Monday, January 29, 2007

On Double Standards In Catholic Apologetics

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)

9 comments:

Exist~Dissolve said...

I would be interested in understanding to which Catholic "apologists" you are referring. The anonymous ones you have referenced seem to be quite inept, as I--a non-Catholic--could answer the question you have posed, I think, to your satisfaction.

However, I must agree on one point you have made--this is a false question. Therefore, I am quite curious why you would point to it as a definitive reason why you would never consider converting to Catholicism and why you feel that such is all "smoke and mirrors" (to which I cannot resist mentioning that I feel exactly the same way about Calvinism). After all, the false questions are the ones that are the easiest to refute, yet such an approach leaves the true questions unanswered.

FM483 said...

James,

Your question as to which church one would have belonged to during the first 1500 years since the time of Christ is interesting. Luther and his fellow Reformers of the 16th century contended that they had not introduced new or novel beliefs into the church, but rather the medieval Roman church had gradually done so; The Reformers pointed out some of the more blatant abuses introduced into the church: the mutilation of the Lord's Supper, the celibacy of the priests, the choice of foods, purgatory, the traffic in indulgences, the cult of images, the legends of the saints, and to sum it up:whatever the Roman church believes, holds, and observes, which cannot be proved by any testimony of Scripture, must be believed to have been handed down by the apostles.

Frank Marron

Pope_St_Peter said...

It is interesting how with respect to the Doctrine of Baptism, Luther would fit in quite nicely anywhere in the first 1500 years of the Church, whereas Calvin would not be so fortunate.

GeneMBridges said...

Really? Is that so?

Considering credo-baptism was the norm for at least a century and a half or longer, Luther would be hard put to find himself in good company. This is even conceded by a great many paedobaptists.

See, for example: Baptism In The Early Church by Hendrick F. Stander and Johannes P. Louw.

Pope_St_Peter said...

Thanks for the recommendation! I'll see if my university library has it. I too would like recommend something: Joachim Jeremias's Infant Baptism in the First Four Centuries, and also his, The Origins of Infant Baptism: A further Study in Reply to Kurt Aland. Enjoy!

Pope_St_Peter said...

Oh, and let's not forget that regeneration aspect!

FM483 said...

ONe of the best treatises on baptism, with some historical notes and an emphasis on infant baptism, is available on;ine at:

http://www.geocities.com/resourcesforlutherans/infantbaptism.htm

Frank Marron

James Swan said...

E-D

I would be interested in understanding to which Catholic "apologists" you are referring. The anonymous ones you have referenced seem to be quite inept, as I--a non-Catholic--could answer the question you have posed, I think, to your satisfaction.

If you've read my blog for any amount of time, you'll note the RC's i've engaged, and you'll also note the double standards I point out. Some are well known apologists, some aren't. I write about the arguments as I find them.

However, I must agree on one point you have made--this is a false question. Therefore, I am quite curious why you would point to it as a definitive reason why you would never consider converting to Catholicism and why you feel that such is all "smoke and mirrors" (to which I cannot resist mentioning that I feel exactly the same way about Calvinism). After all, the false questions are the ones that are the easiest to refute, yet such an approach leaves the true questions unanswered.

If you re-read this blog entry, you'll note the issue covered was a point that led a person to convert to Rome. My conclusion was this point in question will never be a convincing argument to go home to Rome.

L P Cruz said...

Mr. Swan,

I agree with you on the *real* question. For example Mr. Paleocrat asked..
"Given my Calvinist distinctives, which church would have claimed me as one of their own?"
If he was following his calvinism for a moment, he should have known that question is irrelevant, because the real question should be "am I one of Jesus's sheep", that should be the more pertinent one to ask. Once this is settled by definition you are the Church of Jesus Christ.