Catholicism, even in a century when it feels tired-eyed and lazy, has a huge, if silent, case going for it. Others stand on their tippy-toes, others on their best behavior, but fat, indolent Catholicism laying drunken in the gutter, belly up to oblivion, from her back to her beating heart still stands taller than everyone else combined.
The more you resemble Catholicism but are not Catholicism the falser you ring; if you share anything with Catholicism at all you must defend it with your life. Otherwise the silent testimony of history and reason would silently convict you of being a second-rate imitation. You must clutch the scripture, ignore Church history and dismiss our fruits if you would win against the silent testimony of ages.
There remains a trickier puzzle. You must prove yourself against centuries of doctrinal scavengers, those before you and those yet to come. An already impossible case multiplies endlessly. All the while, should the plain sense of scripture sometimes seem to point one direction, we can point out another, larger principle to correct our folly. If we acknowledge gaps in historical clarity, we still marvel at how few there ever could be. We admit the worst sinners, but even Jesus said that it is “impossible” that there should not be scandal, that wheat and tares will be sorted but not by us.
Catholicism is at least as scriptural while being more historical and demonstrably fruitful. Here’s the real sting of it: None of the Catholic cases require a well-timed nudge as much as typical Protestant cases.
Her exegesis is at least plausible. Yet like John’s Gospel or the core of the Earth, as we deepen, we burn hotter. Our word against yours, and as ours has exegetical millenia’s clarity and truth. This is what you’re up against, all while reinventing the wheel — or is that recapturing the fire of the Holy Ghost? You must burn heavier than we, even without considering you have the next cross to bear: Historicity.
That there is even a case for the pre-Nicene Catholic Church speaks longer and louder than even Luther. That there is a solid case drowns him out. That it is probably true seals the deal, for if so She more than you could claim scripture. And you still have the next cross to bear: Fruit.
Oy, yes — when the “Lord of the Golden Horn is laughing in the sun,” who challenges him but a Catholic golden egg? And the saints, and the universities, and science, and all which is good about our world but made through men. (And the sinners! What sinners has the Church had, what fantastic sinners! It’s as if we were Israel.)
You must understand why we cannot take the burning of your bosom against reality. We, broken bits of clay holding grace given us which is not our own: Why should we be so right against the bristling brushstrokes of human history? Does the Truth of God cast out the truth of history? If Truth cast out truth, it is a house divided against itself and cannot stand, and Truth is not worth our worship. It would be merely the shinier half of the Demiurge’s coin, and love of such currency is the root of all evil.
Shortly: If there is one Way, Truth, and Life, certainly there is one Truth. Why do only Catholics seem to believe it?