The standard argument which Catholic and Orthodox apologists alike normally use to promote their position over Protestantism is a consequentialist argument. They fault the Protestant rule of faith because it leads to “chaos.” It’s every man for himself. Every man does right in his own eyes. The synonyms vary, but the argument remains the same.
Now, on the face of it, this argument is fallacious. Suppose we were to apply it to the Mosaic covenant. By that logic, we could argue that the Mosaic covenant was a failure, and, hence, uninspired, for the Mosaic covenant resulted in national apostasy.
But, to approach this issue from another angle, let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that we can judge the true rule of faith by its consequences.
A further problem with the consequentialist argument is that it cuts both ways. It’s only as good as the alternative. Do the competition offer a superior alternative?
As I say, I think this is a fundamentally wrongheaded way to frame the question, but let’s play along with it for a while.
Catholic and Orthodox apologists remind me of salesmen who tell homeowners, “Here’s your chance to get out of that dump you’re living in and moving into our wonderful new housing development!”
They have a slick website (“Desert Springs”) with glossy mockups of dream homes in a gated community—complete with a community pool, golf course, tennis court, gym, and so on.
“Here’s your chance,” the sales pitch continues, “to get in on the ground floor. Buy your dream home while presold units are still available!”
And as long as we compare the “dump” we’re living in with the virtual paradise on the website, well…there’s simply no comparison.
But some of us don’t think it’s especially prudent to buy a house sight-unseen. Some of us have driven to the construction site.
We’ve seen the termites, cockroaches, and mildew, the cracked foundations, leaky roofs, leaky gas lines, dripping faucets, open sewers, drafty rooms, loose plaster, broken windows, buckling walls, sagging ceilings, bare wires, combustible insulation, peeling paint, and piles of rat-infested garbage.
Thanks for the offer, but we like our “dump” better than your dump.