I just read a wonderful piece by Bryan Cross that Kristen shared from Called to Communion (a blog I have never read before, but which I think will now become a favorite), addressing the necessity of the Church’s Magisterium and its authority through all the ages of Christian history. It very much underscores everything I believe and why I’m so drawn to the Church, and aligns with some other trains of thought I’ve been following lately.
As I addressed a few weeks ago, one of my primary reasons for being drawn to the Catholic Church is the profound frustration, uncertainty, and confusion I’ve experienced all my life in trying to discern the correct doctrine of Christianity, the correct interpretation of Scripture, among so many competing views. The authority of the Catholic Magisterium alone has the power to definitively settle such doctrinal disputes, to dictate correct doctrine. Now, anybody can claim to have authority, but in order for that authority to have any force, it must be based on something. I am pursuing the Catholic Church not just because she claims to have authority, but because her authority was established by Christ himself.
Coming from a Pentecostal background, I have written about the disorder and confusion inherent in that tradition. The author of this piece, Bryan Cross, was also raised Pentecostal. He rejects the claim, by Mark Galli, senior managing editor of Christianity Today, that early Christianity, from the day of Pentecost, was marked by “massive confusion.” I was particularly compelled by his assertion of the inherent order of Pentecost and the ministry of the Holy Spirit: to eliminate disorder and confusion, not to foster it.
Cross demonstrates convincingly the necessity of the Church’s Magisterium, and the fallacy of rejecting its authority while affirming the orthodoxy that it established. Without the authority of the Magisterium, we orthodox Christians today — including evangelical Protestants under that umbrella — would have no standing at all to insist that our Christological views are any more correct than those of the Arians or Monophysites or any of the other ancient heresies that have fallen by the wayside, having been rejected by the Church — or for that matter, than those of modern Christological heresies such as those of the Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses. Without an established, ultimate authority, to claim the definitive guidance of the Holy Spirit, there is only the relativistic claim that a few people agree with each other, against everyone else — and there is enough of that in the world already.