Sunday, September 30, 2018

So you think you’re smarter than the church fathers?

One Catholic objection to the Protestant faith goes like this: "So you think you’re smarter than the church fathers?" 

Rhetorically it's meant to be a no-win question. If you answer, yes, then that just goes to show how conceited and arrogant you must be. 

But not all the church fathers are equally intelligent or outstanding. I reckon that Origen, Augustine, and Philoponus are the intellectual cream of the church fathers. We might add Boethius. And technically, only Augustine is a church father.

It's not as if the ancient church cornered the market on brilliance or genius. There are Protestant scholars and theologians as gifted or more gifted than most church fathers. And even if they're not smarter than the very smartest church fathers, they may well be as smart. 

Suppose you could ask the church fathers if they think they're smarter than every Protestant scholar or theologian. If they answered, yes, why would that be conceited and arrogant? 

If you answer, no, then that just goes to show that you ought to submit to their superior wisdom. But that doesn't follow.

A physics major doesn't have to be as smart as Newton to have a far better understanding of physics than Newton. The physics major may not even be on the same IQ continuum as Newton. He only needs to be smart enough to learn what the great minds in modern physics discovered. 

Since, moreover, the church of Rome increasingly diverges from the church fathers, we could turn the question around. 

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