Friday, June 10, 2005

Things I've Learned From Certain Roman Catholic Internet Apologists

It has become easier over the years to admit defeat or general ignorance. Thankfully, the Roman Catholic internet apologists are there to correct my errant ways.

(1) I didn't know that scriptural references to Peter could be transferred to the papacy.

I always thought that references to Peter referred to Peter. But now, I can approach Mt 16 in a whole new way.

(2) I didn't know that the NT references to ekklesia meant the Roman Catholic Church.

I always had this strange idea that, depending on context, ekklesia could mean one or more of several things: a home meeting group, the body of all believers of Christ, etc. Now I finally understand 1 Tim 3:16!

(3) I didn't know that those who weren't Roman Catholics weren't allowed to cite or reference the writings of the Early Church Fathers because some of the ECF's have positions that go against Evangelical positions.

Perhaps we can all have the local Roman Catholic parishes sign our permission slips next time we want to read some ECF material. Also, who knew that the ECF's support Roman Catholicism as it is today?

(4) I didn't know that the differences between Trent and Vatican II can be waved off.

I'm anathema, no I'm not. I'm anathema, no I'm not. I'm anathema, no I'm not. Words don't mean that much, even in a conciliar setting, I suppose.

The following two are related:

(5) I didn't know that you can simultaneously have liberal theologians in high and influential places but not have this cause any great alarm, since "they don't speak for the church."

(6) I didn't know that Roman Catholic laymen can pontificate on whether said theologians [who are in good standing with the RCC] are truly "Roman Catholic" or not.

One would think there is a problem with people [having no ecclesiastical standing in Rome] saying that other people, such as Brown and Fitzmeyer, who have ecclesiasitcal standing, aren't "real Catholics." But this isn't the case --- the rules of Roman apologetics, as practiced by its more eager enthusiasts on the internet are different than thought.

(7) I didn't know that the doctrines of Roman Catholicism are "2000 years old" while Protestant doctrines are merely about a quarter of as many years old.

That's strange --- my NT is about 1900 years old according to conservative dating schemes, and I purportedly let the NT texts act as normalizers on doctrine. Oh well, don't let anything get in the way of triumphalistic jingoism!

What's the point of this? As I see it, RC apologetics as I've seen on the internet isn't dishonest, but merely lazy. One the one hand, the distinctly Roman parts of Roman Catholicism are trumpeted as Biblically supportable, as if the RC team has earned a hard-fought road victory against the Protestants on the Protestant home field; on the other hand, one has appeals to such vagaries such as the development of doctrine, progressive revelation, and unfalsifiable philosophical a priori premises that make RCism strong already with or without scripture. Throw in a self-selecting tradition and you've reached the realm of unfalsifiability as found in such -ism's as Darwinism, Marxism, and global warming-ism. One gets to the point where nothing counts as evidence against Rome, but just about everything counts as evidence for Rome.

It's a nice game if you can rig it that way. The careful reader should note that I'm not arguing against Rome here, but merely against the lazy paint-by-numbers apologetics of Rome's more ardent admirers who occupy the internet.


Blogger Kirk said...

I couldn't agree with you more. I've listened to numorous debates between James White and RC apologists, and they always seem to try to support their position from Scriptures. But if they can support their positions from Scripture alone, then why do they need the infallible RC church? It seems inconsistent to me.
Also, don't they first have to fallibly decide that the RC church, as well as the pope, are infallible?
Long story short, you must first fallibly interpret Scripture to believe in an infallible interpreter of Scripture.

Friday, June 10, 2005 7:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes you are too arguing against Rome. How could you not be? And more power to you. The voices of sanity opposed to Rome's insanity need to be heard.

Friday, June 10, 2005 8:48:00 PM  
Blogger Gaddabout said...

I apologize for my newness in the Doctorine of Big Pointy Hats, but I appreciate the primer.

Friday, June 10, 2005 9:24:00 PM  
Blogger Pedantic Protestant said...

Anonymous: I must disagree, for whatever it is worth, against your claim that I'm arguing against Rome in this thread. Now I'll argue against Rome elsewhere, but I want to be clear when I say that status of whether RCism is true or not is not contingent on the laziness of certain internet apologists. If they do a bad job, Romanism could still be true, though one couldn't tell on the basis of their apologetical behavior.

As for Roman insanity: I wouldn't use that word. I'd merely say wrong. People will differ with respect to exactly how Rome is in error. The word insanity is too polemic to be used in a broad brush stroke, I'd contend.

The Roman system has some appealing philosophical a priori assumptions that make it quite attractive, and there is also the psychological gratification of having some visible organization with links purportedly back to the apostles themselves. However, I really don't see these most attractive assumptions being supported in various ways. Perhaps the support for the claims is out there and I haven't found it yet; perhaps I've missed something; or perhaps it isn't there. I'm pretty firm that after a decade of off-n-on looking the latter option has the greatest weight.

Kirk --- you've given me some thread fodder, and I'll try to respond to you on tomorrow's thread.

Friday, June 10, 2005 9:31:00 PM  
Blogger centuri0n said...


(1) you are probably right not to equate "lazy" with "dishonest" (in the sense that common dishonesty is an intentional or overt affront to the truth).

(2) I equate "lazy" with "intellectual dishonesty", which is to say that one is neglecting the truth for the sake of expedience. For example, some people read secondary sources and criticisms of Luther or Calvin and parrot those criticism without actually reading Luther or Calvin. That's dishonest -- it's kidding one's self that one has an informed opinion.

(3) I watched "Guys and Dolls" tonight with my family and was scandalized by the scenes at the "Hot Box". I may have to lay down all weekend now with ice on my head trying to believe that Brando was actually singing "Luck be a Lady".

Friday, June 10, 2005 11:02:00 PM  

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