I’m just shamelessly copying a blog post by Alexander Pruss, but he describes well one of the reasons why I became a Catholic (by the way, check out his blog for more arguments for Catholicism and also for theism).
It has hit me (and no doubt I am not the first) that the Lord/liar/lunatic argument can be adapted to the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church claims immense dogmatic and practical authority over Christians. She claims infallibility. She is, thus, either infallible, or liar, or lunatic.
Is she a liar? Then we have the puzzle that she has done so well at preserving early Christian doctrines in the face of heresy after heresy. In our time this is particularly clear, I think, in the case of her teachings on sexuality and the protection of human life, her unyielding insistence on the infallibility of Scripture, and the central preaching of the doctrines of the Trinity and Incarnation.
Is she a lunatic? Then we have the puzzle that lunacy would be the domain of the Church of such men and women as Augustine, Anselm, Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Descartes, Pascal, Terese de Lisieux and John Paul II. The Church with the most intellectually seriously worked out intellectual tradition that the Christian world has known (and probably that the world has known) would then be a lunatic. That is not so plausible.
So the most plausible story is that she is infallible.
We may supplement this argument as follows. Paul talks about the Church as the pillar and bulwark of truth (1 Tim 3:15). Jesus talks of the Holy Spirit’s guidance for the Church. All this at least suggests that there is a Church which is a reliable guide. But which Church has a plausible claim of being a reliable guide over the centuries? In the end, I think only the Catholic Church, though a case (I believe in the end somewhat weaker) can also be made for the Orthodox Church. But if the Catholic Church is a reliable guide, it is implausible that she is also a liar or a lunatic. And so she’s infallible.
If I am right in this post, then earlier, less ecumenical Protestants, in their condemnations of papistry, may have been onto something important: one can’t be ambivalent towards the Catholic Church, just as one can’t be ambivalent towards Christ. For if the Catholic Church is not infallible as she claims, she is a liar or a lunatic.
I am not sure why you posted this in this forum…is it b/c you want the non-Catholic’s response?
The Catholic Church claims immense dogmatic and practical authority over Christians. She claims infallibility. She is, thus, either infallible, or liar, or lunatic.
Liar or lunatic don’t really apply that well to an institution…it is really free of error vs. possessing error.
Is she a liar? Then we have the puzzle that she has done so well at preserving early Christian doctrines in the face of heresy after heresy…
well, from this side of the fence, this claim simply falls flat for a couple of reasons. First, for a lot of non-Catholics it doesn’t seem that the CC has done all that well…after an analysis, our conclusion is that there is quite a bit of error in Catholic doctrine. Second, in considering whether “it is really free of error vs. possessing error”, you are simply claiming that it is free of error…kinda begging the question…
Is she a lunatic? Then we have the puzzle that lunacy would be the domain of the Church of such men and women as Augustine, Anselm, Thomas Aquinas,…
…and this is simply self-serving in that it ignores all the real bad Catholics throughout history…if you want to point to the likes of Augustine and Aquinas then balance those two with the likes of those who pulled off the St. Bartholomew day massacre…mass murder is a rather insane act IMHO
The Church with the most intellectually seriously worked out intellectual tradition that the Christian world has known (and probably that the world has known) would then be a lunatic. That is not so plausible.
again, for those of us who are not Catholic…it isn’t that much of an intellectual wonder.
We may supplement this argument as follows. Paul talks about the Church as the pillar and bulwark of truth (1 Tim 3:15).
tis interesting how Catholics seem to jump over verses 1-13 to get to verse 15…if you want to identify the Church that the author of 1 Tim contemplated, then look for the one that has had overseers that have always met the qualifications of the overseers set out in the first verses…if the church doesn’t fulfill that condition, then IMHO it shouldn’t claim the attribute that follows in verse 15.
Jesus talks of the Holy Spirit’s guidance for the Church.
and it seems that the HS’s guidance of individual believers is given even more attention…each soul, upon believing is given the Holy Spirit as a deposit… this suggests that, in order to access that pillar and foundation, all believers should be consulted and not just a small set within the hierarchy
But if the Catholic Church is a reliable guide, it is implausible that she is also a liar or a lunatic. And so she’s infallible.
here you jump from reliable to infallible and that is a huge jump
For if the Catholic Church is not infallible as she claims, she is a liar or a lunatic.
seriously misguided (with respect to certain matters) is the more appropriate alternative
Its remarkable that we go from either liar or lunatic, to infallible. There seems a vast middle ground to consider, like sincere but perhaps mistaken. And I would close with the observation that most in-the-pew protestants are, indeed, ambivalent about the Catholic Church, since they are not nearly as knee-deep in apolegetics as the blogger seems to imagine.
When your “church” has existed for 2,000 years, converted a huge percentage of the world’s population to Christianity throughout the course of that time, and maintained an unbroken link to Jesus and the original apostles, then you’ll have something to talk about.
The reason I don’t trust the Catholic Church, or Churches in general are that they are man made institutions and fallible. I know some would argue with me in that there is something special re the Catholic Church. If that’s the position ya want to take fine. I don’t believe it because of the history of the Catholic Church and the Protestant Church btw.
So its not infallible, lunatic, or liar as the only options. There is the corruption of the institution by man.
I can see from your threads and posts that you are anti-Catholic posing as a nonchalant visitor. I would suggest responding to arguments and stop wasting our time and yours with your anti-catholic threads such as ‘Why you would not want to be a Catholic’ and focus on dialogue.
No, man-made institutions don’t usually last 2,000 years lilke the Catholic Church has. Jesus promised to build the Church (Mt. 16:18), and that Church just happens to have become named the Catholic Church.
As for the corruption issues which have scandalized you: If a Church leader is guilty of gross immorality, does his sin invalidate his position or authority?
Many, if not most, Protestants would say that it does, and they often use this line of reasoning to justify their denial of the authority of the Catholic Church. They cite historical events such as the Crusades, the Inquisition or reign of the Borgia Popes as evidence that the Church has lost its claim to moral and spiritual authority.
Such a response, however, is unbiblical. For example, Scripture states that Jesus knew “from the beginning” who would betray him – namely Judas, whom Jesus calls a “devil” (cf. John 6:64–71). This fact is significant, since Judas was selected as an apostle even though Jesus knew that he was corrupt.
Another example would be found in Jesus’ teaching on “Moses’ seat” found in the opening verses of Matthew 23: “Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: ‘The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.’” (Matthew 23:1-3)
“Moses’ seat” is a phrase that referred to a position of legitimate teaching authority held by the teachers of the law and the Pharisees. Later, Jesus condemned these men as “hypocrites,” “blind guides,” “blind fools,” “serpents,” and a “brood of vipers.” But in the passage above, Jesus specifically instructed the crowds and his disciples to obey these leaders – despite their corruption – because of the authority of their position. That is sobering stuff.
If it were true that immorality invalidated a religious leader’s authority, then why did Jesus command his followers to “obey and do everything” the scribes and Pharisees tell them? Jesus merely admonished his followers not to follow their hypocritical example. There is not even the slightest hint that their positions had been forfeited or abrogated because of their hypocrisy or immorality. If anything, the reverse is true because Jesus validated these leaders’ office by telling people to obey them. From this, we see that sin and corruption found in the individual office holders has no impact whatsoever on the authority of the office itself.
In the Parable of the Weeds found in Matthew 13, Jesus tells His disciples to anticipate corruption within the Church. He said:
Jesus told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. "The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’ (Matthew 13:24-30)
Notice it is not the world at large that is being described but rather the “kingdom of heaven” or Church that is portrayed as the field containing both wheat and weeds. Jesus does not indicate that weeds (sinners) should be uprooted from the field (Church) until the separation done at the time of the final harvest.
Of course, sin and corruption in Church leadership should never be condoned but neither should they surprise us. The Church is not a paradise for saints who are already perfected but a hospital for the spiritually sick who are being healed.
Jesus clearly taught that sin would be present in the Church, but He also taught that sins of individual Church leaders do not invalidate the authority of the positions those leaders hold. These sins, whether real or imagined, do not undermine the legitimate authority of the Catholic Church and do not provide an excuse for those who refuse to acknowledge and obey her. The authority given by God to the Church and the office of the Papacy is the same today as it was in the days of Peter, Linus, Anacletus and Clement because God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
What argument was Radical making? That the Catholic Church has not done all that well? That’s not an argument, that’s an opinion.
My point was simply that those who are members of johnny-come-lately denominations are hardly positioned to stand in judgement of the Church founded by Jesus Christ himself and to whom they owe a debt of gratitude for the lion’s share of their theology and the scriptures themselves.
You might have added executed and tortured thousands if you were going to be honest:eek:
If we’re BOTH going to be honest, then you have to admit that there was plenty of this on both sides of the Reformation battle.
How would you know about Christ if it wasn’t for the Catholic Church? There was no such thing as a follower of Christ except those who attended Mass and all that other jazz. How would you guide your beliefs without the Catholic Church? We put the Bible together with books and letters inspired by God. Simply being a follower of Christ, reading the bible (which again came from the CC) and avoiding “big” sins is not what Christ told us to do on this earth.
So, the option of mistaken, which carries no implication of accusation of intentional deception, no implication of lacking mental stability, is not in fact an option?
As for the claim of infallibility, so does Orthodoxy. Are they both right about the nature of the primacy of the Bishop of Rome (hardly likely since the beliefs are contrary to each other)? Are they both right about the IC? Or the Filioque? Or is Orthodoxy simply lying or just crazy?
The skeptic in me says watch out for the bait. That being, if you as a non-Catholic deny the infallibility of the CC, then you must think it is filled with liars and/or lunatics. How uncharitable of you!!!
That said, I can’t read the heart of the article’s author, nor that of any poster. So, assuming the best of intentions by all, I hope to hear an answer to your question, as well.