[quote=Tiger Lily] The church is infallible right? Well how do you know that?
This is long and will take 2 posts. It builds on an argument originally mounted by Arnold Lunn.
Looking only at the Bible not as an inspired document, but as we would any other ancient text, we have more ancient manuscripts of the New Testament than of any other ancient document of the time. Some are whole books, some are mere fragments. There are thousands of them in several languages: Greek, Aramaic, Coptic, Syriac, Latin, and many more. These texts are exceptionally consistent in content, and the manuscripts are closer in age to the time of their reputed authors= deaths than any other manuscripts of the ancient world. For example, a manuscript fragment of the* Gospel of John *has recently been found which has been dated at *not later than *90 A.D. The classical author whose oldest known manuscript is closest in time to his death is Virgil. That manuscript dates from 350 years following Virgil=s death. With some of the ancient Greeks, the time between the death of the author and the date of the oldest known manuscript is as much as 1300 years! But nobody challenges the historical existence of Plato or Euripides or Horace or Cicero.
So the New Testament manuscripts, not considering them in any way as sacred or divinely inspired, and based purely on the material evidence, are are remarkably authoritative.
Then, when we look at the immediate history of New Testament times and of the next 50-150 years (much of that time within living memory of the Apostles), we find an astonishing number of early Christians facing hideous deaths and otherwise appalling suffering, because they refused to deny the fundamental event reported in the Gospels: that Jesus died, rose from the dead, and undeniably appeared in the flesh. The idea that these people went cheerfully to the lions, to crucifixion, to beheading, or to burning at the stake in the name of a myth or a fraud simply does not hold water. The only thing that can account for this early history is an unshakeable conviction that Christ=s Resurrection was *real. *Their willingness to die for this belief verifies the reported event.
If the Resurrection is true, then how can it be explained? Only by what Jesus said and what others said about him: that he was, and is, God and the Son of God. So we accept the report of Scripture by reasoning to its truth, and not by a blind acceptance of Scripture itself, which we have not yet concluded to be divinely inspired.
If Jesus is God, then we can be certain that he meant what he said, and that he did what he said he would do. One of the things he said he would do is establish a Church (Mt 16:18). One of the promises he made concerning the Church was that Athe gates of hell would not prevail against it.@ (Mt 16:18) Another was that he would send the Spirit to Aguide you in all truth.@ (Jn 16:13) He says he will build his Church on Peter and entrusts the keys of the Kingdom to him, commits to him the power of binding in heaven and earth (Mt 16:19), and the task of “strengthening his brethren” (Lk 22:32). On Easter Sunday, Jesus breathes his spirit into the Apostles committing to them the power to forgive and to retain sins (Jn 20:22-23).
Where do we find these New Testament beliefs today? Only the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches, which trace their history and their Priesthood in an unbroken line back to that age, to those manuscripts, to the Apostles, and to Our Lord, have consistently held these scriptural warrants in their definition and structure of what the AChurch@ is. Only the *Catholic *Church traces its apostolic authority directly in an unbroken line back to Peter, the Acenterpiece@ of the Apostles, whom the Lord himself appointed as shepherd of the Church (Jn 21:15-17) .
As the risen Lord had a physical body, so has his Church, the living witness to his prayer that Athey all might be one@ (Jn 17:11, 22).