Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Center Will Not Hold

It was actually a political discussion, but as with so much in conservative Protestantism, those lines are dotted, at best. Anyway, Rachel Held Evans came up, and she's the perfect boogeywoman, of course, with her predictable left-of-center political views, and denigration of conservative theological positions. The key point is this: you may not think she's much of a Christian, but she's the perfect Protestant. The alternative to "Scripture Alone" surely is the Church. To turn it around, having rejected the Catholic Church, one cannot be surprised that Rachel calls your bluff in the same way, and on the same terms, as the Reformers did 5 centuries prior.

Your makeshift magisteriums--whether alternative structures, or shared interpretations--are even easier to desert than Rome had been. Bad news, kid: the center will not hold. "Conservative" Protestantism is "liberal" Protestantism waiting to happen. It's just a matter of time. Because ultimately, the arbiter of what Scripture says in the Protestant system is the individual, though many people get good at mental gymnastics attempting to deny it.

"If I submit only when I agree, the one to whom I submit is me." Submission could only be provisional, unless the alleged errors of Rome and its tyranny are to be repeated in every community, they reason. The only problem is that dogma--supernaturally revealed truth--cannot change, because God cannot change. Infallibility has to be a part of any religious system involving vital divine communication.

So either we live with each person as their own Pope, intentionally disregarding Jesus' high priestly prayer in John 17--among other things, that we be one--or, having noticed that we share much in common which cannot be explained on Protestant terms or with Protestant methods, and we reconsider our previous rejection of the Catholic Church.

Some people assert instead that knowing infallible divine Truth is impossible, and that to desire it is a fool's errand. But if this were actually true, it would be downright wicked of God to hand out divine justice for failing to profess something that man has no way of knowing. In other words, if judgment and reward from God is real, then the Truth upon which that judgment rests is knowable.

In fact, the reason Catholic apologists emphasize history, especially in the Christian era, is because that history provides ample evidence of the preservation and communication of divine truth over time. The community whose job it is to communicate, defend, and explain that truth is the Church. A reasonable person at least considers becoming Catholic when he or she realizes that the parish down the street is an outpost of the Church he or she finds in history.

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