Editorial: A Unity Based on Truth -- By: Thomas R. Schreiner

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 05:4 (Winter 2001)
Article: Editorial: A Unity Based on Truth
Author: Thomas R. Schreiner

Editorial: A Unity Based on Truth

Thomas R. Schreiner

Thomas R. Schreiner is a professor of New Testament at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has also taught New Testament at Azusa Pacific University and Bethel Theological Seminary. He is the author of Romans in the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament and coauthor of The Race Set Before Us: A Biblical Theology of Perseverance and Assurance. His most recent book is Paul, the Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ: A Pauline Theology. In addition, he is serving as the preaching pastor of Clifton Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky.

I grew up in a Roman Catholic home and attended parochial schools for nine years. When I was young, I attended church regularly. I was baptized in infancy as a Roman Catholic, received my first communion at six years of age, and was confirmed at the age of twelve. During those years I was convinced that Protestants were wrong, though I never gave Protestantism much thought. I do think that one can be a genuine believer in Christ as a Roman Catholic, but I was not in that company. In my teenage years I slowly drifted from the church, for religion meant very little to my everyday life. Almost all of my Catholic friends had the same experience. When I was seventeen years of age, I was converted through the influence of the person who later became my wife. She gave me a Bible to read. As I read it, I realized that we are justified by faith alone and not by our works. This teaching of the Apostle Paul was wonderfully liberating and refreshing. I understood that Mary was not a mediator between God and man, but our one and only mediator was Christ Jesus (1 Tim 2:5). It dawned upon me when reading Hebrews that the only priest I needed was Jesus Christ, the great high priest whose blood was shed so that I could enter into God’s presence with confidence. The theology of the mass contradicted the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ on Calvary. Nowhere did the scriptures teach that a pope should rule the church.

I had these experiences some thirty years ago. Since then I have met genuine Roman Catholic believers, especially charismatic Catholics. I have also met some evangelical converts from Roman Catholicism who had very negative experiences with Catholicism in their early years. Such converts have occasionally responded with words about Roman Catholicism that are overly harsh and vituperative. For myself, I do not look back on my years as a Roman Catholic as years of repression. I grew up in a wonderful home and have many fond memories of my early years. I am thankful that I learned from Roman Catholics that God is a holy God. He is to be reverenced and feared as the holy one. Some Protestants seem to think of God as their buddy. By God...

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