Listen as Eusebius quotes from the writings of an unknown Christian author (see if you notice any similarities between the heretics of the early Church and the heretics of the Reformation):
"For they say that all the early teachers and the apostles received and taught what they now declare, and that the truth of the Gospel was preserved until the times of Victor, who was the thirteenth bishop of Rome from Peter, but that from his successor, Zephyrinus, the truth had been corrupted.Also notice how he (unknown second century author) pins orthodoxy on the bishop of Rome. He clearly takes for granted that the faithfulness of the Church's doctrine is centered on the bishop of Rome (specifically because he is succeeded from Peter). The heretics are teaching a false doctrine (the heresy of Artemon - Jesus was an ordinary man) and to give credence to their doctrine, they try to show that the ancient Church found in the New Testament preserved this doctrine even up until very recently (Pope Victor).
It's interesting to note that they hinge the teaching authority of the Church on the pope (surprise surprise) but the point of interest which grabs my attention is that they are trying to validate their claims by pretending they are ancient. This is precisely what Protestants tend to do by trying to show that the early fathers were Protestants or that Paul was a semi-rebellious apostle - forging his new brand of gentile-friendly, faith-alone Christianity. They claim that the Church preserved this faithfulness for a while, but eventually went astray. (Exactly what the heretics in the second century were claiming). If we forget the fact that all currently known written history contradicts this, we still have another big problem. I love what Eusebius says next:
And what they say might be plausible, if first of all the Divine Scriptures did not contradict them.Bingo. I started thinking about this the other day. Many Protestants say they reject the Catholic Church (at least in part) because the Catholic Church contradicts Scripture. Now, if in my estimation, I came across a 'church' that contradicted Scripture, I too would reject it. But the Church doesn't. And even if I thought it did, here's the problem again; who decides who's contradicting Scripture? It's really only my own personal interpretation of Scripture that they reject. So what if I'm wrong? It is an objective fact and not even worth arguing that universally-accepted Protestant readings of certain Scriptures are more contradictory than any Catholic interpretation of any verse.
James 2:24 - NIV - "You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone."
Protestants: "A person is justified by faith alone"
Mark 12:26-27 - NIV - "Now about the dead rising—have you not read in the book of Moses, in the account of the bush, how God said to him, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!"
Protestants: "Asking dead saints to pray for you is wrong because it amounts to necromancy"
Just two quick examples to which Protestants have no good answer for. And the verses that they allege the Catholic Church to be in contradiction with can be and have been easily refuted.
When I studied the Scriptures on my own, I came up with some real problems with what I read in Scripture and what my Protestant leaders had taught me. Their interpretations simply didn't fit with the text. When I found that the Catholic Church answered all of these problems seamlessly - it was a no-brainer. But what if I had some really dumb ways of interpreting Scripture and by this defect painlessly came to agree with the 2000 year old Church? Perhaps the Protestants got it right - the Church did contradict Scripture and I'm just not able to see it...Not likely... In fact, the very opposite is true. Those who hold to "Scripture alone" consistently contradict Scripture.
So I again need to point out - it's not about contradicting Scripture - never has been never will be. Protestants do not have a higher view of Scripture than Catholics (if anything a lower) but use the "Bible alone" card to justify their personal authoritative interpretation on doctrinal issues over the bishop of Rome.
Even if some newly re-worked version of 'sola scriptura' was true, the Catholic Church would be the only body with legitimate claim on authoritative interpretation - certainly not myself.