Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Rock-paper-scissors of Apologetics

So I tried another round of Catholic apologetics and yet again I'm discovering that the Catholic apologetic falls completely apart in the face of typical Baptist counter arguments. On the other hand I can't help but notice how quickly your more traditional Protestants, with a poorly thought out position on sola scriptura get tied in knots by the Catholic apologetic.

So I've come up with this theory based that apologetics have a big circle similar to rock-paper-scissors.
  • Catholic apologetics tie Calvinism in knots.
  • Calvinism biblically refutes Arminian credobaptists.
  • Arminian credobaptists doesn't let Catholic apologetics get off the ground.  
Most modern Catholic apologetics came from the continent, they aren't American and don't deal with the sorts of claims that a Baptist would make. I've tried again and again to see if Catholics have refutations to basic Baptist theology and so far it appears they don't.

There really are about 5 principle arguments in Catholic apologetic.
  1. Sola scriptura is not taught in the bible, in fact the bible teaches a historic church.
  2. Protestants have to accept tradition on the question of canon and quite often on creed.  
  3. The Reformation failed to produce a robust orthodoxy.  That is sola scriptura doesn't produce a unified belief and any basis for a true church i.e. the "there are hundreds of Protestant denominations..."  
  4. The key arguments some reformers had with the Catholic church: physical presence,  Marian rites, infant baptism, special authority of bishops/pope go back very early.  So the apostasy could not have been near the time of the reformation.   
  5. Church authority is non-severable, the church cannot fall into apostasy.  The  gates of hell shall not prevail....    
To see how these arguments work consider them against, say a  Presbyterian.  The Presbyterian wants to tie himself tightly to historic Christianity.  He doesn't want to put himself in the same boat as fundamentalists, Mormons and Adventists.  So he ends up having to argue all sorts of subtle and disprovable theories. He wants there to be some absolute sense in which he is Christian and a Jehovah's Witnesses is not even though the Jehovah's Witnesses is at least as committed to an accurate read of scripture.  Which means he has to grant historic creeds authority, but the creeds are far later than many other doctrines he would reject and he's off to the races of slitting his own throat.  

The Baptist response to those arguments is easy.  In order:
  1. References to the church in the bible only apply to a local church.  There is no further entity, thus no broad ecclesiology.   The only church Jesus founded was the Jerusalem church, the one church he destroyed, to prevent the idolatry of tying a material church to God.  
  2. Baptists reject the idea that canon comes from tradition.  Rather they believe God raises up a bible for his faithful in their languages.  So for example, the Wulfila, the Gothic bible, doesn't have the book of Acts yet most Baptists believe the Wulfila to have been the legitimate scriptures for that community.  
  3. Baptists believe in a regenerate church.  There will never be a broadly believed orthodoxy. 
  4. They grant that the errant theology was early, but because they aren't tied to any churches beyond the 1st century they are able to clearly look at the history and see the origins accurately.  Baptists, believe that the apostasy started early, almost always by the 2nd century.     The Reformation didn't reconstruct the church, the Protestant churches are just as bad, rather it created the room for further reform.   
  5. Many Baptists do believe that the Catholic church fell into a deep apostasy.  They often believe in a faithful remnant existing inside or outside the church and quite often a restoration in the last 500 years.  
The big difference is that the Baptist makes no claim to be in a qualitatively different situation than the Adventist or Jehovah's Witnesses; they believe themselves to be in a quantitatively different situation.   Salvation comes from asking for Jesus's intercession.  What exact level of understanding is needed, is unclear.  

I suspect ultimately this is a short term phenomena, mostly having to do with English speakers and the internet.  Most of the internet Catholics spend their time debating the internet Protestant apologists that are reformed, James White types.  So this analysis may already be dead in the Spanish speaking community.  In Latin America the real battle is between Pentecostalism and Western Rite Catholicism, the traditional apologetic won't work for the reasons above.  Pentecostals also believe in "Landmarism-lite".  

So... my question to the internet is... does anyone know what's happening in the Latin American apologetics community?  What's happening in Spanish?  

_________

See also:
  • A direct Baptist / Catholic debate: Campbell / Purcell debate.
  • In terms of addressing the argument of government, which is the core of the Neumann apologetic: Mell's book on church government and  Savage's book on church government. More books of this type can be found on the Baptist History Homepage.
  • Remember Lot's Wife, an example of the Baptist apologetic in response to an article lementing the disunity of the reformation.  
  • For a Baptist understanding of church history an easy to read and famous presentation to familiarize yourself with the Baptist mindset is Ellen White's Conflict of the Ages Volume 5 The Great Controversy. For material about the early church, Acts of the apostles (Vol 4) which discusses the early church. Especially her last few chapters of this volume address Catholic claims.  As an aside these books are well written and a good read so, this would be where I'd start. 
  • A short introduction which contrast baptist theology with liturgical churches: Why be Baptist.

24 comments:

Francesco said...

Heavens! You didn't mistake my interest in your charts as a demonstrative aid in expressing your opinion as "apologetics", did you?

CD-Host said...

Francesco --

No. This conversation isn't the one I was talking about. As I mentioned I was on their sites. You were on my site.

The Ubiquitous said...

Interesting, but ultimately false. You're bringing your own assumptions to the table, and it seems to me you underestimate the complexity of scripture.

Canon does not just come from tradition, after all. Is there any argument that God used men to bring forth his Bible? If so, and if God had infallible prophets, &c., why is the Papacy such a stretch?

Seems to me that the Bible pretty much implies that it is not the fullness of the revelation of Jesus Christ. Lookin' at the end of John --- hell, lookin' at just about any preaching of Jesus --- we see that there's necessarily a bunch of stuff Jesus said that isn't in scripture. Otherwise his sermons would be pretty short, lemetellyou, and that sure doesn't jibe with scripture, either.

Maybe you're looking at only our Rock arguments on purpose.

CD-Host said...

Hello Ubiquitous welcome to the blog.

Canon does not just come from tradition, after all.

Where else does canon come from?

Is there any argument that God used men to bring forth his Bible?

Yes. There are many Christians who believe the humans involved had no agency at all when they wrote scripture. That is what infallibility means. Had the humans had agency it would be fallible.

If so, and if God had infallible prophets, &c., why is the Papacy such a stretch?

1) The papacy as infallible appears to be a later innovation and not believed by the early church which seemed to believe in a sort of loosely defined collective infallibility.

2) In every way the papacy can be tested, it appears fallible. Historically when one examines grave choices involving faith and morals the church has historically erred. For example the Albigensian Crusade / Albigensian Genocide. In grave practical matters they have erred like the ruling regarding Galileo.

So believing in an infallible Pope requires one to believe in an institution which has erred historically in every way possible, shows no particular signs of wisdom or extra special intelligence today making perfect statements about complex issues.

That seems more like "wishing makes it so" than something plausible.

Seems to me that the Bible pretty much implies that it is not the fullness of the revelation of Jesus Christ. Lookin' at the end of John --- hell, lookin' at just about any preaching of Jesus --- we see that there's necessarily a bunch of stuff Jesus said that isn't in scripture.

I've heard a lot of Catholics raise that argument. In general the Baptist counter argument would be that the teachings of God that are raised up in generations are specific to that generation. So those teachings of Jesus we don't have are irrelevant to our generation, though might be relevant in the future.

For example most Baptists believe the teachings in Acts are a vital part of the revelation in the bible raised up in our generation. On the other hand they fully acknowledge the Wulfila as the bible God raised up for the Goths even though it doesn't contain Acts.

I don't see how that counter argument does much against the Baptist case.

The Ubiquitous said...

Canon comes ultimately from Christ. That's why we're not going to appeal to any new letters from Paul, should we find them, as Scripture as such.

You've pretty much repeated to me the doctrines of your faith as an alternative without showing them truer or mine false, and so you haven't made an argument. Deciding between the two is what an argument entails. I've seen nothing here which shows me you really engage the arguments qua arguments.

Something that occurred to me: Your local church hypothesis is utterly falsifiable. Presumably these local churches inquire or accept the teachings of those outside their local churches. To wit, if there were only local Churches, why would Paul write letters to them? Why would local churches accept the word of a man known to them, but who has since left? Why would we even bother considering such letters God's Word? If people really deny Paul had some faculty in writing the letters, do you?

This has all the seeming of rationalization more than reason. It's effectively another way to shore up the pre-existing axioms. It is defensive rather than definitive.

"Some Christians?" C'mon. Who do you say the Church is?

CD-Host said...

Well continuing with the baptist counter arguments:

Canon comes ultimately from Christ.

It couldn't possible come from Christ in any non supernatural sense since it all post dates him. If you mean in a material sense, as in the Logos... then yes but that begs the question as to how we know what the canon is.

That's why we're not going to appeal to any new letters from Paul, should we find them, as Scripture as such.

I'm not so sure. As we now have several versions of the gospel of Thomas giving us a complete set, we've seen a 1/2 bibles come out with Thomas in them. It is entirely possible that over the next say 200 years we see a new canonical book.

Going in the other direction, the Wulfila which most Baptist recognize as the bible that God raised up for the Goths did not include the books of Acts.

Something that occurred to me: Your local church hypothesis is utterly falsifiable. Presumably these local churches inquire or accept the teachings of those outside their local churches. To wit, if there were only local Churches, why would Paul write letters to them? Why would local churches accept the word of a man known to them, but who has since left? Why would we even bother considering such letters God's Word? If people really deny Paul had some faculty in writing the letters, do you?

You are confusing input and authority. The local church can take input from other sources and local churches can learn from one another. What the outside minister lacks is governing authority over the local church.

Paul as the founder of various local churches might very well have had an authority with those local churches. He may have had input in churches he had nothing to do with founding.

For example Baptists churches buy bibles from Zondervan, Crossway, Tyndale... which means those institutions have influence on thousands of decisions about how to weigh various Greek manuscripts, how to translate particular phrases, what aspects are best expanded in study notes... That doesn't make Zondervan, Crossway or Tyndale rise to the level of authoritative government over the local church.

As for "some Christians" I'm not sure what you are quoting.

The Ubiquitous said...

... which is circular. You have yet to show me you are more right than the Church. You heretofore are merely showing that you are reconcilable with facts, not that you are truer to the facts. You do not show that all the facts are better accounted for in your version, in part because you get to decide which facts are relevant to begin with. It doesn't seem terribly honest.

In any case, by not even agreeing on a settled canon, you are making my argument from the complexity of scripture more, not less, persuasive. Ultimately, Christ must be the source of the canon. (For a robust debate pointed towards truth on this point, you'd better off talking to Brent Stubbs, who is more knowledgeable than I.)

Say what you will about Catholics, but at least we're the ones defending God's place in all things.

CD-Host said...

... which is circular. You have yet to show me you are more right than the Church.

More right than the church on which argument?

You heretofore are merely showing that you are reconcilable with facts, not that you are truer to the facts.

Given two theories which equally explain a set of facts but contradict each other, you simply look for facts in their area of contradiction. For example if Roman supremacy had existed since the earliest church we would expect to see anti-Roman sentiment in the 2nd century by non-Catholic Christians. Instead what we see is a firm rejection of the doctrinal authority of local Bishops in the 2nd and 3rd century. So the Gnostics seem to accept that there is a claim of a local (citywide) authority but don't seem to to see Bishops are merely a representative of a Roman religious authority.

If the canon dated to Christ we would expect to see universal agreement on the canon not a well defined history of a slowly emerging political consensus.

You'll have to pick a particular issue but I see no evidence that I'm biasing the facts.

In any case, by not even agreeing on a settled canon, you are making my argument from the complexity of scripture more, not less, persuasive. Ultimately, Christ must be the source of the canon. (For a robust debate pointed towards truth on this point, you'd better off talking to Brent Stubbs, who is more knowledgeable than I.)

I don't see much in Brent Stubbs article I'd disagree with. I could nitpick over details if he wanted a critical review but regardless of how the argument turned out I'd agree with his broad theme:
The Protestant canon is mostly derivative and not natural to early church history.
The Catholic canon came from a historical process and if one rejects that historical process there is no binding consensus for the canon even today.


Yes, Brent is absolutely correct in his main theme, "In truth, history does not give us either a Protestant or Catholic canon. The Church does." That is a serious problem for a the Reformed which argue that an authoritative canon arose historically which is permanently binding. It is not a problem for a Baptist which would argue that an authoritative canon arose currently which is binding on the community from which it arose and that this canon can and does change historically.

The canon debate and Brent's article is an example of the rock-paper-scissors of this whole apologetic.

The Ubiquitous said...

I pick the issue, as I always have, of hermeneutic, your approach to scripture. I say this rather than "fisking" your comment, which I find gets us distracted.

Given two theories which equally explain a set of facts but contradict each other ...

Here's the nut of the issue: There are so many facts to account for, how can you claim you speak for all of them?

CD-Host said...

Here's the nut of the issue: There are so many facts to account for, how can you claim you speak for all of them?

By grouping and abstracting. Given data the human mind stretches to find patterns. Those patterns constitute hypothesis. They are tested against the data randomly with more tests increasing the degree of accuracy.

Once someone finds a pattern that works they share it with others who test it against their data further increasing the reliable. Once a reliable source of patterns is found it is used over and over.

Once a collection of patterns is verified second stage patterns can be generated, patterns on patterns or abstractions of patterns. Those need to be tested both against the patterns and the raw data. But once verified they become enormously powerful. And again these can be shared.

In sum the way to deal with an overwhelming supply of facts is to verify against them in a random way. The entire theory of statistics addresses how draw conclusions from sanely sized subsets of large populations.

The Ubiquitous said...

Well yes. But the link provided does say, basically: Good luck doing that in one lifetime, or well, or with the supernatural patience which would prevent you from jumping to conclusions after too much time behind the desk.

Evidence shows us that Protestantism of every stripe has not been able to do this, enjoying one novelty after another, creating a smorgasboard of "Choose what thou wilt," a buyer's market, the bazaar of the bizarre, where truth, if long be the goal, cannot be the outcome.

CD-Host said...

I know but the link forgets the grouping argument.

As far as Protestantism, Protestantism doesn't have doctrinal content it has methodological content. So saying that Protestants disagree doesn't mean very much.

There is quite a bit of diversity of belief among actual Catholics, it is just that Catholic apologists dismiss that diversity by arguing that the magisterium is what is important not the actual theology of the actual Catholic population. But when it comes to the Protestant they focus on the population.

And frankly I would disagree that Protestantism is not getting closer to the truth. Protestants (and atheists of Protestant descent) in their quest for the secrets of the origins of Christianity have done the vast bulk of uncovering what happened 200 BCE - 200 CE, a period that had been uncovered

Randy said...

So what is your source of what Baptists believe? I don't think they agree on these points. Can you give some examples of well-known baptists who believe all these points?

References to the church in the bible only apply to a local church. There is no further entity, thus no broad ecclesiology. The only church Jesus founded was the Jerusalem church, the one church he destroyed.

The trouble with this is that the references themselves don't allow this. Jesus' words in Mat 16 and Mat 18 don't fit with a local church. Neither does Paul's notion of the church as the Body of Christ or the pillar and foundation of the truth.

Baptists reject the idea that canon comes from tradition. Rather they believe God raises up a bible for his faithful in their languages. So for example the Wulfila, the Gothic bible, doesn't have the book of Acts.

I don't think many Baptists are comfortable with different canons for different groups of Christians. But exactly how God "raises up a bible" is the question. Saying He does so is not an answer.

Baptists believe in a regenerate church. There will never be a broadly believed orthodoxy.

Most Baptists do want to define some sort of truth about faith and morals that must be believed. They don't have a body that can define such a thing but many do see a need for it. When has liberal Christianity gotten so liberal it is no longer Christian?

They grant that the errant theology was early, but because they aren't tied to any churches beyond the 1st century they are able to clearly look at the history and see the origins accurately. Baptists, believe that the apostasy started early, almost always by the 2nd century. The Reformation didn't reconstruct the church, the Protestant churches are just as bad, rather it created the room for further reform.

There is an issue here with truth. If Christians can be so wrong for so long about so much then how do we know we are not just as bad?

Many Baptists do believe that the Catholic church fell into a deep apostasy. They often believe in a faithful remnant existing inside or outside the church and quite often a restoration in the last 500 years.

The faithful remnant theory points to a bunch of historical groups and calls them Baptists. The trouble is their teachings were nothing like Baptist teachings. So they are only Baptist in the sense they opposed the Catholic church.

So no, I don't think Baptists have any answers for the questions raised by Catholics.

CD-Host said...

So what is your source of what Baptists believe? I don't think they agree on these points. Can you give some examples of well-known baptists who believe all these points?

My source is my own experience. What you see on places like Sharper Iron. Historically well known baptists Eleazer Savage, PH Mell, Spurgeon, Ellen White. Just about anyone who accepts the 5 distinctives:

1) Church instituted at pentecost (new testament structures only)
2) Regenerate membership (i.e. credobaptism)
3) Strict separation of church and state
4) Priesthood of the believer
5) Autonomy of the local church.

The trouble with [references only apply to the local church is] that the references themselves don't allow this. Jesus' words in Mat 16 and Mat 18 don't fit with a local church. Neither does Paul's notion of the church as the Body of Christ or the pillar and foundation of the truth.

On Matthew 18, Baptists churches have a long history and do today practice Matthew 18 discipline.

The main way it is applied is that Matthew 18 applies to a disagreement between members. So it seen as progressive with listening to the church being the 3rd phase. The sequence / context is seen as meaningful in Baptist theology while not as much in Catholic.

As for Matthew 16 I'll just quote Scofield here, There is the Greek a play upon the words, "thou art Peter petros-- literally 'a little rock', and upon this rock Petra I will build my church." He does not promise to build His church upon Peter, but upon Himself, as Peter is careful to tell us (1 Peter 2:4-9) ...

Not the keys of the church, but of the kingdom of heaven in the sense of Mat 13., i.e. the sphere of Christian profession. A key is a badge of power or authority (cf) Isaiah 22:22; Revelation 3:7. The apostolic history explains and limits this trust, for it was Peter who opened the door of Christian opportunity to Israel on the day of Pentecost Acts 2:38-42 and to Gentiles in the house of Cornelius. Acts 10:34-46. There was no assumption by Peter of any other authority Acts 15:7-11. In the council James, not Peter, seems to have presided ; Acts 15:19; Galatians 2:11-15. Peter claimed no more for himself than to be an apostle by gift 1 Peter 1:1 and an elder by office 1 Peter 5:1.

The power of binding and loosing was shared Matthew 18:18; John 20:23 by the other disciples. That it did not involve the determination of the eternal destiny of souls is clear from Revelation 1:18. The keys of death and the place of departed spirits are held by Christ alone.


As for Paul, I'm not sure I follow how the one refutes the other.

(end part 1)

CD-Host said...

Most Baptists do want to define some sort of truth about faith and morals that must be believed. They don't have a body that can define such a thing but many do see a need for it. When has liberal Christianity gotten so liberal it is no longer Christian?

Baptists handle this through separation not the assertion of an orthodoxy.

* X teaches Y.

* A decides that teaching Y is sinful and so A declares himself to be in separation from X.

* B, who is not separated from A decides that teaching Y is acceptable so B declares himself still in communion with X.

* C decides that A judges these things rightly and so via. secondary separation separates from X.

* If A and C are fundamentalist (i.e. believe in secondary separation) then both A and C now have to make a choice regarding B.


That system seems to accomplish the same thing a more orthodox authority would without the need for any kind of centralization or broad agreement.

I don't think many Baptists are comfortable with different canons for different groups of Christians

I didn't make up the Wulfila example, the Wulfila is frequently cited by Baptists as an example. Or the ones that accept the Vulgate (which had a different canon) in the line of succession to the KJV. If they don't accept a different canon then essentially no bible existed prior to the 18th century. Here is a link to a 4 part series on the bible and Baptists on this blog.

There is an issue here with truth. If Christians can be so wrong for so long about so much then how do we know we are not just as bad?

Because of the distinctives. Baptists (in their view) uphold the gospel and do their best on the other parts. Most other churches reject the gospel as evidenced by their embrace of paedobaptism.

But if you are asking for an assurance of salvation, baptists reject that, "There is security in God’s grace that allows assurance of salvation, but that security is in relation to continued faithfulness; we can still defiantly reject God." Salvation is conditioned on faith, therefore perseverance is also conditioned.


The faithful remnant theory points to a bunch of historical groups and calls them Baptists. The trouble is their teachings were nothing like Baptist teachings. So they are only Baptist in the sense they opposed the Catholic church.

I disagree with you. I think Landmarkism-lite (the belief in a faithful remnant) is defensible and you can tie baptist theology in some absolutely crucial respect to earlier groups. Let me link you to another thread with a version of trail of blood which is less oversimplified.

It might make it easier to have a more detailed conversation on this point if we are working from a common diagram.

Randy said...

I am taking a lenten blog break so I can't get involved in a dialogue. Maybe some other time. Very quickly.

You went into default apologetics on MAt 16 and MAt 18. I was just using them to show the church is one big thing. I was not actually asserting the papacy. The petra/petros thing is nonsense. Pretty much everyone admits that these days. But even if you accept it you still have Jesus building a church.

Same with Mat 18. Jesus talks about THE church. It is findable and can give answers. He expects those answers to be right. So they don't practice Mat 18. When they disagree they start another Baptist church.

I understand the ABC and XY thing. The way you differ from fundamentalists. It still does not produce an obvious truth anywhere. It keeps more peace. It allows things to continue without a clear answer. But you end up not knowing what the truth of God is. More and more issues get the ABC treatment and you end up with nothing more than human opinion on pretty much any doctrine.

CD-Host said...

Randy --

OK reply when you are off lent restriction.

I just ran into a quote today in another context from pastor Bigelow, "Coalitions don't have the biblical right to discipline, for only the local church is given the power to do this (Mat. 18:15-20)." Anyway before you were asserting these doctrines aren't held by Baptists now you seem to be asserting they are held by Baptists but they aren't biblical.

I guess the first thing I'd want to figure out is which issue am I defending. For example the long quote from Scofield was designed mainly to address the first argument and establish what Baptists believe since I think that needs to be cleared up before we got into the "are they right" argument.

In terms of everything being ultimately human opinion. Yes. Baptists acknowledge this. The same way the facts of every other field are ultimately human opinion.

Tom B. said...

You said: "Baptists reject the idea that canon comes from tradition. Rather they believe God raises up a bible for his faithful in their languages. So for example the Wulfila, the Gothic bible, doesn't have the book of Acts."

I'm not sure what you mean about the Bible without Acts. But at any rate, the above structure isn't something the Catholic can wrestle with until you fill in a missing gap. What happens between "God raises up a bible" and "the canon [does not] come[] from tradition"? To whom did God transmit the list of infallible books? It seems your #2 does not address this.

Peace in Christ,
Tom B.

CD-Host said...

Hi Tom welcome to the blog.

I'm not sure what you mean about the Bible without Acts.

I'm giving an example of a bible that Baptists believe was valid for another culture that had a different canon than the current Baptist canon.


But at any rate, the above structure isn't something the Catholic can wrestle with until you fill in a missing gap. What happens between "God raises up a bible" and "the canon [does not] come[] from tradition"?

I didn't say the biblical canon doesn't come from tradition at all. Obviously the current Baptist canon came from the Catholic canon plus the Protestant / Baptist tradition of dropping the deuterocanonicals. There is a clear tradition there, but it is tied to a particular culture.

And that is where the Gothic canon is important because they had a different culture / tradition and a different canon.

That is the baptist isn't saying the canon doesn't come from tradition but rather it doesn't come from a transcendent tradition. The tradition is specific to the faith community.

To whom did God transmit the list of infallible books?

I would reject the use of the word "transmit" and rather go with "reveal", or what is more traditional "rises up". The canon happens in a culture, there isn't a prophet that is handed a list of canonical books. Rather a processes occurs that causes a church to embrace a canon.

For example I'd say that the deuterocanonicals being definitely dropped / rejected occurred when the British Bible Society indicated they would no longer buy any bibles with the deuterocanonicals. A baptist wouldn't say the BBS had a prophetic revelation but rather they were the last step in a process by which the canon was settled. And at that point the KJV with minor textual updates (like Websters or Campbell) became absolutely unquestionably standard in the United States to the point that people (a consensus of the local churches) fundamentally conflated the bible with the KJV with the 66 book canon.

That is what it looked like in practice. Another example a two hundred years earlier that many Baptists would accept, was the Clementine Vulgate which was broadly accepted and achieved a broad consensus that is still in place for a Latin bible. Contrast that with the equally authoritative Sistine Vulgate which was rejected by the Catholic faithful.

In other words the canon is what a consensus of the local churches think the canon is. The canon changes as local churches come to believe the canon should change and achieve consensus for those changes.

CD-Host said...

I made a comment on your church is too small

which was related. So rather than a new post I' figure I'll put in the comments:


Chris in response to your question about whether Protestants are reading Catholic apologetics, my impression is by and large they aren't.

First off there is the problem that most religious traditions don't read each other's apologetics. People just don't work hard to familiarize themselves with the counter arguments presented against their faith tradition, and even those that do focus generally focus on one niche. So for example a Lutheran might understand Jehovah Witnesses critiques or Reformed critiques or Catholic critiques but rarely all 3.

Second the Catholic apologetics that are popular, essentially the Cardinal Newman apologetic, assume a form of Protestantism which is the minority in the United States. A form of Protestantism which emerged in the magisterial Reformation and is pre the American revival movements with their focus on individual salvation. Most Protestants today, have a ecclesiology far more dominated with ideas from John Wesly and Charles Finney than from Luther and Calvin. British apologetics, which are aimed at pre-revival Christianity don't work well for most Americans.

Third, most Catholic apologetics don't actual address the issues that led to the reformation. Most Protestants who understand the reformation believe the Reformers did the right thing. They reject the authoritarian morality that the church has the kind of authority that Catholic apologetics assert it has. While the original Reformers themselves were inconsistent on their low church theology, the Protestant masses are not. Protestant by and large are tremendously ecumenical in their approach and see churches functionally. Catholic apologetics fail to make a strong positive case for their assertions about a unique true church.

Brian said...

Could you recommend a book or some other resource that responds to Catholic apologetics in a way you think is effective? I find Catholic apologetics to be successful in showing Protestantism is internally problematic and how the Catholic Church is the Church founded by Christ. I don't really understand where you coming from, and I would like to know more.

CD-Host said...

Brian --

A short introduction which contrast baptist theology with liturgical churches: Why be Baptist.

A direct Baptist / Catholic debate: Campbell / Purcell debate.

In terms of addressing the argument of government, which is the core of the Neumann apologetic: Mell's book on church government and Savage's book on church government.

For the bible Moody, Darby, Scofield, Baker... any of the standard Baptist works (tell me if you need links).

For church history an easy to read and famous presentation to familiarize yourself with the Baptist mindset is Ellen White's Conflict of the Ages Volume 5 The Great Controversy. For material about the early church, Acts of the apostles (Vol 4) which discusses the early church. Especially her last few chapters of this volume address Catholic claims. In terms of most fun read BTW, this would be where I'd start.

I can give you more if that isn't what you are looking for specifically.

CD-Host said...

Forgot one more link with an almost unlimited amount of material Baptist history home page.

CD-Host said...

I made a comment on another blog which I think summarizes the position you often run into. Just thought I'd record it here

There was a unique type of Christian church as long as you exclude all the other ones. This church taught a unique theology, as long as you exclude all but one of the theologies it taught. The leaders within it were subject to a binding leadership, as long as they didn’t suffer from “personal failings” and do something this leadership didn’t approve. And the fact that they are all acting as if this binding structure teaching a unique theology to a unified church doesn’t exist, and in fact frequently indicate the opposite shouldn’t be counted as any evidence against this position because in context there is some good reason.