Papacy as Rorschach Test

Jason and the Callers tell us that Protestantism doesn’t have a magisterium that can settle disputes and end disunity. They fail to mention that Protestantism also lacks ecclesiastical partisans who by interpreting the pope according to their own image function as their own magisterium. Sean Michael Winters thinks “right-of-center writers appeal to those parts of Benedict’s speeches that people like me always loved and which they ignored.” He also says “there really is a deep continuity between Benedict and Francis, but there is virtually no continuity between Benedict as interpreted by U.S.-based Catholic neo-cons and Pope Francis.” How are the faithful to make sense of this? Ask a reporter who covers the Vatican:

In the often heated (and sometimes self-referential) debate surrounding the continuities and discontinuities between Popes Benedict XVI and Francis, people are often so hasty to draw contrasts and point to the differences in style and focus of the two Popes, that they risk creating caricatures out of both figures. A series of artificial clichés end up being attached to Ratzinger’s person, as if his teachings were entirely about the strenuous and tireless defence of non-negotiable values in the public arena.

On his first visit abroad for World Youth Day in Cologne, in the summer of 2005, Benedict XVI chose not to speak about chastity, premarital sex etc. Instead, he concentrated on the beauty of Christianity. He followed a similar approach a year later when he visited Spain, the cradle of “Zapaterian relativism” and the home of same-sex marriage. Benedict XVI met families who had come to the city of Valencia from all corners of the world to testify the beauty of their experiences. On this occasion he chose not to launch any criticisms against the Spanish government, focusing on positive aspects instead.

The courageous and evangelical response Ratzinger gave in 2010, when the Church was right in the thick of the paedophilia scandal is another case in point. Instead of pointing the finger at the Church’s external enemies, he said that the biggest threat comes from inside the Church, from the sin that exists within it. Newspapers that are now pro-Ratzinger did not like this move. Ratzinger’s “penitential Church”, became a slogan used to express a nostalgia and yearning for Ratzinger to adopt stronger public stances.

Then there were the words Ratzinger pronounced on his last trip to Germany (Freiburg) as reigning Pope in 2011.Words which disappeared into a vortex self-interested silence. He talked about a Church “that is satisfied with itself, makes itself at home in this world, that is self-sufficient, adapting to worldly principles.” A Church that tends to lend “greater importance to organization and institutionalization than it does to its calling to be open to God, and to open this world up to its neighbours.” “Free of burdens, and material and political privileges, the Church is able to better devote itself, and in a way that is truly Christian, to the entire world; it can truly be open to the world,” Ratzinger said.

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110 thoughts on “Papacy as Rorschach Test

  1. The CtC phenomenon will endure long after we’re all gone. Their entire system is to create an apologetic for Protestants to convert to Catholicism. Unfortunately, the reasons to do so simply do not exist in modern Catholicism. I feel somewhat sorry for those guys, but they should have known. Prayer for them seems appropriate.

    Thanks, Darryl, for keeping the fight going. Take care.

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  2. Andrew,

    If you had lived at the time of the Arian controversy would there be no reason to join the Church? Why do you suppose St. Athanasius didn’t just start up his own denomination? Why go through all the exiles etc? The magesterium is an important part of Catholic authority but it is not our ONLY authority. We have a three legged stool of Tradition Scripture AND magesterium. Common protestant error to confuse this model somehow with sola ecclesia where the whims of every pope become the new standard of orthodoxy

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  3. Kenneth,

    We know it is not the whim of every pope. If the magisterium defines the content and meaning of Scripture and tradition, however, it is whatever the magisterium that says today that matters.

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  4. Kenneth,

    I agree it was a big deal what happened at the time of the reformation. But the church had become corrupt, and reform was needed, and what occurred was necessary to happen the way it did, so that the purity of the gospel might be maintained.

    You’re free to argue against Darryl’s blog post here, as I see that’s the main point of what you wrote. As for me, I stand by what I said, that there is no reason for protestants to convert to modern Catholicism. So long as the website “called to communion” misrepresents what protestants believe, Darryl is providing an invaluable service to the church of Christ by correcting their errors. I did not take the time to read the CtC article that he linked to, but I know their message, and strongly reject. I believe there can be a thoughtful and engaging Roman Catholic apologetic. But it’s not to be found at CtC. If I were you, as a Catholic, I would distance myself from the CtC group, and seek better groups with which to increase in your learning. I don’t like what I see at that website, so just take that as my advice to you. It’s not as though I don’t like the people, whom I have never met. But I believe the way they go about their apologetic is deceiving. That has been my overall experience of discussing theology with the people at that website and those who are associated with it.

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  5. Robert,

    1. Tradition tells us what scripture is 2. Tradition tells us what scripture means 3. Tradition tells us who the Church is (A.S.), 4. Tradition tells us what this Church teaches 5. Therefore the Church operates on Tradition alone.

    OR

    1. The magesterium tells us what scripture is 2. The magesterium tells us what scripture means 3. The magesterium tells us what Tradition is 4. The magesterium tells us what Tradition means 5. Therefore the Church operates on sola ecclesia!

    why do both of those work? Because all three legs equally point to and authenticate the others. You are looking at a pyramid from one angle and calling it a triangle. Sometimes we need a birds eye view

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  6. Andrew,

    thank you for granting me the freedom to disagree with DGHART (always screaming his name). I don’t know the ctc crowd but I have never heard anything but positive things from them. Taylor Marshal is a standup guy and I am fond of JJS too. Their posts seem thought out and precise. I don’t see the problem. In my experience reformed disagree with each other over “what it means to be reformed” so it might be that it is only your particular flavor of reformed Christianity that they misrepresent? I dunno I don’t frequent that site.

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  7. Kenneth, I only meant that just because I like Darryl’s point about how popes that disagree (to say nothing of what to do when there is more than one pope like Avignon) doesn’t mean you can’t show us all where that is a bad Protestant apologetic. Wasn’t giving permission or anything, I just communicate poorly my point at times.

    I actually had a real live theology discussion with a catholic coworker over coffee this afternoon. How different than what we see people talking like here on the internet.

    What you are seeing here, I believe, is a reaction by protestants over what we read at CtC. Sure, we can have a meaningful discussion of the issues that divide us. Just understand since you showed up a few days ago talking about how Protestantism is just a projection, I get s flavor of how you want to engage us.I get it, I’ve done similar in the catholic blogs like Jason’s before. Anyway, nice to “meet” you, maybe we’ll get into the issues that divide us, later as we have time.

    Regards,
    Andrew

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  8. Yo Ken,
    You’re over here peddling the wrong paradigm.
    Think Moses, with Aaron and Hur holding up his hands against the AmalekitesEx. 17. IOW the perspicuous Scripture first, then reason and history/tradition.
    Besides the magisterium/popes have pretty much begged off any official infallible interpretations of specific passages of Scripture. Which means there isn’t too much substance to the vaunted and ideal paradigm of paradigms in the perfect world of the Roman convert as compared to the messy real world. You’re better off falling back on implicit faith. Rome says it, I believe it, that settles it. IOW your latent protestantism needs to be exorcised. Call your local parish priest and have your credit card ready. They’ll be happy to start the ongoing process.

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  9. Kenneth, if popes have whims, then Rome doesn’t have the audacious authority to resolve all disputes and disagreements (and give order). Surprise (if you read National Catholic Reporter). You may want to get together with Jason and the Callers and help them with their apologetic. You may also want to check in with the Eastern bishops who can take a whole lot more credit for the early church fathers than western Christians who want to use the Eastern fathers to prove Rome’s antiquity.

    You guys mix and match with the rest of us. Since the loss of the papal states (and the transformation of the Roman pontiff from the Western Christian caliph to a mere archbishop), you’re just one more denomination.

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  10. KENWINS, Scripture preceded tradition. Paul was before the Council of Ephesus. Don’t you know about historical chronology?

    BTW, the magisterium didn’t know what to do with three popes at one time, or that abducting Edgardo Mortara was a problem. I guess Vatican 2 fixed that, except that Rome since 1965 has been anything but fixed.

    But good for you to keep going all in with a 9 high.

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  11. KENWINS, have you never read National Catholic Reporter or Commonweal or America or First Things? I’d say the disagreements among Roman Catholics are a whole lot more public and widely known than the little – remember, Jeremy Tate tells us size matters – corner of the world represented by Calvinism.

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  12. Kenneth

    1. Tradition tells us what scripture is 2. Tradition tells us what scripture means 3. Tradition tells us who the Church is (A.S.), 4. Tradition tells us what this Church teaches 5. Therefore the Church operates on Tradition alone.

    OR

    1. The magesterium tells us what scripture is 2. The magesterium tells us what scripture means 3. The magesterium tells us what Tradition is 4. The magesterium tells us what Tradition means 5. Therefore the Church operates on sola ecclesia!

    Wrong. You don’t effectively lean on tradition as equally as the Magisterium because the Magisterium says that those parts of tradition that would go completely against papal infallibility aren’t really tradition. You simply can’t get around it. If Cyprian’s protest agains papal claims of jurisdiction can be ignored because they don’t fit modern Rome’s ideas of the papacy, then the Magisterium is being selective with tradition. If tradition really was of equal weight, there would be no papacy or papal infallibility because these ideas—and others—are contrary to how so many early fathers taught and acted.

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  13. Robert,

    your entire response focuses on the sola ecclesia syllogism that I produced for you. It is true that the Church tells us what is Tradition and what is not. However, Tradition tells us who the Church is and who the Church is not. You are looking at one side of the pyramid again. I can produce a third syllogism showing how scripture is really the one that tells us who the Church is and what Tradition is…. The reason why is because all three equally identify the others. In order to prove me wrong you need to show that my Tradition Alone argument fails. You have never been able to do so.

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  14. Btw Robert,

    It won’t due to simply argue that Tradition doesn’t really teach AS or the papacy. Here is why

    in the sola ecclesia syllogism you grant premises that you don’t actually accept in order to make a point that we operate under the Church alone and not three legs of authority. For example, you don’t REALLY believe that the Church can tell us what scripture means or what scripture is. You also don’t REALLY think that the Church is the authenticator of Tradition…. But you grant those to make your overall point. Now, when it comes to my “tradition alone” argument you want to go back and debate all of the premises that you happily grant for sola ecclesia! Foul play my good sir. Foul play

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  15. Kenneth,

    In my experience reformed disagree with each other over “what it means to be reformed” so it might be that it is only your particular flavor of reformed Christianity that they misrepresent?

    At CtC, they purport to put forth the protestant position on huge topics, such as the protestant view of ecclesiastical authority. That’s one example of many that I think of when I consider my interactions there. I have spoken online with them, and I typically stop before going too far before going too far in our interactions, because it’s not my business to venture into a blog where Catholics like to communicate with one another online, and tell them they all are wrong. I merely am a spectator and someone who can provide an occasion second viewpoint that maybe wasn’t considered. So I leave my interactions in such a place to a minimum, and try to avoid it, if at all possible.

    They routinely misrepresent what hundreds of millions of Christians believe. The only thing you should take away from my brief interaction with you here, is that if you wish to learn about Protestantism, simply look elsewhere than their website. I would suggest you speak to protestants themselves instead of those who have converted from Protestantism to Catholicism, as their reasons for why they are acting online as they are must always be considered.

    The other thing that comes to mind worth mentioning, is that I do not have a seminary education, where as many of the people out here (maybe you do?) do have one. Some have a catholic seminary education, many others, from protestant seminaries. That doesn’t mean I can’t speak with them or share my views. But the simple fact is, that training, I truly believe, means a lot. So anyway, I pop in on occasion when I find a free moment. I enjoy speaking theology with other Christians who care about the issues as I do. Just be aware that to me, the fight seems to go one way, and not the other. They attack and come into protestant chatrooms, where as protestants seem more likely to stay away and bear the brunts. I know I am biased, and certainly this debate had bad actors on both sides who are not acting out a desire for achieving an understanding of one another’s viewpoints. But there does seem to be a lop-sided nature to the prot-catholic online debate, since I found this all about a 18 months ago. I ask you only to consider this as you continue along in your theological discussions among protestants here at Oldlife. Thank you for mentioning another one of the blogs that you mention, I’ll check that blogger out.

    Regards,
    Andrew

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  16. Andrew,

    well if the guys at ctc do that I think that’s terrible. Can you point out any particular post if theirs that you consider to be particularly offensive or ignorant?

    DGHART,

    Kenneth, if popes have whims, then Rome doesn’t have the audacious authority to resolve all disputes and disagreements (and give order). How do the personal whims and theological opinions of Popes negate the magesteriums ordinary and extraordinary pronouncements authority and infallibility?

    you didn’t elaborate on Mortara or 3 popes or scripture before tradition so I while just assume (there I go again) that you meant those comments as a sort of “drive by” dumping of red hearrings.

    I have never read National Catholic Reporter or Commonweal or America or First Things
    I’m not an online apologist or whatever and am probably not uptodate on whoever you are feuding with. I like Jasons blog…. Yours is only the second one I have ever taken a part of. Just a guy with a cell phone, time to kill, and a passion for Christ. I like you reformed guys. Always been curious to see your apologetic in action.

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  17. Kenneth,

    I would point you to the one that Darryl posted in this blog post of his. Here’s the second sentence:

    As Michael Liccione, and others, have pointed out, Protestantism has no principled way to differentiate dogma from theological opinion – no coherent way even to identify the contours of Christian doctrine – that does not reduce to question begging or subjectivism.

    Kenneth, I’ve been a protestant christian my whole life. What am I supposed to make of this? Do you know any protestant bloggers that act this way?

    Do you still wonder what it is Darryl is doing around here and why?

    Regards,
    Andrew

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  18. I like you reformed guys. Always been curious to see your apologetic in action.

    Kenneth,

    Just so you’re aware, our homeboy talked nicely, despite what is said about those of us who are in the church that was founded by him (the term “warrior children” can be taken several ways, but it’s first known usage I know of was not so endearing) after his defrocking from the mainline denom. in the 1930’s. His book What is Faith? is an excellent primer on Protestant thought, if you ever find the time. Amazingly, Machen’s new testament Greek work, I hear, is still used in the mainline denomination. Tells you something, doesn’t it?

    Stick around all you like, it’s nice having someone from Jason’s blog hang out with us. I’ve posted a few comments there now and again. He was trained at one of the finest seminaries we have on our side, it was very sad for protestants to see him leave Protestantism.

    Regards,
    Andrew

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  19. Andrew,

    yes I can think of several protestant bloggers who act that way lol off the top of my head James White quickly springs to mind. I don’t think that a critique of a position is necessarily uncharitable. Its not as if the blogger in question wrote “Reformed theology teaches that there is no way to distinguish between dogma and theological opinion”. He is making a critique of what he sees as the faults in reformed authority. Nothing there strikes me as off color. Maybe you are being a little more sensitive that is necessary? If a reformed blog is constantly discussing RCism you would have to imagine that they are looking for RCs to engage them. If a Catholic website is constantly calling out the reformed I would guess that they are hoping reformed read and interact with their work.

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  20. Kenneth, it doesn’t bother me emotionally that they do this, any more than atheist or anarchist blogs etc. do. I just wonder where the cradle catholic apologists are. How come all these websties designed to convert protestants to Catholicism are run by former protestants? Can you see why someone like me might find that strange? If Catholicism allegedly solves all the problems that these converts to Catholicism think we have, shouldnt Catholicism produce its own apologists? It’s all strange to me, which is why I prefer talking these things through with people in real life. This talking as we do about these important and personal matters seems to be just another thing we do in our free time, like golf or go fishing. Anyway, enjoy talking reformed theology while you are here. Take care.

    Regards,
    Andrew

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  21. KENWINS, the point is that the papacy has all sorts of embarrassing moments that you guys never acknowledge when making all those vigorous claims about the magisterium and all those denigrating remarks about Protestantism. Go ahead and defend the abduction of Edgardo Mortara. I dare you.

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  22. DGHART,

    what is the significance of Edgardo Mortara? Is he your great grandfather or something? You seem to obsess over his abduction like rain man needs his K-MART shopping and jeopardy at four o clock! Haha I am happy to admit embarrassing moments in the papacy. We have had many scoundrel popes do terrible things. That would probably even be a deal breaker if we didn’t also have Tradition and Sacred Scripture to lead us along with the magesterium. But surely you know that we don’t consider our popes to be impeccable?

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  23. KENWINS, right, skirt Mortara, the removal of baptized infants from parents, the international outcry over Mortara that cost the papacy its support from Austria and France and so also the Papal States, and which allowed the unification of Italy. That same pope, Pius IX, was the one who condemned the modern world and doubled down with papal supremacy and infallibility. Mortara was part of a crisis for the Vatican that let to a high papalism that eventually condemned Americanism and modernism as heresies (Leo XIII and Pius X).

    So it was hardly an aberration.

    But then along came Vatican II which allows you to sweep it under the rug with a shrug, as if this stuff wasn’t consequential.

    It may not be anymore. But which magisterium are we to regard as authoritative? That’s right, you submit to whoever’s in charge. Hear, see, smell, touch, taste no evil. ‘S’all good.

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  24. DGHART,

    What do you contend the implications are of Mortaras abduction? Is some dogmatic contradiction entailed? Sounds like it was quite the ordeal but I am not grasping the theological implications. How does Mortaras abduction effect the dogma (as stated by the RCC) of papal or ecclesiastical infallibility?

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  25. Kenneth,

    The church can tell us what Scripture means and what tradition is, just not infallibly so. The church errs, and yes it errs dogmatically. Once the church infallibly tells me what Scripture says and tradition says, the church cannot be reformed. You may argue that God has promised that the church will never need dogmatic reform. Good luck proving that from Scripture. That is where your three legs fall apart.

    Scripture alone is infallible. Once you grant that ability to a group of men, corruption reigns. One of our fundamental points is that you all completely ignore that. Everything can be explained “well, that wasn’t an infallible statement.” If the church continues the apostolic ministry, as Rome confesses, then infallibility has to apply to everything Rome says while it is exercising its apostolic ministry of teaching because when the apostles exercised their ministry to teach, they were infallible. You want us to receive the church as infallible only sometimes when it is exercising its apostolic ministry. It’s a great way for Rome to explain away all of its dogmatic and practical changes, which enables corruption to continue unchecked.

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  26. KENWINS, yes, when difficult historical matters come up, play dumb. The theory is still fine, the history doesn’t matter. Do popes contradict each other? Sure. No problem.

    But by that logic, Protestantism is not a contradiction of Rome. After all, papal infallibility is not dogma. Or if it is, papal teaching doesn’t need to cohere. So how can you judge Protestantism to be in error since your truths are squishy.

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  27. DGHART,

    oh great. another lesson in logic.

    I’m not playing dumb sir. I am trying to understand the brunt of your argument. You clearly consider it to be a good one I just don’t understand why. The “theory” can definitely be disproven by history but it would have to be a relevant event that showed the pope declaring a dogmatic error ex cathedra or else showing the magesterium clearly contradicting itself etc.Ao for example- arguing that the bodily assumption of Mary never happened would be a good argument. Or saying that the Church has contradicted itself on religious liberty…. Also a good argument. The abduction of Mortara may be relevant to the Church historically but I can’t see how it is relevant in our discussion. I was hoping you could explain a little further. How does Mortaras abduction insinuate catholic truth is squishy? How does it entail the reformers aren’t heretical? I don’t follow

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  28. Our current D student and apologist for all things papal fails to acknowledge – what else is new? – that the Mortara case presents Roman papalism as it really is with all its arrogant assumptions; not long ago and far away in the Middle Ages or even at the Reformation, but within modern times and spitting distance of Vat. I.
    A surreptitious baptism of a jewish boy qualifies him for kidnapping by the vicar of Christ. Uh huh. Yup, you know. It’s the fullness paradigm thing. Only Rome has it and if she has anything to say about it, it will be crammed down your throat whether you like it or not. All in infallible love of course.
    IOW the Quest for Illegitimate Religious Certainty (there’s a reason it’s called faith) drives all thing CtC. That ideal pristine perfection supposedly promised in the here and now trumps all, whether it be Scripture, reason or history.

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  29. Obnoxious Bob,

    I am not acknowledging the Mortara case as what “Roman Papalism” really is because that’s ridiculous. If an atheist told you that the bible was really an ancient book with thousands of textual variants, apparent contradictions and stories that are scientifically implausible what would you say? It depends on how you are looking at things right? The Bible really is all of those things… But that’s not what it really is. Similarly the papacy is a long history of controversy, conspiracy and scandal but that’s not what it really is. That’s not what it is theologically, spiritually or (if you must) “theoretically”.

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  30. KENWINS, think about this. Would a pope today abduct a Jewish boy living in Rome baptized by a cleaning girl? Or would a cardinal or pope today refuse to do what Pio Nino did? I mean, I’d have much greater respect for Rome if its officials still made the sorts of claims that Boniface VIII made or did the sorts of things that Pius IX did. But they won’t say or do those things either because they know the watching world would laugh or cry, or they don’t think that previous popes were wrong.

    And we’re supposed to act like this change at the Vatican didn’t happen (which is apparently how you regard it).

    It is as if you think the SSPXers are from Mars. You have no clue why trad RC’s might object to Vatican II or why the rest of us might think all the claims about continuity and papal supremacy are hooey.

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  31. At CtC, they purport to put forth the protestant position on huge topics, such as the protestant view of ecclesiastical authority.

    I should comment they also do this in a way that grossly distorts Protestantism. They mainly are trying to represent conservative reformed / conservative Presbyterianism which while historically important today is not even a large chunk of Protestantism. Mainstream Protestantism (i.e typical evangelical Baptist and Pentecostal theology and/or mixed liberalism) is treated like it doesn’t exist. Their apologetic depends crucially on this conflation with conservative Presbyterianism and overall Protestantism.

    For example there is very narrow theological diversity within conservative Presbyterianism. Conservative Presbyterianism is able to arrive at theological agreements that are upheld and enforced. But the apologetic depends on that not being true and there being essentially no agreement so they use Protestantism very broadly to include even Mormons. On the other hand when they talk about the history the goals of the reformation they mean just Calvin and Luther, and moreover Calvin and Luther as understood by Conservative Presbyterianism.

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  32. As Michael Liccione, and others, have pointed out, Protestantism has no principled way to differentiate dogma from theological opinion – no coherent way even to identify the contours of Christian doctrine – that does not reduce to question begging or subjectivism.

    Well as I pointed out to Michael Liccione in my debate with him:

    a) They most certainly do have such a means, it is the one presented in the bible prophetic revelation. Which is why he had to amend the above critique to make it a one time fixed deposit of faith.

    b) The system he proposes to resolve this is explicitly and repeatedly unambiguously contradicted by the bible.

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  33. CD, well, dunno if you like to lurk at CtC like I do, but our interlocutor from the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland continues out there, including the most recent blog post about Sola Scriptura. I wonder if he knows about OldLife..

    I enjoyed talking theology with you here. Take care, and talk to you later.

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  34. DGHART,

    I don’t think Pope Francis would abduct a child that had been baptized by a cleaning girl. I also don’t think that Pope Francis would refuse to eat with gentiles or deny knowing Christ three times like Peter. RCs don’t teach that a popes actions are what teaches orthodoxy. Popes are sinners just like you and I. I am a read catholic and I am aware of the sspx. They do not advocate that Vatican 2 was blasphemous or that the church can err on dogma. I am sure you are a brilliant historian but I’m afraid you are confused on most things catholic

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  35. KENWINS, no offense, but who cares what you think? What you think has nothing to do with what popes teach or do. Do you think in 1864 you would have thought Pio Nino would have abducted a child? Can you imagine that ever being okay?

    Have you actually thought through most things catholic? How do you get to say when popes err and when they don’t? Does the charism red light go on?

    Or are you simply gullible?

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  36. Thank you for the article chortles. I can definitely relate! I think that article you posted is a great illustration of what I am trying to communicate to DGHART. Pope Francis has said some pretty controversial things in off the cuff interviews. JP2 did some questionable things too. Does RC orthodoxy sway with each and every pope? Of course not!

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  37. DGHART,

    no offense taken. Its a fair question. The issue isn’t what you or I think infallibility should look like but what the Church tell us it should look like. I think that, in fairness, we should judge Rome by the standard she holds for herself! Not any that you or I unfairly thrust upon her. We have discussed this frequently on Jasons blog. If an atheist says “oh, no, the bible isn’t really inerrant because if it was it would contain cosmology and biology and astrology and no poetry or unclear language and it should also have no textual variation” you would PROBABLY direct such a person to the Chicago statement right? All that I am doing is asking you to consider and critique RC claims of infallibility in light of Roman Catholic teaching on the subject! You are critiquing DGHARTs ideas of what an infallible Church should look and act like.

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  38. Kenneth, if as you say popes are sinners like everybody else then how can you also say Francis would never succumb to his predecessor’s own errors? If Protestants are confused on most things Catholic, this is the sort of reasoning that never helps. But if popes really are above it all then they aren’t sinners like everybody else. They are actually super-apostles, and frankly, if that’s the case they are of no pastoral comfort to fellow ordinary sinners, no matter how often they display their alleged humility in front of cameras–has Francis not read of the warnings against such displays? But to deny Francis’s ability to replicate Peter’s sin makes me wonder how well you grasp the nature of abiding human sin.

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  39. KENWINS, you mean that infallibility doesn’t mean that popes protect the church from error? But if a pope errs, as you say Pio Nino did, then how do we know if popes err when they say they don’t err? Also, when did the church ever tell us that Pio Nino was wrong to abduct Mortara? Seems to me the papacy could still do this given its understanding of baptism and lay administrations of it infidel children in danger of death.

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  40. DGH– Duns Scotus says specifically that Jewish babies can be Baptized without their parents’ consent. He was beatified by JPII. As was Pio Nino. Indeed, Scotus can be read as positively encouraging the practice.

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  41. Zrim,

    I’m not a divine oracle. I don’t KNOW that Francis will never refuse to eat with gentiles and lounge with Jews instead…. But that would be pretty weird don’t you think? Lol

    DGHART,

    Were the apostles perfect? Did they never make a mistake in conduct? If not then why did Paul rebuke Peter to his face? But if they did sin and make mistakes how then is the bible infallible? You see how this all breaks down? selective skepticism is wack

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  42. After replying to Always Obnoxious Bob, Always Annoying Ken (does Obamacare pay the Unificator to make house calls?) goes on to say:

    I think that, in fairness, we should judge Rome by the standard she holds for herself!

    And that standard from here in the prot bleachers is one of many qualifications, i.e. the naive and credulous “yeah, but”.

    The issue isn’t what you or I think infallibility should look like but what the Church tell us it should look like. I think that, in fairness, we should judge Rome by the standard she holds for herself!

    Of course there is no mention of the standard of the infallible, sufficient and perspicuous Scriptures. Meanwhile the drummers for and the Roman church itself, usurp those qualities for their very ownsome even as they deny them to the Word. And explain and explain and explain away what our lying eyes tell us when it comes to Scripture, reason or history/tradition. The vaunted unity of Romanism is superficial, shallow and nominal in large part, if not carnal.
    If Jesus said ” A man must be born again”, Rome says what? Come to mass on the five holydays, take communion/go to confession and it’s all good, not to mention the implicit ex cathedra doctrine that trumps all: justifying faith is implicit faith in faith plus works, if not what little papa says.

    But the Dingmeister hisself nails it:

    But if a pope errs, as you say Pio Nino did, then how do we know if popes err when they say they don’t err?

    Know? The only thing we can “know” according to Mike via Jase is that only the pope can know anything truly, all the rest of us can do is have an opinion – even an opinion in regards to what the pope “knows” – which would seem to be self defeating from our paradigm standpoint, but hey, what do we “know”? Evidently logic is not what it is cracked up to be and contradiction is king in certain communions, if not the chiefest of theological virtues and of the highest apologetical value. IOW long story short, all AAK’s protestations to the contrary, all his reasonings amount to is an implicit denial of implicit faith.

    As for

    We discussed this on Jason’s b(w)og

    Ha.
    Ha ha ha.
    That’s a joke, right? Not only is the “discussion” in the combox censored blacked out, on display right now is J’s inability – contra 1 Cor. 12:13 and the baptism of the Spirit – to read the bare mention of “baptism” in the NT and think it means anything other than water baptism. Ergo Rome is correct in its carnal ex opere view of baptism, all the while the spiritually separated brethren can only gnash their pointed teeth and pound sand.

    cheers

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  43. Kenwins, what do you mean by “selective skepticism” being whack? I happen to be skeptical of claims of chupacabra sightings, Bigfoot, and UFOs. Are you?

    You seem to suggest that we Protestants don’t have a basis to believe in an infallible Word of God. You are just being silly. If your Romish apologetic is that since we believe in infallibility, we must then accept your attributing of infallibility to the church,you are wasting your keystrokes.

    You can buy and read this book if you want an answer on how the Bible is infallible.

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Infallible-Word-Westminster-Theological/dp/0875525431

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  44. AAK
    Were the apostles perfect? Did they never make a mistake in conduct? If not then why did Paul rebuke Peter to his face? But if they did sin and make mistakes how then is the bible infallible? You see how this all breaks down? selective skepticism is wack

    Distinguish. How is scriptural skepticism wack and not ecclesial?

    cheers again,
    AOB

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  45. KENWINS, so the popes are equivalent to the apostles? This is where the apologists for Rome always wind up. And yet, even Rome teaches (or used to) that Scripture is inerrant. You are waffling on the papacy as well you should. So how in the world does the imperfection of the apostles relate here? It is apples and oranges. If Protestants went around talking about Paul’s other writings or advice, in addition to the canonical writings, you might have a point. But heck, that is precisely what Rome does. You know, Scripture and tradition.

    Gullible is more wack.

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  46. Kenneth, don’t be so wooden. The point wasn’t about foretelling the future. It was about erring. Peter erred in ways that made sense in his time and place. He was then corrected and repented. What you seem to be suggesting is that Francis is beyond erring in ways that make sense now, and presumably then beyond being corrected and (gasp) repenting. So how could he possibly be a sinner like you and me?

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  47. Andrew,

    you seem to suggest that we Protestants don’t have a basis to believe in an infallible Word of God

    Well of course you have a basis! I would assume that objections such as “yeah but the authors sinned” and “if they can make an error in conduct how do you know they aren’t making a dogmatic error?” would sound equally pathetic to your ears as it does mine. We aren’t talking about UFOs and Swamp monsters here. Its cool for you guys to say “The Holy Spirit inspired sinners and fallible men to pen an inerrant and infallible word from God in the form of a letter that today we don’t have the original copy of and that is presented with thousands of textual variants and interpretations” and that’s ALL GOOD! But for me to say “the pope is protected from error when he speaks excathedra even though he may say or do terrible things over the course of his life”….. Now that’s going to far! Unbelievable! It is the equivalent of me believing that the X-MEN are real….. But not magneto because thats just unbelievable….What?!?

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  48. Zrim,

    that’s not what I was suggesting.

    DGHART,

    I am not “waffling” on the papacy I’m asking you to form a critique that is relevant to the doctrine of papal infallibility. You are arguing against a dogma that exists in your imagination alone. It is not apples and oranges. You believe that the Holy Spirit can intervene in the life of sinners and inspire inerrant and infallible teaching at CERTAIN TIMES or instances. I believe the Holy Spirit still does this today…. But this can’t be true because…. The pope is a sinner. *facepalm*

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  49. KENLOSES, You believe the H.S. still does this but you don’t know when. And saints of old thought the H.S. did this but it turns out that when Pio Nino condemned all developments of modern societies, he wasn’t inspired. That what Vatican II did. But wait, in fifty years we might learn that V2 wasn’t inspired.

    Your infallibility is whatever you want it to be. And Protestants are guilty of fomenting opinion and interpretation? peh-shaw-leeze.

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  50. Kenneth,

    You believe that the Holy Spirit can intervene in the life of sinners and inspire inerrant and infallible teaching at CERTAIN TIMES or instances.

    The difference is that we believe all of Scripture—the point at which the Apostles are using their apostolic authority— is infallible. You guys tell us that certain pronouncements of certain councils are infallible but then want us to believe the rest of them are fallible even though the church is supposedly exercising its apostolic teaching authority in a special way at councils.

    Do you not see that this boils down to infallible teaching being only what the church says it is, tradition and Scripture take the back seat.

    It also boils down to the church being infallible except when it’s not and the complete ignoring of what the authors of supposedly infallible statements thought about them. The only way you can reconcile Unam Sanctum with V2 is to tell us that Boniface was wrong to think that submission to the Roman pontiff means knowing, conscious submission to the pontiff because now one can be in submission to the pontiff and not even know it if one is a Protestant since we’re separated brethren.

    You’ve surrendered your mind to blind faith in a magisterium that routinely contradicts itself.

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  51. So, the argument comes down to audacity again? The scriptures are audacious, so what’s the problem of the pope being audacious? This argument has about all the consistency and conjecture as CtC’s persons and texts argument, and makes the error of equating the apostles with the popes, which as regards innerancy RCC used to be careful to distinguish. Trads are loath, in practice, to own error by the pope except maybe now that Francis has them on their heels and they may need to sharpen up on that Vat II lay charism. This is all cafeteria RC again, except the trads are going to differ on which interpretations and dogma they like to choose from. There is not an sliver of light between how the trads and liberals practice their RC other than to pick and choose from different areas and interpretations of the deposit.

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  52. Kenneth, we may lack that principle for settling disputes, etc., but the problem for you is that Prots don’t ask anybody to hold their nose when the sole infallible source screws up—because it never does screw up. You, however, have two infallible sources, and one you ask people to look the other way when he screws up. But that’s contrary the very nature of infallibility itself. In other words, the standard for infallibility in a source, whether textual or personal, is absolute and inherent perfection in all its parts and in all places and times.

    You say the papacy never errs in matters of faith and morals, then make room for that source to be sinful. What keeps you from doing the same with the Bible, as in fallible in parts or on certain days? And then what keeps the whole blessed thing from unraveling? “Papal infallibility” is pious speech for baptized authoritarianism.

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  53. Conservative U.S. Catholics Feel Left Out of the Pope’s Embrace

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/10/us/conservative-us-catholics-feel-left-out-of-the-popes-embrace.html?hpw&rref=us&_r=0

    SMYRNA, Ga. — When Pope Francis was elected in March, Bridget Kurt received a small prayer card with his picture at her church and put it up on her refrigerator at home, next to pictures of her friends and her favorite saints.

    She is a regular attender of Mass, a longtime stalwart in her church’s anti-abortion movement and a believer that all the church’s doctrines are true and beautiful and should be obeyed. She loved the last two popes, and keeps a scrapbook with memorabilia from her road trip to Denver in 1993 to see Pope John Paul II at World Youth Day.

    But Ms. Kurt recently took the Pope Francis prayer card down and threw it away.

    “It seems he’s focusing on bringing back the left that’s fallen away, but what about the conservatives?” said Ms. Kurt, a hospice community educator. “Even when it was discouraging working in pro-life, you always felt like Mother Teresa was on your side and the popes were encouraging you. Now I feel kind of thrown under the bus.”

    In the eight months since he became pope, Francis has won affection worldwide for his humble mien and common touch. His approval numbers are skyrocketing. Even atheists are applauding.

    But not everyone is so enchanted. Some Catholics in the church’s conservative wing in the United States say Francis has left them feeling abandoned and deeply unsettled. On the Internet and in conversations among themselves, they despair that after 35 years in which the previous popes, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, drew clear boundaries between right and wrong, Francis is muddying Catholic doctrine to appeal to the broadest possible audience.

    They were particularly alarmed when he told a prominent Italian atheist in an interview published in October, and translated into English, that “everyone has his own idea of good and evil” and that everyone should “follow the good and fight evil as he conceives them” — a remark that many conservatives interpreted as appearing to condone relativism. He called proselytizing “solemn nonsense.”

    They were shocked when they saw that Francis said in the interview that “the most serious of the evils” today are “youth unemployment and the loneliness of the old.” It compounded the chagrin after he said in an earlier interview that he had intentionally “not spoken much” about abortion, same-sex marriage or contraception because the church could not be “obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines.”

    Steve Skojec, the vice president of a real estate firm in Virginia and a blogger who has written for several conservative Catholic websites, wrote of Francis’ statements: “Are they explicitly heretical? No. Are they dangerously close? Absolutely. What kind of a Christian tells an atheist he has no intention to convert him? That alone should disturb Catholics everywhere.”

    In an interview on Friday, Mr. Skojec said he was overwhelmed by the positive response to his blog from people who said they were thinking the same things but had not wanted to say them in public. He said he had come to suspect that Francis is a “self-styled revolutionary” who wants to change the church fundamentally.

    “There have been bad popes in the history of the church,” Mr. Skojec said. “Popes that murdered, popes that had mistresses. I’m not saying Pope Francis is terrible, but there’s no divine protection that keeps him from being the type of guy who with subtlety undermines the teachings of the church to bring about a different vision.”

    Most American Catholics do not share Mr. Skojec’s objections. A poll released last month by Quinnipiac University found that two in three agreed with Francis that the church was too “obsessed” with a few issues.

    In parsing Francis’ statements in recent weeks, other conservative Catholics are concluding that nothing he has said contradicts the Catholic catechism, with some of his language even echoing Benedict’s. But in interviews, the words that conservatives used most often to characterize Francis were “naïve” and “imprudent.” They believe that he is saying things in ways that the news media and the church’s “enemies” are able to distort, and that there are consequences.

    Some pointed to a vote on gay marriage just last week in Illinois. Two Catholic state legislators who voted to approve same-sex marriage there cited the words of Pope Francis: “Who am I to judge?” The pope said those words in response to a question about gay people during a long, freewheeling interview on an airplane in July. But Francis has not changed Catholic teaching, which holds that marriage is between only a man and a woman and that gay sex is wrong but gay people are worthy of mercy and respect.

    Matt C. Abbott, a Catholic columnist in Chicago with Renew America, a politically conservative website, said in an interview on Friday, “I wish that he could have chosen some different words, expressed himself in a different way that wouldn’t have been so easily taken out of context.”

    “For orthodox and conservative Catholics,” he said, “the last few months have been a roller-coaster ride.” He added in an email, “I’m not a big fan of roller coasters.”

    Some conservative Catholics are sharing prophecies online that foretell of tribulations for the church. In one, an Irish woman predicted that Benedict would be held hostage. Others cite the German mystic Anne Catherine Emmerich, who wrote of a “relationship between two popes,” one who “lives in a palace other than before,” which some now see as a reference to Benedict, who resigned as pope early this year but still lives in Vatican City. During this time there arises a “false church of darkness.”

    But some Catholics initially alarmed by Francis’ remarks are now trying to calm others down. Judie Brown, the president and co-founder of the American Life League, a Catholic anti-abortion group, said: “Pro-lifers are upset because they feel the pope is selling out the pro-life movement. And that’s not at all correct. If you read everything he’s been saying, especially in his Wednesday sermons, there’s no question that where he stands is consistent with what the church has been teaching.”

    At the Pregnancy Aid Clinic in Hapeville, Ga., a Catholic-run nonprofit center where women who come for pregnancy tests are counseled against abortion, staff members gathered around a kitchen table last week and cautiously said they had been grappling with the pope’s message and were trying to take it to heart.

    Alexandra P. Shattuck, the clinic’s director, said she had studied the pope’s interview in her parish’s Bible study class and concluded that the news media had taken Francis’ warning not to “obsess” about abortion out of context. She said he was really trying to teach about mercy.

    “I think he was completely right,” added Katie Stacy, the development coordinator. “The focus should be not only on love and mercy, but on treating the women in these crisis situations with love and mercy.”

    The room was crammed with baskets of empty baby bottles to be distributed to Atlanta parishes to fill with coins and bills as donations. The staff members said that most priests are far from obsessed with abortion or contraception, preaching against it only during “Respect Life Sunday.”

    “When a pope makes a statement off the cuff or in an interview, it’s not an infallible statement,” said Chris Baran, the president of the clinic’s board. “What he said in a statement does not change any teaching of the church that’s been around over 2,000 years.”

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  54. you cannot experience the unity on the outside

    http://roadsfromemmaus.org/2012/05/23/too-catholic-to-be-catholic-communion-with-idolaters/

    Fred Sanders, Biola—The most misleading thing in the Leithart essay is that it is a massive act of catastrophic silencing, covering over the witness of the Reformers and their heirs. Leithart leaps over the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries of confessional Protestant theology and spirituality, suggesting that there’s nothing there worth investigating. For the purposes of this essay, he’s constructed a new dark ages, though a shorter one and a more recent one. On the far side of the chasm is something called Patristic and Medival Land; and on this side is an anti-Catholic bigot serving the Lord’s Supper in a Mickey Mouse T-shirt. But there’s nothing between them, so choose you this day.

    The way this essay is set up reminds me of an awkward stage some of my undergraduates go through. They come to Biola from good families and good churches, and we give them, along with all the Bible instruction, a truckload of Irenaeus, Athanasius, Nazianzus, Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, and Dante. They read it, wrestle with it, come to love much of it, and then at some point in the sophomore year they look up and ask, “Why don’t Protestants read any of this great stuff?”

    They ask this at a Protestant establishment. And not just Protestant, but the evangelical kind, a Bible Institute that turned into a university. They ask it of an evangelical faculty that has carefully led them through the whole heritage of patristic and medieval riches. They are sent here by their Protestant parents from evangelical churches to do this reading at a former Bible Institute with an evangelical faculty, and they want to know, “where are all the Protestants?”

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  55. Great piece, Robert, especially the part about the common error of the etymology of “Protestant.” Thanks for the link.

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  56. DGHART,

    lol @kenloses!!! We so know when the magesterium is and isn’t infallible. The Church has defined these things so that anyone can learn them. I was just curious if you could justify constantly critiquing papal infallibility on grounds that are irrelevant to Catholics. I can see now that you have no justification for this and that its really just a bad argument. I would refer you to James White who is a “reformed Baptists” with relevant and challenging arguments against the papacy. The Mortara abduction is embarrassing…. But irrelevant in a theological discussion.

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  57. Kenloses, what’s all the fuss about? To respond to your latest comment to me, you can say all you want that you think the Pope is protected from error, or however you put it (ex cathedra?), but to me, that undermines what it means to be infallible. How can an infallible person all of the sudden turn on the infallible switch? Was the person infallible when he prefaced his statement that the foregoing would be infallible? Is it turtles all the way down? Ans yeah, Mortara matters, because you need to study the history of the Papacy (try 14th century Avignon) to understand why we are where we are today. I still don’t see what you are getting workednup about here. It’s just a blog. Take care.

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  58. I like how the trads are starting to traffic in ‘the hierarchy is not the church’, even if they can’t quite(though parsing infallibility to within an inch of it’s life brings up questions of honest religious conscience) say it that way. Anyway, welcome to Vat II. Sister Simone has saved a place on the bus.

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  59. Former neocatholic and victim of the crises Sean,

    sigh….I am not equating the apostles with the popes but merely pointing out that of God can produce scripture from sinners he can surely protect the Church from error in certain instances although they still sin? Any sensible person should be able to see this. Its a Mickey mouse joke of an argument to claim that Popes sinning somehow negates papal infallibility. That’s all I’m saying.

    zrim and Robert,

    Is the long ending of Mark inspired and inerrant? Tell me Robert, what was the authors “intent” in the following passage

    Joshua 10:12-13
    Then spoke Joshua to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the men of Israel; and he said in the sight of Israel, “Sun, stand thou still at Gibeon, and thou Moon in the valley of Aijalon.” And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stayed in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day.”

    Did the author here REALLY mean that the earth stood still? Sure, he is just describing what happened from his perspective, but if asked AT THE TIME what would he have thought the sun staying still meant?

    Don’t you both see that you have just as nuanced a view as I do? You draw distinction after distinction in your defense of scripture but ridicule and mock the RC nuances because you are to lazy to understand them? That’s hypocrisy plain and simple

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  60. Kenneth, last comment, and then I’ll leave you alone. I implore you to study church history. If we know all the facts, and you still come down on eclessiastical infallibility, fine, way to go. Don’t pretend though that we are as nuanced as you are. From our perspective, the leader of your church is not who we are to trust. I’m not saying anything groundbreaking or what you probably haven’t heard before. We reject your leaders claims (which is why leitharts thing on Friday was so weird, he wants us to become “Refromational Catholics” and maintain our stance on the pope. That makes no sense, and people should just invent more words and meanings for no good reason. Take care, and thanks for toning down your manner of speech here. Regards, Andrew

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  61. Andrew,

    •what is claimed for the pope is infallibility merely, not impeccability or inspiration (see above under I).
    •the infallibility claimed for the pope is the same in its nature, scope, and extent as that which the Church as a whole possesses; his ex cathedra teaching does not have to be ratified by the Church’s in order to be infallible.
    •infallibility is not attributed to every doctrinal act of the pope, but only to his ex cathedra teaching; and the conditions required for ex cathedra teaching are mentioned in the Vatican decree:

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07790a.htm

    new advent has a good post on this. Just scroll down to organs of infallibility to read when the Church is infallible and what that means

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  62. Hey prot-catholic on a journey, I’ll let you know what’s what when it comes to making designation amongst the faithful. I’m all for you guys parsing infallibility down to wafer thin size and when venus aligns with mars. It’s so ‘spirit of Vat II’ of y’all. You guys might have the duck, dive, dodge and duck of lay charism figured out by the time Francis gets done with ya.

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  63. Former neocatholic and victim of the crises Sean,

    Since you are in a state of apostasy and not in the Church in not going to bother explaining to you how your neocatholic training amounts to legal positivism and a constant fluctuation of orthodoxy. We should instead focus on the issues that matter and then once you come back home we can find you a nice FSSP parish to correct your abysmal catechisis

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  64. Alright prot-catholic, you’re cradle upbringing and tableside priestly instruction from your yute I’m sure has uniquely qualified you to be my teacher. But, in the meantime, and just to keep your twinkle toes from cementing into your anachronistic ‘rad trad’ take on Vat II, just start living in Lumen Gentium particularly Chapt IV, make sure to have your hermenuetic of continuity and coherence firmly attached to your journeying religious conscience(you know how you explorers tend to fancy yourselves ‘reformers’) and keep your eye on the guy in the abbey. He’s there for you, sort of, well ok, he’s there for you as he petitions Mary on your behalf kind of way.

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  65. Kenneth, it’s not a matter of laze but of persuasion. How can an infallible source ever be fallible and not lose all credibility to the claim of being infallible? What’s wrong with a man simply being right sometimes and wrong others? Why the need for such high octane pious embellishment? What happens to the Bible itself when the same double standard is applied to it, as in the book of Joshua and the Gospel of Mark are debunked–how do we know Genesis and Acts aren’t out the window? Why does the papacy get to fall down and retain infallibility but the Bible doesn’t? Or are you saying that even when Joshua and Mark are debunked you’ll hang on to Genesis and Acts the way you do the papacy when it falls down throughout history?

    But I’ll take Paul when he says we should all just go home if the resurrection is debunked, not cling to religion like a bunch of gun-toting hillbillies. And so here is where your fundie slip shows–the papacy errs but no it doesn’t. The pope says it, I believe it, that settles it.

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  66. Kenneth,

    Is the long ending of Mark inspired and inerrant?

    No. Only what Mark actually wrote. And we don’t need an infallible pronouncement to tell us that, especially when Trent infallibly declared the Vulgate the Bible to be used, the Vulgate that includes texts that no RC biblical scholar today would admit were an original part of the words the apostles wrote.

    Tell me Robert, what was the authors “intent” in the following passage

    Joshua 10:12-13
    Then spoke Joshua to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the men of Israel; and he said in the sight of Israel, “Sun, stand thou still at Gibeon, and thou Moon in the valley of Aijalon.” And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stayed in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day.”

    Did the author here REALLY mean that the earth stood still? Sure, he is just describing what happened from his perspective, but if asked AT THE TIME what would he have thought the sun staying still meant?

    Well, the ancient authors weren’t idiots, so to assume that the author means what you thinks he means is a stretch, especially since we have no record of his scientific-method-producing-astronomical views. We do have records of what the RC Church thought about the possibility of salvation outside submission to the Roman pontiff in a knowing and visible way—and it wasn’t what V2 teaches, nor was it we have seen in the actions and words of men such as JPII and Francis.

    Don’t you both see that you have just as nuanced a view as I do? You draw distinction after distinction in your defense of scripture but ridicule and mock the RC nuances because you are to lazy to understand them? That’s hypocrisy plain and simple.

    No one is denying that we have nuanced view. What we are saying is that if the church is supposed to stand in the same ministry as the apostles, then when it is exercising its apostolic teaching ministry, it can’t make errors. If it does, then it is not standing in the same ministry as the apostles.

    In other words, you can’t take one section from a council and then parse it so that only one section is infallible, especially when that infallible section is held up by the other section that you’ve discarded as fallible. Vatican I, in the definition of papal infallibility, uses as part of its argument the fact that the church has always accepted the primacy of the Roman pontiff. That is demonstrably not true, and no Roman Catholic patristics scholar would argue otherwise. When I have brought that up with other RCs, they agree, but they say it doesn’t matter, that the V1 statement is just boastful language common to all writers of the era. But we know V1 really thought the papacy was divinely instituted in its essential current form. That’s the kind of thing I’m talking about. You all regularly ignore history whenever it doesn’t fit what Rome says history is or you tell us that “well that’s not infallible.” We don’t do that with the Bible.

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  67. Zrim,

    How can an infallible source ever be fallible and not lose all credibility to the claim of being infallible?

    were the apostles never fallible? The infallible source is the H.S. friend and as you know He never ceases to be infallible. The instrument or organ of infallibility does not enjoy this same perk. Whether it be the apostles speaking and writing without error OR the Popes delivering excathedra pronouncements neither is infallible ALL THE TIME and that’s the point!

    I am not criticizing scripture in earnest but am merely illustrating that your view of inerrancy is nuanced to an incredible extent! Keep in mind that I have not endeavored to present a positive case for ecclesiastical infallibility but am merely defending the CCs claims from attacks that ignore the nuance of our claims! I constantly hear you guys moan and complain about how unfairly CtC represents your views. How they don’t even “understand” reformed theology and attack straw men. Then, after all that gripe, I hear how Mortara disproves papal infallibility and because the popes sin they can never be protected from error by the H.S. That’s garbage

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  68. Kenneth, I understand you hang the textual infallibility of the Bible on the personal infallibility of the apostles and work from there to run with glee on papal infallibility, but how is this not a form of Donatist reasoning, as in the Bible’s piety relies on that of its authors’? But Protestants follow orthodoxy and do not hang the Bible’s infallibility upon that of its authors. Simply put, while it may well have human authors, the Word of God is at the same time quite distinct from its authors and relies in no way whatsoever on their piety.

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  69. Robert,

    Oh ok, so when you pick up your bible you aren’t necessarily reading inerrant teaching in every paragraph…. Only the ones that were wrote by the apostles…… And you aren’t really 100% on which paragraphs those are because you don’t have the originals. Not to mention the “fallible collection of infallible books” we call the canon. Also keep in mind textual variation and scribal errors! I brought up the passage in Joshua just watch you flounder with the intent of the author. Mission accomplished. So its fair game for you to say the bible is PROBABLY an accurate collection of inspired books that MOST of the time (you hope) contains the words the apostles wrote themselves and that can REASONABLY be said to have been accurately transmitted and translated throughout history…… But things like ordinary and extraordinary magesteriums and excathedra statements…. To much nuance to handle.Cant only be dogmatic definitions has to be every written word or else your brain explodes. Give me a break

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  70. Sean, so you’re saying that among cradle RC’s, they always knew the pope wasn’t anything that audacious, that pontiffs and cardinals err all the time, and that the reason to be RC is simply “this is who we are”?

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  71. Finally some extraordinary charism on the infallibility question and how the Holy Spirit makes it so;

    Francis affirms this as well, saying: “All the faithful, considered as a whole, are infallible in matters of belief … When the dialogue among the people and the bishops and the pope goes down this road and is genuine, then it is assisted by the Holy Spirit. … We should not even think, therefore, that ‘thinking with the church’ means only thinking with the hierarchy of the church.”

    And the wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round. The wheels of the bus go round and round all through the town. Come on Kenneth, join in; The wheels on the bus………………………….

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  72. Zrim,

    Simply put, while it may well have human authors, the Word of God is at the same time quite distinct from its authors and relies in no way whatsoever on their piety.

    so then you won’t object when I say that dogmatic definitions given in ecumenical councils and papal declarations excathedra also don’t rely on the authors piety. That’s all I was ever trying to accomplish. Thank you.

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  73. Kenneth, just me here for one more, take a breath, and realize we aren’t going anywhere. I want to tell you again, I appreciate you spending your undoubtely valuable time among us. The issues are important, so certainly worth working with us so long sd you have questions about our beleifs. Have a great day, and talk to you later.

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  74. Kenneth, so then you won’t fuss when I say that when fallible men issue dogma from their make believe fort they are at best correct but never so audacious as to be infallible in anything they say and to suggest as much is Donatist.

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  75. Zrim,

    actually no, I won’t object to that at all! That’s a great beginning point for dialog! Mortara and the sins of Popes past is not.

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  76. Kenneth,

    Oh ok, so when you pick up your bible you aren’t necessarily reading inerrant teaching in every paragraph…. Only the ones that were wrote by the apostles…… And you aren’t really 100% on which paragraphs those are because you don’t have the originals.

    Not sure what this is supposed to mean. I am sure that we have the words and paragraphs of the apostles. My Bible clearly indicates which passages are not likely authentic and why, a view usually agreed at by a consensus of RC, EO, and Protestant scholars. Note how the translators tell me what is from the apostles and what isn’t. We’re all still waiting for that infallible collection of infallible church teachings no one in Rome thinks they should put together.

    Not to mention the “fallible collection of infallible books” we call the canon. Also keep in mind textual variation and scribal errors!

    Where have I said the first thing. The whole point of that statement is to tell people that the authority of Scripture does not derive from the fact that the church declared it to be Scripture, so I’m not sure you understand the ultimate point of that quote. I do keep in mind textual variation and scribal errors. Inerrancy is a property of the text, not the manuscripts, and we have the text as it was originally written. That’s the whole point of textual criticism.

    I brought up the passage in Joshua just watch you flounder with the intent of the author. Mission accomplished.

    How did I flounder? By not assuming that the biblical authors thought the world was flat and stationary? Where is your evidence that the biblical authors thought the world was flat and stationary? Do you have access to their astronomical textbooks and experiments? Plenty of biblical literary scholars indicate that the biblical authors aren’t even trying to communicate what they thought about astronomy in the text but are recording things for other purposes. You need to catch up, man.

    So its fair game for you to say the bible is PROBABLY an accurate collection of inspired books that MOST of the time (you hope) contains the words the apostles wrote themselves and that can REASONABLY be said to have been accurately transmitted and translated throughout history.

    But I don’t say any of that. I am as sure that the Bible is an accurate collection of inspired books that contains the words the apostles wrote themselves and has been accurately transmitted and translated throughout history as I am of any other historical fact. This is the point. You define infallibility of the church different than we declare biblical infallibility and then criticize us. Our point is infallible is infallible is infallible and that you don’t get to apply one standard to the Bible and another to the church, especially when the way in which ecclesiastical infallibility is applied makes it look like you’re just trying to get around the obvious errors and changes in RC dogma.

    But things like ordinary and extraordinary magesteriums and excathedra statements…. To much nuance to handle.Can’t only be dogmatic definitions has to be every written word or else your brain explodes. Give me a break.

    See above. The non-dogmatic definitions of Scripture (such as “and so and so walked to Jerusalem”) are as infallible as the dogmatic teaching. You are the one wanting us to have two different infallibility standards. Actually it may be just one since few in Rome would confess the Bible’s infallibility and inerrancy since V2. Oh wait, that’s not DOGMATIC teaching.

    The teaching on Roman infallibility makes sense only to those who inexplicably have no confidence in their reasoning abilities with regards to spiritual things even though they have plenty of confidence that their reason works elsewhere. It’s so ironic, especially since the Reformed view of human reason is less than Rome’s.

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  77. Zrim, they’re only infallible when they are the collective. That’s why it never happens. Popes, bishops and people and they all have to mean it to be so. Oh the humanity

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  78. Robert

    Joshua commanded the sun to stand still. He did not order the earth to cease rotating nor did he qualify his statement with the divine knowledge that the sun was merely made to appear stationary. The sun was commanded to stand still because it is the sun that “moves” to the ancients. I don’t need to see a scientific paper by Joshua to know that he doesn’t understand how the universe works…. Now what do we do about authorial intent? Hmmmmmm……

    especially when the way in which ecclesiastical infallibility is applied makes it look like you’re just trying to get around the obvious errors and changes

    which is EXACTLY the criticism Bart Ehrman and Co charge you with in regards to the Chicago statement. Lol it would be sad if it wasn’t so funny. Again, I just want you to be consistent. Of a long list of nuance and distinctions aren’t for you then neither is biblical inerrancy. Oh yeah, but making one more distinction between inerrant and infallible is going to far right? Selective skepticism. WACK

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  79. Kenneth,

    So now as a RC, you’re telling me that Scripture is self-interpreting? Nice. You still haven’t proven that Joshua’s view of cosmology is any different than mine when I tell my 3-year-old daughter that the sun is moving across the sky.

    And again, the problem isn’t with nuance. The problem is that in documents that are supposed to have apostolic authority—you know, the magisterial ones—only part of those documents is infallible. I say every word in Scripture is infallible. That’s a big difference.

    Unlike Ehrmann, I actually believe in the supernatural, so the fact that I am doing anything like he does is entirely specious. Just because I believe Rome isn’t protected from error doesn’t mean that I believe God can’t do it, it just means that I see nowhere in early tradition or, more importantly in Scripture, evidence that he will do it.

    Rome believes something is dogma for years and then when it changes, you tell us, “no, that wasn’t dogma.” Why, then does an infallible church let us be confused for so long?

    It’s a shell game.

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  80. Robert,

    So now as a RC, you’re telling me that Scripture is self-interpreting? Nice yeah I know right?!? And would ya look at that! We disagree…. That never happens…

    You still haven’t proven that Joshua’s view of cosmology is any different than mine when I tell my 3-year-old daughter that the sun is moving across the sky. would you command the sun to stop moving? Seems like an odd command considering that the sun is ALREADY not moving don’t ya think?

    And again, the problem isn’t with nuance. The problem is that in documents that are supposed to have apostolic authority—you know, the magisterial ones—only part of those documents is infallible. I say every word in Scripture is infallible. That’s a big difference.

    and I say its not the same. Do you know what that’s called? NUANCE!

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  81. Is what is being called “nuance” here simply what we Christians call “interpretation”? I guess I’m not seeing the big deal here, but then again, I dont spend a lot of time in theological chatrooms.

    Kenneth, if you think you’ve uncovered something important, can you elaborate? My simple point is that prots and cats interpret Scripture. Why else would my understanding of Justification be different except for the fact that the interpretation in my tradition is different than in yours.

    But of course, you guys are talking cosmology, which while cats and prots may diagree here and there, the big area of disagreement is in the area of justification by faith. It seems that’s where the discusssoon should center, but again, I may be missing the point of the discussion.

    No need to respond, I’m just observing. Take care.

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  82. Oh boy. I can see that confusion is both rife and rampant when somebody tells us it’s all about nuance in caps make that CAPS!
    Like DUH!!

    FWIW/FTR the infallible NT Scriptures were written by either apostles or those who were secretaries to or companions of the apostles, with the salient distinction being an apostle was somebody personally chosen by and an eyewitness to Christ’s ministry and resurrection.

    But, but the pope is not an apostle.
    That’s correct, Virginia. What we have here is what is called the fallacy of the missing middle term.
    Supposedly if the apostles can infallibly pen the NT, then the Roman pope can infallibly pen dogmatic statements.
    IF the pope is an apostle or IF his dogmas are NT Scripture are the implicit presumptions of our romanist’s argument, however much the chief CtC logician might concur with his misology.

    And never mind that we have the complete and sufficient apostolic tradition preserved for us in the NT, all the while we have yet to have even a list of the infallible papal fatwas that all romanists are required to believe on the pain of committing a mortal sin and going to hell.

    Unless you are in Germany and can afford to buy the bishop a new BMW and high rent condo, in which case do not pass go, but go straight to purgatory.
    Unless as a baptized Romanist you have ignerunt/implicit faith, in which case, it’s all good after the prerequisite/yet to be determined time in purgatory.

    There is not an sliver of light between how the trads and liberals practice their RC other than to pick and choose from different areas and interpretations of the deposit.

    I can see somebody is onto the big tent come one, come all strategy. Time for them to take a spin on the We’re All Bozos On This Bus. As an all boys jesuit prep school grad I can assure you Sr. Simone wouldn’t dare show her face, wimple or no in the vicinity of. And that for the same reason the lay Miss Swatfager (I kid you not) did not last long taking the religion classes.

    cheers

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  83. Obnoxious Bob and Gracious Andrew,

    thank you for the comment. I have not presented a case for papal or ecclesiastical infallibility on this board (that is continually forgotten) and was merely explaining to DGHART that the sins of popes (Mortara abduction) in no way disproves papal infallibility because it ignores the nuances of said doctrine. If you all have been following I was told that the nuance was bogus because if Popes sin like everyone else how in the world can you know when they are infallible. An objection that is so breathtakingly ignorant I couldn’t believe I was reading it from such learned interlocutors. Obviously, prots consider scripture to be infallible even though the apostles/secretaries of apostles/whatever were all sinners. This was not to COMPARE God breathed inspiration to the charism of infallibility but to simply show that it is a nuance held by both camps (that the HS can produce infallible texts through sinners) and thus, the Mortara argument should be discarded. Just as an opponent of biblical inerrancy should discard any arguments that have to do with the apostles being sinners. There is apparently much ignorance among the reformed as to what the Church teaches about infallibility which is producing horrible arguments and wasted ink correcting misconceptions.

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  84. Nope, fail again Ken. Nice try though.
    Mortara is a case of the papacy doing what he claims to be able to do; that not only is the apostolic successor infallible, he also has temporal as well as spiritual supremacy.
    Therefore kidnapping an illegitimately baptized Jewish child is no big deal/right in line with how the Papacy rolls.
    OK well how he used to roll.
    Until Vat. 2 explained all that away.
    Dizzy yet?
    No?
    Do we chalk it up to incorrigible or inculpable ignerunce?
    In short, between trusting our lying eyes and the lies of a certain European prelate, guess what?
    cheers

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  85. Obnoxious Bob,

    The Vatican Council has defined as “a divinely revealed dogma” that “the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra — that is, when in the exercise of his office as pastor and teacher of all Christians he defines, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, a doctrine of faith or morals to be held by the whole Church — is, by reason of the Divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, possessed of that infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer wished His Church to be endowed in defining doctrines of faith and morals; and consequently that such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are irreformable of their own nature (ex sese) and not by reason of the Church’s consent” (Densinger no. 1839 — old no. 1680). For the correct understanding of this definition it is to be noted that:
    •what is claimed for the pope is infallibility merely, not impeccability or inspiration (see above under I).
    •the infallibility claimed for the pope is the same in its nature, scope, and extent as that which the Church as a whole possesses; his ex cathedra teaching does not have to be ratified by the Church’s in order to be infallible.
    •infallibility is not attributed to every doctrinal act of the pope, but only to his ex cathedra teaching; and the conditions required for ex cathedra teaching are mentioned in the Vatican decree: ◦The pontiff must teach in his public and official capacity as pastor and doctor of all Christians, not merely in his private capacity as a theologian, preacher or allocutionist, nor in his capacity as a temporal prince or as a mere ordinary of the Diocese of Rome. It must be clear that he speaks as spiritual head of the Church universal.
    ◦Then it is only when, in this capacity, he teaches some doctrine of faith or morals that he is infallible (see below, IV).
    ◦Further it must be sufficiently evident that he intends to teach with all the fullness and finality of his supreme Apostolic authority, in other words that he wishes to determine some point of doctrine in an absolutely final and irrevocable way, or to define it in the technical sense (see DEFINITION). These are well-recognized formulas by means of which the defining intention may be manifested.
    ◦Finally for an ex cathedra decision it must be clear that the pope intends to bind the whole Church. To demand internal assent from all the faithful to his teaching under pain of incurring spiritual shipwreck (naufragium fidei) according to the expression used by Pius IX in defining the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin. Theoretically, this intention might be made sufficiently clear in a papal decision which is addressed only to a particular Church; but in present day conditions, when it is so easy to communicate with the most distant parts of the earth and to secure a literally universal promulgation of papal acts, the presumption is that unless the pope formally addresses the whole Church in the recognized official way, he does not intend his doctrinal teaching to be held by all the faithful as ex cathedra and infallible.

    It should be observed in conclusion that papal infallibility is a personal and incommunicable charisma, which is not shared by any pontifical tribunal. It was promised directly to Peter, and to each of Peter’s successors in the primacy, but not as a prerogative the exercise of which could be delegated to others. Hence doctrinal decisions or instructions issued by the Roman congregations, even when approved by the pope in the ordinary way, have no claim to be considered infallible. To be infallible they must be issued by the pope himself in his own name according to the conditions already mentioned as requisite for ex cathedra teaching.

    go ahead now and tell me what Mortaras abduction detracts from theologically.

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  86. At one former place of business they’d have the “loser line” and when someone called that was not welcome to call, they’d put him on hold and see how long they waited before hanging up.

    Sometimes it went over 8 hours before the message was received.

    Just an observation.

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  87. Wow, I never realized how low the standard for doctrinal purity was in the RCC. Kenneth you have done a good job arguing how bad the theology of the pope can be and how that is acceptable for the RCC. Makes me appreciate the OPC so much more.

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  88. I haven’t presented any arguments for the papacy I merely defended the doctrine of papal infallibility from the ridiculous jack chick like argument that popes being sinners makes them unreliable. No one cares about the OPC. Its a tiny irrelevant denomination that could very well not survive the next hundred years or so. Which is the reason why we read so many reformed blogs bashing all things catholic and not Mormon or JW or Islam. Little man syndrome. Its “imputed” to you once you go reformed.

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  89. Kenneth, for all our stone throwing, I think you should worry more about your own communion and their belief in papal infallibility or even high papalism.

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  90. Kenneth,

    Which is the reason why we read so many reformed blogs bashing all things catholic and not Mormon or JW or Islam. Little man syndrome. Its “imputed” to you once you go reformed.

    The issue on this blog, at least, is that you’ve got former Reformed pastors who convert to RC and then extol how much better and certain it is. It’s a position that is worth addressing because this is a blog run by a Reformed author. If there were JWs or Muslims who used to be Presbyterian setting up websites and making bad arguments about how there is certainty and unity in those religions that can’t be found in Presbyterianism, there’d likely be more ammo directed their way. It isn’t Dr. Hart’s fault that your guys keep making bad historical arguments when they even bother to acknowledge history.

    As far as “little man”—quotes like that tell me that a big part of Rome’s appeal is that it is so large, as long as you ignore the nominalism. I reckon that the actual number of RCs worldwide that actually know their church’s teaching wouldn’t surpass the largest Protestant denomination.

    The way is narrow and few there be that find it. Lauding a church because it is so large kinda inverts that principle, don’t you think?

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  91. Kenneth,
    Your track record as a D student and somebody that doesn’t pay attention to the argument/doesn’t know what it is/can’t describe it correctly is outstanding.
    The infallible pope preached temporal supremacy infallibly.
    The Mortara incident was the pope doing what he said he could do.
    Until Vat. 2 said he couldn’t.
    Capiche?
    We already know the pope is infallible ex cathedra, it’s just when the ex cathedras contradict which present the problem.
    Oh, wait a minute. This just in. We don’t have an infallible index of ex cathedra statements the faithful lemmings are to believe.
    But that is not a problem?
    Maybe not in a Roman paradigm world, but in the real world it is.
    Yet you still expect us to take you seriously.
    Wonders never cease and the mindless roman kamikazes continue.

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  92. Dr. Hart and Robert

    you are right. The size doesn’t count… It what you do with it. That’s what I’ve been told anyways…. Sure hope that’s true…..

    I was just frustrated. Forgive me for the cheap shot.

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  93. Obnoxious Bob,

    what foes temporal supremacy mean? What is the doctrinal content of temporal supremacy? To my knowledge Vatican 2 gave no new definitions. I’m open for correction on that but I’m PRETTY sure that’s one of the things I aced when i was salvaging my D grade. If that is the case then all that Vatican 2 actually changed was matters of discipline and pastoral programs….. Why don’t you put your argument in the form of a syllogism for us so that we can all follow what you think the implications are. Worst case scenario as far as I can see is that the Pope abused his temporal supremacy (AKA sinned) and I don’t see how that effects my worldview other than a bit of enbarassment

    Like

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