Why I Am a Catholic:

compassion

The Reasons:

I am tempted to answer as Walker Percy did: what else is there? The alternatives all seem to me grossly inadequate. This is true speaking both philosophically and historically: that is, both the competing worldviews and the alternative explanations for the figure of Christ.

Philosophically, I have never heard any good atheist answers to the argument from contingency (everything in our experience derives its being from another source and cannot sustain itself, but if that were true of everything, nothing would exist, so a self-contained, eternal, uncreated being must exist), or a good explanation for human morality (why we have the experience of “I ought” and “I ought not”), or for the experience of beauty (why do such disparate things as music, a woman’s face, a mountain, an ocean, a bird, a poem, and the night sky affect us in much the same way), or for the universality of religious belief among the cultures of mankind. In short, any purely materialistic belief system must be false because it runs contrary to the experience of mankind.

Agnosticism, the belief that man cannot possibly know the truth about God, seems to me irrational. If man came from God, then there must be, however faint, a likeness or kinship between God and man, meaning that God can, to an extent, be known by man. If not, then the agnostic has to come up with a workable explanation both why not and why all the millions of people who claimed to know God throughout history, including many of its best and brightest, were mistaken, but the agnostic is not. To say that man cannot possibly know God or know the truth (which is more or less the same thing) seems to me to be an attempt at evasion rather than a real cogent position. Besides, there’s no reason to believe we can’t know something until it has been definitively proven that we don’t.

First, I believe in God. It seems to me that our experience both of the world and of human nature can’t possibly be explained absent the divine. Such difficulties as arise of positing that God exists and is good (i.e. the problem of evil) seem to me to be only problems of perspective; when dealing with something infinitely far above us, it will of course seem as if there are contradictions, but having good reason to believe in God’s existence and goodness on other grounds we can trust that these are illusory. The problem of evil, therefore, can be accepted as a problem that is accounted for by the premise, much as the lack of stellar parallaxes was accepted as a problem that was accounted for once Newton’s laws provided a workable context for Kepler’s model of the solar system. We admit the problem exists, but say that it is due to a lack of knowledge rather than being a serious contradiction.

I believe that Jesus Christ was and is the second person of the Trinity, the only begotten Son of God, true God and true Man, come to Earth to bring the forgiveness of sins to mankind. Like with God, I don’t see a cogent explanation for the figure of Christ that does not accept His claim to be God. The event of the Resurrection is the insurmountable obstacle; either it happened, or it didn’t. If it did, Christ is who He says He is. If it didn’t, then an explanation is needed for how and why the event was faked in a manner convincing enough to successfully bring about the conversion of the Roman Empire.

Moreover, the witness of the Saints and the Church seem to me conclusive: if Christ was a fake or fable, He’s the most successful and effective fake in human history. Lives are noticeably improved by following Him. His followers do great good for the people around them and humanity in general. The saints are striking examples of human excellence in all its forms and are admired even by atheists.

People sometimes talk as if it were easy to explain away Jesus as a simple preacher who was divinized by his ignorant and/or conniving followers. Such explanations are pathetically inadequate (not to mention transparently false to facts) to explain the Christian phenomenon. As far as I can see, the only explanation that covers all the facts is the one that Christianity itself proposes: that Jesus was the Son of God and that He founded the Church to be His instrument on Earth and to bring His Word to all nations. This explanation accounts not only for all the good the Church has done, but also all the evil, as the Church is explicitly an institution made up of fallen human beings in need of God’s mercy and nothing in the Christian religion claims that those who follow Christ will never sin, make mistakes, or act out of ignorance. The Christian view accounts for the whole of the observed facts, while the non-Christian view only accounts for part of them.

This brings me to the fact that, as a Catholic, I find I can account for pretty much everything that comes my way. Not that I can explain everything, but I can see how it could be explained without resorting to either flat denial or contradiction. From social conditions to historical events to scientific discoveries to ghost stories, I can more-or-less see how everything has its place in the Catholic worldview. Yes, science too: no matter how far down physics explores, below the electron and into the deep sub-atomic, it can never touch religious faith. No matter how minutely you examine the wall of a house, no matter how deep into the architecture and structure of the beams and nails that make it up, you are never going to seriously affect the question of the architect’s identity. Exploring the structure of God’s creation strikes me as a very wonderful thing to do, but I find the idea that, in so doing, you can somehow disprove God’s existence to be ridiculous.

As a side note, when it comes to evolution I reject the natural selection model as laughably inadequate (though it may account for some things: no one ever said there had to be only a single engine), but I think whatever does drive evolution will prove to be as ‘scientific’ as anything else (i.e. there will be a clear trail of physical events leading one to another). The question doesn’t affect my faith one way or another.

Thus far I have not found a single really concrete fact or truth which openly contradicts my faith. In addition, I find most modern objections to Christianity are moral rather than philosophical or historical (the only grounds I think Christianity can adequately be attacked). That is, people object to it on the grounds that Christian belief forbids certain practices that the modern world considers sacred rights (mostly related to sex). Even if I didn’t personally object to the practices being so guarded, there would still be the problem that to find a belief inconvenient to your lifestyle does not prove that it is false, only that if it is true, your lifestyle is an improper one. To reject a belief system for no other reason than because you want to violate it seems to me insane.

The fact that Catholicism demands that I often act contrary to my own desires and inclinations I hold to be one of the proofs of its validity. A belief system that doesn’t place any demands on me beyond what is already in my mind or which flatters my own desires looks very much like a mere justification on my part.

Now all this is a reason why I am Christian. Why am I a Roman Catholic?

Once one accepts Christianity as true, I don’t think there can be a really cogent reason for being Protestant. The Protestant system is too new, having emerged in the 1500s, largely on account of an intellectual lightweight named Martin Luther and a more rigorous, but equally irrational theologian named John Calvin. Its chief precepts have no basis in the writings of the early Church Fathers and its sola scriptura doctrine is itself ascriptural and illogical (if scripture alone is authoritative, by what authority was scripture defined?). Moreover, most Protestant churches lack the structural characteristics that the Church had even in Biblical times, indicating that they lack any kind of continuity with the Church of the Apostles.

Once Protestantism is rejected, there remain the Catholic, Orthodox, Coptic, and Anglican churches. Anglicanism is rejected at once both because of its shameful origins (a church that exists because a king wanted a divorce) and national character (by what possible reading of Scripture could a local monarch be given authority over the Church of Christ?). Perhaps it might have been possible to be Anglican when England ruled a quarter of the planet, lending a kind of universality to it, but even then it was obviously a national church. The Church of Christ must be a universal institution and can never be nationalized or subject to any human nation.

Of the three remaining, a similar problem emerges with the Copts and Orthodox; they are too localized and insular. Indeed, the Orthodox Church had its origins in a similar (though far less blatant) nationalist effort to the Anglican: the Emperor ruled from Constantinople, so Constantinople must be a great Holy See (though even so they remained in communion with Rome for many centuries, until some unfortunate incidents around the time of the Crusades). But in any case, neither the Orthodox nor the Copts have ever showed the kind of universality that the Romans have in sending missionaries to the far corners of the globe and exercising authority over Christians from innumerable different cultures. Though I would say that they both are branches of the true Church, just stubbornly independent ones.

Thus I think that, once one accepts the truth of God one must accept the truth of Christianity, and once one does that, one must be a Roman Catholic. I can conceive of one who is born into the faith remaining Orthodox or Coptic without contradiction, but other than that I can see no cogent reason for not being Catholic.

The Benefits

In addition to all of the above, the benefits of being Roman Catholic are, of course, excellent (as might be expected from the truth). The one I find most useful is that it shields you from the parochialism of modernity. In a field where one can profitably turn to advice written in the fifth, eighth, twelfth, or sixteenth century it is hard to conceive of the modern age as being the pinnacle of the human intellect it claims to be. The trap that so many contemporaries fall into of viewing our ancestors as either villains or children is eliminated for the faithful Catholic. The idea that, say, Richard Dawson is more intelligent than Augustine of Hippo or Thomas Aquinas simply because he happened to be born later is laughable.

The Catholic, assured that mankind is fallen and the world is a vale of tears, is typically defended against the lure of Utopia and the temptation to do anything and everything, however absurdly impractical, in an attempt to eliminate some great perennial evil. The idea of stealing from everyone to eliminate poverty, or of throwing away all weapons to eliminate war, is seen for the insanity it is. The answer to poverty is to give generously to the poor man and provide an opportunity for him to better himself. The answer to war is to win the one you’re fighting, show mercy to the conquered, and do your best to avert the next one. These things are not going to go away no matter what we do and attempts to eliminate them wholesale always have disastrous consequences (e.g. a concentrated effort by the world’s great powers to never have another war led directly to the most destructive war in human history).

Christianity is an incredibly open and varied religion. Barring sin, just about everything mankind can do can be turned to the glory of God. A Catholic can be a miner, a musician, a politician, a farmer, a soldier, a priest, a police officer, a writer, an artist, a businessman, a housewife, a beggar, an aristocrat, a scientist, a scholar, or a sailor without any kind of impediment to his faith. Every field of human endeavor is open to the Catholic as a means to give glory to God, and just about every one has done so. Every kind of personality can be turned to Christ, even very prickly and unpleasant ones (rudeness isn’t a sin). A Catholic can be irritable, blunt, and rude like, Hillare Belloc, or open, friendly, and charming like G.K. Chesterton. The Church accepts all kinds.

Because Christianity gives life a real end goal and some fairly straightforward criteria for meeting it: believe in Christ, receive the sacraments, confess your sins, forgive others, do your duty. Everything else is a matter of style. He who keeps the commandments can dispense with convention. As a Catholic I am far more free to be myself than I am as a millennial.

As a Catholic, I am free to apply the normal rules of skepticism, evidence, and belief to everything. For instance, I don’t have to accept the word of scientists as of gods because I know scientists are fallen men and that science itself is not the final word on reality. I can thumb my nose at the zeitgeist and declare that diversity is absurd, tolerance only a limited virtue, and that expecting someone not to have sex if they can’t handle the consequences is not a human rights violation. Once I have my faith in place, I am free to question everything, including the most cherished assumptions of the current age. That’s how I came to conclude that Imperialism was a legitimate form of foreign policy, that there is no fundamental difference between ‘homosexuality’ and any other form of temptation, and that the notion of equality is effectively meaningless when applied to human beings. These ideas run directly contrary to the surrounding culture, but because I know, through my faith, how limited that is I’m able to look beyond it and examine questions more (I hope) objectively.

So, the canard that religious dogma limits thought is almost the exact opposite of the truth: once religious dogma is in place, the mind has a scope to explore beyond the current climate of opinion and entertain ideas that would otherwise be unthinkable. Mere ‘open-mindedness’ only leads to conforming to ideas are in the air at the moment. Of all people the self-styled free-thinker is most a child of his own age.

A popular idea is that, freed from Christianity, one is freed from guilt. That’s not true. Freedom from Christianity allows a man to more effectively deaden his conscience to a particular beloved sin, but not to all. And if he does commit what he still regards as a sin, or if someone else does, then he finds that what he’s really been freed from is not guilt but forgiveness. The agonistic or the atheist has no mechanism to forgive the really sinful. He can excuse, but he can’t forgive. Hence the fanatical hatred of secularists, hedonists, communists, and so on for those they regard as evil. Their only recourse is to declare a sin not to be sinful, but that only takes you so far. As a Christian, I may count more things as being sinful than the average man, but I have a remedy for it. I can be unsparing in my assessment of myself because I know that anything I account as evil is not incurable or beyond forgiveness. In other words, a secularist can’t admit to being a bad person, because in his worldview there is no remedy for that. I can because I know Christ came to call sinners to repentance. Every time I go to Confession I wonder how non-Catholics can stand to live without it; I certainly couldn’t.

This, I think, is one of the things secularists really fail to understand; lacking a mechanism for forgiveness themselves, they assume that when a Christian says that something is sinful, they mean that a person who does this should be shunned and punished and destroyed (because that’s what the secularist thinks should happen). But the Christian thinks that a person who has sinned should repent and be forgiven, and that they will be much happier if they do. If I say homosexuality is sinful, I don’t mean that I hate and shun anyone who has committed that sin, only that I think they ought, for their own sakes, to repent and be forgiven for it. Christians don’t dismiss people as being unworthy of life or irredeemably evil: secularists do.

Catholicism is a wonderfully human religion. Surrounding the core, unchangeable dogmas is a whole wonderful palace of devotions, sacramentals, pious legends, history, folk practices, books, art, and so on. It gives you something to grab onto (literally), something to look at and enjoy while you praise God. It’s a religion that has weathered real life for two millennia and has the scuffs and scars of something that’s been used hard and endured. This isn’t something made up in a college classroom by ivory tower academics; it’s something that’s been out in the real world living, suffering, rejoicing, and fighting with real people for thousands of years. Its roots go all the way back to the beginning of recorded history with Abraham. It’s been tried and tested as thoroughly as any human institution or philosophy can be and has endured. In short, it works.

So, that’s the summary version of why I am Catholic. To summarize the summary, the reason I’m Catholic is because it’s true.

 

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19 thoughts on “Why I Am a Catholic:

    • “Can you be skeptical about what the bishops say?”
      Yes, and I often am. The bishops have great authority, but they’re men, not gods. I ought to listen to them carefully, but I’m not obligated to trust everything they say.

      “Can you be skeptical about the Papal States? That’s not nationalism?”
      Most Catholics these days (including the Popes) are. Personally, I’m not.
      In context, I assume you mean that the Papal States paint the Roman Church with the same brush as the Anglican or Orthodox churches. Actually, the truth is the opposite; the Papal States were originally established to shield the Pope from the influence of surrounding kings and emperors (which didn’t always work because they tended to have bigger armies than the Pope). But no, the Papal States were not ‘nationalism’ as you put it because they existed as an auxiliary of the Church (akin to the property owned by a monastery or church building), rather than making the Church an auxiliary of the state. This is obvious from the fact that France, Spain, Austria, Poland, and so on were Catholic kingdoms, but not under the temporal authority of the Papal States.

      “Can you be skeptical about Jesus only?”
      I don’t get what the ‘only’ part means.
      If by ‘skeptical’ you mean “can I disbelieve in Jesus,” then you’re asking “can you cease to be Catholic while remaining Catholic?” To which the answer, of course, is no; there is no worldview that permits one to dismiss the basis of that worldview.
      If you mean “can you have doubts and ask hard questions about Jesus” then the answer is yes. But, believing on what I think good grounds that Jesus is who He says He is, I trust that any doubts or questions I have admit of answers.

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      • It sounds like you are reserving in your skepticism of the bishops a pay grade reserved for the magisterium:

        890 The mission of the Magisterium is linked to the definitive nature of the covenant established by God with his people in Christ. It is this Magisterium’s task to preserve God’s people from deviations and defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error. Thus, the pastoral duty of the Magisterium is aimed at seeing to it that the People of God abides in the truth that liberates. To fulfill this service, Christ endowed the Church’s shepherds with the charism of infallibility in matters of faith and morals.

        How can you say you are not obligated to trust everything they say? They have a charism that you don’t. What happens if you ignore something they say that turns out to be important?

        The papal states put the physical sword into the hands of the pope. That’s not good. Many executions. How does the church maintain it’s spiritual character when engaged in politics? And if the church needed the papal states to protect its power, how much more is that the case today? You need a progressive pope for the surrounding European powers to pay attention.

        By only Jesus I mean why not try trusting in Jesus alone and not in all the mechanisms of institutional power (and corruption)?

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  1. D.G.

    There is a very specific and unambiguous set of circumstances in which the Magisterium acts so as to oblige all Catholics to obey: specifically, either the Pope speaking ‘ex cathedra’ (from the chair), exercising his full authority as Pope, or the Bishops gathered in counsel to decide upon doctrine. The former has happened (I believe) twice and the latter happens about once a century and does not always involve doctrine. The point is, it’s never ambiguous when the Bishops are exercising their magisterial authority. The Church is very specific about this; I’m not obliged to believe everything the Bishops or the Pope says on any given topic (though as they are the successors to the apostles I ought to treat them with due reverence and respect). A cursory examination of Catholic doctrine, not to mention Church history (and an awareness of the obvious fact that Bishops don’t all agree with each other) shows this to be the case.

    I never said the Church ‘needs’ the Papal States, only that they were designed to counter a specific threat and that there’s no comparison between them and a ‘State Church’ like Anglicanism. As for the larger point about the Church being involved in politics: so what? It’s part of existing in the world as an institution (and spending several centuries as the only major such institution in existence). The Church is like Christ in that it is both human and divine; it carries a divine mission, but enacts it through men, with all that entails. My point is that the Church’s involvement in politics was specifically to avoid coming under the control of any one political entity.

    As for ‘putting the physical sword in the hand of the Pope,’ Christ ordered His apostles to carry swords, and Christian swords were the only thing that kept Christianity alive for many centuries.

    “By only Jesus I mean why not try trusting in Jesus alone and not in all the mechanisms of institutional power (and corruption)?”

    In trusting in those “mechanisms of institutional power,” I am trusting in Jesus, because those mechanisms are part of the Church which He instituted. Moreover, that ‘institutional power’ is the only reason why I (or you, for that matter) am able to know Jesus, because it was the Church which compiled Scripture and defined the basic doctrines of Christianity.

    There is no dichotomy between believing in Jesus and believing in the Church. In fact, to my mind neither makes sense without the other. On the one hand, the Church obviously has no point except to lead people to Christ. On the other, how should I know Jesus at all apart from the Church? If you say ‘by Scripture,’ I’d answer that that is merely taking one element of the Church and arbitrarily isolating it from the rest, including everything that can make sense of Scripture.

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    • Got it. You have the perfect faith. Unassailable. You should be a bishop. You speak with way more confidence about the faith than your pope.

      BTW, a cursory view of history — a read of Garry Wills — disproves most of what you claim on the basis of a cursory reading of history. Your triumphalism has not prepared you well for the current crisis of Roman Catholicism — the one that Ross Douthat tells us about almost every week. Are we supposed to think he’s wrong and you’re right?

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      • No need to be snide about it; you asked questions, I answered them. If you just want to sneer because you couldn’t ask me anything I couldn’t answer, please go somewhere else.

        Haven’t read Gary Willis (and from I’ve heard, he’s not worth reading), but no crisis in the Church really surprises me; we’ve had plenty before now, and we’ll have plenty down the road (again, part of living in the world). We have Christ’s assurance that His Church will last to the end of time, and I trust the word of Christ much more than that of some anti-Catholic historian or modern commentator. Not to mention the fact that there are any number of historians and so forth who wouldn’t agree with the men you cite. That’s the problem with appealing to authority. See, I’m not claiming authority: I’m only claiming that this is the truth, and that if anyone – however prominent or well-educated – were to say otherwise, then he would be wrong, and an expert in his own field who truly examines the facts would be able to show how and why he is wrong, even if I can’t offhand.

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      • With regards to what? What specific thing he said do you expect me to agree or disagree with, and what does it matter? I don’t read him very often and I generally enjoy him when I do, but if I hold myself able to sometimes disagree with bishops, who are the successors of the apostles, by what standard would it be absurd for me to disagree with a New York Times commentator?

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  2. BTW, Will is worth reading. Not so if all you want is to be reassured that nothing can go wrong. Nothing went wrong with Alexander VI, Edgardo Mortara, Vatican II, or the diocese of Boston.

    All I ask is that the boasters show a little humility. All we hear from the apologists though is silence while shoulders shrug.

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    • I don’t think I’m boasting: I just answered the questions you posed. Nor do I think nothing can or has gone wrong (as I have said repeatedly, starting in the blog post itself), only that it ultimately doesn’t matter as far as the big picture is concerned because that’s what we should expect from a fallen humanity entrusted with a divine commission. It’s accounted for by the ‘hypothesis,’ so to speak.

      I don’t know what you’re talking about with the “All we hear from the apologists though is silence while shoulders shrug” thing (I don’t even know what that means; What are apologists silent on? Whose shoulders are shrugging?). For one thing, I’m not an apologist, and I’m certainly not responsible for anything that a given apologist does or doesn’t say.

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      • Your post is one long boast, just like Mark Shea and any number of writers for Nat. Cath. Reporter.

        But if you read Douthat, you don’t get the idea that Rome is great. You might actually have to explain why it’s hard to be a Roman Catholic. For you, it’s easy peasy.

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      • So, to your mind “statement of belief = boast”? Well, if I boast, I boast in the Lord.

        Okay, why the continual harping on Ross Douthat? What does he have to do with anything I wrote? I wrote to explain my own reasoning why I find the Catholic Church’s claims to be convincing. I don’t know what you expected, since your objections have become increasingly incoherent and ridiculous, but apparently you thought that a post explaining why I am Catholic should have explained why I shouldn’t be Catholic. I could certainly write on that subject, but I don’t see why you should expect me to or feel that I had been somehow negligent by not doing so.

        And, by the way, the “For you, it’s easy peasy” accusation is an absurd thing for an adult to say: you sound like a child throwing a tantrum.

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      • You put down Protestantism in your statement of belief. That’s fine. But how about an admission of Rome’s problems?

        Which leads to Douthat. Many more people read Douthat and the problems of Rome than they read you and your glowing assessment. Someone who reads both may wonder what you have to say. If you live in a bubble, then maybe you have something useful to say to the bubble dwellers. But if you are aware of the larger Roman Catholic world, you might write the post differently.

        You’re like writing about Calvin’s Geneva without mentioning Servetus. With all of Rome’s history, you have a lot more skeletons than most communions.

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      • Thanks for restating your objection in a reasonable form.

        I did admit Rome’s problems, but I didn’t bother laying them out in detail because that wasn’t the point of the post. And as I pointed out in the post and have said over and over again in our exchange, they don’t really affect my conclusion one way or another. If my main argument were that Protestants don’t act like Christians and Catholics do, you would have a point. But I never said that and never would. Sure, Rome has a lot of ‘skeletons:’ the Catholic Church is the oldest and largest of the communions; it makes sense that there would be more crimes, sins, and failures in her past than in that of the others. What of it? A one-by-one comparison of the crimes of the different Christian churches, even if we agreed on what constituted a crime, would tell us nothing about which one among them had the best claim to being the church founded by Christ. Again, the evil done by the Church is accounted for by hypothesis: that of being a Divine commission entrusted to fallen humanity.

        This post isn’t intended as a point-by-point, or even a general defense of the Church’s behavior throughout history, but as a rundown of why I believe her claims to be justified. The answer to that question isn’t found by a comparison of who has the most skeletons in their closet, but of who maintains the marks of the church as described in the creeds (one, holy, catholic (universal), and apostolic), who most resembles the early church in structure and doctrine, and who has the most coherent and orthodox dogma. As far as the central question of my post is concerned, those problems you bring up, however real they might be, simply don’t matter. I’m talking on a different wavelength. Maybe I’ll try a post on the problems in the Church at a later date, then you can say how well you thought I addressed them, but please stop making an issue of something that isn’t part of what I wrote.

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      • How could Rome be the church Christ founded when Christianity started in Jerusalem?

        And you don’t see any connection with a mentality that says this is the church and no matter what she does she’ll still be the church? Talk about a license for antinomianism, the great complaint against Protestantism.

        Funny thing is, look where that mentality got Israel. 

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      • Are you seriously suggesting that the church of Christ can be defined by location?
        Christ founded the church upon the apostles in general and Peter in particular. Peter established his church in Rome (along with Paul) and he and his immediate successors died there. Hence, the bishop of Rome is the successor to St. Peter, and hence the primacy of Rome in the Catholic Church and hence the name ‘Roman Church.’

        I wouldn’t put it that it ‘doesn’t matter what the Church does,’ but rather that the Church is more than her earthly members, including the clergy and the Pope. What any individual or group within her does can’t change what she is. Besides which the circumstances necessary to render the Church as a whole corrupt (e.g. apostasy on the part of all the bishops) simply have never occurred and we have the assurance of Christ that they never will.

        Moreover, no one ever said it doesn’t matter what the Church does as long as she keeps the Gospel, because obviously the Gospel requires a certain kind of behavior. The fact that some priests, bishops, Popes, and so on failed in that regard, or even muddled their teaching on it doesn’t discredit the Church because the Magisterium remains orthodox and because there remain in every generation innumerable priests, bishops and so on who do live and teach the Gospel. The presence of bad popes and bishops discredits the Church as much as bad Christians discredit the Gospel: which is to say, not at all because their badness is ordinary human wickedness which the Church herself condemns and which does not derive from her.

        Let me give you an example: St. Joan of Arc was unjustly condemned to death by bishops and churchmen who were more interested in scoring political points than in spreading the Gospel. A little later, other Bishops and churchmen, who were not so influenced, posthumously pardoned her. Both acted in the official capacity of the Church, but one group allowed themselves to be corrupted by political influence, the other allowed itself to be guided by reason and faith. The first group is justly condemned by everyone and has had zero influence on Church teachings. The second determined the Church’s official attitude towards St. Joan. The evil does no lasting harm to the Church because it is not essential to her and cannot become so.

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      • If the church isn’t defined by location, then what’s up with Rome? Why not move the papacy around?

        And if evil does no lasting harm to the church, you must not read the Old Testament.

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  3. “If the church isn’t defined by location, then what’s up with Rome? Why not move the papacy around?”

    For goodness sakes, I explained that in the second paragraph! You’ve been doing so well; don’t start ignoring what I write now.

    “And if evil does no lasting harm to the church, you must not read the Old Testament.”

    Your example of the Old Testament is interesting: you must point out the passage where God revoked His covenant with Israel because of their sins. They brought plenty of harm upon themselves by their sins, but they remained (and indeed remain) His chosen people in whom all nations are blessed. The Jews remain despite everything, because God’s promises cannot be made void by man’s sins.

    What you’re asking is whether the Church can sin so grievously as to render void Christ’s commission to Peter or His commands to the Apostles or His promise that His Church should endure to the end of time, and the answer is no: not because the Church has a free reign to do whatever it wants without consequence but because God’s word is not hostage to man’s actions. Heaven and Earth may pass away, but Christ’s words will not.

    You’re going about this argument all wrong: if you want to disprove the Roman Church, you need to establish which other Christian denomination can be shown to be the true Church; that is, which has all the signs of the Church listed in the Creed (One, Holy, Universal, and Apostolic), which can show continuity of doctrine with the Early Church, and which has a clearly superior claim to all these than the Roman Church. As far as I can see, there aren’t any churches in existence today that fit the bill: can you think of any?

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    • Speaking of wrong. First place doesn’t matter — Rome? Now the Creed is the touchstone. But that didn’t come until Constantine. Where was the church before 325? Does that question sound familiar?

      Probably not, because RC apologists rarely ask the hard questions of themselves.

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