Longtime readers of this blog may possibly have noticed that the argument of my last few posts is really nothing more than an expanded form of the argument I offered in an article I wrote a few years ago: The Accidental Catholic. Actually, as revisions of previous posts on an old blog of mine, these last few articles really precede TAC. The latter is really somewhat of a summary of the arguments I made in 2007. I don’t know that there is any particular significance to this, but perhaps some newer readers of the blog might be interested in TAC if they happened to like the “more recent” series.
To my knowledge there has been but one response to TAC and none at all to this older series of posts. I won’t presume to suppose that this says more than that I am an obscure nobody in a world of billions, but there are a couple of points that I would like to draw out from my reply to Dr. Anderson. First off (and fundamental to the second point I will make here) Dr. Anderson made the mistake of supposing that my argument in TAC (and by extension in these older/newer posts, though he has probably never read them) came from a Catholic point of view, and that consequently swaths of what I said could be ignored as mere external criticism. As an aside, it is ironic that at least one of Dr. Anderson’s fellow Presbyterians thinks that external criticisms can be legitimately made in such a way as to show that a given point of view is invalid. I do not think that Dr. Anderson makes the identical mistake, but rather I hope that he would agree that this oversight on his part undermines at least parts of his critique of my article.
For the simple fact is that TAC and these more recent articles are not external critiques of Protestantism at all but rather are founded upon the inner logic of the Protestant system. This is an internal critique meant to show that Protestantism is inconsistent, incoherent, self-contradictory, and therefore cannot possibly be the true, historic form of Christianity as its sons like to claim. Indeed, I am unaware of any argument against Protestantism that I have made which could reasonably be characterized as an external criticism.
An external critique is invalid (at least for the purposes of refuting, for example, Catholicism or Protestantism) because it relies upon measuring the subject of criticism against a standard to which it either flatly denies legitimacy or which has nothing to do with the subject of criticism’s actual points of view). For example, to say that Protestantism is wrong because it denies papal authority may be a true statement as far as it goes, but it does nothing to demonstrate that Protestantism as a system is wrong precisely because Protestants deny the legitimacy of papal authority. In order to make a valid criticism, I would either have to show that the Protestant denial is incoherent and/or logically invalid, or else demonstrate beyond question the legitimacy of papal authority. I have done neither of these things in this paragraph, so this paragraph by itself is worthless as an argument against anything except (hopefully) external critiques.
Returning to our main point: Anderson’s criticism of my article assumes a Catholic provenance for them. But they are not Catholic arguments, strictly speaking: I made them while I was Protestant. I had never read any Catholic apologetic literature until months after I had realized that I could no longer remain Protestant because Protestantism is self-contradictory. It disproves itself, as I hope I have shown in these posts and in TAC. It will not do to attempt to brush off these arguments as dependent upon Catholic assumptions. They’re not.