Thursday, August 04, 2005

The Holy Spirit Told Me What to Eat for Breakfast

Brent Arias, a Roman Catholic apologist, has been posting a poll in online forums (see here and here), asking people whether they would prefer to be taught by reading the Bible or by speaking to Jesus face-to-face. The correct answer, of course, is that it would be better to be taught by Jesus face-to-face. The problem with the poll is the likely implications people like Brent Arias would draw from the answer given. But as far as I know, Brent Arias hasn't written an article about the poll yet, so I'll address the argument I've seen from Catholics on this subject in the past, regardless of what intentions Brent Arias has.

The argument I've seen from Catholics when this subject has come up has been along the lines of comparing our access to the Roman Catholic denomination to being able to speak to Jesus face-to-face. But we have no reason to believe that the Roman Catholic Church has the authority it claims to have, and the Catholic Church doesn't claim to function as Jesus did during His earthly ministry. If you asked Jesus a question, no matter what the subject, you could be confident about the reliability of any answer He was willing to give. If you ask a Pope or Roman Catholic council a question, you may never get an answer, you may have to wait centuries for an answer, and whatever answer you're given might not meet the standards of infallibility. There are widespread disagreements, even among conservative Catholics, as to which teachings of the hierarchy are infallible and which aren't, as well as with regard to what those teachings mean.

Yes, the Roman Catholic system, if authentic, would have some advantages over an Evangelical system. And there are other systems that, if authentic, would have some advantages over the Roman Catholic system. An individual could claim that the Holy Spirit infallibly leads him throughout his life, in everything he's involved with, including what food to eat, what clothes to wear, what job to take, and who to marry. Since such a system, if authentic, would have some advantages over the Roman Catholic system, what are we to make of those potential advantages? Not much, since there's no reason to think that the system is authentic.

Now, Brent Arias and other Roman Catholics may claim that the potential advantages of their system are all that they're attempting to establish. But I'd have to ask, how much significance is there in establishing such a point? I don't think it's a point that many Evangelicals would dispute if they understood what's actually being asked. Whatever significance Brent Arias and other Roman Catholics want to assign to the point, are they willing to assign that sort of significance to the advantages that other systems would have over the Roman Catholic system?

We should ask why it is that modern Roman Catholic apologetics so largely consists of argumentation along the lines of what we see in Brent Arias' poll. Why is there so little of historical substance and so much that's of a more speculative and philosophical nature? Haven't we been told many times that we need to be deeper in history? Why are Catholic apologists leading us in the opposite direction, then?