Here’s one of those oddities of Roman Catholic history, as found in this link to the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia:
By a decree of Alexander IV (1254-1261) inserted in "Sextus Decretalium", Lib. V, c. ii, and still in force, all laymen are forbidden, under threat of excommunication to dispute publicly or privately with heretics on the Catholic Faith.
The text reads: "Inhibemus quoque, ne cuiquam laicæ personæ liceat publice vel privatim de fide catholicâ disputare. Qui vero contra fecerit, excommunicationis laqueo innodetur."
“We furthermore forbid any lay person to engage in dispute, either private or public, concerning the Catholic Faith. Whosoever shall act contrary to this decree, let him be bound in the fetters of excommunication.”
Now- the times have changed, and Protestants are not normally considered “heretics” by Roman Catholic apologists. We are considered “separated brethren” or something to that effect. Interesting though, during the Reformation period the new Protestants were popularly considered heretics.
But since Protestants are supposedly not heretics anymore- I have to wonder why there is a need for Roman Catholic apologetics. What’s the point? Why do Catholic apologetics? Why spend so much time writing against the Reformation or Protestants? It seems time could be spent better elsewhere.
I've been in more than a few discussion with Roman Catholics. Very few wish to call me a heretic. I tried one time to appeal to Galatians 1:6-9-
"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!"
I've asked- Isn't Justification by faith alone considered "another gospel" to a Roman Catholic? Why not condemn me a heretic?
The answer:The only way I could be deemed a heretic was if I knew the Roman Catholic Church was the true church- and still I denied her truth. But since I remain convinced the Roman Catholic Church does not teach the truth and is a false church, i'm not a heretic, but rather, seperated brethren- due to my ignorance- even though I adhere to faith alone, and believe that it is the Gospel- and I condemn as anathema any system that would deny it.
Now apply Catholic apologist logic to the Scriptures, and church history. What happens? It's not possible to consistently apply this logic to the Scriptures and church history. It certainly doesn't seem to fit with Paul's emphatic plea in Galatians 1. It also doesn't seem to fit with what the Council of Trent declared:
Canon 9- If Anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification, and that it is not in any way necessary that he be prepared and disposed by the action of his own will, let him be anathema."
Even the Catholic Encyclopedia grips it:
"The doctrine of justification by faith alone was considered by Luther and his followers as an incontrovertible dogma, as the foundation rock of the Reformation, as an "article by which the Church must stand or fall" (articulus stantis et cadentis ecclesia), and which of itself would have been a sufficient cause for beginning the Reformation, as the Smalkaldic Articles emphatically declare. Thus we need not wonder when later on we see Lutheran theologians declaring that the Sola-Fides doctrine, as the principium materiale of Protestantism, deserves to be placed side by side with the doctrine of Sola-Scriptura ("Bible alone", with the exclusion of Tradition) as its principium formale -- two maxims in which the contrast between Protestant and Catholic teaching reaches its highest point. Since, however, neither maxim can be found in the Bible, every Catholic is forced to conclude that Protestantism from its very beginning and foundation is based on self-deception."
I don't know how many Roman Catholics read this blog- i'm assuming very few. But, i'd like to know if i'm a heretic, or just confused, according to their personal interpretation of the Roman Catholic faith.