Peter Leithart has opined on the reasons why he has not crossed the
Rubicon, I mean Tiber. This post has generated considerable discussion, from the Romanists here, and from the Eastern Orthodox here, and from a Missouri Synod Lutheran here. Leithart has responded with an historical argument from the books of Kings here. That’s a lot of reading. The CTC folks, for instance, need to be reminded of what a blog post normally is.
I just want to make a few points about this discussion. Leithart says he agrees with the standard Protestant objections to Romanism and Eastern Orthodoxy, but that those reasons “are not the primary driving reasons that keep me Protestant.” What he bypasses here is a fundamental historical point: if the standard reasons are not enough to keep us separated from Rome, then we should go back to Rome, because the Protestant schism was sinful! A quick glance at the reasons that Leithart adduces, and the way in which the Romanists tear Leithart’s arguments to shreds should be enough to convince us that Leithart’s reasons are not cogent. He argues from historical accidents. “Our past Christian experience” is a mere historical “accident,” is it not? It is hardly a compelling reason for staying away from Rome.
Besides, I wonder if Leithart really holds to a doctrine of justification that is antithetical to Rome’s doctrine. By including definitive sanctification in the structure of justification, Leithart blurs the boundaries between justification and sanctification. In one of his articles on justification, he even admits that in formulating the doctrine the way he does, he is trying to bridge the ecumenical gap with Rome. Make no mistake: if the Reformers were wrong on justification and the doctrine of Scripture, then we should go back to Rome. Only doctrinal reasons are sufficient to keep away from Rome. In other words, with Leithart compromising the doctrine of justification, it’s only a matter of time before the Tiber sounds pretty attractive.