Tonight (July 7th), from 6-7 pm Central, I’m going to be on Catholic Answers Live talking about Protestantism and the early Church. The conversation was sparked by a post I wrote a while back called 6 Early Christian Controversies That Protestantism Can’t Explain. In it, I talk about the desire of many Protestants to return to what they imagine was the simpler, purer faith of the early Church, but that this only reveals Protestantism’s
radical disconnect from the early Christianity that it wants to emulate. In virtually every dispute in early Christianity, Evangelicals believe that (a) the Catholic party, the party in communion with and headed by the Bishop of Rome, was right; or (b) nobody was right. The way that (a) points towards Catholicism is clear enough: how likely is it that it was just a string of good luck that Catholics got all of these right? And if this points to the protection of the Holy Spirit, why would we assume that the Spirit suddenly switched teams in the 16th century?
I then looked at six issues:
- The Easter dating controversy;
- The Diocletian Persecution;
- Fasting and the Eucharist;
- Donatism and the Sacraments;
- Gnosticism and the Eucharist; and
- The Donatist Anti-Popes
These were some of the biggest issues within the early Christian Church. And in every case, we see a clear “Catholic” side — that is, the Catholic Church can look at these moments and history and say “this side was right” (at the time, who was right was sometimes unclear, so you would often get good Catholics on both sides while the issue was still unsettled). But what you don’t see is a “Protestant” side. The Protestant is forced to either side with the Bishop of Rome and the Christians in communion with him, or to say that nobody was right, or that they can’t even understand the issue (the whole theology controversy between Catholicism and Donatism only makes sense if you understand that the Sacraments are efficacious — that they actually cause grace to be made present — and aren’t just signs).
So I’d encourage you to tune in tonight and if you haven’t read it before, revisit 6 Early Christian Controversies That Protestantism Can’t Explain.