Since there are 26 comments on the Cyprian post already… I’m going to continue this here. And the time has come to throw down the guantlet.
Faith is very important to me as a Catholic. I have faith in the promises of Christ. Christ made a whole bunch of promises including:
“The Spirit will lead you into all truth”
“You are Peter and upon this Rock I will build my Church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it”.
“Behold I am with you always until the end of the Age”.
I have faith in Christ and his promises, and therefore in the Church. I believe that the Church which is governed by the Successor of St Peter and the bishops in communion with him is the one Catholic Church of Christ.
And I believe that today’s Catholic Church is continuous with the very Church established by Christ on the foundation of his apostles for both reasons Pastor Pearce points out:
1) It is continuous in doctrine (ie. it is evangelical)
2) It is continuous in outward fellowship (ie. it is not gnostic)
The second is historically demonstrable. You would have a tough time disproving it. Even the 2nd Vatican Council was run by guys who were the direct successors of the Fathers of the 1st Vatican Council and the Fathers of Trent etc. etc. and the Fathers of Constantinople and the Fathers of Nicea and the Fathers of the Apostolic Council of Jerusalem.
The first–continuity in doctrine–is only partly demonstrable by means of historical evidence (eg. quotes from the past–although there is a general ignorance about what was realy taught eg. by the Early Church Fathers and eg. by the pre-Vatican II popes). Continuity in doctrine is, in the final analysis, only clearly demonstrable by means of FAITH–which includes faith in Christ’s promises given above.
As I said in my post on the Lutheran at the CTSA meeting, if you find the teachings of the Catholic Church to be contradictory, you are not reading them correctly. Professor Koons, who recently converted to the Catholic faith, has stressed the importance of Newman’s theory of the development of doctrine for understanding the teaching of the Church.
Part of that theory (which is widely accepted) is the presupposition of continuity within the Tradition. I have yet to find an instance of any teaching that was held and taught by the Church at some earlier time which is not faithfully reflected and included in the faith of the Church at this present time–or, for that matter, a teaching that is held and proclaimed today that is without precedent within the past Tradition of the Church.
In fact, Past Elder (and Pastor Weedon and anyone else who wants to wade in) I challenge you to a duel. Give me an official documented teaching of the Church today–for our purposes, let’s say a quotation from the Catechism of the Catholic Church–which you believe contradicts the official documented teaching of the Church in the past. And I will show you how what you see as a contradiction is in fact in full continuity according to the principles of Newman’s development of doctrine.
That’s my challenge. Let the fun begin.
**And Pastor Weedon is right, it’s not a “duel”–its a prayerful dialogue. That’s what I meant.