Forty Answers to “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic”: #5

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.

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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.”

Response

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.

19 thoughts on “Forty Answers to “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic”: #5

  1. Never changed? LOL! I really am amazed at how people can accept these claims uncritically. 🙂

    Boniface VIII , Unam Sanctam: Therefore whoever resists this power thus ordained by God, resists the ordinance of God [Rom 13:2], unless he invent like Manicheus two beginnings, which is false and judged by us heretical, since according to the testimony of Moses, it is not in the beginnings but in the beginning that God created heaven and earth [Gen 1:1]. Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff. Pope Boniface VIII , November 18, 1302, Unam Sanctam

    The Council of Florence (1441) Bull Cantata Domino: It firmly believes, professes, and proclaims that those not living within the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics cannot become participants in eternal life, but will depart “into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels” [Matt. 25:41], unless before the end of life the same have been added to the flock; and that the unity of the ecclesiastical body is so strong that only to those remaining in it are the sacraments of the Church of benefit for salvation, and do fastings, almsgiving, and other functions of piety and exercises of Christian service produce eternal reward, and that no one, whatever almsgiving he has practiced, even if he has shed blood for the name of Christ, can be saved, unless he has remained in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church. See Henry Denzinger, Enchiridion Symbolorum, The Sources of Catholic Dogma, trans. Roy J. Deferrari, Thirtieth Ed. (Powers Lake: Marian House, published in 1954 by Herder & Co., Freiburg), #714, p. 230.

    Compare this with Vatican II:

    Vatican II, Lumen Gentium: But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place amongst these there are the Moslems, these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day. Nor is God Himself remote from those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God, since he gives to all men life and breath and all things (cf. Acts 17:25–28), and since the Saviour wills all men to be saved (cf. 1 Tim. 2:4). Those who, who through no fault of their own, do not know the gospel of Christ or His Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience—those too may achieve eternal salvation.Vatican Council II The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, Austin Flannery, O.P., General Editor (Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1980), Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium II:16, p. 367.

    Nothing to see, let’s move on. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. More changes and flip flops. 🙂

      Council of Constance (1415), Haec Sancta: ….First it declares that, legitimately assembled in the holy Spirit, constituting a general council and representing the catholic church militant, it has power immediately from Christ; and that everyone of whatever state or dignity, even papal, is bound to obey it in those matters which pertain to the faith, the eradication of the said schism and the general reform of the said church of God in head and members.

      Next, it declares that anyone of whatever condition, state or dignity, even papal, who contumaciously refuses to obey the past or future mandates, statutes, ordinances or precepts of this sacred council or of any other legitimately assembled general council, regarding the aforesaid things or matters pertaining to them, shall be subjected to well-deserved penance, unless he repents, and shall be duly punished, even by having recourse, if necessary, to other supports of the law. SESSION 5 – 6 April 1415, Haec Sancta

      Compare this to Vatican 1:

      Vatican 1: So, then, if anyone says that the Roman pontiff has merely an office of supervision and guidance, and not the full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the whole church, and this not only in matters of faith and morals, but also in those which concern the discipline and government of the church dispersed throughout the whole world; or that he has only the principal part, but not the absolute fullness, of this supreme power; or that this power of his is not ordinary and immediate both over all and each of the churches and over all and each of the pastors and faithful: let him be anathema. Chapter 3, Number 9, SESSION 4 : 18 July 1870

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks, SB. Yes the Great Western Schism and the Council of Constance are extremely problematic for Catholic apologists

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  2. Agreed with you here: “Anyone with even a smattering of knowledge regarding Catholic church history stands gape-mouthed at Kreeft’s audaciously fallacious claims and Jesuitical sophistry.” That’s some pretty big claim by Kreeft and with so much we know of Church history this is rather intellectually dishonest. Especially with the claim it never changes its teachings.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Crissy! Yes, it was shocking to read this chapter full of blatant lies and denials of history, but I’ve become accustomed to truth-bending from Catholic apologists.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The title and first sentence of this chapter are an utter joke and that fact that Kreeft means this is all the more disturbing and frustrating. Not that I agreed with anything Broussard put forth in his book, but this philosophical approach to unbelievers or unchurched is as empty as it gets! Col 2:8 ESV states, “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” You may have already used this in your response but it is worth repeating!

    I have no idea how Kreeft can even attempt to make a defense for the RCC never lowering standards nor changing her teachings. I mean, the RCC is VERY fluid right now. Kreeft is entirely too dismissive of the RCC child abuse and molestation. I can’t help wondering over and over again what is missing in Kreeft’s life that he would seek to give up the Good News for the “beauty and tradition” that he sees in the RCC.

    I vehemently disagree with Kreeft that Jesus affirms the Pharisees for “preaching what they did not practice.” Jesus did not agree with the Pharisees theology has Kreeft never read Jesus’s own Words in the Sermon on the Mount where he condemns the Pharisees theology by saying, “Y’all have heard it said” (Matt 5:21-48). Jesus didn’t come to abolish the Law but Fulfill and expand the Law and it is dishonest for Kreeft to state otherwise.

    This is truly the worst chapter yet. I would much rather be a “jackass” who holds fast to the Good News than to be part of this manmade farce. “Christ eventually raised and changed their behavior.” This won’t win me any friends. Christ is not in the RCC. The RCC is ripe for judgment and it will be severe whenever our Lord decides it is time judge His enemies.

    “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.” These are EXCELLENT points!!! I have heard the quote before but never knew who or the origin of it so thank you for this!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Mandy! Kreeft’s very unusual, off-the-cuff, philosophical approach to apolgetics in this book gave me great pause initially, but I’m now used to it. I’m wondering if Kreeft’s motivation for writing this book was in response to requests from priests who wanted an apologetics book without ANY theological mumbo jumbo that they could recommend to the average Joe in the pew.

      While Kreeft advertises himself as an ex-evangelical, he converted to RC-ism in his college years and obviously never understood the Gospel.
      These RC apologists become so overzealous they make the pope wince. Yes, anyone who claims the RCC never once lowered its standards or changed its teaching is living in a history-denying dream land.

      Liked by 1 person

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