Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Refutation of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Argument from Perspicuity

It is argued that the Roman Catholic (RC) and Eastern Orthodox Church (EO) ought to be preferred over the Protestant (P) position because these churches provide the individual believer with more certainty and clarity concerning claims of Faith and Practice. These institutions, it is argued, can infallibly and authoritatively elaborate and explain doctrine in a way that gives more epistemological certainty and clarity about theological propositions. Thus, from this the RC and EO argue that there positions are more reasonable to believe because they can provide one with more theological certainty than P.

This is how the argument might run:

P1: If r provides more theological certainty than p then r is more reasonable to believe than p

P2: RC and EO provide more theological certainty than P

C: Hence, RC and EO are more reasonable to believe than P

It seems to me that P1 is clearly false. We can think of a counter example to P1 that renders it entirely unreasonable to believe. Let us suppose there was a Christian position where God implanted in our minds *all* infallible and authoritative revelation that could not be doubted in the same way that 1+1=2 cannot be doubted. According to this rationalistic position all theological propositions that are essential for faith and practice were revealed to us in this infallible a priori fashion. Now surely this way of God revealing himself would be far clearer than using our fallible senses that can be possibly mistaken to read or hear infallible propositions. But surely no one believes this position or thinks that because it offers more epistemological clarity and certainty that it ought to be preferred over P, EO, and RC.

Another Problem is that I can find no good reason for even affirming P1, so even if the previous argument were to fail it still seems we have no positive reason for affirming P1. Thus, at best we ought to be agnostic with respect to P1.

Therefore, it seems that this argument is unsound and ought to be rejected when it is used for positive support for RC and EO against P. If one were to accept RC and EO they would have to offer independent reasons for doing so rather than pointing out that if one where to accept it they would have more epistemological certainty concerning doctrine.


Catz206 said...


Saint Cypher said...

This sounds like a layman's argument. I thought I knew most of the formal arguments against Protestantism, and this isn't one of them...it sounds like a simple red herring, ie, "the conclusion is true because it is easy to understand." The version I'm used to hearing appeals to the authoritative source -behind- the rules of faith and practice advocated by EO and RC against P, which is not addressed in your refutation.

Nathanael Taylor said...

Hello there,

Actually believe it or not this form of argumentation is used once one tears down all authority, canonical and infallibility arguments that Rome and the East use. It is commonly used out of desperation, basically when all other arguments for Rome and the East are found to be unsound and wanting. But I should have addressed all other eastern and Roman arguments either on this blog or on my other blog:


If you find any other arguments that I have not responded to make sure to comment on here or e-mail me personally (my e-mail can be found on my other blog).

God Bless,


Nathanael Taylor said...

Oh by the way: thank you Catz206.

reborn1995 said...

So what do they claims makes the church infallible? i mean, does it just come down to the high church saying the church is self-authenticating and protestants saying the bible is self-authenticating?

Nathanael Taylor said...

Hello there Guy,

They would say the Church is just infallible and the stopping point is there. So as you said all it really comes down to is us saying the Bible is self-authenticating and they are saying that church is self-authenticating.

God Bless,