Forty Answers to “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic”: #12

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 #12: I am a Catholic because I want to believe the same things that Jesus taught and that his disciples and their successors and every single Christian in the world believed for fifteen-hundred years

Kreeft lists thirteen Catholic beliefs, briefly summarized below, that he contends were held in common by all Christians “until Protestant ‘reformers’ started to cut branches off the tree of the Catholic faith” (p.41).

  1. The divine and infallible teaching authority of the RCC, not sola scriptura.
  2. The need for charitable works in salvation, not sola fide.
  3. Grace perfects and utilizes nature (including free will), not sola gratia.
  4. The appeal to Peter and his successors, the bishops of Rome, as the final authority.
  5. Christianity as a social/ecclesiastical institution embodied in the RCC, not individuals.
  6. The historical “fact” of apostolic succession passed on sacramentally via ordination.
  7. “The literal, full, Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist” (p.42).
  8. The power and authority of priests to forgive sins.
  9. The existence of Purgatory
  10. The rightness of praying to saints
  11. The rightness of seeking Mary’s intercession and recognizing her as “the Second Eve,” “the Mother of God,” and “the Immaculate Conception.”
  12. The “fact” that all seven sacraments confer actual grace to the supplicant.
  13. The infallibility and authority of the Church to define which books are Scripture.

Response

Christianity was legalized in 313 AD and adopted as the official religion of the Roman Empire in 380 AD. As the early church became increasingly institutionalized and followed the Roman imperial model, it abandoned the simple Gospel of grace in favor of sacramentalism administered by the progressively powerful and authoritarian hierarchy and clergy. Scripture is our sole authority and we appeal to Scripture rather than the Catholic church’s spurious “sacred traditions,” which evolved over time. Untethered from Scripture, the RCC advanced its prerogatives and fabricated hundreds of heterodox, vain doctrines. For Kreeft to claim Christians believed all thirteen of these Catholics doctrines for fifteen-hundred years is gross deceit. Let’s briefly respond to Kreeft’s fraudulent allegations:

  1. Neither the pope or the notion of papal infallibility is found in the New Testament. The RCC didn’t define papal infallibility until 1870.
  2. The New Testament teaches salvation is by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.
  3. Nature, including man, is fallen. Nature is not trustworthy. It is the Holy Spirit Who draws souls to salvation in Christ through the preaching of the Word.
  4. The New Testament does not teach the bishop of Rome is the final authority.
  5. The New Testament warns against ecclesiastical institutionalism (Matthew 20:20-28).
  6. The New Testament doesn’t refer to apostolic succession.
  7. The New Testament doesn’t teach a literal “transubstantiation” of the Jesus wafer.
  8. The New Testament doesn’t speak of a sacerdotal priesthood for the church or of priests forgiving sins. In contrast, the New Testament declares priests and sacrifice were done away with by Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10:11-14).
  9. The notions of purgatory and indulgences are not found in the New Testament.
  10. The New Testament does not teach praying to saints.
  11. The New Testament does not authorize worshiping/venerating Mary.
  12. The New Testament does not refer to the seven sacraments, although it does teach the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
  13. Scripture (the Old Testament) existed before the church. The Holy Spirit defines Scripture, not the RCC.

Praise God the Reformers returned the church to New Testament teaching and the genuine Good News of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

Next week: Claim # 13: I am a Catholic because I want the strongest reason to believe the Bible

19 thoughts on “Forty Answers to “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic”: #12

  1. What really gets me about Kreeft’s claims is his sheer arrogance. He gives not a thought to the fact that his “facts” contradict biblical truth, and firmly believes that Catholicism “has it all.” Excellent post, Tom.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, David! Kreeft and other Catholic apologists propagate the view that the RCC was started by Jesus Christ in 33AD and has for the most part taught the same doctrines ever since. Historians tell us when Christianity was adopted as the official religion of the empire and the church became increasingly institutionalized, corruption set in. Doctrines evolved or were introduced as previously-veiled oral traditions. Even Catholic sources like the Catholic Encyclopedia attest to the evolving doctrine. An excellent book on the “Constantine Shift,” the rapid institutionalization of the church under Constantine is “Constantine versus Christ: the Triumph of Ideology” by Catholic historian, Alistair Kee.

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  2. Re: #13

    The East accepts 3 Maccabees in their canon. Rome doesn’t. So who is right? The East or Rome, or are both wrong?

    Furthermore, the East today, do not treat the apocrypha on the same level as the Hebrew canon.

    John Meyendorff: The Christian East took a longer time than the West in settling on an agreed canon of Scripture. The principal hesitations concerned the books of the Old Testament which are not contained in the Hebrew canon (“shorter” canon) and the Book of the Revelation in the New Testament. Fourth-century conciliar and patristic authorities in the East differ in their attitude concerning the exact authority of Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Esther, Judith, and Tobit. Athanasius in his famous Paschal Letter 39 excludes them from Scripture proper, but considers them useful for catechumens, an opinion which he shares with Cyril of Jerusalem. Canon 60 of the council of Laodicea—whether authentic or not—also reflects the tradition of a “shorter” canon. But the Quinisext Council (692) endorses the authority of the Apostolic Canon 85, which admits some books of the “longer” canon, including even 3 Maccabees, but omits Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus as “admirable,” yet fails to include them in the canon. Therefore, in spite of the fact that Byzantine patristic and ecclesiastical tradition almost exclusively uses the Septuagint as the standard Biblical text, and that parts of the “longer” canon—especially Wisdom—are of frequent liturgical use, Byzantine theologians remain faithful to a “Hebrew” criterion for Old Testament literature, which excludes texts originally composed in Greek. Modern Orthodox theology is consistent with this unresolved polarity when it distinguishes between “canonical” and “deuterocanonical” literature of the Old Testament, applying the first term only to the books of the “shorter” canon. John Meyendorff, Byzantine Theology: Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes, 2nd rev. ed. (New York: Fordham University Press, 1983), p. 7.

    John Meyendorff: This system of internal priorities within the canon of Scriptures is further shown in two facts in the history of the scriptural canon in the Eastern half of the Christian world. The first fact is that the final settlement of the canon did not take place until 692, and that uncertainty as to the boundaries of written revelation was not, for many centuries, considered a major problem in doing theology. The second fact is that, when the settlement took place, a measure of uncertainty remained as to the exact status of the “longer canon” of the Old Testament; books like Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus—which were not a part of the Hebrew canon, but only of the Septuagint, and which are called Apocrypha in the West—were still recognized by some in the eighth century as “admissible,” though they were not included in the canon. Even today, Orthodox theologians refer to them as deuterocanonical books. They are considered part of Scripture and are read in church liturgically, but occupy something of a marginal place in the canon.
    This rather detached Orthodox attitude toward the problem of the scriptural canon shows clearly that for them the Christian faith and experience can in no way be compatible with the notion of Scriptura sola. See his chapter “Doing Theology in an Eastern Orthodox Perspective” in Daniel B. Clendenin, ed., Eastern Orthodox Theology: A Contemporary Reader (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1995), p. 82.

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  3. RE: #1 and #4

    Basil, Augustine, Cyril and Theodoret would be very quick to correct Kreeft.

    Basil of Caesarea (AD. 329-379) : Rule Twenty–six: That every word and deed should be ratified by the testimony of the Holy Scripture to confirm the good and cause shame to the wicked. (Fathers of the Church, Vol. 9, Ascetical Works, The Morals, Rule 26, Cap. 22, pp. 106).

    Basil of Caesarea (Ad 329-379) : What our fathers said, the same say we, that the glory of the Father and of the Son is common; wherefore we offer the doxology to the Father with the Son. But we do not rest only on the fact that such is the tradition of the Fathers; for they too followed the sense of Scripture, and started from the evidence which, a few sentences back, I deduced from Scripture and laid before you. NPNF2, Vol. 8, Basil, On the Holy Spirit 7.16. Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, Pg 160

    Augustine (354-430) : However, if you inquire or recall to memory the opinion of our Ambrose, and also of our Cyprian, on the point in question, you will perhaps find that I also have not been without some whose footsteps I follow in that which I have maintained. At the same time, as I have said already, it is to the canonical Scriptures alone that I am bound to yield such implicit subjection as to follow their teaching, without admitting the slightest suspicion that in them any mistake or any statement intended to mislead could find a place NPNF1, Vol. I, Letters of St. Augustine,, Letter LXXXII, Chapter 3, Sections 24–25, Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, p. 799

    Augustine (354-430) : Now let the proud and swelling necks of the heretics raise themselves, if they dare, against the holy humility of this address. Ye mad Donatists, whom we desire earnestly to return to the peace and unity of the holy Church, that ye may receive health therein, what have ye to say in answer to this? You are wont, indeed, to bring up against us the letters of Cyprian, his opinion, his Council; why do ye claim the authority of Cyprian for your schism, and reject his example when it makes for the peace of the Church? But who can fail to be aware that the sacred canon of Scripture, both of the Old and New Testament, is confined within its own limits, and that it stands so absolutely in a superior position to all later letters of the bishops, that about it we can hold no manner of doubt or disputation whether what is confessedly contained in it is right and true; but that all the letters of bishops which have been written, or are being written, since the closing of the canon, are liable to be refuted if there be anything contained in them which strays from the truth, either by the discourse of some one who happens to be wiser in the matter than themselves, or by the weightier authority and more learned experience of other bishops, by the authority of Councils; and further, that the Councils themselves, which are held in the several districts and provinces, must yield, beyond all possibility of doubt, to the authority of plenary Councils which are formed for the whole Christian world; and that even of the plenary Councils, the earlier are often corrected by those which follow them, when, by some actual experiment, things are brought to light which were before concealed, and that is known which previously lay hid, and this without any whirlwind of sacrilegious pride, without any puffing of the neck through arrogance, without any strife of envious hatred, simply with holy humility, catholic peace, and Christian charity? NPNF1 Vol.4, Augustine, On Baptism, Against the Donatists 2.Ch 3, Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, Pg 733

    Augustine (354-430) : For the reasonings of any men whatsoever, even though they be Catholics, and of high reputation, are not to be treated by us in the same way as the canonical Scriptures are treated. We are at liberty, without doing any violence to the respect which these men deserve, to condemn and reject anything in their writings, if perchance we shall find that they have entertained opinions differing from that which others or we ourselves have, by the divine help, discovered to be the truth. I deal thus with the writings of others, and I wish my intelligent readers to deal thus with mine (NPNF1, Vol. I, Augustin, Letters of St. Augustine, Letter 148, Section 15). Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, p. 1076

    Theodoret of Cyrrhus (393-466) :Eran.— Let us inquire then how the invisible was seen.

    Orth.— Do not, I beg you, bring in human reason. I shall yield to scripture alone.

    Eran.— You shall receive no argument unconfirmed by Holy Scripture, and if you bring me any solution of the question deduced from Holy Scripture I will receive it, and will in no wise gainsay it.

    Orth.— You know how a moment ago we made the word of the evangelist clear by means of the testimony of the apostle; and that the divine apostle showed us how the Word became Flesh, saying plainly for verily He took not on Him the nature of angels but He took on Him the seed of Abraham. The same teacher will teach us how the divine Word was seen upon the earth and dwelt among men. NPNF2 Vol 3, Dialogues, The “Eranistes” or “Polymorphus” of the Blessed Theodoretus, Bishop of Cyrus, Dialogue I.—The Immutable, Orthodoxos and Eranistes, Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, Pg 379

    Cyril of Jerusalem (318-386): Have thou ever in thy mind this seal , which for the present has been lightly touched in my discourse, by way of summary, but shall be stated, should the Lord permit, to the best of my power with the proof from the Scriptures. For concerning the divine and holy mysteries of the Faith, not even a casual statement must be delivered without the Holy Scriptures; nor must we be drawn aside by mere plausibility and artifices of speech. Even to me, who tell thee these things, give not absolute credence, unless thou receive the proof of the things which I announce from the Divine Scriptures. For this salvation which we believe depends not on ingenious reasoning, but on demonstration of the Holy Scriptures. NPNF2: Vol. VII, Cyril of Jerusalem´s Catechetical Lectures, Lecture IV:17, Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, Pg 136-137

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  4. Agh, not one of his 13 points could qualify for a ‘gray’ area or insignificant. They are all so erroneous! Overstating wrong beliefs may convince some but never will change the truth.
    Good post Tom, have a good weekend! 🍁🍂🍁

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Lisa Beth! As the notorious Nazi PR minister, Joseph Goebbels once said, if you tell a big lie long enough, everyone will believe it. The RCC has been declaring these fraudulent claims for itself for a millennia.
      Have a good weekend, too!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. ” I am a Catholic because I want to believe the same things that Jesus taught and that his disciples and their successors and every single Christian in the world believed for fifteen-hundred years”
    Ok I rolled my eyes with today’s claim. This is such a big stretch. Its dishonest if Kreeft studies up historical theology and ignorant if he’s not looked into it. So many unhistorical beliefs like Purgatory, Mother of God, seven sacraments, etc.
    Good for you for writing this post brother!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. RE: Ok I rolled my eyes with today’s claim.

      Thanks, brother! Yes, such bold-faced lies from Kreeft and other over-enthusiastic Catholic apologists that shamelessly contradict history. Kreeft needn’t keep up this “always the same” pretense because cardinal John Henry Newman wrote “Development of Christian Doctrine” way back in 1878, in which he admitted that Catholic doctrines and sacred traditions evolved over time.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. RE: “fundie”-like

        Good description of Kreeft’s credulity! He drank the Kool-Aid and is absolutely enamored with his institutional church. Catholic zealots amaze me when their church teaches all religionists and even atheists can also merit Heaven.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Cathy. The claims and boasts of RC-ism are disturbingly fraudulent when compared with Biblical truth. Yes, but for God’s grace I would also still be in the religious snake pit.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This is so bad I can’t even give comments on each one or I will get really, really angry, which is a hindrance to the sanctification process, obviously! God hates and opposes the proud and exalts the humble. Mr Kreeft you are an arrogant fool who will not hear, “well done good and faithful servant” unless you repent! To negate Sola Scriptura negates Jesus Himself and that is blaspheme.

    “Praise God the Reformers returned the church to New Testament teaching and the genuine Good News of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.” Amen and Amen! Come Lord Jesus. End the practices of this wicked institution.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I truly appreciate your response to this chapter (as well as the other chapters). I know that most evangelical believers are not aware of the audaciously anti-Biblical claims of the RCC, as presented by Kreeft with this list of 13 fundamental Catholic beliefs.

      Liked by 1 person

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