Thanks for joining me today as we continue our series examining and responding to Catholic apologist and philosopher, Peter Kreeft’s book, “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic” (2018).
Claim #19: I am a Catholic because of what the Bible tells me
In this chapter, Kreeft argues that the Bible validates the Roman Catholic church and vice versa. Beginning with the presupposition that all “genuine” Christians believe the New Testament is infallible, Kreeft presents three premises:
- The RCC was both the efficient cause (the author) and the formal cause (the definer) of the New Testament.
- No effect can be greater than its cause.
- The RCC is either fallible or infallible.
From these three premises, Kreeft makes the argument that A) because the RCC is the author and definer of the infallible New Testament, then B) the RCC must itself be infallible.
Kreeft then does a U-Turn and qualifies the Bible’s infallibility, saying it’s “infallible in its religious teachings, but not in its grammar or science or math” (p. 67). Likewise, he states, the RCC “is fallible in everything except her authoritative religious dogmas.” Kreeft presents the RCC’s bloody Inquisition and its opposition to Galileo’s theory of heliocentrism as examples of blunders committed outside of the church’s infallible, ex cathedra, dogmatic teaching authority.
Premise #1 of Kreeft’s argument is patently false. The RCC is not the efficient cause (the author) nor the formal cause (the definer) of the New Testament. The writers of the New Testament were not Roman Catholics. After the early Christian church was legalized and adopted as the official state religion, it became increasingly institutionalized, patterning itself after the Roman imperial model, and gradually devolved into Roman Catholicism. Church councils did not canonize Scripture, but merely endorsed what the Holy Spirit had already made evident. The 39 books of the Hebrew Old Testament were Scripture without benefit of any church council, a fact that Catholic apologists avoid.
Kreeft then pulls the rug out from beneath his own argument by parroting the dichotomous, modern RC view that the Bible is both infallible and fallible. Kreeft asserts that the Bible is full of “contradictions and errors” (p. 67), so for him and the RCC to continue to claim that the Bible is “infallible” is itself a glaring contradiction. In the four gospels, Jesus Christ referred to numerous Old Testament events as factual that most of today’s RC theologians and prelates dismiss as pre-scientific fables.
Catholic apologists self-servingly categorize the numerous sinister historical actions of the church (the Crusades, the Inquisition, persecution of Protestants, forced baptisms, selling of indulgences, systematic anti-Semitism, systematic cover-up of priest sexual abuse, the absolute corruption of numerous popes and prelates, the competing factions of the Great Western Schism, etc.) as being outside the boundaries of ex cathedra church dogma. Yet all of these actions involved “faith and morals,” the necessary condition of ex cathedra teaching. The RCC claims divine, infallible teaching authority, yet is forced to disavow much of its history, as Kreeft does here, as the fallible, unauthorized whimsy of popes and prelates.
Next week: Claim #20: I am a Catholic because of my friends and my family – my spiritual family