Here we go on church authority.
Let’s say there is a Catholic teaching, infallibly defined, that says “turn right at the burger barn.” Catholics staunchly defend it as right, sensible, just, proper, Scriptural; all the ECFs supported it, Aquinas defended it, and C.S. Lewis was in favor of it. Tolkien referred to it, as did a whole bunch of other Catholics.
I, Protestant, have never heard of such a thing. We ALWAYS turn left there, if we go there at all, which we tend not to do anyway, as there is no need. Since my Catholic friends have been insistent, I dig into it. I find it insane, disproportionate, improper, a waste of time: I find no reason ever to do it. I cannot fathom the idea. So I turn to Scripture. I find no burger barns and certainly no turning right at them in Scripture, despite the inferences and hints that the Catholics allude to. I dig through the ECFs: while Cyprian mentioned a Burger Barn, and Augustine talked about turning left, once, I can find no other reference. Ambrose is in favor of turning, Basil of Burger barns. Athanasius is silent, and Theodoret just confuses me with distinctions that are beyond me. I can’t figure out what Aquinas was saying, but it didn’t seem to have much to do with either turning in any direction or with a Burger Barn. Lewis, Tolkien, et al, carry no authority with me, so I don’t care. The other sources I cannot track down, like the 1303 Ecumenical Council in Freeman Missouri and the 160 Council in Ottawa.
So I present my research to my Catholic friend, who immediately tells me that despite my lack of evidence, my mountain of lack of evidence and counter-testimony, none the less the infallibly declared dictum to turn right at the Burger Barn stands, not on the evidence, but on the fact that it was infallibly declared to be right, because that is the power of the Magisterium at work, and he needs no other argument. Not only that, but you should cross yourself when you do so.
So why did he marshall all this other “evidence”, now torn to shreds, when this really, at heart, was his argument?
Note: I am NOT trying to make the point that such decrees are without basis! That is not at all the point here. I guess the question is whether you as Catholics believe a decree for its own sake without any evidence, even if all the evidence you know of points against it. But this was fun to write.