Presupp Applied to Roman Catholicism

This is originally posted here by Eli Ayala. This is really a good read and I gained insights in dealing with Roman Catholicism. So I asked brother Eli to repost this in my blog today. Enjoy!


Hey Eli! Question…since the Roman Catholic rejects what God has revealed in scripture as the final authority (Sola Scriptura), couldn’t we (presuppers) also challenge the knowledge claims they make?

It needs to be made clear that Roman Catholics affirm the authority of God’s Word. It is the authoritative place given to sacred tradition that a Protestant who affirms Sola Scripture would take issue with.

To place this question within the context of presuppositional argumentation, I take this question as coming from the idea that since we (presuppers) argue that unless the Christian worldview is in fact true, then knowledge and intelligible experience would be impossible. I suppose the question is asking that since Roman Catholicism is antithetical to the genuine Christian faith, does it fall prey to similar internal critiques that we could offer against the atheist, agnostic, Mormon, Muslim, etc.? In other words, does Roman Catholicism provide the necessary preconditions for intelligibility and knowledge?

The presuppositional procedure against the Roman Catholic will be the same as with the atheist or any other form of unbelief. That is to say, we will want to follow the “answer not the fool, answer the fool” (Proverbs 26:4-5) methodology. In essence, we do not want to answer the Roman Catholic after a fashion that suggests the intelligibility and biblical support of their professed authority[1] (Bible + Sacred Tradition) (Don’t answer the fool), yet, on the other hand we will want to hypothetically grant the truth of their position and show where it leads (answer the fool). This could be done in a number of ways, but I think the most useful way is to find common ground in the scriptures.[2]

If the Roman Catholic position is that the Bible is authoritative and it is in fact the Word of God, and Sacred Tradition is equally authoritative, then the presuppositionalist will want to find internal conflicts between the teaching of scripture and that of Sacred Tradition. If the internal conflicts can be demonstrated in the twin authorities of the Roman Catholic worldview, then it will have been demonstrated that the Roman Catholic position does not in fact provide the necessary preconditions of intelligibility and knowledge (Because its fundamental pillars are in conflict), since any worldview that competes for being the necessary preconditions for intelligibility must itself be intelligible and non-contradictory at its most fundamental level.

Now, all that said, Roman Catholics will have various responses to the Protestant attempt to show these internal contradictions and that’s o.k. Using a presuppositional approach does not make apologetics easy. The Protestant will still have to familiarize himself with the Roman Catholic position. The Roman Catholic won’t simply stand there as you ring off a bunch possible internal conflicts within his own worldview. Expect responses, listen carefully, and respond biblically, logically, and with gentleness and respect.

If you engage in such an interaction respectfully, then perhaps there will be further opportunity to share with the person on a different occasion. Part of doing apologetics effectively is having a long game. Do not expect the unbeliever to fall down at your feet after simply hearing your case. Human interaction is complex and often messy. Be patient, loving, and adaptable praying that God blesses your efforts by opening the heart of the other person to receive the truth you are giving.

Added to this, I asked Eli Ayala if he had a specific example of how we demonstrate their inability to provide the preconditions by putting the Sacred tradition’s authority at par with the Scriptures?

Here is his answer,

I. I don't have a specific examples on hand, but watching James White debates on the topic of Sola Scripture, Tradition, Marian Doctrines, etc. will provide ample ammo, as I think Dr. White argues quite convincingly from the text of scripture.
ii. Another route one might go with showing the inability of Roman Catholicism to provide the necessary preconditions for knowledge is to attack their view of autonomous reasoning. Their view of man's reasoning capacity and their dichotomizing between Faith and Reason can be used to push them ultimately to skepticism since revelational epistemology is rejected. The assumptions of autonomy of human reasoning and neutrality are the inherent weaknesses of all non-Christian philosophies. I would try and exploit those areas.
iii. The writings of Van Til goes into this specific area as he critiques not only the autonomy inherent within Arminian anthropology, but within Roman Catholicism as well.

To God be the glory!

[1] This is simply to say that we do not begin the discussion from a position of neutrality, a “no one knows as of yet” mentality. [2] Common ground is not to be confused with neutral ground. There is no neutral ground between genuine Christian faith and unbiblical counterfeits. A good common ground between the believer and the Roman Catholic is their shared belief in the authority of the Bible. While they reject the Protestant position on Sola Scriptura, it is still a fruitful endeavor to appeal to scripture nonetheless.

Published by Jeff Chavez

Sinner saved by grace

One thought on “Presupp Applied to Roman Catholicism

  1. Catholics confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. According to 1 John 2 they are from God. There might be parts of their traditions that are problematic, but the claim that “Roman Catholicism is antithetical to the genuine Christian faith” seems unbiblical.

    Rather than tackling other Christian faiths, it might be best for those practicing a reformed presuppositional apologetics to examine their own traditions for contradictions. To see how problems can quickly arise examine free will and predestination.

    Can one defend the reformed position without being driven into a corner with a contradiction or a mystery or an eisegesis which undermines sola scriptura to defend church tradition? People offering the alternatives of Arminianism, Molinism or open theism would think not.


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