Wednesday, February 17, 2010

If Rome really were the Church, how would you know it?

Over at Called to Communion, Tim Troutman recalls a tough question that Bryan Cross once posed to a Reformed Christian:

“If Rome really were the Church, and you, as a Reformer, were actually in schism, how would you know it?” The Reformers have no answer except, “I would know it because Rome would be faithful to the Scriptures and I would be unfaithful.” But as [Reformed theologian Keith] Mathison stated, any appeal to Scripture is an appeal to private interpretation of Scripture. Therefore, the answer is really, “I would know it because Rome would agree with me.” 

I think it's a very good question -- and one that would be difficult for a Reformed person to answer without devolving into "I'm right because I'm right" argumentation.  In a future post, I'll attempt to take up the mirror-image of this question, which might be posed to a Catholic.


  1. Zach,

    Great blog! My co-blogger Joe has an interesting post about schism according to argumentation laid down by St. Francis De Sales that you might want to check out. Keep up the great work and have a blessed Lent.

    Fr. Andrew

  2. As a Catholic who became a secularist and then returned to the Catholic Church in the 1980s, I've often thought about that question, posed both ways.

    At no point in my journey have I seriously considered the Protestant alternative. Is that a special grace? Prejudice? Or maybe a consequence of apologetics work that blows holes in the "opposition." None of the above?

    I don't know, but I do think a new season of ecumenism is afoot, and I rejoice in that.