There are two presuppositions that Catholic and Eastern Orthodox make when claiming that the early church in general, or a church father more specifically, bore no resemblance to modern Protestantism:

First, Protestants supposedly do not affirm any doctrine that Catholics affirm.

Second, that every ancient belief that bears a resemblance to a Catholic belief proves the ancient existence of that belief.

The problem is that both presuppositions are very wrong:

Then we have the problem that the early Church affirmed things that many of which would be “anathema” according to the modern Catholic Church. Here is a short list:

-The early Church had a plurality of Bishops

-The early Church more often than not DIDN’T baptize infants

-The early Church rejected that works have any role in salvation whatsoever

-The early Church dabbled with Mary committing sin, and Tertullian wrote that she did not remain a virigin in one of his “Orthodox” books

-The early Church was Sola Scriptura and did not teach that their teaching authority was inerrant

Being that all of the above are demonstrably true, this proves that the early Church did not look Catholic! However, does any Protestant church looks just like the early Church? The answer also is a resounding “no.”

It just means that in different times and places, people have had a different take on worship. This is why the authority of the Scripture is so important, because we would have no other means to actually discern who is right and who is wrong. And being that we are all human, none of us will get it all right. We just have to learn to live with that.

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