Evangelicals believe there are two issues wrong with the Catholic Church that we will look at today
These Two Questions Are:
Jesus Did Not Start One Infallible Church
The Holy Spirit Is Infallible, Not The Church Jesus did not start one infallible Church
Catholic Answer: The early Church was called the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. It was this Church that canonized the Bible, not the Evangelical church. If the Catholic Church was not infallible and they were the Church that canonized the Bible and then if that Bible is infallible would it not stand to reason that the Church was correct as well? How could such a book come from an infallible source? It simply could not.
John addressed this question in his Gospel: John 8:31-32
Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
If Jesus promised his disciples that they would know his liberating truth (John 14:6), then he is bound to provide us a way to safeguard and sustain that truth long after he ascends to heaven. This safeguard must be able to preserve his teaching, especially when disputes arise among his followers.
This is why Jesus established “the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). We know this Church as the Catholic Church, founded on the divinely established authority of St. Peter and the other apostles (Matt. 16:18-19; 18:15-18).
However, the answer to the Evangelicals' claims about Jesus establishing a Church here on earth just remember Matthew 28:18-20, where Jesus commissions the apostles to proclaim the Gospel to “all nations . . . teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” After our Lord’s Ascension into heaven, Christ’s message is known as “the apostles’ teaching” (Acts 2:42). We should not be surprised: Jesus tells his apostles, “As the Father has sent me, even so, I send you” (John 20:21). How did the Father send Jesus? With “all authority in heaven and on earth” (Matt 28:18).
These divine actions illustrate that Jesus founded a visible Church, “built upon the foundation of the apostles” (Ephesians 2:20). That’s why Jesus said to the Apostles, “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me” (Luke 10:16).
Seriously, this evangelical comment makes little sense here. Jesus had 12 disciples that turned into 12 Apostles. These men were directed by Jesus to go to the world and spread the Gospel. Is this not a Church? Is not Jesus Divine? If Jesus is Divine would not his directions be Divine as well? If his directions were Divine and he told His Apostles to go spread the Gospel around the world would this not be a Church? Now, knowing these facts, does what the Evangelicals claim to make sense to you? Another factor that plays a role here is that after Martin Luther broke away from the Roman Catholic Church, this opened the field for more and more breakaways. After all, if there is no true Church, why not seek the truth in a church that you believe in?
The Holy Spirit Is Infallible, Not The Church
Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit to all the faithful, guiding all the faithful “into all the truth”). (John 16:13) The Holy Spirit is infallible, not the Church. This goes along with the Priesthood of All Believers supported by Martin Luther.
A Catholic Response
Jesus does send the Spirit, but the Spirit has a practical expression in the Church. Just like the Apostles went all over the known world to spread the Gospel, they had one common message and were sent by one person- Jesus. Jesus prays that his disciples would be one (John 17:20-23). Is this the same with the Evangelicals? Do they speak with one voice? Do they have one message? What happens when Christians disagree? The objections that Martin Luther and John Calvin had with the Church (and with each other!) demonstrate the need for a unified teaching authority—or Magisterium—in the Church. Did not Jesus know what would happen with his Church when he established it? Even knowing what would eventually happen, Jesus did establish a Church for us. Because he did this when he was physically here, would it not stand to reason that we should believe his words and actions over the mere words of mortals on the importance of his work here on earth?
In essence, much of the distance between the Catholic Church and Evangelical churches have to do with the Evangelical churches splitting away from the Church. Though Catholics and Protestants dispute exactly what Jesus declared in Matthew 16:18-19 concerning Peter’s status in the Church, it is clear to all that the Lord said Satan would never prevail over the Church and its message. The belief that true Christianity died for centuries is cultic; Christians should not embrace it. Groups such as the Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witnesses hold this position. The idea was that somehow, the concept that man led the Church astray and that man had to correct it. This is not logical because it actually puts man ahead of God. If Jesus came to establish a Church for man, how can a man or any man have the nerve to take what God had established and try to change it? If God is the head of the Church, why do that? The logical answer is that you would not.
And if you did, how could you say with a straight face that man-made commandments were greater than God’s words? You can clearly see this when they split and then tried to distance themselves from traditions and beliefs. The Eucharist became communion. It was no longer the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ-it was grape juice, water, or just plain wine. It was done not during every Divine Liturgy-it was done once a month or maybe once a year. It was done as a remembrance.
The Divine Liturgy (Mass) became a show for entertainment. The rich traditions of the Church, altar, curtains, and incense were replaced with stark bare altar, minimum of artwork, and service became either geared to singing songs or long, long sermons. The priest of the Church was replaced with the preacher of this church. Where the homily of the Church remained 5-10 minutes in length, the sermons of the Evangelicals consumed 40 to 50 minutes of their service. Brothers and sisters we do not go to church simply to be entertained, we go to Church to learn about the eternal. God created us to be eternal beings and to live with him forever.
In Reclaiming the Great Tradition, James Cutsinger, editor, stated that Catholics, Orthodox, and Evangelical scholars use the early creeds and councils to identify the core beliefs of the Christian Church. Note, the use of creeds was very important because there were very few written books for Church in those days, and reciting the Creeds became part of the Liturgy. It was a simple way to have everyone taught what they believe in and how they believe it. Note, that the Catholic and Apostolic Church (Catholic and Orthodox) were the Churches that attended the Councils. Their Creeds became an important part of their Divine Liturgies (Mass). The creeds are the Apostles Creed (c. A.D. 150), the Nicene Creed (326), and the Athanasian Creed (428). The Councils are First Nicea (325), First Constantinople (381), Ephesus (431), and Chalcedon (451).
When the protesting people broke away from the Church- they adopted the Bible and the Creeds without clearly recognizing they were officially adopted by the Church. To take a literal view of the Bible and the Creeds, how can you not also bear witness to a literal testimony of the Church who created both? Clearly, you can not and literally, you should not come to that conclusion without adopting the concept of people who created your principles you can not hold the standards they created to be greater than the people who created these infallible standards can you?