The Roman Catholic Church is known for making claims of possessing the fullness of God given truth, starting with the Lord Jesus Christ allegedly giving the authority of the keys exclusively to the Apostle Peter so as to start an unbroken chain of apostolic successors who 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.
2.) Age does not prove truth. Does Buddhism and Hinduism have more truth than Christianity just because they are older religions?
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 Roman Bishop (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 and dispute each other's claims.
5.) The church fathers sometimes contradicted each other and even themselves, which is the underlying reason for us not putting 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 the what is taught in Scripture. Divine revelation exists independently of the writings of so-called church fathers. Heresy was present among the people of God even during the first century (Acts 20:28-32; 1 John 4:1-4). So it is best to stick with Scripture as our guide in the development of doctrine.
6.) 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 demonstrates the Roman Catholic claim of unanimous consensus in church history to be vacuous.
Well said, Jesse!ReplyDelete