Friday, May 4, 2018

Did the Apostles Succeed or Not?

Today's gospel reading for Mass relates to us the words of our Lord on the last night before His death:
"You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide."
So then, I will ask, did it? Did the fruit that the Apostles bore "abide" or did it fade away? What I am asking is whether the Apostles were successful in their efforts to bring forth the Kingdom of Christ, or were they failures? If Jesus says that He appointed them to bear "fruit that abides" and they failed, then we must also say that Jesus failed [I feel like I need to wash my hands and sanitize the keyboard after writing "Jesus" and "failed" side by side in the same sentence!].

Every form of Protestantism (except Eastern Orthodoxy) would have to say that the Apostles failed. All of the anti-christian cults (like Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses) will say this outright. Although most of the more orthodox Protestants will not be so negative towards the Apostles, a few of them will say that the Apostles did not fully establish the Protestant faith (like some of the Baptist denominations).

There is not much else that can be said once one notices that the roots of today's Roman Catholicism are clearly found in the Church Fathers from the late first and early second century. If Catholicism is wrong, then the Apostles failed to bear fruit that will last, since it was apparently thrown out and replaced by Catholic tradition while some of the Apostles were still alive (many distinctly Catholic teachings were found in writings that were circulating before A.D. 100. If Protestantism is true, and if the Apostles had intended to promote some form of it, then it did not last very long at all, for by the end of the second century we can see clear signs of Roman Catholic belief and practises throughout all the Churches.

I recall speaking to a pastor from a certain Protestant denomination (that I will not name here), who told me that the Apostles actually were successful in what they wanted to do, and that they established the Catholic Church (!). Then he proceeded to tell me that the Apostles were wrong for doing so! I have never met anyone else who held this position, but I will at least give him credit for trying to deal with the historical facts. Dealing with history is something I had to do about twelve years ago (and I ended up becoming Catholic), and since then I have encouraged every Protestant to do the same thing.

As a Catholic I can answer the question easily. Yes, the Apostles were successful in the fruit they bore, and Jesus was successful in appointing them to the task. I pray for all my brethren who are still in the Protestant churches that they will consider this important question, and then be able to find the fullness of the faith that has been handed down to us.