Mark 9:24

Posts Tagged ‘Protestantism’

Meta for a metaphor

In Armchair Apologetics on October 31, 2012 at 2:32 am

Consider that Paul, the inspired author of most of the epistles, having seen the glorified Body of Christ, knowing what end Christ’s body finally meets, and presumably knowing about what language Christ uses about his body throughout the Gospels, uses this specific metaphor: the Church is the Body of Christ.

When Paul was made blind, what truth did he see? What truth did he say, unknowing but inspired?

What could such a metaphor really mean? If it is true, and if it is scriptural, and if it is inspired — full of the Spirit — surely it has at least a divine meaning and purpose. It must speak to some deeper principle. Catholics may point out that Christ will not die, now that the Resurrection shows He triumphs over death. Similarly, the Body of Christ will, in some visible way on this earth, live right up until the end times.

Catholics also may explain this as affirming the four marks of the Church. Like Christ’s body, Catholicism is one, a matter disputed principally by log-eyed men. She is holy, for the Church Triumphant is in heaven and the Church Suffering is headed there, however the visible Church Militant fails us. She is Catholic, which is a word that means simply universal. That the Church is apostolic is simply a way of saying her authority goes back to the apostles, which is important not because of the apostles but because of Christ. There is a real historical claim backing each of these up, putting aside doctrine and scripture, claims which have no analogue among apostasists.

I am curious what apostasists make of this passage on their own, not just what other verses they go to to defend against this interpretation. All I can think of is what apostasists cannot say.

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Presumption for Catholicism

In Pursue Truth on June 16, 2012 at 3:11 am

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.

What sin is greater than silence or sleep when you know you know better?

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.

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Lost at sea

In Lay Meditations on April 7, 2012 at 1:45 am

Near the shore of a storm-rocked sea, breaking foam crashing against a cliff, a lighthouse may guide the way. It is a kind of pun, and a kind of parable, to say the Church is such a lighthouse: Christ, who is the light, built His house so that we may know the Way toward Him.

I have a difficult time believing that the one, narrow Way would make so many local ways, springing up and falling down through the centuries as they do.

“If some small mistake were made in doctrine, huge blunders might be made in human happiness.” — G. K. Chesterton

If there is one peril — Christians, you know there is ultimately one peril, which is Hell — there must be only one lighthouse. There cannot be a cloud of lighthouses. There must also be a clear idea about what that lighthouse means, where the rocks are in relation. This not just a matter of life and death but a matter of eternal life and eternal death, to borrow a turn of phrase. If there is no clear relation, we are be better off with a lifetime’s intuition, “as infants, tossed about by the waves.” But if Protestantism is true, there are two reasonable possibilities:

  • First, there is not now, and will never again be until the Second Coming, a single lighthouse. This is intolerable, if indeed this is a matter of eternal life and eternal death. Moreover, if Truth so poorly sustains we are less subject to God than to some terrible Demiurge. Hardly Christian; safely discarded.
  • Second, the true light, the Holy Spirit, we must pursue, and in the fire of pursuit are made saints. But this is also hardly Christian. Assuming your copy of Miracles lacks Chapter 11, I’m happy to explain.

If men pursue God, who therefore changes, this stands not just opposite to the sense of Jewish revelation but contrary to it.

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Ways of the wayward

In Armchair Apologetics on March 10, 2012 at 6:00 am

Consider the sedevacantists. After the Second Vatican Council, when the old liturgy was abandoned and the new liturgy abused, certain Catholics in a fit of disgust decided that the Church headed by the Pope no longer existed, that they were the last remnant of the real faithful.

This sort of split is, sadly, not unusual. It may even be archetypical.

Where Rome's universality became stale, the Catholic's universality is yet fruitful. Which lives?

After every council, or so the story goes, a small, local number of Catholics will leave. They may persist and they may persist for centuries, but they are always minor and small. Their split is as the inedible outer skin of an onion, peeling off with the brush of a thumb and soon discarded.

While their size in and of itself does not discredit them, for truth is true no matter how few adherents believe it, that these schismatics become theologically wayward does. In abandoning the structure of the Church the sedevacantists found their way to abandon theology older than they, as with the Union of Utrecht before them; as the Union dismisses in the modern way a historical interpretation of pelvic issues, just so the sedevacantists abandon right interpretation of certain pronouncements of the First Vatican Council. Just so it is with Protestantism, but worse — Protestantism is in ruins, and Evangelicalism its shantytown.

If there is a life in Protestantism it is in the death of all structure; if there is another it is in the revival and worship of discarded relics from those selfsame structures. Pieces of doctrine, defined centuries before, yet live their unlife as rubble recycled. This is the problem: Protestants solve with solvent. When they detect corruption, the only solution is to dissolve and reconstruct. That reset button hasn’t worked yet, they must say, but that doesn’t mean it won’t! Read the rest of this entry »

Crosseyed

In Armchair Apologetics on February 25, 2012 at 8:52 pm

If we accept apostasy, we must accept that it weighs us down. In evangelizing, we must prove to honest men of reason that this terrible burden is a reasonable one.

It is a terrible burden because it means God’s Own True Church, founded to redeem men from sin, could not withstand sin. If you are to stay Christian, I don’t see any honest way around this.

If we see here that even Truth can fall, we are mistaken. We forget that He allows it, perhaps to show that even under persecution He rises.

You may deny reason, but you deny a gift of God. You may deny honesty, but then you do not worship Truth. You may deny evangelism, but you deny loving your neighbor.

Because such crosses deserve names, if you do accept the apostasy hypothesis I give you the name apostasist. Your religion foundationally includes this specific article of faith: the True Church, despite being founded by God Himself, was lost when doctrines were changed, altered or lost, either immediately or over the centuries. Your company includes non-Catholic Christians, various sub-Christian and non-Christian sects and certainly a few cults.

Why such wide company?  Apostasism necessarily does create not clarities or mysteries but novelties. From here, it is easy to see how apostasism harms evangelization.  Read the rest of this entry »

In ordinate complexity

In Armchair Apologetics on February 4, 2012 at 10:01 am

We have before us a task of tedious simplicity, but its enormity it may crush us: Ten million square pegs meet ten million round pegs, mixed in a heap and scattered across the floor. There are also two slots of appropriate shape. If we keep the pace of one-and-a-half seconds to find and place each in the right spot we will spend the better part of a year in this monotony. We will spend another two weeks eating, four weeks sleeping, twelve weeks working.

All is ordered by measure, number and weight. Finding their right relation is the tricky part.

(If we take Sunday off, we add another seven-and-a-half weeks to our ambitious schedule.)

Scripture is vastly more complex. Rather than two shapes, there are at least a distinct hundred, and more subtly there are perhaps a thousand more. Left as a pile of stuff, we have no pre-ordained slots. We must figure out where what goes, how, why. Given these wrinkles, we cannot keep such brisk pace, even if we were tireless creatures of self-discipline trained to live in single-minded pursuit of scripture.

It does not take long to wonder: We are limited principally not by the millions of items and unknown several categories but also by our three score and ten. If in 30 generations someone eventually finds the truth, what of the earlier 29 generations? Will they suffer not knowing God, though this is His clear and constant will?

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