Catholics believe that Christ alone is the author of our faith. It is He who communicates Himself, the Divine Word, to us through His Divine Revelation. Christ did not teach a doctrine per se, He taught Himself. We know this not because Scripture alone tells us so, but because it is so, as it has been proclaimed by the living Church, long before the New Testament was ever finished. The Church is the hand, or instrument of God, which is guided by the Holy Spirit. It is not just a visible hierarchy of bishops, priests and laymen. It is not just an invisible group of like-minded believers. It is the hand of God, guiding and proclaiming His Word, by His authority. The Church has a human, corporeal nature, and a spiritual nature, just as Christ has a human and divine nature. The then Cardinal Ratzinger, further expounds, “The Church is much more than an organization: it is the organism of the Holy Spirit, something that is alive, that takes hold of our inmost being.” (15 September 2001)Now over the years, Protestants have noticed the circularity of this argument. In the next paragraph Matthew attempts to deflect this notion.
Yes, Scripture gives us a written testimony to this truth. But it is not this circular argument that the Catholic needs to prove this. Protestants try and force upon the Catholic a circular argument to explain this connection between the Church and Sacred Scripture. Even without this written testimony, this fact was still known to all believers. It is a fact that there was no New Testament canon for the better part of 300 years after Christ's ascension into heaven. The Church operated with the Old Testament Scriptures under the authority of the apostles, who conveyed the Gospel of Christ, the Word. This was done in an oral fashion. We call this the Oral Kerygma, or oral Tradition, some of which was later written down. The Holy Spirit guided the apostles to convey God's Word infallibly.Despite the obvious historical errors on the writings of the New Testament, I suppose one could argue this position and remain logically coherent. However, to defend this position one can not interpret Rome's claims just as one can not interpret the Scriptures.
For example, did the Apostles give us a canon of the Old Testament prior to Trent? Yet Matthew writes,
It is a fact that there was no New Testament canon for the better part of 300 years after Christ's ascension into heaven. The Church operated with the Old Testament Scriptures under the authority of the apostles.This is a radical interpretation of history. Did Rome make this claim? Did the Pope make this claim? Is this just Matthew's private interpretation of Rome's position? He does confess at one point,
Using my limited knowledge and talents, I will attempt to explain the definition of the Catholic Ecclesial structure. I have used the document titled Dei Verbum to help me along in this venture. This is by no means an exhaustive explanation. It is intended not to make one an expert on the subject, but to merely inform the reader as to the basic role and nature of the Church.So if we just use Matthew's limited knowledge, we should come to a proper understanding of Rome?
If you look at history and see blatant contradictions to Rome's claims about herself, you will be told that only Rome has the ability to properly interpret history. As Matthew also claims,
...they in turn passed down their apostolic authority to others who carried on proclaiming the same Word infallibly...Therefore, in the end, how do we know Rome is the one true church? Because Rome says so. She is infallible. If you doubt this, just ask her.
OK, enough sarcasm. If you doubt that this is circular, just ask the simple question that RCs are always applying to Protestants, but do it in reverse. "How do you know Rome is the true infallible church?" Perhaps Pope Michael from Kansas is the true pope of the true church?
As I pointed out to Matthew, Rome is not able to receive correction. For she is having a monologue with herself.