You insist you’re the “Church of the Bible”, the “true Christians”, “the Lord’s Church”, the Church of Acts”… If that is true, then why is your sect so different than what Scripture reveals?
If you lived in the first century, would you:
- Confess your sins to priests? cf. John 20:21-23
- Obey the Apostles’ successors? cf. Hebrews 13:7
- Accept Church councils’ declarations as orthodox? cf. Acts 15
- Appeal to your communion with St. Peter before expecting people to hear your gospel message? cf. Galatians 1:20
If apostolic succession is wrong,
- Do you believe the Church became apostate when it installed apostolic successors? cf. Acts 1:26; 2 Timothy 1:6, 13-14, 2:1-2, 4:1-6
- At what point in time did apostolic succession become heretical?
- Did the Apostles become heretics, and were their successors heretics for accepting the practice?
- When did the elders’ authority cease, and at what point did it become orthodox to elect elders outside the authority of the hierarchy?
If the Bible should be Christians’ “sole authority” for religion,
- Did the authoritative Church design its own undoing by creating the Bible?
- Did the Church’s status as the “pillar and foundation of truth” cease because it produced the New Testament? cf. 1 Timothy 3:15
- Why doesn’t the “Bible only” teach that the “Bible only” is our “sole authority”?
If all that is necessary for salvation and holy living is presented in the “Bible only”,
- Shouldn’t the “Bible only” teach that it is all that is necessary for salvation and holy living?
- Why do you believe the books of the New Testament are inspired when none of them claim inspiration for themselves? (Other than, perhaps, Revelation.)
- What extra-biblical source gave you that information?
- When did sola Scriptura begin?
If local churches should have autonomous leadership,
- Why were the elders at Ephesus subordinate to St. Paul if all congregations are outonomous? cf. Acts 20:17
- Was St. Paul usurping the local elders’ authority?
- How are local churches “autonomous” when they’re dependent on an external elder for instruction?
- Why do you believe your local church is “autonomous” when it appeals to leaders outside your congregation for the Bible?
- Did St. Paul fail to write an expiration date when he wrote, “Obey your leaders and submit to them”? cf. Hebrews 13:17
Are your elders:
- Installed by the authority your group has given itself, or by the Apostles or their successors? cf. Titus 1:5; 1 Timothy 3:1-13, 4:1-4, 5:22
- In communion with the nascent Church, or have they “gone out” from Protestantism, which “went out” from Catholicism? cf. 1 John 2:19
- Able to trace their authority through the hierarchy, and then to Christ Jesus, just as every elder in the New Testament could?
If you know that the Bible is the word of God,
- How do you know Hebrews is inspired?
- How do you know the New Testament shouldn’t have a twenty-eight book?
- How do you know St. Mark’s Gospel is inspired?
- Can you answer any of these questions by using the “Bible only”?
Why do you approach religion by:
- Approaching the “Bible only”, when the Bible shows Christians approaching religion by approaching the oral teachings of the Church? cf. Acts 8, 17
- Approaching it differently than those at Pentecost? cf. Acts 2
If the “true Church” became “apostate”, and was then “restored” by your group,
- Do you believe “X” becomes “Y” by imitation?
- Who in your midst has the extra-biblical authority to stamp your group as “the Lord’s Church?”
- Why should anyone believe your group is “the true Church” when there are other Restorationist groups who claim the same thing with just as much authority and certainty?
- Can you not realize “pattern theology” presupposes a Church that was already in existence—that an actress is not who she is pretending to be?
- How is it that you have somehow determined the proper pattern from which to imitate and bind your fellow believers?
Some things to consider:
- Do you believe an invisible interpretation of a book you had no part in creating, somehow establishes the visible structure first established by Christ Jesus?
- Were your restorers more instrumental than the Apostles, because they assigned to themselves the more difficult task of restoring (re-creating) what the Apostles were only assigned to maintain (perpetuate)?
•If your church did not exist before the New Testament was written, then your church did not exist before the New Testament was written. The Catholic Churches of Christ greet you!