When John C. Wright became a Christian in dramatic fashion, he spent two years trying to figure out what denomination he should join. He shocked many by becoming Roman Catholic. Some time later he wrote A Universal Apologia for the Catholic Church, to explain his choice. In this series I will review his reasons and compare them to my own. This series not a refutation, per se, but an examination.
Let’s begin where Wright began:
My reluctance in taking up my pen to discuss this hideous divorce between orthodoxy and its various deviations is partly from a natural dislike of voicing disagreement with beloved brothers.
Nothing would prevent me from inviting Wright—a Roman Catholic—into my home and having fellowship with him as I would any fellow Christian. Nor can I claim he is not Christian, for he publicly believes that Jesus died, was resurrected in the flesh, ascended to heaven, and sits at the right-hand of God. He has publicly made Jesus his Lord and master after a confession of sin. He has been baptized into the faith. He is a Christian.
I am a Christian as well: I declare that Jesus died, was resurrected, and ascended to heaven. I am guilty of sin, confess it, and with God’s help repent of it. Jesus is my Lord and master. I’ve been baptized into the faith.
I, like Wright, hold strongly to the faculty of reason, but reason is not enough:
I was not converted by reason alone, but by the Holy Spirit.
Nevertheless, reason is powerful…
Reason alone makes a powerful argument that the Catholic Church is what she says she is, and contains the fullness of revelation that other denominations contain only in part.
…and we are both logical persons…
I am and was a thoroughgoing Aristotelian. My intellect is congenitally cool and logical; I am unmoved by appeals to emotion, howsoever heartfelt.
…yet I am an Anabaptist and he is a Roman Catholic.
I had not known the Catholics could make logical arguments, much less make sound ones.
I’ve elsewhere written about Catholic apologists—like Tim Staples—whom I find has trouble making logical arguments. Wright and Tyler Journeaux are two Catholics that are quite capable of doing so. Most of my interactions with Catholics have been like Wright’s however, and I have trouble finding Catholics to engage in sound debate.
I’ve wrestled with many of the questions that Wright has wrestled with. Perhaps you, like me, cannot in clear conscience accept the Roman Catholic traditions because you believe them to be heretical. Or maybe this will be the first step of personal unification with God and his favored Church. May God guide our paths.
This series will be form a response to Wright. He claims that much propaganda covers the truth of the Roman Catholic Church, so I will be making many quotes and responding to them in an effort to avoid any charges of misrepresentation. But, when in doubt, please read his full Apologia for yourself and don’t rely on my quotes. Let each person discover for themselves.
Wright writes mostly about Protestants, but I will respond as an Anabaptist. This may be somewhat jarring to readers unaccustomed to it. It may be like culture shock. It cannot be avoided.
A Matter of Authority
Protestant claim to speak authoritatively and magisterially on Church teachings logically presupposes the magisterial authority of the Church, that is, the Catholic Church, to establish Church teachings, such as the canon of the Bible.
This is a fundamental core of Wright’s apologia. He clarifies:
The Lutheran claim is a claim of the right to rebel against the teaching authority of the Church, on the grounds that the Church is apostate. Unfortunately, the sole witness for the apostasy of the Church is an alleged disagreement between Church teachings and the scriptures on which the Church relies for those teachings.
But the sole witness for the validity, canonicity, historicity, and divinity those selfsame scriptures is the authority of the Church whose members wrote them, gathered, sanctified, protected, promulgated and canonized them.
But, neither as an atheist with no dog in that brawl, nor as a Catholic vowed to live and die in the faith, to this day, do I see any error in the argument.
It is my best understanding that the Roman Catholic Church (hereby designated as the RCC), is not the sole witness of scriptures, nor the sole authority. I will discuss why I believe authority and canonicity are the wrong arguments to make, if not outright incorrect. I will try to discuss as many of these issues as possible, to highlight many of the possible errors in the argument.