Today, we continue our series examining and responding to Catholic apologist and philosopher, Peter Kreeft’s book, “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic” (2018). Thanks for joining me.
Claim #5: “I am a Catholic because of the unprecedented historical fact that the church has never once lowered her standards, never changed her teaching.”
In this very short chapter, Kreeft readily acknowledges that Roman Catholic church history is riddled with scoundrel popes and prelates and the fallout from their failings. Kreeft specifically cites 1) the unabashed accumulation of wealth by the Borgia popes,* 2) the sexual abuse of children by clerics including the systematic enablement of predators by the church hierarchy, and 3) the blood-thirsty Catholic armies of the Crusades (1095-1291). However, Kreeft claims that “Catholic dogmas have remained pure even when the teachers were impure” (p. 21), and that “like the Jews of the Old Testament, like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, the Church does not compromise her high and holy standards and teachings” (p. 22). In the introductory title to this chapter Kreeft goes so far as to boast that it’s an “unprecedented historical fact that the (Roman Catholic) church has never once lowered her standards, never changed her teaching.”
Anyone with even a smattering of knowledge regarding Catholic church history stands gape-mouthed at Kreeft’s audaciously fallacious claims and Jesuitical sophistry. What exactly is “lowering her standards” if not the forced baptisms, the relentless persecution of Jews, the initiation and endorsement of the Crusades, the creation of the bloody Inquisition, and the enthusiastic persecution of Protestants. In regards to the oft-told lie that Catholicism has never changed its teachings, we’ve already discussed the example of Rome’s condescending declaration promulgated at the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), officially teaching for the first time that members of other religions and even atheists were also able to merit salvation. We also briefly mentioned pope Francis’ lifting of the centuries-old ban on sacraments for remarried divorcees in his 2016 Amoris Laetita encyclical. Only a couple of months ago, we witnessed Francis’ restriction of the Latin mass aimed at its eventual elimination. Other blatant changes in RC teachings include its reversals on usury, slavery, and Limbo for unbaptized babies. It has also done an about-face in regards to the following: capital punishment, the selling of indulgences, the ban on meat on non-Lenten Fridays, and the condemnation of religious freedom (aka freedom of conscience).
Nazi propaganda minister and baptized Catholic, Joseph Goebbels, once famously said, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” Kreeft is employing that very same sophistry by claiming it’s an “unprecedented historical fact” that the Roman Catholic church has never once lowered its standards and never once changed her teaching, despite the overwhelming historical evidence to the contrary. Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis have all apologized for teachings/directives authorized by their predecessors that resulted in undeniable atrocities.
I will readily admit, however, that the Roman Catholic church has consistently propagated its false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit.
Mr. Kreeft, I am NOT a Catholic because, not only does the Catholic church teach a false gospel, but history stands as an objective witness to the fact that Catholicism regularly lowered its “high and holy standards” and also changed its teachings.
*Kreeft cites only the three Borgia popes as greedy pursuers of wealth, but popes have lived like kings and bishops like princes for 1500 years.
Next week: Claim #6: I am a Catholic for the same reason G. K. Chesterton gives: to get my sins forgiven.