This is a quick follow up to my previous entry A Presuppositional and Brilliant Calvinist Convert to Rome. I’ve been following the Puritan Board thread discussing this. In regard to the “authority” claims made by Catholic apologists, I do not find the arguments put forth persuasive. I have a special interest in this area, and I find the arguments put forth fraught with double standards and self-refuting. I have yet to hear even one argument that remotely makes me consider, "well, they've got a good point here..."
Consider the question that led the person being discussed in the Puritan Board thread to cross the Tiber. He stated on his blog:
“Actually, my skepticism started with a rather simple question: Where would I have attended church during the first 1,500 years of church history? This question, posed by Jargon, has haunted me every day since. Given my Calvinist distinctives, which church would have claimed me as one of their own? Which church father would identify with my protestant doctrines? Why do I feel spiritually disconnected from the first 1,500 years of the church? These questions, and many others, were the center of my spiritual reflection since that day."
Now, one should immediately try this question in a broader context, to see if it is valid question to explain reality. Let's ask the modern-day Roman Catholic the exact same question: Where would a modern-day Roman Catholic find his particular mode of Catholicism in the first 1500 years of the church? Keep in mind, there are differing "types" of Catholics, though they claim to be the Borg, they are not. He may find some "similarities" (whatever that means), but he's separated by time, culture, history, etc. One cannot apply Twenty-First Century standards to medieval people. The people in the first 1500 will worship differently- because they are different people, separated by many factors.
Similarly with doctrine- the Roman Catholic Church today was not the medieval Roman Catholic Church. There were, and are differences- which has led the modern Romanist to bow at the alter of "development of doctrine" (in many ways, a novum itself, at least the Roman Catholic understanding of it). Even with development- certain practices just stopped, and never continued developing. Other practices started later, and find no connection to the early church.
The point: to use this question as a method for determining “reality” a modern day Roman Catholic should be asking the same exact question that this ex-Calvinist is asking. It must be so in order to demonstrate consistency. By reversing the question though, and applying it to a Roman Catholic, it demonstrates it's a false question. It is an invalid approach to determining reality.
This ex-Calvinist crossing the Tiber got a bit angry with me when I mentioned people make these type of conversions/decisions from the heart. There are more factors going on than simply a historical and scriptural search to determine “truth”. He denied this. But if his decision really was the result of the use of logic and the pursuit of truth, I have to wonder if he ever did the basic-presuppositional 101 test of applying the same question to the person asking it. Typically, Roman apologists can't answer their own questions. They can't give a coherent response when the same question is asked of them.
I won't be converting to Rome any time soon. To me, it's all smoke and mirrors, and the methods they use in argumentation only sound appealing on initial investigation. As Proverbs stated long ago, “The first person to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him” (Pr. 18:17)