I’m in a dialogue with a friend (was Evangelical and has recently become Pentecostal) and he does not believe in the authority of the Pope over the Church in large part due to the actions of bad Popes that have existed. I’m trying to learn as much as I can so I can defend their authority despite their bad actions but am having a tough time. Any help?
So my best friend from home and I have recently rehashed our religious discussion. He is now Pentecostal (formerly Baptist/Evangelical) and I am a convert to Catholicism (came into the Church 3 years ago, was previously nothing).
Recently he has found a series of audio lectures from a Protestant minister named David Guzik
There are 20 lectures in all, each about an hour and he looks at history from the Apostles until the 20th century. So far I am up to part 5 which discusses the Papacy and the more powerful Popes up until about 1300.
Now my friend’s biggest issue deals with Popes that had people persecuted and burned at the stake during the Protestant Reformation. I have not gotten to this part of the lecture yet and can’t name the Popes that did this, but I have no doubt it and many other bad things occurred. He claims that such unchristian actions prove that the Pope has no special authority and is just a mere man with power. He does not believe that God would allow such men to preside over His Church and therefore the Popes do not have any sort of Divine election and are merely men.
I have begun to look up Catholic historical sources for reference. I recently found A Concise History of the Catholic Church by Thomas Bokenkotten at my parish library. I am also considering purchasing a copy of The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine by Jaroslav Pelikan. It is 5 volumes and there are one or two I may get. While not a Catholic author, I have heard that Pelikan gives a great pluralistic view of the development of the Church’s theology.
So my question then is: how can I answer his question about the Popes having Divine appointment and Authority despite the failings some of them showed? And also, what other resources should I consider in understanding this era better for myself and perhaps to show to him. The lectures by Guzik are very one-sided and I would like for him to at least read a more balanced history that is less biased.
I would be especially interested in the comments of Protestant converts to Catholicism who also wrestled with these issues.
Thanks for your help and I will be actively watching this thread.