Sunday, May 17, 2009

From our allies at Westminster

I was pleasantly surprised to hear about the contribution being made in the culture wars by my alma mater, Westminster Theological Seminary, via the post by Carlos Antonio Palad, "The Truth about Angels and Demons: A Short Review" (Rorate Caeli, May 14, 2009):
The Westminster Theological Seminary, a very conservative seminary in the the Reformed-Presbyterian (Calvinist) tradition, has just launched The Truth About Angels and Demons. This website is dedicated to educating people about the misinformation -- both on scientific matters and on Catholic institutions -- in that novel and the film based on it. This continues the said seminary's fight against Mr. Brown's "novels" that was begun with its site on the Da Vinci Code.

While written from a Protestant perspective and thus bearing traces of Protestant errors, this website is not anti-Catholic. Noteworthy is the account on Galileo, which records that he was opposed by “traditionalists” (not, of course, the Traditionalists of today) instead of repeating the usual line – so beloved by Evangelical and secularist apologists alike -- that he was opposed by the “Catholic Church.” The page on the differences between Catholicism and Protestantism is respectful, despite some factual errors there and in other parts of the website ([the Council of] Ephesus was not about Pelagianism but about the Theotokos, and the cardinals are no longer bound to elect a pope within ten days of the decease of the last one).

In asserting that Protestantism is in agreement with Catholicism in accepting the contents of the first seven Ecumenical Councils (called “universal church councils” in the website), this Calvinist website says something usually heard only in the more “Catholic” wings of the Lutheran and Anglican communities, and then not even in the name of Protestantism as a whole. The statement that “most” Protestants accept the teaching of Nicaea II (which defended the veneration of icons) is not what one would one expect from the Calvinist side; it is in fact a wildly optimistic statement, albeit pleasant to read. I happily note the admission that the veneration of icons is not worship – a distinction all too often lost on many (if not most) Protestant communities.

The Catholic Church has taken the approach of being dismissive of Angels and Demons, and there is much to be said for this tactic. Nevertheless, the fact that too many souls have been (and are being) led astray by Dan Brown’s literary fantasies cannot be ignored. Inspite of the flaws in this project, it is good to see a thoroughly Protestant institution taking the initiative to defend Catholic institutions against the new wave of disinformation about to be released by “Angels and Demons,”’ and it is equally good that this project is being carried out in a way that reveals some openness to Catholic truth.

These steps nearer to the truth need to be seen and encouraged, hence this note in Rorate.
[Hat tip to J.M. for the notice, and Mr. Palad for the Rorate Caeli post]


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