The Bible must always arrive to transcend or even debunk history. History cannot impress so much that Scripture takes a secondary role. We should consider history. The Lord said so. He said in Isaiah 41:22, "Show the former things, what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them." Historical writings or happenings are worth considering, especially to view "the latter end of them." How did they turn out?
The Old Testament historical books are a good example of a righteous consideration of history. God said bad things would happen to covenant breakers. A covenant was broken and bad things happened. The Lord He is God. The Lord He is God. The former things were the Deuteronomic promises. The latter end of them were blessings and cursings. God still operates in seeming silent times. Count on that.
If any written history penned before the Noahic flood would have survived, we might not get the impression that Noah was that important a figure. He was either mocked or ignored. The latter end, post torrential downpour, says he was important. We want to evaluate the former things there in light of their latter end. The elephant in the room was with Noah.
The latter end of Roman Catholicism helps us understand its faulty trajectory. But we have something even better than history. We have God's Word, which surpasses historical significance. Everything can be judged under its scrutiny, including the development of Roman Catholic traditions.
Protestant criticism of Catholicism has merit. It is worth consideration. But the Reformation too has a latter end ripe for analysis. The Protestant state church could print its story, but that doesn't make it inspired, especially since it follows the same trajectory as Catholicism.
Reformation history shouldn't cloud biblical truth. I can hear the Reformation defenders already. "Ad fontes." True. Go to the Bible as the source of authority. But what is ironic is that the Protestants have their history in a major way because of their own state churches. They published unfettered, printing their doctrines without the physical threat with which they intimidated others. So now we're left with what they wrote as the mainstream of professing Christianity.
Protestants will say sole Scriptura. Yes. But then they refer back to what Reformers said about Scripture. What the Reformers said has a lot of influence, becomes authoritative in its role of historical theology. But how much of the Reformation theology was driven by Catholic writers? We should suspect Protestant doctrine. Not being Catholic doesn't make it right.
Just because Protestant Reformers may have gotten justification by faith right doesn't assume they corrected everything wrong with Roman Catholicism. We shouldn't take that for granted either. We have seen alterations to Protestant eschatology. We should consider "the latter end" of Protestant ecclesiology too. Does its trajectory follow Catholicism or the Bible?
History offers a faulty circular reasoning. The "Bible teaches" a certain ecclesiology because the "Reformers said" and the "Reformers said" because of what the "Bible teaches." Amillennialism dominated history, but a movement of premillennialism broke its grip in professing Christianity. The trajectory of Catholic eschatology was altered. How about a movement of biblical ecclesiology to displace Catholic and then Protestant history? If a Catholic, allegorical hermeneutic could affect eschatology, couldn't it have affected ecclesiology too? Could we not at least consider this as a possibility?
I understand someone growing up hearing only one point of view, the Catholic or Protestant position. People grow up Buddhists in Thailand, Mormons in Utah, Catholics in the Venezuela, animists in Africa, Unitarians in Vermont, Reformed in Holland, Free Presbyterian in Ireland, and Fundamentalist in Greenville. Could you open your mind to the possibility that allegorization or spiritualizing has affected your ecclesiology? Through the trajectory of Catholicism and Protestantism, Platonism has immersed or even sprinkled your thoughts? Let's take the deserted island approach. A Bible was dropped on you and you are clean slate for what it says about the church. Let's begin.