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To Be Deep in History

Updated: Nov 21, 2019

Keith Mathison, at Ligonier Ministries, and in the September 2010 issue of Talbletalk, has an excellent article on the Roman Catholic Cardinal, John Henry Newman’s (1801-1890) claim and he compares Newman’s take with another Anglican who converted to Roman Catholicism in the 19th Century, Henry Edward Manning. Newman’s claim was “to be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant”. This claim is wrong; but unfortunately, it has deceived many into believing that it is true.

Manning admitted that appealing to ancient history of the church is a “treason and heresy” – ie, rebellion against the infallible Roman Catholic Church at the time. “Whatever we say, goes” seems to be the Roman Catholic authority claim. It was a “treason and heresy” because there is no evidence for the Papal doctrines or Mary dogmas or transubstantiation in the early church.

Here is an excerpt from the end of the article. It is an excellent analysis of this shibboleth of Roman Catholic apologetics that is deceiving many modern day evangelicals left and right.

“Cardinal Newman recognized the obvious difference between the current Roman Church and the early church. He was too deep in history not to see it. He had to develop his famous idea of doctrinal development to explain it. He argued that all the later Roman doctrines and practices were “hidden” in the church from the beginning. They were made explicit over time under the guidance of the Spirit. But the problem that many Roman Catholics fail to see is that there is a difference between development and contradiction. It is one thing to use different language to teach something the church has always taught (e.g., the “Trinity”). It is another thing altogether to begin teaching something that the church always denied (e.g., papal supremacy or infallibility). Those doctrines in particular were built on multitudes of forgeries. Cardinal Manning solved the problem by treating any appeal to history as treason. He called for blind faith in the papacy and magisterium. Such might have been possible had the fruits of the papacy over 1,500 years not consistently been the precise opposite of the fruit of the Spirit (Matt. 7:16). Cardinal Newman said that to be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant. The truth is that to be deep in real history, as opposed to Rome’s whitewashed, revisionist, and often forged history, is to cease to be a Roman Catholic.”

Keith Mathison

From Ligonier Ministries and R.C. Sproul. © Tabletalk magazine. Website: Email: Toll free: 1-800-435-4343.

In dealing with Muslims, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, skeptics, atheists, agnostics, and liberals who attack the doctrine of the Trinity and the early history of the Christian church and the canon of Scripture, and the early church councils, we need to be equipped in church history and apologetics to deal with their misunderstandings.

Also, when dealing with Roman Catholic claims of the Papacy and their claim that they are the ancient church and infallible and authoritatively decided the canon (rather than discerned what books already existed as God-breathed – 2 Timothy 3:16); we must be ready and equipped also in church history, sound theology, and apologetics.

There is so much bad and inaccurate information in popular literature like Dan Brown’s, The Divici Code; and on Public Government TV stations and shows on “Mysteries of the Bible”; it is crucial that Christians be equipped in apologetics and deep in accuracy in church history and a sound theology with Sola Scriptura as our final authority in order to deal with people’s misunderstandings and questions.

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