Sunday, July 24, 2005

Re: The "Catholic" Church

I do have to agree with Ryan on this point: Truth is not a subjective matter. There is one truth regardless of who is giving the answer.

But the answer you actually receive is going to be different depending on who you ask, and the truth ends up being hard to discern in those situations.

Ryan wrote in his comment below:
For example, if "Catholic Church" is defined as "the Church that Christ founded," then we'd likely agree that St. Paul is a Catholic. However, if "Catholic Church" is defined as "a man-made institution of apostasy which has abandoned true Christianity," then we'd likely agree that St. Paul is not a Catholic. And, we'd likely agree that one of these definitions of the "Catholic Church" is right, and the other is wrong, or else both are wrong, but that both cannot be right simultaneously.
There is a major problem in all of this. We can't even get the beginning right. There are lots of relevant questions to ask here, and you will get two different answers if you ask a Protestant historian and a Catholic historian.

Did Christ establish an organizational church, or a mystical church? (Catholic: Organizational; Protestant: Mystical)

Did the church of the first several centuries resemble the Catholic Church of today? (Catholic: Yes; Protestant: No)

And this is just trying to figure things out from the beginning. The quagmire thickens as the middle centuries leading up to the Reformation are interpretted. Sometimes the two groups don't agree on interpretation of the facts; sometimes, they can't even agree on the basic facts.

This issue was never central to the question of "Was St. Paul a Catholic mystic?" But I think it's an interesting question to ask, "Was XXXXX a Catholic?" where XXXXX can be any saint of the New Testament. It is not an easily answerable question.

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