Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Who Has The Fullness of Truth?
02/12/2007 - James SwanRoman Catholic conversions are not descriptions of God's sovereign grace- that is, as something God does perfectly and completely. Rather, they describe a progressive development in one's understanding and spiritual life.This development may culminate in eventual salvation, or it may not. In the Surprised By Truth series, many of those crossing the Tiber claim to have experienced some sort of conversion while a Protestant. In these stories, the spiritual journey ends plugged into the Roman Catholic Church, given a set of standards and sacraments to help one work the works of achieving possible salvation.
Once in the arms of the Roman Catholic Church, the convert now has the fullness of the truth (which implies Protestantism is less true, or not completely true). Marcus Grodi, host of The Journey Home asserts, "One can be truly converted only when one recognizes or painfully discovers that to be fully a follower of Jesus Christ - and thereby have the full potential of growing in union with him - one must also be in union with the Church he established in and through his apostles" [Coming home Network, a Catholic Apostolate for Converts]. Imagine telling this to a persecuted Christian in an Islamic controlled country- that the faith he claims and daily risks his life for is not that of a full follower of Jesus Christ because he has not made the ideological journey to Roman Catholicism.
Here we see a fundamental difference in the understanding of just what conversion is for Protestants and Catholics. In the Scriptures we read how God uses His people to proclaim the Gospel to those the Lord calls (Acts 8:35). The Lord opens hearts to respond (Acts 16:14). This gospel message declares to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness (Rom. 4:5). This is a Gospel of peace (Eph. 6:15), a peace that comes through the blood of the cross (Col. 1:20). This isn't a hypothetical peace; this is a real and lasting peace. Given is not a possible salvation, but an actual salvation. Given is a full and guaranteed salvation, not a salvation including chances of disqualification.
Rather than moving towards the fullness of truth, one needs to stop and ask the Catholic convert why they have moved away from the fullness of truth. They have gone from Christ's completed work on the cross that saved His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21) to an uncertainty of their state of grace, "...[W]ithout a special revelation nobody can with certainty of faith know whether or not he has fulfilled all the conditions that are necessary for achieving justification" (Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma Rockford Ill.: TAN Books and Publishers, 1974), p.262).
Think for a moment on the concept of fullness of truth Roman Catholics claim to possess. When one considers fullness one thinks of something complete, and indeed, this is the sense in which Roman Catholics use the phrase. Protestants are lacking, because they do not have the complete body of truth Rome claims. But consider also Rome's notion of development. The truth they have is in the process of developing. If truth is in the process of developing, it cannot be said to be complete. In other words, the whole notion of fullness of truth is misleading. Truth cannot be full and at the same time still in process. This can best be seen in Catholic Marian issues. What Mary is to finally become has yet to be determined (for instance in the co-redemptrix movement). To further complicate the situation for a Catholic convert, the fullness of truth comes with various interpretations of official decrees. Similarly, only a small handful of Biblical texts have been infallibly defined, leaving the alleged fullness of truth a theological façade.
Marcus Grodi states also, "In fact, we are called all the more to shower our now confused or indignant friends and family with the all-forgiving, all-accepting love of Christ. However, we must not let the emotional trajectories of our loving glances turn our attention away from the fullness of truth before us, found only in union with the Catholic Church." Paul states though in Colossians that believers have been given fullness in Christ, are complete in Him (2:10), and that He forgave all sins, nailing them to the cross (2:14). It is not some higher knowledge attained by placing faith in an ecclesiastical body. The development of a believers salvation was started and completed in Christ. In dialoging with your Roman Catholic friends or relatives, keep in mind that it is not they who are full by conversion to the Roman church, it is you who are full because of Christ and His work.