A Universal Apology Point Seven: ON CONTINUITY


I am recounting in chronological order the several reasons I have for accepting that the Catholic Church is what she says she is.

The seventh point is the matter of historical consistency or continuity.

I was shocked to learn that it is not merely the Catholics who forbid the use of contraceptives, but all Christian denominations throughout the world, until the 1930’s did also.

All the other denominations changed their stance, changed their teachings, and changed their minds in the years between the Great War and the Cold War.

And yet I have heard no rumor of a prophet whose many miracles convinced all these other denominations that God Almighty had excused them from what their fathers back to the First Century had taught and believed.

The Didache, which is perhaps the earliest extra-Biblical writing by a Christian that survives, acts as a handbook or Enchiridion of what the early Church believed, and it may be older than some of the Epistles.

It was just as striking to me that the Didache condemned contraception than that none of my Protestants friend with whom I spoke, and none of the Protestant writers whom I read, mentioned this writing, or seemed even aware it existed.

Obviously any denomination that is merely an ethical society or a Christian-flavored prayer meeting group can make no claim to be guided by the Holy Spirit to preach and teach infallibly and without error what Christ taught and wishes taught.

But any organization which does not claim to be infallibly guided by the Holy Spirit has no reason, in a world were heretics and odd opinions are as thick as locusts, and in a Church whose scriptures ring with repeated warnings against false Christs and false prophets, to have any faith that their fathers kept the teaching truthfully and faithfully.

And, worse, if their fathers repudiated the teaching of their grandfathers, and ignored not one nor a dozen but all of the prior generations of Christian thought and teaching, it is not logically possible to claim that the Holy Spirit has infallibly guided those decisions, because not even God can utter contradictions.

Only when the fathers repudiate a repudiation of their grandfathers, and return to the original teaching of their greatgrandfathers, can they seriously claim a loyalty to the truth across the generations.

And all honest Protestants make exactly that claim, for they say there was an original Church, before she turned apostate and diabolical, which preached and taught exactly what their own founders, Luther or Zwingli or Calvin or Wesley, preaches and teaches.

But when the fathers repudiate their grandfathers to follow the harlot of fashionable current opinion, as did the Anglicans in the 1930’s, more concerned with being Progressive than being Protestant, that denomination is not a church, but a prayer society, or a political society.

A Protestant who says that Polycarp was  Protestant and so was Augustine, and that the Church grew unchristian ergo Catholic in the Twelfth or Thirteenth Century, and that Luther rediscovered the original hull of the Ark of Christ beneath the barnacles and accretions of Papist corruption—that Protestant makes the claim to be loyal to the Church Christ founded. That claim may be right or wrong, but it is not dishonorable even if wrong.

But a Protestant who says that urban life and industrialization requires population control, and that the innate concupiscence of man making chastity and abstinence impossible between married couples, therefore natural reason requires contraception, previously forbidden by God, is now allowed and welcomed by Him, on the grounds that God Almighty has my personal comfort and convenience as His greatest if not sole consideration of His ever-changing legislation — that Protestant claims only to be loyal to the world, and to his phallus, and very disloyal indeed to women. That claim not only cannot be right, it cannot be tolerated.

I could not, as a matter of conscience, join any congregation that displayed no consistency of conscience across the generations.