A Reader Asked a Question about Questions for Members of the [Protestant] Churches of Christ

A reader e-mailed me a question, and I actually know how to answer!

church of christ question

Thanks Phillip! This is a Comparative Religion website, so I’ll answer by first comparing Protestantism (more accurately, “Bible-only” Christianity) with Catholicism.
When Protestants ask questions (stumpers), they normally don’t ask questions that are designed to encourage a Catholic to think. They ask loaded questions such as, “Why do you worship Mary when the Bible doesn’t tell us to?” Of course, Catholics don’t worship Mary, but the Protestant doesn’t care about the facts; the question is designed to imply how Catholics don’t understand the Bible and are more interested in “traditions of men”. Or, Protestants will ask questions that are so based in fantasy that a Catholic can’t even begin to answer. Most often, they will want you to answer their questions using the “Bible only”—demand that you answer the way they want you to answer. Ultimately, they want to tell you what you believe, and then tell you how you’re wrong. Basically, Protestantism is a theory; it requires a short sales pitch and little thought. Catholicism engages the mind. In contrast to how CofC-ers evangelize a caricature of Catholicism, try to address the facts of CofC beliefs (if, of course, they can even be nailed down. “True doctrine” isn’t written; it’s simply in the minds of their most influential members). In other words, we should be like St. Paul and familiarize ourselves with the beliefs of our CofC neighbors.
As Catholics, we of course wish for all Christians to come into the fullness of the Faith, but not all Protestants are ready. We don’t need to use tricky questions to force a pro-Catholic answer; we simply wish for Protestants to use basic scriptural and historical reasoning. For example, I asked a couple of Church of Christ preachers a single, simple question: “When did sola Scriptura begin?” (recorded here) The somersaults and evasion of the question was so clear than anybody could observe how the ministers were not interested in truth; they cared about the preservation of their religion. So it would be like “casting pearls to swine” to try to engage in reasonable dialogue with people who simply don’t care. Move on, shake the dust from your feet—there are many CofC-ers who aren’t as sociologically attached to their religion.
Good evangelism involves the asking of quality questions. If Protestants can be reasonable, then proceed. An example of a great question is, “Why won’t you become Catholic?” That’s a great question to ask! That kind of question allows for and invites a real discussion! If the Protestant’s objection is based in reality, you can then address that objection and move forward. It is very important to ask questions that are not loaded, that are designed to force Protestants to actually think and not react. Our questions should haunt them.
Back to the email: Phillip asked me for a few “stumpers”. Instead, I have listed TWO HUNDRED questions that I’ve used in person, on this blog, and in my books. (hundreds more are available in my books). They are all designed to capture a Protestant’s intellectual honesty. If they don’t answer, refuse to respond, or avoid the self-evident implications of the questions, then they simply don’t want to be thinking Christians; they are not ready. Love them anyway. I too was an anti-Catholic “militant CofC-er”; some of us are slow!
Don’t be like Protestant “machine gun” evangelists; one question at a time! These questions are best read in order.
The Church of Christ Pre-Dates the Bible
•Can you not understand that the ontological priority of a sacred library of books must be a sacred body with the authority to have recognized it as such and to label it as such, that an inerrant text requires an inerrant author, that the Spirit that aided the writing is the same Spirit that interprets—that you would have no reason to believe that the books that comprise the New Testament are inspired if it were not for the authority of a Sacred Tradition?
•Jesus was tented in Mary’s womb, thus she was the first Christian, but was she a believer in Protestant-styled sola Scriptura as members of the Protestant Church of Christ are at this late time?
•If “Bible-only” Christianity is true, should we not, then, assume that the nascent Church, with its fledgling ecclesial structure, was illegitimate and with no authority at all—that the structure the Apostles created was not Jesus’ intention simply because there was no detailed New Testament scriptural mandate?
•Are we to believe that if the primitive Church leaders had never decided to write the New Testament—if doing so was not good to the Holy Spirit and to them—that there would be no true Church today?
•Was St. Paul a “Bible-only” Christian?
•Was the authoritative Church designing its own undoing by creating the Bible?
•Would its authority and status as the pillar and foundation of truth cease because it would create New Testament Scripture?
On Patternism
•Was the pattern of ecclesial authority usurped? If so, and if “Bible-only” Christianity or sola Scriptura is true (Jesus’ intent) then should we not expect such an important truth regarding the Faith to be presented somewhere within Scriptura?
•Can an honest student argue that St. Peter and St. Paul would find communion with the Protestant Church of Christ—a collection of communities that originated in 19th century Kentucky, who were not called, but rather, promoted themselves as inerrant interpreters of another Faith’s book? (CofC-ers, of course, will call this a loaded question. Demand that they show you how they existed before the 19th century.)
•Has your group ever provided any reason why anyone should believe your patternistic theories and conclusions?
•Why are your group’s patternistic insights correct?
•Who in your midst has the extra-biblical authority to provide such a stamp?
•How is it that you have somehow determined the proper pattern from which to imitate and bind your fellow believers?
•Can you not realize that a pattern presupposes a Church that was already in existence—that an actress is self-evidently not who she is pretending to be?
•Does “X” become “Y” by imitation?
•Does stumbling upon a proper invisible interpretation of a book somehow create the visible structure established by Christ Jesus?
The Church Is Built on Rock
•Was Jesus attempting to confuse people when He used a word rich with paternal authority when He named Simon Bar-Jona “Rock”?
•Why do you believe anyone should have any reason to entertain your message when you cannot provide any ordinary nor extraordinary credentials?
•Was Jesus giving Himself the keys? Was Jesus assigning binding and loosing powers to Himself? And of course, how is the rock that Jesus was referring to actually be Himself, when, as your ministers also teach, was St. Peter’s “confession of faith”?
•If the Keys opened the doors to heaven, and if Mt. 16:16-19 was a prophecy of Acts 2 (Pentecost), as your apologists teach, then why does the Bible offer no hint of your belief?
•Why do you believe your ministers never show you the link between Isaiah 22:22 and Matthew 16:16-19?
One Mediator
•Why don’t you follow the biblical pattern of priests acting in persona Christi, forgiving sins? (John 22:21-23)
•If you lived in the first century, would you have submitted to the leaders ordained by the Apostles?
•If you lived in the first century, would you have confessed your sins to the Apostles as Jesus commanded? (cf. John 20:23)
•Are not the Apostles mediators? Was Mary not the mediatrix who allowed Jesus to become our Mediator—the deliverer of our Deliverer? Were not the writers of the Holy Scriptures mediators? Were not the men (bishops) who collected the New Testament writings and discerned the canon of Scripture mediators? Is not their final product, the Bible, a mediator? Are not your loved ones who pray for you mediators?
Church Plantings / Hierarchy / Extra-Congregational Authority
•Were the elders at Ephesus not subordinate to St. Paul? (Acts 20:17)
•Should any elder or layperson in Ephesus, then, disregard St. Paul’s epistle written specifically to them?
•Was St. Paul usurping the local elders’ authority?
•Should any modern local assembly not, then, disregard Acts 20, disregard his letter to the Ephesians, and disregard any of his other letters or instructions as extra-congregational non-Scripture?
•Is anything other than a hierarchy of sorts reflected within this example?
•Does the passage not portray a dynamic of a practicing hierarchical structure?
•How then, are the local churches “autonomous” when they are dependent on an external elder for instruction?
•And how, of course, are your modern congregations “autonomous” when they too rely on external elders for their instructions—their letters that the hierarchy stamped as Scripture and provide the material for your group to argue against the hierarchy?
•Do your congregations install their elders by their own self-assigned authority, or do they allow the hierarchy to install them according to the biblical pattern?
•Is Jesus’ prayer for unity found within the broad umbrella of non-Catholic Christianity detectable?
•Is it not obvious that in order for a man to raise his Bible overhead and plant a congregation that believes just as he believes, that he must first insist and persuade others that the hierarchy is a hoax? Is the hubris not obvious?
•The early proto-Protestant heretics of antiquity, with whom you would largely, but not fully, disagree with doctrinally, were at least as credible as your restorers. Why should we not believe that they, and not you, represent the true Church?
•Was the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3) fumbled, just to be recovered by any sect?
•“Faith” was not the Bible; the “Faith” created the Bible, so is it not more reasonable to consult the body that created the Bible than any community that merely adopted an abridged version of it?
•How do you know that your group rightly interprets the Bible, or contains the correct Faith?
•What is the source of that pride, pride that insists that the Faith once for all delivered does not include the Sacred Tradition, was not once for all delivered, and was not delivered to the saints, but to you instead, or to any modern, self-promoting group?
•Do you not believe Jesus when He told St. Peter, You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18)?
•Did the Petrine Ministry—to feed my sheep (John 21:17)—die? Did Jesus only care about the first generation of sheep?
•Is your theory of Apostasy more powerful and more meaningful to you than Jesus’ promise to be with you always, to the close of the age (Matthew 28:20), or does your wish to be right trump His Church’s ability to remain faithful?
•Is your modern community, somehow, more capable of remaining more faithful than the ancient body that Jesus chose, and gave the Counselor to be with them for ever (John 14:16)?
•Did the Spirit of truth that dwells in the Church die as well, and thus, prove Jesus wrong by leaving us desolate (v. 17)?
•Does death shall not prevail against it, always, and to the close of the age mean anything to you, or does the conspicuous absence of your group’s presence in history somehow override the promises of God?
•So when did it happen? Can any of your elders or ministers suggest a day, a decade, or even a century when the Apostasy began—when the Church was weakened to a point that it needed to be reborn by men from Kentucky many centuries in the future?
•If toppled, would not a structure built on such a mighty foundation create an echo of some sort?
•A fact of this importance must surely have left a fingerprint, so where is the evidence?
•The real Church is of God, and it was not overthrown. Our King does reign, but how could the King reign for ever and ever (Hebrews 1:8) without a kingdom?
•And is not the Church His kingdom?
•And does not the angel Gabriel tell our Lady that Jesus will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end (Luke 1:33)?
•Did His kingdom with His ministers change the unchangeable characteristics of the Church by ceasing to be a mustard seed, by ceasing to be bread without yeast (cf. Matthew 13:31-35), by putting its lamp under a bushel (Matthew 5:15)?
•Were the centuries of anticipation as revealed in the Old Testament thwarted so early after Jesus’ passion?
•Was Daniel describing a temporary Church when he wrote, And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand for ever (Daniel 2:44)?
•Should we believe that Jesus was referring to His Church when He said, Every plant which my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up (Matthew 15:13)?
•Did salvation history end with the death of Christ’s Bride at some undetermined moment that escapes even your “true church’s” recollection, only to be brought back to life by your “true church’s” interpreting power?
•Were your restorers better than Jesus, because they resuscitated her while He left her to die?
•Were your restorers more instrumental than the Apostles, because they assigned themselves the more difficult task of restoring (re-creating) what the Apostles were only assigned by Jesus to maintain (perpetuate)?
•Were your restorers greater than the supposed apostate fourth-century Catholic fathers who matter-of-factly discerned the canon of Scripture and compiled the Bible for the world-wide Church, because they took her Holy Writings for personal and sectarian gain, and essentially propagated the blasphemy that someone greater than God had snatched the Church out of the Father’s hand (John 10:29)?
•Is there any record of a remnant community that practiced what could be construed as Protestant Church of Christ Christianity? Sure, you might superficially associate yourself with fringe groups such as the Lollards or Albigensians, but any examination reveals the gap between your theological tenets.
•Presumably, your ancestors were literate, because they would surely have been “Bible-only” Christians; which would be difficult, because the printing press had not been invented in the western world until the fifteenth century. So what version of the Bible did your remnant use?
•So did the remnant utilize the Catholic canon, or did it utilize the abridged Protestant canon that was created in the sixteenth century—the canon that you since adopted yourselves, but still deny that you are Protestant?
•And that raises another question: Where are the remnant’s Bibles?
•Would not your group, which claims to be the true Church, which is a “Bible-only” community, if it were anchored in some way to the nascent Church, be able to supply a single Bible, or even a single fragment of Scripture of any kind, instead of relying, again, on Catholic labor?
•Where, physically, were your remnant ancestors?
•Would not the Church resemble Daniel’s prophecy: the Church became a great mountain and filled the whole earth (Daniel 2:35)?
•Where is your earth-filled mountain? Would a person not see a mountain, even from a great distance? If the remnant Church filled the whole earth, why was the earth so empty of it? Would we not see the mountain’s lights, or did your ancestors keep their candles under a bed (cf. Mark 4:21)?
•Is not Christ’s kingdom a kingdom that cannot be shaken (Hebrews 12:28), and did the Church not pray for the servants of God to speak his word with all boldness (Acts 4:29), and did they not receive that gift (cf. v. 31)?
•Have you no saints that lived after the Apostles, yet before your latter-day figures, who are worthy of mention? If so, do they not deserve bronze busts on your university campuses alongside your nineteenth century restorers?
•Can you not understand how transparent a group (such as yours) is when it claims that God’s Church left the earth simply because they have determined that history has not aligned itself with its modern-day revelation or private interpretation of the Bible? Can you not acknowledge how any cult might establish itself as “true” in the same way? Can you not question first your own worldview?
•So was the man of lawlessness (2 Thes 2:3) the pope or not? Which pope? If the man of lawlessness is the pope, and if the mystery of lawlessness is [in St. Paul’s day] already at work (v. 7), then would you admit that a pope existed in St. Paul’s day—was already at work? And if you are able to admit it, then who was that evil pope? Are you, then, able to admit that St. Peter must have been that evil Pope—the evil Pope that you, of course, would not be in communion with!
•Has your group decided when to retroactively damn Christ’s Bride? Would you agree with the Calvinists who reached back 1,000 years into their collective fantasy and decided that St. Gregory of the sixth century was the Antichrist? Would you consider every pope after St. Gregory to be the Antichrist? Would you be willing to change the Holy Scripture to read, “men (not man) of lawlessness?” Has Antichrist’s supposedly shortened (Matthew 24:22) reign continued through to this day, passing through the supposed Restoration / reincarnation of God’s true Church?
•Can you isolate some bit of Scripture that identifies the Church’s reincarnation as a body that would build itself out of ashes, or out of its own self-grabbed authority, out of its own self-supporting theory or interpretation?
•Does it not challenge your group’s collective intellectual and moral dignity to use the Catholic Church’s Scriptures to argue against the Catholic Church, and to use them to prop up a community that is founded only on an ecclesiological theory?
•Is it not possible that God has sent your members a powerful delusion to make them believe what is false (2 Thessalonians 2:11)?
•Every generation has its destruction, and every generation has its own group of heretics who go out from the Church (1 John 2:19), and thus, by their own choosing, apostasize themselves from the existing Church—which of course is Catholic; a person cannot leave a new (Protestant) body to create an old (Catholic) body. Did Protestants not go out from the Catholic Church? And did your group not go out from the original Protestants? Is your family tree not self-evidently entropic?
•Is it not obvious how your group adds to the Protestant resemblance?

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths (2 Timothy 4:3,4).

•If the Great Apostasy is true: Can you not detect the importance of such questions? Is the urgency of answering them not obvious? Does your group’s silence not disturb you? Are you, unlike the Calvinists that St. Francis evangelized, able to provide any blurb from the annals of history that might sympathize with your theory? Do your vaults contain any scrap that might indicate a Christian who could be construed as a pre-Restorationist, “Bible-only”, creedless, self-ordained minister, and rightful interpreter of the Holy Book? Can you recall any memory of a time when a hero who pre-dates any ancient heresy was martyred for your cause, or a story of when your movement in general pre-dates any ancient heresy?
•Which of your dueling hopes is true? Did the Catholic Church become apostate, which means it was at one time the true Church; or was it born at some late time, which means your accusations towards her as instigating the Apostasy are grossly misdirected!
Regarding 1 Timothy 4:1-3
•Were Jesus, St. John the Apostle, and St. Paul apostates for not being married to one wife? Can you concede that this verse could be simply teaching against polygamy?
•Were the Christians who heeded Jesus’ warning about the destruction of the Temple and instructions to flee Jerusalem apostate (cf. Matthew 24:16-20)?
•Were those who were able to heed St. Paul’s lesson to remain unmarried so that they could better serve the Church apostate (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:25-34)?
•Can you not recognize how your group’s zeal to condemn the Catholic Church has clouded your respect for the pattern that the Bible clearly reflects—how your group has apostasized itself from the nascent Church?
•Does your group not fast?
•Does your group not abstain from foods that God has created to be received with thanksgiving during times of your own selection?
Restoration / Household of God
•Does the Bible foretell any future Restoration when men should not obey the Church’s leaders, but instead, disobey them, create something new, and call it old?
•Is the Church not the household of God (1 Timothy 3:15)—the house that Christ built?
•Is Christ not more powerful than Satan (cf. 1 John 4:4)?
•If your proofs are so clear, if they show without doubt that the Church was plundered, then why is the Bible so unclear as to how the household of God would be rebuilt—restored by your communities?
•As a “Bible-only” Christian, can you provide a single verse, however obscure, that indicates how the event would occur?
•Do the Scriptures indicate that men who abandon the apostolic tradition for “no creed but the Bible” might one day restore the Church?
•How do you know your group does not simply add to the apostate traditions—is not an additional clanging cymbal?
•How can you assume you have deciphered the code, cracked the pattern, and mastered the languages more than other sects who have found very different conclusions than yours?
•Do you believe your community is the pillar and ground of truth, or do you believe that the Protestant canon of Scripture is the pillar and ground of truth?
•Can you deny your principle—that the Bible is your purported “sole authority”—and appeal to the house of God for religious truth?
•Does the language of the inspired text not suggest that it is the Catholic Church who was, and is, the agent whom God chose, and chooses, to deliver His word?
•Is it not glaring how non-Catholic Christian groups—groups that deny apostolic succession—have devolved into a collection of communities that, together, communicate chaos to the world?
•Is not the Protestant Church of Christ one competing non-Catholic community among thousands?
•Do you not wonder, since the Bible contains no sacred Table of Contents, who, or what, produced the Table of Contents?
•Does it haunt you that it might be the Catholic hierarchy—successors of the Apostles—that developed the canon of Scripture nearly four hundred years after Jesus’ Ascension, or do you allow yourself to accept the extra-biblical and ahistorical notion / hope that either an evil body begat an inerrant and sacred library, or that a body other than the successors of the Apostles determined the canon of Scripture?
•Do you believe Protestant ministers (non-Catholic men), a Protestant Church, a Protestant council, or Protestant anything whatsoever was involved with the canon’s formation?
•How did the Apostles know to install a successor?
•St. Paul clearly did not believe that the installment of Judas’s successor should remain unique, for he too groomed a successor: St. Timothy (cf. 2 Timothy 1:6, 13-14, 2:1-2, 4:1-6). Authority to appoint elders / priests was given from the top down (cf. Titus 1:5). Ensuring proper apostolic doctrine was the responsibility of properly chosen clergy (cf. 1 Timothy 3:1-13, 5:22), and those men were properly ordained by the laying on of hands (cf. 1 Timothy 4:14). Absent from the Pastoral Letters, or any other New Testament source, is any allusion towards Protestant-styled clergy or any indication that succession should cease after St. Matthi’as’ (or St. Timothy’s) installment. Why has your group broken the pattern?
•Do you believe that the Church became apostate by maintaining itself through apostolic succession?
•At what point did apostolic succession become heretical?
•Are you willing to indict the Apostles?
•At what point did the elders’ authority cease, and at what point did it become orthodox to elect elders outside the authority of the hierarchy?
Word of God / Rule of Faith
(Catholic Rule: Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition
Protestant Rule: Sacred Scripture only)
•Why do you believe your interpretation of the Bible is more credible than the Catholic Church’s interpretation of the Bible?
•Did St. Paul forget to write an expiration date when he wrote, Obey your leaders and submit to them; for they are keeping watch over your souls, as men who will have to give an account (Hebrews 13:17)?
•Do you believe St. Paul meant to endorse ecclesial revolution, ecclesial reinventions, or an ecclesiology that allows for the advancement of any novel group that has determined for itself the “true” meaning of Scripture?
•Is it not the Catholic New Testament canon that you have adopted as Scripture? If not, who do you think gave us the Bible?
•Is it not clear, then, that you accept the Catholic eldership to the point of determining the New Testament canon, yet deny her any authority beyond that?
•As such, is it not clear that your group, which claims to be “the Church”, cannot mind St. Paul’s exhortation to submit to the Church’s leaders?
•Can you not reason through the basic chronology—that your group, if it had existed in centuries past, had abandoned an authoritative body that possessed the infallible charism of determining which books are canonical?
•Consider the Catholic who believes that the Bible is the word of God because her Church says so. Is she not in perfect harmony with her Faith’s Rule (approaching religion by approaching the Church and her Scriptures)? Then, consider the plight of the Protestant or Restorationist who believes that the Bible is the word of God because her church says so. Would she not be violating her own Rule (approaching religion by approaching the Bible only)?
•Does the Bible ever teach your Rule?
•Are rules not applied to all people? Does your Rule not indicate the necessity for all people to examine the Scriptures? Does your Rule not demand that all people first come to an understanding that each book of the Bible is indeed inspired?
•If you are able to concede that the books of the New Testament do not claim inspiration for themselves, then what extra-biblical material provided that sacred teaching?
•How can your members apply your Rule when your Rule’s very scope dissects from the Christian experience the only means of knowing if the New Testament is indeed inspired?
•Are there exemptions to your Rule? If the Bible alone is God’s intended means of communicating His message, then should the Bible not be equally obtainable by all people? Is it not every person’s responsibility to examine the Scriptures, to determine if they are indeed inspired, to determine that precious parts are not missing? If there are not exemptions to your Rule, then you all are subject to it; you all must surely have conducted the necessary research to reach your conclusion!
•Are your children who reach the “age of accountability” and are then baptized, intellectually confident in their knowledge that St. Mark’s Gospel is inspired? When she quotes St. Mark’s Gospel, He who believes and is baptized will be saved (Mark 16:16), has she any reason to believe that such words are inspired or even true?
•St. Mark was not an Apostle; he was a disciple, and he never communicated that he was writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Why do your youngsters not reject his Gospel as Holy Scripture, or why do they not accept any disciple’s writing as Holy Scripture?
•Why is the epistle of Barnabas, or any other non-Apostle, not Scripture, yet St. Mark’s is?
•Are your adults, elders, preachers, or professors any different than your children?
•Are there exemptions for those who do not have the intellectual ability to discern biblical truths? If the Bible alone is all we need, then does your Rule not exclude tutors as mediators of God’s message and will? At what point does a person’s ability to understand the Bible become sufficient? What happens if a person is not able to grasp your ungraspable Rule? If your Rule is intended for all people (which is what a rule is), then your Rule itself should be easy to understand, and the Scriptures themselves must be easy to understand—do you not believe that God shows no partiality (Romans 2:11)?
•Were there periods within Christian history when your Rule did not apply?
•Do you think the original Christians believed in any pre-Protestant form of sola Scriptura or “Bible-only” Christianity?
•The Protestant Church of Christ must insist that all Christians were subject to your Rule, or admit that its form of religion is not what it once was, that it has changed, that it practices something that the nascent Church did not practice. So, when, specifically, did sola Scriptura become true?
•At what point in time did proper Christians independently shed their fidelity to authoritative Church leadership and turn to the Scriptures (and themselves) only?
•The Bible did not exist in a form that you would recognize for centuries after Jesus’ Ascension, so did sola Scriptura become true once the Bible took on a form that you would agree with, or when your precise canon was developed in the sixteenth century?
•Did sola Scriptura become true upon the death of the last Apostle? If so, where does the “Bible only” teach that? Do you believe that the early Christians professed a belief in the all-sufficiency of the not-yet fully formed library of Sacred Texts?
•If you believe that the words within the Bible are there as your “sole religious authority”, then should you not be prepared to make a reasonable defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you (1 Peter 3:15)?
•Why do you believe the Book of Hebrews was written by St. Paul and is rightly included within the Christian canon? Could your belief root from the fact that the Catholic Church has a memory—a Sacred Tradition; other Catholic writings—and you have absorbed her teaching?
•Why do you believe that the Apostle John wrote Revelation?
•How do you know there should not be a twenty-eighth or twenty-ninth book in the New Testament?
•Why do you believe the canon is closed?
•What magisterium other than that of the Catholic Church do you think you have submitted to when you accept only the twenty-seven books that are now in your Bible as the only inspired New Testament writings?
•When did the original ecclesial authority, as you must know existed with the Apostles and those they selected as elders, become non-authoritative? In what way? And, as a “Bible-only” Christian must demand, by what scriptural mandate?
•Would you argue that authoritative Tradition ceased upon the Apostles’ deaths? Where, specifically, does the Bible reveal that secret?
•Was the Ethiopian eunuch, who had the humility to acknowledge that Scripture requires an authoritative interpreter, wrong to accept St. Philip’s the Evangelist’s interpretation?
•Would he have become a true “Bible Christian” if he had denied St. Philip’s interpretation, denied being a “Catholic” Christian, and remained a “private” Christian?
•Pope Benedict XVI taught the world’s Christians, “Whenever Sacred Scripture is removed from the living voice of the Church, it becomes victim of the experts’ disputes.”[1] Was he wrong? Are the Scriptures not in dispute among the Protestant sects? Has the removal of the Sacred Scriptures from the Sacred Tradition proved to unite non-Catholic Christians, to advance Christ’s prayer for unity?
•Would the Corinthians be going beyond what is written if they heeded St. Paul’s teaching to the Thessalonians to stand firm to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word or mouth or by letter (2 Thessalonians 2:15)?
•The New Testament does not describe a single example of a proper mode for Baptism. The New Testament, however, does refer to instructions about baptisms (Hebrews 6:2), but no instructions of any kind are found in the New Testament—such instructions are part of the Sacred Tradition of the Church, and you should ask yourself, “Where are the instructions if they are not in the Bible, and who guards them?”
•Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and came up out of the water (cf. Acts 8:36-39). Does your group believe that both the baptizer and the baptizee should be completely submerged, as your interpretation should imply?
•The scriptural passages, Repent and be baptized, every one of you (Acts 2:38), Rise and be baptized (Acts 22:16), and He who believes and is baptized will be saved (Mark 22:16) all have specific audiences: candidates for adult conversion. So is it not dishonest for the Protestant Church of Christ to teach that infants are ineligible candidates for Baptism when it utilizes passages that address adult conversion?
•Regarding household baptisms: Who in the world, and in what culture other than modern pro-contraceptive Protestantism or Atheism, could honestly suppose that any household would never include children?
•Where was your ancient group, or your “remnant”, that protested the practice of baptizing children?
[1] Homily delivered upon taking possession of the cathedral of Rome, October, 10, 2005.
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