where the Church is, but where is the catholic church. For this is the peculiar name of this Holy Church, the mother of us all, which is the spouse of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God (Catechetical Lectures, XVIII, 26)

St Augastine writes in chapter 4 of his epistle opposing the manicheans

"In the catholic church, there are many other things which most justly keep me in her bosom. The consent of peoples and nations keeps me in the Church; so does her authority, inaugurated by miracles, nourished by hope, enlarged by love, established by age. The succession of priests keeps me, beginning from the very seat of the Apostle Peter, to whom the Lord, after His resurrection, gave it in charge to feed His sheep (Jn 21:15-19), down to the present episcopate.
"And so, lastly, does the very name of catholic, which, not without reason, amid so many heresies, the Church has thus retained; so that, though all heretics wish to be called catholics, yet when a stranger asks where the catholic church meets, no heretic will venture to point to his own chapel or house.
"Such then in number and importance are the precious ties belonging to the Christian name which keep a believer in the catholic church, as it is right they should ... With you, where there is none of these things to attract or keep me... No one shall move me from the faith which binds my mind with ties so many and so strong to the Christian religion... For my part, I should not believe the gospel except as moved by the authority of the catholic church."
"Against the Epistle of Manichaeus called Fundamental, chapter 4: Proofs of the Catholic Faith"

The Basis of my 3rd paragraph is the claim by many protestants from liturgical traditions who claim that catholic merely means universal, examples of this would include John Wesley in his "Letter to a Roman Catholic"

"I believe that Christ by His Apostles gathered unto Himself a Church, to which He has continually added such as shall be saved; that this catholic (that is, universal) Church, extending to all nations and all ages" Letter to a Roman Catholic paragraph 9.

What my original post tried to demonstrate was that for 1000yrs Catholic and Christian were simply interchangible names for followers of Christ, now obviously the Great Schism and the protestant revolt changed that, and furthermore that in the past two and a half centuries various protestant sects have tried to claim the title catholic by playing word games when they do not believe in the One, Holy and Apostolic Church.

Will this discussion be recorded by anyone. I am very interested in the topic but I am nowhere near Chicago.

Thank you,
this is all very informative and interesting info.

Post a comment

Bold Italic Underline Quote

Note: In order to limit duplicate comments, please submit a comment only once. A comment may take a few minutes to appear beneath the article.

Although this site does not actively hold comments for moderation, some comments are automatically held by the blog system. For best results, limit the number of links (including links in your signature line to your own website) to under 3 per comment as all comments with a large number of links will be automatically held. If your comment is held for any reason, please be patient and an author or administrator will approve it. Do not resubmit the same comment as subsequent submissions of the same comment will be held as well.