The biggest reason I think that Protestantism lies at the heart of relativism is this. Protestants are in the awkward position of saying, “All of Christendom c. 1516 and before, you all misunderstand Christianity!” This means that they necessarily have to come to one of three unfortunate conclusions: either (1) that there was no authentic Christianity prior to 1517 A.D. – that it had simply disappeared in a “Great Apostasy” that eliminated 100% of Christians; (2) that the only authentic Christians during this period were super-secretive about their Faith; or (3) that Christendom c. 1516 and before was “good enough” for salvation, but still needed Reform. None of these solutions are satisfactory. Today, I’ll look at the first view, the Total Global Apostasy view. Tomorrow, I’ll look at the Remnant Theory, and Wednesday, I’ll make a few general points on the umbrella “Good Enough” theory.
Protestant View #1: Total Global Apostasy
(1) requires you to come to a really bizarre and anti-Scriptural conclusion. Where Christ says, “I will be with you always until the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20), and promises that He will not leave us as orphans (John 14:18), but rather will ensure that the Father sends the Holy Spirit “to be with you forever” (John 14:16), and to “teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26), so that the “gates of Hell shall not prevail” against His Church founded upon the rock, Peter (Matthew 16:17-19), Protestant View #1 – typically held by only the most fiercely anti-Catholic Protestants, but also by Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses – requires that we believe that sometime shortly thereafter, the Church – indeed, the entire Church – fell away from the Faith. That the Holy Spirit didn’t preserve a single person, that there was no remnant, etc. Under this view, we were left orphans for a millenium under a false pagan faux-Christianity called Roman Catholicism that mislead millions of people to eternal damnation. This view suggests a God unconcerned with preserving His Gospel message (to allow it so quickly to become corrupted by so many, such that even an honest observer would mistake pre-Reformation Europe for Christian); it suggests that Jesus meant the opposite of what He seems to be suggesting strongly in the above passages; and perhaps most confusingly, it suggests that the Bible, and the writings of the early Christians, were painstakingly preserved by this false pagan faux-Christianity called Roman Catholicism, while it fought fiercely against every other heresy. Once Catholicism had taken over 100% of Christianity, why not simply do away with the Scriptures? Why the constant proclaimation that “Jesus is Lord,” if the Catholic Church is guided by the devil instead of the Holy Ghost?
Finally, Christ predicts that the Kingdom of God on Earth will be like a mustard seed which grows into the largest of all plants (Mark 4:30-32). This would be a strange way of predicting that the Church will die out until Martin Luther, Joseph Smith or Charles Taze Russell resurrects it.
Tomorrow: what if a “remnant” remained? Wouldn’t that comport with the Scriptural prophesies?
EDIT: This is a multipart series. This is part one. Feel free to jump to part two, part three, or my conclusions.