Scott Eric Alt61p
219 comments posted · 254 followers · following 0
No, I\'m not a radical traditionalist. :)
On the last question, the distinction between a discipline and a doctrine is a difficult one for some to wrap their minds around. A pope can change the discipline of fasting during Lent without changing the commandment that we should fast in some way.
Take, to begin with, the discussion of Matt. 16:18. Christ says, "On this rock, I will build my Church." In other words, Christ is pointing to a Church which He is to begin. Your response to that consists of two parts. The first is to say, "Well, that's is just an interpretation." The difficulty in saying that is, first, that I never claimed that it was not an interpretation---I merely said that was an infallible one. The claim, "That's just an interpretation," in other words, proves nothing. It does not explain why the interpretation is faulty, and ultimately relies on a hermeneutic of indeterminacy. If all you can do is retreat to "just an interpretation," eventually that leads to the conclusion that truth can not be known; all we have is interpretation. And indeed, that is precisely the problem with Protestantism. By saying that all interpretations are fallible, one is led to a state of absurdity in which truth can never be known for sure. So unless you can say why the Catholic interpretation of Matt. 16:18 is wrong, you have not answered any argument. You've simply thrown rhetorical smoke into the air.
Your second response to Matt. 16:18 is to say, "Well, not all Church fathers agreed with that interpretation." Of course, the three problems here are these; (1) the only thing I said about that verse was that it points to the Church---difficult to argue against when Christ uses that very word; (2) you don't cite a single Church father who held to a different interpretation of the passage; (3) No Catholic argues, in the first place, that all Church fathers needed to unanimously hold to some particular position. That there are theological and biblical differences of opinion among theologians is quite well known. The point, rather, is that it is the role of the Church, if the unity of the faith is at stake, to intervene and settle those questions with infallible certainty. Once more, you are not addressing yourself to the real issue here, and are simply throwing around the rhetorical smoke.
After a digression in which you quote the words of James White as though they are a mantra that mystically disprove Catholicism, you mention the need for "a sure source of Truth" to tell us who God will guide into all the truth. I'm not sure what you're attempting to say here, since no one's disputing the need for "a sure source of Truth." Catholics and Protestants agree that the Bible is "a sure source of Truth," and in my earlier reply to you, I mentioned 1 Timothy 3:15 for the assurance that the Church is "the pillar and ground of truth." But you don't address 1 Timothy 3:15, so I'm left uncertain as to where you are going.
The Bible has already told us who the Holy Spirit will lead into "all the truth"; Christ is speaking to the apostles, in whose charge He left the building of the Church, and who in turn commissioned others as successors (cf. 1 Tim. 4:14, 1 Tim. 5:22). You correctly note that the issue is what God has determined to do, not what God can do. I'm not sure what the quotation from "Star Trek" adds to an observation that Catholics already agree with; and again, all you are engaging in here is rhetorical smoke, since you do not give an alternative reading of John 16:13, or explain why it does not mean what the Church says it means.
At the end of this section, you say that God preserved the Church by "raising up men," but does that not in fact prove the Catholic claim? Note: You do not say that God preserved the Church by "recording Scripture," but by "raising up men." In other words, he relies on the teaching authority of individuals.
When moving to Luke 10:16, you again engage in the smoke of "that's just interpretation" and "you don't have a proven source of Truth to validate that." The hermeneutic of indeterminacy here does not help you in proposing a credible alternative reading (which you do not give), and instead only establishes the truth of what Mr. Rose's book already claims about Protestantism---that is, that it has nowhere to go except to one man's interpretation vs. another's, with no way to judge between them. Catholics do not have this problem of indeterminacy, because we do not say that when the Church speaks it is "interpretation," but rather that it is truth.
From there, you go into a tangent about extra ecclesiam nulla salus and how it applies to Ted Kennedy. Extra ecclesiam nulla salus does not mean that one must be Catholic to be saved; nor does it mean that you will be saved if you are Catholic. What it does mean is that the sacraments of the Church are the ordinary means by which God made salvation possible. But the Church has long recognized that God is not bound by the sacraments and can save without them. He made the sacraments for man, not man for the sacraments. At the same time, the Church also says that only "invicible ignorance" that the Catholic Church was the Church founded by Christ can save those outside the Church, and that if one knows that the Catholic Church was in fact founded by Christ, he is obligated to become Catholic lest he put his salvation in jeopardy. The Church also says that no one except for God knows the condition of a man's heart at the time of death, and the Church does not say with any certainty that such and such a person is in Heaven or in Hell, except in the limited circumstance of canonization.
Next you note that "Catholicism is in division," which essentially proves nothing other than that there are "Catholics" who rebel against Church teaching and somehow still consider themselves to be Catholic. That's called freedom of the will. But the fact that one can say with certainty who is in rebellion (Nancy Pelosi comes to mind) indicates that one can in fact know for certain what the Church teaches and can use that as a measuring stick to say who is rebellion. A sola scriptura Protestant can not say this with the same degree of certainty; what one Protestant says is conformity with the Bible, another says is rebellion against the Bible. But with respect to Church teaching, you pretty much know who consents to it and who does not.
Your claim that Catholics "also lack an infallible interpreter" is mere assertion without any argumentation or evidence to back it up. Your quotation from Cardinal Ratzinger is incomplete and taken out of context. For Ratzinger also went on to say that individual conscience is not "an autonomous and exclusive authority for deciding the truth of a doctrine," and affirmed the teaching of Vatican II (in Donum Veritatis) that, before an individual can be said to have a conscience, it must be developed in conformity with Church teaching.
And finally, your claim that an infallible magisterium would leave us uncertain which books of Scripture were truly inspired is simply incoherent. Not even R.C. Sproul would agree with you on that one, since he conceded that without an infallible Magisterium, the Bible is simply a "fallible collection."
1. The assurance is Matt. 16:18 ("on this rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell will not prevail"), John 16:13 ("He will guide you into all truth"), and 1 Tim 3:15 (the Church is "the pillar and ground of the truth").
It is not at all that Catholics look to the Church alone ("sola ecclesia," as James White never tires of saying) to establish its authority self-reflexively. Rather it is Christ and Paul, in the Bible, who point us to the authority and infallibility of the Church. He will guide you into all truth. If the Holy Spirit could guide Peter to write infallible scripture, he could also guide him to teach infallibly as pope and can guide his successors to infallibly guard the full deposit of faith.
2. Yes, that is my position, and the authority for that view is Luke 10:16: "Whoever hears you hears me and whoever rejects you rejects him who sent me."
That is also the testimony of the Fathers:
St. Irenaeus in Against Heresies 3:24:1: "For where the Church is, there is the Spirit of God; and where the Spirit of God is, there is the Church, and every kind of grace; but the Spirit is truth. Those, therefore, who do not partake of Him, are neither nourished into life from the mother's breasts, nor do they enjoy that most limpid fountain which issues from the body of Christ; but they dig for themselves broken cisterns out of earthly trenches, and drink putrid water out of the mire, fleeing from the faith of the Church lest they be convicted; and rejecting the Spirit, that they may not be instructed."
Origen in Homilies on Joshua 3:5: "Let no one, then, be persuaded otherwise, nor let anyone deceive himself: Outside of this house, that is, outside of the Church, no one is saved; for, if anyone should go out of it, he is guilty of his own death."
And St. Cyprian in The Unity of the Catholic Church 6: "Whoever is separated from the Church and is joined with an adulteress is separated from the promises of the Church, nor will he who has abandoned the Church arrive at the rewards of Christ. He is a stranger; he is profane; he is an enemy. He cannot have God as a father who does not have the Church as a mother."
The idea that the Bible can be interpreted independently of the Church is a novelty of the 16th century.
3. Because of Christ's promise on John 16:13, we have the assurance that the Holy Spirit will prevent the Church from leading us astray. We all still have free will and can reject what the Church says.
I understand that Protestants consult commentaries and such to help with understanding, but the Protestant also says they are fallible and he is not necessarily bound by them. If a Protestant can reject any interpretation anyone gives on that basis, then he is his own authority and there is no getting around that.