I have been reading Francis Beckwith’s fascinating book about his return to the Roman Catholic Church from Protestant Evangelicalism. On page 83, there is an ironic little anecdote in which Beckwith says that Carl Trueman was a “catalyst” for his conversion to Roman Catholicism. I won’t explain the whole thing here, but in short Trueman had written an essay in which he claimed that Roman Catholicism was the “default” position for the church in the West. Trueman wrote that,
“Rome has a better claim to historical continuity and institutional unity than any Protestant denomination, let alone the strange hybrid that is evangelicalism; in light of these facts, therefore, we need good, solid reasons for not being Catholic” (Carl Trueman quoted by Beckwith).
Beckwith saw in Trueman’s words an insurmountable obstacle, one that would finally lead him to Roman Catholicism. Beckwith writes,
“Professor Trueman’s reasoning would serve as a catalyst for reorienting my sense of whether the Catholic Church or I had the burden in justifying the schism in which I had remained for over thirty years” (p. 83).
Of course, Trueman’s essay was not at all an attempt to draw people into the Catholic church. On the contrary, Trueman’s point was quite the opposite. That is why his place in Beckwith’s story is so ironic.