Bugay is nothing more than an ex-Catholic with a chip on his shoulder as well as a historical revisionist who places his faith in the historical "scholars" of his choice. Quite simply, he has no faith in God, but only in his own ability to wade through the historians who he thinks agree with him, nothing more. Quite sad indeed.This really isn't about me personally, but I'm willing to put this up for discussion. But I am most interested in talking about "historical revisionism," especially in the context of the papacy, and especially in the wake of my post below, to the effect that the papacy should be abolished. Especially with knowledgeable Catholics who really know what they believe.
Another commenter, from that same thread, accused me of being "clueless as to what [Roman Catholic] positions actually are."
Well then, in this post and in future posts, I want to state, as clearly as I can, using sources that are as reliably Roman Catholic as I can find, as to what the Roman Catholic position actually is.
I've already started to do that. In a recent post, I introduced Father Adrian Fortescue and listed the four "theses to be proved" from his book "The Early Papacy: to the Synod of Chalcedon in 451." These are:
1. The pope is the chief bishop, primate, and leader of the whole Church of Christ on earth.
2. He has episcopal jurisdiction over all members of the Church.
3. To be a member of the Catholic Church, a man must be in communion with the Pope.
4. The providential guidance of God will see to it that the Pope shall never commit the Church to error in any matter of religion.
According to Fortescue, Catholics don't really have to prove that there was an early papacy, because they believe what they do, really, on the authority of the "living authority" today. But nevertheless, he said, "we have all the evidence we can require that the Catholic Church in the first four and a half centuries did believe what we believe about the papacy" (pg 30).
I'm working on posts that look at of each of these issues, because it is important to understand what the early church believed -- "What they knew and when they knew it," to paraphrase a famous Watergate-era senator.
Fortescue said that these four things are all things that the earliest church believed. And he said also that "development" was simply a matter such that "when a point of faith is disputed, when some heresy arises, the Church makes her mind clear by defining more explicitly what she has always held." (35)
So his assumption is that, not only were there snippets and glimmers of a belief in a papacy, but that the four beliefs above were fairly widespread, and only when one of these "points of faith" was "disputed," then did "the Church make her mind clear by defining more explicitly what she has always held."
But all of this depends on something else, he said. "All of this depends further on three more theses, into which we cannot enter here." (Pg 51)
These three theses that he did not touch are:
1. "That our Lord gave these rights to the Apostle St. Peter."
2. "That St. Peter must have a successor in them."
3. "That his successor is the Bishop of Rome."
He said, "To establish these here would take too much space. We must be content to prove our four points directly as set out at the beginning." And of course, as I related, Fortescue said, for some reason, that Catholics get to presuppose some things about "the Church":
All we suppose, before we come to the Church, is that our Lord Jesus Christ was a man sent by God and whom we must follow if we wish to serve God in the proper way; that he founded one visible Church, to which his followers should belong; that this Church is, as a matter of historic fact, the communion of Rome (not, however, supposing anything about the papacy, but supposing only visible unity and historic continuity). This much must be presupposed and therefore does not rest on the authority of the Church. All else does. (Pgs 26-27, the parenthetical note is Fortescue's).I will grant part of this presupposition to Catholics. I will grant that "Jesus Christ was a man sent by God whom we must follow if we wish to serve God in the proper way." I also understand that Christ founded a church, but I will contest the statement that "his followers should belong" to it.
But I would rather say, Christ promised to build a church, an "assembly," against which the gates of hell would not prevail, and his true followers de facto belong to this assembly, which is also called "his body". That is, once individuals "repent and believe the good news" (Mark 1:15 NIV) or they "Repent and [are] baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins" [Acts 2:38] or they "Believe in the Lord Jesus" [Acts 16:31] or they "see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn" to be healed by God [Acts 28], that Christ himself makes that person "a member of the church" and that this invisible church is the true church.
See John 4:23 for clarification -- "But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." That is the "one true church" And as Paul said, it is "us who believe" are the church, the body of Christ (Eph 1:18-19). If anyone wants to contest what I've said here, I'm open to it. But if you want to claim for the church anything more than this, you have to argue for it.
And I will strenuously contest that the church is, "as a matter of historic fact, the communion of Rome." It is vital for Roman Catholics to prove that point, and not to simply assume it.
Let me pause here to ask if any Catholics believe that I have (aside from how you might argue with my characterization of the church) stated this improperly, or if I have misrepresented anything?
Given that Fortescue has listed his "four theses to be proved" separately from the "three more theses" he provided, and given that he says "That our Lord gave these rights to the Apostle St. Peter," it seems that the Catholic argument could be stated more succinctly if we state the three theses in the context of the first four, to come up with something like this:
1. Our Lord gave these rights to the Apostle St. Peter:Now, do any of you Catholics out there disagree that this is what Roman Catholics of 1920 believed about the papacy? I grew up as a child of Catholic parents whose understanding of Catholicism was shaped in the 1950's, "the real Catholic Moment," according to Patrick Buchanan. And I very much believed these things to be true.
1a. To be the chief bishop, primate, and leader of the whole Church of Christ on earth.
1b. He has episcopal jurisdiction over all members of the Church.
1c. To be a member of the Catholic Church, a man must be in communion with the Pope.
1d. The providential guidance of God will see to it that the Pope shall never commit the Church to error in any matter of religion.
2. That St. Peter must have a successor in these rights.
3. That St. Peter's successor is the Bishop of Rome.
Am I mischaracterizing any of this? Do you think that Fortescue is somehow not reliable reporter of what Catholics believed in the 1920's? (or the 1950's? Or ever? Given that he was a prolific writer for The Catholic Encyclopedia.) That he didn't know what he was talking about?
Do any of you thoroughly knowledgeable Catholics, you "Catholic Champions" have anything to add to this. Do you wish to contest anything as I've portrayed it here? The last thing I want is to be "clueless." Have I represented your case properly?