Clothed in Christ

Posted by on January 29, 2015 in Catholicism, Exegesis, Featured, Gospel, Imputation, Justification, Presbyterianism, Protestantism, Reformed Theology, Sola Fide | 1,512 comments

*** The Following Article is by Nick ***

I have often heard Protestants explain the Imputation of Christ’s Righteousness in terms of the believer being “clothed in Christ’s righteousness,” which they take to mean our sinfulness is covered over by Christ’s perfection, causing us to appear pure and holy before God (though ‘underneath’ the clothing we remain sinful). But as I came to look at how the Bible speaks of “clothing” I came to realize something very different than the Protestant notion of Imputation was being taught. What I came to realize was that what the Bible was describing was actually the Catholic view of grace and salvation, not the Protestant view.

Generally speaking, Protestants understand the saving “grace” of justification as a disposition of God, wherein God knows He doesn’t have to save anyone, but He ‘graciously’ (undeservingly) sends Jesus to fulfill the law and die on the Cross (all in place of the believing sinner’s inability to do these things). This is where the Protestant notion of being “clothed in Christ’s righteousness” comes in, because even though God knows the sinner is ‘beneath the clothing’, God ‘graciously’ (mercifully) overlooks this and instead focuses on the clothing (i.e. what Christ did).

On the other hand, Catholics understand the saving “grace” of justification to refer to God’s divine life and power (2 Cor 12:9) acting upon the sinner, causing the sinner to be transformed. As the Catechism puts it: “Grace is a participation in the life of God. It introduces us into the intimacy of Trinitarian life.” (CCC#1997) In this view, “grace” is what gives spiritual life to one who is spiritually dead (i.e. those in mortal sin), somewhat akin to the electrical charge that enters into a dead battery to recharge it.

In both viewpoints, grace is absolutely necessary, and in fact we could say both the Catholic and Protestant views believe man is saved ‘by grace alone’. But the radically different views of grace entail radically different views on salvation, which means this dispute must be settled beyond the semantic level. And this is where a study of the Biblical notion of “clothing” comes in.

Catholic theology has traditionally viewed saving grace from three perspectives: building, elevating, and perfecting. I believe these three aspects of grace are clearly found in how the Bible uses the Greek verb endyo, which literally means “to put on clothing,” and if this holds true then the Protestant equating of Imputation with that of “being clothed” must be abandoned (in fidelity to God’s Word).

The first claim to look at is the Catholic notion that grace ‘builds upon our human nature’. That which is natural to a being pertains to its own inherent abilities and qualities. That which is super-natural literally refers to those abilities and qualities that go beyond nature (since ‘super’ means ‘beyond’). When it comes to salvation, there are certain things we cannot do precisely because they require abilities that go beyond our natural abilities. I recall St Augustine using the analogy of seeing in the dark, saying that it doesn’t matter how good our eyesight is, the only way we can see in the dark is from the special assistance of a torch. We see this concept found when Paul speaks of “putting on the armor of God,” for example: “But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation” (1 Thess 5:8; see also Rom 13:12). In Ephesians 6:11-18, Paul speaks of this “putting on the armor of God” again, including putting on the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, and helmet of salvation, as well as taking up the shield of faith and sword of the Spirit. And before Jesus Ascended into Heaven, He told the Apostles to “stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Lk 24:49), speaking of the divine gifts (e.g. tongues) which the Holy Spirit would pour out on Pentecost. In all these texts the clothing analogy is clear: these divine gifts equip us, building on our nature, to enable us to fight the good fight and do God’s work, which we otherwise couldn’t do by our natural human powers.

The second claim to look at is the Catholic notion that grace ‘elevates our human nature’. It is universally understood that certain people and places demand a certain elevated level of respect. We know that this means you must dress appropriately for certain events and have your house neat and orderly to properly welcome special guests over. Beautifully capturing this notion is the way the Old Testament describes Jewish Temple: For God to be able to dwell there, the Temple had to be ‘elevated’ beyond that of a regular building (by using the finest gold and decorations), and that the High Priest had to be ‘elevated’ beyond that of a lay person (by using many fancy garments instead of regular clothing, e.g. Lev 16:23). This is precisely why Churches should be beautifully adorned and why parishioners should dress up for Mass, because anything less is quite insulting to God’s Divine Majesty.

Hidden in his earthly Temple analogy is actually the more profound reality of the Christian having the Trinity dwell within us. As Paul says, Christians are “Temples of the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor 3:16-17), and as Jesus says in John 14:23 that ‘anyone who loves me, the Father and I will come make our dwelling within him’ (see also Eph 3:17). With this in mind, grace is what elevates us to become a welcoming and worthy home for the Trinity to come and dwell within us. Such a task requires a thorough ‘renovation’ of our souls and especially an adornment of love, as Paul says: ‘Put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together’ (Col 3:9-14). And elsewhere, “put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph 4:24).

What is also fascinating is that this ‘putting on of the new self’ is identified in Romans 13:12-14 as “putting on the Lord Jesus Christ, making no provision for the flesh,” telling us what being “clothed in Christ” really refers to in Paul’s mind! This fits precisely with Paul’s concluding thoughts of Galatians 3, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (3:27), since Scripture describes Baptism as a cleansing, image renewing, and regenerating bath (e.g. Acts 22:16; Titus 3:4-7; Romans 6). Notice that according to the plain reading of this verse, we become “clothed with Christ” by Baptism, not by faith alone.

The third claim to look at is the notion that grace ‘perfects our human nature’. Closely related to the last two aspects of grace is the notion that grace perfects us, meaning it takes us to a place where our human nature was supposed to be (and hence why Adam ‘falling from grace’ was such a tragic, devastating fall from a super-natural state to a merely natural one). To help get this concept across, is interesting to note is how those in heaven (both humans and angels) are described as being “dressed in (white) robes” (e.g. Rev 7:9-14, 15:6). One would think that a person in heaven should be described as naked, since nudity (ideally) is supposed to signify innocence and purity. Since we know nudity itself isn’t bad, the presence of “robes” would suggest that human nature itself isn’t enough to experience heaven, human nature must be ‘perfected by grace’. Indeed, St Paul tells us that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God,” meaning our natural bodies aren’t naturally made to live in heaven anymore than we can just go live in outer-space. The body must be glorified by grace, which is why Paul follows this up by saying: “this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality” (1 Cor 15:50, 53; see also 2 Cor 5:1-5) – verses clearly referring to the perfecting work of grace.

With all this in mind, a final thought: It is common for people to say, “I don’t need Christianity to get to Heaven. I’m a good person, so I’m sure God will let me in.” The problem with that logic is that getting into heaven is far more than about being a ‘good person’. If you ask these people if you can come to their wedding, they’ll respond by saying: “No, I don’t know you.” Exactly, because wedding invitations aren’t based on who in the public is a ‘good person’, but rather on who is a friend of the Bride and Groom. Similarly, you must be a friend of God, having a relationship with Him, to be invited to His Wedding. God has no reason to invite you to His wedding feast if you never really cared about being in relationship with Him. A person needs the (super-natural) “love of God within them” (Jn 5:42; cf 1 Jn 2:5; Mt 24:12) if they are going to in relationship with God. This is how the parable of Matthew 22:10-13 is to be understood, where the man not clothed in the symbolic “wedding garment” was not welcome at the wedding feast. As noted in prior articles, this helps explain that the Catholic view isn’t about ‘working our way into heaven’ as it is about being properly disposed (i.e. in a state of grace) to be in a relationship with the Trinity, starting now.

Protestants like to quote Zechariah 3:3-7 which speaks of Joshua having to put on clean garments as proof of Imputed Righteousness, but this interpretation is presupposed and really has no merit from what has already been shown. The story fits quite well with the Catholic view of grace, especially the concluding verse which in which God warns: “If you will walk in my ways and keep my charge, then you shall rule my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you the right of access.” This indicates that sins can cause him to lose his rights, which makes no sense in the Imputation view (since God overlooks your personal sins). In fact, using the principle of Scripture-interprets-Scripture, we see the Catholic view vindicated in Revelation 3:3-5, where Jesus says: “Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment.” These garments these saints are wearing cannot be referring to Christ’s righteousness Imputed, since Jesus speaks of them as taking care not to defile the garment (which is impossible if it’s Christ’s righteousness), so it can only refer to sanctifying grace gained, with the potential of it being lost through sin (cf James 1:12; 2:5). The parable of the Prodigal Son should be understood in a similar manner, wherein the father order the servants to “clothe” the returned son with a new expensive robe, signifying a reconciled status after being “dead” in sin (Lk 15:22-24).

In conclusion, we have seen the Catholic understanding of grace beautifully captured in the Bible’s use of the analogy of being “clothed”. Further, it was shown that being “clothed in Christ” and “clothed in righteousness” (as used in the Scriptures) cannot refer to the Protestant notion of Imputation, meaning they should avoid such terminology out of fidelity to God’s Word and orthodox theology.

 

 

 

1,512 Comments

  1. James wrote to Michael:
    The tacit admission by you that it doesn’t might indicate something about how Scripture views its own authority and function, and consequently what its affirmations about its own authority implicitly affirm or presuppose about other parallel authorities.

    Response:
    This reply places your so-called infallible authority OUTSIDE a consistent pattern of infallible authorities. That pattern reaches back to the Apostles, Jesus, and the Prophets. These authorities consistently avoided WRITING anything like “Bible claim divine authority for each book/passage”, or any subsequent ecclesial canonical list. Since Prot. are not infallible, then our canonical authority doesn’t need to be consistent in this respect.

  2. Michael Taylor, you write:

    Your question seems to be intended as a defeater. But I honestly don’t see why it would be.

    Honestly? Really? Michael, you are claiming that you are nothing more than a fallible interpreter of the Protestant bible. And that is exactly what you are, a fallible interpreter of the Protestant bible. That fact should result in an attitude of humility on your part, and it should also result in a teachable spirit.

    Since you are exactly what you claim you are, a fallible interpreter of the Protestant bible, you should be able to say with honest humility, “Here is how I personally interpret this passage of scripture, but remember, I could be wrong, since I am nothing but a fallible interpreter of the Protestant bible. Don’t take my private interpretation as anything more than my well intentioned opinion, an opinion that I, of course, think is right, but which I also humbly acknowledge could be wrong.”

    The problem is that neither you, Robert, nor Eric possess that humility. The three of you acknowledge that you are nothing but fallible interpreters of the Protestant bible, but then each one of you turns around and acts as if you have been crowned as the Supreme Lord of the Scriptures. All men on the face of the earth need to bow down to your private interpretation of scriptures. (And we all need to somehow overlook the fact that the three Supreme Lords of the Scripture that post at CCC don’t agree with each other!)

    You, Robert and Eric all post on this blog in a contentious spirit to take on anyone that dares to disagree with your fallible interpretations of the scriptures.

    You Michael, come here to CCC, and act as the self-anointed Supreme Lord of the Scriptures – you sit on your judgment throne and from high, you arrogantly declare entire churches to be defective – and the basis of your private judgment is that these churches have the audacity to disagree with your fallible interpretations of the Protestant bible!

    Michael Taylor, in case you don’t know, pride goes before the fall.

  3. Michael,

    I had hoped to peacefully agree to disagree with Jonathan as to our respective assessments of you and start afresh but you now open the wound and demand I retract or apologize to you with,

    “Now you could have taken responsibility for your words, retracted them, and then asked to move on. But you’re asking to move on without having acknowledged your offense. Sorry, sir, but it doesn’t work that way.”

    Okay, that works both ways, sir. You need to retract your own outlandish and nonsensical assertions.

    You ( or Jonathan ) blame the Jesuits of Boston as the bad guys, right?
    Just to keep things fair and balanced, remember that school my brothers and sister and I attended where we were NOT molested? It was called “Saint Ignatius of Loyola” and it was run by Jebbies.

    You are an expert on this issue because you were in religious life? Me too for a minute. In our community there was one swishy guy and only one. I am sure he never acted out sexually while there although he was eventually thrown out for other reasons. He wasn’t unchaste, just disobedient.

    Jonathan accused me of being unfair to you because you are a Protestant. No way would I be unfair to someone because they are a Protestant. ( Not everyone in my family is Catholic ).
    But you are not a rank and file Protestant. Not if you were once a Catholic and far enough into it to be in religious life before apostatizing.
    You are like the Bugays, the Kauffmans and the Websters. In my experience, Protestants turned Catholic have nothing but generous things to say about their former churches, their pastors and their families.
    When a Catholic jettisons the Faith and becomes a Protestant, he seldom has a nice or even an honest thing to say about the Church. his priests and nuns or his own family. Maybe you are an exception, but I haven’t seen you demonstrate anything but the usual behavior so far.

    And you demand that I apologize or I retract my assessment of you?
    No, I think I have said all I care to say on this. I am gonna move on like I said.

  4. Mateo,

    Honestly? Really? Mateo, you are claiming that you are nothing more than a fallible interpreter of the Magisterium. And that is exactly what you are, a fallible interpreter of the Magisterium. That fact should result in an attitude of humility on your part, and it should also result in a teachable spirit.

    Since you are exactly what you claim you are, a fallible interpreter of the Magisterium, you should be able to say with honest humility, “Here is how I personally interpret this passage from the Magisterium, but remember, I could be wrong, since I am nothing but a fallible interpreter of the Magisterium. Don’t take my private interpretation as anything more than my well intentioned opinion, an opinion that I, of course, think is right, but which I also humbly acknowledge could be wrong.”

    The problem is that you, Mateo, do not possess that humility. You acknowledge that you are nothing but fallible interpreters of the Magisterium, but then you turn around and act as if you have been crowned as the Supreme Lord of the Magisterium. All men on the face of the earth need to bow down to your private interpretation of the Magisterium. (And we all need to somehow overlook the fact that RC Lords that post at CCC don’t agree with each other!)

    You, Mateo, post on this blog in a contentious spirit to take on anyone that dares to disagree with your fallible interpretations of the Magisterium.

    You Mateo, come here to CCC, and act as the self-anointed Supreme Lord of the Magisterium– you sit on your judgment throne and from high, you arrogantly declare entire groups of RCs to be defective – and the basis of your private judgment is that these groups have the audacity to disagree with your fallible interpretations of the Magisterium!

    Mateo, in case you don’t know, pride goes before the fall.

  5. @Jim:

    You are like the Bugays, the Kauffmans and the Websters. In my experience, Protestants turned Catholic have nothing but generous things to say about their former churches, their pastors and their families.

    You didn’t even mention Eric Svendsen, who in my opinion was the worst ex-Catholic of them all when he turned nasty (and, ironically, who was the most reasonable when discussing anything *but* Catholicism). But that’s precisely the reason that I’ve taken issue here. Michael has actually been the most reasonable Reformed ex-Catholic I’ve encountered in as long as I’ve been doing this. This is literally the first time that I haven’t been accused of denying the authority of Scripture after explaining the Thomist position.

    Those who leave are “not of us.” That isn’t a news flash. But let’s not put everybody in that category in the same lump when they aren’t, in fact, behaving the same.

  6. Jim–

    You wrote:

    “In my experience, Protestants turned Catholic have nothing but generous things to say about their former churches, their pastors and their families. When a Catholic jettisons the Faith and becomes a Protestant, he seldom has a nice or even an honest thing to say about the Church. his priests and nuns or his own family.”

    This sounds pretty accurate. It has been my experience, as well.

    Catholics “jettison the Faith” at a three to one ratio over Protestants “crossing the Tiber.” The general status of Catholicism in the Protestant world seems far lower than vice versa. We are “separated brethren.” You are members of an anti-gospel cult. The whole “Culture War” alliance has ameliorated things somewhat, and groups like ECT have helped, also.

    Not all former Catholics are so negative, of course. Here’s what Francis Beckwith has to say about Chris Castaldo’s book, “Holy Ground”:

    “Holy Ground is the best tool available for helping former Roman Catholics witness to friends and family members without causing needless offense or compromising the gospel.  Chris Castaldo’s love for other people and firm grasp of biblical principles for discipleship and evangelism come through on nearly every page.  His honest, charitable approach to Protestant-Catholic relationships will help many people honor God and demonstrate the love of Jesus in the very way they share their faith.”

    What I don’t understand, however, is how you can know whether any particular convert is “honest” concerning his or her experience in the Catholic Church. It’s a huge institution. Do you know the ins and outs of every order, every convent and monastery, every parish and diocese? It cannot be maintained that there is absolutely NO corruption within the confines of Rome anywhere in the world, can it?

  7. @Robert:

    But there are several problems with this:
    1) You are assuming that there is nothing special about the Word of God, which makes claims to the contrary, namely that it is “living and active,” that its commandments “give life,” and much more. That puts it in a fundamentally different category than the Constitution, for example, and in a fundamentally different category when it comes to identifying authority.

    On the contrary, that’s exactly why, like St. Thomas, I take both the Scripture itself and its correlative authority as infallible. I would not think that it is impossible for the government to fail to live up to constitutional principles, for example, although as a strictly formal matter, those two things are inseparable. That is why it is said of the Supreme Court that it is “not final because infallible, but infallible because final.” It doesn’t mean that they can’t err in principle, but the system is such that their judgments are finally binding and thus beyond appeal.

    In the act of divine revelation, though, that is not the case; the final decisions are also infallible, because the authority is not man’s but God’s. And in that respect, I take the statement that Scripture is living and active as just the statement that in the society established for infallibly receiving it, the Scripture really does function in a binding public manner. Otherwise, rather than being living and active, it would be a dead letter. Dogma is truly developing; Scripture really is being rightly interpreted to produce binding articles of faith; theology is becoming clearer and more definite; errors are being corrected.

    2) Even so, to borrow your example, the Constitution is supposed to be the final arbiter. There are differences in opinion in how it is to be interpreted, and I would argue that only an originalist reading actually preserves the Constitution’s authority. Nevertheless, all sides more or less agree that the Constitution is to be the final touchstone. This doesn’t dovetail well with the RC model.

    This fits perfectly if one distinguishes between the standard and the arbiter. The Supreme Court is the final arbiter of what the Constitution means in the event of unresolvable disputes, but the Constitution is the supreme standard by which they make decisions, and no one on the Supreme Court would deny that. But again, the Founding Fathers were not God; their act of creating the supreme law of the country and the ratification of that law by the states was not infallibly guaranteed to be effectual. That is why there is an amendment process allowing the Constitution to be changed to reflect the will of the people at the time. But there’s no amendment process for Scripture, so this idea that the correlative authority can somehow “err” or be “corrected” has no analogue. In short, semper eadem, not semper reformanda.

    What you are saying about originalists is essentially the same argument that Catholics are making against Protestants. The point is that justices who aren’t originalists are going beyond the original grant of authority, the original system of judicial review that was granted them by the Constitution. That’s basically what we see self-proclaimed “authorities” in Protestantism as doing, taking on a power of judgment that was never given to them. The system is what it is; there’s no way to establish a new correlative authority, any more than there is a way consistent with the Constitution to establish an ultimate judicial authority other than the Supreme Court.

    3) The RC could argue, perhaps, that the Protestant position doesn’t take the nature of the church seriously. But in a discussion between Protestants and RCs, that is to beg the question somewhat. We have to know what the prophets and Apostles thought the church should be and do. On a Protestant and a RC material sufficiency principle, that requires going first to the Scripture, and there is no evidence in Scripture that the church is blessed with a perpetual gift of infallibility. The closest you could get to that is perhaps a reference to the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15, but while that may provide a model for settling ecclesiastical disputes, it doesn’t provide a model for perpetual infallibility if for no other reason than that the Apostles were there but they weren’t at any subsequent council.

    I’ll be honest; when it comes to mastering first century anthropology, archaeology, and history along with ancient Judaica, I’m never going to do that, and the conclusions of that inquiry just aren’t going to be knock down conclusions. So I actually don’t think it makes sense to go back to the Scripture, because that isn’t what I would do with any other normatively organized public body. If I went back and read the Constitution to predict what I thought the United States government would look like even 200 years later based purely on historical data, I would probably look at the U.S. government and not recognize it, but I have overwhelming evidence from historical continuity that the U.S. government is in fact the government, so I would be completely irrational to pick the conclusion of methods that, although reliable in their area, are much less certain than the huge collection of data and lived experience compiled since then.

    In other words, if I can look out the window and see a sign that says “Federal Government Building” (or “Catholic Church”), I’d be crazy to wander around town trying to figure out where the government was based on some theory of historical reconstruction about what I thought the document really intended to establish. That’s how you end up among people who think that you don’t have to pay income tax because the Sixteenth Amendment was never properly ratified by the Kentucky legislature.

    Instead, I’m going to do the same thing I would do with any other normative document like a constitution; I would look at the historically contingent path from the original establishment to the present day among people who putatively claimed authority from that document, and I would pick the one that had the most plausible continuity of correlative authority. As a conservative, I think our current government is doing an exceptionally bad job of living up to our founding principles, but on the other hand, I don’t think there’s any question that it is the government and that there are no other candidates.

    4) No Magisterial Protestant, anyway, would say that the church is unnecessary to the exercise of biblical authority. There needs to be a community that receives Scripture. The fundamental question is whether Scripture has authority because the church receives it or does the church receive it because it has authority. Those are two fundamentally different positions, with Rome taking the former and Protestants taking the latter. The issue is that when you look at the actual biblical witness, the second is what comes through. Abraham didn’t ask for a public body to grant authority to God’s Word before He obeyed it. The community of the prophets was condemned for not receiving their messages as God’s Word. The Apostles don’t write as if their writings don’t have authority until they are recognized by a council. And on it goes.

    You’ve actually missed the fundamental question that both St. Thomas and Suarez raised. The truly fundamental question is whether Scripture is intended to function as a public authority in a community, in which case the authority of the community itself likewise has the full force of divine authority (just as the federal government has the full force of governmental authority from the Constitution). If that’s the case, then both the giving of divine revelation and the receiving of divine revelation are part of the very same act of divine revelation. And if that’s the case, then you don’t even expect that the Scriptural authors would write as if they needed to establish their authority, because the very idea of them writing Scripture presupposes the receiving role.

    You mention that the community of the prophets was condemned for not following God’s Word, but that was a judgment of the community against itself. In other words, if the community weren’t authorized to judge itself against the Word of God, there’s no way that deviations could ever be corrected. That’s why sin and corruption in the Church is never fatal, because as long as there is an objective standard, there is something against which deviations can be measured. But if the authority of the receiving community could actually be lost, then there would be no way for Scripture to serve as a correcting authority. That’s why, for example, when the Book of the Law is lost (2 Kings 22), the authority to implement Scripture is not lost. The people of God aren’t lost, and don’t cease to be the people of God and the authorized receivers of the oracles, even when they are not living up to their own principles.

    But if you leave, no matter how bad it gets, there’s no hope at all. “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:67). The reason staying doesn’t work in Episcopalianism is that the divine moral authority of its bishops was forfeited centuries; in or out, it doesn’t matter, because they lack the infallible authority by their own admission, so there’s no public standard in the denomination against which correction can take place. But in Catholicism, the truth is still there, no matter how small the remnant of people who defend it remains.

    So on this question of authority, Scripture says the following: “Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision?” Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews are entrusted with the oracles of God. What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? (Romans 3:1-3). Because they were the keepers of the prophets, they at the very least had the infallible authority to know who the prophets are and to receive them. However, this authority is not sufficient of itself to maintain faith and is therefore not intended to be the permanent interpretive authority. Thus, “[i]n many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world” (Hebrews 1:1-2).

    That’s the fundamental discontinuity in authority between the Old Testament revelation and the New Testament revelation, although the Old Testament does serve a purpose in foreshadowing what would come. The infallibility of the OT only allowed revelation to be received for earthly purposes in a hidden way, so it lacked full divine infallibility that would be unlocked by Christ.

    5) At the end of the day, why does Scripture need a correlative authority but the church doesn’t? What is the correlative authority for the church? If it truly is Scripture and tradition, then why does the church get the final say? Shouldn’t they all be equal authorities? (And they are not in Romanism, for the only declarations of the church that matter are the Magisterium, the laity be darned.) If they are all equal authorities, why don’t they all partake of the same manner of inspiration? That is, do the apostles view the truthfulness and infallibility of their witness and the prophetic witness as created by their own peculiar inspiration?—yes (2 Tim. 3:16–17). If this is so, why is it NOT necessary for Rome to claim full-on Holy Spirit Apostolic inspiration?

    The correlative authority is required because revelation is public and not private. The only way that Scripture can be divinely received in a public manner is by a public authority; no individual would have the authority to receive Scripture as divine, in the same way no individual in society can just appoint himself as President (for example). It’s a public function, and it must be filled by public organization. And as I said earlier, the very fact that the authors of Scripture were writing Scripture already presumed that there would be a receiving authority that would recognize it, just as the prophets of old were received and kept by Israel.

    The correlative authorities for the Magisterium are therefore Scripture and Tradition (which is really just the characteristic activity of the Church, namely, how the Church worships). The Magisterium can’t create any new acts of revelation; that is not its function, so it can’t possibly have the same authority. An infallible receiver doesn’t produce revelation; it receives it authoritatively. In the U.S., analogy, the correlative authorities would be the law itself, the government, and the underlying cultural norms (“the rule of law” generally, including inherited concepts from English common law). Nor does the receiving authority have the same authority that the original founding document does; for example, the Congress can’t pass a law that restructures itself as a unicameral body or delegates lawmaking power to some other organization, even though the original document that established the form of the Congress could have done so.

    You seem to be saying “well, what if the Magisterium goes beyond receiving revelation?” In the first place, formally speaking, there’s no way to do that even in principle, because the Magisterium rules on the content of Scripture. It’s not even clear what it would mean to say that the Magisterium is “wrong” in this respect, but one could say that some particular point was not intended to be binding dogma if the Magsiterium made no appeal to Scripture or Tradition as a principle, which is likely what St. Thomas had in mind when he talked about the Magisterium having authority “only insofar as” the teaching came from Scripture. In that case, it’s not a question of the Magisterium exceeding its authority as not really exercising it in the first place.

    I can see that you’re trying to follow the argument, which I appreciate, but the concept of a correlative authority, an authority that is not competing but which enables its correlative authority to function publicly, is still being missed in what you wrote.

  8. Eric,

    Since you asked,
    let me give one of many examples of ex Catholics forgetting the truth and giving a dishonest account of their time in the Church.

    One Summer long ago, I was the token RC in a class of mixed Protestant denominations on the topic of “Roman Catholicism” being given at Western conservative Baptist Seminary.
    Everyone treated me pretty well except one fellow and his wife who hissed and glared at me all through every class as if they could see my cloven hooves through my shoes.
    The guy’s name was Tom. One evening Tom asked the prof if he could give his testimony. It was abit unusual but the professor said okay.
    It turns out that Tom was not only a former Catholic but had gone to the same all boys Catholic high school as I had. ( The one where I was NOT molested ).
    Tom told the usual Maria Monk horror tale of growing in in a Romish home with all the idols, beads, Mass attendance etc. etc. He got to the part of going to an all boys school run by black cassocked minions of the Vatican.
    The part that got all the listenedrs staring at me is when Tom explained how he never saw a Bible in four years at Central Catholic High. He hungered for the word but never was fed anything but romish superstitions and traditions of men.
    Afer his moving testimony, I had the gumption to eek my hand up and ask if I could say a word. The professor couldn’t refuse and all eyes were riveted on me to see how I was going to explain away Tom’s tale of having the Bible withheld from him.
    I held up my blue Confrateternity St Joseph’s edition Bible and said I had been issued it my freshman year at Central. I said Tom, who was my brother’s age, had been issue the red Ronal Kox version. I think it is the one where the Israelites are told to slaughter every male that “psseth against the wall . We loved to snicker about that. I went on to explain how we were given four years of religion classes including scripture study.
    I also explained how the Bible was used for discipline. Goofing off in class was punished by being kept after school and hand copying chapters of the Bible. No way was akid to get out of Central without reading the Bible one way or another.
    During my talk I could see a light come on over Tom’s troubled face. He was remembering the truth. He had become so enamored with titillating Protestants listeners with his tale of being denied the Bible , he had actually started to belive his own false narrative.
    That is but one example, Eric.

    By the way, Tom did not mention being molested by the priests at Central either. He would have if he had, believe me.

  9. Eric,

    ” cannot be maintained that there is absolutely NO corruption within the confines of Rome anywhere in the world, can it?”

    I don’t believe I said as much, did I?
    Please go back and read Michael’s post. He lays the blame on the whole wicked Romish system.

    And you could ask him the same question about his own limited experience too, eh?

  10. Eric,

    Musing over my morning joe, I am reminiscing about my interactions with rabidly anti-Catholic and former Irish Dominican priest, Richard Bennett.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlEsZD1Tnzo

    I think I am on solid ground to say that if even you were to sit down over a cup of coffee with Bennett as I have done, you would pick up on the fact the man is, well,.. er…um,,,, insane.

    Besides knowing the man personally, I have read his material and know his mentor William Webster too. ( A priest having a layman teach him how to be anti-Catholic? Yup. )

    Coincidentally, the ex pat church I attend for Sunday Mass is run by Dominicans of the Irish Province. Some of them knew Bennett in Ireland and in Trinidad where he “came to Christ” after bumping his head and being unconscious for several days.

    I know Bennett. And I know his former confreres. They tell radically different accounts of Bennett’s days as a Dominican priest. I believe Bennett is like the Tom fellow I mentioned above. He is addicted, like Fr Chiniquy was a hundred+ years ago, to the attention he gets on the anti=Catholic speaking circuit from Protestants hungry for scandal against the Whore.

    I read once that a century or so ago good Protestants would never dream of reading a naughty girly magazine or porn of any kind. Instead they self righteously pored over titillating tales of just what really goes on between those celibate priests with their harems of nuns behind the doors of convents and in Confessional boxes.

    I ain’t buying the hype about every Fr. Mike or Pat fondling seminarians and kiddies. Further, I think folks who scour the newspapers for scuzzy stories about priests are like the Protestants who made Maria Monk’s biography America’s number one bestseller, after the Bible of course.

    Years ago when everyone was glued to their TVs to watch The Thornbirds series, I asked a Protestant why they had Richard Chamberlain play a priest rather than a minister. The Protestant fellow said that nobody would bother watching the show if the story was about a philandering minister.

  11. Eric,

    Seems to me that the SSA and molestation culture are seen to be systemic, from the top down, starting with the Pope himself.

    “But when the people who are calling the shots are themselves same-sex attracted and/or sympathetic to those who are, the will to follow through isn’t always there.”

    “That doesn’t change the fact that there is a growing culture of acceptance of SSA within the ranks of the clergy. But why should that be a surprise? What other option do they have?”

    ” I think you’re all guilty of underestimating the numbers and in deep denial about the state of affairs in this country… Why? Because there is a culture not just of cover up, but of permissiveness and toleration.

    ” Why is your present pope less than clear about his intentions to hold the line morally with respect to the gay issue?”

    I don’t care how many priest friends one may claim he has if he sees the problem as permeating the whole system, maybe even debunking the Sacrament of Holy Orders.
    People are free to express their opinions and experiences. Me too. And I am here to say that what has been presented here is totally skewed.

  12. Michael Taylor,

    I would like to address your question as to why I am allowed to post on this blog while Kevin is not.

    You said the number of SSA men in the Catholic priesthood, in or out of the closet, is greater than in the general population. You know this as a fact due to your time in the seminary if I understand what you said and or what Jonathan said about you. Am I accurate so far?
    Supposedly this is not slander but my snappy comeback question asking just how you would be privy to this confidential information is slander. And you accuse me of being worse than Kevin Falloni. Again, am I representing you accurately?

    Mr. Taylor, every Catholic on this blog has known or knows a priest who is a jerk. Some are liberals. Some are arrogant. Some misappropriate parish funds. Some have little interest in being priests. And yes, some have scandalized us and broken our hearts by not being true to their vows.
    The priests at that all boys hi-school I keep mentioning did not sexually molest anybody but they thought nothing of doubling up their fists and knocking a kid out cold for even slightly sassing a nun or goofing off during Mass. I could multiply examples for hours.

    So why haven’t we all followed your example and left the Church for a purer one made up of sheep and no goats?

    Because of the Eucharist. You know, the Bread of Life without which our lives would have no meaning.
    We put up with those vessels of clay, their rudeness, their jerkiness and their scandals because, like Peter, there is nowhere else to go for the words and Sacraments of everlasting life.

    Kevin Falloni, on this Catholic blog,called the Eucharist a “Death Wafer”, “Hocus Pocus”, “Graven Bread”, “Bread Idolatry and worship” and he even says we Catholics go to Mass as to a “trough”. You know, like hogs. He was asked repeatedly to desist but to no avail. After many attempts to reign in his slurs, he was reluctantly banned.
    Am I to assume you wink at this sort of rhetoric? Maybe you are on board with it? I know you say you have priests for friends so maybe you are a bit more low key. I don’t know.

    Please, sir, show me where I have stooped as low and I will gladly leave this blog in shame. Nobody has to throw me off.

  13. Jonathan wrote to Robert:
    Because they were the keepers of the prophets, they at the very least had the infallible authority to know who the prophets are and to receive them. However, this authority is not sufficient of itself to maintain faith and is therefore not intended to be the permanent interpretive authority. Thus, “[i]n many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world” (Hebrews 1:1-2).

    That’s the fundamental discontinuity in authority between the Old Testament revelation and the New Testament revelation, although the Old Testament does serve a purpose in foreshadowing what would come. The infallibility of the OT only allowed revelation to be received for earthly purposes in a hidden way, so it lacked full divine infallibility that would be unlocked by Christ.

    Response:
    Jonathan gets to write about Revelation because he abnegated his will to a putative public authority, i.e., holy imperial Rome. Why does he do it ? If I wished to examine his words against the words of public authority, then what role would my will be playing ? Do I command myself to believe when the public authority handles revealed commands like “Believe in the …..” Can I judge credibility ? Can I handle those revealed commands ?

    I want everyone to focus on Jonathan’s words:

    He wrote:
    The infallibility of the OT only allowed revelation to be received for earthly purposes in a hidden way, so it lacked full divine infallibility that would be unlocked by Christ.

    Think folks. Think really hard about Jonathan’s words. He says that the correlative authority is required because revelation and scripture are public, not private. Why does he say this ? Revelation is mysterious and HIDDEN in God. It can’t be seen or known. Things hidden in God must be revealed by God. But look at the mode of revealing in the OT. It was “received for earthly purposes IN A HIDDEN WAY”. If hidden in God, and hidden in the OT, then hidden in the NT. Are we not witnessing the conflation of “things hidden” and “things revealed ?” And if conflated, then the very same correlative authority is required in the OT. No matter how much revealing, or public authority judgments about revelation (those judgments are revealed truths as such), they still need to keep “things hidden” or their claims deflate. Isn’t that so ?

    Jonathan loves new ecclesial expressions. The CCC, in a cool way, calls separated particular Churches Catholic. They are Catholic, but not FULLY Catholic. Jonathan is attempting to do the same thing between OT and NT because he needs to retain some continuity with the OT People of God.
    ———————-

    Jonathan wrote:
    …. full divine infallibility that would be unlocked by Christ.

    Response:
    Make that a sign entering the Vatican. Write this underneath it:

    That’s the fundamental discontinuity in authority between the Authoritative Christ-Apostle Revealers (ACAR) and the Authoritative Public Authority Receivers (APAR), although the ACAR does serve a purpose in foreshadowing what would come. The infallibility of the ACAR only allowed revelation to be received for earthly purposes in a hidden way, so it lacked full divine infallibility that would be unlocked by APAR.

  14. Jim wrote:
    Please, sir, show me where I have stooped as low and I will gladly leave this blog in shame. Nobody has to throw me off.

    promises, promises

  15. Eric W,

    If you seriously think the flea bite I gave Michael by questioning his credentials to judge just how many priests are SSA, whether in or out of the closet, is anywhere close to being on a par with full blown blasphemy against Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, you need to bow down and burn incense to him. Maybe stuff him in a monstrance and process down the street singing hymns to him as he is your god.

  16. Jim,

    No Jim..I just want you to go away because I launched some unanswered challenges against you. You want to focus on the trivial and contentious stuff. You make moral and ethical demands to avoid the real issues. Your goal is to have your enemy removed. No enemy means no challenge. Jim and Kevin: The Great Battle ! This battle is like the Augustinian/ Pelagian debates. I want to contribute the semi-Kevinian position.

    Here, compare it to Kevin’s position:
    Kevin Falloni, on this Catholic blog,called the Eucharist a “Death Wafer”, “Hocus Pocus”, “Graven Bread”, “Bread Idolatry and worship” and he even says we Catholics go to Mass as to a “trough”. You know, like hogs.

    New semi-Kevinian postion:
    The Eucharist is a semi-Death Wafer because the accidents are subject to death.

    Semi-Hocus Pocus because that’s a cool way of saying it !

    Semi-Graven Bread because it happens to be called Bread. See Catechism of the Council of Trent.

    Semi-Bread Idolatry and Worship ? Well, it is called bread AND Jesus the 2nd person the Trinity.

    Semi-trough because our construction funding expired in the middle of building.

  17. Jim,

    I wrote: Semi-trough because our construction funding expired in the middle of building.

    I almost forgot. The on-site Catholic Priest, who happens to love my undocumented workers (if you know what I mean), tried to get them more money after funding expired. It was an outrage ! I’m so angry because I had to pay them money. The Priest found his own way to get paid (if you know what I mean). Damn their sick den of thieves and perverts ! I want my money and sexually responsible homos back !

  18. Eric W,

    ” (if you know what I mean), ”

    Son, I seldom know what in tarnation you are babbling about. Why don’t you just speak standard American English rather than your cryptic little riddles?

  19. Jonathan wrote to Robert:
    So on this question of authority, Scripture says the following: “Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision?” Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews are entrusted with the oracles of God. What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? (Romans 3:1-3). Because they were the keepers of the prophets, they at the very least had the infallible authority to know who the prophets are and to receive them. However, this authority is not sufficient of itself to maintain faith and is therefore not intended to be the permanent interpretive authority. Thus, “[i]n many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world” (Hebrews 1:1-2).

    Focus on these words…

    Because they were the keepers of the prophets, they at the very least had the infallible authority to know who the prophets are and to receive them. However, this authority is not sufficient of itself to maintain faith and is therefore not intended to be the permanent interpretive authority.

    Response:
    Who’s responsible for the “permanent interpretive authority” ? God is responsible because of what Jonathan wrote here:

    He wrote:…..both the giving of divine revelation and the receiving of divine revelation are part of the very same act of divine revelation
    ——————————–

    So, what’s the big deal ? The Jews didn’t “maintain faith” because no “permanent interpretive authority” existed. We are to believe that God acted for the giving and receiving of Revelation, but didn’t provide the means to “maintain faith” in the OT !
    —————————–

    Aquinas wrote:
    Now the formal object of faith is the First Truth, as manifested in Sacred Scripture and the teaching of the Church.

    Response:
    Why Aquinas ? Focus on “the First Truth”. That’s the formal motive of FAITH. Keep going…”manifested in Sacred Scripture”

    The OT Jews had “infallibe authority” according to Jonathan. They didn’t have the permanent one enjoyed by Jonathan. How, prey tell, can the Jews have something that manifests the formal motive of FAITH, but not able to “maintain faith ?” Like Aquinas, Jonathan is in a real pinch. In order to keep the formal object manifested in SS, they must locate it in OT and NT Scripture. What about Church teaching ? This is where Aquinas and Jonathan are not being consistent with their own principles. They have no reason to exclude a permanent interpretive authority from the OT. I will force them to pick:

    The Jews could “maintain faith” without the permanent interpretive authority.

    OR

    The Jews couldn’t “maintain faith” without the permanent interpretive authority.
    ———————-

    First Truth: Manifested, Hidden, or both ? FAITH is waiting for the answer.

  20. Robert, you are trying to obscure the issue.

    Once again, here is my point: Robert listens to no man but Robert. When Robert does that, Robert is self-anointing himself as the Supreme Lord of Scriptures – the Supreme Lord, because Robert will submit to no man’s interpretations of the Protestant bible but Robert’s interpretations. “When I submit only when I agree, the one to whom I submit is me.”

    Robert, I don’t want to pick on you personally, because Eric does the same thing when Eric refuses to listen to any man but Eric when Eric privately interprets the Protestant bible. So does Michael Taylor, Eric W, Chuck Smith, Chuck Swindoll, Billy Graham and every other Protestant that confesses Luther’s nasty sola scriptura heresy.

    You SS confessing Protestants won’t go so far as to claim that your personal interpretations of the Protestant bible are infallible, even though everyone of you act as if your personal interpretations of the Protestant bible are to be treated as infallible interpretations of the Protestant bible!

    Every Protestant preacher on the radio acts like he propounding a personal interpretation of the Protestant bible that comes straight from the mouth of God. Every Protestant preacher on the radio, without exception, acts as if they are supremely authoritative interpreters of the Protestant bible. Which can’t possibly be true, since, if you listen closely to what is being said by these radio preachers, one will hear contradictory interpretations of the same scriptures!

    All men on the face of the earth need to bow down to your [mateo’s] private interpretation of the Magisterium.

    This is just more of your lame tactic of argumentation where you lie by asserting to me things that I don’t believe. Flog that straw man Robert!

    The magisterium interprets the magisterium. That is what all Catholics that know the true faith believe. Unlike you, I listen to the church that Jesus Christ personally founded – which is why there is no comparison between you and me.

  21. Jim–

    Why are there so many stories about Catholicism and relatively few about Protestantism?

    Why am I supposed to believe you (who has demonstrated little if any tolerance or humility or kindness in this blog) instead of folks whom I have known face to face and who treat me in a trust-inspiring manner?

    If you want to be seen as honest, you need to show those ethics which naturally accompany genuine honesty.

  22. Robert, you are trying to obscure the issue.

    No, I’m just demonstrating that your argument is inane. You treat your fallible interpretation of the Magisterium as no less self-evident than I treat my interpretation of Scripture. But somehow that makes me doing a bad thing and you doing a good thing. Maybe if you thought for a difference you could actually meaningfully explain the difference between what you are doing in listening to the infallible receive (church) and what I am doing in listening to the infallible receiver (prophets and Apostles)

    Once again, here is my point: Mateo listens to no man but Mateo. When Mateo does that, Mateo is self-anointing himself as the Supreme Lord of the Magisterium – the Supreme Lord, because Mateo will submit to no man’s interpretations of the Magisterium but Mateo’s interpretations of the Magisterium. “When I submit only when I agree, the one to whom I submit is me.”

    Mateo, I don’t want to pick on you personally, because James does the same thing James refuses to listen to any man but James when James privately interprets the Magisterium. So do Jonathan, Jim, Nancy Pelosi, Mother Teresa, Fulton Sheen and every other RC that confesses Rome’s nasty sola ecclesia heresy.

    You sola ecclesia confessing RCs won’t go so far as to claim that your personal interpretations of the Magisterium are infallible, even though everyone of you act as if your personal interpretations of the Magisteriu are to be treated as infallible interpretations of the Magisterium!

    Every RC preacher on the radio acts like he propounding a personal interpretation of the Magisterium that comes straight from the mouth of God. Every RCpreacher on the radio, without exception, acts as if they are supremely authoritative interpreters of the Magisterium. Which can’t possibly be true, since, if you listen closely to what is being said by these RCs, one will hear contradictory interpretations of the Magisterium!

    This is just more of your lame tactic of argumentation where you lie by asserting to me things that I don’t believe, like that everyoen must bow to my interpretation of Scripture. Flog that straw man Mateo!

    The Scripture interprets Scripture. That is what all Christians that know the true faith believe. Unlike you, I listen to the church that Jesus Christ personally founded and the Word of God – which is why there is no comparison between you and me.

    Mateo, you don’t define who a true RC is. You don’t have that right. You aren’t the Magisterium.

  23. Mateo wrote to Robert:
    Unlike you, I listen to the church that Jesus Christ personally founded – which is why there is no comparison between you and me.

    Response:
    Did Mateo see what Jonathan wrote ? He wrote:….both the giving of divine revelation and the receiving of divine revelation are part of the very same act of divine revelation

    Let’s put a little twist on it:….both the teaching of the Church and the receiving of the teaching are part of the very same act of church teaching.
    ————————–

    Now, to listen to the Church, is to receive the teaching of the church. Who listens without interpreting ? Mateo is compared to no one. He’s the only one I know who can listen fallibly and receive the infallible teaching perfectly.
    I know how he does it. He believes ONE article of faith:

    I believe ALL the Catholic Church teaches.

    He doesn’t need to listen to anything else.

  24. Mateo–

    You wrote that Michael and Robert and I ought to be able to say the following:

    “Here is how I personally interpret this passage of scripture, but remember, I could be wrong, since I am nothing but a fallible interpreter of the Protestant Bible. Don’t take my private interpretation as anything more than my well-intentioned opinion, an opinion that I, of course, think is right, but which I also humbly acknowledge could be wrong.”

    But that, of course, is EXACTLY what we say and what we demonstrate. As Luther put it, “Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason–I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other–my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen.”

    We are more than open to being convinced of our error by the use of Scripture and plain reason. We’re not pontificating as supreme lords of anything. We are simply waiting for a better argument then we have heard heretofore. Our current “opinions” are not only well intentioned, but well reasoned and researched…at least to the satisfaction of our limited abilities. Furthermore, we submit ourselves to our superiors in the faith, those whom we have found trustworthy and wise.

    We have faithfully employed the intellect and commonsense granted to us by the Holy Spirit to rule out Rome as a candidate for “the one true church founded by Christ.” As I have said before, I don’t think it even comes close. It’s not even “in the conversation,” so to speak. Frankly, I question the intellectual and spiritual “good faith” of those who have been taken in by Rome’s arguments.

  25. Looking back over the thread, I came across something that I think we need to clear up.

    Kenneth said:

    Would you agree that we can also have certainty through our reasoning? For example, I do not have infallible knowledge that 2+2=4 but I am still certain of the sum. I would say that I am equally certain of this sum as i am of the exodus. We can reach strong degrees of certainty in science, math, history, philosophy, etc. There are just some things in life that we don’t need divine inspiration to tell us.

    To which, Robert said:

    It’s not my mere opinion that 2+2=4. But is a fallible belief/assertion. Fallible doesn’t mean must be wrong or that there’s no way to figure out if one is right or wrong.

    This is, I think, getting into exactly the sort of Cartesian skepticism that is just wrong from a philosophical perspective. If you don’t know with certainty that 2+2=4, you can’t know anything. You can’t know your name. You can’t know what you had for breakfast this morning. Merely knowing the fact that numbers exist (a self-evident concept from existing in reality) and knowing the arithmetic operation of addition (a certain and unambiguously defined concept) yields that answer. One can know the concepts certainly if one thinks about them, so one can know the mathematical fact certainly.

    Even if someone makes an arithmetic error, one still has certain knowledge that numbers exist and what addition is, so it’s a failure to apply what you know and not any kind of uncertainty or fallibility in knowledge (in other words, you can absolutely know that you are wrong if the error is pointed out to you). That’s why we can meaningfully speak of “mathematical certainty.”

    I just isn’t true that “everyone is fallible, so infallibility isn’t a requirement for knowledge.” We may have infallible knowledge of lots of things (like our names, arithmetic, large segments of the English language, etc.) that are in no sense reducible to mere opinion, and we may also have knowledge that is mere opinion but that we are entirely reasonable in believing as true (e.g., historical facts). There’s no reason to assume that divine inspiration is the only infallible way of knowing things or that infallibility is a requirement for certain knowledge (which is the Cartesian assumption).

    It’s a reflection that modernism is so pervasive that people get in this habit of asserting things like “well, we can’t know infallibly that 2+2=4” that are, to be blunt, ridiculous. Of course we can know that 2+2=4; my preschooler can even manage that. If your theory of knowledge is based on the fact that we can’t infallibly know that 2+2=4, then your theory of knowledge has a problem. This wild skepticism about what is and isn’t infallible knowledge results from Descartes’s highly dubious approach of trying to prove reality from the content of the mind, rather than immediate realism (i.e., that we know things in reality).

    That’s how people in up in these futile searches for infallible epistemic authorities. We allegedly need the authority of God (or Scripture) as a “presupposition” to be able to think or to know anything. Nonsense! We have an enormous amount of knowledge simply by the fact of being created as human beings, body and soul, capable of intellection. The whole idea of a presupposition from which one knows things is a Cartesian denial of immediate realism; the entire premise of presuppositionalism and foundationalism is denial of reality.

    That type of modernist angst can’t be read into St. Thomas or even Suarez. They did not doubt that 2+2=4! The point about infallibility is simply the sure knowledge that the acts of God are infallible, along with the sure knowledge that human reason has no power to comprehend God, so that God must reveal Himself. The nature of that divine act is what provides the explanation for what faith is and how it operates. It’s certainly not an attempt to make God the infallible source of knowledge so that we can “truly know” the truth.

  26. @Eric W.:

    Like Aquinas, Jonathan is in a real pinch. In order to keep the formal object manifested in SS, they must locate it in OT and NT Scripture. What about Church teaching ? This is where Aquinas and Jonathan are not being consistent with their own principles. They have no reason to exclude a permanent interpretive authority from the OT.

    You mean apart from that whole “Jesus not being Incarnate” thing.

    The reason that the Old Testament authority wasn’t intended to be permanent is simple; the object of faith was hidden. That (obviously) limited the degree of explicit faith anybody could have. Hence, Isaiah’s prophecy said that God would announce “new things, hidden things which you have not known” (Isa. 48:6). One can have faith in the object without knowledge of every article of faith; what one cannot do is to deny any article of faith that one knows according to the mode of faith one has. Hence, the failure to preserve Scripture as divine oracles would have been a denial to keep what they did know, but that does not suggest that Israel was capable of perceiving all of the articles of faith to which Scripture testified.

    Thus, we have a very good reason to exclude a permanent interpretive authority from the OT: Christ was not revealed.

    That’s to the substantive part. On the rest, stop with the semi-Kevin stuff. He’s gone for a reason, and unless you want to be not semi-gone but completely gone, you should not behave the same way.

  27. @Eric:

    Frankly, I question the intellectual and spiritual “good faith” of those who have been taken in by Rome’s arguments.

    You are exactly who I thought you were. QED.

    If you “question the intellectual and spiritual good faith” of Catholics, push off. We don’t need your kind.

  28. Robert,

    “I’m simply pointing out the absurdity of faulting Protestants for having only fallible opinions when in one sense, that’s all any of us have. Until I am God, I’m fallible. That doesn’t mean everything I believe is mere opinion. It’s not my mere opinion that 2+2=4. But is a fallible belief/assertion. Fallible doesn’t mean must be wrong or that there’s no way to figure out if one is right or wrong.”

    Yes we’re all fallible. No, that does not mean everyone is in same boat regardless of whether they submit to an authority or not – NT believer example again. Granting Protestantism’s claims, nothing changes pre and post submission. Granting RC claims, it does. And I’ve never argued one holding fallible opinion related to matters of faith entails one must be wrong – I, following Aquinas, have argued one doing so (holding provisional opinion that happens to be true in alignment with private judgment) is holding that which is of faith otherwise than by faith, rather than holding it by faith and thus either reduces AoF to sheer fideism (giving faith to self-admitted opinions) or stark rationalism (2+2=4).

    “Does your Magisterium specifically claim divine infallible and irreformable authority for every single thing it ever teaches that you are expected to receive as infallible from its hand? Why…”

    The Magisterium proposes itself as having divine authority and infallible – the STM-triad is an article of faith itself and proposed as such by Rome. You follow SS, not ST or STM. You are asserting Scripture makes claims analogous to Rome’s claims and therefore is your principled means to distinguish AoF from provisional opinion just as much as Rome is for RCs. So to support your assertion and be consistent, I’d like to know where each book in your canon claims the analogous authority and thus forms the principled means. If it doesn’t, then your attempt at creating parity and deflecting the argument needs to be retired. I’m giving you the chance to actually make your case – rather than continually asserting the RC argument is “inane” and “we have just as much a principled means as you do” and so forth – by asking those questions. But given you tried to go the tu quoque route, I’m less than optimistic.

    “Assumes that God’s Word is not any different from the rest of the books out there.”

    You still can’t even identify God’s Word reliably or in a way that reaches higher than provisional opinion according to your principles – hence your evasion of the questions. More cart before the horse.

    “If it is irrelevant, then I don’t need a human interpreter or institution with a guaranteed gift of infallibility whenever it says so between me and the Apostles.”

    The Apostles aren’t directly appearing to you.

    “I have Jesus’ public revelation.”

    That you still cannot identify as more than provisional opinion according to your starting principles. More cart before the horse.

    “Good, so their claim should be enough because I have their claim. Your assuming that I don’t.”

    I’m not assuming – your own system tells me it can’t. Semper reformanda and “fallible collection” and question evasion above.

    “If the people in Jesus’ day didn’t need an institution with guaranteed infallibility to rightly submit to him because He is the final self-authenticating authority, neither do I need one today.”

    Jesus is not directly appearing to you. Didn’t you get my note above about Jonathan’s and Suarez’s distinction between public/private revelation in relation to this question?

    “So God and His Word were self-authenticating authorities for Abraham and Moses. Why not Scripture?”

    Okay, so why don’t you answer my questions above? If the canon is self-evident and self-authenticating, I fail to see why those questions are unfair or tangential – they seem logical questions to ask.

    “what makes the new covenant better is an ongoing infallible teaching authority located in the institutional church? Why is such a stronger teaching authority needed in a day with a greater ministry of the Spirit.”

    Christ made more than a few promises about truth, guidance, protection, etc.

    “If anything, the need should be for a weaker teaching authority: (1 John 2:27)”

    Hello biblicism and solo scriptura. But at least your upfront about it.

    “There’s no infallible declaration as to the extent of the canon before Trent, certainly not on the OT.”

    So the canon of the Vulgate wasn’t being read in universal liturgies for a millenium before Trent? Popes never ratified any canonical definitions? T is part of STM.

    “No you don’t.”

    Sure I do. Even Eric W and Michael admitted as much – “epistemic advantage”. Even you admit as much when you recognize the difference in claims between Rome and Protestantism. Every Protestant confession/body admit as much when they proudly boast semper reformanda.

    “Protestants don’t assert mere provisional opinion. We assert fallible interpretation.”

    You assert “we might be wrong, but probably aren’t”. That’s your foundation for AoF. If you asserted something more than that, you or your confessions would actually define something as irreformable. Won’t ever happen though. If it could, then Protestantism would actually offer an irreformable interpretation or dogma – never has, never will.

    “How many NT believers were going around proclaiming that you should believe in Jesus because the church is a principled means for distinguishing between your personal opinion about religious matters and the actual facts about religious matters?”

    So the apostles didn’t think the church they were building and ordaining for posterity had any binding teaching authority? Was the council of Jerusalem just for show?
    An NT believer who just encountered Christ and told his unbelieving friend about Christ’s claims to authority wasn’t about to agree to undermine/neglect those claims to authority when his brother responds, “Um, hey bro, you’re fallible don’t you realize? Infinite regress buddy.” That’s what your argument continues to entail.

    “Very rarely, if ever, do we see them standing up and saying “Believe me because I am an infallible authority and your principled means.””

    So they claim it, just rarely. So much for your argument. And so much for Protestantism which never makes the claim, let alone rarely.

    “Rome is not the Apostles. It has an altogether different kind of inspiration. It doesn’t even have inspiration, which is what grants infallible authority. Quit pretending they are equivalent until you are willing to make the same claim for the church of Rome.”

    I don’t need to claim or assume inspiration for Rome to show the self-defeating logic of your argument.

  29. Jonathan, you wrote:
    On the rest, stop with the semi-Kevin stuff. He’s gone for a reason, and unless you want to be not semi-gone but completely gone, you should not behave the same way.

    Response:
    You command me ? Threaten me ? I behaved the same way ? Rubbish ! Be gone before someone drops a house on you !

  30. Jonathan wrote to misbehaving Eric W:
    You mean apart from that whole “Jesus not being Incarnate” thing

    The reason that the Old Testament authority wasn’t intended to be permanent is simple; the object of faith was hidden. That (obviously) limited the degree of explicit faith anybody could have…..Thus, we have a very good reason to exclude a permanent interpretive authority from the OT: Christ was not revealed.

    Response:
    Oh good, now that it’s revealed and not hidden, we don’t need a permanent interpretive authority receiving for us, right ? I know that the permanent interpretive authority depends on the incarnation. That’s what you guys teach. Unfortunately, a problem still remains for you. Jesus, the revealed object of faith, wasn’t intended to be a permanent interpretive authority. He was like the other Prophets who didn’t stick around in a visible way. Your so-called permanent interpretive authority may need the Incarnation, but it’s actually irrelevant to my challenge.

    Let me guess. He was revealed. Now he’s hidden from us. Follow the Hidden in order to find the Imperial.

  31. @Jonathan,

    I didn’t want your resurrection of F. Suárez to go unnoticed.

    To be treated in this chapter is the other part of the foundation for faith relied on by the king of England, who, when he desires other Christian princes to be as he himself is, namely locating the foundation of faith in certain knowledge, which they will receive from the Scriptures by reading them over, shows that it is certain he lays for the foundation of his faith the knowledge of Scripture acquired by himself. From this foundation and reason for belief in the Scriptures, then, I collect that he does not hold, much less defend, the truly Christian faith.

    Translation: You can’t read the Bible on your own and come to a certain knowledge of the faith. Such would make faith dependent upon our fallible knowledge of the scriptures. Faith needs an infallible interpreter to be certain.

    Reply: That’s Rome’s supposition. That’s sola ecclesia in a nutshell. That’s your ground floor.

    Finally, to make advance upon the private spirit which the king points to, I ask about this same knowledge, which is said to be certain, of what sort its certitude is; that is, whether it be human and acquired by the sole force and sharpness of intelligence from the reading of Scripture and from the signification of the words, or whether it be divine, given by the Holy Spirit through special grace and donation? Whichever of these is said, it is repugnant to certitude and unity of faith and contains very serious disadvantages; therefore such certain knowledge cannot be the foundation of truly Christian faith.

    Translation: Whether by one’s own wit or by private revelation, knowledge cannot be the foundation of faith.

    Reply: Then why argue for Romanism at all? If you’re presupposing it as the given, what need have you of proofs from scripture or tradition? But if you’re going to throw those out for our consideration, then why can’t we apply the rules of basic epistemology to them?

    Finally, the thing itself considered in itself even appears impossible; for how can it come about that by human discourse and conjecture alone someone might, by reading Scripture, attain very certainly to the sense intended by the Holy Spirit? For this certitude, since it does not come from divine faith, as is supposed in this member [of the dilemma], must be found in some evidence; otherwise the certitude will not be according to reason but pertinacity and stubbornness of will. But in such matter there cannot be evidence; both because the mind and intention of the Holy Spirit is most hidden and able to be manifold; and also because there can be ambiguity in the signification of the words themselves; and finally because of innumerable other difficulties which arise in the interpretation.

    Translation: Due to human fallibility, certain knowledge is impossible. If certitude depends upon evidence rather than faith, then there can be no certitude because our evaluation of the evidence can only ever be fallible.

    Reply: Then don’t bother trying to advance an argument for why Rome is infallible. Just assume that it is and go from there.

    Private spirit cannot, therefore, be the rule of Catholic faith, but rather by this rule is this spirit itself to be discerned, as the Fathers everywhere teach….

    Translation: The individual doesn’t determine what is true; rather the Catholic faith is what is true and is the standard by which individual opinions are evaluated.

    Reply: Then don’t bother with evaluating Rome’s claims because you’re in no position to do so anyway. Just accept that they’re true and then, on that basis, evaluate all other competing claims against the sure standard of Rome.

    The first reason, then against the aforesaid error can be taken from what has just been said. For faith truly Christian is common and public; therefore the foundation of it also ought to be public and common.

    Translation: Tradition is the common and public rule of faith against which private opinions are to be evaluated.

    Reply: Tradition as Rome defines it cannot be wrong. Just accept it. “We are Rome. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.”

    This fact is made more explicit in the second reason, because in order for this foundation of faith to be firm and infallible, there is need of the assistance of the Holy Spirit, or of his special direction and illumination in distinguishing the true sense of Scripture; but this assistance has not been promised to the individual faithful when perusing Scripture and privately judging its sense, but it has been promised to the Church or to its pastors, above all in matters that are necessary to the faith; therefore the foundation of the faith ought to be, nor private judgment, but the public judgment of the Church.

    Translation:

    1. The Holy Spirit is needed for an infallible knowledge of scripture’s intent
    2. The Holy Spirit does not work infallibly in the individual.
    3. But the Holy Spirit does work infallibly through the designated leaders of the Church
    4. Therefore whatever they teach is infallible because the Holy Spirit is illuminating them.

    Reply: This is all one question-begging big assertion. But where’s the evidence to support it? Oops. I can’t ask that question. Because now I’m being espistemic and this isn’t about epistemology; it’s about taking it in faith as Rome defines what faith is.

    Since, therefore, the heretics can neither show from the Scriptures that private knowledge, which, as they imagine, is certain for themselves from the infallible assistance of the Holy Spirit, nor can they even show it by any signs or virtues, why should they be believed, especially since the opinions they form through such knowledge are contrary to the Holy Spirit speaking through the Church?

    Translation:

    1. Protestants cannot prove private infallibility from Scripture.
    2. Protestants cannot prove private infallibility from personal virtue or miraculous signs.
    3. Protestants disprove their claims by contradicting the infallible Church.
    4. Therefore we should not believe Protestants.

    Reply: So it’s okay for Suárez to make arguments against Protestants, but if they do the same thing against Rome, they’re ruled out of court immediately for trying to make everything depend upon knowledge rather than faith. Heads Rome wins, tails, Protestants lose. Got it.

    A third reason can be added, that the infallible assistance of the Holy Spirit is no less necessary and sufficient for judging the virtue of Scripture itself, that is, which books in it are canonical, by discriminating them from those that are not canonical, than for giving sure judgment about the true sense of Scripture, as was seen above. But the assistance of the Holy Spirit for first judging the legitimate books is not given to the individual faithful; nor do I reckon that hitherto there has been a heretical man so proud as to arrogate to himself a private spirit for discerning the canonical from the non-canonical books, nor so dull and rash as to say that this judgment is to be committed or permitted to individual believers for each one’s decision, or dreamy spirit.

    Translation: No individual Protestant can infallibly know what books of the Bible are canonical, much less infallibly determine what they mean.

    Reply: So what explains the fact that people in the church were making copies of scripture long before there was ever an infallible declaration as to which books were scripture and which were not? How did the people know what to quote with the formula citandi (“it is written”) even before there were monarchical bishops in Rome and long before any of these began to entertain notions of their own infallibility?

    From these things too is taken a fourth reason, a moral one indeed, very effective and much commended by the Fathers. For this private spirit not only cannot be the foundation of faith, but rather is it the root of heresies and a great occasion for schisms.

    Translation: Private judgment leads to schism.

    Reply: And what happens when the institution gets it wrong too? Oh, I can’t ask that because the infallible institution simply can’t get it wrong. ([Whispering] “Nevertheless, it moves.”)

    There follows in addition from this a fifth and very pressing reason, that otherwise there could be no end to controversies in questions which arise about the faith; for each heretic affirms that he has been illuminated by God and that the others are deluded. Therefore, unless someone be judge also over all private judgment, someone who has authority from God for discriminating infallibly the false from the true, it is impossible to settle quarrels of the faith or to preserve in the Church one infallible faith.

    Translation: Protestants can never settle controversies but are doomed to hold to provisional opinions that are always subject to change.

    Reply: That doesn’t seem to be the case in actual practice. Protestant resolve controversies all the time within their ranks and also have the wherewithal and means to actually enforce their own rules. Meanwhile, pro-abortion RC politicians are welcome at the Eucharist week after week. So we can come to decisions and say that our views are true. But you say that unless those decisions are stamped with infallibility, then they’re no more than tentative opinions that could change tomorrow. But is that really the case? In fact, I think we Protestants can be just as guilty of holding on to bad traditions as Rome is.

    Finally connected to these is a sixth reason; for if private spirit were the rule of one’s own faith, there would be no heresy or heretic, or at least no one could be judged or condemned by men as a heretic or compelled to hold some common faith; all which things are very absurd and contrary not only to Scripture and the Fathers and reason, but also to the words and deeds of the king of England himself.

    Translation: Protestants have no principled means of telling anyone else that they’re wrong.

    Reply: Yes we do. It’s the same principled means Jesus used when he said things like, “You err because you do not know the scriptures,” or “If they won’t believe what Moses wrote then they won’t believe even if someone should rise from the dead.”

    Jonathan >>As I said, Suarez’s argument should appear familiar, and that’s because it hasn’t really changed from the Counter-Reformation. <<

    You’re right. The arguments look familiar, even if the language is archaic. And the arguments were just as bad then as they are today. Most Protestants wouldn’t even recognize the charges being leveled against them as we do not claim in the first place that our private judgment is infallible. Further, the epistemological assumption that grounds the principled means objection is clearly faulty. It simply doesn’t follow that if we have no infallible interpreter that we therefore can’t tell anyone else that they’re wrong. Only by presupposing at the outset that certainty about the articles of faith is given by the infallible church, can the entire objection to private interpretation get going in the first place. But why adopt that as a presupposition in the first place?

    So whether you, James, Mateo or even an old-school Jesuit like Suárez is making the argument, it’s still a bad argument that presupposes the infallibility of Rome without acknowledging upfront that such is one’s starting point. We presuppose the infallibility of scripture. But we’re up front about that. We frankly acknowledge that this is our starting point and we argue that it is a much better starting point than the Church, which has erred.

    The problem is that during the Victorian era, when modernism and scientism really took hold, the argument was misunderstood, and it’s never been analyzed correctly since that time.

    I don’t think so, Jonathan. I think we can take off our DesCartes-to-Kant goggles an step back into an earlier worldview and still make pretty much the same criticisms with or without those goggles on. But let’s see where you’re going with this.

    Importantly, Suarez’s point is not that we can’t understand Scripture in terms of the “signification of the words.” It’s that we cannot certainly discern either what texts are inspired or the sense that God intends us to take from Scripture, which is both “most hidden” and “manifold,” without the assistance of the Holy Spirit.

    But what justifies the prior assumption that we need “certainty” in this regard? And while all parties insist that the Holy Spirit gives assistance to the church in coming to know the truth, it is purely gratuitous to assume that we cannot error in our reception of that assistance or that there is a particular office within the church whom the Holy Spirit makes sure will get it right no matter what. Suárez as much as any RC since is simply taking that for granted. The Reformation only makes sense to those who do not share that assumption.

    Jonathan>>In other words, to read the text as divine revelation, we need not only an inspired text but a divinely assisted interpreter to receive the words as having a divine meaning (even if that divine meaning reduces to the signification of the words in many cases). It is not a doubt about knowledge generally, but about the ability of that knowledge to function as a normatively guiding principle of divine revelation.<<

    Fair enough. But once you go down this route, why don’t you also need a fallible interpreter for your infallible interpreter? After all, the Vatican can issue a document and some factions within can say, “It’s infallible” while others can opine, “No it’s not.” So what happens when there is no agreement as to whether or not something is infallible? How can an outsider thinking about becoming Roman Catholic really know what he/she has to believe if Rome itself cannot say for sure what is/is not infallible? It sounds like we need an infallible interpreter for the infallible interpreter. And then there’s our own infallibility to consider. I mean, what really is the difference between an RC reading through an infallible papal Bull and a Protestant reading his Bible? Both are prone to mistakes, but it is possible that both could get it right.

    There are essentially two possible avenues for such reception: public and private. Unless we each individually have reasonable (not absolute) certainty that the Holy Spirit is infallibly both indicating the texts that are inspired and certainly interpreting the revelation for us, then the infallible interpreter must be a public function. Note that this public function is not the same as the public function of the revealers, because it only receives rather than generates. Likewise, it must be unchanging from the time that public revelation closes.

    What I don’t understand here is how the bar for certainty is being set. It seems low at one point, then really high at another. So you concede that all we need is reasonable certainty at an individual level about the inspired text. But if we don’t have that or can’t have that at an individual level, then we need a public infallible interpreter. But if individuals can’t have reasonable certainty about the Bible, then how can they have reasonable certainty about the public interpreter, much less know it’s infallible?

    The point is that it’s not a question of greater or lesser authority, but correlative authority. That is why St. Thomas has the Magisterium as being equally reliable as the Apostles themselves, not because its authority is derivative, but because its authority is correlative to the public deposit of Scriptures in the Church. It is, in that respect, analogous to the Constitution investing the judicial power for its own interpretation in the Supreme Court.

    But if the standard is correlative rather than derivative, then Protestant confessional churches could be considered infallible within their own spheres just as Rome considers itself infallible. So it seems to me that an derivative authority would be needed to ground Rome as the infallible church rather than its competitors.

    Suarez sees denying the authority of the Church as analogous to denying the existence of the United States government or the Supreme Court. To affirm the authority of the Constitution just is to affirm the continuing existence of the United States from 1789 on. If there is no United States, then the Constitution has never had any normative authority. Likewise, if I claim to be submitting to the authority of the Constitution, but I repudiate the authority of the government formed under the Constitution, then I am not really submitting to the authority of the Constitution.

    So let’s stay with this analogy for a moment and work with it as a Protestant might. If the constitution = scripture and the Supreme Court = the magisterium, then the Protestant would say this. Yes, there is a Bible and yes there has always been a magisterium. But no, that doesn’t mean the magisterium has always properly interpreted, enforced, taken into account, its own constitution.

    And then there’s this to consider. Since the constitution founded was in part a reaction to a tyrannical king, then you must know that it was founded by people who didn’t see themselves bound to magisterial authority (the King in this case) and could rebel against it if the king was in error. So you might say that the constitution itself gives the people the right to rebel against ecclesiastical authority if that authority fails to do its job. That’s sort of like Paul saying, “If we or an angel should preach to you another Gospel…” Paul himself has built in a no-confidence clause into our Constitution giving the people (the Galatians in this case) the right to determine whether or not a message is in conformity with the real Gospel and the right to impeach even an Apostle.

    So neither St. Thomas nor Suarez is suggesting any sort of radical skepticism or any need for absolute epistemic certainty. Rather, they are saying that faith, because it is an act of will rather than scientific knowledge, is fundamentally a normative issue. And the question is whether the normative authority for divine revelation (infallible as divine) is public or private. “Private judgment,” then, is not epistemic judgment (because we all have to make those), but a question of normative status for those judgments. Basically, is my own personal word the law, or is there a public authority?

    Yes, we get this distinction. No, we’re not buying it precisely because you need to default back to your own epistemic judgment (“because we all have to make those”) just to answer your own question (“Is my own personal word the law, or is there a public authority?”). And your question raises another question. Is it an either/or? In other words, while there is a certain amount of “private judgment” in making any act of the will, does that mean we make those judgments in utter solipsism? No. We make those judgments, typically anyway, within a community of some sort and so I’m not sure the public/private distinction is as dichotomous as you make it out to be, at least not in practice if not in theory.

    In Catholicism (including St. Thomas and Suarez), the need for infallible authority is normative rather than epistemic (in other words, the threshold epistemic question is not the doctrine itself, but finding the right authority for establishing normative propositions), and it is public, i.e., a correlative authority established by the public deposit of revelation itself.

    In other words, infallibility is presupposed. That’s your given. Sola ecclesia. Yeah, we know.

    If we can get past those two questions correctly, the whole “infallible regress” thing becomes irrelevant.

    Agreed. It is irrelevant if the infallible church is your ground floor. I’ve been saying that all along. The “infinite regress” objection only kicks in when assertions are made to the effect that certainty cannot be obtained without the stamp of infallibility. Then it becomes not a question of faith, but a question of knowledge. And if knowledge requires that we must know before we can know, then we must know that we know that we know and so on.

    Finally, as a side note. Jim effectively called me a homosexual and you rightly rebuked him for this. He refuses to retract that comment and even went after you for your rebuke. So why is he still here? And why is Kevin not still here? The standard is clearly double. If Jim can stay here, then you’re allowing personal insults against other people who post on this forum. Kevin may have issued Jack Chick-quality criticisms of Rome’s theology (“Death Wafer”) etc., but that’s not the same as calling someone gay. Yes, we all use names: “heretics,” “Romanists,” etc. But I think we can all tell the difference between genuine ad-hominem arguments and rhetoric. Your initial instinct was right. Would that you would follow it through to its logical and ethically consistent conclusion.

  32. Robert, you write:

    You treat your fallible interpretation of the Magisterium as no less self-evident than I treat my interpretation of Scripture.

    Again, the difference between you and me is that I listen to the church that Jesus Christ personally founded, and you listen to no man but Robert. The Magisterium interprets the magisterium. For example, I once thought that the Papal Encyclical Ordinatio Sacerdotalis met the criteria for being an ex cathedra papal teaching. And so did many other Catholics. But the magisterium clarified that OS was not an ex cathedra papal teaching, so I no longer think that it is. I don’t obstinately persist in error, because I have a teachable spirit. But because you will listen to no man but Robert’s personal interpretations of the Protestant bible, you have an unteachable spirit. You self-anoint yourself as the Supreme Lord of the Scriptures when you refuse to listen to anyone but yourself when you interpret the Protestant bible!

    Maybe if you thought for a difference you could actually meaningfully explain the difference between what you are doing in listening to the infallible receive (church) and what I am doing in listening to the infallible receiver (prophets and Apostles)

    Why do you continue to ignore what I say? This is not a question about the inerrancy of the Protestant bible. It is a question about bad interpretations of the Protestant bible, and how one determines that one is making a bad interpretation of the Protestant bible.

    Protestantism is thousands upon thousands of bickering sects divided over interpretations of the same Protestant bible. The doctrinal chaos of Protestantism exists because Protestants have no means of determining when they are making bad interpretations of the Protestant bible.

    Protestant doctrinal confusion does not come from God, the confusion is the work of Satan, the author of confusion. God gave to the church that he personally founded the means to clear up a points of confusion when they arise, but Protestants reject those means, because Protestants refuse to listen to the church that Jesus Christ personally founded. The will listen to any old church founded by some Tom, Dick or Ellen, but they will not listen to the church personally founded by Jesus Christ.

    Once again, here is my point: Mateo listens to no man but Mateo.

    Your point is bunk, because I listen to the men that are vested with a share of the teaching office of the church that Jesus Christ personally founded. You listen to no man but Robert.

    You sola ecclesia confessing RCs …

    How many times must Catholics point out to you that “sola ecclesia” is a straw man of your own making? Beat those straw men, Robert!

  33. Eric, you write:

    As Luther put it, “Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason–I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other–my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen.”

    I am quite aware of this quote by Luther! It is the very foundation of Luther’s inane sola scriptura heresy. Note that Luther did not quote a single verse of scriptures to back up his implicit (and ridiculous) assertion that Luther’s conscience has primacy in all matters of scriptural interpretation – a primacy of interpretation that he claimed over all of Christendom. All bow down before Martin Luther, the greatest theologian that has ever lived has taught. That is right, Martin Luther declared that he was the greatest theologian that ever lived, so it must be true, because Almighty Martin has declared it to be so!

    Luther was both mentally ill, and a pompous ass that suffered from delusions of grandeur. With these words, Luther is declaring that Almighty Martin can sit in judgment of “popes and councils” and declare, by mere fiat, that “they have contradicted each other”. No evidence ever offered for that actually being true, just believe it because Mighty Martin said so. Martin is always right, because Martin has self-anointed himself to be he greatest theologian that has ever lived.

    Eric, no Christians ever believed in the primacy of the individual conscience before Luther started spreading this lie from hell.

  34. Eric, Robert, Michael,

    Here is a classic example of well meaning folks reading the perspicuous scriptures without the guidance of the Church.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwBVcsWYJd8

  35. Eric, Michael and Robert,

    Bracing for your tu quoque defense, remember, we Catholics admit there are Catholics who don’t obey Church teaching.
    Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to address Church teaching itself, not the fact there are dissenters from it.

  36. Jim wrote:
    …we Catholics admit there are Catholics who don’t obey Church teaching.

    Response:
    What’s the principled means to distinguish between “we Catholics” and “Catholics who don’t obey Church teaching” ? Answer: The true identification of “Church teaching itself” and the actual Catholics of “we Catholics”. Someone here wrote:

    The Mag. interprets the Mag.

    Therefore, any non-Mag. attempt to identify is non-Mag.

    Jim, don’t worry about the tu quoque defense because that supposes a true identification of Church teaching itself. Church teaching is hidden and requires a permanent interpretive authority to identify. We know that’s not you.

  37. Mateo wrote to Robert:
    Your point is bunk, because I listen to the men that are vested with a share of the teaching office of the church that Jesus Christ personally founded. You listen to no man but Robert.

    Response:
    Imagine a world where Robert didn’t listen to Robert. If Robert didn’t listen to Robert, then Robert wouldn’t be able to move his will towards any desirable object. Isn’t it true that Mateo thinks the CC is a desirable object ? I conclude that Mateo’s arguments against Robert actually hinder Robert from drawing towards the CC.
    ——————————

    Mateo’s spirit knows Mateo’s thoughts (1Cor. 2:11) If Mateo’s spirit is teachable, then I want to know if Mateo’s spirit taught itself about Mateo’s thoughts ? Did it interpret Mateo’s thought or does it just know ? Mateo thinks the following is true:

    Mateo is a true Catholic by an infused habit of faith.

    Who or what informed Mateo’s spirit that this was true ? Answer: Mateo’s fallibe thoughts interpreting God-knows what !
    ————————–

    Mateo wrote:
    Again, the difference between you and me is that I listen to the church that Jesus Christ personally founded, and you listen to no man but Robert.

    Response:
    I want to hear it ! When did the Church tell Mateo’s ears and thoughts that Mateo was a true Catholic by an infused habit of faith ? Show us where the CC said it.
    —————————

    Spirit of Mateo, you wrote:
    I don’t obstinately persist in error, because I have a teachable spirit.

    Response:
    Spirit, tell us who taught you that you are true Catholic by infused habit of faith ?
    ————————–

    I have the right to question Mateo because we are instructed to test the spirits (1John 4:1). Mateo, however, can’t test me because he doesn’t know or confess himself to be in a state of grace, i.e., without the Holy Spirit to assist in testing other spirits. The imperial will of Rome says he can’t know without private revelation. BTW, Mateo can, in a clever way taught by the imperial will, say he has an infused habit without being in a state of grace. My testing is aware of this clever move.

  38. Jim,

    This one is just for you. Nobody else peek.

    Yeah, people interpret the Bible wrongly. Who said they didn’t.

    My complaint isn’t mainly that you guys think the church is infallible (though that is an error that needs to be countered). My complaint is that you guys think that without an infallible church, you don’t have a principled way to distinguish doctrine from opinion. If you are going to go there, then the infallible church MUST excommunicate anyone who disagrees with her. After all, I as an individual have to interpret the Magisterium. If I can’t be sure I’m interpreting the Bible rightly, then I can’t be sure of doing it with the Magisterium unless there is perfect discipline.

  39. Mateo,

    Again, the difference between you and me is that I listen to the church that Jesus Christ personally founded, and you listen to no man but Robert.

    If you think that Protestants believe that their churches weren’t personally founded by Christ, then you are sadly mistaken.

    The Magisterium interprets the magisterium.

    Sola ecclesia.

    For example, I once thought that the Papal Encyclical Ordinatio Sacerdotalis met the criteria for being an ex cathedra papal teaching. And so did many other Catholics. But the magisterium clarified that OS was not an ex cathedra papal teaching, so I no longer think that it is. I don’t obstinately persist in error, because I have a teachable spirit. But because you will listen to no man but Robert’s personal interpretations of the Protestant bible, you have an unteachable spirit.

    In other words, Mateo listened to Mateo’s hearing of the Magisterium, Mateo agreed with the Magisterium, and Mateo remained a Roman Catholic. Looks to me that you submit only when you agree.

    You self-anoint yourself as the Supreme Lord of the Scriptures when you refuse to listen to anyone but yourself when you interpret the Protestant bible!

    Well since I can’t get out of my own self, I have to use my reason and other powers to interpret the Bible and anything else anyone ever says to me. When my wife talks to me, I have to listen to my understanding of her words because all I can have is my understanding of her words. Same with my boss.

    What you don’t seem to realize is that you do the EXACT same thing. You submit only when you agree that Rome is correct. You just happen to have believed ever since you became a RC that Rome has been correct.

    Why do you continue to ignore what I say? This is not a question about the inerrancy of the Protestant bible. It is a question about bad interpretations of the Protestant bible, and how one determines that one is making a bad interpretation of the Protestant bible.

    I’m not ignoring what you say. You say you need an infallible interpreter. I want to know what you are doing differently than I am doing when you fallibly interpret the infallible interpreter. I’m fallibly interpreting the infallible Bible. All I see is that you have more stuff to figure out.

    Protestantism is thousands upon thousands of bickering sects divided over interpretations of the same Protestant bible. The doctrinal chaos of Protestantism exists because Protestants have no means of determining when they are making bad interpretations of the Protestant bible.

    Rome is just as divided. Your “unity” is nominal visible unity grounded in the idea that the church should have the same home office. It isn’t unity in dogma. If it were, Rome would be excommunicating millions upon millions of people.

    Protestant doctrinal confusion does not come from God, the confusion is the work of Satan, the author of confusion.

    Well anytime we are wrong about doctrine, that isn’t God’s fault. I agree. I also agree that Protestants are too divided. But Rome isn’t the answer to that. Rome is the chief agent of division in professing Christianity. You kicked the East to the curb long before you gave Luther et al the bum’s rush. When the papacy had a chance to reform itself, it doubled down on its own authority.

    God gave to the church that he personally founded the means to clear up a points of confusion when they arise, but Protestants reject those means, because Protestants refuse to listen to the church that Jesus Christ personally founded.

    Protestants don’t disagree on this. They disagree that an infallible church is that means. Protestant churches settle things all the time and we believe they get them right. If people don’t like it, they can leave. When church and state are separated, that’s what happens. RC nominal visible unity is more a product of centuries of the church being in bed with the state than anything else.

    The will listen to any old church founded by some Tom, Dick or Ellen, but they will not listen to the church personally founded by Jesus Christ.

    Any church that preaches the gospel rightly, administers the sacraments rightly, and practices church discipline rightly is the church personally founded by Jesus Christ. Having a line of traceable bishops (which Rome certainly does not have, particularly with the papacy, whose line imploded at several points in history and had to be fixed AFTER the fact) is irrelevant if the doctrine and sacraments are false and any Tom, Dick, or Ellen can believe whatever they want and still get the Eucharist.

    Your point is bunk, because I listen to the men that are vested with a share of the teaching office of the church that Jesus Christ personally founded. You listen to no man but Robert.

    Yes, after you have interpreted them, decided that they are correct, and decided that you should continue being RC. You are a thinking person, right? Of course, you do much of this unconsciously, just as I do it unconsciously when I listen to Scripture and the elders of my local church.

    How many times must Catholics point out to you that “sola ecclesia” is a straw man of your own making? Beat those straw men, Robert!

    You just told me that only the Magisterium interprets the Magisterium infallibly. That’s the very definition of sola ecclesia. Sola Scriptura simply means that Scripture is the final infallible aribtrer of doctrine. So if the Magisterium functions that way for you, then you affirm sola ecclesia. I don’t get why you RCs protesteth so much about it. You’re always talking about the glories of Rome. There’s one of of them.

  40. James wrote to Robert:
    You assert “we might be wrong, but probably aren’t”. That’s your foundation for AoF. If you asserted something more than that, you or your confessions would actually define something as irreformable. Won’t ever happen though. If it could, then Protestantism would actually offer an irreformable interpretation or dogma – never has, never will.

    Response:

    AoF: I believe in God the Father Almighty.

    WCF: There is but one only, living, and true God….. almighty……God the Father

    Scripture Foundation: Ephesians 4:6

    If reformable, then the Scripture can be broken. The Scripture can’t be broken (John 10:35). Therefore, it’s irreformable.
    ————————-

    Please distinguish between AoF and other grades of revelation. I learned that the RC theologians distinguish. AoF are pure and simple revelations. Learn from me now, and yes I’m a lay-Prot. theologian who’s willing to learn more and reform when necessary.

  41. Robert wrote to Mateo:
    In other words, Mateo listened to Mateo’s hearing of the Magisterium, Mateo agreed with the Magisterium, and Mateo remained a Roman Catholic. Looks to me that you submit only when you agree.

    Response:
    I’m so glad Robert listened to Robert. It gives me courage.

  42. Robert,

    “Any church that preaches the gospel rightly, administers the sacraments rightly, and practices church discipline rightly is the church personally founded by Jesus Christ. ”

    You mean “preaches Luther’s gospel”, don’t you? The one even Luther admits was unknown even to Paul.

    As for administering the Sacrament rightly, on that one, Calvin admitted the Father’s called the Mass a sacrifice.

    Church discipline? Episcopalianism, presbyterianism, congregationalism, whatever are all right?

  43. +JMJ+

    It is obvious that Protestants know that which constitutes Catholic teaching, since they are unanimous to reject it. It is the only thing upon which Protestantism is united. A rejection of Our tribe/family. A rejection of Our Sacramental Illumination. A rejection of Our own ontolo-epistemological Christoformism.

    But beyond this simple self-loathing, what constitutes “Protestantism”? It’s hard to say exactly. That’s obvious. No one can say what it is, but only that which it is not. Self-described from within Protestantism, it is “Not Us”.

  44. Jim,

    You mean “preaches Luther’s gospel”, don’t you? The one even Luther admits was unknown even to Paul.

    What in the world are you talking about. Unknown even to Paul?

    As for administering the Sacrament rightly, on that one, Calvin admitted the Father’s called the Mass a sacrifice.

    You are assuming that what Rome means by sacrifice, the fathers meant by sacrifice. Evidence please. Protestants have no problem calling the mass a sacrifice of thanksgiving.

    Church discipline? Episcopalianism, presbyterianism, congregationalism, whatever are all right?

    Any one of those systems can administer church discipline, and merely having the “right” system doesn’t ensure discipline will be rightly enforced.

  45. Wosbald,

    It is obvious that Protestants know that which constitutes Catholic teaching, since they are unanimous to reject it. It is the only thing upon which Protestantism is united. A rejection of Our tribe/family. A rejection of Our Sacramental Illumination. A rejection of Our own ontolo-epistemological Christoformism.

    We know what constitutes RC teaching if we read documents in context. The problem is you guys keep changing it. About the only thing we can say for sure is that you guys think you are the only true church and that everybody else is more or less a pretender.

    But beyond this simple self-loathing, what constitutes “Protestantism”? It’s hard to say exactly. That’s obvious. No one can say what it is, but only that which it is not. Self-described from within Protestantism, it is “Not Us”.

    Actually, the honest person will look at Protestantism historically and not identify anyone who isn’t RC or EO as Protestant. Put that way, it’s quite easy to define Protestantism:

    Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed
    Chalcedonian Definition
    Sola Scriptura
    Sola Fide
    Solus Christus
    Sola Gratia
    Soli Deo Gloria

  46. Robert you write:

    If you think that Protestants believe that their churches weren’t personally founded by Christ, then you are sadly mistaken.

    If you think that Jesus Christ founded your PCA sect two-thousand years ago, you are not just mistaken, you are delusional. Fact, your PCA sect was founded in 1973.

  47. Mateo,

    The expression of the church Jesus founded known as the PCA was legally incorporated in 1973, but it goes back to earlier Presbyterianism which goes back to the Reformation which goes back through the earlier scholastics which goes back through the fathers to the Apostles.

    The oldest you can go for RCism is ca 1000 ad when the pope and the east excommunicated each other, as the legend goes.

  48. “which goes back to the Reformation which goes back through the earlier scholastics which goes back through the fathers to the Apostles. The oldest you can go for RCism is ca 1000 ad when the pope and the east excommunicated each other, as the legend goes.”

    Weird that both Rome and the East reject SS and the Protestant view of semper reformanda and private judgment. Guess they were both just misreading the Presbyterian fathers for 1500 years.

  49. Robert you write:

    Mateo listened to Mateo’s hearing of the Magisterium …

    Actually, I read what the Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith wrote, understood what was written, and had a point cleared up that I was confused about.

    Mateo agreed with the Magisterium …

    I understood what was written. You too could read the same document and understand what was written, because your cognitive skills are adequate for the task. But there is a huge difference between you and me, and it has nothing to do with understanding.

    You, Robert, a mere fallible interpreter of the Protestant bible, has enthroned yourself as the Supreme Lord of the Scriptures. From your throne, you dismiss anything that does not agree with your private interpretations of the Protestant bible. But you being a mere fallible interpreter of the Protestant bible does not warrant the exalted position that you have given to yourself as the Supreme Lord of the Scriptures.

    Mateo remained a Roman Catholic

    Of course! That is what lay Catholics do, they do not self-anoint themselves up as the Supreme Lords of the Scriptures, where, from their exalted thrones, they dismiss teachings of the Magisterium as being irrelevant if the teachings of the Magisterium don’t agree with their own fallible opinions.

    If I was like you, I would have clung to an opinion that was wrong. But because you listen to no man but Robert, you cling to your fallible interpretations of the Protestant bible that are flat out wrong.

    Looks to me that you submit only when you agree.

    A conclusion that is just plain dumb, seeing that I accepted the fact that I was mistaken in my opinion.

    … since I can’t get out of my own self, I have to use my reason and other powers to interpret the Bible …

    What “other powers” would those be? Don’t be so vague. Spell it out!

    What you don’t seem to realize is that you do the EXACT same thing.

    I am not at all like you. Jesus commanded that those who would be his disciples must listen to the church that he personally founded or suffer the pain of excommunication. That means that the disciples of Jesus are not authorized to become Lone Ranger Protestants that listen to no one but themselves!

    You say you need an infallible interpreter.

    For the umpteenth time, I have said that the ONLY infallible interpreter is the Holy Spirit. Do I need the Holy Spirit to understand any spiritual truth that is written in your Protestant bible? Yes, I do, and you believe the same thing. Your human reasoning alone, apart from the Holy Spirit, is wholly inadequate to give you understanding of any spiritual truths written in your Protestant bible.

    I want to know what you are doing differently than I am doing when you fallibly interpret the infallible interpreter.

    One more time, the Holy Spirit is the ONLY infallible interpreter of the books of divine revelation that God has authored.

    You don’t deny that you have an absolute need of the Holy Spirit to understand any spiritual truth spoken about in your Protestant bible. Which is a good thing to admit, because that is true. You believe that the Holy Spirit wants you to understand what is written in your Protestant bible. Which is also true.

    One of the things that the Holy Spirit wants you to understand is that you must listen to the church that Jesus Christ personally founded, and quit enthroning yourself as the Supreme Lord of the Scriptures. When you do that, you are usurping the throne of the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit is the Supreme Lord of the Scriptures.

    What am I doing differently than you? I listen to the church that Jesus Christ personally founded, and you listen to no one but yourself.

    Protestant churches settle things all the time and we believe they get them right.

    You belabor the obvious while you overlook the obvious. The Protestants that belong to sects other than your little PCA sect believe that they are right, of course. If those other Protesters didn’t believe that, they wouldn’t belong to those other Protestant sects, they would belong to your little sect. This is where you belabor the obvious.

    You overlook the obvious, because it is obvious to those who are not Protestants, that thousands upon thousands of bickering and divided Protestant sects that think that they are right cannot possibly be right! So why should anyone not a member of your little sect think that your sect is “rightly dividing the scripures”? Because you think that you do? Every Protestant sect can make that argument!

    Any church that preaches the gospel rightly, administers the sacraments rightly, and practices church discipline rightly is the church personally founded by Jesus Christ.

    How very convenient for you that, in your fallible opinion, your little Protestant sect “preaches the gospel rightly, administers the sacraments rightly, and practices church discipline rightly”. And how do you, a fallible interpreter of the Protestant bible, know that any of this is true? You don’t know.

    You have found a sect that agrees with Robert, therefore, what you believe must be true because fallible Robert is infallible when he made the decision that the PCA “preaches the gospel rightly, administers the sacraments rightly, and practices church discipline rightly”. You argue in circles. You assume that what you believe is true, and then offer that as proof that what you believe is true.!

  50. Robert, you write:

    …it [the PCA – a schism from a schism from a schism …] goes back to earlier Presbyterianism which goes back to the Reformation …

    The “Reformation” is where we can locate the beginning of the schism that began the long line of the Presbyterian branch of schismatics.

    John Calvin, a lay Catholic, broke away from the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and, with the aid of the magistrates of Geneva, took control of the Catholic Church in Geneva.

    The pyschopath of Geneva got the magistrates of Geneva to give to John the power to excommunicate (and/or murder) anyone that dared to disagree with Almighty John Calvin, one of innumerable Supreme Lords of the Scriptures that came after Mighty Martin.

    Unfortunately for the madman of Geneva, the scriptures teach that the power of excommunication belongs to the church that Jesus Christ personally founded, and John Calvin is not the church that Jesus Christ personally founded!

    John Calvin was a raging megalomaniac who was even more sick than Martin Luther, and proof of Calvin’s out of control megalomania is the fact that John Calvin sought the power to excommunicate fellow Christians.

    Robert, you need to accept what Jesus taught and quit listening to Calvin the cafeteria Catholic.

  51. Mateo,

    Nice to see that you have absolutely no clue about Calvin or the Reformation.

    How about we go through the history of the papacy’s murder of those who disagreed with it? Or its claim to secular authority, a claim that strangely is silent these years. But don’t worry, that’s not a dogmatic change because Rome says its not a dogmatic change.

    You can keep on ignoring Rome as the instigator of virtually every schism in the church, but the rest of us won’t. Rome simply is not an ancient church. The papal line of succession implodes during the Western schism. And before that it just does not go all the way back to the first century.

    Murder is wrong no matter who does it. But to pretend Rome doesn’t have blood on her hands is naive.

  52. Wosbald wrote:
    It is obvious that Protestants know that which constitutes Catholic teaching, since they are unanimous to reject it. It is the only thing upon which Protestantism is united. A rejection of Our tribe/family. A rejection of Our Sacramental Illumination. A rejection of Our own ontolo-epistemological Christoformism.

    Response:
    Ok, Prot. know that which constitutes Catholic teaching. What’s the difference between Prot. knowledge and epistemological in “onto-epistemological Christoformism” ? Apparently, both parties share in Sacramental Illumination. Come to think of it, the “ontolo-” is part and parcel of that reality. The Catholic paradigm confirms it. Gee, what’s the real divide ? Answer: The necessary permanent interpretive authority and Imperial will of the Pope. Curse your tribal head and his imperial will ! Your tribe replaces biblical faith with obedience and submission of will to the proximate authority. Remember, the ultimate authority is hidden and unknown even after you submit to the Pope.

  53. Robert,

    King David was aware of Saul’s wickedness but would not go against God’s anointed one.

    Jesus said to obey those who sat in the Chair of Moses even though He knew they were going to crucify Him.

    Even when Israel strayed from the right path, nobody was free to leave the Chosen people and follow their own way.
    List all the sins of all the Popes if you want,it doesn’t give you the right to not be a Catholic.

    You said,
    “You can keep on ignoring Rome as the instigator of virtually every schism in the church, but the rest of us won’t. Rome simply is not an ancient church”.

    Really? Then why did the other churches appeal to Rome to settle disputes and clarify doctrines?

  54. Rome,

    I would have to scrounge around to find it but Luther boasted of understanding the Gospel better than Augustine or even Paul. He loved to call it, “My Gospel”.

    You say Protestants follow the fathers in accepting the sacrifice as meaning a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving only.
    Then why did they offer the sacrifice of the Mass for the dead?

    Malachi speaks of a “pure” sacrifice offered by the gentiles. The fathers allude to this. As a Calvinist, you don’t believe our praise and thanksgiving is pure. Rather, it is shot through with self serving and sin.
    Only the Mass offers the pure sacrifice of Christ.

    Speaking of this spiritual sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving only, why did the Jews yearn to be allowed to leave Babylon and go back to Jerusalem and the temple in order to offer sacrifice? Why weren’t they satisfied to stay there and offer purely spiritual sacrifices of praise?
    Why did God bother instituting the whole sacrificial system if all he wanted was spiritual praise?

  55. Robert,

    The Mass was seen as a sacrifice of impetration and propitiation as well as thanksgiving and praise from day one.

    Why would it have been said for the dead if not to release them from their sins?

    The not merely “spiritual sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving” of the Mass can been seen in the fact the Fathers spoke of a change taking place in the bread and wine due to a prayer being said over them. This was Transubstantiation before the dogmatic definition was ever made using that term.

    The Reformers rejected the sacrificial nature of the Mass, along with purgatory, prayers for the dead, good works, etc. etc. as a logical spin off of JBFA. First came that chief error and the rest followed as night follows day. Luther tried retaining a Real Presence with a sacrifice but the more logical heretics knew it might as well go too.
    In order to prove your baseless assertion that the early Church did not believe in the Mass being a true sacrifice of propitiation, you have got to show that the early Christians held to the necessary corollary of JBFA.

    Think you can? Go for it.
    ( I would say something more smart alecky like, “Go ahead punk and make my day” but Eric and I are having a showdown as to see who can out-nice the other one. So far I owe him 5 bucks but am determined to win it back ).

  56. OOPS!

    I meant to say Luther tried retaining a “Real Presence WITHOUT a sacrifice…”.

    It’s so hard trying to be nice and write correctly at the same time. Ha!

  57. @Michael:
    Thanks for looking over the submission. I think it actually did help, but we need to clarify a little more.

    You can’t read the Bible on your own and come to a certain knowledge of the faith. Such would make faith dependent upon our fallible knowledge of the scriptures. Faith needs an infallible interpreter to be certain.

    That “translation” is more of a paraphrase, and I don’t think it’s an accurate one. The point is that the allegedly “certain knowledge” is not based on any sound method for identifying articles of faith, and that is what Suarez explains. This leads into your next point:

    Then why argue for Romanism at all? If you’re presupposing it as the given, what need have you of proofs from scripture or tradition? But if you’re going to throw those out for our consideration, then why can’t we apply the rules of basic epistemology to them?

    On the contrary, it’s because of basic epistemology that one concludes that God isn’t supplying articles of faith to me individually. It’s not an attempt for me to bypass my own fallibility; it is, on the contrary, a completely rational conclusion that the Holy Spirit isn’t dictating anything to me personally. In other words, it’s not what R. Scott Clark calls “the Quest for Illegitimate Religious Certainty” (QIRC), but rather a recognition of the absolute limits to what I can reasonable claim to know about God: first, a dependence on God’s revelatory action, and second, an acknowledgment that I am not individually the recipient of such revelation. In other words, we all agree that there’s divine action associated with revelation and that we aren’t the individual recipients of such divine action. The only question is “who is?”

    Translation:
    1. The Holy Spirit is needed for an infallible knowledge of scripture’s intent
    2. The Holy Spirit does not work infallibly in the individual.
    3. But the Holy Spirit does work infallibly through the designated leaders of the Church
    4. Therefore whatever they teach is infallible because the Holy Spirit is illuminating them.
    Reply: This is all one question-begging big assertion. But where’s the evidence to support it? Oops. I can’t ask that question. Because now I’m being espistemic and this isn’t about epistemology; it’s about taking it in faith as Rome defines what faith is.

    On the contrary, I think at least proving #2 is trivial; only a handful of people have ever made such a claim. I’d just restate #1 to replace “scripture’s intent” with “God’s intent of divine revelation,” of which the recognition of Scripture is just part.

    So what explains the fact that people in the church were making copies of scripture long before there was ever an infallible declaration as to which books were scripture and which were not? How did the people know what to quote with the formula citandi (“it is written”) even before there were monarchical bishops in Rome and long before any of these began to entertain notions of their own infallibility?

    Because extraordinary infallibility is just that: extraordinary. Papal infallibility and ecumenical councils are not the ordinary means of settling anything. Normally, it’s the “infallibility of the ordinary and universal magisterium,” which is primarily the universal worship of the Church (the primary referent of Tradition). Against the Arians, for example, St. Athanasius routinely makes mention of the “ecclesial scope” of Scripture, which was the liturgical context of Scripture. He likewise addressed the canon in a similar manner, classifying books according to their use in the liturgy (the Gospels having the highest place, then other canonical books used in other readings, then other deuterocanonical books that were “merely read”).

    The core infallibility of the Church was therefore its worship (lex orandi, lex credendi). There was no possibility that the Church was worshipping God wrongly, and doctrines were primarily seen as explanation of what the Church was doing. This is why the Arian speculation was considered contrary to Tradition, because the speculative tenets of Arianism violated the way in which the Church worshipped (and had always worshipped) Christ. The worship itself (and the faith reflected therein) is primary; the articulation of that worship is secondary. That’s the normative culture for which Scripture is intended, the full act of divine revelation. The biggest criticism of Arians and Nestorians both was they they were violating their own mode of Christian worship in their speculative interpretation of Scripture. That’s why it was appropriate to refute them based on Scripture, because they ostensibly accepted the normative culture of worship in which Scripture had authority.

    Papal infallibility and ecumenical councils are supposed to be peripheral, extraordinary remedies when there are massive deviations from that normative culture. Indeed, one could easily argue (as many Eastern Orthodox Christians do) that the centralization of papal authority and jurisdiction, particularly the appointment of local bishops out of Rome rather than the local church, is a massive and unnecessary authority grab that is disrespectful of the Pope’s brother bishops.

    But that’s why the debate between Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy is simply not a core disagreement. On the core issue of the IOUM and the extraordinary remedy of ecumenical councils, we all agree as against Protestantism that the normative culture of Scripture is the ancient worship. If you look at the people who were writing “citandi,” this is the faith they practiced.

    And what happens when the institution gets it wrong too? Oh, I can’t ask that because the infallible institution simply can’t get it wrong. ([Whispering] “Nevertheless, it moves.”)

    That’s not a qualitatively different question from “what happens if Scripture gets it wrong too?” or “what happens if Jesus gets it wrong too?” If the collective worship of the Church can fail, then the motivation for normatively accepting Scripture goes out the window. Those people writing “citandi” are the same people you have no reason to trust.

    That doesn’t seem to be the case in actual practice. Protestant resolve controversies all the time within their ranks and also have the wherewithal and means to actually enforce their own rules. Meanwhile, pro-abortion RC politicians are welcome at the Eucharist week after week. So we can come to decisions and say that our views are true. But you say that unless those decisions are stamped with infallibility, then they’re no more than tentative opinions that could change tomorrow. But is that really the case? In fact, I think we Protestants can be just as guilty of holding on to bad traditions as Rome is.

    But they don’t claim to resolve the controversies in the name of God, so the reply to everything is just “that’s, like, your opinion, man.” That goes back to Scriptural authority too. You can appeal to Scriptures, and they shrug their shoulders and say “meh.” Don’t like inerrancy? Whatever. Confessions? Pshaw! It’s not as if God Himself told us any of that. Even the claim that Scripture is the Word of God itself doesn’t claim divine authority, and (as I noted) that claim is rationally unmotivated.

    That’s completely different from Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. The claim there is that God Himself put these people in charge in the very act of revealing Scripture to the Church. Scripture is a public possession, and the republic, the society that holds this public thing, has a divinely authorized government. And even if either or both had some errors, it’s not clear that even those errors would vitiate the claim of authority generally in that regard.

    It’s the same principled means Jesus used when he said things like, “You err because you do not know the scriptures,” or “If they won’t believe what Moses wrote then they won’t believe even if someone should rise from the dead.”

    You’re just bootstrapping a claim here. The reason that you have faith that Jesus said that is because you have faith in the content of the Scriptures, which is exactly what you have no reason to presume. It’s not like you have extensive historical corroboration of those facts; you’re accepting them based on Scriptural authority, and you can’t kick the ladder of corporate worship out from under you in justifying that claim.

    More later.

  58. Robert, you write:

    Nice to see that you have absolutely no clue about Calvin or the Reformation.

    If all else fails, resort to the old “divide and dismiss” tactic …

    Robert, an assertion with out facts to back it up is just hot air.

  59. Mateo,

    Almost everything you said about Calvin and Geneva was simply wrong. Calvin was never a priest, at least that much you got right.

  60. Mateo,

    Actually, I read what the Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith wrote, understood what was written, and had a point cleared up that I was confused about.

    Yes, Mateo exercised his fallible interpretation, and because he agreed with the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (assuming that he did so), He remained a Roman Catholic and changed His mind.

    I understood what was written. You too could read the same document and understand what was written, because your cognitive skills are adequate for the task.

    So your cognitive skills are adequate for understanding and rightly interpreting the Magisterium, but not for the Bible?

    But there is a huge difference between you and me, and it has nothing to do with understanding.

    Understanding first requires interpretation by fallible people.

    You, Robert, a mere fallible interpreter of the Protestant bible, has enthroned yourself as the Supreme Lord of the Scriptures. From your throne, you dismiss anything that does not agree with your private interpretations of the Protestant bible. But you being a mere fallible interpreter of the Protestant bible does not warrant the exalted position that you have given to yourself as the Supreme Lord of the Scriptures.

    You, Mateo, a mere fallible interpreter of the Magisterium, has enthroned yourself as the Supreme Lord of the Magisterium. From your throne, you dismiss any interpretation that does not agree with your private interpretations of the Magisterium, telling me that liberal RCs are not faithful RCs. But you being a mere fallible interpreter and understander of the Magisterium does not warrant the exalted position that you have given to yourself as the Supreme Lord of the Magisterium.

    Of course! That is what lay Catholics do, they do not self-anoint themselves up as the Supreme Lords of the Scriptures, where, from their exalted thrones, they dismiss teachings of the Magisterium as being irrelevant if the teachings of the Magisterium don’t agree with their own fallible opinions.

    According to Mateo’s fallible interpretation, which I have no good reason to accept because Mateo isn’t the Magisterium.

    I said: Looks to me that you submit only when you agree.
    A conclusion that is just plain dumb, seeing that I accepted the fact that I was mistaken in my opinion.

    Wait, so you changed your mind because you didn’t agree with the church? You are obeying something the church says even though you don’t believe it?

    Changing your mind and realizing that you were mistaken does not change the fact that you submit only when you agree. If you didn’t agree, you’d cease being a RC. At the very least you have to agree that if you don’t understand, you should just obey anyway. That’s agreeing with the Magisterium. You submit only when you agree, just like any thinking person.

    What “other powers” would those be? Don’t be so vague. Spell it out!

    Powers probably not the best word. The Holy Spirit.

    I am not at all like you. Jesus commanded that those who would be his disciples must listen to the church that he personally founded or suffer the pain of excommunication. That means that the disciples of Jesus are not authorized to become Lone Ranger Protestants that listen to no one but themselves!

    I do listen to the church Christ personally founded and submit to it at many places where I am not convinced or not sure. That’s because I agree, overall, with its doctrine. Just as you remain a RC because you agree, overall, with Roman doctrine, at least the Roman doctrines you know.

    For the umpteenth time, I have said that the ONLY infallible interpreter is the Holy Spirit. Do I need the Holy Spirit to understand any spiritual truth that is written in your Protestant bible? Yes, I do, and you believe the same thing. Your human reasoning alone, apart from the Holy Spirit, is wholly inadequate to give you understanding of any spiritual truths written in your Protestant bible.

    Agreed, which means I don’t need a Magisterium that is infallible. Thanks. That doesn’t mean I don’t need the church. I just don’t need an infallible church.

    One more time, the Holy Spirit is the ONLY infallible interpreter of the books of divine revelation that God has authored.

    Agreed. But unless you and the Spirit are one and the same, you must interpret the Spirit’s interpretation in order to come to an understanding.

    You don’t deny that you have an absolute need of the Holy Spirit to understand any spiritual truth spoken about in your Protestant bible. Which is a good thing to admit, because that is true. You believe that the Holy Spirit wants you to understand what is written in your Protestant bible. Which is also true.

    Agreed.

    One of the things that the Holy Spirit wants you to understand is that you must listen to the church that Jesus Christ personally founded, and quit enthroning yourself as the Supreme Lord of the Scriptures.

    Of course, and I’ve already done that. What I deny is that the Roman Catholic Church is the church that Jesus Christ personally founded. Asserting it again and again like you always do isn’t an argument.

    When you do that, you are usurping the throne of the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit is the Supreme Lord of the Scriptures.

    By giving itself the only power to interpret Scripture for its people, Rome usurps the throne. If I were usurping the throne, I would claim that I am infallible. I don’t.

    What am I doing differently than you? I listen to the church that Jesus Christ personally founded, and you listen to no one but yourself.

    That’s simply incorrect.

    You belabor the obvious while you overlook the obvious. The Protestants that belong to sects other than your little PCA sect believe that they are right, of course. If those other Protesters didn’t believe that, they wouldn’t belong to those other Protestant sects, they would belong to your little sect. This is where you belabor the obvious.

    You overlook the obvious, because it is obvious to those who are not Protestants, that thousands upon thousands of bickering and divided Protestant sects that think that they are right cannot possibly be right! So why should anyone not a member of your little sect think that your sect is “rightly dividing the scripures”? Because you think that you do? Every Protestant sect can make that argument!

    Why should anyone not a member of your particular RC sect think that you are rightly dividing the Magisterium. Why are you right and Nancy Pelosi are wrong? Neither one of you have been excommunicated.

    How very convenient for you that, in your fallible opinion, your little Protestant sect “preaches the gospel rightly, administers the sacraments rightly, and practices church discipline rightly”. And how do you, a fallible interpreter of the Protestant bible, know that any of this is true? You don’t know.

    And here is the infinite regress. Since I am fallible, how do I know? Mateo, since you are fallible, how do you know Rome is the church Christ founded? Mateo, since you are fallible, how to know that your understanding of Roman doctrine is true? You don’t know.

    You have found a sect that agrees with Robert, therefore, what you believe must be true because fallible Robert is infallible when he made the decision that the PCA “preaches the gospel rightly, administers the sacraments rightly, and practices church discipline rightly”. You argue in circles. You assume that what you believe is true, and then offer that as proof that what you believe is true!

    This is quite humorous coming from somebody who keeps telling me to listen to the church Christ founded as if it is evident that Rome is the church Christ founded!

    Mateo, you found a sect that agrees with you, if you put any thought into becoming Roman Catholic. You looked at the evidence, found it agreeable, and joined. You did nothing different.

  61. Jonathan,

    Earlier you said:

    So on this question of authority, Scripture says the following: “Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision?” Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews are entrusted with the oracles of God. What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? (Romans 3:1-3). Because they were the keepers of the prophets, they at the very least had the infallible authority to know who the prophets are and to receive them. However, this authority is not sufficient of itself to maintain faith and is therefore not intended to be the permanent interpretive authority. Thus, “[i]n many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world” (Hebrews 1:1-2).

    Then you said:

    That’s not a qualitatively different question from “what happens if Scripture gets it wrong too?” or “what happens if Jesus gets it wrong too?” If the collective worship of the Church can fail, then the motivation for normatively accepting Scripture goes out the window.

    The collective worship of Second Temple Judaism did fail, and yet Jesus still expected the Jews of his day to normatively accept Scripture. So it seems you are wrong, here.

    Seems like you are putting a lot of assumptions into what it means for the collective worship of the church not to fail. It seems that it means for you that the church cannot teach error, but of course, since you believe the church has taught error, you have to limit it to dogmatically declared error. But that seems like special pleading, especially when you say that the dogmatically declared error is not the normative way that the church has to identify and correct error.

    I don’t see where you are being consistent. If the ordinary worship of the church is how error is corrected and is infallible, there should be no need for extra councils. And if the ordinary worship of the Jews could fall into error and Jesus could still expect them to understand what the Scriptures were, then there is no reason to believe that the church must not fall into error in order to rightly receive and interpret the Scriptures.

  62. Eric, I want to revisit a quote you gave by Martin Luther that formed the foundation of Martin’s sola scriptura heresy:

    As Luther put it, “Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason–I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other–my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen.”

    Luther is speaking as if his actions are grand and noble and he has no other choice but to follow his conscience. But a closer examination of what he wrote shows that Luther is being a pompous ass. Why is that? Because Martin Luther is saying that he, Almighty Martin, can sit on his throne as a mere fallible interpreter of scriptures, and know that “popes and councils” contradict each other. But how can Martin possibly know that valid Ecumenical Councils have taught error, especially when all of Christendom before Almighty Martin believed that valid Ecumenical Councils teach infallibly?

    What the Martin is really saying is this: Almighty Martin, the greatest theologian that the world has ever known, has infallibly interpreted the scriptures and come to the conclusion that valid Ecumenical Councils do not teach infallibly. In reality, valid Ecumenical Councils can teach error, and I, Almighty Martin, know it, and I declare this to be an infallible doctrine of the Christian faith.

    No one can actually believe Martin, because Martin is contradicting himself, and no human being has the capacity to believe a contradiction. Martin was a man that lived in the post-Apostolic age, and Martin’s sola scriptura novelty is really nothing more than Martin’s assertion that no man living in the post-Apostolic age can ever, under any circumstance conceivable, infallibly interpret the scriptures. Because Martin was a man that lived in the post-Apostolic age, it is impossible that Martin could possibly have infallibly interpreted the scriptures to come to the knowledge that valid Ecumenical Councils do not teach infallibly!

    To be a Protestant is to make a lifetime commitment to think irrationally, by accepting irrational teachings as the foundation of one’s religion.

  63. Robert, you write:

    Almost everything you said about Calvin and Geneva was simply wrong.

    Says you, with no facts to back it up.

  64. Mateo,

    Because Martin Luther is saying that he, Almighty Martin, can sit on his throne as a mere fallible interpreter of scriptures, and know that “popes and councils” contradict each other.

    It’s kind of like you sitting on your throne as a mere fallible interpreter of the Magisterium and of history and know that Rome is the church Christ founded or know what the Magisterium means when it welcomes the very people you call heretics with open arms to the Eucharist. Talk about presumptuous!

  65. @Michael:
    Continuing on to your comments on my explanation,

    The arguments look familiar, even if the language is archaic. And the arguments were just as bad then as they are today. Most Protestants wouldn’t even recognize the charges being leveled against them as we do not claim in the first place that our private judgment is infallible. Further, the epistemological assumption that grounds the principled means objection is clearly faulty. It simply doesn’t follow that if we have no infallible interpreter that we therefore can’t tell anyone else that they’re wrong. Only by presupposing at the outset that certainty about the articles of faith is given by the infallible church, can the entire objection to private interpretation get going in the first place. But why adopt that as a presupposition in the first place?

    So whether you, James, Mateo or even an old-school Jesuit like Suárez is making the argument, it’s still a bad argument that presupposes the infallibility of Rome without acknowledging upfront that such is one’s starting point. We presuppose the infallibility of scripture. But we’re up front about that. We frankly acknowledge that this is our starting point and we argue that it is a much better starting point than the Church, which has erred.

    This is essentially why I can be sure that you’re missing the point of the argument. The idea that one has to presuppose anything in order to be certain is the very modernist error. If you’re saying that you’re presupposing the authority of Scriptures, then you’re admitting error from the start, because it’s rationally unjustified (and unjustifiable) to make that presumption. In other words, you’re assuming that “certainty” is epistemic certainty, and that’s exactly what Suarez *isn’t* saying. What Suarez is saying is that God’s acts of divine revelation have to take a certain form (namely, “God commands that I believe X as an article of faith”), and that there isn’t any way to bootstrap the normative authority of God’s commands.

    Note that it’s a separate issue as to whether I know it, just as there is a difference between knowing the law that I have to follow and acknowledging that I am obliged to follow the law. But if there’s no normative authority provided in revelation, then revelation is not even knowable as an ontological matter, so we would be wrong (i.e., not within our right of epistemic justification) to assert that we have a rational basis for believing it. That’s the fideism problem, and asserting that one accepts the authority of Scripture as a presupposition is giving up the game in that regard. The Catholic response is not to try to bootstrap the normative authority of divine revelation, but to find it.

    I don’t think so, Jonathan. I think we can take off our DesCartes-to-Kant goggles an step back into an earlier worldview and still make pretty much the same criticisms with or without those goggles on. But let’s see where you’re going with this.

    If we take off those goggles, then we should stop viewing what Suarez says as a presupposition for epistemic certainty and start viewing it as an ontological precondition for faith (namely, a normative authority).

    But what justifies the prior assumption that we need “certainty” in this regard? And while all parties insist that the Holy Spirit gives assistance to the church in coming to know the truth, it is purely gratuitous to assume that we cannot error in our reception of that assistance or that there is a particular office within the church whom the Holy Spirit makes sure will get it right no matter what. Suárez as much as any RC since is simply taking that for granted. The Reformation only makes sense to those who do not share that assumption.

    It’s not gratuitous; to say otherwise is to deny that the Holy Spirit has normative authority at all. In other words, it is the admission that while the Holy Spirit inspired Scripture, there is no normative standard associated with its interpretation, so faith is whatever you make of it. Whatever “assistance” the Holy Spirit provides isn’t normative. That is what Suarez says is incompatible with even having faith in any kind of definite form. That’s why it is entirely logical and consistent for liberal Protestants to say that the Scripture means whatever they think it means, and that it can mean opposite things for people with different feelings about it.

    I agree with you that the Reformation doesn’t share that assumption; that’s precisely why we can know, with absolute certainty, that sola scriptura is incoherent. It makes a normative claim about the authority of Scripture while denying the normative authority that would be necessary for the claim to be coherent (namely by saying that there is no divinely established interpretive authority). The normative claim of authority is also based on a fidestic presupposition, which makes it irrational from the beginning.

    Fair enough. But once you go down this route, why don’t you also need a fallible interpreter for your infallible interpreter? After all, the Vatican can issue a document and some factions within can say, “It’s infallible” while others can opine, “No it’s not.” So what happens when there is no agreement as to whether or not something is infallible? How can an outsider thinking about becoming Roman Catholic really know what he/she has to believe if Rome itself cannot say for sure what is/is not infallible? It sounds like we need an infallible interpreter for the infallible interpreter. And then there’s our own infallibility to consider. I mean, what really is the difference between an RC reading through an infallible papal Bull and a Protestant reading his Bible? Both are prone to mistakes, but it is possible that both could get it right.

    That’s why we have to separate the normative issue from the epistemic issue; we don’t need another government to govern the government, because one normative authority is enough, but we need at least one. There’s a difference between me knowing the law and me knowing what the legal authority is. The problem is with sola scriptura is that it is impossible even in principle of bootstrap the normative authority of Scripture; it would mean that God had not revealed Himself in a way that established such a sense, which would really call into question whether it was “revelation” in any meaningful sense at all. You would basically be saying that Scripture isn’t even intended to function as normative principle (law), even while claiming that it is. That’s not even a coherent position to take.

    What I don’t understand here is how the bar for certainty is being set. It seems low at one point, then really high at another. So you concede that all we need is reasonable certainty at an individual level about the inspired text. But if we don’t have that or can’t have that at an individual level, then we need a public infallible interpreter. But if individuals can’t have reasonable certainty about the Bible, then how can they have reasonable certainty about the public interpreter, much less know it’s infallible?

    No, this has nothing to do with the text. What I am saying is that if we had a reasonable level of certainty that God had appointed us, personally, as the infallible interpreter of Scripture, then it would be rational for us to act based on that normative authority. In other words, if you’re an inspired prophet, then it’s not unreasonable both for you to believe what you’re saying and to impose it normatively on others based on your authority (although you’d expect to be able to give those people some signs to confirm it). In that case, like Paul, you don’t really need to check with the public normative authority, although as with Paul, you won’t conflict with it if you do. And, of course, it turned out that Paul’s revelation was exactly compatible with all of the other Apostles.

    But if the standard is correlative rather than derivative, then Protestant confessional churches could be considered infallible within their own spheres just as Rome considers itself infallible. So it seems to me that an derivative authority would be needed to ground Rome as the infallible church rather than its competitors.

    The correlative authority has to be divinely established. In other words, you have to be able to claim that the same God who delivered the Scripture contemporaneously established this as the divinely authorized normative authority for interpreting it. Maybe Anglicans still make that claim after a fashion, but no one else really does, not even other Protestant churches with bishops.

    So let’s stay with this analogy for a moment and work with it as a Protestant might. If the constitution = scripture and the Supreme Court = the magisterium, then the Protestant would say this. Yes, there is a Bible and yes there has always been a magisterium. But no, that doesn’t mean the magisterium has always properly interpreted, enforced, taken into account, its own constitution.

    Assuming, per impossibile, that could happen, that would be evidence that the act of divine revelation had failed, which would demonstrate that Scripture wasn’t an act of divine revelation in the first place. That’s the point of saying that the Magisterium is infallible. If it really is the divinely established normative authority, it can’t fail at that task.

    And then there’s this to consider. Since the constitution founded was in part a reaction to a tyrannical king, then you must know that it was founded by people who didn’t see themselves bound to magisterial authority (the King in this case) and could rebel against it if the king was in error. So you might say that the constitution itself gives the people the right to rebel against ecclesiastical authority if that authority fails to do its job. That’s sort of like Paul saying, “If we or an angel should preach to you another Gospel…” Paul himself has built in a no-confidence clause into our Constitution giving the people (the Galatians in this case) the right to determine whether or not a message is in conformity with the real Gospel and the right to impeach even an Apostle.

    In the first place, I think everybody agrees that there is no real possibility of an angel from Heaven proclaiming a different Gospel, so this is hyperbole for effect. Even if we take it literally, it doesn’t say to revolt, to establish a new church, or anything like that. If anything, it says that the pattern of worship and life established by Paul is itself normatively unimpeachable, so that if he violates his own authority, he should be judged by the same standard. There are processes for doing so in both Catholicism and Orthodoxy, when the local bishop has so clearly strayed into heterodoxy that the community rises up in rebellion (for example, there was a great deal of local outrage in Constantinople about Nestorius). But that doesn’t suggest that one has a right to rebel against the collective witness of the universal Church at all.

    Likewise, the natural right to rebel has no analogue in divine revelation. You can appeal to your natural rights as against other men, but no divine authority. Even if you did, you would have to claim divine authority as the basis for doing it, which the Reformation obviously didn’t do.

    Yes, we get this distinction. No, we’re not buying it precisely because you need to default back to your own epistemic judgment (“because we all have to make those”) just to answer your own question (“Is my own personal word the law, or is there a public authority?”). And your question raises another question. Is it an either/or? In other words, while there is a certain amount of “private judgment” in making any act of the will, does that mean we make those judgments in utter solipsism? No. We make those judgments, typically anyway, within a community of some sort and so I’m not sure the public/private distinction is as dichotomous as you make it out to be, at least not in practice if not in theory.

    Again, this is confusing epistemic and normative authority. I can individually offer interpretations of the law, but if I make my case in court, and the judge rules against me on final appeal, my opinion ceases to matter. I had a belief about the law, and the belief was wrong.

    Agreed. It is irrelevant if the infallible church is your ground floor. I’ve been saying that all along. The “infinite regress” objection only kicks in when assertions are made to the effect that certainty cannot be obtained without the stamp of infallibility. Then it becomes not a question of faith, but a question of knowledge. And if knowledge requires that we must know before we can know, then we must know that we know that we know and so on.

    But the certainty thereby obtained is not epistemic certainty but normative certainty, so the infallibility regress never actually kicks in. We need one normative enforcer, and not more than one, but never less either.

    So why is [Jim] still here? And why is Kevin not still here? The standard is clearly double. If Jim can stay here, then you’re allowing personal insults against other people who post on this forum.

    To be clear, it’s not my standard, nor is it my call to ban anybody. I said my piece, which I felt like I needed to do not as a moderator (which I’m not), but as a human being.

    In terms of the “policy,” such as there is one, it’s generally been extremely forgiving for insulting terms. Being called a “Romanist” and whatnot is, obviously, degrading to me, but I haven’t tried to get anybody banned for it. And whatever Jim may believe, Kevin was not banned just for being offensive. It was that we literally couldn’t get past a single post without him being mostly insulting, and half the time, the posts were only general insults that didn’t even have any apparent connection to what was being said. Every time he was given even a short leash, he would always degenerate into that pattern. So until Jim starts posting page-and-a-half insults aimed at nobody in particular for no apparent reason, I doubt he’ll get banned.

  66. @Robert:

    The collective worship of Second Temple Judaism did fail, and yet Jesus still expected the Jews of his day to normatively accept Scripture. So it seems you are wrong, here.

    That’s not really unsurprising. “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:22-24). The point of the normative authority was different in the Old Testament; it was like someone appointed to guard something very valuable until the owner arrived. The normative authority was serving a different purpose than it did in the New Testament.

    If you read John L. McKenzie or J. Patrick Mullen on the Pharisees, you’ll get a good explanation of what Pharisaism really was. There was a real sense that Judaism, as subjugated by the Roman Empire, was being “lost,” and so the Pharisees were trying to keep it alive by redoubling Jewish distinctives, including extending priestly practices to everyday life. But that went far beyond what the task was; it took what was supposed to be a sign for something else into an end in itself.

    That is why it was judged harshly by Jesus; it was essentially “hey, you guys were appointed to watch, and here I am!” But that’s similar to the case where some bishops who were guardians of Tradition failed to keep their charge (e.g., Arians, Nestorians). The Jewish authority system as a whole hadn’t failed, because the Scriptures were preserved, and plenty of first century Jews did recognize Jesus. The failure was in taking the limited authority they had, which was not intended to be plenary revelation, and trying to make it into more than in could be without Jesus. Obviously, that problem is unique to the limits of the Old Testament authority.

    Seems like you are putting a lot of assumptions into what it means for the collective worship of the church not to fail. It seems that it means for you that the church cannot teach error, but of course, since you believe the church has taught error, you have to limit it to dogmatically declared error. But that seems like special pleading, especially when you say that the dogmatically declared error is not the normative way that the church has to identify and correct error.

    I don’t think the Church qua Church has ever taught error; I believe that some bishops and some individuals have taught errors that have been rebuked by the universal Church. And my point about worship is actually quite simple; the Christian Church doesn’t worship wrong. What we do as a Church, worshipping Christ as God, is how God intends to be worshipped. We aren’t wrong about the priesthood or the Eucharist or sacrifice or any other act of corporate worship. Those aren’t wild assumptions (indeed, they aren’t even assumptions; they are logical prerequisites for according authority to the Christian Church in any sense).

    I don’t see where you are being consistent. If the ordinary worship of the church is how error is corrected and is infallible, there should be no need for extra councils. And if the ordinary worship of the Jews could fall into error and Jesus could still expect them to understand what the Scriptures were, then there is no reason to believe that the church must not fall into error in order to rightly receive and interpret the Scriptures

    The infallibility of ordinary worship (which is more correctly the ordinary and universal magisterium, i.e., worship as led by bishops) is collective and public. That doesn’t mean that individual bishops can’t err, but they can’t err as a collective. The councils resolve problems, but ordinarily, there aren’t problems. I don’t accept that the function of the Old Testament authority, before Jesus, was identical, nor do I think it served the same revelatory purpose.

  67. Robert

    mateo: Because Martin Luther is saying that he, Almighty Martin, can sit on his throne as a mere fallible interpreter of scriptures, and know that “popes and councils” contradict each other.

    Robert: It’s kind of like you …

    There is no analogy that you can make between Martin and mateo.

    Martin sat in judgment of all the churches with a two thousand year old history and declared by mere fiat, that what they believed was wrong, that valid Ecumenical Councils do not teach infallibly. All the members of the churches with a two-thousand year history were nothing but dupes and chumps, and if they would just listen to Almighty Martin, the greatest theologian that ever lived, all would be well.

    “I do insist on the certainty that sooner or later—once we hold power—Christianity will be overcome and the German church, without a Pope and without the Bible, and Luther, if he could be with us, would give us his blessing.”
    .
    ADOLF HITLER

     

  68. Mateo,

    There is no analogy that you can make between Martin and Mateo.

    Except, of course, that both of you sit in judgment on the church and its members based on your private interpretation.

    Martin sat in judgment of all the churches with a two thousand year old history

    How did the Martin judge churches that had a two thousand year old history in 1517. Did the church start during the Persian empire?

    and declared by mere fiat, that what they believed was wrong, that valid Ecumenical Councils do not teach infallibly.

    Actually, he just looked at the hodgepodge of councils, popes, et al that contradicted one another and called a spade a spade.

    All the members of the churches with a two-thousand year history were nothing but dupes and chumps, and if they would just listen to Almighty Martin, the greatest theologian that ever lived, all would be well.

    Kind of like Mateo issuing judgments on who is a true Roman Catholic according to his own fallibility.

    Mateo, the modern day Luther!

  69. Jonathan wrote to Michael:
    It’s not gratuitous; to say otherwise is to deny that the Holy Spirit has normative authority at all. In other words, it is the admission that while the Holy Spirit inspired Scripture, there is no normative standard associated with its interpretation, so faith is whatever you make of it.

    Response:
    The Protestant has every right to affirm the Holy Spirit’s normative authority. Since the Holy Spirit inspired scripture, and the scriptures themselves are an authoritative interpretation of Revelation, then they serve as a norm among authoritative interpretations of Revelation.

    What about that “normative standard associated with its interpretation” ? We know that the Scriptures are an authoritative interpretation of Revelation. This means that Revelation, including this so-called necessary normative interpretive standard, was interpreted by Scripture. The Scripture, materially speaking, must include the norm (in some fashion) because it ‘s presumably a correlative authority with the norm.

    Ok, we agree that the Scriptures are inspired. Now, based on everything above, the Catholic has the moral duty to show us this norm from the accepted Scriptures. They don’t need to “derive” it’s authority from Scripture. All that’s required is to prove it using Scripture.

    It seems like this is the only argument they offer: The interpretive norm is necessary, therefore, it exists.

    If that’s their argument, then it’s a Non Sequitur. Play fair guys and take seriously our agreement with the inspired Scriptures.

  70. Jonathan said to Robert

    “The core infallibility of the Church was therefore its worship (lex orandi, lex credendi). There was no possibility that the Church was worshipping God wrongly, and doctrines were primarily seen as explanation of what the Church was doing. ”

    ( I don’t think enough has been said on this during the discussion and hope to see more ).

    Robert said back to Jonathan,

    “The collective worship of Second Temple Judaism did fail,…”.

    I thought the Jews were castigated for their moral failures, not doctrinal error. How could Kaiphas prophecy by the power of the Holy Spirit due to his office if the OT Church had apostatized?

  71. @Eric W:
    Scripture doesn’t need to include the norm; it need only be compatible with the norm to be a material authority.

    For you to put any obligation on us, you’d have to demonstrate that Scripture is incompatible by its very nature with an infallible, divinely authorized interpreter. That obviously wasn’t true of the Old Testament, since Jesus and the Apostles authoritatively interpreted it, meaning that, as I’ve said before, your position is already behind the eight ball.

  72. Jonathan,

    Scripture is incompatible by its very nature with an infallible, divinely authorized interpreter.

    It isn’t incompatible, it just depends on who that infallible, divinely authorized interpreter is. For Protestants, it’s the Holy Spirit. Mateo said the same for you guys, but that the Magisterium is the infallible receiver of the interpreter. What has to be demonstrated is that an infallible receiver is necessary and why it is necessary for the church to be infallible as a receiver but not it’s members.

  73. @Robert:
    It’s the Holy Spirit for everyone. The question is what actions the Holy Spirit takes to interpret Scripture. Protestantism says “none,” because any interpretive act by the Holy Spirit would be infallible, which Protestantism denies can happen. In other words, you affirm the Holy Spirit as an idle interpreter who never actually does any interpretation.

    All the members of the church could be infallible, of course. In that case, there should be complete unanimity among all believers on every interpretation of Scripture across time. That is obviously false.

  74. @Jim:
    Taking seriously the idea that the early church actually believed the liturgy and practiced what was considered essential for salvation is antithetical to Calvinism. That concept will never get a hearing. Even when Tradition does come up, they try to cram it into their little sola scriptura box (where’s your list of apostolic tradition not in Scripture?).

    I disagree about error among the Pharisees. They did not have plenary authority, so they erred by teaching false doctrines outside of the scope of their authority.

  75. Jonathan, you wrote:
    Scripture doesn’t need to include the norm; it need only be compatible with the norm to be a material authority.

    Response:
    Very well…Church teaching, materially speaking, must include the norm (in some fashion) because it ‘s presumably a correlative authority with the norm. The norm, as it belongs to church teaching, is a material object proposed for faith. Proving this would be very easy for you, so why can’t you do it from Scripture ?

  76. Jonathan,

    Protestantism says “none,” because any interpretive act by the Holy Spirit would be infallible, which Protestantism denies can happen.

    No, that’s not what Protestant denies. The Spirit’s interpretation of the Scripture is infallible. Our reception of it is fallible. That doesn’t mean it is wrong or that we can’t know when it is wrong and when it’s right.

    In the past, even you have said that the church is like an infallible radio receiver. That means the Magisterium, of course. But the problem is that the ordinary Christian, because he isn’t infallible, shouldn’t be able to receive the teaching of the Magisterium. I honestly don’t see how this entire demand for an infallible receiver/interpreter doesn’t finally end with the Magisterium being the only people being able to know the Christian faith.

  77. @Jonathan,

    That’s not a qualitatively different question from “what happens if Scripture gets it wrong too?” or “what happens if Jesus gets it wrong too?” If the collective worship of the Church can fail, then the motivation for normatively accepting Scripture goes out the window. Those people writing “citandi” are the same people you have no reason to trust.

    Jonathan. Here again I understand your response to be based on an underlying epistemology. That is, I think you are employing the Roman Catholic version of “presuppositional apologetics.” Feel free to disagree, but at least try to understand why I keep going back to these categories. For me, scripture and Jesus can’t get it wrong because they are both the Word of God. But Rome isn’t. You, on the other hand, think of the Church as an extension of Christ and so attribute to the Church the same infallibility as I attribute to the Word of Gog. In that respect, we’re both doing “presuppositional” apologetics, only you’re locating normative authority in the church and I’m locating it in the Bible.

    Now that doesn’t mean that presuppositions are chosen at random or asserted by fiat. No one is championing fidesism here. IOW, we both think we have good reasons for our respective starting points. But everything you’re arguing is an attempt to pull the carpet out from beneath me. But it won’t work, because I’m not standing on carpet. I’m on the ground floor and so there is, as it were, nothing beneath me. The same goes for you, only your ground floor is the Church itself. So all of this attempt to pull the carpet out from beneath one another is like what I said to James: It’s like watching two squirrels wrestle: There will never be a pin, because neither side grants to the other their starting suppositions, not even for the sake of argument. Even when we think we’re doing that, we’re really not, because we don’t have the ability to completely leave our own system when attempting to step into the other’s.

    That is why I keep saying to James that, given your respecting starting point, it is possible to give a systematic and coherent account of the articles of faith. It’s just that I don’t grant your starting point because I think it is precisely the wrong place to start. I start, not the with the church and its worship, but with the written Word of God and it’s power to elicit worship and obedience in the church, but also to correct the church when the church gets it wrong. So built into my system is the fallibility of the church itself.

    But they don’t claim to resolve the controversies in the name of God, so the reply to everything is just “that’s, like, your opinion, man.”

    Which isn’t a problem for us given our system, but is given yours. But we don’t grant that your system is the given and so the objection does not obtain. Yes, finally, it is an “opinion” (the root meaning of “dogma,” by the way). But that doesn’t mean our opinions aren’t settled and stable. They often are. They’re just not infallible. They’re just “true.” But you say we can’t they’re “true” unless we also have reason to believe they’re “infallible” as well as “true.” But now you’re back on the infinite regress fun wagon, because once you make that move, you’ve stepped into the arena of epistemology, whether you want to admit that or not.

    That’s completely different from Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. The claim there is that God Himself put these people in charge in the very act of revealing Scripture to the Church. Scripture is a public possession, and the republic, the society that holds this public thing, has a divinely authorized government. And even if either or both had some errors, it’s not clear that even those errors would vitiate the claim of authority generally in that regard.

    Yes, we know that’s the claim. And we’re Protestants because we reject the claim. We think it’s a far more plausible reading of both history and the scriptures themselves to see the leadership as fallible.

    You’re just bootstrapping a claim here. The reason that you have faith that Jesus said that is because you have faith in the content of the Scriptures, which is exactly what you have no reason to presume.

    And here you show your presuppositional cards as I show mine. You think I cannot validly appeal to the scriptures unless I first have warrant for knowing what they are. And I say, bunk. Because my presupposition says the scriptures are what they are by virtue of inspiration. So their authority is independent of me and independent of the Magisterium. Their intrinsic authority elicits their recognition and obedience to them. So back to the texts I mentioned. Even if you don’t think I have warrant for quoting the Bible, certainly Jesus did. And he fully expected his hearers to understand at least the following:

    1. Lazarus’ brothers were capable of understanding what Moses wrote (scripture).
    a. This implies the perspicuity of Moses’ writings. How could they understand Moses if Moses isn’t clear enough to understand? Therefore no Jewish Magisterium was needed in order to come to a reliable understanding of Moses’ words.

    2. Even the Jewish Magisterium itself was held to the normative standard of scripture. In telling them that they erred, he was telling them that they were fallible—that they could misunderstand the written word which clearly predicted Jesus’ coming as their Messiah.

    Now if all of that is the case, why are we Protestants faulted for holding our leaders to the same standard? Why are we berated for holding for the possibility that our brothers, no less than Lazarus’ can come to sufficient understanding of “what Moses wrote” or what “Paul wrote?” And no, nothing Jesus said here states or implies that in order to know what Moses wrote, the Jewish Magisterium had to issue a dogmatic decree identifying the correct canon . This implies the canon was already in place long before the Jewish Magisterium.

    This is essentially why I can be sure that you’re missing the point of the argument. The idea that one has to presuppose anything in order to be certain is the very modernist error.

    No, Jonathan. It’s not modernist. It’s basic epistemology that predates the modern age by several thousand years. I am not missing the point. The point is very easy to grasp. We just reject the premise upon which point is made.

    If you’re saying that you’re presupposing the authority of Scriptures, then you’re admitting error from the start, because it’s rationally unjustified (and unjustifiable) to make that presumption.

    Jonathan. Forgive me, but it is you who sound like the modernist here. In fact you sound like a rationalist if there ever was one. That said, I think you’re jumping to some rather rash conclusions. First, we don’t assert our presupposition randomly and without reason; rather we stand in a long tradition of people going all the way back to the Hebrew scriptures who understood that the Word of God was the place to take one’s stand (e.g., Pslam 119). Second, we have good reason for rejecting your presupposition. We take an a posteriori approach: If the church has erred, then it can. It has, therefore the church is fallible. That’s our argument. We see the same thing in scripture itself: If the OT church has erred, then it can. It did, and therefore the OT church was fallible. So the Bible itself leads us to believe that the church is fallible and history confirms what we were already led to believe.

    Third, and more importantly, your very assertion is self-defeating. Observe: “It’s rationally unjustified (and unjustifiable) to make that presumption.” But this statement itself is a presumption. It presumes a definition of rationality that makes all presupposition rationally unjustified. But this *presumes* a standard of what is/is not rationally justifiable in the first place. But, by hypothesis, any presumption of this sort is rationally unjustified. So the very statement you are making is itself rationally unjustified by its own standards.

    In other words, you’re assuming that “certainty” is epistemic certainty, and that’s exactly what Suarez *isn’t* saying. What Suarez is saying is that God’s acts of divine revelation have to take a certain form (namely, “God commands that I believe X as an article of faith”), and that there isn’t any way to bootstrap the normative authority of God’s commands.

    Yes, I am making that assumption because I don’t know how *not* to. Once we start using language to talk about what has/has not been revealed, we’re in the realm of epistemology. Granted, it might be the epistemology of faith. But it’s still epistemology governed by the principles of rationality. The truths may be supernatural, but even those are rational. Otherwise they would be unaffirmable and certainly we could have no rational discussion about them if they weren’t.

    I agree that God’s divine revelation has to take a certain form in order for us to know what it is. But I don’t locate the “form” in the same place you do. I locate it in scripture. You locate it in what you have identified as the Church Christ founded. Here my presupposition of faith is that God’s revelation is propositional and that propositions can be identified and rationally understood. So if Jesus tells me that I don’t need a private revelation in the form of an apparition coming back from the dead but rather can know what I need for salvation based on the scriptures, then what need do I have of an infallible magisterium?

    IOW, my presupposition is that the “form” of God’s revelation is inspired scripture. This is what Jesus himself presupposed. So I freely have decided to make his presupposition my own.

    Note that it’s a separate issue as to whether I know it, just as there is a difference between knowing the law that I have to follow and acknowledging that I am obliged to follow the law.

    Nice try, there Jonathan. But where do you get the idea that you have to follow the law to begin with? If you can’t know why that’s the case, then the distinction you pose is meaningless and you end up doing the very thing you say is unjustified and irrational. You take as a given (which you claim is unjustified) that you are under obligation to follow the law, but then suppose that you may not know exactly what the content of the law is—just that you have to follow it, whatever it is.

    But what if the law is unjust? Then you probably would say you don’t have to follow it. But from where do you get that idea? The answer is that synderesis is self-evident.

    But if there’s no normative authority provided in revelation, then revelation is not even knowable as an ontological matter, so we would be wrong (i.e., not within our right of epistemic justification) to assert that we have a rational basis for believing it.

    Any Protestant can affirm what you’ve just said. The normative authority is the revelation itself. So it’s not that revelation is revealing a specific institution (Rome) to tell us what revelation is; rather revelation is normative because it is from God and is therefore, by definition, knowable. For that is what it means to “reveal.” It is the opposite of “conceal.” It is the “uncovering” of something that was otherwise hidden from our sight. When Jesus said, “I am the light of the world,” that statement was both normative and self-evident.

    That’s the fideism problem, and asserting that one accepts the authority of Scripture as a presupposition is giving up the game in that regard. The Catholic response is not to try to bootstrap the normative authority of divine revelation, but to find it.

    I think this very objection can be brought against your own system. If you assert the authority of the Church as a necessary precondition for being able to identify what scripture is, then you run into the same charge of fideism. You’re just sort of hanging that first claim on, well, nothing really. At least some in your camp try to hang it on particular statements in the Bible with the proviso that they’re only treating those statements as history rather than inspired scripture. But even that move is only as good as the case is for the historical reliability of those documents and the particular interpretation that is given to them. So even granting reliable history, it is still quite another matter to grant the interpretation that leads to Jesus’ intention to found an infallible church.

    In fact, I’d gladly enter into that debate using just the Bible alone—but with my fingers crossed behind my back—promising to quote from it as “history” and not “inspired writ.” In other words, the case for Romanism based on the Bible and church history is just bad. So if your claim to have found normative authority in Romanism turns out to be not all that convincing, then your justification goes out the window.

    The truth be told, I think that long before you would even go *looking for* that normative authority, you’re already think you’ve found it and that, whether you want to admit it or not, you’re actually presupposing the truth of the very thing you’re trying to demonstrate. But that’s the very fideism you find so problematic. But without it, the case for infallible Rome can’t hold water. It can’t anyway. But it at least provides you with the illusion of systemic justification.

    It’s not gratuitous; to say otherwise is to deny that the Holy Spirit has normative authority at all. In other words, it is the admission that while the Holy Spirit inspired Scripture, there is no normative standard associated with its interpretation, so faith is whatever you make of it.

    It always cycles back to this point. But here again we point out that it’s nothing more than your supposition or intuition at play. You just can’t conceive of an infallible book with no infallible interpreter or any sort of guidance from the Holy Spirit that is not infallibly received. But we Protestants can and we can also point to many Biblical examples of people who fallibly received infallible revelation. Besides, what ground have you really gained? What good does it do to posit an institution that can infallibly receive infallible revelation if we ourselves can only fallibly receive and pass on what they hand on to us? We’re already in that boat. We have a normative authority (the Bible) and we often misunderstand what it says. The fix? Go back and read. That was Jesus’ advice. That’s what Luke praised in the Bereans. Simple, really.

    That’s why it is entirely logical and consistent for liberal Protestants to say that the Scripture means whatever they think it means, and that it can mean opposite things for people with different feelings about it.

    Nonsense. Jesus told the Pharisees that they were in err because they were misinterpreting the scriptures. He didn’t locate the meaning of scripture in his own interpretation of it, but rather his own interpretation was based on what the scriptures really said. So Jesus affirms an objective meaning in the pages themselves and expects people to be able to discern what it is. You read this same passage and conclude that infallibility is to be located in the interpreter (Jesus, in this case). But Jesus himself is locating the meaning in the text itself. That’s what we do. And so we can tell people, including liberal Protestants: “You err because you do not know the scriptures.” Likewise the Bereans could “see if these things were so,” because they could compare Paul’s interpretation to the text itself. All of this presupposes a sufficient perspicuity and normative authority in the text itself.

    I agree with you that the Reformation doesn’t share that assumption; that’s precisely why we can know, with absolute certainty, that sola scriptura is incoherent.

    That’s a non-sequitur, Jonathan. Here’s your argument:

    1. Protestants do not locate normative authority in the tradition of the Church.
    2. Hidden premise: And Protestants are wrong for not doing so.
    3. Therefore we can know with absolute certainty that sola scriptura is false.

    Reply: We deny 2, the hidden premise in your assertion above.

    That’s why we have to separate the normative issue from the epistemic issue; we don’t need another government to govern the government, because one normative authority is enough, but we need at least one.

    And herein lies the problem. We don’t separate those issues and we believe that the one normative authority that is enough is scripture itself. Our belief is that scripture is God’s word and is therefore able to make itself known to us. Problem solved.

    Again, this is confusing epistemic and normative authority. I can individually offer interpretations of the law, but if I make my case in court, and the judge rules against me on final appeal, my opinion ceases to matter. I had a belief about the law, and the belief was wrong.

    And I think this says it all. It is the intellectual equivalent to saying might makes right. So piggy-backing on your analogy, if you lacked normative authority (not being a judge) and offered an interpretation of the constitution, your interpretation would be *moot* but not necessarily *wrong.* No matter how right you might be, it wouldn’t matter if five out of nine justices voted against you. The majority normative decision would then become to *right* decision by virtue of the decree of the normative authority and not by virtue of the intrinsic merit of their interpretation. Like I said, this is your foundational presupposition and the Reformation only makes sense to those of us who don’t share it.

  78. Robert, you write:

    The Spirit’s interpretation of the Scripture is infallible. Our reception of it is fallible. That doesn’t mean it is wrong or that we can’t know when it is wrong and when it’s right.

    Obviously Protestants do not know when their interpretations if the Protestant bible are wrong, because Protestantism consists of thousands upon thousands of bickering and divided sects that wrongly interpret the same Protestant bible! Every Protestant sect thinks that their sect is interpreting correctly, but it is impossible for that to be true.

  79. Robert,

    “That doesn’t mean it is wrong or that we can’t know when it is wrong and when it’s right.”

    First, if it can be known when it is wrong or when it’s right, why do no Protestant bodies/confessions offer any “right” teachings/judgments as ultimately normative, authoritative, binding, and irreformable upon others? If, for argument’s and comparison’s sake, it actually couldn’t be known when it is wrong and it is right, what would be different?

    You agree the HS infallibly interprets. But you apparently hold that because our reception of that is fallible, the infallible interpretation of the HS cannot ever actually be offered as binding on anyone since it can never actually be reliably identified due to our fallible reception. If you disagree, then my questions above remain. If you agree, then that seems a rather odd position to hold alongside affirming public revelation. Indeed, there seems to be no discernible difference between holding that and holding that the HS fallibly interprets.

    Secondly, a judgment can be accurate but not normative or authoritative. A layman can make the same judgment about a constitutional case as the supreme court does – such judgment is not and could never be normative or binding upon others despite its accuracy. I fail to see how any Protestant individual or body could make anything more than accurate judgments at best – if any body claims to teach with divine authority, the rejection of infallibility relative to those teachings directly undermines such claims.

  80. James,

    First, if it can be known when it is wrong or when it’s right, why do no Protestant bodies/confessions offer any “right” teachings/judgments as ultimately normative, authoritative, binding, and irreformable upon others? If, for argument’s and comparison’s sake, it actually couldn’t be known when it is wrong and it is right, what would be different?

    But Protestant confessions do offer “right” teachings that are authoritative and binding. We just don’t say that there has to be a guaranteed infallibility to get there. And they offer God as ultimately normative, which in theory should not be a problem for you, and yet it seems to be.

    You agree the HS infallibly interprets. But you apparently hold that because our reception of that is fallible, the infallible interpretation of the HS cannot ever actually be offered as binding on anyone since it can never actually be reliably identified due to our fallible reception.

    Infinite regress James. How can the individual Roman Catholic reliably identify the infallible interpretation of the Magisterium if he is not infallible?

    If the infallible interpretation of the HS cannot be offered as binding, then there would be no Protestant confessions or churches that exercise discipline. The fact that there are proves that Protestants do believe we can know sufficiently what the Spirit has said.

    If you disagree, then my questions above remain. If you agree, then that seems a rather odd position to hold alongside affirming public revelation. Indeed, there seems to be no discernible difference between holding that and holding that the HS fallibly interprets.

    The discernible difference is that the church IS NOT the Holy Spirit and is a body made up of sinners. You collapse the Holy Spirit into the church, and then only into the Magisterium. If infallibility is required to know what the Holy Spirit has said and what it hasn’t, how do you as a fallible Roman Catholic know what the Holy Spirit has said through the church and what it hasn’t?

    Secondly, a judgment can be accurate but not normative or authoritative. A layman can make the same judgment about a constitutional case as the supreme court does – such judgment is not and could never be normative or binding upon others despite its accuracy. I fail to see how any Protestant individual or body could make anything more than accurate judgments at best – if any body claims to teach with divine authority, the rejection of infallibility relative to those teachings directly undermines such claims.

    As Michael has pointed out, this is just a version of the might makes right argument. What ends up happening with Rome is that Rome is right whenever Rome says she is right because Rome says she is right.

    Protestant churches claim to speak with a derivative authority, not the authority of God Himself. When a church gets it right, the teaching has authority not by virtue of the fact that the church said it but because God has said it. It would have authority regardless of whether or not the church uttered a formal pronouncement on it.

    This is what we would say is a big problem for Rome. God’s Word doesn’t seem to have any authority until Rome says it does.

  81. @ All Magisterial Infallibilists,

    The reason why you’ve lost the infallibility debate is because the church is not infallible. It’s really that simple. And every time you try to defend your view, you end up special pleading for the proposition that normative infallibility is located “here and no further” even though you can’t give a coherent reason for why such a postulate would not logically lead to the need for more infallible interpreters and thus to infinite regress.

    The reason for positing an infallible church in the first place is so that you can confidently assert the articles of faith as not only true, but also not possibly false. Whether you want to admit that or not, such a move is thoroughly modern. Epistemologists are simply laughing at you because you’re not seeing that you’ve simply dressed up some age-old problems in a chasuble and pointy white hat. Your problem is the theological equivalent to the Cartesian attempt to disprove the skeptic (Protestants) who thinks knowledge is illusory (Semper Reformanda). Your solution is infallible interpretation and infallible authorization. These are the ecclesiastical equivalents to DesCarte’s “clear and distinct” ideas. “The Magisterium is infallible” is to Rome as “I think, therefore I am, is to DesCartes.

    The presupposition that grounds Cartesian skepticism, and therefore Roman infallibilism, is the fear that without psychological certitude grounded on espistemic certainty, everything including the articles of faith would be up for grabs.

    But if only there were a mechanism that could provide epistemic certainty, then your own psychological certitude would be justified! Translated into theological categories, if there were an authority that could teach infallibly, then your belief in what that authority taught would be justified.

    Then, in a spectacular leap of faith (fideism), you move from the subjunctive ( “if there were”) to the indicative ( “in fact there is”). And once having made that leap, you now have the theological high ground. Whatever the infallible church teaches is true merely because the infallible church teaches it. Theological might (infallible authority) makes theological right (dogmas).

    Your argument is a simple modus ponens: If P (the Church is infallible), then Q (Whatever it teaches is true). The Church is infallible (P), therefore its dogmas are true (Q). Therefore, if Rome says Mary was conceived without sin (P), then the dogma of Mary’s Immaculate Conception is true (Q).

    What you’re all not seeing is the modus tollens reply we keep giving you: If the dogma is not true (not Q), then the church is not infallible (not P). So if if Mary is a sinner (-Q) then Rome is not infallible (-P).

    Jonathan and James (and to a lesser extent Mateo) have attempted to rule out the modus tollens argument at the get go by asserting the modus ponens argument as the given because it provides a better principled means to knowing what the articles of faith are. To make their case, much has been made out of Protestant disunity and the inability of Protestants to say “for sure” what we are to believe.

    But this is surely a viciously circular argument:

    A. Protestants have no principled means for saying X is dogmatically certain.
    B. And X is not dogmatically certain, because Protestants have no principled mans for saying so.

    Underlying supposition: Infallibility at the level of corporate reception (the magisterium) is required for dogmatic certainty. It is not enough to have an infallible source (scripture).

    But we Protestants are perfectly comfortable with our own fallibility and believe that it is a far more satisfying approach to adopt an a posteriori approach with respect to the church. So if the church has erred (-Q), then it is not infallible (-P).

    But we do take an a priori approach with scripture. If the Bible is the Word of God (P), then it is infallible (Q). Happily, you all agree with that too. But then you say we cannot know that the Bible is the word of God unless the infallible church tells us so.

    But that’s demonstrably false. The church has known what the word of God is long before it ever asserted its own infallibility.

    In reply, Jonathan distinguished between the ordinary and extraordinary magisterium. So it’s not so much the extraordinary magisterium issuing decrees for everything, but rather the “horse sense” (sensus fidelum) of the church as a whole that must infallibly guarantee our knowledge of the Biblical canon.

    But this move gains you no ground whatsoever. It continues to beg the same old question as before. It drives us back to the same chicken-and-egg problem. What comes first (is logically prior), the Bible or the Church? Act gives rise to potency, not the other way around. The Word gives birth to the Church, not the other way around. Canon is a function of inspiration. When God inspired scripture, the canon was born. Recognition of the canon follows and the corporate reception follows recognition. The Church only “canonizes” what it *already* believes to be the canon. But what grounds the belief itself? Surely not an infallible decree of the extraordinary magisterium. But nor is the belief grounded by an appeal to the sensus fidelium of the ordinary magisterium. For this simply raises the question as to why they accepted these books and not others.

    Ultimately we are forced back to the texts themselves and their divine origin. It is the intrinsic authority of the text itself that elicits its own recognition and corporate reception. The Church, neither through extraordinary means nor through the ordinary means, gives authorization to the text. It is the already-authoritative text that gives authorization to the Church.

    Any church who teaches what is contrary to the objective meaning found in the text (“you err, because you do not know the scriptures,” said Jesus), loses its authority to teach in Jesus’ name. Rome lost that authority long ago when it elevated to the level of irreformable dogma, beliefs which clearly contradict the objective meaning of the inspired scriptures. Hence Protestantism.

  82. Mateo wrote to Robert:
    Obviously Protestants do not know when their interpretations if the Protestant bible are wrong, because Protestantism consists of thousands upon thousands of bickering and divided sects that wrongly interpret the same Protestant bible! Every Protestant sect thinks that their sect is interpreting correctly, but it is impossible for that to be true.

    Response:
    Romanism AND Protestantism consists of thousands upon thousands of bickering and divided sects that wrongly interpret the same accepted sources of revelation. This reality, if what is described here is in fact true, belongs to both “isms” because each begins with fallible interpreters interpreting. I would say that this describes normal conditions. Romanism offers an infallible interpretive authority as a limiting concept against fallible theological reasoning. The sects still bicker and divide, but they stay contained. Each sect, or a collection of sects, can’t rise up against the chief author of the containment policies. Protestantism has its own limiting concept and containers. Unfortunately, they are beyond Romanism’s grasp.

  83. Michael,

    “The reason why you’ve lost the infallibility debate is because the church is not infallible. It’s really that simple”

    Thank you sir. We can all go home now.

    Who are you trying to convince? Just for the hell of it it got a ruler and measured the length of your post to Jonathan. It was 32 inches of incoherent rantings followed by another one that contained this;

    “The reason for positing an infallible church in the first place is so that…

    “Epistemologists are simply laughing at you”…

    ” a chasuble and pointy white hat”

    Which came first, an incautious studying of Protestantism and then the loss of faith or the loss of faith followed by trying to justify it?

    “Pointy hat”?
    Svendsen, Gendron, Webster, Bugay, Kauffman, Bennett, you, etc. etc. all reveal the same spirit.

  84. All Magisterial Infallibilists,

    You have read Michael’s stuff.
    No, go check out Flannery O’Connor’s short story, “The Enduring Chill”.
    Michael needs to drop his erudition and have a chat with the old Jesuit.

  85. Jim wrote to Michael,
    etc. etc. all reveal the same spirit.

    What happened to all that disunity ?

  86. I’m not a Magisterial Infallibilist, so this comment will be ignored. Who cares about that. Here we go…maybe Michael and the old Jesuit can have a chat about Michael’s erudition. Jesuit answers will only encourage Michael to write more stuff for Magisterial Infallibilist.

  87. Eric W,

    “What happened to all that disunity ?”

    Hey, you are finally starting to make sense!

    OOPS! I spoke too soon. You next post was back to your your standard riddling.
    Remember Eric, it is still crackers to slip a rozzer the dropsy in snide.

  88. Jim,
    Hey, you are finally starting to make sense!

    See ! I “make sense” when my words CONFORM to your words and standards. Charging me with “standard riddling” is an expression of your dissatisfaction. Your dissatisfied when other people don’t imitate your idolatrous submission. That’s why you want Michael to submit to old Jesuit erudition. No one “chats” with their object of submission. More smooth words from the smooth operator.

  89. @Michael:
    I’m going to turn into a pumpkin shortly, but I’ll give you this high-level response, and maybe we can take this up again in a week or two.

    The major conflict is over whether a priori epistemic methodologies have any validity, and your assertion that they are is question-begging, because Thomists consider them irrational. The Cartesian methodology, and the presuppositionalism that stems from it, is an a priori methodology. It assumes that you can reason from what is in your head to reality. The classical equivalent was Platonism, and Calvin had a similar belief in “innate ideas.”

    The Christian tradition, as a concrete, experential tradition, has always discredited apriorism. Even Christian Platonists, like Simplicianus and Augustine, nevertheless rejected the Platonic epistemology. Most Christians over the centuries have relied on Stoic or Aristotelian epistemology and their antecedents in medicine (which is where terms like “nature” and “operation” originated). The general rejection of Platonist a priorism has, at this point, been well documented.

    In any case, speaking as a Thomist, I have every reason to think that a priorist epistemology is irrational, so to say that I have to cave to modernism just because I’m discussing epistemology is question-begging. And yes, plenty of epistemologists “laugh at” Thomists, in the same way that plenty of philosophers laugh at Christians, but suffice it to say that Thomists generally aren’t worried by that situation.

    Because you assume that we are a priorists, as opposed to empiricist, you assume that our argumentative form must be falling into your a priorist structure. Since you need presuppositions to be able to know anything, you are assuming that we are reasoning from presupposition to conclusion. But the form of the argument isn’t what you say. It’s as follows:
    (1) An act is an act of the Holy Spirit if and only if that act is infallible.
    (2) The Protestant act of interpreting the Scripture is fallible.
    (3) Therefore, the Protestant act of interpreting the Scripture is not the act of the Holy Spirit.
    I suppose that (1) does assert something like “might makes right,” but if you’re going to argue with God’s might in that regard, then I’m not sure any authority can bind you.

    You’re assuming that we’re reasoning in order to get a priori certainty, which is the Cartesian approach (i.e., that we are getting our cognitive structure just right in order for it to be able to tell us the truth). But we are actually reasoning from the knowledge that God is infallible (a piece of true knowledge from ordinary reasoning, not a presupposition) to determine what the expected level of certainty should be, and then we are looking for whether such a means of certainty actually exists.

    As an a posteriori conclusion, then, the tu quoque arguments will never work, because they can only rule things out and never rule things in. We know Protestantism is out from the get-go (which I’ll explain below), but even if you show that the Magisterium is fallible, that would only mean that we needed to look for another appropriate means (say, Eastern Orthodoxy) or to deny that there has been any such act of divine revelation.

    Thus, I am in no sense presuming that such a thing exists; I am simply saying that if there is an act of divine revelation, then it will have certain observable properties. By contrast, absent presuppositionalism (which Thomism, rightly I think, views as irrational and fideistic), there can be no motivation for Protestantism. And I am certainly not doing presuppositional apologetics; as I said, I believe that presuppositional apologetics (or presuppositional epistemology generally) is irrational.

    So the reason I reject Protestantism has nothing to do with some a priori rejection of an “infallible book,” except mainly for vagueness. Books can, at best, be inerrant in themselves, but assuming that you mean “infallible” in the sense of infallibly serving as a normative authority, even that is possible in principle. It could be that no one ever disobeys the normative commands, or it could be that the normatively binding principles are themselves guidelines, so that they can be followed generally without any real possibility of error.

    Now I do think that any claim of a book having “intrinsic authority” is metaphysically confused at best. Normative authority is by definition the guidance (norming) of human conduct. It’s not possible for a book to serve as a normative authority without people being guided. The point is that an authority that makes no claims of infallibility can’t possibly be a divine normative authority, in which case there is no good reason to put any faith in it. And if Scripture were intended by itself to be a normative authority, then anyone who reads it should be normed by it, which obviously isn’t the case, because two people can barely agree on what Scripture is commanding them to do, let alone everyone.

    But the more significant conclusion is that the real world simply never works that way. There is never a written law without a government, although there have been plenty of governments without written laws. That’s a perfectly simple empirical conclusions for obvious and apparent reasons about human nature. And yes, it is possible that God chose to operate completely outside of how humans normally work, but we would essentially need miraculous evidence to believe such a thing. When I operate in society, I take for granted that there is a government, even if I’m in the most primitive tribal society.

    So it’s not that one couldn’t accept a book serving as an infallible normative authority. One would simply have to assemble the sort of extraordinary evidence that the universal experience of government implies, coupled with the fact that a divine government must be infallible in the scope of its authority on behalf of God. Obviously, those things didn’t happen, but it’s not that they *couldn’t* happen. You seem to be saying that an “infallible book” is a reasonable presupposition, but from the empirical perspective, it’s a completely extraordinary presupposition. It’s like a flying pyramid; God could have made it, but if somebody told me that they had seen one, I would be extraordinarily skeptical.

    As a result, your examples of Jesus holding the Jews accountable to the Scriptures are extended exercises in question-begging. First, you’re presupposing the authority of Scriptures without a correlative normative authority in order to prove Scriptures without a correlative normative authority, which is question begging. Second, you’re talking about the Jewish people, and our presumption is that the Jews did have a normative authority, even if it wasn’t plenary. There’s a big difference between no divine authority at all and the situation of the Jews. Jesus was holding them accountable for what they did have authority to know, and moreover, the Pharisees were being held accountable for violating their own standards for that authority. Third, the authority of the Old Testament didn’t have visibility of its object, so the standard after Jesus appeared was different anyway. In terms of making a compelling case for overriding all of our knowledge about what a government is and how normative authorities operate, this hardly passes the bar.

    Like I said, you have time to think about this, but I really think that you are missing the boat entirely. I hope that we can at least make some progress toward understanding what the differences are, because the last two posts have been extended wheel spinning without moving the discussion forward.

  90. +JMJ+

    Eric W wrote:

    See ! I “make sense” when my words CONFORM to your words and standards. Charging me with “standard riddling” is an expression of your dissatisfaction. Your dissatisfied when other people don’t imitate your idolatrous submission.

    If conformation to Reality-As-Is, irrespective of uniquely Christian Revelation, is “idolatrous submission”, then hand me the incense, baby! (And to boot, I’m a Platonist not an Aristotelian.)

    In fact, the only reason that Aristotelianism doesn’t reduce to Modernistic Materialism and Platonism doesn’t reduce to Illuministic Spiritualism is because both of these systems revel in their own schematic incompleteness/indeterminacy. This demonstrates the thread common to both authentically Catholic theology and authentically Human philosophy: they both stand agape and reverent in the face of Mystery. They both resist reductionism by humble submission to the Real.

    If Protestants can localize the points at which they fail in their submission to this rule — the points where they succumb to the temptation of reductionism, they will find the points where they diverge from truth. The jumping-off point where they schism from Reality-As-Is.

  91. Jonathan wrote to Michael:
    Now I do think that any claim of a book having “intrinsic authority” is metaphysically confused at best.

    I wonder how much rationalism is actually in their house.

    [emphasis mine]
    And the scripture, FORESEEING that God would justify the heathen through faith, PREACHED before the gospel unto Abraham, SAYING, In thee shall all nations be blessed. – Galatians 3:8

  92. @Eric W.:
    And cf. Rom. 1:2.

    You’re assuming that Scripture wasn’t intended to function through a normative interpretive culture. If it is, then you’re committing the reification fallacy on Scripture’s own terms.

  93. @Jonathan

    ?I’m going to turn into a pumpkin shortly, but I’ll give you this high-level response, and maybe we can take this up again in a week or two.

    If that means you’re going to be busy, I get it. I’m in season for coaching starting next Monday and all my extra time is about to disappear.

    Because you assume that we are a priorists, as opposed to empiricist, you assume that our argumentative form must be falling into your a priorist structure. Since you need presuppositions to be able to know anything, you are assuming that we are reasoning from presupposition to conclusion.

    But over and over again you keep proving that this simply isn’t the case. Observe your argument that follows:

    But the form of the argument isn’t what you say. It’s as follows:?(1) An act is an act of the Holy Spirit if and only if that act is infallible.?(2) The Protestant act of interpreting the Scripture is fallible.?(3) Therefore, the Protestant act of interpreting the Scripture is not the act of the Holy Spirit.

    The problem is with 1. Premise 1 assumes that an act of the Holy Spirit includes both delivery and reception. That’s the hidden a priori in your premise. So it isn’t enough for the Holy Spirit to broadcast infallibly. The signal also has to be received infallibly. Otherwise communication is garbled.

    But that’s precisely the a priori that isn’t observed empirically. So you’re not an empiricist after all. It turns out that you do have presuppositions and that’s okay. You only need make the argument that it is more reasonable to posit infallible reception in addition to infallible broadcasting. Well, that’s why we’re here. Go ahead and make it. (Actually, I think you do this below.)

    ?I suppose that (1) does assert something like “might makes right,” but if you’re going to argue with God’s might in that regard, then I’m not sure any authority can bind you.

    But again, you’re not simply saying the Holy Spirit broadcasts infallibly. You’re also saying the Church receives the broadcast infallibly. If we deny this, your reply to us is to go take it up with God. But that begs the question at the outset, for what if an infallible act of the Holy Spirit does *not* include infallible reception by the Church?

    Thus, I am in no sense presuming that such a thing exists; I am simply saying that if there is an act of divine revelation, then it will have certain observable properties.

    I believe that you this is what you *think* you’re doing. I really do. But I don’t think this is what you’re actually doing. The quest for some infallible receiver is still based on the a prior assumption of needing one, yet with no *observed* example of actually having one. Instead, all we see in the observable record is fallibility.

    Now I do think that any claim of a book having “intrinsic authority” is metaphysically confused at best. Normative authority is by definition the guidance (norming) of human conduct. It’s not possible for a book to serve as a normative authority without people being guided. The point is that an authority that makes no claims of infallibility can’t possibly be a divine normative authority, in which case there is no good reason to put any faith in it. And if Scripture were intended by itself to be a normative authority, then anyone who reads it should be normed by it, which obviously isn’t the case, because two people can barely agree on what Scripture is commanding them to do, let alone everyone.

    I’m highlighting this because, at the end of the day, this is the real issue that undergirds all others. You simply don’t agree that books can have normative authority. But here you seem to be assuming that the Bible is like any other book. But what about the Bible’s own claims to being a “living” word? And what about the people in scripture whose view of scripture is that it is a living, normative word? Second, the Bible does claim to be an infallible authority. So we don’t have to pile on more claims to infallible, normative authority. As you say about Rome, one normative authority is enough. So if it really is the case that X has to claim divine normative authority in order for you to put your faith in it, then look no further than the Bible. It makes that claim for itself. Of course, you could deny that it does. That’s fine. But if it does (P), then you would be justified in believing it (Q).

    Your second argument is that if scripture were intended to be normative by itself, then anyone who reads it should be normed by it. But I think you can immediately answer your own charge by substituting “Rome” for scripture. From your point of view, does the existence of Protestantism thereby negate the divine normative authority of Rome simply because there are those who do not see themselves bound by it? If not, then mutatis mutandis, scripture’s normative authority is not vitiated simply because people may not see themselves as bound by it or may come to different interpretations of it.

    Further, like most Romanists, you over exaggerate Protestant differences, underplay Protestant agreements and conveniently ignore the deep-seated disagreements within your own communion. But you would not argue, on that basis, that there is therefore no normative authority that can resolve those differences, would you?

    But the more significant conclusion is that the real world simply never works that way. There is never a written law without a government, although there have been plenty of governments without written laws. That’s a perfectly simple empirical conclusions for obvious and apparent reasons about human nature.

    I’m not sure law/government is the appropriate analogy for understanding the normative authority of scripture. But even granting your analogy, you’re still smuggling in a number of unspoken assumptions. For the “law” in this case is the Word of God (S and T, by Rome’s reckoning). And the “government” is the Magisterium ™. But why must we assume that the government is infallible? Could it not have a subsidiary normative authority without itself being infallible? Further, why assume that there is only one central government over all? In other words, why assume a federation rather than a confederation? Is it not possible to see the one universal church subsisting in coequal local communities (e.g., Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople, Rome) each with their own subsidiary governing bodies (pastors, teachers, elders)? So we can agree with you that there is church government. The Bible teaches us this much. But we don’t see that the Bible specifies a monarchical episcopate under the successor to Peter and headquartered in Rome nor that even tradition supports the idea that this is a revealed ecclesiology that is normative for the entire church.

    You seem to be saying that an “infallible book” is a reasonable presupposition, but from the empirical perspective, it’s a completely extraordinary presupposition.

    I’m saying that the Bible itself gives us examples of people (Jesus, the Apostles) treating the Bible (the OT) as an infallible book. And since I can read that in the Bible, I do have empirical evidence for others holding the presupposition I’m advocating.

    As a result, your examples of Jesus holding the Jews accountable to the Scriptures are extended exercises in question-begging.

    You misunderstand. Let’s imagine that I am an unbeliever who thinks the T.V. Guide is as inspired as anything that Luke the Evangelist wrote. Yet if I were to read Luke’s Gospel, I nevertheless would see that his Jesus character, or at least Luke himself, presupposed the normative authority of the books of Moses. So if Luke is doing good history (as he claims) and if Jesus’ story about Lazarus in Luke 16 is plausibly attributed to the Jesus of history, then without begging any questions at all I can minimally conclude that the Jesus of history (or at least the Luke of history) believed in the normative authority of the books of Moses. That those stories from my faith perspective are also inspired history is only icing on the cake for me. But, strictly speaking, I don’t need to invoke the inspiration of the NT to know what Jesus and the Apostles thought about Biblical authority. They invoked it as a normative authority as a matter of course and expected that their contemporaries would see themselves bound by that same authority.

    And that historical fact is congenial to another one of my presuppositions: That our view of scripture should the same as Jesus.’ I can’t prove I’m right about this. But nevertheless think its a defensible view. What is the alternative? Adopt a view of scripture that Jesus didn’t endorse?

  94. Michael,

    As it is tax time and I live outside the country, I am obliged by law to pay or at least file taxes in two countries.
    People throw the term “ex-pat” around as meaning any Yank living abroad but I was told once at the U.S. embassy here in Portugal that it is actually a hard to acquire legal status.
    It doesn’t matter how long one lives outside the country or if they marry and raise children as non-American citizens.
    Merely tearing up one’s passport and renouncing one’s U.S. citizenship doesn’t do it.
    Swearing never to set foot on American soil may be flamboyant, the IRS isn’t impressed.
    Getting dual citizenship or a foreign passport doesn’t excuse one from the American tax system. One can run but the long arm of the IRS will eventually track you down.
    It is a process that takes years and all the while one must file their taxes to America before America deems you fit or unfit enough to be released from her fold.
    Basically, what I am saying is, even if someone doesn’t value being an American or even hates America, the U.S. government sees things a bit differently.

    Now I am going to don my Fr. Finn hat for a moment.

    You are still as Catholic as anybody on this blog. One cannot formally defect and get out of the Church. You still carry the seals of Baptism and Confirmation, whether you believe it or not.
    It’s like people who are Baptized in the Church but are never catechized, they are still bound to the Church’s laws on marriage. And unlike the obligation to pay taxes, the Church’s long arm doesn’t end at death.

    To get your life squared away there is no need for re-baptism, no formal profession of Faith, no public recanting.

    You are already a Catholic so you just need to get to Confession. After that, you may want to do some reparation for the damage you have caused by blogging in defense of the Faith you have been tearing down. That’s up to you.

    No “Cartesian epistematic paradigms”. No five dollar jargon. No 32 inch commentaries pretending you are not one of us.

    Your problem is not intellectual. It is not deep and profound. It is a case of needing a priest.

  95. Wosbald wrote:
    This demonstrates the thread common to both authentically Catholic theology and authentically Human philosophy: they both stand agape and reverent in the face of Mystery. They both resist reductionism by humble submission to the Real.

    Response:
    I thought Idolatry, at its peak performance, desired the Real and Mysterious most of all. You know, the inordinate desire for a lesser good. Even Real an Mysterious demons are good. I will call it “The Idolatrous incompleteness/indeterminacy scheme”. I can’t wait to see how it ends ! Just how many demons rest underneath the Wosbaldian Real and face-forward Mystery ?

    Eric W, stop asking those sorts of questions because they don’t resist reductionism. When it comes to Wosbald, that crafty real-maker, I need a special polish applied to my spiritual armour.

  96. Michael,

    “Second, the Bible does claim to be an infallible authority. So we don’t have to pile on more claims to infallible, normative authority. As you say about Rome, one normative authority is enough. So if it really is the case that X has to claim divine normative authority in order for you to put your faith in it, then look no further than the Bible. It makes that claim for itself.”

    Yet earlier you said “Is the Bible infallible only if it claims to be so? Is it possible that the Bible is infallible simply because it is God’s word?”

    So which is it?

    “the fear that without psychological certitude grounded on espistemic certainty, everything including the articles of faith would be up for grabs.”

    Not psychological certitude grounded on epistemic certainty, but rather normative binding teachings/judgments grounded on divine authority.

    “The Church only “canonizes” what it *already* believes to be the canon.”

    Of course. The question is whether that or any act of canonization is a normative binding irreformable judgment upon all or not.

    “But what grounds the belief itself? Surely not an infallible decree of the extraordinary magisterium. But nor is the belief grounded by an appeal to the sensus fidelium of the ordinary magisterium. For this simply raises the question as to why they accepted these books and not others.”

    The community accepted those books and not others because of the STM-triad.

    “Ultimately we are forced back to the texts themselves and their divine origin.”

    Not if we divorce those texts from the community in which they were written and specifically given in the first place (a community that was operative before all the books were written in the first place) – that is, we are not forced back to the texts *alone* to be examined like a bunch of rocks ready for laboratory analysis.

    “It is the intrinsic authority of the text itself that elicits its own recognition and corporate reception.”

    So the canon is self-evident and self-authenticating again. So I ask my questions again: why are there asterisks in your bible? Why do erudite textual critics and scholars dispute passages and authorship on both sides? Why do people you claim as fellow believers from history held books as canonical you reject, or disputed books you accept? What “corporate reception” was there if North Africa, Rome, and the East for starters all blew it?

    “Any church who teaches what is contrary to the objective meaning found in the text (“you err, because you do not know the scriptures,” said Jesus), loses its authority to teach in Jesus’ name.”

    What church(es) currently has the authority to teach in Jesus’ name? It is not enough to merely teach accurately – a person can teach accurately without being authorized. If some entity is divinely authorized in Christ’s name to teach, then that entails such teaching will be accurate and without error. So that would entail infallibility in teaching tied to said authority. So I’d like to know what Protestant churches or confessions even claim to meet the bill.

    “Rome lost that authority long ago when it elevated to the level of irreformable dogma, beliefs which clearly contradict the objective meaning of the inspired scriptures.”

    If it’s so simple to identify the objective meaning of the inspired scriptures, why don’t you or confessions offer any examples of it rather than examples of “we could be wrong, but probably aren’t”?
    Secondly, if you were wrong in your sincere interpretation of the objective meaning of the inspired scriptures, how would or could you be corrected given the eschewing of ecclesiastical divine authority – what judgment can trump your interpretation?
    Thirdly, I believe sola scriptura clearly contradicts the objective meaning of the inspired scriptures. Now what?

  97. Jonathan, you wrote:
    And cf. Rom. 1:2.
    You’re assuming that Scripture wasn’t intended to function through a normative interpretive culture. If it is, then you’re committing the reification fallacy on Scripture’s own terms.

    Response:
    That’s the problem with so many Metaphysicians. They get touchy when you say rationalism. A light-hearted rhetorical thing was intended. Who knows ? Maybe faith got a small dig in the ribs.

  98. Robert,

    “But Protestant confessions do offer “right” teachings that are authoritative and binding.”

    So such teachings are right, authoritative, and binding, but not irreformable?

    “How can the individual Roman Catholic reliably identify the infallible interpretation of the Magisterium if he is not infallible?”

    Okay, so you can reliably identify the infallible interpretation of the HS. Then why doesn’t Protestantism or its confessions offer any examples they have identified?

    “If infallibility is required to know what the Holy Spirit has said and what it hasn’t, how do you as a fallible Roman Catholic know what the Holy Spirit has said through the church and what it hasn’t?”

    Again, if you can reliably identify the infallible interpretation of the HS as you say, then why don’t you or Protestant confessions offer any examples they have identified?
    And personal infallibility of the submitting agent is not required – that’s never been argued.

    “Protestant churches claim to speak with a derivative authority, not the authority of God Himself. When a church gets it right, the teaching has authority not by virtue of the fact that the church said it but because God has said it.”

    God “said it” in Scripture. So where did God “say it” regarding the canon so that your church “got it right”?

    Secondly, your church apparently then can never offer a divinely authorized interpretation based on the HS infallible interpretation – all it can ever do is repeat the words of Scripture verbatim devoid of any interpretation that “gets it right”, otherwise such an interpretation would be normative and irreformable.

    Thirdly, because the church “gets it right” only when it accords with your identification and interpretation of Scripture – an identification/interpretation that can never be trumped by the judgment of other individuals or churches given your rejection of infallibility outside of Scriptures and your earlier affirmation of 1 John 2:27 in support – if you were ever wrong in your interpretation and your church actually wasn’t getting it right, how would your faulty judgment ever be overturned? Would there be any scenario in which you were *obligated* to assent to some judgment even if you disagree with that judgment? Given your rejection of ecclesiastical infallibility/divine authority, I fail to see why you would ever be so obligated.

  99. James–

    Most of the tenets of the WCF or the TFU are as irreformable as Catholic dogma, perhaps more so, given the cancer that “development of doctrine” engenders.

  100. Eric,

    Why the tenets of those particular confessions and not others you reject?

    Why would such confessions explicitly call their tenets authoritative only insofar as they conform to Scripture and reinforce that point by calling out councils and meetings of men can and have erred?

    Most tenets are irreformable. So what differentiates the reformable from irreformable ones in the confessions?

    Why affirm semper reformanda and fallible collection if you have irreformable tenets?

  101. Eric,

    “Most of the tenets of the WCF or the TFU are as irreformable as Catholic dogma, perhaps more so, given the cancer that “development of doctrine” engenders.”

    A cancer? Really? Do you actually know what the term means? Do you deny the Bible is full of doctrine developing?

  102. Michael,

    “So if it really is the case that X has to claim divine normative authority in order for you to put your faith in it, then look no further than the Bible. It makes that claim for itself.”

    It does indeed. Trouble is though, the Bible also makes that claim for the Pope and Tradition.

  103. James wrote to Michael:
    Not psychological certitude grounded on epistemic certainty, but rather normative binding teachings/judgments grounded on divine authority.

    Response:

    James or any Catholic, I hope you read this and tempt us with an answer.

    Church Teaching: The Magisterium is the normative teacher with divine authority.

    Since the teaching of the Mag. is God’s revelation, and God’s revelation is the rule of faith, then the teaching on the Mag. must function adequately and properly apart its teaching authority. Without a prior knowledge of God’s Word on this truth, no Catholic can affirm the teaching authority of the Mag.

    If this is true, then what authority “grounds” this specific Church teaching on the Magisterium ?

  104. Robert,
    Wherever you are.
    Because I have mentioned Flannery O’Connors character, Fr. Finn, a couple of times lately, I have been musing over her short stories all morning.
    Some of them are quite shocking or even morbid. Most are weird.
    There are Flannery O’Connor clubs and study groups that sit around trying to decipher the meanings behind her writings. About the only thing everyone is agreed upon is they are highly spiritual and even mystical.

    How can people ever know for sure what she meant to say? Just reading her stories has lead to all kinds of speculation. Turning to Flannery O’Connor experts hasn’t helped either.

    What if we were to conjure up her ghost and ask her? Would she be an infallible interpreter?

    Maybe not, according to your standards. She was a southerner, writing in the 1960s. Language has changed a bit since then. We certainly use the “N Word” differently.
    Could we ever be sure our hearing was functioning correctly?

    I don’t see how, due to fallibility of our hearing, understanding and language, we can ever know what she meant to say.No matter how infallible our authority is on any issue, we can always err so what is the point of trying, eh?

  105. Jonathan wrote to Michael:
    As an a posteriori conclusion, then, the tu quoque arguments will never work, because they can only rule things out and never rule things in. We know Protestantism is out from the get-go (which I’ll explain below), but even if you show that the Magisterium is fallible, that would only mean that we needed to look for another appropriate means (say, Eastern Orthodoxy) or to deny that there has been any such act of divine revelation.

    Response:
    Then settle the issue for all of us. Thomas asked whether the things of faith can be known scientifically. Thomas may be the default position for you, but that’s not the the case for the Catholic Church. Theologians disagree on this. Protestantism, including Michael, isn’t out from the get-go. Intellect/Object and Will/ Object ? The ball is in your court. You (or someone like you) have the moral duty to settle this if Protestantism is actually being misjudged by non-Catholic standards.

  106. Jim,

    I don’t see how, due to fallibility of our hearing, understanding and language, we can ever know what she meant to say.No matter how infallible our authority is on any issue, we can always err so what is the point of trying, eh?

    But I don’t believe that we can’t know what she or anyone else really meant. That’s the Romanist position on the Bible. You all don’t come out and say it directly all that much, but if the Bible is clear and self-interpreting, there is no need for an infallible Magisterium. The text has its own authority. The duty of church leaders is simply to abide by what it says and to endeavor to teach and discipline the visible church in accordance with it.

    I don’t know how many times I have to say it, but I’m not a radical skeptic. But when Rome adopts the position that we have to be radical skeptics, not confident epistemologically, and not confident on matters of faith in regard to Scritpure without an infallible Magisterium, then there is no reason why we should give the Magisterium a pass on its clarity and ability to exercise binding authority.

    It’s not so much the claim that the Magisterium is infallible, as bad as that claim is. It’s the claim that the Magisterium is necessary for faith.

    And the other problem is this: If we need an infallible receiver of revelation (which seems to be what you guys are advocating at the end of the day, at least in the case of Mateo and Jonathan), then I don’t see how anyone can actually know with confidence the teachings of the Lord except for that infallible receiver. Which leaves you and every other RC who is not a bishop out of it. And yet you all are very confident that Rome has a definable and defendable teaching content in the form of dogma and liturgy. Why the confidence The revelation hasn’t really come to you. You aren’t infallible.

  107. James–

    A “fallible collection of infallible books” is Sproul’s take on things. I don’t think his stance is widespread in the Reformed community.

    Semper reformanda is in place to retain the supremacy of Scripture as the “norma normans,” the WCF or TFU or the Book of Concord being the “norma normata.” A normed norm is our most definitive take on what the norming norm actually means to say. As such, it is quite authoritative.

  108. @James,

    So which is it?

    Both. The Bible isn’t infallible *because* it claims to be anymore than the Book of Mormon is or Rome is. It is because it is infallible in reality that its claim has any validity. This is why you keep misrepresenting sola scriptura. You think it’s a doctrine that must be taught in scripture to be true. Then you deny that it is taught there and conclude that sola scriptura is therefore self-defeating. But while it is taught there, that’s not why it’s true. Just as you believe something is true by virtue of the fact that the Church ® teaches it, so we believe something is true by virtue of the fact that the Bible teaches it. That’s our presupposition just as surely as sola Roma is yours.

    Not psychological certitude grounded on epistemic certainty, but rather normative binding teachings/judgments grounded on divine authority.

    Therefore divine cloud formations and the book of Mormon are normative binding teachings because they too claim to be grounded on divine authority. Thanks for advancing the conversation nowhere. But if we ask, on what basis do you claim that Rome has divine authority, hopefully you can give us more than bare assertion. Simply put, how do you know Rome has the divine authority it claims for itself? That’s a fair question. It’s also an epistemic one.

    But of course, you’re missing the point because you’re not reading me in context. If you posit infallibility (and you do) in order to have certainty about what are/what are not the articles of faith, then you’ve stepped back into the realm of epistemology, whether you want to admit that or not. And once you do that, you’re back on your favorite ride: the infinite regress fun wagon.

    Of course. The question is whether that or any act of canonization is a normative binding irreformable judgment upon all or not.

    No, that’s not the question. The very formulation of your question shows that you are still presupposing that canon is a function of church declaration and not inspiration. That’s the very question not to be begged. But you’re begging right here.

    The community accepted those books and not others because of the STM-triad.

    Um, no. First, long before there was even a concept of the M, there already was a functioning canon. The T only describes what the community already recognized as the S. But it doesn’t tell us or determine what the S is. In other words, the S is logically and temporally prior to the T.

    Not if we divorce those texts from the community in which they were written and specifically given in the first place (a community that was operative before all the books were written in the first place) – that is, we are not forced back to the texts *alone* to be examined like a bunch of rocks ready for laboratory analysis.

    But we don’t do that, so the problem you fear does not obtain. Besides, when you mention the already-operative community, if that means Rome’s model of the Magisterium, then you’re again begging the same question. And yes, we are forced back to the texts themselves because only they are inspired. So canonicity is a function of inspiration. Once inspiration takes place, canonicity follows (the S). Recognition of the canon comes next (the T), followed by corporate reception (the T again) and then formal definitions of the canon (the M).

    So the canon is self-evident and self-authenticating again.

    Exactly.

    So I ask my questions again: why are there asterisks in your bible?

    And my question back to you: Why are there asterisks in yours? I think you know the reason. It is because of textual uncertainties. But why would you think this is problematic for us?

    Why do erudite textual critics and scholars dispute passages and authorship on both sides?

    Presumably because there are ambiguities in the textual tradition. But, again, why is this a problem? The textual history of the Bible isn’t like that of the Q’uaran. It wasn’t strictly controlled by an institution. Nor did the Bible fall from the sky engraved on golden tablets. So beware of the two-edged sword, James. Any question along those lines that you pose to us has to be answered by you as well. Rome isn’t infallible in matters of textual criticism. Its textual critics still have to determine what the most plausible reading of the text is too. An infallible decree doesn’t make that problem go away.

    In fact, some questions for you. What *exactly* is the canonical text in Roman Catholicism? Do you know? Does anyone? Is the longer ending of Mark scripture? Is the pericope adulterae? If Trent canonized the text based on the Vulgate, does that mean only the Latin text is canonical? And if it turns out that there are textual errors in the Vulgate, would that mean Rome infallibly canonized textual errors?

    Why do people you claim as fellow believers from history held books as canonical you reject, or disputed books you accept?

    Same question back to you. Why did many of the church fathers side with the shorter canon? Why did the more biblically literate theologians on the eve of Trent prefer the shorter canon? The point is this. The fact of controversy and debate and disagreement about the precise boundaries of the canon is to be expected. That doesn’t mean

    What “corporate reception” was there if North Africa, Rome, and the East for starters all blew it?

    I presume you speak of the status of the deuteros. But when we dig deeper into history and into the textual tradition for these books we see that there *never* was a universal acceptance of the deuteros, that these books were frequently marginalized in the textual tradition, and that they *never* were part of the canon that Jesus and the Apostles handed on to us. So we can plausibly conclude that North Africa, Rome and Trent got it wrong.

    What church(es) currently has the authority to teach in Jesus’ name?

    Those that teach what God revealed in his word and not the traditions of men. That was Jesus’ own criteria. Don’t blame us for using his criteria unless you can come up with better ones.

    It is not enough to merely teach accurately – a person can teach accurately without being authorized.

    More question-begging.

    1. It is not enough to teach accurately.
    2. Hidden premise: One also has to be authorized.
    3. Hidden premise: Only Rome has been authorized.
    4. Therefore only Rome teaches accurately and with authorization.

    Reply to 2: The Bible has authorized the man of God who teaches what is taught in scripture.

    Reply to 3: There is no biblical reason or credible historical reason to believe that Rome has received the authorization it claims for itself.

    If some entity is divinely authorized in Christ’s name to teach, then that entails such teaching will be accurate and without error.

    A. An authorized entity teaches infallibly.
    B. If an entity teaches fallibly, then it hasn’t been authorized.

    A proves B, which proves A, which proves B. Welcome to the merry-go-round fun ride of arguing in circles.

    But we can deny A is true in the first place and use B to show that Rome isn’t an authorized entity.

    So that would entail infallibility in teaching tied to said authority. So I’d like to know what Protestant churches or confessions even claim to meet the bill.

    Your unproved and unjustified assumption continues to be the same, namely, that there must be someone out there making a claim to infallibility. I’ve never understood why you think that must be the case.

    If it’s so simple to identify the objective meaning of the inspired scriptures, why don’t you or confessions offer any examples of it rather than examples of “we could be wrong, but probably aren’t”?

    Perhaps because it’s not as easy as you suppose. The objective meaning is there. We do our best to uncover it and live by it. But we are fallible and therefore can make mistakes, just as surely as Rome can and has.

    Secondly, if you were wrong in your sincere interpretation of the objective meaning of the inspired scriptures, how would or could you be corrected given the eschewing of ecclesiastical divine authority – what judgment can trump your interpretation?

    What could possibly trump your decision to follow Rome? You think the best evidence points Romeward and so as a matter of conscience you submit to Rome’s authority. So long as you believe you are justified in doing so, nothing could ever trump your judgment to submit your judgment to Rome. But for us, we continue to hash it out. If there is a better interpretation of the Bible and if we can overcome our pride/prejudice and traditions, then we should be able to make the necessary changes. But the important point is that we have a stable, unchanging norm by which to judge our opinions and that is the text itself. So, for example. Who is “the god of this world” in 2 Cor. 4:4 that has “blinded the minds of unbelievers”? The traditional understanding is that it is Satan, especially because Jesus calls him “the ruler of this world” in John 12:31. But is that understanding correct? It might be. The interpretation has a lot to recommend it. But it may be that Paul was thinking of God himself whose revelation blinds the reprobate, hardening them in their unbelief. That’s not as intuitively pleasing as an interpretation, but it does fit in with other passages, including John 12:40, “He [God] has blinded their eyes….”

    Paul’s meaning may never be discovered definitively. But certainly Rome cannot discover it for us by means of an infallible interpretation. Rome would still have to first know which was the right interpretation before it would issue such a decree and Rome’s exegetes have to do the same hard work as ours do. So finding the objective meaning isn’t always as “easy” as you assume.

    Thirdly, I believe sola scriptura clearly contradicts the objective meaning of the inspired scriptures. Now what?

    Then don’t believe in sola scriptura. What would the alternative be? Believe in it because someone told you to?

  109. Eric,

    “I don’t think his stance is widespread in the Reformed community.”

    So the canon has been irreformably defined by the confessions? You said most tenets are irreformable in the confessions. So what distinguishes the irreformable ones from the reformable ones so we know the canon falls into the former and not the latter and we can give Sproul the memo?

    If the confessions are irreformable, why do they claim that their statements are authoritative only insofar as they conform to Scripture and reinforce that by emphasizing decisions of councils and opinions of men can and have erred? (“which decrees and determinations, if consonant to the Word of God” and “All synods or councils, since the apostles’ times, whether general or particular, may err; and many have erred” and “The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture.”)

    “the WCF or TFU or the Book of Concord being the “norma normata.””

    Why are those 3 confessions the “norma normata” for you, but not other confessions you reject? Why do you reject certain teachings of Concord as a non-Lutheran – are those ones you reject the reformable tenets?

    “Semper reformanda is in place to retain the supremacy of Scripture as the “norma normans,”

    Right, so all tenets of any confessions are reformable by the (interpretation of the) norming norm. So no tenets of the confessions are irreformable. Hence semper reformanda. As you said:
    “for as Protestants, our only authoritative tradition IS Scripture. If you PROVE me wrong by Scripture, then Scripture is right and I am wrong…and I will shift my position accordingly. That’s what Protestantism IS.
    Humans, it so happens, (including me) are fallible. Semper reformanda. We are constantly endeavoring with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength to get back to Scripture, back to Scripture, back to Scripture.”

    You’re in good company:
    Horton: “Doubtless there are many beliefs and practices that Reformed believers share in common with non-Reformed believers committed to God’s Word. We must always remain open to correction from our brothers and sisters in other churches who have interpreted the Bible differently….[T]hose of us in confessional Reformed churches must also beware of forgetting that our doctrinal standards are subordinate to the Word of God. Christ’s church was reformed by God’s Word in the Reformation and post-Reformation era. It was brought back to God’s Word and the fruit of that great work of the Spirit continues to guide us through our confessions and catechisms. And yet the church is not only Reformed; it is always in need of being reformed. Like our personal sanctification, our corporate faithfulness is always flawed….When God’s Word is the source of our life, our ultimate loyalty is not to the past as such or to the present and the future, but to “that Word above all earthly pow’rs,” to borrow from Luther’s famous hymn.”

    Anna Case Winters: “we recognize that there is no aspect of our lives that is unaffected by our estrangement from God. Even our best endeavors and highest aspirations are prone to sin and error. Forms of faith and life in the church are no exception. This is why Reformed confessions tend to have their own built-in disclaimers. The preface to the Scots Confession invites all readers to offer correction from Scripture if they find the confession to be in error. The Westminster Confession of Faith asserts, “Councils may err and many have erred.”….Recognizing how far short we fall from God’s intentions, we continually submit all doctrines and structures to be reformed according to the Word of God and the call of the Spirit. The church is a frail and fallible pilgrim people, a people on the way, not yet what we shall be. The church, because of who we are, remains open to always being reformed…Therefore, while we honor the forms of faith and life that have been bequeathed to us, we honor them best in a spirit of openness to the Word and the Spirit that formed and continue to re-form the church. The church, because of who God is, a living God, remains open to always being reformed.”

  110. James,

    So such teachings are right, authoritative, and binding, but not irreformable?

    If it is right, authoritative, and binding, reformability exists only in theory. If it is right, authoritative, and binding, the teaching won’t be changed. It might be restated in a different way, but it won’t be changed. If it is wrong, it will be changed. So we get back to the question of how we know if it is right or wrong, which is an epistemological question and so the infinite regress is reintroduced, because you would have to infallibly know that Rome is what she claims to be.

    Protestant confessions have rarely been reformed. The consensus in the churches where they are affirmed has been that they are correct, at least on the main issues of salvation. If people want to propose changes, there is a process for it.

    Okay, so you can reliably identify the infallible interpretation of the HS. Then why doesn’t Protestantism or its confessions offer any examples they have identified?

    By its very nature, a confession presents what it considers to be the infallible interpretation of the HS. If it didn’t consider that, it wouldn’t confess the belief in said doctrine. Fallibility is simply saying that the church is not protected from error whenever it says it is protected from error. It’s an attempt to keep the church appropriately humble. Fallibility doesn’t mean the church is NEVER protected from error; it is simply saying that the church isn’t protected from error anytime it says so. The fact that a church continues to hold to any confession is proof that the church believes it was protected from error at those points it confesses. The alternative is that the church doesn’t believe it was protected, believes the confession was wrong, and so it is jettisoned or confessed with fingers crossed behind one’s back.

    Again, if you can reliably identify the infallible interpretation of the HS as you say, then why don’t you or Protestant confessions offer any examples they have identified?

    You can identify something reliably without having some guaranteed gift of infallibility. If you deny this, then you have the infinite regress again because then you would be unable to reliably identify the church with the charism of infallibility.

    And personal infallibility of the submitting agent is not required – that’s never been argued.

    Yes, which is why your argument at the end of the day sounds nice in theory but is actually just a wordy exercise in missing the point. You can’t just affirm something is necessary and then ignore the implications for the individual. At some point you have to get to the James-Robert level, and if I cannot reliably identify infallible identify articles of faith in the manner you demand the church do so, how can I be saved? How can I be trusted to reliably identify the church Jesus founded? How can I know the truth? Why is this point lost on you guys?

    It’s enough for you to fallibly know what God has infallibly taught by your fallible identification of the church. Why is that insufficient for us in regard to a different infallible source/interpreter?

    God “said it” in Scripture. So where did God “say it” regarding the canon so that your church “got it right”?

    Ultimately, Scripture is self-authenticating. Just as ultimately, your church has to be self-authenticating. But we can identify the canon of Jesus with certainty, and we can know those whom Jesus would authorize to give revelation (ie the Apostles) from the account itself. If you deny this, then you have to reject Scripture as any basis for proving Roma authority. It’s a mixture of objective factors and subjective reception.

    Secondly, your church apparently then can never offer a divinely authorized interpretation based on the HS infallible interpretation – all it can ever do is repeat the words of Scripture verbatim devoid of any interpretation that “gets it right”, otherwise such an interpretation would be normative and irreformable.

    This does not follow. If the interpretation gets it right, it is divinely authoritative, normative, and irreformable in essence, though the actual teaching might have to be restated for greater clarity or for some other reason. Protestants do not disagree with this, which is why they write confessions and exercise church discipline based on those confessions. If we didn’t believe we had gotten it right or that getting it right carries with it a certain measure of divine authority, we wouldn’t do these things. What you are really asking is how we know when the church has gotten it right. Which introduces the infinite regress.

    Thirdly, because the church “gets it right” only when it accords with your identification and interpretation of Scripture – an identification/interpretation that can never be trumped by the judgment of other individuals or churches given your rejection of infallibility outside of Scriptures and your earlier affirmation of 1 John 2:27 in support – if you were ever wrong in your interpretation and your church actually wasn’t getting it right, how would your faulty judgment ever be overturned?

    This “solo Scriptura” argument applies equally well to you, James. Rome gets it right only when it accords with your identification and interpretation with what it teaches. If you were to come to the conclusion that Rome got something wrong, you’d stop being RC. You have to give your assent that Rome is correct and continues to get things correct or, at the very least, to admit that you don’t understand or disagree with Rome and yet choose to accept what she teaches and study until you reach the point at which you either agree or disagree. If you disagree, you would presumably cease to be RC. So, at the end of the day, you, no less than me, submit to your church only when you agree with your church. That is, unless you are just a mindless automaton, which you clearly are not.

    Would there be any scenario in which you were *obligated* to assent to some judgment even if you disagree with that judgment?

    I’m obligated to assent to any judgment that accurately reflects divine revelation. The question is really how one identifies the judgments that so accurately reflect it. Your answer, effectively, is “whatever Rome says.”

    Given your rejection of ecclesiastical infallibility/divine authority, I fail to see why you would ever be so obligated.

    All I’m rejecting is the notion that the church is infallible or correct simply because it says it is correct. I’m not rejecting the idea that the church can be right, nor am I embracing the view that the church is always wrong. If the church is right, I’m obligated to submit whether I believe the church is right or not, but it just so happens that at the end of the day, I will only submit when I believe the church is right, or at least right enough. And the EXACT same thing is true of you as well.

    That’s just the way things work. We obey because we agree with the teaching or because we agree with the authority’s claims even when we disagree/don’t understand with the authority. You submit only when you agree that Rome is the church that she claims to be.

    So ultimately, the question comes down to identifying when the church is right and when it is wrong. If the church must be infallible in order to know when it is right in its reading of revelation, I fail to see why you don’t have to be infallible in order to know when you are right about your reading of the church’s reading of revelation. “Hello infinite regress. You keep popping back up because Romanist arguments keep inviting you back in.”

    Don’t tell me that it’s not about the infallibility of the one submitting. At the end of the day, we’re talking about MY salvation. If my fallibility precludes me from being able to identify with sufficient certainty and assent the parameters of Scripture and divine teaching, then I can’t be saved except perhaps by way of freak accident. And the same is true of you because of your fallibility. When you base so much on the infallibility of the church being a requirement for faith, you end up destroying your own ability to know and believe the truth.

  111. Robert, you write:

    But Protestant confessions do offer “right” teachings that are authoritative and binding.

    Protestants only offer up fallible opinion of what they think is right. You keep ignoring the reality that Protestantism is thousands upon thousands of divided sects that offer up contradictory teachings.

    We just don’t say that there has to be a guaranteed infallibility to get there.

    Protestants deny that any man in the post-Apostolic age can exercise the charism of teaching infallibly. Which is why the only thing that Protestants can offer to men are their fallible interpretations of their Protestants bibles, opinions that might be right, or might be wrong, with no way to know if the opinions are either right or wrong.

    Infinite regress … How can the individual Roman Catholic reliably identify the infallible interpretation of the Magisterium if he is not infallible?

    This “infinite regress” argument has been proven to be DOA. The fact that you are trying to resurrect a brain dead argument tells us something about you, and nothing about what Catholics believe.

    Protestant churches claim to speak with a derivative authority, not the authority of God Himself.

    Protestants labor under the delusion of derivative authority.

    A real Christian submits to God, a Protestant submits only to his private interpretations of the Protestant bible.

    “When I submit only when I agree, the one to whom I submit is me.”

    Robert, the Holy Spirit is the Supreme Lord of the Scriptures. When you enthrone yourself as the Supreme Lord of the Scripture you are asserting that you possess the authority of God Himself!

    Luther’s heresy of sola scriptura is blasphemy.

  112. Mateo,

    Protestants only offer up fallible opinion of what they think is right. You keep ignoring the reality that Protestantism is thousands upon thousands of divided sects that offer up contradictory teachings.

    Mateo can only have a fallible opinion of what he thinks is right. You keep ignoring the reality that Magisterium says that thousands upon thousands of RCs that differ with you on what you consider core matters are orthodox, faithful RCs.

    Protestants deny that any man in the post-Apostolic age can exercise the charism of teaching infallibly.

    Which is it Mateo? You have said that the Holy Spirit is the only infallible interpreter/teacher and that the church is the infallible receptor. If only an infallible teacher is required, we have that. His name is the Holy Spirit.

    Which is why the only thing that Protestants can offer to men are their fallible interpretations of their Protestants bibles, opinions that might be right, or might be wrong, with no way to know if the opinions are either right or wrong.

    The only thing Mateo or any other RC except maybe the pope has is his fallible interpretation of the Magisterium, opinions that might be right, or might be wrong, with no way to know if the opinions are either right or wrong.

    This “infinite regress” argument has been proven to be DOA. The fact that you are trying to resurrect a brain dead argument tells us something about you, and nothing about what Catholics believe.

    No it hasn’t beyond, “It’s just obvious what the Magisterium has taught infallibly.” Guess what, I can say the same thing about the Bible.

    Protestants labor under the delusion of derivative authority.

    You call it a delusion. We call it what God actually gave us in the church.

    A real Christian submits to God, a Protestant submits only to his private interpretations of the Protestant bible.

    A real Christian submits to God; Mateo submits only to his private interpretations of the Magisterium.

    “When I submit only when I agree, the one to whom I submit is me.”

    Mateo, what do you disagree with that the Roman church has taught infallibly? Nothing, right? Looks like you are submitting only when you agree.

    Robert, the Holy Spirit is the Supreme Lord of the Scriptures.

    I get your sentiment, and agree, but this is phrased badly. The words of the Scriptures are the words of the Spirit, so the words in themselves are the supreme authority.

    When you enthrone yourself as the Supreme Lord of the Scripture you are asserting that you possess the authority of God Himself!

    Thankfully I endeavor not to do that, but I appreciate the warning. What does this say about Rome, however, that claims the exclusive right to interpret what God has said?

    Luther’s heresy of sola scriptura is blasphemy.

    Sola scriptura is necessary because of the nature of the biblical text and to combat ecclesiastical corruption and overreach.

  113. Robert you write:

    By its very nature, a confession presents what it considers to be the infallible interpretation of the HS.

    You blatantly contradict yourself! Protestantism is built upon Luther’s SS proposition, and Luther’s proposition entails that there are no men living in the post-Apostolic era, that can, under any circumstance conceivable, infallibly interpret the Protestant bible.

    All Protestant confessions were written by men that lived in the post-Apostolic era. Therefore, all Protestant confessions must be nothing more than the fallible opinions of men that are privately interpreting the Protestant bible. Fallible opinions that might be right, or might be wrong, with no way of knowing if their fallible opinions are either right or wrong.

    The fact that a church continues to hold to any confession is proof that the church believes it was protected from error at those points it confesses.

    This is such a lame thing to say. Every Protestant sect thinks that what they confess to be true is, in fact, the truth. But the fact that Protestantism consists of thousands upon thousands of bickering sects divided over doctrine proves that merely believing something is true doesn’t make it true.

    Robert, just because you may sincerely believe that your private interpretations of the Protestant bible are correct, that does not make them correct. The idea that you get to personally define what constitutes the orthodox doctrines of Christianity is Protestant lunacy.

    … if I cannot reliably identify infallible identify articles of faith in the manner you demand the church do so, how can I be saved?

    Robert, as a Protestant that you can’t answer the question about how one knows with certainty what constitutes the articles of faith.

    If all you can ever do is fallibly interpret your Protestant bible, how can you ever know with certainty what the articles of faith even are? All you have are your fallible opinions about what you personally think constitutes the articles of faith. But you are just one more fallible interpreter among millions upon millions of other Protestants that fallibly interpret their Protestant bibles. Millions of other self-righteous Protesters also have personal opinions about what constitutes the articles of the Christian faith, and their fallible opinions disagree with your fallible opinions. And they all think that they are right and your are wrong!

    So tell us Robert, what make you so special that I should believe that your fallible interpretations of the Protestant bible are always right?

    You are not God, Robert! The only infallible interpreter of the Sacred Scriptures is the Holy Spirit.

  114. Michael,

    “Both.”

    Okay – so it claims its own infallibility, but it didn’t have to do that – it’s just a fortuitous coincidence that it does. So let’s assume it makes the claim to infallibility as you assert (“So if it really is the case that X has to claim divine normative authority in order for you to put your faith in it, then look no further than the Bible. It makes that claim for itself.”) – can you cite from each book in your canon where it does that? If the Bible makes that claim for itself, we need to identify the Bible then right? So it would seem each book would need to make that claim, at the very least – you are quite right that just the claim enough isn’t sufficient (book of mormon, apocryphal books, etc could all claim infallibility/inspiration as well), but it would appear to be a necessary condition for your assertion to stand up.

    “If you posit infallibility (and you do) in order to have certainty about what are/what are not the articles of faith, then you’ve stepped back into the realm of epistemology, whether you want to admit that or not”

    The certainty of faith is not the same as “psychological certitude grounded on epistemic certainty”. Your constant conflation of the two is why you also end up reducing AoF to objects of knowledge and to things akin to 2+2=4 and then presuppose that to then fuel your infinite regress objection – but I reject that premise and so your infinite regress misfires, hence the NT believer example and Aquinas’ statements relating faith with divine authority, examples that are not subject to infinite regress related to epistemic certainty. What warrants faith is things offered on the basis of divine authority – hence my original statement “Not psychological certitude grounded on epistemic certainty, but rather normative binding teachings/judgments grounded on divine authority.”

    “No, that’s not the question. The very formulation of your question shows that you are still presupposing that canon is a function of church declaration and not inspiration. ”

    I am talking about the recognition/identification of the canon, not the ontological nature of the canon. You should know that by the nature of the discussion. So my question still stands – you stated “The Church only “canonizes” what it *already* believes to be the canon.” The Church “declared” when it “canonized” – otherwise what on earth do you mean by what the church did when it canonized? So again, the question is whether that or any act of canonization is a normative binding irreformable judgment upon all or not. That you did not simply answer directly does not leave me optimistic on an affirmative response.

    “First, long before there was even a concept of the M, there already was a functioning canon.”

    Was the canon complete before the apostles were teaching? Was it complete before the council of Jerusalem? That’s a “concept of the M”.

    “The T only describes what the community already recognized as the S. But it doesn’t tell us or determine what the S is. In other words, the S is logically and temporally prior to the T.”

    So there was no church operating before the books were completed right – everything was on standby until John penned the last word, then all of a sudden everything shifted and the gears kicked in? Following your rule of faith, I’d like to see some support from Scripture for that. If T doesn’t “tell us” or inform what the S actually is, then why bother bringing in “corporate reception” as a line of support for the canon? By your own logic, it’s irrelevant – it’s just what they recognized as S, as relevant as saying what the Mormons believe S is.

    “But why would you think this is problematic for us?”

    Do you deny some passages that are considered inauthentic now were considered authentic by earlier generations of believers? Do you deny there are some passages currently disputed that sincere faithful believers disagree on? If the canon is self-evident and self-authenticating, why would that happen – would not everyone be on the same page from the beginning? If the canon wasn’t self-evident and self-authenticating for argument’s sake, how would the situation be any different?

    “Rome isn’t infallible in matters of textual criticism.”

    Nope. But because it has the STM-triad as its rule of faith, it doesn’t suffer from the fallout TC issues raise, issues which raise doubt on the feasibility and coherency of SS as the rule of faith.

    “The fact of controversy and debate and disagreement about the precise boundaries of the canon is to be expected.”

    But I thought the canon was self-evident and self-authenticating? I fail to see how such debate and disagreement is to be expected if that is the case, but on the other hand if that wasn’t the case then yes I would expect exactly that.

    “So we can plausibly conclude that North Africa, Rome and Trent got it wrong.”

    So what does “corporate reception” mean as a line of evidence in support? Where was this community that got it right? Was NA, Rome, and the East all spiritually blinded from the get-go and that’s why they missed out on the self-evident self-authenticating nature of the canon?

    “Those that teach what God revealed in his word and not the traditions of men. That was Jesus’ own criteria. Don’t blame us for using his criteria unless you can come up with better ones.”

    So Jesus gave and imbued the Apostles with teaching authority superfluously? The Apostles ordained superfluously? I think that was part of Jesus’ own criteria. And no RC disagrees on “traditions of men”, they do disagree all tradition equates to traditions of men – Christ and the Apostles condemned the latter, not the former.

    “The Bible has authorized the man of God who teaches what is taught in scripture.”

    Are you divinely authorized? Are the confessions and the men who drafted them?

    “There is no biblical reason or credible historical reason to believe that Rome has received the authorization it claims for itself.”

    I’m convinced.

    “But we can deny A is true in the first place”

    Sure you can – it’s a free country. The question is whether such denial has any merit. So you are denying a divinely authorized entity teaching in Christ’s name teaches without error. So a divinely authorized entity teaching in Christ’s name can teach accurately, but may not. But a teacher only has divine authority if it teaches accurately (what is taught in Scripture). Got it.
    And of course this all presupposes the identification of Scripture in the first place in order to know “what is taught in Scripture” – but apparently that cannot be taught by anyone with divine authority since that identification of Scripture would have to be part of “what is taught in Scripture” in order to be accurate and meet your criteria and thus confirm the divine authority of the teacher. Got it.

    “namely, that there must be someone out there making a claim to infallibility. I’ve never understood why you think that must be the case.”

    Well you apparently disagree divine authority entails infallibility.

    “Perhaps because it’s not as easy as you suppose.”

    You had said: “Rome lost that authority long ago when it elevated to the level of irreformable dogma, beliefs which clearly contradict the objective meaning of the inspired scriptures.”

    “Clearly” seems to indicate it’s pretty easy to identify it. And what happened to the doctrine of perspicuity?

    “The objective meaning is there. We do our best to uncover it and live by it. But we are fallible and therefore can make mistakes…If there is a better interpretation of the Bible and if we can overcome our pride/prejudice and traditions, then we should be able to make the necessary changes.”

    Right. Semper reformanda.

    “But the important point is that we have a stable, unchanging norm by which to judge our opinions and that is the text itself.”

    Doesn’t follow from your own standards. The identification of the extent/scope of the text itself is a reformable opinion according to you (as is the doctrine of SS itself). So it’s not stable, unchanging or irreformable. Semper reformanda.

    “But is that understanding correct? It might be….Paul’s meaning may never be discovered definitively.”

    Yep and this applies just as much to your identification of the canon as it does to interpreting verses within the canon or affirming any doctrine based on those interpretations. Semper reformanda and provisional opinion all around.

    “Rome’s exegetes have to do the same hard work as ours do.”

    Of course. But Rome doesn’t base its dogmas solely on a particular flavor or method of exegesis. GHM and historical criticism and the like can be useful tools, but are inherently limited by nature – just as we would expect – it is not self-evident that ghm is sufficient for yielding divine truths, let alone that a particular application of ghm does so. And of course exegetical methods cannot even yield/identify what the raw data they should be applied to in the first place is.

    “Then don’t believe in sola scriptura. What would the alternative be? Believe in it because someone told you to?”

    Someone with divine authority, yes. Someone not even claiming that in the first place, why would I bother considering believing them in the first place? But thank you for confirming your private judgment can never be trumped – hence your affirmation of bodies/confessions that hold “divine authority” is just a smokescreen – they are authoritative only insofar as they conform to your current provisional identification/interpretation of Scriptures – you are the only one with “divine authority.”

  115. Robert, you write:

    Mateo can only have a fallible opinion of what he thinks is right.

    Wrong – mateo can, and does, choose to listen to the church that Jesus Christ personally founded. The church that Jesus Christ personally founded has been authorized by Christ to teach laymen like mateo. By listening to divinely authorized teachers, mateo can learn what actually constitutes the articles of the faith.

    Robert chooses to listen to no man but Robert. The difference between you and me is not in our capacity to learn by being taught. The difference between you and me is that I listen to the Lord when he commands me to listen to His church. You refuse to listen to the Lord by choosing to listen to no man but Robert.

    You sin greatly by enthroning yourself as the Supreme Lord of the Scriptures.

    I commit no sin by listening to men that exercise a particular charismatic gift of the Holy Spirit, a charismatic gift whereby the Holy Spirit’s infallible interpretation of what God has authored is communicated to mankind.

    “Why do you call me `Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?
    Luke 6:46

    Jesus is my Lord. He tells all men that would be his disciples that they must listen to the church that he personally founded or be excommunicated. I listen to the Lord, and I do what he commands of me.

    Robert, as long as you continue choose the path of a protester and listen to no man but Robert, Jesus will never be your Lord.

  116. Mateo,

    You blatantly contradict yourself! Protestantism is built upon Luther’s SS proposition, and Luther’s proposition entails that there are no men living in the post-Apostolic era, that can, under any circumstance conceivable, infallibly interpret the Protestant bible.

    Not a contradiction at all. A confession is written according to what the church at the time it is written believes is true. It believes that it has read Scripture, heard the infallible voice of the Holy Spirit, and has expressed it. Fallibility simply means that our belief that we have heard the Spirit MAY be wrong. It doesn’t mean that we have heard it wrong or that we cannot tell when we’ve heard it wrong.

    All Protestant confessions were written by men that lived in the post-Apostolic era. Therefore, all Protestant confessions must be nothing more than the fallible opinions of men that are privately interpreting the Protestant bible. Fallible opinions that might be right, or might be wrong, with no way of knowing if their fallible opinions are either right or wrong.

    This is just wrong on so many levels. First of all, confessions such as Augsburg, Westminster, or the London Baptist Confession are not the product of private interpretation. Second, they are based on at least an attempt at sound exegesis, so they aren’t “mere opinion.” Anyone can read them and test them against Scripture. Third, if fallibility means that there is no way of knowing if something is right or wrong, you have no way of knowing when you have read the Magisterium (or anything else, for that matter) rightly or wrongly. You are fallible. You can posit the Magisterium as a solution, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to interpret the Magisterium. Which is why this radical skepticism actually eliminates all possibility of knowledge.

    This is such a lame thing to say. Every Protestant sect thinks that what they confess to be true is, in fact, the truth. But the fact that Protestantism consists of thousands upon thousands of bickering sects divided over doctrine proves that merely believing something is true doesn’t make it true.

    Every Roman Catholic sect thinks that what it confesses to be true is, in fact, the truth. But the fact that the Magisterium embraces both theological conservatives and theological liberals/relativists at the Eucharist proves that merely believing you have interpreted the Magisterim truly doesn’t make it true. You aren’t the Magisterium, Mateo.

    Robert, just because you may sincerely believe that your private interpretations of the Protestant bible are correct, that does not make them correct.

    Mateo, just because you may sincerely believe that your private interpretation sof the Magisterium are correct, that does not make them correct.

    The idea that you get to personally define what constitutes the orthodox doctrines of Christianity is Protestant lunacy.

    The idea that Protestantism teaches that one gets to personally define what constitutes the orthodox doctrines of Christianity is Roman Catholic misunderstanding.

    If all you can ever do is fallibly interpret your Protestant bible, how can you ever know with certainty what the articles of faith even are? All you have are your fallible opinions about what you personally think constitutes the articles of faith.

    Mateo, if all you can ever do is fallibly interpret your Magisterium, how can you ever know with certainty what the articles of faith even are? All you have are your fallible opinions about what you personally think the Magisterium presents as constituting the articles of faith.

    Unless you are going to claim infallibility for yourself, don’t get mad at me because I believe I am a fallible human being.

    But you are just one more fallible interpreter among millions upon millions of other Protestants that fallibly interpret their Protestant bibles. Millions of other self-righteous Protesters also have personal opinions about what constitutes the articles of the Christian faith, and their fallible opinions disagree with your fallible opinions. And they all think that they are right and your are wrong!

    But you are just one more fallible interpreter among millions upon millions of other Protestants that fallibly interpret the Magisterium. Millions of other self-righteous Roman Catholics also have personal opinions about what constitutes the teaching of the Magisterium, and their fallible opinions disagree with your fallible opinions. And they all thing that they are right and you are wrong!

    So tell us Robert, what make you so special that I should believe that your fallible interpretations of the Protestant bible are always right?

    1. There is nothing special about me.
    2. You should never assume at the outset that my fallible interpretations of the Protestant Bible are always right.

    But here again is the infinite regress—you think that because I am fallible, you don’t need to listen to me. You think that because Protestant churches claim to be fallible, you don’t have to listen to them. If that is true, because you are fallible, you don’t need to listen to yourself as you read and interpret the Magisterium. But how then can you learn or understand anything at all?

    You are not God, Robert! The only infallible interpreter of the Sacred Scriptures is the Holy Spirit.

    I agree 100 percent. That’s actually the Protestant belief. That doesn’t seem to be the RC belief, however. You yourself keep waffling back and forth between the church being merely an infallible receptor and an infallible interpreter.

    Robert said: Mateo can only have a fallible opinion of what he thinks is right.
    Mateo said: Wrong – mateo can, and does, choose to listen to the church that Jesus Christ personally founded.

    And you do so fallibly, so you can only have a fallible opinion of what the Magisterium teaches. I guess that means you can’t do anything or know anything, right?

    The church that Jesus Christ personally founded has been authorized by Christ to teach laymen like mateo.

    I agree. I just deny that Rome is the church that Jesus Christ personally founded, or rather, that it still has any right to make that claim, let alone an exclusive claim.

    By listening to divinely authorized teachers, mateo can learn what actually constitutes the articles of the faith.

    Indeed. Those divine authorized infallible teachers are named Moses, Isaiah, Jesus, Paul, Peter, John, etc. Their names aren’t Francis, Benedict. Ligouri, etc.

    Robert chooses to listen to no man but Robert.

    I don’t even know what this means. If it means I believe that which I find convincing, welcome to the human condition. Same is true of you.

    The difference between you and me is not in our capacity to learn by being taught.

    Okay.

    The difference between you and me is that I listen to the Lord when he commands me to listen to His church. You refuse to listen to the Lord by choosing to listen to no man but Robert.

    I’ve listened to the church of Jesus for decades now. I just deny that it is the church of Rome. I realize you disagree. But simply by telling me that the church I listen to isn’t the church Christ founded isn’t an argument.

    You sin greatly by enthroning yourself as the Supreme Lord of the Scriptures.

    Except I don’t do that. Scripture has corrected me very often, usually in conjunction with the church teaching it to me.

    I commit no sin by listening to men that exercise a particular charismatic gift of the Holy Spirit, a charismatic gift whereby the Holy Spirit’s infallible interpretation of what God has authored is communicated to mankind.

    If Rome had that gift, that would be correct. But if Rome doesn’t have that gift, you are committing a great sin. And greater sin still is your Magisterium committing by appropriating for itself an authority and infallibility granted only to the prophets and Apostles.

    Jesus is my Lord.

    He is mine as well.

    He tells all men that would be his disciples that they must listen to the church that he personally founded or be excommunicated.

    I agree. I disagree that Rome is that church or, more precisely, that it still has claim to be that church. Particularly since Rome doesn’t excommunicate anyone hardly at all anymore, I have little reason to believe Rome is being faithful to Christ, and if the church is not faithful to Christ, the claim to be the church Christ founded is hollow indeed.

    I listen to the Lord, and I do what he commands of me.

    That sounds awfully boastful. Better to say that you endeavor to listen to the Lord and do what he commands you.

    Robert, as long as you continue choose the path of a protester and listen to no man but Robert, Jesus will never be your Lord.

    Protesting Rome’s demonstrably false claims is no vice.

  117. @James,

    Okay – so it claims its own infallibility, but it didn’t have to do that – it’s just a fortuitous coincidence that it does.

    We’ve already established that the claim to infallibility is only grounded in ontology. Since scripture is the Word of God, then it’s infallible whether it claims it is or not. Why is that difficult to understand?

    … can you cite from each book in your canon where it does that?

    Does each book need to claim it’s own inspiration for you to believe it? And if it did, is that would would make it inspired? I just don’t understand why you suppose that a claim is necessary even if it isn’t sufficient to ground infallibility. If X is infallible then it is infallible, whether it claims to be or not. The question is what you assign to X. You say it’s the Church, which you specifically identify as Rome. That’s your presupposition, whether you want to admit that or not. I say it’s the Word of God.

    If the Bible makes that claim for itself, we need to identify the Bible then right? So it would seem each book would need to make that claim,…

    I don’t see why. By way of analogy, not every tradition or infallible teaching of Rome needs to start with the preface, “the following is an infallible teaching.” For example, the 1854 definition of the Immaculate Conception is considered infallible teaching even though nothing in the encyclical claims that it is. In fact the encyclical itself was written prior to the formal definition of infallibility itself, and yet it seems fairly clear to all that the 1854 definition met all the right criteria. And yet Unam Sanctum, despite its clear language, (“Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff,”), there is no consensus that this is infallible teaching and in fact most of Rome’s ecumenists vehemently deny that it is. (See, for example, George H. Tavard’s piece on Unam Sanctum in “Papal Primacy and the Universal Church”):

    http://www.amazon.com/Primacy-Universal-Lutherans-Catholics-Dialogue/dp/B000WFELLW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1426026518&sr=8-1&keywords=Papal+primacy+and+the+universal+church

    And yet it is possible to discern the intention of Magisterium by means of exegeting the appropriate documents. Ineffabilis Deus makes the cut. Unam Sanctum apparently does not. Ineffabilis Deus doesn’t claim to be defining a doctrine infallibly. But Unam Sanctum seems like it is defining the primacy of papal jurisdiction, and with a formula that seems to convey an intention to teach infallibly. Yet it is widely considered not to be inspired, despite the apparent claim to the contrary.

    I therefore don’t see why the individual books of the Bible would need to make the claim. Further, presumably you believe the claim only has to be implicit. But why do you draw the line there? Why not demand an explicit claim? And why draw the line just at the book itself? Why not also demand that every single chapter of the book make the same claim? After all, there’s nothing contradictory about positing a mixture of inspired and uninspired material. Even Rome distinguishes between the substance of a teaching and the words used to express that teaching. So it simply isn’t the case, for example, that every single word is protected from error in Rome’s magisterial documents. Why then couldn’t that be the case with scripture as well? So if, for example, while you may wish to count 2 Timothy 3:16 as making a claim for scripture’s inspiration, you might simultaneously reject 2 Timothy 4:13, which seems to be talking about other documents that were considered scripture, but not necessarily the letter of 2 Timothy itself. And if it isn’t arbitrary to draw the line at individual chapters, then why not draw it at individual verses? Perhaps every verse, (or even every single word!) needs to make an explicit claim to inspiration before we would be justified as identifying it as scripture.

    The certainty of faith is not the same as “psychological certitude grounded on epistemic certainty”.

    Yes it is. So long as you say you need a divine authority to authorize your belief in any given proposition, then you are doing epistemology. You’re just doing it in the realm of religious propositions. But the epistemic principle is the same as is your presupposed need “to be sure,” which is a psychological statement.

    What warrants faith is things offered on the basis of divine authority – hence my original statement “Not psychological certitude grounded on epistemic certainty, but rather normative binding teachings/judgments grounded on divine authority.”

    But how do you account for what is and is not divine authority? The minute you answer this question, you’re doing epistemology and you reintroduce infinite regress once you claim that infallibility is necessary to ground your belief in the articles of faith. How you’re not seeing this simply astounds.

    I am talking about the recognition/identification of the canon, not the ontological nature of the canon.

    You can’t have one without the other. Ontology grounds epistemology, not the other way around. That’s the fatal flaw of your position. You think you can only know that something *is* only if you have the warrant of infallible authorization to guarantee the truth claim. But it is exactly the other way around. It is only because something *is* that you have any possibility of knowing what it is. Your method puts you back on the infinite regress fun wagon. So if you need infallible authorization to know that the Bible is, then you also need infallible authorization to identify the Church that allegedly does the infallible authorizing. And so on and so on.

  118. Robert,

    “Mateo can only have a fallible opinion of what he thinks is right. You keep ignoring the reality that Magisterium says that thousands upon thousands of RCs that differ with you on what you consider core matters are orthodox, faithful RCs.”

    Name one core matter that every Catholic is not in lockstep with.

  119. Jim,

    Name one core matter that every Catholic is not in lockstep with.

    Assuming I have read the Magisterium according to its original intent, then several of the matters that I think Rome would consider central and which every RC is not in step with:

    Being anti-abortion
    Being anti-contraception
    That Protestants are heretics
    That they are bound to obey whatever Rome teaches
    Affirming natural law

    And I could go on. If all RCs were in step with these things, then you would never have RCs in Congress voting against restrictions on abortion, for example. You’d certainly have a much lower percentage of RCs in America voting Democrat. You wouldn’t have Joe Biden and Anthony Kennedy essentially denigrating natural law. And so on and so forth.

  120. Michael and Robert,
    “Your method puts you back on the infinite regress fun wagon. So if you need infallible authorization to know that the Bible is, then you also need infallible authorization to identify the Church that allegedly does the infallible authorizing. And so on and so on.”

    Ever hear of K.I.S.S.? ( Keep it simple stupid).
    How infallible do I have to be to believe in an infallible God?
    Christ established a Church and commanded all men to get into it. Not all infallible men. Just all men, whether infallible, semi-infallible, seldom infallible, usually fallible, etc. etc.. That Church must therefore be able to be found by ordinary men.

    The Bible, the infallible Bible, nowhere states what comprises the Bible. You are going to have to look elsewhere to know that. And that must be infallible too.

    No infinite regress fun wagon called for.

  121. Robert,

    All Catholics are in lockstep on those things you listed. They know what the Church teaches. Whether they obey or not is another thing.
    We are not Jehovah’s Witnesses.
    Every JW obeys and believes everything Kingdom Hall teaches. Or they are not, by their definition, JWs.

  122. Robert,

    On the list of issues you mentioned, especially abortion, that you say that Catholics aren’t in lockstep over. Is a matter of confusion over what the Church teaches or is it simply an individual decision to not be faithful to what they know the Church to teach?

    It is hardly the bickering over the mode of Baptism, the age of Baptism, the efficaciousness of Baptism, that you see in Protestantism. But I guess, Baptism of all things – the entry of a person into the Church! – is just not a essential belief.

  123. Jim,

    All Catholics are in lockstep on those things you listed. They know what the Church teaches. Whether they obey or not is another thing.

    Jim, if they’re not obeying, they are not in lockstep with the church.

  124. Lane,

    On the list of issues you mentioned, especially abortion, that you say that Catholics aren’t in lockstep over. Is a matter of confusion over what the Church teaches or is it simply an individual decision to not be faithful to what they know the Church to teach?

    I think it depends on the individual. Some know the church formally endorses an anti-abortion stance and don’t care. But if the church knows about these people and doesn’t do anything with them, then either the church doesn’t care about the doctrine it teaches regarding abortion or the doctrine it teaches isn’t so clear. When you go to the Magisterium for infallibility and count that as an essential matter of what the Magisterium is, you cannot separate dogma from discipline. What is not disciplined eventually becomes dogma.

    Other RCs, such as Nancy Pelosi, dispute that the Magisterium is accurately following tradition in believing abortion believes at conception. She can, somewhat credibly, point to past theologians who didn’t believe ensoulment happened at conception as justification for saying that the Roman position on abortion is too restrictive, if not altogether wrong. Now I happen to believe that life begins at conception, but if Rome keeps on admitting this woman to the Eucharist, it either doesn’t care about this teaching or its teaching isn’t perspicuous.

    This is the problem with critiques of sola Scriptura. If Protestant division proves that sola Scriptura is unworkable, RC division and dissent should prove it as well. But no conservative RC believes that. If RC division and dissent do not prove Rome is unworkable, then neither does Protestant division invalidate sola Scriptura.

    Rome tries to get around this with the notion of excommunication automatically happening whenever someone denies church teaching whether the church makes a formal pronouncement or not. But if that can happen, what is the point of a church, let alone an infallible one. I can see how denying biblical teaching could get you excommunicated from Christ in a Protestant framework. I don’t see how that works in Rome and maintain the distinctive Roman ecclesiological teachings.

    It is hardly the bickering over the mode of Baptism, the age of Baptism, the efficaciousness of Baptism, that you see in Protestantism. But I guess, Baptism of all things – the entry of a person into the Church! – is just not a essential belief.

    There’s all sorts of disagreements in Roman Catholicism about what makes grace efficacious. Grace—the very thing that saves us—is just not an essential belief for Rome!

  125. @Infallibilists,

    The relationship between ontology and epistemology can seem like a chicken-egg problem. Which comes first? Does something exist only because we first know that it does? Or do we know something exists only because it first does exist?

    Thought experiment: Imagine that your eyes are closed and that on top of that you are blindfolded so that you cannot see. A friend claims to have set an object on a table in front of you. Questions: Do you know that he has? Do you know what the object is?

    My intuition is that the answer to both questions is “no.” The object simply does not “exist” for you yet until you can see it. Only then will you “know” that your friend’s claim is true because you will see the object he has set in front of you, if he has.

    More questions: But does that mean the object did not exist in reality while you were not seeing it? And does that mean you had a good reason to doubt your friend’s claim?

    Again, my intuition is that the answer to both questions is “no.” If my friend set an object on the table, it is there whether I can see it or not. Further, since my friend has generally been trustworthy in the past, I have no good reason to doubt his present claim.

    Still, as long as I am blind, I don’t really know for certain that the object is there much less what it is.

    But now the blindfold is off and my eyes are open. It’s an egg. How do I know it’s an egg? It’s an egg because it looks like an egg and I know what eggs look like because I eat them for breakfast most every day. My initial exegesis of the scene on the table results in the conclusion that my friend has set an egg before me.

    Do I know this for sure?

    No. In the first place, it may be that someone other than my friend set the egg there. But it may also be that it’s not an egg. Upon closer inspection, it turns out that it is a marble paperweight in the shape of an egg.

    What does this illustration prove?

    1. Ontology is logically prior to espistemology. I can only “know” that there is something on the table if there really is something on the table.
    2. Most knowledge claims are probabilistic. If my friend says there’s an object on the table and if I have good reason to trust my friend, then, probably, there’s an object on the table even if I can’t see it.
    3. Knowledge if fallible. Even when I could see the object, I could be mistaken in my conclusions. A closer exegesis of the “egg” revealed that it wasn’t the kind of egg I thought it was and in fact wasn’t really an egg at all.
    4. Ontology grounds epistemology. Mistakes can be corrected. Though I was right to trust my friend that there was an object on the table, I was wrong to assume it was an edible egg. But the mistake was easily corrected by taking a closer look at the object. Because the object was a paperweight that only looked like an egg in reality (the order of being), I was able to correct my mistake (in the order of knowing).

    But what happens when we give priority to the epistemology (the order of knowing)? What happens when we suppose that knowledge can be infallible?

    Thought experiment: Imagine again that your eyes are closed and you’re blindfolded. Now imagine that your friend has an infallible knowledge of the world. Whatever he claims is true is true simply because he says so. He cannot lie or error in his truth claims. Therefore, when he says, there is an object on the table, by golly, there is an object on the table. And if he says it is an egg, by golly, it’s an egg whether you can see it or not.

    Now the blindfold is off and your eyes are open, and sure enough there’s an egg on the table. But upon closer inspection, it *seems that* it’s the same marble paperweight in the shape of an egg.

    Questions: Is it a marble paperweight because that is what it is? Or, on the authority of your infallible friend, is it an egg despite all appearances to the contrary?

    My intuition says it’s a marble paperweight and that your friend isn’t infallible after all.

    And that brings us to another set of questions. How would you know in the first place that your friend is infallible? And if you didn’t know this for sure, what reason would you have to suppose that he was?

    Now let’s suppose Roman Catholicism’s doctrine of magisterial infallibility is true. Imagine further that Rome infallibly defined the equivalent of the egg on the table. If you suppose Rome’s doctrine is true, then what the egg is in reality would be determined by Rome’s infallible definition and not by what the egg really is. So if the egg turned out to be a marble paperweight, you could never entertain that as a possibility. By hypothesis, the egg simply cannot be anything other than what Rome has defined it to be and so reality would be for your whatever Rome says reality is.

    Of course, you could take solace in the probability that Rome would never define a marble paperweight to be an actual egg. In fact, you may have already determined independently that the egg-shaped thing on the table is a marble paperweight and that Rome’s infallible declaration is just further confirmation of what you have already determined it to be true. Thus Rome would not be giving you any new information, but only making certain the knowledge you already have. Infallible icing on the cake of knowledge you already possess.

    But if that’s the case, then what need have you of Rome’s rubber stamp of infallibility to begin with? If you are able to distinguish marble paperweights from edible eggs by means of careful exegesis, then how does Rome’s rubber stamp make your discovery any more certain?

    But even granting that it is better to have a second pair of eyes to confirm your analysis, how do you know that second pair of eyes would yield infallible certitude? It may be that you can gain more certitude by means of independent confirmation (i.e., asking others to look at the “egg” to see if they come up with marble paperweight as well.) But what you can never get is absolute, infallible certitude. For no matter how many people or churches or institutions examine the “egg,” they’re still able to get it wrong, right? (That’s the Protestant view). Or is it that because they can’t possibly get it wrong, that it must be an egg? (The Roman view). You decide.

    But take solace in the fact that no matter what *you* decide, your decision will only ever be fallible, even if you side with the Roman view, putting you right back into the same epistemic situation as your Protestant friend, whom you pity, who only fallibly claims to be able to distinguish eggs from marble paperweights that look like eggs.

  126. @Infallibilists,

    Follow-up to my previous post:

    I know what you’re thinking.

    1. Then why do so many Protestants look at the “egg” and come up with so many different answers? Rubber eraser in shape of egg, Silly Putty ™ container, mini white football, Cadbury ® egg, etc.

    Reply: Because we’re fallible and can often see what we want to see because we tend to look at things through the distorted lens of tradition. But if it’s really a marble paperweight, then it shouldn’t be all that difficult to rule out Silly Putty containers and Cadbury candies.

    2. You simply won’t submit to the authority of God’s divinely appointed authorizer! Every man a pope!

    Reply: If Rome says, “it’s a marble paperweight,” then I’ll submit. Error has no rights and that doesn’t make me a pope. It just makes me sane. No one is obligated to submit to falsehood.

    3. But how can you possibly know it’s a marble paperweight all on your own?

    Reply: Because that’s what it is.

  127. +JMJ+

    Michael wrote:

    @Infallibilists,
    .
    The relationship between ontology and epistemology can seem like a chicken-egg problem. Which comes first? Does something exist only because we first know that it does? Or do we know something exists only because it first does exist?

    Neither. There is always a trace of Knowing in Being and a trace of Being in Knowing. They are distinguishable, though not dissociable. Neither is “founded” in the other except. at most, provisionally, according to one’s personal schematic predilections.

    The point is that you, a man wholly undifferentiated from all other men, have no title access to Christic Knowing-Being outside of Us. You still possess your Natural Knowing-Being, of course. But your Christic Identity, acquired in Baptismal Regeneration and fed in Eucharistic Sacrifice, is dead and speechless.

    However, you, as the Natural Man can still have recourse to the Sacrament: Penance will lift the condemnation, Eucharist will restore your life. At that point, you will again participate in the Church’s Infallibility.

  128. Robert,

    You said, Other RCs, such as Nancy Pelosi, dispute that the Magisterium is accurately following tradition in believing abortion believes at conception. She can, somewhat credibly, point to past theologians who didn’t believe ensoulment happened at conception as justification for saying that the Roman position on abortion is too restrictive, if not altogether wrong.

    Credibly?! It is not like the position of the Catholic church vague on this issue:

    2322 From its conception, the child has the right to life. Direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, is a “criminal” practice (GS 27 § 3), gravely contrary to the moral law. The Church imposes the canonical penalty of excommunication for this crime against human life.

    You said, I can see how denying biblical teaching could get you excommunicated from Christ in a Protestant framework. I don’t see how that works in Rome and maintain the distinctive Roman ecclesiological teachings.

    If an individual Protestant has an abortion, would that person be excommunicated in a Protestant Church or at least your Reformed Church? If yes, how would you know about the abortion? I’m not sure what you are expecting. I agree that high profile people in obvious mortal sin should be disciplined, and this does happen in some cases, but what are you saying about average Joe Catholic?

    Within Protestantism one can just walk down the street if they get disciplined. It falls onto the faithfulness of the individual ultimately.

    I may not understand the point you are trying to make here. However, I can’t help but notice that you insist that Rome explicitly excommunicate every unfaithful person claiming to be Catholic, and then at other times you claim that all the divisions are caused by the teaching of the Catholic church. You whine when Catholics don’t excommunicate, and you whine when they do excommunicate (i.e. Luther). I don’t understand how you can hold to both critiques simultaneously?

    Again, the Catholic Church should explicitly excommunicate notorious scandalous Catholics – and they do, just not as much as everyone may like. But on the other hand, people grow in their understanding, they grow in their Grace, they grow in their Faithfulness. Constantly going around and kicking everyone out is unmerciful! And guess what, Jesus agrees:

    The Parable of the Weeds

    He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”(Matthew 13:24-30 ESV)

  129. Michael,

    What if it isn’t just your friend that tells you it is an egg. What if it millions of observers, who have been looking at the object for 15 centuries and have come to conclusion that not only that there is an object, but that object is also an egg. When you open your eyes and you think you see a marble paperweight, wouldn’t you have to assume you are wrong? It seems very unlikely and extremely arrogant that I think that 15 centuries of faithful observers are wrong and you are right.

  130. @Lane,

    What if it isn’t just your friend that tells you it is an egg. What if it millions of observers, who have been looking at the object for 15 centuries and have come to conclusion that not only that there is an object, but that object is also an egg. When you open your eyes and you think you see a marble paperweight, wouldn’t you have to assume you are wrong? It seems very unlikely and extremely arrogant that I think that 15 centuries of faithful observers are wrong and you are right.

    Tell that to Galileo. He was in precisely this situation and yet had the courage to believe his eyes rather than the tradition that told him his eyes couldn’t possibly be right. Many people thought he was arrogant too.

    But the more import reply to your counter-example is that it presupposes the truth is determined by a show of hands. So long as a tradition has pedigree, you assume it to be true, even if it turns out that, upon closer inspection, it’s false.

  131. Michael,

    Tell that to Galileo. He was in precisely this situation and yet had the courage to believe his eyes rather than the tradition that told him his eyes couldn’t possibly be right. Many people thought he was arrogant too.

    This isn’t a great example. The Catholic Church didn’t have a problem with Copernicus or Kepler, who also believed the heliocentric hypothesis. Galileo, hadn’t actually gotten to a point where he could prove his hypothesis yet; yes he was right but couldn’t actually prove it yet. He wasn’t condemned for his theory, he was condemned for his confrontation with Rome; His arrogance.

    So long as a tradition has pedigree, you assume it to be true, even if it turns out that, upon closer inspection, it’s false

    You admit the possibility of your fallibility. You admit that the looks of an egg and the marble paperweight are reasonable interpretations of what you are seeing. So yes the pedigree I described above should lead you to humbleness.

    However, we are also not talking about just any old egg. We are talking about articles of faith made by an organization that has promises of God behind it. An organization that all Christians in the West have been apart of for 15 centuries. That is 15 centuries of the Holy Spirit working and guiding both individually and corporately. Following Matt 18, Luther should have humbled himself and submitted to the only Church that he knew. Yet he refused to listen even to the church! So yes I do believe in this case pedigree matters.

  132. Lane,

    Credibly?! It is not like the position of the Catholic church vague on this issue:

    With someone like Pelosi, the issue isn’t what the church is saying now; it is what the church was saying for 15 centuries. And the idea that life begins at conception wasn’t taught for 15 centuries. So if pedigree in tradition is what determines what is right and wrong, Pelosi has a good case against Rome today!

    My point here is that if Rome is going to put forth tradition as an aribiter, it isn’t going to win every time. You seem to think that it will.

    Full disclosure: I believe life begins at conception and am glad for those RCs who agree. What I don’t like is this “let’s pretend Protestantism is confusing and unclear because Protestants are divided but we’ll just ignore the fact that Roman Catholics are divided and what it says about the comprehensibility and clarity of the Magisterium.” That, my friend, is what you are doing.

    If an individual Protestant has an abortion, would that person be excommunicated in a Protestant Church or at least your Reformed Church?

    If impenitent, yes that person would be excommunicated in my Reformed Church. Not necessarily in a professing Protestant church because not all professing Protestant churches are in fact churches. The Episcopal Church USA is one good example.

    If yes, how would you know about the abortion?

    Either the woman or someone who knows here would have divulged it to the elders somehow.

    I’m not sure what you are expecting. I agree that high profile people in obvious mortal sin should be disciplined, and this does happen in some cases, but what are you saying about average Joe Catholic?

    I’m expecting high profile people who have been towing the line for abortion supporters for 30 plus years to actually be denied the Eucharist. I’m expecting discipline of RC council members (just happened in San Francisco) who condemn bishops for expecting teachers at RC schools to abide by RC morality. And on it goes.

    For Joe Catholic, the case is harder. I’m not expecting perfect discipline. I’m expecting that if the priest learns that Suzie is sleeping with her boyfriend that both will be disciplined.

    Essentially, as the church becomes aware of impenitent sin in any of tis members, it must deal with it. The parameters will look different in each case. This lame “you are excommunicated automatically when you defy RC teaching but we’ll give you the Eucharist anyway” can’t stand if Rome is what she says she is.

    Within Protestantism one can just walk down the street if they get disciplined.

    Any RC can do the same. It’s a free country.

    It falls onto the faithfulness of the individual ultimately.

    I’m not sure what you are saying. If you are saying that my salvation ultimately depends on whether or not I have faith in Christ, then yes, that is true.

    I may not understand the point you are trying to make here. However, I can’t help but notice that you insist that Rome explicitly excommunicate every unfaithful person claiming to be Catholic, and then at other times you claim that all the divisions are caused by the teaching of the Catholic church. You whine when Catholics don’t excommunicate, and you whine when they do excommunicate (i.e. Luther). I don’t understand how you can hold to both critiques simultaneously?

    I’m sorry if I am unclear. My criticism is essentially against the Roman argument that the Magisterium gives us certainty of faith but the Bible can’t. Whenever Rome makes that argument, the number one “evidence” of it is Protestant disunity. If this is “evidence,” it will be evidence for Roman disunity as well and thus that the Magisterium is unworkable. In fact the Reformation itself proves that a Magisterium with a gift of infallibility does not solve the epistemological questions that starry-eyed Roman Catholics thinks that it does. Rome failed to abide by its own infallible decrees on reforming the curia. The infallible pope openly flaunted the councils that solved the Western schism. (You know, that point in history when there were three popes, each of whom excommunicated the other pope and his followers, resulting in the entire professing Western catholic church as being condemned.)

    I complain about Luther’s excommunication for two reasons. 1) Luther was excommunicated for proclaiming the biblical gospel with clarity. 2) Luther was never given any kind of due process like he was promised. Just like Jan Hus.

    Again, the Catholic Church should explicitly excommunicate notorious scandalous Catholics – and they do, just not as much as everyone may like. But on the other hand, people grow in their understanding, they grow in their Grace, they grow in their Faithfulness. Constantly going around and kicking everyone out is unmerciful!

    Not advocating for constantly going around and kicking everyone out. Advocating for consistency, or at least a lower degree of triumphalism and praise for the infallible Magisterium in relation to the infallible Scriptures.

  133. Robert,

    As I have said before, I’m very sympathetic to your complaints over the lack of excommunication of people such as Nancy Pelosi. I just don’t follow you to your conclusion that this means that the Catholic Church is not who they say they are, based on this point alone. The Church is, obviously, made up of sinners and imperfect people, there is always something they could be doing better. Aggressively excommunicating and disciplining people in the past (cough… reformation, Galileo… cough) has not always been the best thing to do pragmatically. And that’s exactly how I view matters such as this, it is pragmatic in nature.

    I said: “Within Protestantism one can just walk down the street if they get disciplined.”

    You said: “Any RC can do the same. It’s a free country.”

    I said: “It falls onto the faithfulness of the individual ultimately.”

    You said: “I’m not sure what you are saying. If you are saying that my salvation ultimately depends on whether or not I have faith in Christ, then yes, that is true.”

    Oh I meant that following the clear teaching of the Church is ultimately on the individual. The Church obviously can help through discipline, but the discipline only works so far as the individual cares for it to work.

    Advocating for consistency, or at least a lower degree of triumphalism
    I can get on board with this as well.

  134. @Lane,

    This isn’t a great example. The Catholic Church didn’t have a problem with Copernicus or Kepler, who also believed the heliocentric hypothesis. Galileo, hadn’t actually gotten to a point where he could prove his hypothesis yet; yes he was right but couldn’t actually prove it yet. He wasn’t condemned for his theory, he was condemned for his confrontation with Rome; His arrogance.

    A couple of problems here. First, you miss the point. There was a tradition already in place that explained the appearances (Ptolemaic astronomy). But Galileo saw something that didn’t fit that paradigm. He could have humbly bowed to the tradition. Or he could have believed his eyes. Second, the Catholic Church didn’t have a problem with later thinkers only because the evidence was overwhelmingly against their view. But there is no denying that the Church had earlier tried to silence Galileo on theological grounds by appealing to a priori assumptions. It is complete revisionism to attempt to exonerate the church completely in this regard notwithstanding Galileo’s arrogance, which no one denies. But that is neither here nor there. The point is that tradition can be wrong as it was in this case and that the fix was possible by aligning theory to the observable facts.

  135. Michael,

    I understand your point, and still disagree with your example.

    Church didn’t have a problem with later thinkers only because the evidence was overwhelmingly against their view.

    I didn’t point out later thinkers, I pointed out earlier thinkers: Galiele0 (1564-1642), Kepler (1571-1630), Copernicus (1473-1543). They weren’t telling Galileo to stop doing research, they were telling him to stop speaking for and bickering with the church – specifically the Pope at the time. His research at the time couldn’t counter the criticisms of his view – technology wasn’t good enough yet. He was ultimately right, but that doesn’t necessarily excuse his arrogance.

    The history of the Galileo incident has been biased by Protestants to attack Catholicism and to justify the reformation. Now the history is being further biased by atheists to attack Christianity in general and to justify secularization of society.

  136. testing

  137. testing2

  138. James–

    The openness to reform implicit in Reformed confessions is, by and large, theoretical. Ask Horton to enumerate the theological changes he has made as a result of his interactions with other denominations. You’ll hear a lot of crickets. What confessional Protestants wish to avoid is any situation like that which took place between the Catholic church and Luther, where demonstrable error on their part could not even get discussed due to hierarchical inflexibility. In Reformed circles, any doctrine can be questioned. Very, very few will ever be changed. Historically, they are far more static than Catholic catechisms.

    I have very few qualms with accepting all of the major confessions of the magisterial Reformation. The outright exceptions I would take to any one of them is minimal.

  139. Robert,

    No idea why this is being eaten up so will have to break it up.

    “If it is wrong, it will be changed.”

    Right, so teachings are authoritative and binding only for as long as we think it’s right. Such teachings are not based on divine authority (which entails accuracy), but merely on accuracy as we currently estimate it.

    “because you would have to infallibly know that Rome is what she claims to be.”

    No, because the NT believer did not have to infallibly know that Christ/Apostles were what they claimed to be. Their teaching/judgments were normative, binding, and irreformable. Because they had (and claimed) divine authority. That divine authority entailed infallibility.

  140. Wosbald wrote:

    ….outside of Us…..

    Sweet Release ! Now I’m left to my God and with Him all things are possible. (Matt.19:26) Who needs the Church’s infallibility when God judges ?

    But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES. – 1Cor.5:13

    Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. – Rom.14:4

  141. James–

    So, if divine authority entails accuracy, might it not also entail completeness? The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?

    Why did it take until 1950 to dogmatically define Mary’s assumption into heaven? Why the whole “development of doctrine”? Did God learn some new things?

    Who is Christ talking to in John 16:13?

    “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. For he will not speak on his own authority, but will speak only what he hears, and will reveal to you what is to come.”

    He will guide whom? The Apostles, right? (Not the church. Not the Apostles and all their successors.) He will guide them into what? Partial truth? Truth that will require ongoing updates for thousands of years?

  142. James wrote to Robert:
    No, because the NT believer did not have to infallibly know that Christ/Apostles were what they claimed to be. Their teaching/judgments were normative, binding, and irreformable. Because they had (and claimed) divine authority. That divine authority entailed infallibility.

    Response:
    Did the NT believers believe the teaching because it was true or because the teachings were normative, binding and irreformable ?

    Option #1:
    Then how did they know the teaching was true ?

    Option #2:
    Then how did they know the teacher was a truth teacher ?

  143. +JMJ+

    Michael wrote:

    A couple of problems here. First, you miss the point. There was a tradition already in place that explained the appearances (Ptolemaic astronomy). But Galileo saw something that didn’t fit that paradigm. He could have humbly bowed to the tradition. Or he could have believed his eyes. Second, the Catholic Church didn’t have a problem with later thinkers only because the evidence was overwhelmingly against their view. But there is no denying that the Church had earlier tried to silence Galileo on theological grounds by appealing to a priori assumptions. It is complete revisionism to attempt to exonerate the church completely in this regard notwithstanding Galileo’s arrogance, which no one denies. But that is neither here nor there. The point is that tradition can be wrong as it was in this case and that the fix was possible by aligning theory to the observable facts.

    If you really believe that Galileo was “right” (I’m certainly not asserting that he was wrong, but rather, if you believe that he was right to the exclusion of Geocentrism), then you only demonstrate just how dependent is Protestantism upon Enlightenment Modernism.

    Catholicism is joined at the hip with Postmodernism, but we are not dependent upon it. We are only joined inasmuch as the possibility of Realism ever coexists alongside the possibility of Skepticism.

    Protestantism needs the basic paradigm of Modernism to be positively true in the Natural Sphere so that the same paradigm of Protestantism can be positively true when applied in the Supernatural Sphere.

    In contrast, Catholicism needs the basic paradigm of Postmodernism to be negatively true in all Spheres (Postmodernism, itself, being merely a negative movement), so that the same paradigm of Realism can be positively true in all Spheres.

  144. Robert, you write:

    mateo:You blatantly contradict yourself! Protestantism is built upon Luther’s SS proposition, and Luther’s proposition entails that there are no men living in the post-Apostolic era, that can, under any circumstance conceivable, infallibly interpret the Protestant bible.
    .
    Robert: Not a contradiction at all. A confession is written according to what the church at the time it is written believes is true. It believes that it has read Scripture, heard the infallible voice of the Holy Spirit, and has expressed it.

    You continue to contradict yourself.

    How would any SS confessing Protestant think that he has “heard the infallible voice of the Holy Spirit”? He would think that by privately interpreting his Protestant bible. But if an SS confessing Protestant thinks that he, a man living in the post-Apostolic age, has heard “heard the infallible voice of the Holy Spirit” when he privately interpreted his Protestant bible, then he is a man that does NOT believe in Luther’s SS novelty!

    Fallibility simply means that our belief that we have heard the Spirit MAY be wrong.

    Yes, fallibility does mean that, and Luther’s heretical SS novelty the assertion that no man living in the post-Apostolic age can ever, under any circumstance whatsoever, exercise the charismatic gift of receiving an infallible interpretation from the Holy Spirit. Which, if true, means that every interpretation of the Protestant bible offered by a man living in the post-Apostolic age might be wrong. With no exceptions.

    It doesn’t mean that we have heard it wrong or that we cannot tell when we’ve heard it wrong.

    You are arguing irrationally! If every interpretation of the Protestant bible offered by a man living in the post-Apostolic age might be wrong, then men living in the post-Apostolic era have no way of knowing if their interpretations are either right or wrong.

    First of all, confessions such as Augsburg, Westminster, or the London Baptist Confession are not the product of private interpretation.

    Protestant men wrote their Protestant confessions to reflect what they mistakenly thought they saw written in their Protestant bibles. But these Protestant men were biased in their interpretations of the Protestant bible because they had been listening to heretics like Luther and Calvin. The Protestant authors of the Protestant confessions were presupposing to be true the novelties that propounded by heretics.

    The Protestant confessions are merely the formalization of Protestant heresies. But since every Protestant confession is the product of the private interpretation of the Protestant bible, it means that every Protestant confession is also nothing but fallible interpretations of the Protestant bible that might be wrong.

    When you make the Westminster Confession the foundation of your religion, you are basing your religion on something that might be wrong.

    Second, they are based on at least an attempt at sound exegesis, so they aren’t “mere opinion.”

    “Sound exegesis” in the Calvinist universe, what is that? It is merely bad eisigesis that reflects the heresies of John Calvin – heresies that became formalized in the Calvinist confessions.

    Definition of EISEGESIS: the interpretation of a text (as of the Bible) by reading into it one’s own ideas

    Anyone can read them and test them against Scripture.

    Other Protestants do that all the time, and they find Calvinism to be defective:

    The Five Points of Calvinism
    .
    “Weighed and found Wanting”
    .
    http://www.alwaysbeready.com/images/stories/alwaysbeready/bryson.%20the%20five%20points%20of%20calvinism_%20weighed%20and%20found%20wanting.pdf

    The problem, of course, is that the Protestant author of the above article is doing nothing but fallibly interpreting his Protestant bible to make his case. But since his interpretations are fallible, everything he writes might be wrong – which is why no controversy over interpretation can ever be settled within Protestantism.

    Third, if fallibility means that there is no way of knowing if something is right or wrong, you have no way of knowing when you have read the Magisterium (or anything else, for that matter) rightly or wrongly.

    Fallibility means that my private interpretation of the Sacred Scriptures might be wrong. We both agree that without the Holy Spirit, I won’t get anything right about the spiritual truths taught in the Sacred Scriptures. But the fact that I might be wrongly interpreting a verse of the Sacred Scriptures, does not entail the logical necessity that there are no authorized teachers in the Church that Jesus Christ personally founded. These divinely authorized teachers that can help come to the correct meaning of what I am misinterpreting. I don’t have to be a teacher to understand, I can come to a correct understanding as a student that learns from a teacher that is there to help me understand.

    St. Paul was an authorized teacher of the Catholic Church that was sent by the Catholic Church to preach a particular interpretation of the Jewish Scriptures to the world. (Apostle means “one who is sent”).

    The Jews of Thessalonica would not listen to this authorized teacher of the true church, while the Jews of Berea did listen to this authorized teacher of the true church. Neither the Jews of Thessalonica nor the Jews of Berea were infallible interpreters of the Jewish scriptures. But the Jews of Berea listened to the Holy Spirit when they listened to the interpretations of the Jewish Scriptures that St. Paul was teaching them. And they had St. Paul with them when they searched the scriptures – the Jews of Berea were students that listened to a divinely authorized teacher. All of which points to the difference between you and me. Protestants are like the Jews of Thessolonica that listen to no men but themselves. Lay Catholics are like the Jews of Berea that listen to the men that are vested with a share of the teaching office of the church that Jesus Christ personally founded.

    1. There is nothing special about me.
    .
    2. You should never assume at the outset that my fallible interpretations of the Protestant Bible are always right.

    I don’t assume “from the outset” that your fallible interpretations are always right. I don’t do that because a fallible interpretation, to be fallible, must be an interpretation that might be wrong. And since, by your own admission, you are offering me nothing but interpretations that might be wrong, I would be a complete idiot to:

    1. Assume there is anything special about you, even though you give me your private interpretations as if you have been crowned the Supreme Lord of the Scriptures.

    2. Assume at the outset that your fallible interpretations of the Protestant Bible are always right, since the fact that your private interpretations are nothing but fallible interpretations, means that all your interpretations might be wrong.

    But here again is the infinite regress—you think that because I am fallible, you don’t need to listen to me. You think that because Protestant churches claim to be fallible, you don’t have to listen to them.

    Where is the “infinite regress”? I don’t listen to you, or to any Protestant church, because you give me no reason to listen to you. Do you understand that? The only thing that you and your Protestant churches are offering to me are mere fallible opinions that could be wrong! I can get that by listening to my own fallible interpretations of the Protestant bible.

    If that is true, because you are fallible, you don’t need to listen to yourself as you read and interpret the Magisterium.

    Correct, to be an orthodox Christian I don’t need to listen to only myself and become a Lone Ranger Protestant. The reason why Jesus founded his church with a teaching office is so that laymen like mateo “can listen to the church” when the church settles conflicts that arise over the private interpretations of the scriptures. There is a huge difference between me listening only to myself, and me listening to divinely authorized teachers in the church personally founded by Jesus Christ.

    God is the author of the Sacred Scriptures, and what God authored, God intends to be correctly understood. The Holy Spirit is the infallible interpreter of what God has authored, and when the Holy Spirit infallibly interprets the Sacred Scriptures, the Holy Spirit can communicate to mankind what the Holy Spirit wants mankind to understand.

    God authored the Sacred Scriptures, and that authoring was done with the help of men that exercised the charismatic gift of the Holy Spirit called “inspiration”.

    The Holy Spirit is the infallible interpreter of what God has authored, and when the Holy Spirit wants to communicate an infallible interpretation to mankind, the Holy Spirit can do that through men that are given a charismatic gift of the Holy Spirit called “infallibilty.”

    When bishops solemnly define a dogma of the faith at a valid Ecumenical Council, the Holy Spirit is communicating his infallible interpretation of the Sacred Scriptures to mankind through his bishops. To keep insisting that a layman like me cannot understand what is being taught by the bishops at a valid Ecumenical Council because of some weird “infinite regress” is to argue as a blathering idiot.

    Robert, you understand that the doctrine of the Trinity is an orthodox teaching of the faith. You understand an infallible teaching of the Catholic Church, even while you deny that bishops teach infallibly at valid Ecumenical Councils. Your problem is not understanding, your problem is that you unthinkingly accept Luther’s SS novelty as being an infallible teaching of the Christian faith!

  145. Mateo,

    Correct, to be an orthodox Christian I don’t need to listen to only myself and become a Lone Ranger Protestant. The reason why Jesus founded his church with a teaching office is so that laymen like mateo “can listen to the church” when the church settles conflicts that arise over the private interpretations of the scriptures. There is a huge difference between me listening only to myself, and me listening to divinely authorized teachers in the church personally founded by Jesus Christ.

    Since you are fallible and have to interpret, adding another layer of infallibility doesn’t really put you in a better place. Just gives you more stuff to figure out.

    God is the author of the Sacred Scriptures, and what God authored, God intends to be correctly understood. The Holy Spirit is the infallible interpreter of what God has authored, and when the Holy Spirit infallibly interprets the Sacred Scriptures, the Holy Spirit can communicate to mankind what the Holy Spirit wants mankind to understand.

    Exactly what I believe! What I don’t believe is that guarantees infallibility for any individual or church.

    God authored the Sacred Scriptures, and that authoring was done with the help of men that exercised the charismatic gift of the Holy Spirit called “inspiration”.

    Men helped God write the Bible? Isn’t the other way around?

    The Holy Spirit is the infallible interpreter of what God has authored, and when the Holy Spirit wants to communicate an infallible interpretation to mankind, the Holy Spirit can do that through men that are given a charismatic gift of the Holy Spirit called “infallibilty.”

    Nobody is arguing that he can’t do that. The question is whether he has promised to do that.

    When bishops solemnly define a dogma of the faith at a valid Ecumenical Council, the Holy Spirit is communicating his infallible interpretation of the Sacred Scriptures to mankind through his bishops. To keep insisting that a layman like me cannot understand what is being taught by the bishops at a valid Ecumenical Council because of some weird “infinite regress” is to argue as a blathering idiot.

    Then I can understand the Bible just fine as well and don’t need an infallible interpreter. If you want to believe Rome is the infallible interpreter, that’s fine. I disagree, but whatever. Where you go wrong is believing that an infallible interpreter is necessary because of our fallibility or sin or because of division. If that is the case, welcome to the infinite regress because if fallibility means I can’t understand the Bible sufficiently to discern truth from error, it also means you can’t understand the Magisterium sufficiently to discern truth from error.

  146. Right, so teachings are authoritative and binding only for as long as we think it’s right. Such teachings are not based on divine authority (which entails accuracy), but merely on accuracy as we currently estimate it.

    Divine truth is binding whether we think it is right or not. The fact that Protestants confess fallibility is simply to indicate a number of things, among them being that the church is not the origin of divine teaching and that sometimes the church things it has heard the voice of God when it hasn’t.

    No, because the NT believer did not have to infallibly know that Christ/Apostles were what they claimed to be. Their teaching/judgments were normative, binding, and irreformable. Because they had (and claimed) divine authority. That divine authority entailed infallibility.

    Okay, then I’m fine submitting to the infallible Scriptures and don’t need an extra Magisterium to be able to discern truth from error. That was easy.

  147. Does anybody except Wosbald understand what Wosbald just said about Roman Catholicism being postmodern or whatever it was he was trying to say.

  148. Wosbald,
    Trying to smell the roses today when I can, and I’ve never mentioned how much I appreciate the +JMJ+ under your name whenever you post. Always brings a smile to my face.
    There was a time many years ago that I thought it was ridiculous.
    Peace.

  149. +JMJ+

    Debbie wrote:

    Wosbald,
    Trying to smell the roses today when I can, and I’ve never mentioned how much I appreciate the +JMJ+ under your name whenever you post. Always brings a smile to my face.
    There was a time many years ago that I thought it was ridiculous.
    Peace.

    I’m glad of that.

    And it’s especially apt that you mention this (the Holy Family) now, considering how Jim has stressing the familial dynamic of Catholicism, eh?

  150. Exactly, the familial dynamic of Catholicism is what lulled me back home.
    Grace, grace, grace – it is truly being a part of and participating in the family.

    As a woman, I was born a daughter. I married and became a wife but was still a daughter, not only a wife. I brought forth life as a mother, but was still a daughter and a wife, not only a mother.

    It is never just about me.

  151. Debbie and Wosbald,

    Yeah, lots of sweet reminiscing of when I was a little kid with the JMJ. It all comes back to me; the salt and pepper cords, the blue sweaters, the nuns in habit playing soft ball with us, and reciting by rote, ” God made me to know, love and serve Him in this life and be happy with Him forever in the next”.
    Due to Wosbald’s good example, I have thought of reviving the practice of happy memory.

  152. JMJ

    Gang,

    Just typing in the JMJ puts me in a recollected frame of mind. I am gonna do it henceforth.

  153. I find my biggest downfall is not being in “a recollected frame of mind” throughout the day. If I could just remember . . .

    So I thought hmmmmm, maybe a tattoo somewhere that I could see all the time would help, but then nooooooo , not quite my style.

    I tattooed my car instead with;

    Most Precious Blood of Jesus Christ Save Us and the Whole World

    (small, below the back windshield – barely perceptible, people have to really look for it OR, when the sun hits it just right, sparkles brilliantly).

  154. J.M.J.

    Debbie,
    People are going to tailgate you trying to read the fine print.
    Reminds me of a bumper sticker I once had that said, “I brake for tailgaters”.

  155. Robert:

    mateo: God authored the Sacred Scriptures, and that authoring was done with the help of men that exercised the charismatic gift of the Holy Spirit called “inspiration”.
    .
    Robert: Men helped God write the Bible? Isn’t the other way around?

    Must you be so tendentious in your responses? I clearly said that God authored the Sacred Scriptures. My statement is correct because men exercising the charismatic gift of Inspiration is a perfect example of synergism.

    The way you argue, it almost seems as if you think that the Holy Spirit acted like a demon from Hell and possessed a scriptural author like Luke. When Luke was thus possessed, the Holy Spirit then forced Luke, through monergistic grace, to trance channel the scriptures.

    If you would accept the Christian concept of synergism, it would go a long way to clearing up your confusion about how God authored the Sacred Scriptures.

    mateo: The Holy Spirit is the infallible interpreter of what God has authored, and when the Holy Spirit wants to communicate an infallible interpretation to mankind, the Holy Spirit can do that through men that are given a charismatic gift of the Holy Spirit called “infallibilty.”
    .
    Robert: Nobody is arguing that he can’t do that. The question is whether he has promised to do that.

    Only Protestants question whether bishops teach infallibly when they solemnly define dogma at a valid Ecumenical Council. Which is why the members of the churches that have a two-thousand year old history know with certainty that Protestants are heretics.

    <blockquote … I can understand the Bible just fine as well and don’t need an infallible interpreter

    You keep ignoring the overwhelming evidence that shows that this is not true – the evidence produced by five-hundred years of the Protestant rebellion. Protestantism in our era is nothing but thousand upon thousands of bickering and divided sects that teach wildly contradictory doctrine. Doctrinal chaos reigns supreme within Protestantism. What greater evidence for the need of infallible interpretations of the sacred scripture could be given than Protestantism itself?

    Your PCA sect is just one of many Protestant sects propounding doctrinal novelties that no Christian ever believed before the “Reformation”. And your PCA sect does NOT teach that the novelties that they confess have been taught infallibly. No, the doctrinal novelties that give your sect a unique identity are only offered up as fallible opinions that might be completely wrong!

    For those of us that are orthodox in our beliefs, the fact that you are a Calvinist proves to us that you, and the members of your Protestant sect, are in desperate need of listening to teachers that can exercise the charismatic gift of infallibility!

    If you want to believe Rome is the infallible interpreter …

    How many times must I say it? The Holy Spirit is the infallible interpreter of what God has authored. At certain times, the Holy Spirit chooses certain men to exercise a specific charismatic gift to communicate His infallible interpretations to mankind. You are not one of those men, just as you are not a Prophet of the OT that exercised the charismatic gift of prophecy.

    mateo:God is the author of the Sacred Scriptures, and what God authored, God intends to be correctly understood. The Holy Spirit is the infallible interpreter of what God has authored, and when the Holy Spirit infallibly interprets the Sacred Scriptures, the Holy Spirit can communicate to mankind what the Holy Spirit wants mankind to understand.
    .
    Robert: Exactly what I believe! What I don’t believe is that guarantees infallibility for any individual or church.

    Robert, you just wrote that you believe what I believe – that the “Holy Spirit can communicate to mankind what the Holy Spirit wants mankind to understand”. I wrote that in the context of men exercising charismatic gifts, such as the charismatic gift of prophecy that was give to certain men in the OT era.

    If the Holy Spirit is communicating to mankind through a man exercising a charismatic gift such as prophecy (as it was exercised by the prophets of the OT era), what is being communicated to mankind is the infallible teaching of the Holy Spirit.

    Do you understand in the least what I am saying? The Holy Spirit chose certain men in the OT era to be prophets. These OT prophets communicated to mankind the exact words that the Holy Spirit wanted to be proclaimed in the OT era. The vast majority of the men living in the OT era men that were not chosen by God to be prophets; they were chosen by God to be the recipients of what was being infallibly communicated to mankind through the prophets.

    In the post-Apostolic era, public revelation is closed, so no post-Apostolic era man will ever be a man like a Prophet of the OT era – that is, a man that is chosen by the Holy Spirit to communicate new divine revelation to mankind (which is why I know that Mohammed and Joseph Smith are false prophets). But that fact does not mean that the Holy Spirit is not active in the post-Apostolic era! The Holy Spirit still communicates to mankind through the men that the Holy Spirit chooses (and once again, you are not one of those chosen men). What these men chosen by God communicate to mankind are the Holy Spirit’s infallible interpretations of what God has authored in the Sacred Scriptures. And that divine communication to mankind is accomplished by chosen men exercising a specific charismatic gift of the Holy Spirit.

  156. Robert you write:

    … I’m fine submitting to the infallible Scriptures …

    Robert, you don’t submit to the infallible scriptures, because the scriptures command of you to listen to the church that Jesus Christ personally founded. You refuse to do that, because you are a Protestant. What you really submit to is Robert’s fallible interpretations of his Protestant bible.

    When I submit only when I agree, the one to whom I submit is me.

  157. Mateo wrote to Robert:
    …. the church that Jesus Christ personally founded

    Response:
    I always chuckle when Mateo writes this. If Robert began to feel repentance for this charge, and wanted to have Mateo explicate on that church, then Mateo would turn to infallible extra-scriptural articulations and definitions of revealed truth. If Robert’s feelings were indigestion, and not repentance, then he may say that he doesn’t see the link between the Bible word “church” and the RC teaching words on “church.” Robert wants to maintain submission to the Bible word church, but not the RC teaching word church.

    Mateo is stuck at this point. He might say to Robert, “You don’t submit to the Bible OR the Church teaching because you follow your own fallible interpretations.” What ? Wait a minute…isn’t it true that Mateo would have Robert make use of his fallible interpretations to find a link between Bible church and RC teaching church ? All RCs go this route when Protestants appear to be willing and repentant after a RC admonishments. When the RC detects unwillingness, then they attack the Protestants fallible interpretations.

    Roman Catholics,
    We know your game so stop playing it. Dishonesty sits in your house.

  158. … isn’t it true that Mateo would have Robert make use of his fallible interpretations to find a link between Bible church and RC teaching church

    No, that is not true. To find the link, Robert and Eric W have to dethrone themselves as the Supreme Lords of the Scriptures and die to self. There is no other way.

    Whoever seeks to gain his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it.
    .
    Luke 17:33

  159. test (again)

  160. Robert–

    No, I don’t have a clue as to what Wosbald was getting at. (Does he?)

    Confessional Protestants are more reliant on pre-Enlightenment modernism if you ask me.

    Postmodernism is about to find itself in the dustbin of history. I seriously doubt that much of official Catholicism associates very closely with it though the hoi polloi certainly (if unwittingly) do. On the other hand, inclusivism strikes me as a bit postmodern. Catholicism is a weird mix of foundationalism and postfoundationalism. Kind of schizoid, really. But a lot of us are that way.

  161. Mateo–

    You have convinced me. I must die to the flesh and unseat myself as Monarch of Biblical Exegesis.

    Instead, I choose to enthrone Robert and Eric W., for they seem more rational to “fallible little old me” than the likes of Mateo and company….

  162. Mateo–

    By the way, I only submit to those with whom I disagree. 😉

  163. Only Protestants question whether bishops teach infallibly when they solemnly define dogma at a valid Ecumenical Council. Which is why the members of the churches that have a two-thousand year old history know with certainty that Protestants are heretics.

    My church has as much a two-thousand-year-old history as Rome or the Eastern Orthodox Church. And remember, Protestants aren’t heretics anymore. We’re separated brethren. Separated brethren are family, not heretics. We may not be as closely related as Rome would like, but Rome needs to gets its act together. You can’t be a brother and a heretic at the same time.

    You keep ignoring the overwhelming evidence that shows that this is not true – the evidence produced by five-hundred years of the Protestant rebellion. Protestantism in our era is nothing but thousand upon thousands of bickering and divided sects that teach wildly contradictory doctrine. Doctrinal chaos reigns supreme within Protestantism. What greater evidence for the need of infallible interpretations of the sacred scripture could be given than Protestantism itself?

    What greater evidence for the need of Rome to need another infallible interpreter to interpret the Magisterium than modern Roman Catholicism itself. Remember, both you and Nancy Pelosi are good RCs. I have no reason to believe either one of you are out of accord with Roman teaching as long as you both get the Eucharist.

    Your PCA sect is just one of many Protestant sects propounding doctrinal novelties that no Christian ever believed before the “Reformation”. And your PCA sect does NOT teach that the novelties that they confess have been taught infallibly. No, the doctrinal novelties that give your sect a unique identity are only offered up as fallible opinions that might be completely wrong!

    Mateo, when you can give me something more than your fallible opinion of what Rome has infallibly taught, you might have a point. And far as the PCA teaching what no church taught before the Reformation, that is demonstrably not true.

    For those of us that are orthodox in our beliefs, the fact that you are a Calvinist proves to us that you, and the members of your Protestant sect, are in desperate need of listening to teachers that can exercise the charismatic gift of infallibility!

    For those of us that are orthodox in our beliefs, the fact that you are a Roman Catholic proves to us that you, and the members of your Roman Catholic sect are in desperate need of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    How many times must I say it? The Holy Spirit is the infallible interpreter of what God has authored. At certain times, the Holy Spirit chooses certain men to exercise a specific charismatic gift to communicate His infallible interpretations to mankind. You are not one of those men, just as you are not a Prophet of the OT that exercised the charismatic gift of prophecy.

    You are not one of these men either, so how do you know that your understanding of the Magisterium is correct? If you can have confidence that your understanding of the Magisterium is correct despite your fallibility, I can have confidence that my understanding of the Bible is correct despite my fallibility.

    Do you understand in the least what I am saying? The Holy Spirit chose certain men in the OT era to be prophets. These OT prophets communicated to mankind the exact words that the Holy Spirit wanted to be proclaimed in the OT era. The vast majority of the men living in the OT era men that were not chosen by God to be prophets; they were chosen by God to be the recipients of what was being infallibly communicated to mankind through the prophets.

    Agreed. But if the fallible community could receive the infallible words of the prophet and be expected to understand and live by them without an infallible interpreter, there is no reason why we need one today, especially since the Holy Spirit has been given in greater measure.

    In the post-Apostolic era, public revelation is closed, so no post-Apostolic era man will ever be a man like a Prophet of the OT era – that is, a man that is chosen by the Holy Spirit to communicate new divine revelation to mankind (which is why I know that Mohammed and Joseph Smith are false prophets). But that fact does not mean that the Holy Spirit is not active in the post-Apostolic era! The Holy Spirit still communicates to mankind through the men that the Holy Spirit chooses (and once again, you are not one of those chosen men). What these men chosen by God communicate to mankind are the Holy Spirit’s infallible interpretations of what God has authored in the Sacred Scriptures. And that divine communication to mankind is accomplished by chosen men exercising a specific charismatic gift of the Holy Spirit.

    See above.

    Robert, you don’t submit to the infallible scriptures, because the scriptures command of you to listen to the church that Jesus Christ personally founded. You refuse to do that, because you are a Protestant. What you really submit to is Robert’s fallible interpretations of his Protestant bible.

    Until you can name your self as infallible, what you really submit to is your fallible interpretations of the Magisterium.

  164. Comment

  165. “Fallibility doesn’t mean the church is never protected from error, it is simply saying that the church isn’t protected from error anytime it says so.”

    Ok your confession is protected from error presumably, so can you offer me an infallible interpretation of the HS your confession has identified? If the church isn’t protected from error anytime it says so, when is it protected from error -when it teaches in accordance with your interpretation of Scripture?

    “The fact that a church continues to hold to any confession is proof that the church believes it was protected from error at those points it confesses.”

    Then such a church should not affirm semper reformanda. But to be consistent with its confessional statements, it has to affirm that. Which is also why you confirmed confessions have been reformed in the past and may not be correct in their entirety.

    “The alternative is that the church doesn’t believe it was protected, believes the confession was wrong”

    No one is saying a church subscribes to a confession they think is wrong, but they do subscribe to a confession that has no guarantee of being right by its own admission. Why would the church believe it was protected in its confessions? WCF states “All synods or councils … may err and many have erred” and “The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture.” There’s no inherent reason to believe it’s protected because of its own disclaimers and rejection of divine authority.

    “You can identify something reliably without having some guaranteed gift of infallibility.”

    The authority has to have the gift of infallibility (and so make the associated claim of divine authority, not reject it), the submitting agent does not. That’s why I’ll never get examples of infallible interpretations of the HS from you or your confessions – semper reformanda.

    “Why is that insufficient for us in regard to a different infallible source/interpreter?”

    So I’ll ask again where your canon of Scripture claims infallibility for and identifies itself, let alone identifies that SS is the rule of faith as opposed to STM.

    “But we can identify the canon of Jesus with certainty”

    So the identified canon is irreformable?

    “If the interpretation gets it right, it is divinely authoritative, normative, and irreformable in essence”

    Ok so can you give me an irreformable interpretation?

    “What you are really asking is how we know when the church has gotten it right. Which introduces the infinite regress.”

    Answered above.

    “This “solo Scriptura” argument applies equally well to you, James.”

    Not assuming RC principles. Assuming Protestant principles, it applies. Which has always been the point.

    “So, at the end of the day, you, no less than me, submit to your church only when you agree with your church.”

    Again, if Rome’s claims are true, her judgment trumps my own because of her divine authority – otherwise I would fail to be consistent with my own submission to her authority in the first place, just as an NT believer’s judgment after submitting to Christ/Apostles’ divine authority would always be trumped by that authority. If Protestantism’s claims are true, my judgment is never trumped – nothing changes pre and post submission – and that is perfectly consistent with my acceptance of its starting principles, unlike the case with Rome. Hence non-confessionalism and liberalism being perfectly consistent with it as well.

    This is also why in Aquinas’ discussion on faith and infallibility and opinion he distinguishes between heresy and error: “Hence it is evident that a heretic who obstinately disbelieves one article of faith, is not prepared to follow the teaching of the Church in all things, but if he is not obstinate, he is no longer in heresy but only in error. Therefore it is clear that such a heretic with regard to one article has no faith in the other articles, but only a kind of opinion in accordance with his own will.” Such a person in error still has faith and accepts Rome’s authority but is misinformed about its teaching, but when shown it teaches otherwise than what he currently holds, would conform to Rome’s teaching – he does not hold his private judgment as ever-supreme and beyond trumping.

    To touch back to the earlier example, your argument is similar to saying because every citizen’s views lack the rule of law and they must interpret Supreme Court decisions then it follows that SC decisions do not (and cannot) have the force of law.

    “I’m obligated to assent to any judgment that accurately reflects divine revelation”

    Which is any judgment that aligns with your current provisional identification and interpretation of divine revelation. So your private judgment can never be trumped – you never submit to a divine authority.

    “Your answer, effectively, is “whatever Rome says.””

    Which is a reasonable answer if Rome’s claims to divine authority are true.

    “You submit only when you agree that Rome is the church that she claims to be.”

    Rome’s authority is independent of my agreement with it. Just as Christ/Apostles authority was independent of those who agreed or disagreed with it. OTOH, there is no reason for me to submit even if I agree with what “Protestantism” claims to be – because of the nature of those very claims.

    “When you base so much on the infallibility of the church being a requirement for faith”

    Divine authority is a requirement for faith. Infallibility is entailed by divine authority.

  166. Well it finally posted. Above was for Robert continuing my earlier 3-day old reply

  167. Robert, you write:

    My church has as much a two-thousand-year-old history as Rome or the Eastern Orthodox Church.

    If you would try telling that to a member of the Eastern Orthodox Church, they would shake their heads in disbelief. The Eastern Orthodox consider Presbyterians to be heretics that have no history prior to John Calvin.

    And remember, Protestants aren’t heretics anymore.

    You are very confused. You can’t show me any official document of the Catholic Church that states that John Calvin and his followers are not material heretics.

    We’re separated brethren.

    The Catholic Church recognizes two things, the validity of Presbyterian baptism, and the fact that all Presbyterians are material heretics. But that is nothing new, as the Catholic Church also recognized the validity of the baptism of the Arian heretics many centuries before the heretical sect of Presbyterians even existed.

    And far as the PCA teaching what no church taught before the Reformation, that is demonstrably not true.

    Show me one, just one, Early Church father that taught that pre-Fall Adam was living in Paradise without grace under a “covenant of works”!

    Show me one, just one, Early Church father that taught there was no
    distinction between sin that is mortal and sin that is not mortal!

    You are not one of these men either [a man living in the post-Apostolic age that can exercise the charismatic gift of teaching infallibly at a valid Ecumenical Council], so how do you know that your understanding of the Magisterium is correct?

    I understand the infallible teachings of the Magisterium the same way that you understand the infallible teaching of the magistgerium concerning dogmas of the Trinity.

    Once again, the difference between us is not about our capacity to understand the infallible teachings of the magisterium. The difference between us is that I believe what all orthodox Christians believe – that when bishops solemnly define dogma at a valid Ecumenical Council, the bishops are teaching infallibly.

    You, a Protestant, don’t believe that article of the Christian faith, and that is why all Christians that belong to churches with a two-thousand year old history know that Protestants like you are heretics that deny a fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith.

    … if the fallible community could receive the infallible words of the prophet and be expected to understand and live by them without an infallible interpreter …

    Robert, the OT Prophet was not like a Protestant “reformer” that made stuff up that seems right to the protester.

    The OT Prophet was exercising the charismatic gift of prophesy, a charismatic gift by which the Infallible Interpreter of the Jewish Scriptures (the Holy Spirit) and Infallible Revealer of the Jewish Scriptures (the Holy Spirit) was communicating His infallible teachings to mankind.

    In the post-Apostolic age, the Holy Spirit still communicates to mankind by using men that the Holy Spirit chooses to use. Were all men in the OT era Prophets? No! Are all men in the post-Apostolic era chosen by the Holy Spirit to communicate the Holy Spirit’s infallible interpretations of the Sacred Scriptures that God has authored? No!

  168. Eric,

    “So, if divine authority entails accuracy, might it not also entail completeness? The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?”

    Protestants hold to development of doctrine. So by your logic, your confessions and churches and ministers that helped in such development did not and do not have divine authority (we’re in agreement there). By this logic, the prophets of the OT also did not have divine authority.

    “Who is Christ talking to in John 16:13?…He will guide whom? The Apostles, right? (Not the church. Not the Apostles and all their successors.) ”

    John 16:13 is to be read within John 14-16 if we’re considering the “you” being addressed. So by your logic, the vine branch metaphor only applies to the Apostles, as does the command to love one another. Somehow I doubt you hold that.

    It applies to the 12 directly and the church indirectly. Which we can see with John 14: “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever — the Spirit of truth.” – note the word “forever” which makes no sense with your gloss.

    Secondly, I guess Paul and Timothy weren’t guided into truth since they weren’t there right? Of course they were, which further indicates the promise applies to the church and successors indirectly along with other statements such Matt 23:34 in sending out teachers and 2 Tim 1:6 amongst others.

    Thirdly, I guess we have no idea on the truth of the identified canon then as well since apparently the promise didn’t apply to the later church’s recognition of it.

    Basically your line of argument ends up conceding the points I’ve raised repeatedly, so it’s an odd argument to make.

    “Truth that will require ongoing updates for thousands of years?”

    He will guide our understanding of the truth. The deposit by its nature is inexhaustible.

  169. Michael,

    “Since scripture is the Word of God, then it’s infallible whether it claims it is or not. Why is that difficult to understand?”

    It’s not difficult to understand. What’s difficult to understand is your insistence that a claim to infallibility is unnecessary as part of, as you said, “proofs…given as a way for us to discover [divine authority].” Something can have intrinsic authority, but it’s a bit hard for someone to “discover” it if it’s playing hide and seek.

    “Does each book need to claim it’s own inspiration for you to believe it?”

    Nope because of the STM-triad. For you to be consistent with your rule of faith, it would. That’s the point.

    “And if it did, is that would would make it inspired?”

    No, as I’ve already brought up repeatedly with examples of BoM, apocryphal books, etc. But the point is just because books that claim inspiration might not actually be inspired, it does not follow that we can then “discover” the inspired books if they make no claim to it (unless you were to adopt an alternate rule of faith of course). People are pretty limited – you want them to investigate every potential vehicle of revelation which according to you (since the claim is unnecessary) would literally be every person, tribe/group, animal, piece of literature or audio, etc. throughout history up to today? Of course not – that would be a colossal waste of time to investigate “candidates” that don’t even bother making the claim warranting investigation in the first place – it would be irrational.

    “If the Bible makes that claim for itself, we need to identify the Bible then right? So it would seem each book would need to make that claim..
    – I don’t see why.”

    The Bible makes the claim for itself. We don’t need to identify the Bible though. What? How on earth do you know the Bible makes the claim for itself then?

    “And why draw the line just at the book itself? Why not also demand that every single chapter of the book make the same claim? After all, there’s nothing contradictory about positing a mixture of inspired and uninspired material….And if it isn’t arbitrary to draw the line at individual chapters, then why not draw it at individual verses? Perhaps every verse, (or even every single word!) needs to make an explicit claim to inspiration before we would be justified as identifying it as scripture.”

    Exactly right – that’s a point I’ve raised repeatedly here in the past (identify both the extent and scope of the canon, asterisked passages, textual criticism, etc) but I was just saving time/text since even just starting at the book-level exposes the issue. So you’ve rightly drawn out the implications given your rule of faith and starting principles.

    “But how do you account for what is and is not divine authority?”

    The same manner in which NT believers did. One way of doing it is not to make the claims of Christ/Apostles superfluous and irrelevant as your argument does. You could go the private revelation route but that would undermine Christian claims.

  170. James–

    Oh, pish tosh!

    The address is clearly meant for the Apostles directly. Sure, some of Christ’s words express timeless truths, appropriately applied to all Christians in general.

    Pray tell me though when the last time was that you worried about being thrown out of the synagogues (16:2).

    Or take these verses in chapter 14:

    “These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.

    But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”

    Are there esoteric things which Jesus has whispered to you, just you, James? I suggest you visit a competent psychiatrist (not many of those out there…choose wisely).

    Is the Holy Spirit no longer with the Apostles? “Forever” sounds appropriate enough.

    Are you honestly saying that Paul and Timothy weren’t Apostolic, but were only successors like Clement and Polycarp? Seems to me Paul calls himself a bona fide Apostle, as one untimely born.

    I was just throwing my interpretation out there as a trial balloon. You’re having trouble shooting it down, so maybe there’s some merit to it.

  171. Mateo and Robert,

    “Show me one, just one, Early Church father that taught that pre-Fall Adam was living in Paradise without grace under a “covenant of works”!

    Show me just one Church father that denounced prayers for the dead, Prayers for the dead can only be to release them from sin. Totally contrary to JBFA.

  172. Mateo, you wrote:
    No, that is not true. To find the link, Robert and Eric W have to dethrone themselves as the Supreme Lords of the Scriptures and die to self. There is no other way.

    Response:
    I’m sure you don’t think of yourself as anti-christic, right ? Unfortunately, when we map out your words in relation to other RC teachings, we will find an anti-christic Mateo waiting at the end.

    Signs that Mateo is anti-christic:

    1. Quote a verse that PRE-dates everything ROMAN in the Roman Catholic Church.

    Whoever seeks to gain his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it.
    .
    Luke 17:33

    2. He presupposes that the Sovereign Pontiff has an immediate power and jurisdiction over things pertaining to the deposit of faith. Mateo pertains to deposit of faith. Guess what else pertains…Right, Luke 17:33 also pertains. Mateo can’t quote it without presupposing the Papal-Church’s exclusive right to identify it as a true Word of God.

    3. Since the “Supreme Lords of the Scriptures” can’t be known without the Supreme Lord of interpreting the Scriptures, and the Pontiff is the Supreme Lord of interpreting the Scriptures, then we must die to self and live to Supreme Lord of interpreting Scriptures. If we don’t, then Luke 17:33 can’t be known as a true revelation for faith and submission.

    4. To dethrone ourselves implies a throne. If a throne, then a supreme lord. Which Lord ? Should I continue ?
    ———————————

    I will leave the fallible interpreter to consider why Mateo needs us to “dethrone”:

    Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. – 2 Thess. 2:4

  173. James wrote:
    This is also why in Aquinas’ discussion on faith and infallibility and opinion he distinguishes between heresy and error

    Response
    Stop your appeal to Aquinas. He is not the Magisterium of the RCC. In fact, stop all this apologetical nonsense. You argue against the Protestant from a fallible theologian. Aquinas isn’t the RCC. You need to identify the Catholic Church teaching. After reading your apologetic against us, I began to see a pattern. You assume to know a very important feature of the Faith/Knowledge relation. This feature affects RC apologetics against our paradigm.

    Identify the CC teaching: Aquinas asked if things of faith can be known (scientifically demonstrated) . Well, what’s the CATHOLIC CHURCH answer ? Yes or No ? Theologians disagree. If the CC says no, then don’t let me get in the way. Continue to argue from Aquinas. If the CC says yes, then stop this sectarian love for your fallible theologian.

  174. Mateo,

    If you would try telling that to a member of the Eastern Orthodox Church, they would shake their heads in disbelief. The Eastern Orthodox consider Presbyterians to be heretics that have no history prior to John Calvin.

    If the East is the arbiter of things, then you’re a schismatic and in big trouble yourself.

    You are very confused. You can’t show me any official document of the Catholic Church that states that John Calvin and his followers are not material heretics.

    A separated brother is not a heretic. A separated brother is family.

    The Catholic Church recognizes two things, the validity of Presbyterian baptism, and the fact that all Presbyterians are material heretics. But that is nothing new, as the Catholic Church also recognized the validity of the baptism of the Arian heretics many centuries before the heretical sect of Presbyterians even existed.

    You aren’t the RCC. The RC priest I knew in college had no problem with me taking the Eucharist at the mass and didn’t think I was in any trouble being a Protestant when I was writing a paper on the RCC. He’s closer to having the charism than you are, so I’ll go with him.

    Show me one, just one, Early Church father that taught that pre-Fall Adam was living in Paradise without grace under a “covenant of works”!

    The Reformed don’t teach that there was no grace in the garden. And as far as the covenant of works, it’s just another name for the probation which is a belief shared by all Christians.

    Show me one, just one, Early Church father that taught there was no
    distinction between sin that is mortal and sin that is not mortal!

    Well if that’s all, I believe there is a such a thing as mortal sin. It’s called unbelief/impenitence.

    I understand the infallible teachings of the Magisterium the same way that you understand the infallible teaching of the magistgerium concerning dogmas of the Trinity.

    Okay. So I also understand the Bible, and the Bible doesn’t say I need an infallible Magisterium.

    Once again, the difference between us is not about our capacity to understand the infallible teachings of the magisterium. The difference between us is that I believe what all orthodox Christians believe – that when bishops solemnly define dogma at a valid Ecumenical Council, the bishops are teaching infallibly.

    Protestants, who are orthodox Christians, don’t believe that every time the church says it is infallible, that it is infallible. So not all orthodox Christians believe that. Remember, I’m your separated brother. And your pope thinks atheists are golden, so I’m that much further ahead.

    You, a Protestant, don’t believe that article of the Christian faith, and that is why all Christians that belong to churches with a two-thousand year old history know that Protestants like you are heretics that deny a fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith.

    Again, my church, has a two-thousand year old history. It overlaps with your church history until about Trent, but the overlap isn’t exact because you guys pretend there was a pope from day one.

    Robert, the OT Prophet was not like a Protestant “reformer” that made stuff up that seems right to the protester.

    I don’t even know what this means. I guess it means that according to fallible Mateo, the Protestants are wrong. But remember, separated brethren.

    The OT Prophet was exercising the charismatic gift of prophesy, a charismatic gift by which the Infallible Interpreter of the Jewish Scriptures (the Holy Spirit) and Infallible Revealer of the Jewish Scriptures (the Holy Spirit) was communicating His infallible teachings to mankind.

    Okay. And the mankind that received the infallible interpretation wasn’t itself infallible. Sounds like Protestantism.

    In the post-Apostolic age, the Holy Spirit still communicates to mankind by using men that the Holy Spirit chooses to use. Were all men in the OT era Prophets? No! Are all men in the post-Apostolic era chosen by the Holy Spirit to communicate the Holy Spirit’s infallible interpretations of the Sacred Scriptures that God has authored? No!

    You have to prove that God intended an infallible receiver in the new covenant. And even then, if this is necessary, you have to prove why you don’t need to be infallible. You are the second receiver. Why does only the first receiver need to be infallible?

  175. Robert. you write:

    A separated brother is not a heretic.

    That is merely your mistaken opinion based on your fallible interpretation of the Protestant bible.

    The RC priest I knew in college had no problem with me taking the Eucharist at the mass and didn’t think I was in any trouble being a Protestant when I was writing a paper on the RCC.

    Which helps explain why you are so confused.

    He’s closer to having the charism than you are, so I’ll go with him.

    And that priest’s bishop would be closer yet. But you won’t listen to any validly ordained bishop, so you choosing to whom you will listen to … is just one more example of you doing things your way as a self-anointed Supreme Lord of Scriptures. “When I submit only when I agree, the one to whom I submit is me.”

    … I also understand the Bible …

    No, you don’t understand the Bible, because if you did, you would not be a Calvinist!

    Protestants, who are orthodox Christians, don’t believe that every time the church says it is infallible, that it is infallible.

    Orthodox Protestant is an oxymoron.

    SS confessing Protestants don’t believe that any church can teach infallibly, so it logically follows that they “don’t believe that every time the church says it is infallible, that it is infallible.” You are arguing in circles again!

    Again, my church, has a two-thousand year old history.

    Delusional fantasy on your part. Your branch of Protestantism begins with the heretic John Calvin, and not with Jesus Christ.

    mateo: The OT Prophet was exercising the charismatic gift of prophesy, a charismatic gift by which the Infallible Interpreter of the Jewish Scriptures (the Holy Spirit) and Infallible Revealer of the Jewish Scriptures (the Holy Spirit) was communicating His infallible teachings to mankind.
    .
    Robert: Okay. And the mankind that received the infallible interpretation wasn’t itself infallible.

    Correct.

    Sounds like Protestantism.

    No, Protestants are like the Jews of Thessolonica that rejected a specific interpretation of the Jewish Scriptures that was presented to them by a divinely authorized teacher of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. They, like the Protestants of our era, kept (keep) themselves separated from the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church by their erroneous private interpretations of the scriptures.

    The Jews of Berea, on the other hand, listened to the divinely authorized teacher of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, and became members of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. The fallible Jews of Berea did not refuse to “listen to the church”, and that is the difference between the fallible Jews of Thessolonica and the fallible Protestants.

  176. Eric W, if you think that you are presenting a logical argument, I cannot follow it. Let me reiterate, I am not a mind reader – I cannot connect the dots when so much information necessary for me to connect the dots is missing in your posts.

  177. Mateo,

    Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. – 2 Thess. 2:4

    Argument:

    In the 2nd book of Thess , “all that is called God” is understood as all things pertaining to the deposit of faith. (Jude 1:3)

    The Sovereign Roman Pontiff has an immediate power and jurisdiction over things pertaining to the deposit of faith.

    Therefore, RP opposeth and exalteth himself above the deposit of faith.
    ——————-

    Why do you submit to such an anti-christic person(s) ?

  178. J.M.J.

    Eric W,

    It appears I am not the only one who has run out of patience with your riddles.

  179. Jim,

    J.J.J. (the riddle means Jesus.Jesus.Jesus.) J.J.J. is the short answer for who’s the only Head of the Church.

    I’m running out of patience for you to answer the argument given to Mateo. He asked for an argument. You answer it premise by premise.

  180. Robert–

    From Catholic Answers:

    1. A “material” heretic holds heretical beliefs without recognizing that they are heretical. A born-and-bred Southern Baptist definitely holds heretical beliefs but never having been exposed to orthodoxy. He can be considered a “separated brother” — a brother by virtue of his calling upon the Name of Jesus Christ as his Savior. And “separated” because he belongs to an ecclesial body not in Communion with the Church.

    2. A “formal” heretic is someone who has deliberately and “formally” rejected orthodox teaching to embrace false doctrine. This represents a rejection of his family relationship, and deprives him of the title “brother in the Lord.”

    (I’m guessing one had to be a formal heretic to be burned at the stake.)

  181. Eric,

    “The address is clearly meant for the Apostles directly. Sure, some of Christ’s words express timeless truths, appropriately applied to all Christians in general.”

    That “oh, sure” directly undermines your argument. You are positing that the promise is limited, exclusive, and absolute to the apostles that were present. You are also ignoring similar promises made elsewhere in Scripture regarding teachers and authority and guidance – we let Scripture interpret Scripture right?

    “Are there esoteric things which Jesus has whispered to you, just you, James? ”

    So the HS doesn’t guide or teach you and other believers into truth I guess. I don’t know why you keep arguing against Protestantism.

    “Is the Holy Spirit no longer with the Apostles? “Forever” sounds appropriate enough.”

    And what is said immediately after that – “I will not leave you as orphans” – guess Christ only promised that to the twelve – Paul, Timothy, and every generation afterwards was orphaned.

    “Are you honestly saying that Paul and Timothy weren’t Apostolic, but were only successors like Clement and Polycarp? Seems to me Paul calls himself a bona fide Apostle, as one untimely born.”

    Paul and Timothy were apostles and Timothy was a successor given the laying on of hands as I referenced above (2 Tim 1:6). The point is by your gloss, they could not have been guided since they weren’t present in John 14-16.

  182. Eric W,

    “Stop your appeal to Aquinas. He is not the Magisterium of the RCC.”

    I don’t appeal to Aquinas because I think he’s the Magisterium or he’s infallible. I appeal to him in this context because:
    – He was a rigorous thinker and I don’t need to reinvent the wheel when his statements express things clearly and help support what I’m trying to explain.
    – He obviously influenced RC theology tremendously and so his views in general can help shed further light.
    – To show that the arguments popularized by CtC and such are not new – e.g. Anglican converts in 19th/20th century used them, Suarez (per Jonathan’s post) used them, Aquinas used them.
    – It helps rebut the nonsense that Aquinas was some sola scripturist forerunner advanced by some.

    “In fact, stop all this apologetical nonsense.”

    You’re free to engage my challenges. Others have.

    “After reading your apologetic against us, I began to see a pattern. You assume to know a very important feature of the Faith/Knowledge relation. This feature affects RC apologetics against our paradigm.”

    Do you think my appeals to Aquinas are somehow incompatible with the teachings of Vat1 and Vat2 (Dei Verbum) and the CCC and many papal encyclicals on the relation between faith and knowledge?

  183. James–

    My point was not that others couldn’t be guided into the truth but that the full deposit of the faith was revealed to the Apostles.

  184. J.M.J.

    Eric,

    One had to be an obstinate and unrepentant heretic like Servetus whom Calvin had burnt with green wood to prolong his agonies.

  185. Robert–

    First President of the Latter Day Saints, Wilford Woodruff, had a revelation in 1890, which allowed the Mormons to discontinue the practice of polygamy. Catholics had a similar defining moment in the documents of Vatican II, allowing the Roman Church to discontinue the harsh and outdated tenet of EENS. Of course, technically, it is still held as true, but all the bite was taken out of it.

    I think I promised somebody on the other thread to print this. But it fits in better here.

    This is from the Baltimore Catechism 4:

    121. Q. Are all bound to belong to the Church?

    A. All are bound to belong to the Church, and he who knows the Church to be the true Church and remains out of it, cannot be saved.

    Anyone who knows the Catholic religion to be the true religion and will not embrace it cannot enter into Heaven. If one not a Catholic doubts whether the church to which he belongs is the true Church, he must settle his doubt, seek the true Church, and enter it; for if he continues to live in doubt, he becomes like the one who knows the true Church and is deterred by worldly considerations from entering it.

    In like manner one who, doubting, fears to examine the religion he professes lest he should discover its falsity and be convinced of the truth of the Catholic faith, cannot be saved.

    Suppose, however, that there is a non-Catholic who firmly believes that the church to which he belongs is the true Church, and who has never — even in the past — had the slightest doubt of that fact — what will become of him?

    If he was validly baptized and never committed a mortal sin, he will be saved; because, believing himself a member of the true Church, he was doing all he could to serve God according to his knowledge and the dictates of his conscience. But if ever he committed a mortal sin, his salvation would be very much more difficult. A mortal sin once committed remains on the soul till it is forgiven. Now, how could his mortal sin be forgiven? Not in the Sacrament of Penance, for the Protestant does not go to confession; and if he does, his minister — not being a true priest — has no power to forgive sins. Does he know that without confession it requires an act of perfect contrition to blot out mortal sin, and can he easily make such an act? What we call contrition is often only imperfect contrition — that is, sorrow for our sins because we fear their punishment in Hell or dread the loss of Heaven. If a Catholic — with all the instruction he has received about how to make an act of perfect contrition and all the practice he has had in making such acts — might find it difficult to make an act of perfect contrition after having committed a mortal sin, how much difficulty will not a Protestant have in making an act of perfect contrition, who does not know about this requirement and who has not been taught to make continued acts of perfect contrition all his life. It is to be feared either he would not know of this necessary means of regaining God’s friendship, or he would be unable to elicit the necessary act of perfect contrition, and thus the mortal sin would remain upon his soul and he would die an enemy of God.

    If, then, we found a Protestant who never committed a mortal sin after Baptism, and who never had the slightest doubt about the truth of his religion, that person would be saved; because, being baptized, he is a member of the Church, and being free from mortal sin he is a friend of God and could not in justice be condemned to Hell. Such a person would attend Mass and receive the Sacraments if he knew the Catholic Church to be the only true Church.

    I am giving you an example, however, that is rarely found, except in the case of infants or very small children baptized in Protestant sects. All infants rightly baptized by anyone are really children of the Church, no matter what religion their parents may profess. Indeed, all persons who are baptized are children of the Church; but those among them who deny its teaching, reject its Sacraments, and refuse to submit to its lawful pastors, are rebellious children known as heretics.

    I said I gave you an example that can scarcely be found, namely, of a person not a Catholic, who really never doubted the truth of his religion, and who, moreover, never committed during his whole life a mortal sin. There are so few such persons that we can practically say for all those who are not visibly members of the Catholic Church, believing its doctrines, receiving its Sacraments, and being governed by its visible head, our Holy Father, the Pope, salvation is an extremely difficult matter.

    I do not speak here of pagans who have never heard of Our Lord or His holy religion, but of those outside the Church who claim to be good Christians without being members of the Catholic Church.

    To be in line with this, Robert, Vatican II would have to acknowledge a severe limitation on those who could be counted as “separated brethren.” Unless you are one of the very, very few who never sin mortally (or who can muster up the perfect contrition necessary to overcome the lack of access to the Sacrament of Reconciliation), then you are just out of luck. Invinceable ignorance or not.

    I know. I know. You’re still not scared. But as Yoda ominously intoned, “You will be. You will be.”

  186. Jim–

    So from a Catholic point of view, is Calvin to be commended?

  187. J.M.J.

    Eric,

    The Catholic Church didn’t actually burn heretics. She merely pronounced heretics to be heretics. The secular arm did the dirty work.

  188. J.M.J.

    Eric,

    I know. I know. You’re still not scared enough to rethink the Inquisition and Crusades but as I have ominously intoned, “You will be. You will be.” Just wait until the terrorism begins on American soil.

  189. James,

    You were careful to avoid the most substantive part…

    Identify the CC teaching: Aquinas asked if things of faith can be known (scientifically demonstrated) . Well, what’s the CATHOLIC CHURCH answer ? Yes or No ? Theologians disagree. If the CC says no, then don’t let me get in the way. Continue to argue from Aquinas. If the CC says yes, then stop this sectarian love for your fallible theologian.
    ——————-

    The question you asked came close:
    Do you think my appeals to Aquinas are somehow incompatible with the teachings of Vat1 and Vat2 (Dei Verbum) and the CCC and many papal encyclicals on the relation between faith and knowledge?

    Response:
    That’s not for me to answer because it’s a paradigmatic question. In fact, no Protestant, as such, can’t contribute any resolution. My substantive request goes much deeper than that. It asks if faith and knowledge are in formal opposition. Since the theologians disagree, then I say the CC answer can’t be ascertained (assuming there’s an answer). I raise this issue because so many RC arguments against us are rooted in the answer. The answer most often assumed to be true is the Thomistic answer, but Thomas and the CC are not the same thing. Even if one appeals to authoritative documents, they are still in the difficult position of interpreting the documents.

    You, like other RC apologists, draw Protestants into many in-house debates. We don’t do your in-house debates. It’s paradigm vs. paradigm. If Thomists are wrong, and things of faith can become known through indirect evidence of demonstration, then many RC arguments require an overhaul.

    The first act of the overhaul is to answer my substantive request:

    Can things of faith be known (scientifically demonstrated) ?

  190. Eric,

    The DoF is fixed in RCism – development does not entail ongoing or new revelation. That is perfectly compatible with an ongoing infallible divine teaching authority to safeguard that DoF and our deepening understanding. And that is perfectly compatible with Christ’s promises.

  191. Jim–

    Here is a brief synopsis of Calvin’s involvement in the death of Servetus from a Reformed source. Which details do you dispute and why?

    This brings us to Servetus. He was arrested for heresy, tried, convicted, and sentenced to death by the Council [the secular governing body of Geneva].  After escaping from prison when he was on trial for heresy in Lyons, Servetus traveled to Geneva on his way to Italy.  According to Schaff’s Church History, Servetus stayed at Geneva for about a month, taking few pains to conceal his identity.  After attending services in Calvin’s church one Sunday, Servetus was arrested on charges of heresy. Calvin believed that it was just and right for heretics to be put to death.  In this regard, he was not different from Servetus who also believed that heretics, specifically the heretic John Calvin, should be put to death by the Genevese Council.  

    During the trial it was Calvin’s job as expert witness to prove that Servetus was a heretic. Calvin’s expert reason and clear thinking triumphed when Servetus chose to hurl insults at Calvin rather than offer a defense.  It is important to note that at this time the Council was not controlled by friends of Calvin but by his enemies, the Patriots and Libertines.  This is probably why Servetus felt that he did not have to offer a substantive defense against charges of heresy. We have a written record of the debate because each was required to write their statements and responses for review by the churches of four other prominent Protestant cities.  

    During the time that the other cities were reviewing the debate, Lyons requested extradition, but Servetus pleaded to stay in Geneva and protested that he would accept the judgment of the Genevese Council rather than be sent back to Lyons.  He had reason to believe that the Libertines on the council were on his side, given their intense hatred of Calvin.  However, in the end, after receiving recommendations of guilt from the four cities, and in light of the publicity the trial had generated throughout Europe, the Libertines and the Patriots on the Council decided that Servetus was not worth saving.  In a show of bravado intended to send a message that they could be just as “tough on crime” as John Calvin was, they sentenced Servetus to death by burning.  When Servetus heard, he could not believe it.  Despite Calvin’s intercession on behalf of Servetus that he be put to death humanely, the Council refused and Servetus was burned on October 27, 1553.

  192. J.M.J.

    Eric,
    I’m not interested enough to read and engage. Try James Swan’s blog. It’s all about whitewashing Luther and Calvin. I will stick with Dave Anders who says a major turn off for him as a Calvinist was learning just how cruel Calvin was.
    I guess its a matter of whose sources we accept,huh.

    You have bigger fish to fry, namely, your misunderstanding of the nature of the Eucharist. You wouldn’t be so cavalier about Christ being trampled underfoot, to the degree it is possible, if you had smidgen of appreciation for John 6 or the Last Supper.

  193. Jim–

    Fine. I’m picking up what you’re putting down. You want to hang on to your anti-Protestant bigotry and disseminate Catholic propaganda just as long as you possibly can without running afoul of your conscience. Checking facts might actually put an end to your narrow-minded fun.

  194. J.M.J.

    Eric,

    My conscience is fine, I sleep like a baby.
    Yesterday you tittered to Robert about Catholics burning heretics. A couple of days ago you went on a rabid diatribe about the atrocities committed by the “visible Church”. Remember?

    I merely reminded readers of Calvin’s record or being an ogre in Geneva. If you want to take a headcount or martyrs, Protestants are guiltier than Catholics when it comes to nastiness. Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day in America. Take a minute and think about Ireland.

    Moving on to other matters, let me continue with what I said about your lack of faith in the words of Christ, ignorance of early Church history and misunderstanding of Catholic doctrine of the Mass being an unbloody sacrifice.

    Foreshadowed by the O.T. Showbread, Christ dwells in our very midst in the Blessed Sacrament. This Presence is an extension of the Incarnation. He lis among us out of love, in order to be approached by men.

    On the night before he died, Christ established the priesthood and Mass in order to convey the fruits of his passion to individuals down through time.

    You defend a guy who reviles Christ in the Eucharist. You are indifferent to the Presence and make smug arguments on a Catholic blog.

    You have bigger issues to address than defending Calvin’s record.

  195. J.M.J.

    Eric,

    Since you fancy yourself to be an expert on Aquinas,
    you might peruse these sights.

    https://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/library_article/131/ST._THOMAS_AQUINAS_ON_THE_EUCHARIST.html

    http://www.newadvent.org/summa/4073.htm

    By the way, do take time out from blogging to check the milk supply. The wife’s patience is wearing thin with your ignoring her and the kids to spread Calvinist propaganda.

  196. Eric, you write:

    Catholics had a similar defining moment in the documents of Vatican II, allowing the Roman Church to discontinue the harsh and outdated tenet of EENS. Of course, technically, it is still held as true, but all the bite was taken out of it.

    Eric, as usual, you don’t know what you are talking about when the subject is Catholic doctrine.

    You quoted the Baltimore Catechism thusly:

    Anyone who knows the Catholic religion to be the true religion and will not embrace it cannot enter into Heaven.

    Then, you mistakenly said the Vatican II did away with this “harsh” teaching found in the Baltimore Catechism.

    But that is not true, because Vatican II said this in Lumen Gentium (14):

    Basing itself upon Sacred Scripture and Tradition, it teaches that the Church, now sojourning on earth as an exile, is necessary for salvation. Christ, present to us in His Body, which is the Church, is the one Mediator and the unique way of salvation. In explicit terms He Himself affirmed the necessity of faith and baptism and thereby affirmed also the necessity of the Church, for through baptism as through a door men enter the Church. Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved.

  197. Yahweh, God of their ancestors, continuously sent them word through his messengers because he felt sorry for his people and his dwelling, but they ridiculed the messengers of God, they despised his words, they laughed at his prophets, until Yahweh’s wrath with his people became so fierce that there was no further remedy.
    .
    Second Chronicles 36:15-16

  198. J.M.J.

    Mateo,

    I hate to be rude and speak about Eric in the third person but you should know he is just going to snap back, “Yeah, but that is YOUR fallible private interpretation of infallible Vatican II. Other Catholics interpret it differently”.

    You aren’t going to win with Eric because he is not going to concede that he just might not know as much about Catholicism as a an actual Catholic does.

  199. Jim–

    Yeah, fine, let’s do a body count. Let’s count the number of Catholics left in Ireland…and then count the Huguenots left in France. Calvin sent hundreds of missionaries to his native France and most of them were killed. Thousands of Huguenots were slaughtered on St. Bartholomew’s Day…and the pope danced with glee. Bloody Mary executed as many Protestants in 5 years as her sister Elizabeth killed Catholics in 40.

    And let’s not forget the Protestant Germans decimated during the Thirty Years’ War. Whoops, I should say “decimated” because that would mean only one in ten died…and it was far closer to one in three.

    Look, I despise what happened to the Irish. Even much of the responsibility for the devastation of the potato famine must be laid at the feet of their English overlords.

    But none of that is to the point. Even if your historical revisionism were deemed, for the sake of argument, to be absolutely accurate, it wouldn’t matter. Protestants do not claim any sort of otherworldly infallibility. We’re made up of real flesh and blood men and women. We don’t have a supernatural elite who are granted a secret knowledge that others less worthy are not privy to.

    There have been plenty of bullies and thugs who have claimed to be Protestant. Perhaps, we should even disassociate ourselves from Luther and Calvin. We don’t worship them, after all. Throw them out lock, stock, and barrel. It wouldn’t make a whisker’s worth of difference.

  200. Jim–

    Aw, come on now. If there is one thing you love, it’s to be rude!

  201. Eric

    Protestants do not claim any sort of otherworldly infallibility.

    Exactly the point that has been made over, and over, again on this website! Because “Protestants do not claim any sort of otherworldly infallibility”, it means that no Protestant can claim that his private interpretation of the Protestant bible is anything more than his fallible opinion. An opinion that might be right, or might be wrong, with no way for him to know whether his opinion is right or wrong.

  202. J.M.J.

    Eric,

    Your knowledge of history is every bit as bad as your theology.

    “Thousands of Huguenots were slaughtered on St. Bartholomew’s Day…and the pope danced with glee. Bloody Mary executed as many Protestants in 5 years as her sister Elizabeth killed Catholics in 40.”

  203. J.M.J.

    Eric,

    And the milk supply?

  204. Mateo,

    Because “Protestants do not claim any sort of otherworldly infallibility”, it means that no Protestant can claim that his private interpretation of the Protestant bible is anything more than his fallible opinion. An opinion that might be right, or might be wrong, with no way for him to know whether his opinion is right or wrong.

    Because Mateo does not claim any sort of otherworldly infallibility, it means that Mateo cannot claim that his private interpretation of the Magisterium is anything more than his fallible opinion. An opinion that might be right, or might be wrong, with no way for him to know whether his opinion is right or wrong.

  205. Mateo–

    As usual, you don’t know what you are talking about when the subject is Catholic doctrine.

    Baltimore makes it explicitly clear that it is difficult for a Protestant to be saved and that therefore few are.

    On the other hand, Vatican II takes the harshness out of this and makes no such pronouncements. Protestants are in certain but imperfect communion with the Catholic Church and should be considered brothers and sisters. They are to be considered to have access to the “community of salvation.”

    As Mark Shea observes,

    “…the Church has always insisted on the necessity of being in union with the Church while simultaneously refusing to make any judgment about who is ultimately “outside the Church” and has never had a roll of “anti-saints” who are certainly in Hell to parallel its definite declarations about saints who are in Heaven. In Heaven, there is sufficient light to see who’s there. But at the mysterious periphery of the communion of saints, it’s difficult to see what God is up to, so the Church doesn’t presume to judge. It simply bears in mind the tradition summed up in the Catechism’s paragraph 1257: God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments.”

    Now, you can call this some kind of a fine-tuning of the understanding of a doctrine, but if you do even a cursory study of the history of EENS, you will find numerous times and places where it was indeed interpreted harshly…times and places where this was clearly the consensus of the faithful…times and places where it was clearly the official position of the Catholic Church. Contra Mr. Shea, the Church DID presume to judge, indeed, had not the slightest difficulty doing so.

  206. Mateo,

    <i<And that priest’s bishop would be closer yet. But you won’t listen to any validly ordained bishop, so you choosing to whom you will listen to … is just one more example of you doing things your way as a self-anointed Supreme Lord of Scriptures. “When I submit only when I agree, the one to whom I submit is me.”

    Mateo, tell me one thing that the Roman Church teaches to which you do not agree. If you cannot, then you submit only when you agree. In the instance of changing your mind you gave, you allowed yourself to be corrected because you agreed that Rome is the infallible church and so you must agree to whatever it teaches. You submit only when you agree.

    No, you don’t understand the Bible, because if you did, you would not be a Calvinist!

    Delusional fantasy on your part. Your branch of Protestantism begins with the heretic John Calvin, and not with Jesus Christ.

    Simply wrong, but whatever.

    No, Protestants are like the Jews of Thessolonica that rejected a specific interpretation of the Jewish Scriptures that was presented to them by a divinely authorized teacher of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. They, like the Protestants of our era, kept (keep) themselves separated from the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church by their erroneous private interpretations of the scriptures.

    Paul taught justification by faith alone, which means he’s a heretic according to your church.

    The Jews of Berea, on the other hand, listened to the divinely authorized teacher of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, and became members of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. The fallible Jews of Berea did not refuse to “listen to the church”, and that is the difference between the fallible Jews of Thessolonica and the fallible Protestants.

    Yes, the Jews listened to Paul after verifying what He said according to Scriptures and submitted because they agreed what he was teaching was in line with the OT. But according to you, they didn’t really submit because according to you, submission only when you agree isn’t true submission. So tell me, Mateo, what teaching of the Magisterium do you disagree with and yet still confess. If you cannot list even one, then you submit only when you agree!

  207. Jim–

    You’re questioning the historicity of the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre?

    You’re questioning the body count under Mary Tudor?

    Do you also wonder if the Holocaust may have been a fabrication of virulent anti-Germans?

  208. Jim–

    +J.M.j.+

    When the Holy Family was a family, Jesus was just a youngster (thus the lower case “j”).

    The Holy Child Jesus is angry with you for making fun of my toddlers.

    (Now, go do penance…walking barefoot over hot coals sounds about right!)

  209. Robert–

    Good, you’re back!

    Did you get a chance to read my citation from the Baltimore Catechism? (March 14, 11:27 pm.)

    Just wondered what you thought.

  210. Eric,

    That’s an interesting quote from the Baltimore Catechism. Offhand, if I remember correctly, it was written before V2, was it not.

    This idea of EENS is one that I just do not see most RCs holding to anymore. Vatican 2 can be interpreted as darn-near universalism if you’re liberal and more stringently if you’re not. The whole council is a consensus document designed to get everybody to sign off on it and to appease both liberals and conservatives. I have to say it is a brilliant piece of marketing, allowing some to say the church didn’t change and others to say it did.

    The overwhelming sense I get from both the RCs I have known personally and their luminary theologians is that we’re all basically united to the church simply by being born unless we do something really, really bad. Yeah, here and there you get a JP2 who writes things denying that Protestant churches are true churches, but I get no sense at all that anyone is taking that seriously. A few conservative bloggers and apologists maybe, but that’s about it. And Pope “who am I to judge” Francis, with his “do good and we’ll meet there” live and let live attitude toward atheism is only reinforcing this stereotype.

    In its official documents, Rome still thinks its the only true church. But I wonder how many Romanists still believe these documents in the RCC. Thing is, even if you do believe them, you can pretty much interpret them to say that you and I are RCs deep down, and a-okay. That’s why I just can’t take this claim that Rome provides infallible interpretative clarity seriously at all. The conservative RC who laments the state of his church I get. The conservative RC who thinks nothing has changed is lying to himself.

    When I look at the RCC, I see the PCUSA, just moving a lot slower. It’ll be interesting when they pick their next pope.

  211. “When the Holy Family was a family, Jesus was just a youngster (thus the lower case “j”)”

    Eric, I thought you understood the Incarnation, this is blasphemy.

    “Be not afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people: for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior (capital S) who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you; you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased.”
    Luke 2:10-14

    “And at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philipians 2:10-11

  212. Robert,

    I missed this earlier:

    “Divine truth is binding whether we think it is right or not. ”

    Correct – as I said above in my second part of my response to you on March 13:
    You: “You submit only when you agree that Rome is the church that she claims to be.”
    Me: Rome’s authority is independent of my agreement with it. Just as Christ/Apostles authority was independent of those who agreed or disagreed with it. OTOH, there is no reason for me to submit even if I agree with what “Protestantism” claims to be – because of the nature of those very claims.

    “The fact that Protestants confess fallibility is simply to indicate a number of things, among them being that the church is not the origin of divine teaching and that sometimes the church things it has heard the voice of God when it hasn’t.”

    Yes and confessing fallibility of your teachers, churches, confessions, etc. entails they have no divine authority (since such entails infallibility). Hence there’s no reason to consider your claims as a contender that warrants my submission. There’s no reason to believe the church thinks it heard the voice of God in identifying the canon, or promulgating SS as the rule of faith, or inerrancy, etc. by your own standards. As I said to Michael, humans are limited – why should I bother investigating candidates for “authorities” I should submit to that don’t even justify investigation/submission in the first place by their own claims. It’s a game of hide and seek or pin the tail on the donkey in that case.

    “No, because the NT believer did not have to infallibly know that Christ/Apostles were what they claimed to be. Their teaching/judgments were normative, binding, and irreformable. Because they had (and claimed) divine authority. That divine authority entailed infallibility.
    – Okay, then I’m fine submitting to the infallible Scriptures and don’t need an extra Magisterium to be able to discern truth from error. That was easy.”

    Assuming your own principles, the identification of, let alone the infallibility of, Scripture can never rise above opinion, nor can SS as the rule of faith which you are presuming here rise above opinion. Semper reformanda and rejection of divine authority/infallibility makes things the opposite of easy, and always will.

  213. Robert, you write:

    Mateo, tell me one thing that the Roman Church teaches to which you do not agree. If you cannot, then you submit only when you agree.

    Is it even possible for you to write a response that is any more sophomoric than this?

    James sums up nicely how I would respond to your sophistry when he writes:

    … confessing fallibility of your teachers, churches, confessions, etc. entails they have no divine authority (since such entails infallibility). Hence there’s no reason to consider your claims as a contender that warrants my submission. There’s no reason to believe the church thinks it heard the voice of God in identifying the canon, or promulgating SS as the rule of faith, or inerrancy, etc. by your own standards.

  214. Eric, you write:

    Now, you can call this some kind of a fine-tuning of the understanding of a doctrine, but if you do even a cursory study of the history of EENS, you will find numerous times and places where it was indeed interpreted harshly …

    The real question is … who was it that did the harsh interpretation?

    Eric, you can’t tell me anything about EENS that I haven’t heard before.

  215. Mateo–

    Well, then, earn my respect. Teach me what you know. Thus far, it would be difficult to ascertain whether you even know what EENS is.

    And yes, Mateo, Robert could have written a more sophomoric response. He could have modeled his answer after what you wrote.

  216. Debbie–

    How is it blasphemy to imply that Joseph died while Jesus was still young? We know he was alive till Jesus was 12. We hear absolutely nothing thereafter. Do you know something I don’t know?

    By the way, why do you assume that your experience of the Eucharist outstrips mine? Were you Baptist once upon a time and found drinking grape juice out of a little plastic cup while sitting in your pew unexciting? Well, I know a good many Catholics for whom taking the Eucharist is dull and perfunctory.

    You call my understanding as trivial as a paper airplane compared to your military bomber. What if your stealth fighter is more or less like a paper airplane compared to my Jedi fighter blown up to the size of an Imperial Star Destroyer? Faster than fast and huger than huge. The center of my world.

  217. James–

    You wrote to Robert:

    “Assuming your own principles, the identification of, let alone the infallibility of, Scripture can never rise above opinion, nor can SS as the rule of faith, which you are presuming here, rise above opinion. Semper reformanda and rejection of divine authority/infallibility makes things the opposite of easy, and always will.”

    How long do we have to listen to this silliness? By faith (and a few totally unconvincing Motives of Credibility) you have fallibly decided that the Church of Rome is infallible. By faith (and rather more rational and explicit Motives of Credibility) we have fallibly decided that the “Word of God Written” is infallible. I’ll stack the Scriptures up against your version of the church any day of the week and twice on Friday. It’s no contest.

  218. J.M.J.

    Eric,
    I don’t question the fact of the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre. I question your understand of Catherine Medici, the Pope being misled, the Hugenots, etc.

    On the topic of the Eucharist, you said to Debbie,
    “You call my understanding as trivial a…”.

    Your understanding of the Sacrament can be nothing but trivial given you denominations doctrinal position.
    You have demonstrated your lower than trivial understanding of the Eucharist by sneezing off the “Death Wafer” slur your home-boy throws around with abandon.
    You are on record as calling Catholic Faith in the Eucharist a “sacred cow that should be examined”.
    Could you have anything but a trivial view of the Eucharist to say such a thing?

    No, I did not make fun of your toddlers. I made fun of their father who lets their mother worry about feeding them while he father spews and rants into cyber space.

  219. J.M.J.

    Eric,

    As a Protestant, you should write J.M.J.+ JJSJ ( that would be James, Joses, Simon and Jude ).
    You have a less than trivial view of the Holy Family too. Base, mundane, drab, ordinary, even sinful describe the Protestant spin on what Catholics call the Holy Family.

  220. J.M.J.

    Debbie,
    Just a bit of trivia; in two days it will be one of the feasts of St. Joseph the Husband of Mary. Over here, Father’s Day falls on that day.

    You probably know his other feast is May 1st, St. Joseph the Worker Day to counter the socialist Day of the Worker.

    And of course, in a week we will have the feast of the Annunciation. The Incarnation is anything but trivial for Catholics. We celebrate it as a feast day even in Lent.

  221. J.M.J.

    Eric,

    “Well, I know a good many Catholics for whom taking the Eucharist is dull and perfunctory.”

    You just don’t get it, do you?

    It’s not about Baptists finding ” drinking grape juice out of a little plastic cup while sitting in your pew unexciting?” or not.

    It’s about doctrine, Eric. DOCTRINE! Your doctrine trivializes the Eucharist.

    Your doctrine of regeneration/justification and grace is trivial and mundane. Your teaching on contraception, divorce and marriage are trivial, secular, totally of this world. Your church’s beliefs on May and Joseph have a “normal sex life” are worse than trivial. Your entire religion is un-supernatural and trivial. Your contempt for Catholic spirituality and devotions …

    Trivial, shallow, un-elevating, Even your spelling of the Church with a small c reveals your trivial concept of the Body of Christ. the Bride of Christ, the Kingdom.

  222. J.M.J.

    Eric,

    Here is an example of how trivial your personal views are too.

    A few days ago, in a pathetic attempt to accuse me of being just as guilty of what I rend my garments over, namely the slur ‘Death Wafer”, you pretended to find my calling the Reformation a “Deformation” to be equally offensive.

    I say it was a pathetic attempt because, while parity can be found between you calling the destruction of Christendom a “Reformation’ and my calling your “sacred cow” a Deformation, there is absolutely no equivalence between the terms Death Wafer and Deformation. And you know it. If you don’t, that only proves my point.

    You see Eric, while you can trivialize and blaspheme our religion, we can’t yours. There is nothing there to blaspheme or tivialize. That is because your religion was trivialized by its founders.
    Take the Sacrament of marriage for instance. Calvin said it is no more a Sacrament that shaving or shoe making. He might as well as compared it to burping or breaking wind.

    Calvin forbade people to pray in a church outside of services. He didn’t want people to think there was something holy or special about a place. It smacked of Romish superstition.

    Your denomination’s view of regeneration is trivial. It doesn’t save. I only frees up the enslaved will to accept the imputation of Christ. It doesn’t elevate to sonship and make us heirs of heaven. It leaves us and our works shot through with corruption.

    The Eucharist is either what the Catholic Church says it is or it is trivialized. Until you denounce the term “Death Wafer”, you are guilty of trivializing the Sacrament. You relativize it. For Catholics, it is Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ. For your pal, a blasphemous idol to be mocked. For you, a” sacred cow”, nothing more. If your views are not trivial, what are they?

  223. Eric,

    “you have fallibly decided that the Church of Rome is infallible.”

    Yup. Just as NT believers fallibly decided Christ/Apostles claims to authority were true.

    “we have fallibly decided that the “Word of God Written” is infallible.”

    Reread my post (and more importantly, what I cited from Robert – his statements alone are sufficient to make my case so I can hardly be accused of misrepresentation). Your or my personal fallibility has nothing to do with the root issue of what granting the claims of each system as true for argument’s sake can then yield. The same root issue that’s illuminated when you have made statements in past about RCs “checking brain at door” and the like.

  224. Eric,
    Sorry I wasn’t clear, I was referring to the way you spelled and talked about Jesus (small j) nothing else

    And the fact that you didn’t know that was what I was reffing to affirms that you didn’t even know what you were doing.

    Peace.

    “You call my understanding as trivial as a paper airplane compared to your military bomber.”

    No, I called MY understanding as trivial as a paper airplane compared to flying a stealth bomber. And I do know the difference because it is my experience.

    “Well, I know a good many Catholics for whom taking the Eucharist is dull and perfunctory.”

    HMMMMM, a good many? I doubt that. I also know a good many people who don’t know much of anything and that life is dull and perfunctory. I also know a good many people who are alive and bringing people home to the Lord.

    Actually Eric, of all the Protestants here I think your understanding is the most progressive.

    Even you admit though, that it isn’t Catholic understanding or reverence. To be even more bold and put a little pebble in your shoe;
    – one the reason Catholic Priests can’t be women is because they bleed. During the Consecration of the Bread and Wine they are Jesus exactly as He was at the Last Supper. And to freak you out even more, I have seen this happen very clearly.

  225. Jim,

    You said,

    “It’s about doctrine, Eric. DOCTRINE! Your doctrine trivializes the Eucharist.

    Your doctrine of regeneration/justification and grace is trivial and mundane. Your teaching on contraception, divorce and marriage are trivial, secular, totally of this world. Your church’s beliefs on May and Joseph have a “normal sex life” are worse than trivial. Your entire religion is un-supernatural and trivial. Your contempt for Catholic spirituality and devotions …

    Trivial, shallow, un-elevating, Even your spelling of the Church with a small c reveals your trivial concept of the Body of Christ. the Bride of Christ, the Kingdom.

    Yes. This! I just finished reading The Seven Story Mountain. There is quite simply nothing that I’m aware of that approaches this man’s experience and journey within Protestantism. I am convinced that I lose nothing spiritually (except some dangerous errors) going from Reformed to Catholic. Yet, I gain so much breath and depth theologically, liturgically, historically, and spiritually. So many doors become open to me, so many avenues for Grace available. So much closer communion with God. I become connected to 20 centuries of Holy Spirit lead Christian thought and practice!

    There are many wonderful things within the Protestant, but it is stunted. It can never really progress. It is in a constant state of looking suspiciously at everything – looking for the next thing to throw away. It becomes more and more inbred every generation. If you don’t believe me, read Calvin and Luther, then read Sproul and Sproul Jr. Protestants think they are being pure, when in fact they just insist on never growing up.

  226. J.M.J.

    Lane,

    Funny you should mention that book. I have to go to Paris for 8 days at the end of the month to hook up with my wife who is there now working. She phoned this morning to tell me the TV stations are are only in French( which I don’t speak ) so I need to pack a book for when I am in the room late at night. I opted to lug Seven Story Mountain. It’s been gathering dust on my shelf for a long time.

    Yeah, I read for the first time more than 30 years ago. I was so moved I looked into the Trappist Abbey of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Lafayette, Oregon.
    Merton’s early stuff was the best.

    Just sitting here, trying to think of some great Protestant literature, all I can think of is “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”. And I wouldn’t give that to anybody except for Halloween.
    Lutheranism gave us the the Saint Matthew Passion. Calvinism gave who?
    As for inspirational painting, they have nothing like a Murillo.

    Sure, there are some great Protestant people. Some have been in my own family.

  227. Sorry, I meant to say: “There are many wonderful things within the Protestant Protestantism, but it is stunted.”

  228. Jim,

    “Sure, there are some great Protestant people.” I can’t agree more. However, I can’t help but notice there is such little emphasis on sanctification in much of Protestantism. Yes, they talk about it, kind of. They teach that you should be growing, yes. But when you teach that everyone who thinks they are Justified are saints – as saintly, right this moment, as Christ – what do you expect to happen? You are just inviting people to complacency. Put simply, sanctification is just not considered a necessity. If you don’t reach it – don’t worry – it’s not THAT important; you’re Justified right?

  229. J.M.J.

    Lane,

    The big Deformers themselves, Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, etc. weren’t exactly known for leading prayerful, holy, or sanctified lives. Luther especially, practically scoffed at any attempt to lead holy lives as “works righteousness” that would nullify trusting in Jesus alone.

    Our pal Eric can launch into detail about the rise of the Pietist movement as a counter to the coldness of the Deformers.

    Remember, although most Protestants might say true justifying Faith is always accompanied by Charity/Love for God, it is actually not necessary to be imputed righteous. Depending on the brand of Protestant, one can actually hate God and be imputed righteous, as” God justifies the ungodly”, not the godly. True, sanctification or gaining crowns might follow, but it has zero to do with actually passing through the Pearly Gates or standing before Jesus at the Great Assize ( where we will be judged solely on our works ).

    The Calvinists put regeneration before justification but it is such a puny work of the Holy Spirit that it leaves the person still in need of another righteousness added to their account to be saving.
    Luther was the first to distinguish between justification and sanctification. It would just be a matter of time before some people would claim to be justified by Faith Alone and pooh-pooh sanctification as a return to Rome. ( I give you the Savior Only vs Lordship dispute ).

  230. J.M.J.

    Lane,

    A classic example of this business is to look at the spin Protestantism puts on the story of the Rich Young Ruler who asked Jesus what more he could do than keep the Commandments.
    We Catholics use this scene to show Jesus exhorting his followers to consider the Evangelical Counsels .

    Protestants use the passage to show that keeping the commandments is impossible and that the young man was a hypocrite to think he had.
    Such an attitude could only lead to pessimistic view of man and a cooling of zeal.

    Luther is on record of disliking the Lord’s Prayer because of its insistence on forgiving other sin order to be forgiven. His attitude towards good works and the Epistle of James is legendary. Despite all subsequent attempts at damage control, this shameful stuff hangs over the doctrine of JBFA and reveals where the who concocted the idea was coming from.

  231. Jim,

    You said, Luther is on record of disliking the Lord’s Prayer because of its insistence on forgiving other sin order to be forgiven.

    Our senior pastor, tends to refer to certain verses as tricky. To his credit, and to expository preaching, he does not skip over these passages. A couple of years ago, I started to notice that their seemed to be a lot of these “tricky” verses for the Calvinist. The verses that were “easy” were clearly the perspicuous ones, and the “tricky” ones – that seemed clear enough on first pass – weren’t. Anyway, a couple months ago he read through where the Jesus gave his disciples the Lord’s Prayer. Our pastor felt the he need to take a few minutes to explain away Jesus’ clear (to anyone who isn’t trying to read Calvinism into every verse) teaching on how to pray! One of the most universally well known passages in all the Bible. I was barely able to keep from laughing out loud! Why not instead of twisting Jesus’ very words to fit your theology – why not fit your theology to Jesus’ words? Oh, Sola Scriptura… [shaking my head]

  232. J.M.J.

    Lane,

    And why do they always interpret Jesus according to ( their view of ) Paul rather than interpret Paul in light of Jesus?

    They start with JBFA and pound the proverbial square peg into the round hole of the Bible..

  233. Jim,

    You asked:And why do they always interpret Jesus according to ( their view of ) Paul rather than interpret Paul in light of Jesus?

    Well, as you well know, the main way you identify the true church in Protestantism is by whether or not they are teaching the gospel. Which of course is the Protestant’s JBFA. The Gospel, you would think, is something you would need the Church to teach you in the first place. So it isn’t surprising that they also interpret Jesus by their JBFA also, instead of listening to Jesus in the first place.

    I mean, even Luther wanted change the Canon because some of the books of the Bible, James for example, seemed to counter this doctrine. Semper Reformanda!

  234. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

    And in his honor, ST. PATRICK’S BREASTPLATE:

    I bind unto myself today
    The strong Name of the Trinity,
    By invocation of the same
    The Three in One and One in Three.

    I bind this today to me forever
    By power of faith, Christ’s incarnation;
    His baptism in Jordan river,
    His death on Cross for my salvation;
    His bursting from the spicèd tomb,
    His riding up the heavenly way,
    His coming at the day of doom
    I bind unto myself today.

    I bind unto myself the power
    Of the great love of cherubim;
    The sweet ‘Well done’ in judgment hour,
    The service of the seraphim,
    Confessors’ faith, Apostles’ word,
    The Patriarchs’ prayers, the prophets’ scrolls,
    All good deeds done unto the Lord
    And purity of virgin souls.

    I bind unto myself today
    The virtues of the star lit heaven,
    The glorious sun’s life giving ray,
    The whiteness of the moon at even,
    The flashing of the lightning free,
    The whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
    The stable earth, the deep salt sea
    Around the old eternal rocks.

    I bind unto myself today
    The power of God to hold and lead,
    His eye to watch, His might to stay,
    His ear to hearken to my need.
    The wisdom of my God to teach,
    His hand to guide, His shield to ward;
    The word of God to give me speech,
    His heavenly host to be my guard.

    Against the demon snares of sin,
    The vice that gives temptation force,
    The natural lusts that war within,
    The hostile men that mar my course;
    Or few or many, far or nigh,
    In every place and in all hours,
    Against their fierce hostility
    I bind to me these holy powers.

    Against all Satan’s spells and wiles,
    Against false words of heresy,
    Against the knowledge that defiles,
    Against the heart’s idolatry,
    Against the wizard’s evil craft,
    Against the death wound and the burning,
    The choking wave, the poisoned shaft,
    Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.

    Christ be with me, Christ within me,
    Christ behind me, Christ before me,
    Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
    Christ to comfort and restore me.
    Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
    Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
    Christ in hearts of all that love me,
    Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

    I bind unto myself the Name,
    The strong Name of the Trinity,
    By invocation of the same,
    The Three in One and One in Three.
    By Whom all nature hath creation,
    Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
    Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
    Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

  235. Absolutely beautiful:

    Christ be with me, Christ within me,
    Christ behind me, Christ before me,
    Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
    Christ to comfort and restore me.
    Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
    Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
    Christ in hearts of all that love me,
    Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

    AMEN!

  236. Jim and Lane–

    Thanks for the exemplary sharing of ignorance concerning Reformed theology. Why do you expect anyone to dialogue with you when you can’t do any homework?

    Merton is an absolutely marvelous writer but horribly inadequate as a Catholic theologian. One of my best friends from high school, now a Buddhist, adores “Seven Storey Mountain” and with good reason. It is a syncretistic work.

  237. Eric,

    You said, “Merton is an absolutely marvelous writer but horribly inadequate as a Catholic theologian. One of my best friends from high school, now a Buddhist, adores “Seven Storey Mountain” and with good reason. It is a syncretistic work.”

    Yes, Merton late in life seems to get into some troubling places theologically, especially in the area of Buddhism. I won’t defend him from a charge of syncretism late in his life. However, I wouldn’t classify The Seven Storey Mountain as a syncretistic work.

    This is how he might defend himself:

    I will be a better Catholic, not if I can refute every shade of Protestantism, but if I can affirm the truth in it and still go further. So, too, with the Muslims, the Hindus, the Buddhists, etc. This does not mean syncretism, indifferentism, the vapid and careless friendliness that accepts everything by thinking of nothing. There is much that one cannot “affirm” and “accept,” but first one must say “yes” where one really can. If I affirm myself as a Catholic merely by denying all that is Muslim, Jewish, Protestant, Hindu, Buddhist, etc., in the end I will find that there is not much left for me to affirm as a Catholic: and certainly no breath of the Spirit with which to affirm it. – Thomas Merton

  238. Debbie–

    St. Teresa of Avila described the soul’s intense desire for God in the language of erotic passion. In this, she belongs to a long tradition of mystical experience that is known as bridal mysticism:

    “It pleased our Lord that I should see the following vision a number of times. I saw an angel near me, on the left side, in bodily form. This I am not wont to see, save very rarely…. In this vision it pleased the Lord that I should see it thus. He was not tall, but short, marvellously beautiful, with a face which shone as though he were one of the highest of the angels, who seem to be all of fire: they must be those whom we call Seraphim…. I saw in his hands a long golden spear, and at the point of the iron there seemed to be a little fire. This I thought that he thrust several times into my heart, and that it penetrated to my entrails. When he drew out the spear he seemed to be drawing them with it, leaving me all on fire with a wondrous love for God. The pain was so great that it caused me to utter several moans; and yet so exceeding sweet is this greatest of pains that it is impossible to desire to be rid of it, or for the soul to be content with less than God.”

    Some Protestants might dismiss such mystical experiences as invalid due to their bizarreness. I don’t find anything inherently wrong in them, (We are the Bride of Christ, after all.) I even like John Donne’s rhetoric in the following (he was an Anglican):

    “Batter my heart, three-person’d God, for you
    As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
    That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
    Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
    I, like an usurp’d town to another due,
    Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;
    Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
    But is captiv’d, and proves weak or untrue.
    Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov’d fain,
    But am betroth’d unto your enemy;
    Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
    Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
    Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
    Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.”

    But in general, more outlandish mystical experiences do not impress me as they impress you. I honestly wonder whether they might not be ever so slightly delusional. In other words, we often see what we want to see. Furthermore, I see no need for these experiences. They would distract me and lessen the experience of being in the presence of Christ. For he needs no embellishment whatsoever.

    My only real problem with transubstantiation is that it is a weak, simplistic, somewhat incoherent formulation of the Real Presence. I don’t see it as stronger or more corporeal or more mystical or more Incarnational or what have you.

  239. J.M.J.

    Eric,

    Have you actually read Seven Story Mountain?

    I didn’t think so.

    Lane and I were not discussing Merton’s later works. Only this one. Thanks for your comment though.

  240. J.M.J.

    Debbie, Lane, Everybody,

    Eric actually wrote,

    “My only real problem with transubstantiation is that it is a weak, simplistic, somewhat incoherent formulation of the Real Presence. ”

    Simpletons like Aquinas found it to be an inexhaustible font of contemplation.
    Millions upon millions of Catholics, from simple children to great theologians…

    And miracles like the one at Lanciano don’t impress our great mystic and saint Eric either.

    Eric finds Transubstantiation to be weak and simplistic.
    Oh well, what can we expect from a man who defended Kevin calling the Blessed Sacrament a “Death Wafer”.

    I don’t know whether to laugh at him or weep over his shallow and supremely arrogant stupidity.

  241. J/M/J.

    Eric,

    Judging by your silly statements about bloody and unbloody, I doubt if you can even articulate what we mean by Transubstantiation.

    Despite your pompous style, you are dumb as a post to say what you said above.

  242. James,

    Yes and confessing fallibility of your teachers, churches, confessions, etc. entails they have no divine authority (since such entails infallibility). Hence there’s no reason to consider your claims as a contender that warrants my submission.

    This is simply wrong. All it means is that they do not have absolute authority, which shouldn’t be a problem because only God has absolute authority, and the church, teachers, confessions, etc. are not God. If the confessions accurately reflect that which God has revealed, they have binding authority that is there whether you submit or not.

    There’s no reason to believe the church thinks it heard the voice of God in identifying the canon, or promulgating SS as the rule of faith, or inerrancy, etc. by your own standards.

    Simply wrong. If infallibility is required, then you can never get at Rome’s claims for itself. You are fallible. Maybe your thinking that Rome claims infallibility is wrong.

    This is just silly. You cannot go from your own fallible evaluation of contenders to greater certainty unless you get out of your fallibility.

    As I said to Michael, humans are limited – why should I bother investigating candidates for “authorities” I should submit to that don’t even justify investigation/submission in the first place by their own claims. It’s a game of hide and seek or pin the tail on the donkey in that case.

    Why should I bother to trust myself at all if I am fallible? You seem to have no problem trusting your own fallible self to evaluate authorities.

    A claim to infallibility by the church does not have to be made to justify submission to the church because at the end of the day, the Protestant church is not calling for anyone to submit to it absolutely. We aren’t the Vatican trying to take the place of God.

    Assuming your own principles, the identification of, let alone the infallibility of, Scripture can never rise above opinion, nor can SS as the rule of faith which you are presuming here rise above opinion. Semper reformanda and rejection of divine authority/infallibility makes things the opposite of easy, and always will.

    Assuming your principle of James’ fallibility, your identification of Rome as the true church can never rise above your opinion. If fallibility entails mere opinion, all you have is your mere opinion. Which is why your argument is dumb and leads, when consistently followed, to thoroughgoing skepticism. You want to make a leap from fallibility to certainty, but you have no warrant for making that claim. I don’t have that problem because my certainty doesn’t depend on my relative fallibility or infallibility. Yours does.

  243. +JMJ+

    Eric wrote:

    My only real problem with transubstantiation is that it is a weak, simplistic, somewhat incoherent formulation of the Real Presence. I don’t see it as stronger or more corporeal or more mystical or more Incarnational or what have you.

    Stronger or more Incarnational than what?

    Than the Reformed paradigm? The paradigm which turns the Eucharist into the “Jesus-for-me-but-not-for-you” dynamic? The one which says “We, the Elect, receive Jesus, but you, the Reprobate, receive bread”?

    And that’s supposed to be Incarnationally coherent?

  244. Mateo,

    Based on your answer, you clearly agree with everything that Rome teaches. Thus, you are submitting only when you agree. Thank you for proving my point.

    What is ironic is that the PCA actually has a process for submitting when you DON’T agree. A presbytery receives from candidates for ministry their exceptions to the WCF. Many people are ordained even when they disagree with the WCF with the provision that they do not teach their disagreements. So, for example, I could get ordained in a presbytery if I disagree with the WCF on the use of images in worship if they will allow the exception. They might include a provision that I not teach the exception, but the whole provision is for allowing people to submit when they DON’T agree. Rome has nothing like that that I know of, since you have to confess that you believe everything Rome teaches.

    Mateo, you are the prime example of submitting only when you agree. The one to whom you submit is you. Quit being lord over your church.

  245. “But in general, more outlandish mystical experiences do not impress me”

    I am on the same page. I’m much more interested in St. John of the Cross and those who do not depend on consolations. I mentor young women who are deepening their faith and typically experience the grace of these experiences. It is always important to move past them, but they are lovely moments for edification and thanksgiving. I rarely talk about them except when I feel moved for strengthening someone’s faulty steps of faith.

    “Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful and kindle in them the fire of Your love. Send forth Your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth. Oh God who did enlighten the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant us by the same Spirit to be truly wise and ever rejoice in His consolations, through Christ Our Lord. Amen.”

  246. J.M.J.

    Every Catholic man, woman and child is a great mystic if they believe that what appears as bread is the Creator of the Universe.

    Eric pretends to know Aquinas and trots him out on predestination. Aquinas’ greatest work was on the Blessed sacrament. And Eric says it is “simplistic and weak”. I would love to hear what Eric finds to be stronger and less simplistic but am afraid to ask.

    Ever hear of Theresa Neumann? She lived for years on nothing but the Eucharist. Even the Nazi’s were fascinated and wanted to know her secret. They guarded her house to make sure she wasn’t faking it. She was a mystic but no more than any of us who believe and adore.

    Transubstantiation is weak? It wasn’t weak for the Fathers of the Church who compared the change of bread, by the Holy Spirit, into the Body of Christ with the change of Mary’s flesh into the flesh of Christ by the power of the same Holy Spirit.

  247. J.M.J.

    Eric,

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VuWEc636k8M

    I am spending Holy Week in Paris this year. One of the major sights is the Sacre Coeur on Monmarte overlooking the city. The magnificent structure exists to house the Blessed Sacrament. The Eucharist is always exposed and the church is filled all night long with people adoring Christ in the Eucharist.

    Words like sublime, awesome and ineffable come to mind. Not “weak and simplistic”.

    You have really tipped your hand with this ill thought out blooper, Eric.
    Save your high falutin vocabulary and flowery style. You know nothing and don’t mind showing it with such an utterance.
    And you are so smitten with your own pomposity that you would challenge all the saints, doctors and fathers of the Church. Unbelievable.

  248. Jim–

    Yes, I HAVE read the Seven Storey Mountain and found his style sublime but his thinking…less so.

    So, you can totally trash our Eucharist and do no injury against Christ, but if I lay a finger on your faulty, human-engineered formulation, then I have egregiously insulted the Holy One. I see how this goes.

    You worship your paradigm.

  249. Debbie–

    Well and fine.

    Why are there so few Catholics like you? (And why on earth would you encourage what merely masquerades for Catholicism from many of the “Catholic” posters here?)

  250. Lane–

    Merton’s quote on harvesting insights from other religious traditions points out one of the differences between Protestants and Catholics. Merton sees Catholicism as an extension or enhancement of the “truths” he finds elsewhere. We recognize the validity of insights from other sources of (general/natural) revelation, but believe they must be transformed/redeemed before being applied. Hindus undoubtedly believe in honesty, but their definition will differ from ours, their motivations will differ, the attitudes accompanying honesty will differ, the benefits of honesty will differ, and the consequences of dishonesty will differ.

    In the NT, Judaizers are not called well-intentioned but misguided. They are called the Synagogue of Satan. When a non-Christian paradigm is evaluated for its overall spiritual enlightenment, it should be found as black as night. For it does not possess the Spirit of Light.

  251. +JMJ+

    Eric wrote:

    We recognize the validity of insights from other sources of (general/natural) revelation, but believe they must be transformed/redeemed before being applied.

    More doublespeak. “We do recognize the validity of Natural truth, but then again, we don’t. Because, Grace perfects Nature, but then again, it doesn’t. It opposes, destroys, supplants.”

    Gotta obfuscate the contradictions of Calvinism. Else, the jig is up.

  252. J.M.J.

    Eric,

    I am a hayseed. A yokel. A real sow’s ear. I know nothing about classical music and can’t play anything but the radio.
    Nonetheless, because of my wife’s job, I am constantly thrust into social situations where I am being asked to comment on certain performances and performers. You know, after concert gatherings, cocktail parties and various snob events where I don’t belong.
    I have learned to slick down my cowlick, knock the manure off my shoes and try not to say anything that will show me up for the out of place clod that I am. I keep my mouth shut as much as possible, smile and pretend that I agree with whatever is said by the nabobs. No matter how much champagne I have down my gullet, I keep my mouth shut and never venture an opinion of my own on anything I am manifestly unqualified to speak on.

    You however, with a mouth full of of hors d’oeuvres, wouldn’t hesitate to blurt out, ” I find that Mozell’s rendition of Debussy to be weak and simplistic”.

  253. J.M.J.

    All you little people who post here,

    As for the Church’s articulation of the Trinity, I find it as “weak and simplistic and somewhat incoherent” as her explanation of the Real Presence. I could do a much better job of explaining these so called mysterious that baffle you little pea brained bumpkins. They are so clear to one of my learning, scholarship and superior piety.

    ( See, I can be as urbane, pompous and interesting as Eric ).

  254. J.M.J.

    Eric,

    I will never forget how, a year or so ago, you deigned to school us hicks on your vast knowledge of fine liqueurs with your “absinthe” aside.
    I vow, when I get to Paris on the 27th, to have a snort of the stuff in your honor.

    You have no humility, no sense of where you are or what you are talking about.
    Notice, I have not bothered to explain what the Church’s doctrine of Transubstantiation means or how it is not “weak and simplistic”. I refuse to dignify your outrageous braying with an explanation of the doctrine.

    I have only sarcasm for a nobody who would actually go up against the Church’s 2,000 year old teaching on the Eucharist by daring to call it “simplistic”.

    As for Merton, you couldn’t have read what he wrote on the Eucharist and still belch out such inanities.

  255. Jim–

    I assume you mean Lorin Maazel, but hey, who needs accuracy? It’s over-rated. Especially when it comes to partisan theologics. (If you want “simple and unassuming,” by the way, try Mahler’s Eighth. 😉 )

    Although I disagree with Aquinas on the Eucharist, I have tremendous respect for the man.

    What’s your opinion of Turretin or Owen or Bavinck?

    Respect, for you, is always a one-way street.

  256. Eric,

    While I clamored to have your home-boy tarred, feathered and run off the blog on rails for his “Death Wafer’ slur, I am going to ask you to stick around and make more of your laughable utterances. You actually serve a purpose.
    I think I have been commenting here for about 2 years. Your evaluation of Transubstantiation being “weak and simplistic” is as mind boggling as Kevin’s was blasphemous. It’s the morning after your magisterial pronouncement on the Blessed Sacrament and I am still staggering and reeling. I have never come across such prideful ignorance in my life.

  257. Jim–

    That’s an awful lot of pompous bombast on your part expended on my supposed pomposity.

    Why don’t you try arguing your case for once? Display your utter superiority for everyone and God to see?

  258. J,M.J.

    Eric,

    Yeah, that’s the guy I mean. My nephew played in the Valencia orchestra under him until his death several months ago.

    What do I think of your Protestant guys’ views on the Eucharist? I don’t know other than to say they are out of sync with the Church. Kind of like bank tellers learning to feel real currency so they can immediately identify counterfeit notes.

    As for respect, well, I certainly don’t respect arrogance and stupidity. You and your pal are like salt and pepper shakers when it comes to the Eucharist.

  259. J.M.J.

    Eric,
    “Why don’t you try arguing your case for once?”

    Okay, let’s start with John 6. Or maybe 1st Corinthians. Or maybe Christ’s words at the Last Supper.

    How about the word used by the Greek speaking fathers, that predates the Latin “Transubstantiation”? The word from which we get “metabolize”. By the words of the priest, the bread and wine are “metabolized” into being the Body and Blood of Christ.

    We don’t accept the doctrine of the Real presence for rational reasons. We accept it on Faith. The obedience of Faith.

  260. J.M.J.

    Eric,

    As for your tiff with Debbie over the Mass being an unbloody sacrifice, I could give you various theories from various theologians, but suffice it to keep it simple ( not not simplistic ) and say Christ said it was a sacrifice at the Supper when He spoke of the New Covenant in His Blood which would be poured out for the forgiveness of sins.

  261. J.M.J.

    Eric,

    ” Display your utter superiority for everyone and God to see?”

    My utter superiority? Look who’s talking!

    I could give you my personal opinion, Eric ( I like aspects of the theories of Lessius, Scheeben, and Taille for instance but not so much de Lugo or Bellarmine ).
    But let’s stay with the Bible, the Tradition of the Fathers and magisterial teaching rather than my opinions.

    You, Eric, put out nothing but opinion. Opinion based on ignorance of Catholicism.

  262. J.M.J.

    Eric,

    The totally erratic and capricious Martin Luther thought he could fit his gospel of JBFA, the enslaved will, predestination, etc. with the perspicuous words of Christ at the Last Supper and retain a belief in the Real Presence.

    The more consistent deformers demonstrated that the Real Presence was no more compatible with the new religion than the Mass being a sacrifice of propitiation for the living and the dead. That’s why you aren’t a Lutheran.

    Eric, you approach this discussion already hamstrung in two major ways.
    Firstly, your monumental arrogance cripples you from taking the time to actually study up and understand the terms used. I am reminded of how your buddy liked to throw around terms like “opus operato” all the while using them in a way we never do. Your argument with Debbie reveals you to be ill equipped to sally forth in intelligent battle on this topic. Just scanning the internet for ammo is hardly what one would call “study” so don’t try it in order to make a snappy come-back. We will all see through you.

    Secondly, and almost as bad, your skewed doctrines of election and grace cause you to strain all of theology through a sieve that nullifies the Sacraments in any serious way. You have proved this many times in the discussions on Baptism.

    By the way, as much as you like to quote Aquinas and Augustine, you are at total loggerheads with them on this.

    As you are not going to come down off your high horse, I can only scoff and sneer at your outlandish pronouncements. You are the classic example of the fool who rushes in where wise men fear to tread.

    I have a train to catch. When I get back, I hope not to see any more of your foolishness but know I will.

  263. Eric and Wosbald,

    Eric you said, [This] points out one of the differences between Protestants and Catholics. Merton sees Catholicism as an extension or enhancement of the “truths” he finds elsewhere. We recognize the validity of insights from other sources of (general/natural) revelation, but believe they must be transformed/redeemed before being applied.

    Yes, I agree with you Wosbald, that the distinction Eric is trying to draw seems to amount to nothing more than doublespeak. However, after more reflection I think there might very well be a distinction, and it is in demeanor toward outside ideas. Interestingly, I believe the difference in demeanor lies in the disagreement about the infallibility of the teaching authority of the Church.

    The Catholic and the Reformed agree that all truth is God’s truth. However, the Catholic knows that the AoF defined by the Church are True thus providing anchors for belief (if Merton abandoned the anchors – that’s where he failed). Further, the Catholic knows that the living Magisterium is just that: living. So it can continue to interact with new ideas and challenges. This amounts to a supreme confidence for the Catholic when she interacts with non-Catholics or ideas that aren’t explicitly Christian in origin. This why you see many of the great non-Christian religious texts were translated by Catholic missionaries; they aren’t scared by them. This is why many of the great scientific advances have been made by Catholics (astronomy, genetics, evolution, big bang theory, medicine, computing…).

    On the other hand, the Reformed must constantly be suspicious of everything – including to an extent their own AoF since they might be wrong. This inherent suspiciousness is why Protestantism in general is stunted. This is why there will never be unity within Protestantism, except in the most shallowest of ways. I believe, this suspiciousness is caused ultimately by the rejection of the true teaching authority of the Church. I mean, if you can’t trust the Church, you definitely can’t trust anyone else.

  264. J.M.J.

    Lane,
    I am glad to hear of your entry into the Church.

    By the way, for all the Catholics who have had to endure the stuff said here over the past couple days, I was searching for something, anything, to wash the the less than complimentary stuff said about the Eucharist out of my mind and found this sweet meditation.
    http://www.catholictradition.org/Mary/virgin-eucharist.htm

  265. Robert,

    “All it means is that they do not have absolute authority,”

    Right – so they have no divine authority and aren’t infallible. Divine authority entails infallibility. So I have no reason or justification to submit to them in the first place, by their own (and your agreed) disclaimers.

    “If the confessions accurately reflect that which God has revealed, they have binding authority that is there whether you submit or not.”

    Do the confessions accurately reflect what God has revealed? If they do, why don’t they then offer themselves as infallible and binding as of divine authority? Because they can’t without violating their own standards/language and your agreement earlier that they have historically been revised.

    “If infallibility is required, then you can never get at Rome’s claims for itself. You are fallible. Maybe your thinking that Rome claims infallibility is wrong.”

    Notice what I said – “by your own standards”. You admit it upfront with your rejection of infallibility: “The fact that Protestants confess fallibility is simply to indicate … that sometimes the church thinks it has heard the voice of God when it hasn’t.” So by your own admission, there’s no reason to believe the church actually heard the voice of God in identifying the canon, or promulgating SS as the rule of faith, or inerrancy, etc. – if there was, you’d offer such as irreformable, but if you did that, you’d violate and contradict your own standards. OTOH assuming Rome’s standards, there’s reason to believe the church actually heard the voice of God in identifying Romans as inspired, or STM-triad as the rule of faith, or sufficient grace offered to all, etc. Assuming your principles/claims, we get semper reformanda and fallible collection and ever-fallible teachings. Assuming RC principles/claims, we don’t.

    “You cannot go from your own fallible evaluation of contenders to greater certainty unless you get out of your fallibility.”

    NT believer submitting to Christ/Apostles authority claims example vs non-believer submitting to random rabbi claims example again.

    “Why should I bother to trust myself at all if I am fallible? You seem to have no problem trusting your own fallible self to evaluate authorities.”

    NT believer submitting to Christ/Apostles authority claims example vs non-believer submitting to random rabbi claims example again.

    “the Protestant church is not calling for anyone to submit to it absolutely.”

    Right, so it isn’t calling for anyone to submit to Scripture or SS or inerrancy or any other teachings absolutely either. Which is why liberalism and non-confessionalism is perfectly consistent with Protestant claims, as we would expect.

    “We aren’t the Vatican trying to take the place of God.”

    Were the Apostles and the authorized teachers Christ sent out taking the place of God?

    “Assuming your principle of James’ fallibility, your identification of Rome as the true church can never rise above your opinion.”

    We’re not assuming the principle of “me”. We’re assuming RC principles to see what it can yield and comparing that to what the assumption of Protestant principles can yield. In both cases, personal fallibility of the submitting agent has nothing to do with that evaluation – that you think it does (despite my repeated offering of the NT believer/non-believer example) might explain why you think the argument is “dumb” – you haven’t grasped the argument in the first place then.

  266. James,

    You said to Robert: “Right, so it isn’t calling for anyone to submit to Scripture or SS or inerrancy or any other teachings absolutely either. Which is why liberalism and non-confessionalism is perfectly consistent with Protestant claims, as we would expect.”

    A conservative Protestant would probably respond, saying that the liberal Protestants due to their radically changed claims are outside the historic Protestant tradition; so they don’t count.

    I can’t help but use the same argument against the Protestants who wants to claim that other Protestants are outside their tradition, while at the same time claiming that their tradition CAN claim to be founded by Jesus and his Apostles. Those two arguments cancel out. Either the liberal Protestant CAN claim to be a continuation of Protestant tradition, OR the Protestant can’t claim to be a continuation of the Catholic tradition. If the liberal Protestant’s radically changed claims put them outside of the Protestant tradition, than certainly all Protestants have put themselves outside the Catholic tradition when they themselves radically changed claims.

  267. @Michael:

    If that means you’re going to be busy, I get it. I’m in season for coaching starting next Monday and all my extra time is about to disappear.

    Just traveling actually, but there is a lot going on as well. We’ve covered a lot of ground, so if you have to disappear, I completely understand. I still think the discussion has been productive, even though I feel like we’re talking past each other in a lot of places.

    The problem is with 1. Premise 1 assumes that an act of the Holy Spirit includes both delivery and reception. That’s the hidden a priori in your premise. So it isn’t enough for the Holy Spirit to broadcast infallibly. The signal also has to be received infallibly. Otherwise communication is garbled

    But that’s precisely the a priori that isn’t observed empirically. So you’re not an empiricist after all. It turns out that you do have presuppositions and that’s okay. You only need make the argument that it is more reasonable to posit infallible reception in addition to infallible broadcasting. Well, that’s why we’re here. Go ahead and make it. (Actually, I think you do this below.).

    I think we’ve moved away from the analogy, so I want to get back to it. The problem with not having a radio is not that the signal is garbled, but that you can’t hear it at all. That’s how St. Thomas sees the theological virtue of faith. If you managed to get part of the signal, it’s not because you heard it, but due to some other accidental circumstance. You have no way to actually tune in and hear the whole thing; it’s just whatever bits and pieces you happen to pick up elsewhere.

    But the reason this is the case is why I like the law-government analogy better. This is because, in reality, faith is an act of submission of the will to God. The reason that St. Thomas says faith is required is precisely because God is *not* something that can be figured out by reason in His fullness. That’s why special revelation is required, and faith, an act of will, is the instrument for receiving it. That places divine authority in the normative, not the epistemic, sphere, and that is the relevant context for revelation. So we wouldn’t be looking around for the way that epistemic communication operates. We would be looking at the way that normative communications, laws and the like, are communicated over time. That’s why the best analogy is to government.

    When we look at human governments, we just don’t see self-executing laws, and there’s a good reason for that. The whole point of normative guidance is to redirect people’s wills, and that is incompatible with there being no authority for doing so. In other words, if people could internalize normative principles so completely, then normative guidance wouldn’t be required in the first place. It’s also a public need, so that there is a social structure of accountability to the law. Given that there is good sense in having both law and a receiving authority for maintaining the law as a normal model, we’d expect the same to apply in the normative context of revelation (absent some good reason to the contrary). So we have an observed principle of normative operation and a principled reason for thinking that divine revelation falls into this sphere of human activity.

    But again, you’re not simply saying the Holy Spirit broadcasts infallibly. You’re also saying the Church receives the broadcast infallibly. If we deny this, your reply to us is to go take it up with God. But that begs the question at the outset, for what if an infallible act of the Holy Spirit does *not* include infallible reception by the Church?

    That would essentially be a statement that whatever act the Holy Spirit was doing was not intended as an act of public divine revelation. I don’t rule out that this sort of thing can happen, i.e., that people can receive individual guidance in certain circumstances by the Holy Spirit or even private revelation. What I am saying is if this is intended to be the rule of faith, then it won’t lack for a public, collective reception.

    I believe that you this is what you *think* you’re doing. I really do. But I don’t think this is what you’re actually doing. The quest for some infallible receiver is still based on the a prior assumption of needing one, yet with no *observed* example of actually having one. Instead, all we see in the observable record is fallibility.

    But special divine revelation isn’t observable in that way. As a sui generis phenomenon, inspiration can’t be seen or deduced; it can only be accepted by faith. But in terms of observed examples in the mundane context, they’re all over the place. So absent some reason to think that divine normative guidance operates in a drastically different way from every analogous situation in our experience, that’s not something that we’d expect. I agree that there is a difference concerning fallibility related to the divine activity, but the overall structure is not being derived from that premise, Rather, it is induced from the experience of normative guidance in human conduct throughout time.

    I’m highlighting this because, at the end of the day, this is the real issue that undergirds all others. You simply don’t agree that books can have normative authority. But here you seem to be assuming that the Bible is like any other book. But what about the Bible’s own claims to being a “living” word? And what about the people in scripture whose view of scripture is that it is a living, normative word?

    There’s even a mundane analogy to that; we speak of the Constitution as a “living document,” which does not need to assume the sorts of judicial excesses associated with the concept. I would, of course, expect the Bible to be “living” in a much more vibrant sense, but the idea that a book is spoken of as “living” in terms of its ongoing livelihood within the social context of its reception is certainly not a stretch. The question is whether “living” means in some sense self-executing without being socially mediated, which seems to me as implausible in the same way (although not in the same degree) as thinking that it means the Bible is capable of getting up and walking. Yes, I do not think that books under any normal circumstances having self-executing normative authority, but that is not based on lack of experience but rather millennia of human culture.

    Second, the Bible does claim to be an infallible authority. So we don’t have to pile on more claims to infallible, normative authority. As you say about Rome, one normative authority is enough.

    Yes, and the question is whether it is claiming infallible authority in the sense that I suggested (i.e., in the collective reception of a culture) or whether it is claiming some kind of self-executing normative guidance in every person who picks it up and reads it, so that the reader becomes self-regulating. I don’t think that Scripture claims the latter. In fact, that would probably be anachronistic given the degree of public and collective reading of Scripture.

    So if it really is the case that X has to claim divine normative authority in order for you to put your faith in it, then look no further than the Bible. It makes that claim for itself. Of course, you could deny that it does. That’s fine. But if it does (P), then you would be justified in believing it (Q).

    Since I don’t believe that the Bible makes such a claim in the relevant way, which is to be a self-executing normative guide apart from public, cultural reception, I am fine with maintaining the objection.

    Your second argument is that if scripture were intended to be normative by itself, then anyone who reads it should be normed by it. But I think you can immediately answer your own charge by substituting “Rome” for scripture. From your point of view, does the existence of Protestantism thereby negate the divine normative authority of Rome simply because there are those who do not see themselves bound by it? If not, then mutatis mutandis, scripture’s normative authority is not vitiated simply because people may not see themselves as bound by it or may come to different interpretations of it.

    I’m trying to highlight just exactly what an odd claim sola scriptura is and why the tu quoque really doesn’t work. On the SS theory, Scripture is perspicuous under due use of ordinary means in matters essential to salvation, which is essentially the primary normative sense of Scripture. Now, obviously, one could reject the normative guidance, but the important part here is that one cannot fail to know it. If you read it, you understand it, accept it or reject it. Maybe you can qualify that to say that only people who have the Holy Spirit won’t lie about what they read there or posit some extensive sort of self-delusion in everyone who doesn’t have true faith who believes in the Scripture, but when it comes down to it, it really ought to be understandable in its primary normative sense. There oughtn’t be any massive debate about what Scripture says we need to do for our salvation, even if many people reject to do it.

    But both diachronically and synchronically, there is just this massive diversity of interpretation of what the normative sense of the words is. Now that’s fine in Catholicism, because none of those people have any authority, so none of what they say binds anyone. Everyone can afford to be free, because no one has to follow them, and the Magisterium always has the authority to issue binding decisions if they believe that the issue needs resolving. In other words, having a binding authority actually gives you the latitude to be wrong, because there’s a very limited degree of damage that can be done. This is why Nancy Pelosi is basically irrelevant to the Church; she has no authority, and her opinion of the faith, attendance at the Eucharist, and whatever is of no consequence to the faith. She should be disciplined for her own good, but if she isn’t, there’s no harm to the faith.

    But if Scripture itself is the binding authority, then all of those data points are a big problem, because they rebut the idea that Scripture is self-interpreting. Christian Smith calls this pervasive interpretive pluralism (PIP). That’s why discipline is absolutely essential in Protestant churches; if people don’t toe the line, that might as well be proof that Scripture isn’t working. So they have to do something to cast out the unbeliever so he isn’t confused for someone with faith, because that would mean that someone with faith came to a different interpretation of Scripture, and … well, we can’t have that! It would require removing the ostrich’s head from the sand to see the scary PIP problem.

    Further, like most Romanists, you over exaggerate Protestant differences, underplay Protestant agreements and conveniently ignore the deep-seated disagreements within your own communion. But you would not argue, on that basis, that there is therefore no normative authority that can resolve those differences, would you?

    No, precisely because I am not trying to make either individuals or the book authoritative. For me, deep-seated disagreements are almost expected, because there’s no reason to squelch them. Even *after* normative guidance has been set down by the Magisterium, there are still disagreements (look at Nicaea!). The reason that I am not worried about those disagreements is that they aren’t the authority, and in the end, the authority gets to decide the issue.

    So it’s not a question of exaggerating Protestant differences or underlying Protestant agreements, but contrasting Protestant disagreements within the sphere of authority with Catholic disagreements within the sphere of authority. In Catholicism, that debate is over a handful of cases involving a few specific doctrines, like slavery and religious pluralism. In Protestantism, among “sincere” sola scripturists regarding matters directly pertinent to salvation, it’s a great deal more than a few. If nothing else, it makes the already-extraordinary claim of self-executing normative authority implausible as a practical matter.

    I’m not sure law/government is the appropriate analogy for understanding the normative authority of scripture. But even granting your analogy, you’re still smuggling in a number of unspoken assumptions. For the “law” in this case is the Word of God (S and T, by Rome’s reckoning). And the “government” is the Magisterium ™. But why must we assume that the government is infallible? Could it not have a subsidiary normative authority without itself being infallible?

    Sure, if it weren’t divine, but as I said, that would imply that the original act of inspiring Scripture wasn’t intended to be an act of relevation, because the Holy Spirit formed no structure that was intended to make it binding.

    Further, why assume that there is only one central government over all? In other words, why assume a federation rather than a confederation? Is it not possible to see the one universal church subsisting in coequal local communities (e.g., Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople, Rome) each with their own subsidiary governing bodies (pastors, teachers, elders)? So we can agree with you that there is church government. The Bible teaches us this much. But we don’t see that the Bible specifies a monarchical episcopate under the successor to Peter and headquartered in Rome nor that even tradition supports the idea that this is a revealed ecclesiology that is normative for the entire church.

    That’s the Eastern Orthodox position. If you want to follow that path (which I would not discourage for any Protestant), we would be having a much different discussion. But that is definitely a candidate that can at least to some degree meet the requirements I’ve outlined, which shows that my argument isn’t special pleading. In other words, I’m not assuming anything at all about the truth of Rome in the analysis. It is specifically the claim of sola scriptura that triggers the objections.

    I’m saying that the Bible itself gives us examples of people (Jesus, the Apostles) treating the Bible (the OT) as an infallible book. And since I can read that in the Bible, I do have empirical evidence for others holding the presupposition I’m advocating.

    First, we’d have to prove the incidents related in the Bible historically in the same way we would any other historical account in order for that to count as evidence. Second, and more importantly, the exegesis of the language itself will require collection archeological data on the culture, and once we collect all of that information, we can’t abstract our concept of how the Bible serves as an authority from what we learn about it. My read of the historical data is that the Bible acted as a normative authority in a very similar sense to what I’ve outlined with respect to other written laws, i.e., in a well-structured governmental system in which different people performed different functions. That’s true in both the Old Testament and New Testament times. In view of that evidence, I view Jesus judging the Pharisees not against Scripture itself but against the authoritative sense of Scripture that they should have accepted, which implicitly included the cultural reception of the text.

    In other words, this isn’t a case of Jesus rejecting legitimate authority as opposed to Scripture, but of rejecting officeholders (who were acting wrongly outside of the scope of their authority) based on the legitimate cultural authority. It’s no different than politicians going to jail for misuse of authority, which doesn’t mean that the laws they passed with their legitimate authority were somehow no good. Calling someone out for wrongdoing should be, if the authority is public, something anybody can do. And many Popes have been chastised in that fashion by Saints of the Church.

    You misunderstand. Let’s imagine that I am an unbeliever who thinks the T.V. Guide is as inspired as anything that Luke the Evangelist wrote. Yet if I were to read Luke’s Gospel, I nevertheless would see that his Jesus character, or at least Luke himself, presupposed the normative authority of the books of Moses. So if Luke is doing good history (as he claims) and if Jesus’ story about Lazarus in Luke 16 is plausibly attributed to the Jesus of history, then without begging any questions at all I can minimally conclude that the Jesus of history (or at least the Luke of history) believed in the normative authority of the books of Moses. That those stories from my faith perspective are also inspired history is only icing on the cake for me. But, strictly speaking, I don’t need to invoke the inspiration of the NT to know what Jesus and the Apostles thought about Biblical authority. They invoked it as a normative authority as a matter of course and expected that their contemporaries would see themselves bound by that same authority.

    Sure, but you’re asking me to believe based on that particular statement, which might plausibly but surely not certainly attributed to the historical Jesus, to believe that Jesus held Scripture as a self-executing authority. I’d be crazy to do that, for all the reasons I’ve given above. The plausible interpretation for me to take was that Jesus was referring to the normative sense of the Scripture that would ordinarily be considered as such based on the cultural reception of Judaism. Much that has been written on Jesus’s exegetical method in the Scriptures (and for that matter, a decent chunk of Pauline scholarship) supports that reading, a lively interpretive style appealing to cultural recognition and rabbinical tradition, as opposed to some self-executing idea of the texts.

    And that historical fact is congenial to another one of my presuppositions: That our view of scripture should the same as Jesus.’ I can’t prove I’m right about this. But nevertheless think its a defensible view. What is the alternative? Adopt a view of scripture that Jesus didn’t endorse?

    Indeed. And I would say that asserting Jesus as adopting this idea of a self-executing normative public authority for Scriptures strains credibility for the reasons given above. If you’re arguing that Jesus believed something so drastically different than the ordinary way in which such writings operative, then I would also say that there would need to be really overwhelming evidence in its favor, not a passage here or there, but entire books dedicated to it. In the absence of such evidence, I don’t see why you would believe it.

  268. @Robert:
    From way back up there to James:

    At some point you have to get to the James-Robert level, and if I cannot reliably identify infallible identify articles of faith in the manner you demand the church do so, how can I be saved? How can I be trusted to reliably identify the church Jesus founded? How can I know the truth? Why is this point lost on you guys?

    What seems to be lost on you is that the entire point of a public authority is that you don’t have to do it alone. I don’t have to check every belief against Scripture; I have faith that they are true. I don’t have to be infallible. I just have to have sufficient brains to be able to pick out the public authority, which doesn’t in principle have to be a more difficult task than figuring out who the government is in a country.

    Founded a couple of thousand years ago?
    Same government in continuous operation the whole time?

    Those are things even children can reasonably trust.

    Now somebody walks up to you and says “this document, the Constitution, contains everything that you need to know about America. Don’t listen to what the guys who claim to be ‘the government’ say, because they have done bad things in the past, which proves that they are not the *real* government. Instead, this political revolutionary from 75 years ago identified the Constitutional truth, and he established another government, and that is the one you should really obey.”

    If that conversation were about anything but religion, you would be backing away from that guy with one finger ready to dial 911. But on matters pertaining to your eternal soul and those of your family? Yeah, seems legit. I’m going to stop turning in my tax returns now.

    That’s all we’re saying. If God actually wants us to be able to know who’s in charge, then He made a government, same as any culture in any tradition ever.

    St. Augustine actually made that argument. He basically said “if you can’t figure out where the Church is, just walk to the one that says it’s the Catholic Church.” It doesn’t require infallibility; it barely requires the power of reason. It’s not a quest for a super-powered infallible epistemology; the entire point is that God would have likely made it so easy that a child could do it. The fact that you might actually need a super-powered epistemology to derive an unambiguous normative sense from all of the words of Scripture is probably the best argument that sola scriptura was not God’s plan, assuming God is not stupid, cruel, evil, or oblivious to how normal humans operate.

    You’re just hung up on the word “infallible” as if it means something other than “what God did.” Move off of the infallible part and onto the “what did God mean to set up” part. Assuming that God actually wanted the society to function, what are the odds He delivered the law and then just left? This is the “ecclesial deism” thing that Bryan Cross loves to mention.

  269. Matteo–you wrote, “No, that is not true. To find the link, Robert and Eric W have to dethrone themselves as the Supreme Lords of the Scriptures and die to self. There is no other way.”

    They still have to figure out (and you did as well, before you made a decision) which Church today is the one that Jesus was referring to in the Gospel of St. Matthew. CTC and CCC haven’t addressed this issue, as far as I know; perhaps we can try in this thread.

    So, in a way, aren’t we all acting as our own master, whether we’re considering how to understand the Bible or how to interpret Christian history?

  270. @Trebor135:
    To see why your argument is fallacious (specifically, based on the equivocation fallacy), refer to the distinction between PJ1 and PJ2 in this article:
    http://www.salvomag.com/unpragmatic-thoughts/?p=775

    The author in Eastern Orthodox, so there’s no bias toward papal authority in the explanation he gives.

  271. Trebor135 you write:

    They still have to figure out (and you did as well, before you made a decision) which Church today is the one that Jesus was referring to in the Gospel of St. Matthew.

    Trebor135, in the above, you have put me at the center the decision, and that is to utterly miss the point that I am making.

    First, one must die to self before one can make the proper decision about which church to submit to.

    A Protestant that has himself as the Supreme Lord of the Scriptures – the Protestant that decides which church to join by picking the church that agrees with his private interpretation of the scriptures has not yet died to self – and as a consequence, the Protestant does not yet have Jesus as his Lord. The Protestant will protest that this is not so, but the protest is hollow, since ultimately, the Protestant is not submitting to anyone but himself as he elevates his own private interpretation of scriptures to the ultimate temporal authority in all matters religious.

    Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
    John 12:24-25

    To die to self is the hard part of enlightenment. To find the true church after one has begun to die to self is easy- just listen to the Lord. Of course, when the Lord reveals that his church is the Catholic Church, one’s first impulse will be to resist – “No, Lord, anything but that!” This resistance is going to happen because the Fall brought about the consequence of man having himself as his center. Fallen man will do anything to keep himself as his center, even if it means following Martin Luther down the easy way that leads to his destruction.

    “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
    Matthew7:13-14

  272. Jonathan,

    What seems to be lost on you is that the entire point of a public authority is that you don’t have to do it alone. I don’t have to check every belief against Scripture; I have faith that they are true. I don’t have to be infallible. I just have to have sufficient brains to be able to pick out the public authority, which doesn’t in principle have to be a more difficult task than figuring out who the government is in a country.

    No one is arguing that we do this alone. The denial of ecclesiastical infallibility has as its background the understanding that creation is actually fallen and that there are evil men even within the church.

    Founded a couple of thousand years ago?

    Assuming the claims of various bodies are true, this is as true for my church as it is for the Rome or the East.

    Same government in continuous operation the whole time?

    This isn’t true for anyone. Apostolic succession as a universal continuous thing in the sense of the RC and the EO runs aground rather forcefully in the second century when the monoepiscopate was certainly NOT universal, especially in Rome. For Rome, the papacy implodes certainly with the Western schism and the excommunication of all Western Christians when each pope anathematized the other and his followers.

    Now somebody walks up to you and says “this document, the Constitution, contains everything that you need to know about America. Don’t listen to what the guys who claim to be ‘the government’ say, because they have done bad things in the past, which proves that they are not the *real* government. Instead, this political revolutionary from 75 years ago identified the Constitutional truth, and he established another government, and that is the one you should really obey.”
    If that conversation were about anything but religion, you would be backing away from that guy with one finger ready to dial 911. But on matters pertaining to your eternal soul and those of your family? Yeah, seems legit. I’m going to stop turning in my tax returns now.

    Which of course doesn’t touch the Protestant view of the church.

    Besides, to draw a real comparison, the question we are asking is which government is more true to the vision of its founders. If you think that the modern US massive state is in any way the intention of the Constitution’s framers then you have another thing coming. Continuity between America of 2015 and 1789 is visible only. Virtually the entire thought process that birthed the country isn’t embraced anymore by our nation’s leaders. So while one can nominally claim that the America of today is the same as the America of 200 years ago, the reality is that they are far different, even substantially different countries.

    That is exactly what we are saying about the Roman Church. Mere institutional continuity isn’t enough. Plenty of sects can trace some kind of institutional continuity back really, really, far.

    That’s all we’re saying. If God actually wants us to be able to know who’s in charge, then He made a government, same as any culture in any tradition ever.

    Okay. I agree God made a government. What I deny is that He invested this government with the automatic guaranteed gift of infallibility such that you know the church is infallible simply whenever it says it is infallible.

    St. Augustine actually made that argument. He basically said “if you can’t figure out where the Church is, just walk to the one that says it’s the Catholic Church.” It doesn’t require infallibility; it barely requires the power of reason. It’s not a quest for a super-powered infallible epistemology; the entire point is that God would have likely made it so easy that a child could do it. The fact that you might actually need a super-powered epistemology to derive an unambiguous normative sense from all of the words of Scripture is probably the best argument that sola scriptura was not God’s plan, assuming God is not stupid, cruel, evil, or oblivious to how normal humans operate.

    There’s nothing hard, then, about walking into a Protestant church and asking for their claims. My local church claims to be the catholic church. We just don’t claim to be the sole body that makes up the church catholic.

    If you don’t need a super-powered epistemology to be able to pick out Rome as the church Jesus founded, then neither do you need it to figure out what is normative in Scripture. To figure out Rome isn’t merely a matter of walking into a RC Church. Lots of churches claim to be the truth, to teach with divine authority, and to be the church Christ founded.

    You’re just hung up on the word “infallible” as if it means something other than “what God did.” Move off of the infallible part and onto the “what did God mean to set up” part.

    That’s exactly what I would love to do. What if God didn’t mean to set up a visible body that is infallible whenever it says it is infallible simply because it says it is infallible? You all assume that this must be the case. What we are saying is that your assumption is wrong, that God could just as well have intended not to set up an infallible church.

    Assuming that God actually wanted the society to function, what are the odds He delivered the law and then just left? This is the “ecclesial deism” thing that Bryan Cross loves to mention.

    And of course no Protestant I know believes that God delivered the law and just left. God has been with His church since day one. What that DOES NOT require is for the church to be infallible whenever it says it is infallible. That’s the point.

  273. Lane–

    You wrote:

    I can’t help but use the same argument against the Protestants who wants to claim that other Protestants are outside their tradition, while at the same time claiming that their tradition CAN claim to be founded by Jesus and his Apostles. Those two arguments cancel out. Either the liberal Protestant CAN claim to be a continuation of Protestant tradition, OR the Protestant can’t claim to be a continuation of the Catholic tradition. If the liberal Protestant’s radically changed claims put them outside of the Protestant tradition, than certainly all Protestants have put themselves outside the Catholic tradition when they themselves radically changed claims.

    We Protestants claim to be the valid continuation of the “church Christ founded” through a restoration of the claims and tenets of the early church, which we believe Rome perverted. We distance ourselves from liberal Protestants for the exact same reason, perversion of these Apostolic tenets. When you all speak of the “church Christ founded,” it has to do, first and foremost, with having a continuous administration rather than a continuous teaching. You do indeed claim continuous teaching, but you POINT to Apostolic Succession. (I’m not sure that in the entire history of mankind, continuous administration has ever produced continuity of teaching.)

    We don’t speak of the “church Luther founded” or the “church Calvin founded” as if these could be pointed to in a modern denomination. Both the Castle Church in Wittenberg (where Luther posted his 95 Theses) and St. Pierre’s in Geneva (where Calvin preached) are in liberal hands. Luther and Calvin would probably want them all burned at the stake! They are hardly “successors” just because they own the edifices of our heritage.

    The Deposit of Faith was to be “entrusted to faithful men.” This didn’t happen in the Church of Rome for long stretches at a time. You all make out like this isn’t important. Supposedly, the faith can be passed on just as well through faithless men, as long as they have had hands laid on them. Why not display the charism of infallibility even more pointedly and purposefully appoint faithless men? Sounds good to me.

  274. Jonathan–

    Best I can tell, Robin Phillips, on “Unpragmatic Thoughts,” is stating that both RC’s/EO’s AND Protestants are invoking PJ2 in discussing the Protestants’ commonly employed Tu Quoque argument. In other words, he is saying that the Protestant counter is valid and that EO’s should quit the pretense and embrace the PJ2 variety of “private judgment.”

  275. Eric,

    You’ll have to point out where Robin’s article touches the arguments made here or at CtC. I’ve cited Knox and Butler before. Jonathan cited Suarez. Aquinas has been cited. I’ve offered the NT believer example ad nauseum. None of them imply we don’t make a choice (Robin apparently ran into overzealous EOs, at least the monk had sense). The Protestant “counter” is not valid any more than when Svendsen brought it up 15 years ago or Salmon a century ago because it fails to grasp the point being made in the first place.

  276. James,

    The Protestant “counter” is not valid any more than when Svendsen brought it up 15 years ago or Salmon a century ago because it fails to grasp the point being made in the first place.

    No we get the point. What we’re trying to point out ad nauseam is that it is lame to accuse Protestants of lacking a principled means when you don’t have a principled means to pick your principled means.

  277. James–

    You are so right. I don’t grasp the point. IS there a point? Why has it never been articulated? Are we supposed to intuit it? Or is it a mystery revealed only to the initiated? Ooh, cool!!!

    (Quit making “ad nauseum” arguments and try a rational one.)

  278. Eric,

    To clarify pj1 is where the focus should be not pj2.

  279. Eric,

    You want another 500 comment rehash? RCs dont deny we choose. So the “counter” needs to do more work to get off ground

  280. Robert,

    Heres a hint – semper reformanda doesnt get you the principled means

  281. James–

    We are both working off of PJ2, so it is quite relevant, I would think.

    ANOTHER 500 comments? I’ve never seen you defend your Motives of Credulity with even 5 comments.

    If you don’t deny that you (fallibly) choose, then the Tu Quoque is valid.

    (You have never shown the slightest inkling of comprehension for Semper Reformanda.)

  282. Eric,

    Yeah I know – I cite confessions, Horton and other Reformed theologians, even yourself supporting my comprehension of semper reformanda but I haven’t the slightest inkling.

    If the tu quoque is meant to show that we fallibly choose, well congratulations on a powerful argument. You’ve shown we’re all human. Grass is green also.

    Instead of retyping 1500 comments, how about you reread this thread, then tell me how the fact that we choose affects any of the arguments or citations I or any others have brought forth. The fact that my citations of people like Knox and BC Butler in other earlier threads (which you’ve interacted with directly so there’s no excuse for ignorance) explicitly affirm we choose while in the same breath then also affirming the same type of arguments in this thread should be a hint that us choosing is …. not relevant to the argument. PJ1 is relevant to the argument though. It’s silly to keep reinventing the wheel every thread.

  283. Eric,

    Yeah I know. I’ve cited confessions, Horton and other Reformed theologians, even yourself in support of my comprehension of semper reformanda, but I haven’t the slightest inkling.

    If the tu quoque is meant to show we all choose, well congrats on a powerful argument. You’ve shown we’re all human. Grass is green too.

    Instead of retyping 1500 comments, how about you reread this thread and then show us how Robin’s article or the fact we all choose affects any of the arguments and citations I or others have brought forth. The fact that my citations of Knox and BC Butler in other earlier threads (quotes which you directly interacted with so there’s no excuse for ignorance) explicitly agree we choose while also then affirming in the same breath the type of arguments in this thread should be a clue that the fact we all choose is …. immaterial to the argument. PJ1 is relevant though. It’s silly to constantly reinvent the wheel every other thread (or in this case within the same thread itself).

  284. Oops sorry for double-post. Thought it got eaten up so rewrote from memory. Admins can delete either one.

  285. Oops sorry for double-post. Thought it got eaten up so rewrote from memory. Admins can delete either one.

  286. @Robert:

    No one is arguing that we do this alone. The denial of ecclesiastical infallibility has as its background the understanding that creation is actually fallen and that there are evil men even within the church.

    By that argument, then you should reject Biblical infallibility because fallen men capable of committing evil wrote Scripture. And you should reject Apostolic infallibility, because they were fallen men capable of committing evil. The point is that even fallen men with divine authority are infallible, because God is infallible. So you are denying that God has any authority or activity in the Church, which is ecclesial deism.

    Assuming the claims of various bodies are true, this is as true for my church as it is for the Rome or the East.

    No, it isn’t, because you don’t claim divine authority, so you can’t possibly claim continuity of the divine authority that you don’t have.

    This isn’t true for anyone. Apostolic succession as a universal continuous thing in the sense of the RC and the EO runs aground rather forcefully in the second century when the monoepiscopate was certainly NOT universal, especially in Rome. For Rome, the papacy implodes certainly with the Western schism and the excommunication of all Western Christians when each pope anathematized the other and his followers.

    Like I said, history is ugly and messy. Those things are unimpressive to me; continuity doesn’t mean regularity. I once went to a presentation by a conservative Catholic historian who quoted a description of the aftermath of Nicaea as “nothing but fighting and confusion.” The country didn’t end in the 2000 election between Bush and Gore, for example, even though the outcome wasn’t perfectly clear in advance. As to the early episcopacy, one could say the same thing about judicial review by the Supreme Court before Marbury v. Madison. Just because a power wasn’t exercised doesn’t mean it wasn’t authentically there. These are just bugaboos for the naive, not serious concerns for a realistic student of history.

    In any case, the argument proves too much, since it would disprove Christianity generally.

    Which of course doesn’t touch the Protestant view of the church.

    Besides, to draw a real comparison, the question we are asking is which government is more true to the vision of its founders. If you think that the modern US massive state is in any way the intention of the Constitution’s framers then you have another thing coming. Continuity between America of 2015 and 1789 is visible only. Virtually the entire thought process that birthed the country isn’t embraced anymore by our nation’s leaders. So while one can nominally claim that the America of today is the same as the America of 200 years ago, the reality is that they are far different, even substantially different countries.

    No, the point is that “which government is more true to the vision of its founders” has nothing to do with the legitimacy of the government. Try exercising your private judgment about the laws passed by the government after the time you believe it became a “different country.” I doubt it will go well for you. The government doesn’t lose its legitimacy because someone exercises his private judgment that it isn’t legitimate.

    But Protestantism doesn’t even claim to be the divine government, so it’s not even a contender. Hence, the analogy holds.

    That is exactly what we are saying about the Roman Church. Mere institutional continuity isn’t enough.

    I agree. It is merely a sine qua non, a necessary but not sufficient condition. Lack of institutional continuity, by contrast, is absolute proof that the institution was not established by God, and it can safely be ignored as a viable candidate for divine authority.

    Plenty of sects can trace some kind of institutional continuity back really, really, far.

    Plenty of Christian sects? Not really. When you pile on tests of doctrinal continuity, there are very few.

    Okay. I agree God made a government. What I deny is that He invested this government with the automatic guaranteed gift of infallibility such that you know the church is infallible simply whenever it says it is infallible.

    Then you don’t actually agree that God made a government. If God made a government, it would be infallible to the extent that He established it. Nor is the Church infallible at all times or under all circumstances on a whim, but only in those circumstances for which God made provision for authority.

    There’s nothing hard, then, about walking into a Protestant church and asking for their claims. My local church claims to be the catholic church. We just don’t claim to be the sole body that makes up the church catholic.

    If you don’t claim divine authority on behalf of God, then you aren’t claiming to be *the* Catholic Church. If you don’t claim to be the sole body that Jesus founded, then you aren’t claiming to be *the* Catholic Church. In other words, St. Augustine would say, based on his test, that your church was a false church, making a false claim of catholicity, and you should be disregarded.

    If you don’t need a super-powered epistemology to be able to pick out Rome as the church Jesus founded, then neither do you need it to figure out what is normative in Scripture.

    That depends. But without picking out the Church Jesus founded, I have no basis for the category Scripture, much less faith in it, so I wouldn’t even have reason to think that Scripture is normative, much less to think that I can extract the intended normative sense from it. Indeed, I would need to have a belief, which absolutely cannot be a presupposition, of how Scripture was intended to be normative before I could take any normative sense from it. The Church gives Scripture its normative sense; without the Church, Scripture has no normative sense.

    To figure out Rome isn’t merely a matter of walking into a RC Church. Lots of churches claim to be the truth, to teach with divine authority, and to be the church Christ founded.

    Hence the whole “two thousand years of institutional continuity in the claim” test. That is the reason that claims of a rival government to the United States, like the “sovereign individual” movement, are not believable. The claim of the federal government to be the government is vastly more plausible than any rival claim, just as the claim that either Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy is the government is vastly more plausible than any rival claim.

    That’s exactly what I would love to do. What if God didn’t mean to set up a visible body that is infallible whenever it says it is infallible simply because it says it is infallible? You all assume that this must be the case. What we are saying is that your assumption is wrong, that God could just as well have intended not to set up an infallible church.

    There’s no assumption; it’s a statement of what God, in fact, did or didn’t do. If God had not set up an infallible church, then He would not have intended to make an act of special revelation. That is because an infallible church is part of the definition of an act of divine revelation, because it is the establishment of a required normative authority, and a written law with no government is no law by definition. To speak of “divine revelation” without an infallible government is therefore not to speak of special divine revelation at all.

    So, yes, God could have just as well intended not to set up an infallible church, which would mean that God did not intend to reveal Himself. But there is no way for God to reveal Himself as an object of human faith without establishing an infallible church.

    And of course no Protestant I know believes that God delivered the law and just left. God has been with His church since day one.

    If you believe that, then because God is infallible, you must necessarily believe that He is acting infallibly in His church. But you don’t believe that, so you don’t actually believe that it is God acting in the church. You instead believe that it is man-made activity. But you’ve finally arrived at the point. If you believe that Scripture is the only infallible authority, that is completely equivalent to saying that God delivered the law and just left. From the perspective of ecclesial authority, you believe in deism. God gave infallible authority to the Apostles at the beginning, but once that was done, there is no continuing infallible authority.

    No we get the point. What we’re trying to point out ad nauseam is that it is lame to accuse Protestants of lacking a principled means when you don’t have a principled means to pick your principled means.

    That is why I referred to the article’s distinction between PJ2 (epistemic authority) and PJ1 (ecclesial authority). If principled means were about PJ2, then your argument would old, and the Catholic argument would be a bad one. But the Catholic argument is about PJ1, namely, where is the divine authority necessary to establish a government for the Church? You yourself said that God needed to establish a government, but if God establishes a government, it by definition has divine authority and (therefore) infallibility. So another way to speak of the principled means is to say, where is the government that God established? Protestantism is essentially the principle of divine anarchy (i.e., that there is no government in the Church), because it asserts that every authority is fallible (and therefore not divine).

  287. @Eric:

    Best I can tell, Robin Phillips, on “Unpragmatic Thoughts,” is stating that both RC’s/EO’s AND Protestants are invoking PJ2 in discussing the Protestants’ commonly employed Tu Quoque argument. In other words, he is saying that the Protestant counter is valid and that EO’s should quit the pretense and embrace the PJ2 variety of “private judgment.”

    Yes, we agree that no one should make the PJ2 argument, and to the extent anybody does it (Catholic or Orthodox), it is vulnerable to the tu quoque.

    What should also be abundantly clear is that no Catholic at CCC or CtC is making the PJ2 argument. We are all making the PJ1 argument, i.e., that individuals would be unreasonable in the exercise of their private judgment to judge themselves to be the divine authority in the Church. In other words, it doesn’t follow from the fact that we are all epistemically fallible that there is no such thing as divine authority. PJ1 is not PJ2.

  288. +JMJ+

    Eric wrote:

    If you don’t deny that you (fallibly) choose, then the Tu Quoque is valid.

    The difference is that we don’t fallibly choose whilst presupposing Christian Identity.

    To the contrary, we fallibly choose whilst presupposing merely Human (or Natural or Rational) Identity, whilst presupposing that we’re nothing more than a man amongst men.

  289. Jonathan–

    But that’s the point. Protestants do not acknowledge PJ1 as authoritative. We are all arguing PJ2, and thus the tu quoque, by your own admission, stands.

  290. Eric,

    “We are all arguing PJ2 ”

    RCs here are not and never have been arguing PJ2. The tu quoque is therefore irrelevant in the context of these discussions. Why is this so difficult?

  291. James–

    Protestants here are not and never have been arguing PJ1. In terms of PJ2, we are all in the same boat. That has been our point all along.

  292. Eric,

    PJ1 is entailed by your confessions disclaimers and your rejection of ongoing divine authority (infallibility) and normative binding irreformable interpretation/teaching. That’s been our point all along. If you don’t argue PJ1, you would make similar claims of authority as Rome/EO does, not actively reject them. PJ2 simply does not address the argument at all and is a red herring.

  293. @Eric:
    There’s no way to avoid PJ1. If you deny outside divine authority, you implicitly claim it for yourself. If you don’t claim divine authority for yourself and if you deny outside ecclesial divine authority, then your faith is fideistic and therefore irrational.

    That’s essentially the point of the argument. There’s nothing wrong with using PJ2 to identify an outside authority. But if you use your PJ2 to arrive at the conclusion that there is no outside divine authority, then you’re behaving irrationally, meaning that you should know your PJ2 is wrong. Even by the standards of PJ2, you should know that Protestantism is false. You aren’t acting within your epistemic rights to believe it, just as the “sovereign individual” isn’t acting within his epistemic rights in denying the legitimacy of the federal government.

  294. James/Jonathan–

    That is exactly the point, gentlemen.

    Though you presuppose that we do, we DO NOT reject the ongoing gift of divine authority to the church. And our teachings are more irreformable than yours. (Demonstrably, they have changed far less in the last 500 years.)

  295. JMJ

    Eric,

    Except on contraception, right?

  296. Eric,

    And I guess all the variety of theological views held by (dozens, hundreds, thousands? of) different denominations were held 500 hundred years ago as well?

  297. “Though you presuppose that we do, we DO NOT reject the ongoing gift of divine authority to the church.”

    Providing that particular church or branch of the Church passes muster with your private opinion, right?

    ( Ladies and Gentlemen, Eric is half Anglican, half Baptist, half Lutheran ( He is Confirmed as both an Anglican and a Lutheran )..
    He receives Communion in a variety of churches with beliefs ranging anywhere from Transubstantiation to calling the Host a “Death Wafer”. Until he he decides just what church he belongs to, he should be disregarded as a kucklehead, )

  298. @Eric:
    Good. Then for that divine authority, who speaks infallibly in the name of God, and when?

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