The Catholic Church Survives For 2,000 Years: Possible or Probable?

“And the gates of the underworld can never overpower it” (Matthew 16:18).
At this point in time, it can easily be said that all things are, or very shortly may be, possible. Within a year, a decade, or by some relatively short time from now, the world will be completely changed again. For example, until the early twentieth century, the idea of manned flight in a heavier than air machine was considered impossible, now commercial aircraft which weigh hundreds of thousands of pounds carry hundreds of passengers at a time across tremendous distances. Military aircraft travel at multiple times the speed of sound and/or carry sufficient munitions to wipe out small cities.

At the end of the 1800’s, the thought of a motor vehicle with hundreds of equivalent horsepower, air conditioning, and power steering zipping along paved highways at 60, 70 or more miles per hour for hundreds of miles would have been impossible.

Given science and technology, eventually whatever mankind can devise can/will be built. That having been said, let me then jump to the conclusion that all things are possible ( within the limits of science, technology, laws of physics, and a few similar impediments ).

A bit of a definition of terms may well be helpful now, from thefreedictionary.com:

pos·si·ble – (pŏs′ə-bəl) adj.

1. Capable of happening, existing, or being true without contradicting proven facts, laws, or circumstances: Is it possible to move faster than the speed of light?
2. Capable of becoming or of being made to be so; potential: possible suspects in the case; a possible site for the new capital.
3. Capable of occurring or being done in accordance with something specified. Used with the superlative: You’ll get the best possible care at this hospital.
4. Capable of happening but of uncertain likelihood: It is possible that you might feel some discomfort after the procedure.
5. Permissible: Is it possible to enter the gallery at this hour?

prob·a·ble- (prŏb′ə-bəl) adj.

1. Likely to happen or to be true: War seemed probable in 1938. The home team, far ahead, is the probable winner.
2. Likely but uncertain; plausible.
3. Theology Of or relating to opinions and actions in ethics and morals for whose lawfulness intrinsic reasons or extrinsic authority may be adduced.

Even If It Is Possible, Is It Probable?

Is it possible that for nearly 300 popes in a row, no one has said, “Well, this is a great experiment, but, it is time to pull the wheel chocks and aim for home”? The response may well be, “Yes, that seems possible, but it would be a massive stretch.”

Is it possible that if the church was just a way for the apostles ( initially ) and then the cardinals, bishops, and priests to make money that it would have survived for 2,000 years and counting?  Again, the response may be that while it may sound as if it were possible, it may be just outside of the realm of reality to expect that.

Is it possible that a person in Lincoln Nebraska ( or any other town, city or village anywhere in the world ) would be convinced that all necessary spiritual direction may be had by paying attention to a rusty hubcap from a 1954 Studebaker? Then, is it also possible that this person could take this message to the world and get a billion or so people to accept it, go along with it and practice it?  Why yes, that is possible, but the question becomes is it probable?

Is it possible that the Church, if she were only a human endeavor, would have survived for over 2,000 years? Is it probable?

Is it possible that the greatest periods of growth within the Church have been when she was being persecuted?  Is it probable?

Is it possible that the Church has simply been very lucky in being allowed to live through some rather tumultuous times?  Is it probable?

Consider any huge organization and ask the question, is it probable that Walmart, Google, Apple, or any similar organization will be around in the same recognizable form in 250 years?  Isn’t that what the people at J.C. Penny, Montgomery Ward, and many other firms thought as well?

All things are possible, but are they probable?

Is it possible that Boise Idaho will become the new home to the United Nations? Is it probable?

Is it possible that the Catholic Church will survive for another 2,000 years, or until the Founder returns?  Yes, it certainly is.  Is it probable?  Yes, it certainly is.  The Catholic Church was not humanly envisioned, built, fed and protected for 2,000 years, nor will it continue if only humans are involved.

There are priests with whom we may disagree. There are Bishops who may be a bit more conservative ( or liberal ) than we would like.  The Pope may be to the left of our preferences, or to the right, it really doesn’t matter for this discussion.

So I now say to you: You are Peter and on this rock, I will build my community. And the gates of the underworld can never overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of Heaven: whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven (Matthew 16:18).

“The gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.”  If that was said simply by an unemployed carpenter, no one would remember it after 21 centuries.  However, we were told by the Son of God that His church would prevail and that the Holy Spirit would be with her to guide her until He comes again.

Is that possible?  Yes.  Is it probable? Definitely!