"No one who is rightly minded turns from true belief to false." - Justin Martyr
Many Protestants, especially Presbyterians, pride themselves on being THE bastion of Christian Apologetics. However, their reason and logic are grounded in the writings of a man who wrote his 95 Thesis in the year 1517; over a millennium and a half AFTER our Lord Jesus walked this earth.
Why should we listen to arguments of men who base their theology off the ideas of a man who edited the Bible to suit his purposes, put forth false doctrine and taught a doctrine that was NOT confirmed or taught by the early Church fathers?
Is it logical to assume the the very leaders who were taught by the Apostles themselves are mistaken in their own interpretations of scripture and that they misheard the teachings contained within the oral traditions that were entrusted to them? Furthermore, is it logical to assume that men who lived over 1500 years after our Lord Jesus were somehow able to discern the truth behind these scriptures and the oral traditions of the early church (that they never heard I might add)?
Isn't it logical to follow the teachings that have been consistently taught by the Church leaders from the earliest of times through to the present day., even if we find the teachings objectionable on grounds other than historical and scriptural context?
I must say 'YES' to this last question, for if I say 'NO' then I have no integrity with respect to honoring God's truth.
Let's look at perhaps the two teachings that Protestants find most objectionable in the Catholic Dogma.: The Blessed Holy Mother & Christ's Real Presence in the Eucharist.
*Please note I am not going into the scriptural support for both of these doctrines here as I have done that in previous writings or will in future, The discussion here is to demonstrate that the early Church fathers supported both of these teachings*
The early church fathers very much believed as the modern Catholics do regarding Mary. Consider what St. Justin Martyr, who died in 165 A.D., had to say of the Blessed Holy Mother.
"Eve, who was a virgin and undefiled, having conceived the word of the serpent, brought forth disobedience and death. But the Virgin Mary conceived faith and joy, when the angel Gabriel announced the good tidings to her that the Spirit of the Lord would come upon her, and the power of the Highest would overshadow her: wherefore also the Holy One begotten of her is the Son of God"
Here, St. Justin is teaching that Mary is the perfection of the failed Eve, just as Jesus is the perfection of the failed Adam. This is still being taught by the Catholic Church to this day.
With regards to Christ's real presence in the Holy Eucharist, St Ignatius, the Bishop of Antioch, writes in 110 A.D, in a letter to the Romans:
I have no taste for corruptible food nor for the pleasures of this life. I desire the Bread of God, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, who was of the seed of David; and for drink I desire his blood, which is love incorruptible.
This is St. Ignatius, who studied and learned directly from St. John, the Beloved Disciple. I think Sir William of Ockham would tell us that the teachings of the early Church Fathers are more likely to be similar to that of the original Apostles than that of a man who lived 1500 years after Jesus.
With all that said, all of this reasoning we're doing about which set of theologians to believe doesn't really matter.
If you agree that Matthew 16:17-19 gives Peter Papal Authority (and it quite clearly does) and if you believe that God intended that authoritative power with regards to discerning the meaning of scripture and tradition to pass from one Pope to the next, as the early Church taught and as would be good to prevent doctrinal divisiveness in the body, then whether we agree or disagree with the Catholic doctrine is moot.
The Magisterium has been granted the authority by Christ himself to declare the official interpretation of scripture and the declaration of Church law. Considering that, we must logically conclude that the interpretations of scripture that are officially sanctioned by the Catholic Church are beyond contestation.
What does that mean?
It means that arguing about the scriptural basis for this or that is a waste of time because the Catholic Church is the Christ selected and sanctioned arbiter of the truth and thus what they say is FACT.
[I remembered how one of my favorite theologians, Dr. Gerstner, once said in class that if Protestants were wrong on sola fide - and the Catholic Church was right that justification is by faith and works - "I'd be on my knees tomorrow morning outside of the Vatican doing penance"] - Dr. Scott Hahn, Rome Sweet Home
Peace Be With You!