Tuesday, February 19, 2019

A Short And Sweet Refutation Of The Roman Catholic History Argument

          The Roman Catholic Church is known for making claims of possessing the fullness of God given truth, beginning with the Lord Jesus Christ allegedly bestowing the authority of the keys exclusively to the Apostle Peter who carried that on in a chain of apostolic successors. These bishops are said to have preserved inspired tradition for the past 2,000 years. It is oftentimes claimed by apologists of Rome that the church fathers were unanimous in their acceptance of various distinctive Roman Catholic dogmas. Following are a handful of points to keep in mind when confronted by such assertions:

          1.) Church history offers descriptions of what people have done in the past. Its purpose is not to prescribe what our beliefs ought to be. The only kind of tradition that has been reliably preserved for us is that recorded in the New Testament.

          2.) Longevity does not prove truth. Does Buddhism and Hinduism contain more truth than Christianity just because they are older religions? The fact that an institution has been around for a long time does not make its claims more valid or truthful. It can still be questioned. Heresy is still heresy, even if it was introduced early in church history or believed by a majority of professing Christians.

          3.) Even if we unanimously agreed to accept Papal authority, that would only eliminate doctrinal conflict in a question begging, tautological sense. That would still not reveal to us whether we should be in communion with the Bishop of Rome (i.e. whether we are right or wrong in our decision making). A case for Roman Catholicism would still need to be made.

           4.) Both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches make identical claims of having been established directly by Jesus Christ, but maintain contradictory oral traditions. They dispute each other's claims to authority.

           5.) The church fathers sometimes contradicted each other, even themselves. Hence, we have reason to not put them on par with the authority of divine Scripture. These men, no matter how godly or theologically gifted, were not inspired by God. The writings of these people are not to be treated as a smokescreen against what is taught in Scripture. Sometimes church fathers made factual errors. Irenaeus, for example, taught that Jesus Christ lived to be more than fifty years of age, even though gospel tradition indicates otherwise (John 8:57).

           6.) Divine revelation exists independently of the writings of church fathers. We do not have to accept everything that they taught without question. There is also the issue of who specifically gets to determine which early writers were actually church fathers?

           7.) Heresy was present among the people of God even during the first century (Acts 20:28-32; 1 John 4:1-4). Even people taught directly by the apostles sometimes abandoned the faith (2 Timothy 4:14). Scripture is the only safe and reliable guide existing for the development of doctrine.

            8.) We do not have every document written by each church father on every subject. Neither were we present in the early church to take surveys of what everybody believed. This fact alone demonstrates the Roman Catholic claim of unanimous consensus in church history to be vacuous.

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