When Logic Is Delusional

Sure, I find Bryan Cross’s grading of all my utterances for logical correctness annoying. But aside from my own mental inadequacies, I have trouble understanding how logic can be such a part of the apologetic tactic Bryan (along with Jason and the Callers) brings to the interweb. Have these fellows not heard of Vatican’s Sacred Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith or what this congregation said about doctrinal formulations and hermeneutics? Consider this:

First Question: Did the Second Vatican Council change the Catholic doctrine on the Church?

Response: The Second Vatican Council neither changed nor intended to change this doctrine, rather it developed, deepened and more fully explained it.

This was exactly what John XXIII said at the beginning of the Council.[1] Paul VI affirmed it and commented in the act of promulgating the Constitution “Lumen gentium”: “There is no better comment to make than to say that this promulgation really changes nothing of the traditional doctrine. What Christ willed, we also will. What was, still is. What the Church has taught down through the centuries, we also teach. In simple terms that which was assumed, is now explicit; that which was uncertain, is now clarified; that which was meditated upon, discussed and sometimes argued over, is now put together in one clear formulation.” The Bishops repeatedly expressed and fulfilled this intention.

This 2007 explanation, of course, fits entirely with the idea of development of doctrine even if it doesn’t fit with Bryan’s appeal to logic. Part of the difficulty on the latter matter concerns whether what the CDF said in 2007 follows logically from the premise established by Pius X roughly 100 years earlier when he required of any priest an Oath against Modernism which contained this:

Fourthly, I sincerely hold that the doctrine of faith was handed down to us from the apostles through the orthodox Fathers in exactly the same meaning and always in the same purport. Therefore, I entirely reject the heretical’ misrepresentation that dogmas evolve and change from one meaning to another different from the one which the Church held previously. I also condemn every error according to which, in place of the divine deposit which has been given to the spouse of Christ to be carefully guarded by her, there is put a philosophical figment or product of a human conscience that has gradually been developed by human effort and will continue to develop indefinitely.

This is merely the policy that followed from Pius X’s condemnation of Modernism and the notion of evolution of doctrine (13).

Maybe someone schooled in upper level logic can reconcile development of doctrine (A) with a condemnation of development of doctrine (not A). Curious minds do want to know. But perhaps Bryan along with Jason and the Callers should consider one of their fellow converts from a semi-Reformed Protestant background who might judge their high view of logic as just one more instance of Protestant rationalism and logocentrism:

For evangelicals, things say what they mean and mean what they say. Lines are drawn, people get clear on where they stand, and clarity and consistency throughout is paramount. That is its literal, either/or, univocal approach at work again. that view also reflects Protestantism central emphasis on the word. . . . Correct words, for Protestants — particularly for evangelical rationalists — are therefore nearly themselves sacred, because Christian truth itself is presented directly in the right words.

Catholics also care very much about right words. But their approach to words is a bit different in a way that turns out to make a big difference. Catholicism, in short, recognizes a gap between words and what the words express or represent. For Protestants, the words are the truth. That is why one must get them exactly right. For Catholics, by contrast, words formulate expressions of truth. There is not in Catholicism a literal, exact, univocal correspondence or identity between words and truth. Much of the truth, especially truth that directly concerns God, is in Catholicism a mystery. Ultimately the truth is God. And God is not words. (Christian Smith, How to Go from Being a Good Evangelical to a Committed Catholic, 104-105)

Tell that to Pius X.

Smith goes on to quote from the CDF (quoted above) and goes on to say:

Catholicism can thus at once claim infallibility for some of its teachings and at the same time revise the verbal expression of those teachings. Even the doctrine of papal infallibility does not claim that the verbal formulations per se that are promulgated by popes are infallible. Rather, it is the real truths which their verbal formulations express that are infallible. In short, we haven’t gotten at all wrong what we say is true, even though the way we say the truth might not be quite right or adequate. (106-107)

I for one don’t know what Smith’s hermeneutic means for the status and authority of a papal encyclical or for Bryan Cross’ love of logic, but it has all the marks of theological modernism and the way that Protestant and Roman Catholic liberals said that words and their meanings wobbled across time without needing to be pinned down. H. L. Mencken, by no means a Protestant or a Roman Catholic, like Pius X saw through the hockum of modernism and recognized its threat to all forms of knowledge:

I confess frankly, as a life-long fan of theology, that I can find no defect in his defense of his position. Is Christianity actually a revealed religion? If not, then it is nothing; if so, then we must accept the Bible as an inspired statement of its principles. But how can we think of the Bible as inspired and at the same time as fallible? How can we imagine it as part divine and awful truth, and part mere literary confectionary? And how, if we manage so to imagine it, are we to distinguish between the truth and the confectionary? Dr. Machen answers these questions very simply and very convincingly. If Christianity is really true, as he believes, then the Bible is true, and if the Bible is true, then it is true from cover to cover. So answering, he takes his stand upon it, and defies the hosts of Beelzebub to shake him. As I have hinted, I think that, given his faith, his position is completely impregnable. There is absolutely no flaw in the argument with which he supports it. If he is wrong, then the science of logic is a hollow vanity, signifying nothing.


46 thoughts on “When Logic Is Delusional

  1. Darryl,

    Maybe someone schooled in upper level logic can reconcile development of doctrine (A) with a condemnation of development of doctrine (not A).

    Sure. The argument you are making is equivocating on the term “development of doctrine.” The type of DOD condemned is not the type of DOD affirmed. The former does not require any preservation of the truth handed down; the latter does, however required complete fidelity to the truth handed down, while explicating that truth more clearly and with deeper understanding.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

    In the peace of


  2. Darryl, this whole dialogue has served as a microcosm of what happens to papal authority when it no longer has the sword of the state. It’s about as unwieldy as trying to make the internet community conform to your think-speak(schoolmarmy syllogism). However, I do think, at this point, since all of the former cradles now protestant and even current cradles from First Things to NCR to the Network to the Oblates to Pope Francis don’t want to claim the CtC crew, that in the spirit of charity and taking responsibility for some of the inevitable results of homeschooling, It’s up to you to go reclaim your prodigals and return them to Keller,and the FVers at the orphanage for the illegitimate children of monocovenantalism. Or the PCA whichever you run across first.

    My religious heritage has enough trouble for five lifetimes, the last thing they need are new puppies treating the ‘Tradition’ as their chew toy.


  3. Small minded as I am, I tend to focus on consistency of practice. I’d love to know why the Romanists initially served the laity both elements of the sacrament, then only one, then both again. Is this development, evolution, or just plain error?


  4. This demand for pure logic in all communication reminds me of a chat with certain people on a certain Saturday morning a few years ago.

    They also kept insisting on LOGIC LOGIC LOGIC until I asked them if they really felt they were the a heavenly gift to mankind to support and defend logic seeing as they were members of a cult, spending their Saturdays doing what they were doing…



  5. Darryl, if I may be of some assistance with this.

    Probably the most egregious bit of “development” in the sense that Bryan is talking about is the one that is ostensibly a complete reversal of the phrase “no salvation outside of the church”.

    This is accomplished by some fanciful prestidigitation that Cyprian and Augustine could not have known about and may not have even approved.

    These men said “there is no salvation outside of the church”. And Christians for many generations took this at face value.

    The “doctrinal truth” contained therein was of course, always the same. But there are multiple “developments” that came “after further review”, as it were.

    The first of these is that “church” for Cyprian and Augustine did not mean “the Roman Catholic hierarchy”. But this is what “further review” has yielded.

    Then, Aquinas said something about “the sufficiency of an implicit desire for baptism” (see Francis Sullivan’s work on this topic).

    Then Pius IX talked about those living in “invincible ignorance” but “assiduously observing natural law and its precepts which God has inscribed in the hearts of all, and being ready to obey God, live an honest and upright life can, through the working of the divine light and grace, attain eternal life”. Only, in fact, guys like me, “contumacious against the authority and definitions of [the Roman Catholic Church]” don’t get that Pelagian pass [which appears “for the first time in history” according to Sullivan, 114].

    Leave it to the first infallible Pope to find this little loophole.

    Then, it was discovered that “the Roman Catholic Church”, meaning of course, “the Roman Catholic Hierarchy” is “the universal sacrament of salvation”. This too was a fact not known to Cyprian and Augustine.

    Thus, now that “the Church”, that is “The Roman Catholic Hierarchy” is “The Universal Sacrament of Salvation” — somehow, just somehow, its flow of good graces flows to all who “nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience – those too may achieve eternal salvation.”

    So it’s not a matter of something being A and ~A at the same time — the earlier church fathers just didn’t know everything that the infallible Pope Pius knew.

    [They avoid the charge of Pelagianism because God first gives the “grace” of “the Roman Catholic Church”.]

    They have had a long time to think about all of this. This is why you can hear Bryan say the words “not inconsistent with” so frequently. This kind of convoluted thinking passes for something that is “logically consistent” with itself.


  6. The question over there was “If you became convinced sola scriptura was neither intellectually coherent or scriptural, what would you do?”

    In truth, “the One True Church” was “neither intellectually coherent [nor] Scriptural”. Not just with “outside the church” but with a whole lot of other stuff. In that case, you have a Reformation. And you rely on the one “intellectually coherent and Scriptural” source you have, and that’s Scripture.


  7. Darryl, I’m all twisted up. This running dialogue with CtC has me feeling jealous for the RC of my yute and how I need to save it from Bryan. This is all some terrible greek tragedy.


  8. Bryan,

    I think, for sake of clarity, we could use specifics. Since you and I are “in the season,” as it were, perhaps we could expand all this theoretical talk about development into something concrete–like the Assumption/Dormition of Mary (I can just hear Erik’s skin crawling right now). Please note: I am not making an argument here. I offer my own meditations here and simply seek your input.

    First, I shall offer what I think is a very succinct definition of DD, from Dei Verbum:
    “tradition which comes from the Apostles develops in the Church with the help of the Holy Spirit. For there is a growth in the understanding of the realities and the words which have been handed down. This happens through the contemplation and study made by believers, who treasure these things in their hearts (see Luke, 2:19, 51) through a penetrating understanding of the spiritual realities which they experience, and through the preaching of those who have received through episcopal succession the sure gift of truth. For as the centuries succeed one another, the Church constantly moves forward toward the fullness of divine truth until the words of God reach their complete fulfillment in her.”

    In your response to DG, you write, “the latter does, however required complete fidelity to the truth handed down, while explicating that truth more clearly and with deeper understanding.”

    So here’s where I’m going: It’s my understanding that the only teaching the CC has had declared infallibly is the Assumption of Mary. But in this declaration the question about whether Mary had died a bodily death or was assumed without having tasted death was left in the air by PPXII. So this means that regarding this infallible dogma (the only one?) individuals in the same parish are allowed to believe two very different things about Mary (though no doubt they must agree that she was bodily assumed). I don’t find any crisis of faith in this sort of thing, mind you; I just find it odd. Did she or did she not die a bodily death? When I look at the various expressions of DD in DV, I wonder if the “true” teaching on this matter will ever be pronounced, since in the very definition cited above “the Church constantly moves forward toward the fullness of divine truth until the words of God reach their complete fulfillment in her.” Isn’t there true Christological import in whether or not she died a bodily death, just as her Son had and just as we will? I mean this next question in all honesty: did the Holy Spirit withhold this revelation from the CC until a later time, or did He simply withhold this information? Or was part of the deeper understanding of Tradition simply that we just don’t know whether or not she died a bodily death?

    Thanks for any clarification.


  9. Bryan – Sure. The argument you are making is equivocating on the term “development of doctrine.” The type of DOD condemned is not the type of DOD affirmed. The former does not require any preservation of the truth handed down; the latter does, however required complete fidelity to the truth handed down, while explicating that truth more clearly and with deeper understanding.

    Erik – So we should see the Church getting better & better, then, as time passes? Is this what we see? The further we get away from Christ and Peter does that make sense? These are subjective questions, I realize, but I just don’t think that explanation passes the smell test.


  10. What is an example of the type of DOD condemned?

    And might Popes of different ages differ on the type of DOD condemned and the type of DOD affirmed?

    And would we explain the difference between the two popes on DOD to be an example of DOD?


  11. Benjamin – Honestly, Dr. Hart, I’m not sure where you’re going. At first you had an argument that would entail the falsity of Catholicism. Now I’m not even sure if you’re giving arguments anymore, much less arguments showing Catholicism to be false. Speaking for myself, I want to believe true things. If Protestantism is true, I want to be Protestant. But I became Catholic because I found the arguments on this site (and from other resources) to be sound. If you’ve got some whiz bang knock down argument to present, I’d love to read it. But most of what you’ve written lately is just irrelevant to whether or not Catholicism is true – and that’s the million dollar question, isn’t it?

    Erik – I think part of our point is that if you think you are Catholic because you’ve found a “better argument”, you’re kidding yourself. You are just accepting different faith-based propositions than you were before. The Motives of Credibility purport to be rational and not fideistic, but they’re not. You have to presuppose Catholic doctrine to find them credible. This is why you (and perhaps us as well) need to lose the attitude of intellectual superiority and the (in your case) “I’ve found the one true church that Christ founded schtick”. I think this is what Hart might be getting at in comparing First Things and Francis the Nice to CTC.


  12. Benjamin,

    And if Catholic arguments are so superior to Reformed arguments, then why are we always getting our “paradigm” thrown in our faces whenever we make an argument? If things we are saying are clearly not true they should be easily falsifiable using either your paradigm or ours. The answer is that religious truth claims (at least those with any age on them) are generally not falsifiable, that’s why we read about them in the religion section of the bookstore and not the physics section. So again, if some of CTC’s writers would just lose the attitude we could all get along a lot better.


  13. Justin – You have evaded the real question. The real “crisis of faith” is not that Roman Catholics disagree as to whether or not Mary died physically before she was “Assumed” into heaven. The “crisis”, in fact, the travesty is that a 20th century pope would canonize a 5th century fiction into a dogma.

    Consider R.P.C. Hanson, “Tradition in the Early Church” (pgs 258–259):

    Tertullian can write a long treatise of sixty-three chapters On the Resurrection of the Dead, mentioning and discussing the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the raising of Lazarus, the translation without death of Enoch and of Elijah, the returning from the dead of Moses for the Transfiguration, and even the preservation from what was humanly speaking certain death of the three young men in the fiery furnace and of Jonah in the whale’s belly. He does not once even slightly mention, he does not once remotely and uncertainly hint at, the resurrection or corporeal assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Tertullian quite clearly, like all his contemporaries and predecessors, had never heard of this story.

    Hanson prefaces this statement by saying “If the dogma of the corporeal assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary involves the belief in an historical fact (as well, of course, as the interpretation of fact), in some manner analogous to the dependence of the doctrine of the resurrection of Christ upon historical fact, then it can have no support whatever in the tradition of the Church of this period. If it is a fact, it is a fact wholly unknown to the writers of the second and third centuries.”

    And yet, the “infallible Magisterium” of the 20th century knows enough about this event to include this non-event to be within the “formal proximate object of faith”. There is now no question [for Roman Catholics, this historical non-event was to be now] a true event. Even though “this idea first made its appearance in the fifth-century Coptic Christianity under marked Gnostic influence.”

    Hanson’s argument is dismissed as an “argument from silence”. But arguments from silence are not always a logical fallacy, and that my citation of Hanson meets the conditions by which this is a valid argument.

    According to Gilbert Garraghan (“A Guide to Historical Method”, 1946, p. 149), in order to be valid, an “argument from silence” must fulfill two conditions: the writer[s] whose silence is invoked would certainly have known about it; [and] knowing it, he would under the circumstances certainly have made mention of it.

    “When these two conditions are fulfilled, the argument from silence proves its point with moral certainty”.

    As to the first condition, Tertullian was certainly one of the most prolific writers of the second and third centuries. We know very little about the early church that he did not know. Tertullian is an author whose works Bryan accepts (see his comment #14, for example).

    And Tertullian certainly knows who Mary was, as the mother of Christ. Tertullian.org gives this summary of the ways that Tertullian mentioned Mary:

    Tertullian is orthodox on the virgin birth. He does not maintain the later ideas of Mary ever-virgin, but believes that Christ had a normal birth, and that his brothers were his brothers, and not his cousins as later Fathers were to maintain. Helvidius later invoked this statement by Tertullian as an authority, but was denied by Jerome curtly in the words “As to Tertullian, I have nothing else to say except that he was not a man of the church”.

    Tertullian was certainly in a better position to know than was Jerome.

    If Mary were held with any kind of esteem during the period when Tertullian lived and worked, he certainly would have known about it. And yet there is no mention of Mary in his works.

    Second, Tertullian’s clear intention was to describe every instance [“sixty three chapters”!] “On the Resurrection of the Dead”, certainly provided a comprehensive overview in every other person who came close to a near-death experience and was revived, mentioning a large number of individuals, both from the Old Testament (Enoch, Elijah, Daniel and Jonah) and from recent memory (Jesus and Lazarus). Tertullian mentioned EVERY instance but this one in question. It is safe to say that it was unknown in Tertullian’s time.

    Thus, the so called argumentam ad silencium that I presented (via Hanson) was not a fallacy, but a valid argument. Under those conditions, we can certainly say that “the Assumption of Mary”, as it appeared in later Gnostic works, was certainly a non-event in history. And we may say so with “moral certainty”.

    The world mocks Christ; but this Roman practice of turning myth into dogma (the papacy is another one) piles needless difficulty upon the difficulties that are inherent in the Christian faith. This is why Roman Catholicism must be opposed.

    And this is the truth that you evade when you say “it’s no crisis of faith that Roman Catholics disagree on whether or not Mary died”.

    You simply evade and ignore the real question.


  14. Sidebar issue, but perhaps still relevant to the point: If that link from Zenit and what it has to say about V2 is still valid, then what did those evangelicals who willingly waded into the ECT 1&2 conundrum find capitulating about the RCC’s POV on the anathemas of Trent? Seems to me like the more things change the more they stay the same (as though that cliche isn’t getting old or anything).


  15. What strikes me the most about this dialogue is the shared narcissistic earnestness of the C2C crowd and the theonomists like Doug (or Bahnsen).

    From my perspective, the core of these folks’ religious quest is a search for black-and-white certainty. They seem to operate with the assumption that truth is to be found with the religious system that permits the least ambiguity and does so in a way that isn’t overtly arbitrary.

    In my experience, a fair number of theonomists and RCC converts have grown up in legalistic and/or fundamentalist backgrounds. In short, they grew up within a religious world that had an answer for everything. Those answers were often stupid, and seemingly arbitrary. But they were answers. As these guys grew as Christians, they saw through the charade, and went in search of something more substantive. They lighted on Reformed theology. But, in the end, Reformed theology just couldn’t provide the certainty that they demanded.

    Theonomists lurch toward a wooden (and clumsy) biblicism because they fear the ambiguity that is inherent in reasoning from general revelation. They shudder at the thought that good Christians could come to opposite views on a political issues and remain good Christians. In the theonomist’s view, 2K theology must therefore be rejected because it can’t resolve these kinds of differences.

    The C2C folks have probably given some thought to theonomy, but they are astute enough to see its shortcomings. They recognize that biblicism has its limits, and that natural reasoning can’t be dismissed as readily as the theonomists desire. But they still crave certainty. So, the RCC, its Magisterium, and its papal encyclicals are the cure for the ambiguity.

    I’m probably painting with a bit too broad a brush. But I don’t see this kind of earnestness from those of us who grew up in non-evangelical Reformed (or semi-Reformed) backgrounds. We have learned to live with the ambiguity that comes from the fact that we are yet eschatological pilgrims dwelling far from home. Oddly enough, most cradle Catholics are also comfortable with such ambiguities, and tend to take umbrage at their church’s efforts to bind their consciences on things that are simply not the church’s business. So, the C2C crowd has devoted itself to a kind of idealized Catholicism that departs widely from the main of RCC faith and practice.


  16. Bingo, Bobby. The theonomic and CtC reasoning has an intriguing parallel. The former is unsatisfied with natural revelation to govern civil life and so wants an infallible text to save the day, the latter is unsatisfied with special revelation to govern ecclesial life and so wants an infallible man to settle matters. Neither seems able to come to terms with the ambiguities of being human and having to interpret and sometimes getting it wrong.


  17. Justin J,

    Did she or did she not die a bodily death? When I look at the various expressions of DD in DV, I wonder if the “true” teaching on this matter will ever be pronounced, since in the very definition cited above “the Church constantly moves forward toward the fullness of divine truth until the words of God reach their complete fulfillment in her.” Isn’t there true Christological import in whether or not she died a bodily death, just as her Son had and just as we will?

    I agree, and have written about this in comment #160 of the Solemnity of the Assumption thread on CTC.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan


  18. Sure. The argument you are making is equivocating on the term “development of doctrine.” The type of DOD condemned is not the type of DOD affirmed. The former does not require any preservation of the truth handed down; the latter does, however required complete fidelity to the truth handed down, while explicating that truth more clearly and with deeper understanding.

    The first line has got to be the laugh leader of a whole host of yuks in the cbox.

    What our good doctor doesn’t quite get yet is that DevlopDoct is itself an equivocation, if not an equivocation about equivocation.
    Performatively it is the RC surrogate for G&N consequences w.o. the G&N consequences as demonstrated by the imprimatur challenged set on the innernet independently judgementing, pontificating and assumptioning about the virgin Mary.

    In short, stay tuned for more developments updates separated brethren.
    And remember. Keep your powder dry, your candles lit and your rosaries mumbled, because it’s all good in a Roman world.


  19. Thanks, John, but the communion at CTC is so intellectually satisfying.

    I see, said the blind man, what you mean.

    C____C_____ August 11th, 2013 10:14 pm :
    …..I do think he’s missing out for not having a devotion to the image of Divine Mercy associated with Sister Faustina Kowalska, but I’m biased since I’m half-Polish.

    What some would take for excelsior cannot be excrement, because . . . .

    Never mind.


  20. Bryan,

    You and I would disagree on reasons of immortality, original sin, and the immaculate conception. But all of that would be rabbit trails. The reason I brought up the Assumption of Mary was not to see where you stood with regards to her dying or not. Rather, I was simply pointing out an oddity: that the only infallible teaching actually helped to give a foothold to personal opinion rather than to define it–“explicating that truth more clearly and with deeper understanding”–with clarity for the faithful.

    It seems to me that one can see the effects of this infallible declaration in at least two ways: 1) there where we actually can have an infallible adjudicator on a theological issue of import (you have written about the Christological importance of the Assumption), said infallible adjudicator left it to personal opinion. Who adjudicates this? And isn’t this THE trump card with regards to Catholic Paradigm versus Protestant Paradigm? 2) If one holds to Development of Doctrine, and PPXII held silence regarding Mary’s death, and didn’t make the very argument you (and JPII), then what has developed here? If the East (Oriental, Orthodox, and Catholics) all teach Mary’s repose, then it seems like PPXII’s silence has developed something new dogmatically. If a Catholic is allowed to believe she did not die, then is there not a possibility that this view will develop in such a way that it becomes the position of the Church? At some point, an infallible declaration has to move past personal opinion, right? She either died or she didn’t.

    Again, to put it all back into context of DG’s initial point about development: if DD never introduces anything novel, and if an infallible teaching acts as the theological adjudicator par excellence, then it seems we’re at an impasse in one of two ways as outlined above: Mary’s bodily assumption before death is an innovation (and has troubling Christological implications); by remaining silent on the issue, the Magesterium has not adjudicated in such a way that personal opinion is cast to the side. Put it another way: aren’t Catholics essentially Protestants with regards to Mary’s death before her Assumption? Hasn’t the Church spoken infallibly that it’s a matter of opinion? How does an infallible teaching like this get developed without contradicting itself–i.e., if the Church agrees with your comment #160 and declares one opinion correct and the other incorrect, one would think this is a development as novelty/contradiction.


  21. Erik – Of the close to 3,000 Q&A’s in the Roman Catholic catechism, how many would you say are things that the Church has taught with her full authority?

    Jason – I fail to see how that question is relevant to my overall point, which is that I wrote the post in question so as to counter Hart’s claim that all we converts talk about is the rosy parts of the CC, while never being willing to admit there are problems.

    Erik – Does that mean you can’t or won’t answer my question? I’m not asking for an exact count. What I am getting at is the hedging that we constantly have to deal with from Catholics. You guys are shape shifters and it drives us nuts. I would assert that a Catechism with close to 3,000 questions is part of the problem. You guys can pull about anything you want out of your hats to justify what you do or believe as it suits you, but then deny virtually the same thing you have previously affirmed as it suits you as well. We, on the other hand, with much shorter Confessions and Catechisms lay out what we believe relatively clearly and simply and invite you to have at it.


  22. John Bugay,

    My post wasn’t about the truth of the Assumption per se but about DD and infallibility, which I think is what DG’s original post was about.

    For me to “evade” or “ignore” implies some sort of intentionality on my part. But I explicitly noted that talk of Mary’s Assumption would make Erik’s skin crawl, which is a friendly way of my saying, “I realize no one here is going to agree at all about the Assumption of Mary.” But the Assumption is a nice way to get into a specific instance of DD and infallible teaching, I think.

    Finally: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6cxNR9ML8k


  23. Re: the CTC assumption thread, pre-Tiber Jason talks/argues logic with Bryan —

    “Don’t get me wrong, the assumption does follow logically from other Christological factors. It’s just that we think that if it actually happened (not ought to have happened, but really happened), them someone would have mentioned it sooner. In fact, the Christian world would have been ablaze with talk and excitement about an event as momentous as that.”

    This CTC post is instructive. Their logic/tradition/quasi-historical argument for Marian assumption is about as credible as if they said they got their info from 1st Unicorns.



  24. Erik, do you remember the SNL sketch way back in the day… something like…

    A Christian game show and they gave the question and answer at the same time, such as: “Raddai and Ozem were brothers of David.”

    Then the MC asked the contestants “DID YOU HONESTLY KNOW THAT?”

    And the third and second seat admitted that they didn’t, a little embarrassed because they are Christians, so they lost the round.

    And Norm MacDonald, the first seat and “biggest winner in the history of this game” said “Yeah, yeah, I knew that” and won the round…


  25. C-Dubs, I think the picture of Mary’s empty tomb sealed it(no pun, well maybe some) for me. It has all the credibility of Geraldo Rivera discovering Al Capone’s Vault

    It’s too bad really, because the picture scripture paints of Mary is far more commendable and honoring of her. The ‘Tradition’ actually causes her to be maligned as so much rank superstition.


  26. Revisiting the now famous “Limits of Unlimited Authority” debate:


    on CTC right now:

    Michael – Could you sum up for me here exactly where, after all is said and done, you think he fails?

    Erik – I don’t think he ever answers Cagle’s challenges and in the end has to resort to appealing to Jeff’s (and the other P&R guys’) lack of charity. This is noteworthy because it is the only time I can recall in debate where Bryan has done this. Normally he is on the offensive, attacking the other side’s logical shortcomings from the get-go. This was the first time I have seen him take what I would characterize as a defensive posture for most if not all of the debate. If you want to revive the same debate there and think you can do better, feel free.

    To quote Hart on that thread:

    “Bryan, what could be better evidence of circularity than your rejection of Jeff’s claims by attributing them to a lack of charity for the church? If Jeff has proper charity he’ll interpret the article correctly. So his reason depends on his love. That is not logical. The logic depends on something extra to the propositions.

    I think you are so wound up in circles that you don’t see how fideistic you sound.”


    If you think your Catholic faith is justified by reason alone you owe it to yourself to read the debate. If you aren’t really concerned, that’s fine. The topic of the debate is to what degree the motives of credibility rely on circular reasoning. Those holding to “Sola Scriptura” admit that we are using circular reasoning (at least somewhat) and are fine with that. Catholics seek to deny it because an admission would be fideism, which the church has condemned. We don’t think it can be denied, though. Another fascinating debate.


  27. I think Bryan’s problem in that debate is the same problem that CTC (and some of the more dogmatic & stubborn Popes throughout history) suffers from in general. It’s like you have a football team and you’re not content with going 6-3 and making the playoffs — you have to go 12-0, win each game by 50 points, and win the state championship or the season was a waste of time.

    Apologetics (which the MOC are) are not so much to rationally convince a skeptic as they are to bolster the faith of those who already want to believe. This is why it’s no shame for them to contain elements of circularity. Bryan (in faithfully trying to defend what the church has said about fideism) insists on no circularity whatsoever and is fighting an unwinnable battle.

    It’s interesting to compare the MOC to Van Til’s presuppositional approach to apologetics which basically says that we as Reformed people are to proclaim the Word of God as true not only because of the impossibility of the contrary (no ground for laws of logic, laws of nature, or laws of morality), but because that Scripture itself teaches that no one will embrace the gospel unless God has called them to. In other words, we have nothing to lose because if we are successful it is God’s doing and it we are unsuccessful it’s God’s doing. In essence it’s all highly circular, and we readily embrace that.


  28. Interesting stuff, Erik.

    Dunno about you gents, but I say there’s better reading than CTC. Life’s too short to keep it up out there.

    I’m basically lining up with some of sean’s words earlier, using Galatians 1:8. RCism has no response, period.

    I mean, keep the battle going all you dudes want to. Just, I find, debates of these kind have no end. I’m not a Biblicist, but all one need say is, “oh, that’s nice. But have you considered what God says…”

    I guess that how I shook the liberal protestant who kept at it with me. Some people just like to argue, I suppose…


  29. Darryl, you are providing an invaluable service, for those not up on RCism. Great post.

    Keep it up for us little guys, you know, we prots with our private opinions and all.

    Many thanks,


  30. Even the doctrine of papal infallibility does not claim that the verbal formulations per se that are promulgated by popes are infallible.

    Wow! If only there were an infallible source of interpretation of infallible statements; then the Cat-licks would really have something!


  31. Justin a specific instance of DD and infallible teaching

    Yes I traced one of those too, up above. This is not a matter of “lightening up”. It is a matter of Rome pulling things out of its pointy hats that no human being ever had conceived of (or perhaps that only heretical, gnostic human beings had conceived of), and making them dogma. And of course, as I said, Roman shenanigans hide the Gospel, which is the whole point of it.


  32. Erik, and Bryan doesn’t seem to notice that the papacy is willing simply to make the playoffs these days and let the separated brothers play during scrub time.


  33. Cormano (in #354) makes a lot of sense. If you guys agree that the truth of Catholicism can not be proved solely by reason and logic I think I’m happy.

    I wonder if Michael Liccione is a cradle (lifetime) Catholic or a convert? I admit my question is biased by his last name. In Des Moines there are a lot of Italian-Americans who are very much Catholics and have been their whole lives. Big football rivals (Dowling Catholic) of my alma mater, Ames.

    The reason I ask is that I suspect that this need to defend Catholicism purely via reason and logic is more important to the Protestant converts here than the lifetime Catholics. Why? Because I suspect that many of these guys (Jason being one) suffered a severe epistemic crisis as Reformed Protestants that was a huge factor in their conversions. They found themselves in small, marginal Conservative Reformed Protestant denominations, ignored by the larger pentecostal and evangelical churches that many of them had come out of, perhaps discouraged in ministry by infighting and slow or non-existent growth, troubled by the fractured nature of Protestantism, sincerely wishing for something more. Roman Catholicism became very appealing because if its antiquity, claims to be the one true church that Christ founded, and its large size and cultural influence. The biggest hurdle they faced, however, was overcoming their own previous skepticism of Catholic claims and training as Reformed Protestants, skeptical of religious truth claims that can not be clearly proven from Scripture. The antidote to these hurdles is proof that Catholicism is objectively true apart from their sincere WISH that it be true so they could have relief from the shortcomings of Protestantism that they were suffering under. If Catholicism is no more than a different system, a different paradigm that is no more rational or logical than Reformed Protestantism, then the epistemic crisis is not ultimately resolved and their minds can not be fully at rest. Maybe they will rest for a time, while in the honeymoon stage, but ultimately those epistemic doubts will re-emerge and who knows where the next stop will be. Perhaps atheism or nihilism? Very unpalatable choices indeed for one who has been in churches their whole lives.


  34. Jason (#325) – It’s a lot easier for a Catholic to know what counts as de fide dogma than it is for a Protestant to determine what counts as an “essential doctrine.” There are official documents he can consult, and there are priests and bishops from whom he can seek clarification. It’s not that hard, and it’s not as if the presence of disagreement proves the impossibility of there being an answer. Your liberal slip is showing again.

    Erik – Ahem, do you remember the Reformed Confessions? That’s what I subscribe to and consider “essential doctrine”. You can even check me on it by reading them yourselves (and the book isn’t even that fat).

    It’s also ironic that you say, “It’s not that hard, and it’s not as if the presence of disagreement proves the impossibility of there being an answer.” because I hear you guys saying that one of the big reasons you left Protestantism is that there wasn’t agreement on correct answers. You just didn’t like that there were a lot of opinions with the possibility of the number of people with correct answers being small. So you went to a big church with one guy purporting to have the correct answers and a lot of people agreeing with him. I don’t see that your epistemic problem is solved.

    Jason (#325) – Yeah, the way I put it for the purposes of pithiness and brevity is saying that the Reformed view is “The church is where the gospel is,” while the Catholic position is that “The church is where the bishop is.”

    Erik – I have no problem with that notion.

    Jason (#325) – That said, the idea that a lack of piety, or the presence of bad fruit, negates ecclesial authority is both Donatist and non-Reformed (at least if the second Helvetic has anything to say about it).

    Erik – Looking at Fruit is valid, although we are told in the Heidelberg that our fruit will be a small beginning. When we see rampant scandal or immorality (without pointing fingers at any particular scandal or acts) I do think we have to take note and ask if something is badly off at the core of that particular religion.

    Jason (#325) – Cool. I would humbly suggest, though, that both the OT and NT teach that the new covenant is to be greater than the old, and that the Church (whatever is may be) is to be a worldwide and universal thing. Just saying.

    Erik – You hung around with Peter Leithart and the postmillennialists too long. Think aliens and strangers, brother.

    I do enjoy reading you & talking with you. Thanks.


  35. Erik,

    That last comment from Jason seems to presuppose that universal means a whole lot of people, all a part of the same visible body, living on all seven continents. There is a lot of ungrounded assumptions there, not the least of which is that it all has to be the same visible body, as if multiple Protestant denominations is inherently evil or not what God intended. I could go with universal meaning big and on all continents, at least by the end. But isn’t it jumping the gun to say that it must be now. I mean, that logic would seem to suggest that the church in Acts 2 was not universal or catholic. After all, there weren’t any Chinese Christians or American Indians at that point. And if the church is essentially unchanging, is Jason not actually undermining his argument. It only became universal after some time.

    It makes no sense. Is it really all about the present numbers game for them?


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