Responding to a comment from the "Catholic Challenge to Protestants" regarding Rome and Proof-Texting

Jack recently responded the “Catholic Challenge to Protestants”. It’s a pretty interesting comment so I quote it below with my responses. His comment is in bold with my responses afterward, marked “TRJM”.

I only really read your post, Taylor, and not much of the comments. Just several points and a few questions. First, Do you (or does anyone) really read Esther (or 3 John)? Be honest.

TRJM: Actually, I read 3 John in a Bible study two weeks ago. I’m not making this up. I truly did.

Let’s say they were removed from the Bible, what would that change in the Christian lives of a whole lot of people? I suggest nothing at all. This is a rhetorical move designed to unsettle the more historically illiterate and unaware in the Christian community. Second, you mention the Shepherd of Hermas. This book is in the canon of the Ethiopian Church.

TRJM: The Ethiopian Church has made an error in this matter.

3 John was not in the Canon of the Syriac-speaking Churches.

TRJM: The Syriac Churches made an error in this matter.

These churches are ancient and apostolic.

TRJM: Yes, but that doesn’t make them infallible.

They do not owe their foundation to Rome and in the case of the Syrian Churches, they are older than Rome.

TRM: Age of an apostolic See does not establish its authority. Otherwise, Jerusalem would be the clear “winner”.

I remind you that Peter was in Antioch before he was in Rome and that they were first called Christians in Rome.

TRJM: Peter was in Jerusalem before he was in Antioch. It doesn’t matter where Peter began. It matters where he came to an end – Rome. Rome and Rome alone is the Petrine See because it alone is sealed with his blood.

The proof-texting of Peter that you have engaged in elsewhere on this blog is utterly unconvincing, but if one does want to believe it, these things provide at least as much evidence for Antiochene priority as they do for Roman priority.

TRJM: No, actually it is proof from Jerusalem priority, if you want to be consistent.

For one, we do at least have biblical evidence that Peter was in Antioch. You cannot say the same for Rome.

TRJM: Peter was in Babylon, i.e. Rome. If you’ll allow me to proof-text, see 1 Peter 5:13.

Third, it goes without saying, but I’ll say it here that the Bible is written in Hebrew and Greek (and some Aramaic). It was written by people who came from the Middle East and the Eastern Empire. It was not produced by the church of Rome. It was the east that produced Rome and not vice-versa.

TRJM: Yes, but the canon was finally canonized by Rome. Council of Rome. Pope Damasus I. 382 A.D.

To a student of the early church and a student of the eastern church, these sorts of arguments and claims of precedence seem embarrassingly solipsistic.

TRJM: The Catholic Church at one billion plus hardly seems solipsistic. The theological “solipsism” pertains to the tiny denominations of America that posture as “Reformed”.

Look at who wrote the foundational creeds of Roman Catholicism and where they were written. It was not in the West, not in Rome. It was in the East. They were written by Easterners.

TRJM: That’s because the East was plagued with heresy at this time.

Fourth and related to my first point: if NT in the entire world were destroyed we would be in the exact same situation…as the NT church.

TRJM: And that would be a bad thing since we don’t have any Apostles teaching among us. We would not be in the situation of the NT church.

Did the hearers of Peter’s sermon on Pentecost have 3rd John? Did the Church at Rome have 3rd John? Did they have any NT books? Were these people Christians? Today, there are people all over the world who are Christians who do not have a complete NT in their own language, or even a NT. They are followers of Jesus nevertheless.

TRJM: Are you saying that God inspired 3 John but we don’t really need it, because we are all “followers of Jesus nevertheless”? Moreover, the folks listening to Peter had Peter in their midst. We don’t have that blessing. Instead, we have the apostolic memoirs – the Sacred Scriptures.

This whole line of questioning is a complete red-herring and the infallible/inerrant fetishism which lies behind these sorts of questions (and similar questions about whether the church is infallible or whether the bible is infallible or inerrant) reflects a vision of the Christian faith which is ultimately as immature as it is intellectually unsatisfying.

TRJM: Jack, you just insulted over 3/4ths of the world’s Christians, including the Orthodox. You use the East for your arguments and then insult them.

Jack, to which denomination to you belong?

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