A Genie Out of the Bottle

What Jason and the Callers don’t understand about history, historical consciousness, or what happened at Vatican 2, they could well learn from Mark Massa, a Jesuit and Dean of the School of Ministry and Theology at Boston College. Particularly instructive is this excerpt from the conclusion to his book, The American Catholic Revolution:

. . . there are at least three lessons to be learned from the Catholic sixties in the United States. . . . First, it seems highly unlikely that historical consciousness — the awareness that everything, including the Church, changes as history unfolds — can ever be effectively explained away again. True, some whom the secular press term traditionalists have been attempting that very thing since shortly after the Second Vatican Council closed. Those on the extreme end of these efforts view Vatican II as an anticouncil; that is, they see that even of 1962-65 as not being a real council of the Church at all, but rather an event abetted by the Forces of Darkness against the Fortress Church of Pius IX and Pius X. This group has always constituted an interesting but numerically insignificant group of Catholics.

More numerous — and more influential, at least in Europe — are those Catholics who even in the 1960s and certainly in the contemporary Church wish to claim Vatican II for the side of continuity and ahistorical Catholic truth: no “Rupture” did — or could — emerge from the implementation of the reforms of the council because the Church cannot change. But more to the point, they argue, is the fat that the council fathers implementing the reformed intended no such rupture with previous councils or Church practice. The efforts of this group — some in key hierarchical positions of authority — to ignore the genie let out of the bottle, or at least to act as though that genie offered nothing new and important, have found powerful spokespersons in the highest levels of Church government. But their arguments ignore the perspicacious law of unintended consequences, a law provable to the extent that it provides intellectual clarity on what in fact happened in the Catholic sixties. Mainstream Catholics in the United States, after the sixties, have come to understand their own revered brand of Christianity as having undergone historical development and change. The law of unintended consequences goes a long way in explaining why that perception has triumphed so broadly in the American Catholic community. Whatever the strengths of the arguments offered by the group attempt to claim Vatican II for the side of continuity, their failure to take into account the clear results of that law undercuts the important aspects of their position. Whatever the intentions of the bishop passing the conciliar decrees, the resulting documents sponsored a revolution that took on a life of its own, just as all events in history have a tendency to do. . . .

Second, the widespread acceptance of the seemingly self-evident truth that things change will make it increasingly difficult to propound or defend Church teaching and practice by appealing to timeless, static categories of propositional truth. This applies most particularly to the intellectual tradition of scholastic natural law, which the Catholic tradition has relied on for presenting its most important teachings since the thirteenth century. The fractious nonrecption of Paul VI’s encyclical on birth control, if nothing else, illustrates this with startling clarity. Whatever the truth of Paul VI’s teaching, the massive noncompliance accorded his encyclical shows that the great majority of American Catholics did not form their consciences along the lines of such moral reasoning, and have not since. There are of course many possible reasons for this lack of compliance on the part of the vast majority of practicing Catholics on an issue that the hierarchical Church has termed “serious matter.” Some of those reasons may indeed involve personal ignorance, sinful willfulness, or just plain selfishness. But an important reason for that noncompliance, what I would label as the main reason, is that the classical unchanging world it presupposes no longer makes sense to the vast majority of the faithful in the United States. What Bernard Lonergan so elegantly called the “transition from a classicist world view to historical mindedness” in fact describes the intellectual revolution that mainstream Catholics underwent during the sixties.

Whatever the strengths of that older classicist worldview — and it served the Catholic Church extraordinarily well for centuries — it can no longer provide plausible explanations for Church teaching . . . . The older intellectual categories of scholastic natural law, first enunciated so brilliantly by St. Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century, appear unable to accomplish that now. Perhaps the intellectual justification offered in its place to explain Catholic teaching will represent the most important long-term fruit of the intellectual revolution sponsored by historical consciousness in Catholic Christianity. Time will tell.

The third lesson that Massa draws is that the labels conservative and liberal no longer make sense of Roman Catholicism:

What the historical consciousness allows us to see is that none of these figures [Bernard Lonergan, Avery Dulles, the Catonsville Nine] can be appropriately understood by the application of political labels. What they had in common as central players in the socioreligious drama I’ve termed the Catholic sixties was a deep appreciation of how the religious tradition to which they all belonged had undergone historical evolution and change. That appreciation was as Catholic as it was modern, in the sense that Pius X so feared. At its core was the radical recognition that what faithful Christians did and believed in the mid-twentieth century was not always a faithful replication of what the early Christian and the medieval builders of the great cathedrals had done and believed. Sometimes this recognition was good news; sometimes it was a cause for reform. . . But at its root was an appreciation of disruption, discontinuity, and evolution as part of the very fiber of the Catholic tradition. Change was not foreign to the Catholic tradition: it defined it.

This is why the bumper sticker line, “This is the church Jesus founded,” can no longer be uttered with a straight face. (And for those who want to claim with a straight face that Rome is the church Christ founded, they need to consider that Massa’s book came out five years after Benedict XVI outlined the hermeneutic of continuity by which the magisterium was going to read the history of Vatican II. Apparently, Massa, an official at a prominent Roman Catholic university, did not get that memorandum.)

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218 thoughts on “A Genie Out of the Bottle

  1. Dr. Hart,

    You need to add a “Are the CTCers Paying Attention?” tag to this most excellent post. We know they’re not, but it will make it easier for us to link to in case we need to get all Crossian and post a link to a 10,000 word article in response to JATC. Course your posts are better because unlike Bryan et al, you actually pay attention to history.

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  2. Ratzinger; “The Second Vatican Council, with its new definition of the relationship between the faith of the Church and certain essential elements of modern thought, has reviewed or even corrected certain historical decisions, but in this apparent discontinuity it has actually preserved and deepened her inmost nature and true identity.”

    Oakley and Francis(hopefully) would agree. Now, here comes the college of bishops and her churches and their requisite charism to carry on, without rupture of course, correcting certain historical decisions like papal primacy viewed through the eyes of infallibility, crafted as a necessary response to the antagonism of a modernity that has since softened and accepted it’s own limitations and shedding what remains of a institution still too reflective of it’s medieval adornment and obscuring it’s more ancient and inmost nature and true identity.

    Somebody get Kung on the line we got work to do.

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  3. Robert, sharp eye, nice catch. This stuff is just as much for the Crossians as it is for readers here. Wait, it is for them. We prots don’t need to read this stuff, we’ve know for 700 years what we are and where we come from. It’s gotta be rough being

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  4. Andrew, before we get too confident about Protestantism and history, we need to remember that historical consciousness was and still is a great difficulty for biblical authority. Is it the word of God or is it the words of men who lived at a particular time and wrote in a given context? Once you contextualize, you lose the thus sayeth the Lord character of it.

    But for Roman Catholics it is doubly difficult. Not only is Scripture historical, but tradition is so as well. Nothing escapes history or its acids.

    The virtue of Old Princeton (especially Warfield) was to work out a way to affirm that the Bible was both fully divine and fully human — concursus. Doesn’t mean it will pass Cross’s logic meter. But it is smart.

    My sense is that the whole debate among RC’s over hermeneutics of continuity or rupture is a replay of what Protestants like Warfield were wrestling with 125 years ago.

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  5. Ratzinger: The Second Vatican Council, with its new definition of the relationship between the faith of the Church and certain essential elements of modern thought, has reviewed or even corrected certain historical decisions, but in this apparent discontinuity it has actually preserved and deepened her inmost nature and true identity

    Garbage in, purity out. I really hate this kind of dissembling.

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  6. Darryl, thanks. I’ll keep mining the books I’ve been collecting since finding you all out here in blogdom. I do agree that RCs demand a level of respect, and to that I pay them, while also disagreeing sharply with their presuppositions. You are right to center your attacks at the onliners as you do. Bringing them back to our religion is foolhardy, IMHO. The best we can hope for is to make them the best Cat-licks they can be. Then again, who knows. It’s the Holy Spigot (sean?) we’re talking about here. May be too much fir me, but not him..

    Anyway, I agree, we have as many pitfalls as the other side. Appreciate the direction here. Take care.

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  7. Sean: John, it just highlights the spuriousness/desperateness of the hermenuetic.

    Yes, but as Erik posted in the WSJ article, you have a journalist like Bret Stephens saying things like “Francis electrifies non-Christians like me because so much of what he says seems to be concerned above all with getting the theological fine print out of the way…”

    Far more people around the world are far more informed about what Beyonce is wearing and her marketing methods, than what is really going on with “Francis”. The spurious, desperate dissembling has the outward appearance of being serious to some people, to very many people.

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  8. Hosting a “What do you think of the Pope?” Pub Night discussion tomorrow night in DC.

    The links to articles in this chain have been most useful for my prep. Please post more… I’d be happy to see some of the best comprehensive opinion / analysis pieces on Pope Francis you guys have come across.

    And feel free to join us if you live in the DC area.

    https://www.facebook.com/events/772209849460485/?ref=5

    [cross posting here with previous “Wow” thread]

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  9. John, it seems nice, but people spending hours a week just bickering and going absolutely nowhere is a waste of everyone’s time.

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  10. Dr Hart’s earlier comment about historical consciousness is well taken.

    “the Bible was both fully divine and fully human”, And, of course, Jesus as the Word Incarnate was also fully divine and fully human.

    This prompts a query on my part, though (with apologies) is off the main topic of this thread.

    Presumably, something being fully divine and fully human would be a logical impossibility, would it not? I wonder how CTC logicians deal with that. We have other observable phenomena such as light, where quantum physics can demonstrate that it behaves as both “particle” and “wave”, which would presumably be a logical impossibility, yet still be true. Would this illustrate the limitations on use of ‘logic’ in the pursuit of Truth? Aren’t the guts of our faith rooted in divine revelation?

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  11. Petros, you are right, and I didn’t expand on Darryl’s point to me, which is a good one and worth exploring, for sure. I have a book by Fred Zaspel called “The Theology of BB Warfield,” which I will check out tonight when I am not working. Should I have value to add to this thread, I’ll do that at that time. Take care.

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  12. I will add, though, Christology is logical. We can have a paradox which remains logical, although of course God is not paradox. Reminds me of a Kierkegaard quote on this topic, but yeah, if you took us on a detour, I am now taking us somewhere lost in space (emotiocon). Point Herr, Christology is actually logical, per my studies reading Cyril of Alexandria. Peace.

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  13. Still lost in space here, this is the quote which came to mind:

    But one must not think ill of the paradox, for the paradox is the passion of thought, and the thinker without the paradox is like the lover without passion: a mediocre fellow. But the ultimate potentiation of every passion is always to will its own downfall, and so it is also the ultimate passion of the understanding to will the collision, although in one way or another the collision must become its downfall. This, then, is the ultimate paradox of thought: to want to discover something that thought itself cannot think.

    Adios.

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  14. Re: Logic and revelation. One last comment, and then I will cease/desist from detouring this thread any further. It seems to me that Christianity is 100% logical (and, practical, and workable, and many other things). It’s just that the starting point for finding Truth is not with human ‘logic’….the starting point is Divine revelation. Prov 9:10!

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  15. Muy bien!

    My fault for the original detour. My trailing off sentence meant tonsay it must be tough being traditionlist in light of Vatican 2. To me, there illogic 101, hence only 2 (and one I tried to comment on at CtC, no luck) posts at CtC on Vat2. It’s called duck and dodge, called to confusion.

    I’m out. Lates.

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  16. It’s fascinating that Bryan “all things logical” Cross, would miss that blaring logical contradiction pointed out by this article:

    Second, the widespread acceptance of the seemingly self-evident truth that things change will make it increasingly difficult to propound or defend Church teaching and practice by appealing to timeless, static categories of propositional truth.

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  17. John, it seems nice, but people spending hours a week just bickering and going absolutely nowhere is a waste of everyone’s time.

    Come on, Kent, that’s awful judgmental of you. Can’t you be nice? This is the internet after all and your words will be used against you. I suppose next you want to bicker dispute about it.
    Look at it this way, if the roman wannabes can actually make it through the meat grinder and all the wolves over here, they might actually be half way interesting to listen to as they run through their spiel on what is plausible with human reason – however inconsistent it is with Scripture. Call it cheap entertainment. I mean if you are going to laugh so hard you got beer coming out your nose, best to do it at home.

    Nate, Bryan doesn’t respond to hand waving assertions in that he’s got more than a few of his own to promote. But nice ecumenical try on your part.

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  18. Bob S,

    No, Bryan is just too busy evading a question by Andrew McCallum over at Jason’s site right now. He’ll get back to the handwaving when he has more time.

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  19. Robt.
    I thought I would never ever have to put up with reading more of the tripe that Jason puts out, but here you go telling me that if I want to be informed member of the snarkocracy, I gotta return to the cesspool at least one more time in the hopes that the artful dodger might at last, be cornered in the combox. Of course that is also when the true viciousness of many cute little animals also comes out into the open. A thank you is on hold until after/if we return without being bitten.

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  20. Bob S, I too see no point venturing over there, seems like sadism. But if people enjoy it, whatev. I simply stay away myself.

    Lates.

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  21. I need to outsource some sermon prep to you guys… Thanks for all the materials.

    Darryl, I’ll submit the check, along with an expense form for all the paper.

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  22. Re: the incarnation (discussion earlier up)

    For Cyril, this was paradoxical, or better ‘mysterious,’ but not illogical, because Christ’s human nature did not exceed the limits of its own capacities (or ‘properties’) on its own terms-something that would indeed have been nonsensical-but precisely because it was being used as an instrument within an infinite design

    That one’s for you, Petros, page 186.

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  23. Mark Massa? You’re kidding, right, D? Might as well define Calvinism by Mark Driscoll.

    Progressive Catholicism’s Simplistic Thesis
    Sep 9, 2010
    R.R. Reno
    Nearly fifty years have past, but the legacy of the Second Vatican Council (it ended in November 1965) still remains a matter of debate. Not surprisingly, studies of the history often become advocacy.

    The American Catholic Revolution: How the Sixties Changed the Church Forever, by Mark S. Massa, S. J., is no exception. Dean of the School of Theology and Ministry at Boston College, Fr. Massa hangs his history on the old caricatures that have dominated liberal interpretations of modern Catholic history for decades.

    The thesis is simplistic in the extreme. On one side are those who believe in timeless truths, on the other side those who embrace “historical consciousness.” By this reading, the history of Catholicism in the decade of and after the Council is best understood as the clash between a-historical martinets who wanted to keep the Church frozen in the past and historically sensitive intellectuals who were comfortable with pluralism, change, and the “messiness of history.”

    Massa’s superficial reading of the documents of the Second Vatican Council offers an illustration. He points out that in one of the key Vatican II texts, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, the bishops adopted a range of biblical terms rather than a single, settled scholastic definition of the Church.

    This variety led, he suggests, to a deeper understanding of the Church, one that brought to the fore images of the church suppressed by rigid forms of modern Catholic scholasticism. For example, the central biblical notion of “People of God” became a rallying cry for those who wanted to make the church less hierarchical and more egalitarian.

    That’s accurate as a description of the way progressives saw things in the aftermath of Vatican II. But the facts of the matter cut against Massa’s thesis, for those crusading for an egalitarian church were the a-historical theologians, not those who resisted them.

    Throughout The American Catholic Revolution the simple-minded dichotomy between an old-fashioned belief in timeless truths and a new, fluid historical consciousness exerts too much control over Massa’s mind. He writes that historical consciousness has “won the day in so many parts of culture—in science, technology, historical and social scientific scholarship.” How can he assert something so obviously false?

    &c.

    http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2010/09/progressive-catholicismrsquos-simplistic-thesis/rr-reno

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  24. Tom Van Dyke: Reno’s closing paragraph is telling:

    Today we need genuine historical work rather than the agenda of liberal Catholicism dressed up in academic gowns. By my reckoning, the most fascinating and remarkable aspect of recent American Catholic history was both the sudden and powerful emergence of a progressive Catholic vision after Vatican II, and its equally sudden (and largely unexpected) collapse only a decade or two later. Who, for example, reads David Tracy anymore? Or even Karl Rahner?

    Well now, that collapse of “progressive Catholic vision”, which seemed to have all the right nails in the coffin under JPII and BXVI (this article was written in 2010, now seems to have re-emerged, not simply from within American academia, but right in the heart of “the Holy See”.

    Last I heard, that “progressivism” now seems to be in charge of “the bishop factory” over there.

    There will be interesting times ahead for guys like you.

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  25. Tom, a little anti-Catholicism going on here? Boston College is as light weight as Acts 29? Oxford University Press is not better than Multanomah?

    I get it. You’re the final authority. Intermediaries are merely posers.

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  26. John, Reno’s point about “what the people read” is a long way from “we have a mechanism to fix this.” So the people tired of Rahner. Tastes change. Flux is king.

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  27. D. G. Hart
    Posted December 21, 2013 at 8:49 am | Permalink
    Tom, a little anti-Catholicism going on here? Boston College is as light weight as Acts 29? Oxford University Press is not better than Multanomah?

    I get it. You’re the final authority. Intermediaries are merely posers.

    Heh. Acts 29. I just read some gal raging against Driscoll’s Acts 29 churches. I will try not to judge Calvinism by that.

    Similarly, “Catholic” college is at best descriptive, not definitive.

    http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/366895/president-catholic-university-eliminates-abortion-coverage-faculty-overrules-alec

    Using Massa-as-Catholic is pretty close to putting Pelosi alongside Balthasar. Or Driscoll to Hart. 😉

    [BTW, our synchronicity is unnerving–Chip has me listening to WIP a lot lately too. Have it on right now. That Cataldi is really smarmy, though.]

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  28. Tom, this is like debating Bryan Cross. Whatever I say is hand waving and bogus. Boston College or a high-ranking Jesuit priest? Why I might as well have cited a Jehovah’s Witness. Your sources? Solid Rome.

    Please tell me how you can set me up with Roman Gabriel.

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  29. John Bugay
    Posted December 21, 2013 at 4:57 am | Permalink
    Tom Van Dyke: Reno’s closing paragraph is telling:

    Today we need genuine historical work rather than the agenda of liberal Catholicism dressed up in academic gowns. By my reckoning, the most fascinating and remarkable aspect of recent American Catholic history was both the sudden and powerful emergence of a progressive Catholic vision after Vatican II, and its equally sudden (and largely unexpected) collapse only a decade or two later. Who, for example, reads David Tracy anymore? Or even Karl Rahner?

    Well now, that collapse of “progressive Catholic vision”, which seemed to have all the right nails in the coffin under JPII and BXVI (this article was written in 2010, now seems to have re-emerged, not simply from within American academia, but right in the heart of “the Holy See”.

    Last I heard, that “progressivism” now seems to be in charge of “the bishop factory” over there.

    There will be interesting times ahead for guys like you.

    Thank you, John. For guys like you–I imagine not liberal but happy to see Catholicism undergo the same liberal assault that has bled your own denominations white–I read Reno’s closing somewhat differently, and relate it to the “scandal of the academic mind,” that it pollutes the young, and gives ammo to those like Dr. Hart whose interest in Massa is chiefly to weild him against Catholicism.

    And to put “nails” in the coffins of JPII and BXVI is the prevailing narrative of the liberal press [liberal and press, that’s redundant]. My view is that it took Benedict’s theological muscle and Francis’s gift for pastorship to attempt to succeed JPII effectively–Benedict too cold, Francis too unrigorous. I see them as the equal sides of John Paul’s coin.

    And as an opponent of “liberal theology” of the type that has decimated [literally!] the Protestant mainline, I thought Benedict’s reining in of the “Nuns on a Bus” types a very necessary move. Such toughness is not in Francis’s makeup, I think, but I don’t look for him to reverse Benedict on this stuff. Francis’s “liberalism” is one of style, not substance.

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  30. D. G. Hart
    Posted December 21, 2013 at 3:58 pm | Permalink
    Tom, this is like debating Bryan Cross. Whatever I say is hand waving and bogus. Boston College or a high-ranking Jesuit priest? Why I might as well have cited a Jehovah’s Witness. Your sources? Solid Rome.

    Please tell me how you can set me up with Roman Gabriel.

    Roman Gabriel? Oh, you do listen after all, sort of. One of these days you’ll actually respond substantively, I feel it!

    Oh, and nice tactic, handwaving about Bryan Cross’s “handwaving” about “handwaving.” I see what you did there. 😉

    No, I don’t think your Edgardo Mortara screed is bogus, I just think it’s a cudgel in search of a thesis. Why not just state the argument? If your fans are able to state it in their own words, that’ll prove it’s a thesis. They usually seem to jump in at the drop of any hat, but here their absence is conspicuous.

    As for Massa being a “high-ranking” priest [you previously called him an “official”], either you’re being intentionally misleading in your description or don’t appreciate how liberals have been permitted to operate, presumably under the color of magisterial authority, speaking at least semi-officially but in reality contravening the Catholic teaching.

    This is why I brought up the “Nuns on the Bus,” who are probably less Catholic than, well, you.

    Here’s a nice liberal misrepresentation of the story

    http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/121213/new-inquisition-the-vatican-targets-us-nuns

    which still holds enough truth to be informative. radicals like Massa fit in here somewhere. They do not speak for the Catholic church. Sort of like if Calvinism were a church, Bayly, Driscoll and Keller do not speak for it. Or so you tell me.

    Hey, I’m on your side, in a way. I respect the real thing, not these liberal counterfeits, just as you wrote about “Calvinists” several posts ago. Rock on, bro.

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  31. Tom, my denomination is quite healthy.

    It’s not that I am “happy” to see Roman Catholicism “undergo a liberal assault”. But the fact is, Reno’s comment about the “progressive Catholic vision” having collapsed was a bit premature.

    For Roman Catholicism, the “liberal assault” is within; in fact, the liberal assault is “in charge” at the moment. So while for Protestants, “shaking the dust off your feet” is a valid option, for Roman Catholicism, the enemy is, well, not only “within”, but now “calling the shots”.

    You might disagree with that. You might say this pope’s “teaching” is 100% orthodox. Maybe, maybe not. But the new “bishop factory” is going to end up putting lots of liberals all throughout “the Magisterium”, and

    Here’s a point of reading comprehension for you. In my sentence which spoke of “that collapse of “progressive Catholic vision”, which seemed to have all the right nails in the coffin under JPII and BXVI”, did not suggest that there were nails in the coffins of JPII and BXVI. Rather, the nails were in the coffin of the “progressive Catholic vision”, and they were (according to Reno) placed there (according to Reno) by JPII and BXVI.

    Maybe “Francis” is not the one you need to worry about right now. (Maybe he still will surprise everyone). But the real thing is, the wobbling between the conservative and liberal poles is still happening; “Francis” is going to cause that to become more pronounced (especially as more liberal bishops get placed).

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  32. John Bugay
    Posted December 21, 2013 at 4:42 pm | Permalink
    Tom, my denomination is quite healthy.

    It’s not that I am “happy” to see Roman Catholicism “undergo a liberal assault”. But the fact is, Reno’s comment about the “progressive Catholic vision” having collapsed was a bit premature.

    For Roman Catholicism, the “liberal assault” is within; in fact, the liberal assault is “in charge” at the moment. So while for Protestants, “shaking the dust off your feet” is a valid option, for Roman Catholicism, the enemy is, well, not only “within”, but now “calling the shots”.

    You might disagree with that. You might say this pope’s “teaching” is 100% orthodox. Maybe, maybe not. But the new “bishop factory” is going to end up putting lots of liberals all throughout “the Magisterium”, and

    Here’s a point of reading comprehension for you. In my sentence which spoke of “that collapse of “progressive Catholic vision”, which seemed to have all the right nails in the coffin under JPII and BXVI”, did not suggest that there were nails in the coffins of JPII and BXVI. Rather, the nails were in the coffin of the “progressive Catholic vision”, and they were (according to Reno) placed there (according to Reno) by JPII and BXVI.

    Maybe “Francis” is not the one you need to worry about right now. (Maybe he still will surprise everyone). But the real thing is, the wobbling between the conservative and liberal poles is still happening; “Francis” is going to cause that to become more pronounced (especially as more liberal bishops get placed).

    Well, actually, your “denomination” is a denomination of a denomination [of a schism of a schism]. Thank you for your reply. To attempt an arm’s length assessment of the very interesting structural problems:

    You are quite right that [by definition] Catholicism does not have the option of schism [!] but I’m not sure that’s an argument that helps your cause. And “liberal assaults” are always from within. There is an interesting analysis to be done on whether the conservatives leave the liberals–Luther and Calvin claimed to be the “true” church, and fled what had become a counterfeit. My favorite story is how the trinitarians let the unitarians keep the unitarian churches. [Old saying, still around: The Congregationalists kept the faith, the Unitarians got the furniture.]

    As for my reading comprehension fail, sorry. You are correct. However the main point remains valid if Francis does let Benedict’s muscular reimposition of orthodoxy stand. By contrast, I think you’re obliged to admit that Protestant denominations–being theo-philosophically anti-authoritarian–have been conspicuously unable to rein in their liberal forces: the only option for orthodoxy is to let ’em have the damn church institution and to start over down the street.

    Which may be God’s plan, that in the end the true church will be the remnant of a remnant of a remnant, but that’s certainly the antithesis of “catholic,” small “c” as found in the various creeds and confessions.

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  33. I deny your concept of schism. I deny that the PCA and the OPC are in schism. I deny that any true believers who are “in Christ” can be “in schism” as you are using the term here.

    To use an aristotelian concept, “the church of Christ” is one — it is that way in its very substance, whereas, on the surface, in the “accidents”, even though there is some external or administrative difference, those truly “in Christ” are “one”.

    You want to claim that “Catholicism does not have the option of schism”, but you make the assumption that “Catholicism” is “the one true church”, which I deny.

    Therefore, Luther and Calvin, both being of the true church, were “one” and not in “schism” in reality (in the eyes of God), even though they disagreed on some surface things.

    TVD: By contrast, I think you’re obliged to admit that Protestant denominations–being theo-philosophically anti-authoritarian–have been conspicuously unable to rein in their liberal forces: the only option for orthodoxy is to let ‘em have the damn church institution and to start over down the street.

    I think it’s fairly safe to say two things here: First, it is Christ who allows “liberal forces” to be where they are, and second, he does not claim to be a protector of “institutions”.

    Which may be God’s plan, that in the end the true church will be the remnant of a remnant of a remnant, but that’s certainly the antithesis of “catholic,” small “c” as found in the various creeds and confessions.

    Small “c” “catholic” is not a biblical word, and it seems that it is misapplied to the “one true church” (which extends to the sum total of the elect everywhere).

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  34. John Bugay
    Posted December 21, 2013 at 6:59 pm | Permalink
    I deny your concept of schism. I deny that the PCA and the OPC are in schism. I deny that any true believers who are “in Christ” can be “in schism” as you are using the term here.

    To use an aristotelian concept, “the church of Christ” is one — it is that way in its very substance, whereas, on the surface, in the “accidents”, even though there is some external or administrative difference, those truly “in Christ” are “one”.

    You want to claim that “Catholicism does not have the option of schism”, but you make the assumption that “Catholicism” is “the one true church”, which I deny.

    Therefore, Luther and Calvin, both being of the true church, were “one” and not in “schism” in reality (in the eyes of God), even though they disagreed on some surface things.

    TVD: By contrast, I think you’re obliged to admit that Protestant denominations–being theo-philosophically anti-authoritarian–have been conspicuously unable to rein in their liberal forces: the only option for orthodoxy is to let ‘em have the damn church institution and to start over down the street.

    I think it’s fairly safe to say two things here: First, it is Christ who allows “liberal forces” to be where they are, and second, he does not claim to be a protector of “institutions”.

    Which may be God’s plan, that in the end the true church will be the remnant of a remnant of a remnant, but that’s certainly the antithesis of “catholic,” small “c” as found in the various creeds and confessions.

    Small “c” “catholic” is not a biblical word, and it seems that it is misapplied to the “one true church” (which extends to the sum total of the elect everywhere).

    Well, actually by “Catholicism does not have the option of schism”, I thought I was agreeing with you on what I thought was an elegant observation.

    For Roman Catholicism, the “liberal assault” is within; in fact, the liberal assault is “in charge” at the moment. So while for Protestants, “shaking the dust off your feet” is a valid option, for Roman Catholicism, the enemy is, well, not only “within”, but now “calling the shots”.

    As for “the assumption that ‘Catholicism’ is “the one true church”, which [you] deny,” I’m not making that assumption of “triumphal” proclamation. I’m attempting to examine all the arguments on their own terms. My core observation about Hart v. Cross is that if the definition of “the true church” is one that has never fallen short of its advertised ideals, there is NO true church and everybody might as well just go home.

    As for “To use an Aristotelian concept, “the church of Christ” is one — it is that way in its very substance” is also elegant, although I think what that “substance” is will be hard for you to sustain through a detailed argument and demonstration of examples. You object to the word “catholic,” but it’s an attempt to describe that very “substance”!

    As for Luther and Calvin disagreeing only on “surface” things, that would be an interesting polemic ala Darryl Hart, pitting one against the other. It’s at least arguable that the Lutherans and Anglicans aren’t so “Protestant” afterall, esp in contradistinction to Calvinists, neo-Calvinists [you speak of the “election” theology here, but there’s the whole TULIP], not to mention Anabaptists and whatnot.

    I follow you on the Aristotelian [Thomistic] use of the “substance” of the Body [or church] of Christ, and would be interested to see how well you can make its catholicity hold up. You deny the Presbyterian sects are in schism with each other, and make even further noises that the sons of Luther and Calvin are as one.

    To this observer, this pan-Protestantism is more an abstraction than a substance.

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  35. TVD: Well, actually by “Catholicism does not have the option of schism”, I thought I was agreeing with you on what I thought was an elegant observation.

    I don’t hold that “Catholicism” has very much correspondence with either “true doctrine” (as an “ism”) nor with the true church (especially not in its hierarchy).

    But I do allow that Catholicism considers itself a self-contained kind of entity, which is why I did two things: made the “elegant observation”, and then clarified that the “one true church” is indeed “one”.

    TVD: My core observation about Hart v. Cross is that if the definition of “the true church” is one that has never fallen short of its advertised ideals, there is NO true church and everybody might as well just go home.

    I’ve made the statement around here that “If God is sovereign in the realm of being, he is surely also sovereign in the realm of knowledge”.

    If that is true, then (a) there is a true church, and (b) God is not bound by whatever definitions we apply to it. So “advertised ideals” really don’t come into play. The real effort from our point of view should be invested in understanding what God sovereignly is doing and communicating to us.

    However, if God is “doing”, then he is not lacking in his intended accomplishments, and if God is “communicating”, his communication is adequate and is not falling short of his intended objectives for it.

    TVD: As for “To use an Aristotelian concept, “the church of Christ” is one — it is that way in its very substance” is also elegant, although I think what that “substance” is will be hard for you to sustain through a detailed argument and demonstration of examples. You object to the word “catholic,” but it’s an attempt to describe that very “substance”!

    I freely admit that Aristotelian concepts are lacking; however, I used it because my intention was to communicate something like that comment.

    I used the word “substance” with respect to “the church”. These discussions always come down to “what is ‘the church’?”

    So my point has been that “the church” is “the church” apart from the words we apply to it — in this case, “catholic”. As I mentioned to Kenneth in the other thread, the word “catholic” originally referred to an attempt by Greek city-states to try to describe and maintain their own Greek culture in the face of Roman political domination, without seeming to challenge the Roman authorities.

    The word “catholic” as used with respect to “the church” really is just descriptive, it has nothing to do with the ontological reality of the church.

    So as for “the substance” of “the church”, the phrase “in Christ” (or more precisely, “our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” “ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὁ εὐλογήσας ἡμᾶς ἐν πάσῃ εὐλογίᾳ πνευματικῇ ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις ἐν Χριστῷ”) is much more descriptive of the actual ontology of (a) believers and (b) the church.

    For God, who acts sovereignly, who creates sovereignly, who communicates sovereignly, “our Lord Jesus Christ” has already “blessed” “the church” “in the heavenly realms” “with every spiritual blessing in Christ”.

    TVD: As for Luther and Calvin disagreeing only on “surface” things, that would be an interesting polemic ala Darryl Hart, pitting one against the other. It’s at least arguable that the Lutherans and Anglicans aren’t so “Protestant” afterall, esp in contradistinction to Calvinists, neo-Calvinists [you speak of the “election” theology here, but there’s the whole TULIP], not to mention Anabaptists and whatnot.

    Again, from God’s sovereign perspective, Luther and Calvin and Hart are already “blessed” “in the heavenly realms” “with every spiritual blessing in Christ”.

    TVD: I follow you on the Aristotelian [Thomistic] use of the “substance” of the Body [or church] of Christ, and would be interested to see how well you can make its catholicity hold up.

    I have already allowed that both “substance” and “catholic” are weak concepts. I was just trying to communicate something to you that I thought you would understand.

    I have now moved beyond these weak concepts, to use biblical language about “the church”: already “blessed” (past tense) “in the heavenly realms” “with every spiritual blessing in Christ”. And I suggest to you that this is a far more elegant concept with respect to “the church” than is “catholic”.

    There is nothing “abstract” about what is said here (using the biblical terms).

    In fact, by comparison, “catholic” is retrograde.

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  36. John, Thomas More uses the “philology” battle in his argument for the [Catholic Church’s] magisterium. You have just unloosed so many terms and their translations [most all of which are disputed by Catholics vs. Protestants vs. other Protestants] that I have to agree with More–the vast majority don’t read the original languages of the books of the Bible, and will end up trusting one translator or another–one “magisterium” or another–on what God meant.

    More’s is a formal argument, really, and one you can’t dismiss. Few of us have the time or intellect to even guess at the linguistic shades, subtleties and nuances. In the end you have to take somebody else’s word for what the Bible says!

    [This is not to say that humanity can’t tell what Jesus is saying, regardless of the translations. The Word gets through all language barrier quite well. It’s the Christians who nibble at the edges!]

    As for your use of “substance” in the Aristotelian/thomistic sense, I don’t think you should back away from it atall, I think it’s wonderful. What is the [metaphysical] “substance” of the Body of Christ? This is a question we could discuss, meditate, pray and read on, that lies outside the usual doctrinal grenade tossing. I think you struck gold.

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  37. Tom, are you kidding? The thesis? It is that Rome is not what Bryan says it is. I thought you were brighter than that.

    “You’re on my side — in a way.” That’s what she said.

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  38. D. G. Hart
    Posted December 21, 2013 at 9:16 pm | Permalink
    Tom, are you kidding? The thesis? It is that Rome is not what Bryan says it is. I thought you were brighter than that.

    “You’re on my side — in a way.” That’s what she said.

    Well, I am on your side D. In fact had you been speaking as a prophet, that “Protestant America” was dying and now is dead, that there’s nothing left but to cower in the catacombs and be ‘elect.”

    That sounds really great.

    The thesis? It is that Rome is not what Bryan says it is

    That’s a polemic, an attack. It’s OK, but a thesis is a positive argument. Proving somebody else wrong doesn’t make you right.

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  39. TVD, I’ve responded to your comments about More’s argument in the other thread (“Called to Communion with a Twist”).

    But addressing your last paragraph here:

    As for your use of “substance” in the Aristotelian/thomistic sense, I don’t think you should back away from it atall, I think it’s wonderful. What is the [metaphysical] “substance” of the Body of Christ? This is a question we could discuss, meditate, pray and read on, that lies outside the usual doctrinal grenade tossing. I think you struck gold.

    The reason I back away from it is because there are legitimate promises given in the Scriptures that make no reliance on the concept of “substance” at all. Being already “blessed” “in the heavenly realms” “with every spiritual blessing in Christ” is far more wonderful than any of your proposed speculations might be.

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  40. Tom, thanks, mom.

    Just more reason to think you’re sitting at the front of the class with Bryan, asking about whether the teacher is going to assign homework today. Prissy.

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  41. D. G. Hart
    Posted December 21, 2013 at 10:01 pm | Permalink
    Tom, thanks, mom.

    Just more reason to think you’re sitting at the front of the class with Bryan, asking about whether the teacher is going to assign homework today. Prissy.

    First time I’ve been called that, I think. It’s everything I can do to not use my colorful Philadelphia vocabulary around here so as not to give Eric the vapors and report me to my church.

    BTW, A mutual friend of ours said the other day how you were hip and I suppose you are for a Calvinist. [I don’t follow Driscoll except via his critics so I can’t make a comparison.]

    I like the pipe and the bowtie. That’s hip as hell, D. Give ’em heck, Darry.

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  42. D. G. Hart
    Posted December 21, 2013 at 9:21 pm | Permalink
    John, must be a slow day for Tom now that Kobie is out for the season.

    Astonishingly brutal again, D. After all this time you still don’t know me, how it hurts my heart. How could a Philly boy move to LA and become a Fakers fan? It’d be like joining the evil empire, defecting to the Soviets or the Mets or something.

    I did adopt a basketball team, though, bigtime. 😉 My only non-Philly team, even though the Dolphins used to train just below my dorm window. [Don Shula was nice, though. Catholic.]

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  43. I know. That other thread was getting way out of hand.

    Listen I was born in ’66 and so I wasn’t old enough to live the rupture. Maybe you could enumerate the changes that Massa said happened. I live outside of LA in San Bernadino county and attend two different conservative parishes; one of which has a pretty stiff dress code and so I get self-conscious if my skirt is above the knee. Apparently there is continuity will classical Catholicism out there, still.
    But what do I know, I’m brainless.

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  44. Susan, historicism came to the RCC at Vatican II. It means that people (except Protestant converts who never really got past fundamentalism) can’t say with a straight face — this is the church Christ founded. The reason is that there is a lot more human activity in making Roman Catholicism Roman Catholic than a creation ex nihilo — Christ’s creates RCC. It means that once the papacy forbade separation of church and state and now Rome embraces it. It means the papacy once had an army (physical) and it doesn’t any more. Your church has a history and it has changed. What Christ founded is a long way from where Rome is. When Vatican II started to pull at the fabric, the stability, coherence, and the CERTAINTY became a contest.

    You act like you live in Quebec City in the 1920s. You don’t.

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  45. Darryl,
    What you want me to say is that Rome is in the same epistemological boat as Protestantism, but it isn’t.

    I have a lot to read and a lot to learn now that I am Catholic, but I have no misgivings about the state of The Church as it relates to the admixture of attendies who don’t know what The Church officially teaches. I’m sure many in the clergy( the good ones) are terribly grieved about the number of Catholics who don’t know their faith. Even if the entire world were governed by the religion that told us all the whole truth, there would be huge numbers of people(incl. heirarchy) who didn’t like the religion starting their own, or they would still be disobeying the moral law and living like goodness, love, decency, self-sacrifice,etc. were not the code of the universe, so why are you pointing out the activities of “some” of those within Catholicism? Protestantism has all of this too except for having a locus for knowing truth from heresy.

    So did you find out why the separation of Church and state was once forbidden and now approved or why the Vatican once had an army and doesn’t anymore?
    These are interesting things, but the Eucharist hasn’t changed even if the pope happened to be rotten.

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  46. For the record, I am not a “Caller”. I don’t know anyone at CTC( except for one really great man who lives in San Diego) nor have I ever met Jason Stellman. I won’t be back here commenting anymore.

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  47. I keep seeing this and it’s bothersome. There was always a contingent of RC who were unnecessarily thin-skinned. These same people would always find a way to use their faith as justification for being that way. However, the better part of RC piety was being earthy. The easily offended RC always seemed out of step. I always thought the appeal of our piety over say the fundies, was we were generally blue-collar and we weren’t squeamish about all things human(Francis for all his faults, has this appeal, even if there are too many photo ops). Almost to a person, the prot-catholic has been, well, prissy. It’s yet another aspect where the prot-catholic is drinking from the wrong RC well. Certainly we had prisses, but we weren’t proud of it, we didn’t run their flag up and say; ‘this is us, come join us!’

    To me it’s just another example of the fraud.

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  48. Once last comment. Actually Sean, it was because of time that I am bowing out. I have little time or should limit the time that I do have to more constructive things. I’m not thinned skinned in the least, but I am also drawn to an arguement and will spent wasted hours. Even though the articles are directed to us Catholics, I rarely read the original posts in all honesty. No offense to Darryl, he’s a good historian.

    “The Benedictine monks who invented the mechanical clock in the 12th and
    13th centuries believed that such a clock would provide a precise
    regularity to the seven periods of devotion they were required to
    observe during the course of the day. As a matter of fact, it did.
    But what the monks did not realize is that the clock is not merely a
    means of keeping track of the hours but also of synchronizing and
    controlling the actions of men. And so, by the middle of the 14th
    century, the clock had moved outside the walls of the monastery, and
    brought a new and precise regularity to the life of the workman and
    the merchant. The mechanical clock made possible the idea of regular
    production, regular working hours, and a standardized product.
    Without the clock, capitalism would have been quite impossible. And
    so, here is a great paradox: the clock was invented by men who wanted
    to devote themselves more rigorously to God; and it ended as the
    technology of greatest use to men who wished to devote themselves to
    the accumulat- ion of money. Technology always has unforeseen
    consequences, and it is not always clear, at the beginning, who or
    what will win, and who or what will lose.

    I might add, by way of another historical example, that Johann
    Gutenberg was by all accounts a devoted Christian who would have been
    horrified to hear Martin Luther, the accursed heretic, declare that
    printing is “God’s highest act of grace, whereby the business of the
    Gospel is driven forward.” Gutenberg thought his invention would
    advance the cause of the Holy Roman See, whereas in fact, it turned
    out to bring a revolution which destroyed the monopoly of the Church.

    We may well ask ourselves, then, is there something that the masters
    of computer technology think they are doing for us which they and we
    may have reason to regret? I believe there is, and it is suggested by
    the title of my talk, “Informing Ourselves to Death”. In the time
    remaining, I will try to explain what is dangerous about the computer,
    and why. And I trust you will be open enough to consider what I have
    to say. Now, I think I can begin to get at this by telling you of a
    small experiment I have been conducting, on and off, for the past
    several years. There are some people who describe the experiment as an
    exercise in deceit and exploitation but I will rely on your sense of
    humor to pull me through.

    Here’s how it works: It is best done in the morning when I see a
    colleague who appears not to be in possession of a copy of {The New
    York Times}. “Did you read The Times this morning?,” I ask. If the
    colleague says yes, there is no experiment that day. But if the answer
    is no, the experiment can proceed. “You ought to look at Page 23,” I
    say. “There’s a fascinating article about a study done at Harvard
    University.” “Really? What’s it about?” is the usual reply. My
    choices at this point are limited only by my imagination. But I might
    say something like this: “Well, they did this study to find out what
    foods are best to eat for losing weight, and it turns out that a
    normal diet supplemented by chocolate eclairs, eaten six times a day,
    is the best approach. It seems that there’s some special nutrient in
    the eclairs – encomial dioxin – that actually uses up calories at an
    incredible rate.”

    Another possibility, which I like to use with colleagues who are known
    to be health conscious is this one: “I think you’ll want to know about
    this,” I say. “The neuro-physiologists at the University of Stuttgart
    have uncovered a connection between jogging and reduced intelligence.
    They tested more than 1200 people over a period of five years, and
    found that as the number of hours people jogged increased, there was a
    corresponding decrease in their intelligence. They don’t know exactly
    why but there it is.”

    I’m sure, by now, you understand what my role is in the experiment: to
    report something that is quite ridiculous – one might say, beyond
    belief. Let me tell you, then, some of my results: Unless this is the
    second or third time I’ve tried this on the same person, most people
    will believe or at least not disbelieve what I have told them. Some-
    times they say: “Really? Is that possible?” Sometimes they do a
    double-take, and reply, “Where’d you say that study was done?” And
    sometimes they say, “You know, I’ve heard something like that.”

    Now, there are several conclusions that might be drawn from these
    results, one of which was expressed by H. L. Mencken fifty years ago
    when he said, there is no idea so stupid that you can’t find a
    professor who will believe it. This is more of an accusation than an
    explanation but in any case I have tried this experiment on non-
    professors and get roughly the same results. Another possible con-
    clusion is one expressed by George Orwell – also about 50 years ago –
    when he remarked that the average person today is about as naive as
    was the average person in the Middle Ages. In the Middle Ages people
    believed in the authority of their religion, no matter what. Today, we
    believe in the authority of our science, no matter what.

    But I think there is still another and more important conclusion to be
    drawn, related to Orwell’s point but rather off at a right angle to
    it. I am referring to the fact that the world in which we live is very
    nearly incomprehensible to most of us. There is almost no fact –
    whether actual or imagined – that will surprise us for very long,
    since we have no comprehensive and consistent picture of the world
    which would make the fact appear as an unacceptable contradiction. We
    believe because there is no reason not to believe. No social,
    political, historical, metaphysical, logical or spiritual reason. We
    live in a world that, for the most part, makes no sense to us. Not
    even technical sense.”

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  49. You know what they say, sean.
    You can never win arguing with a woman.
    If you win, you’re a jerk and not a gentleman.
    If you don’t, you’re a wuss and it served you right.

    Now that we have got that straight.
    I’m familiar with ‘holywater joes’, but “priss” ?
    Are they the same thing?
    Hey, just asking.
    And “fraud”, did you really have to? Think of all the hurt feelings. Really.
    For your penance . . . you have to watch Jason’s interview a hundred times and do a typewritten book report in your own words, of course.

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  50. Susan, you’re really not thinking this through. I’m not saying you can’t be a Roman Catholic. Who am I to judge? What I am saying is that you overestimate the certainty that Rome provides — not to mention that you conflate the Eucharist with the pope. The Mass is not going to determine who’s a heretic, right?

    You say the attendees who don’t get it don’t bother you. But what about the clergy who don’t get it? Cardinal Martini, recently deceased, Bishop of Milan, was allowed to go on in defiance of the papacy. And Martini had apostolic succession.

    And then there are those papal statements about papal authority and the heresy of Americanism. If the pope was wrong about those statement — even if he was devout — if later generations of bishops don’t believe or enforce what former popes taught, then you are in the same epistemic boat as a Protestant because now the wonderful mechanism for deciding what’s true has moved from the papacy founded by Christ to the shifting teaching of subsequent generations. Actually, your position is worse. You believe the church doesn’t err even though it does. Protestants don’t believe the church doesn’t err.

    And your failure to think this through is what makes you the Roman Catholic equivalent of a fundamentalist. Fundies believed in biblical inerrancy and refused to consider evidence to the contrary from higher critics. You refuse to consider the errors of the church despite evidence supplied by higher critics who are priests and bishops in your own church and in fellowship with the Bishop of Rome.

    Can you say “what a mess”? Sure you can.

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  51. Sean, blame the Protestantism. Can’t be Rome’s fault.

    Though in some seriousness, what you say does confirm the point that several historians have made about what happens to RC’sm when it leaves the ghetto and moves to the suburbs. The suburban RC’s like to think they are still in the close knit parish (which included whiskey priests and mafia dons, which isn’t so reassuring to the suburbanites), without the hassle. No putting that genie back in the bottle.

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  52. Darryl, that’s an interesting insight. It reminds me of my father years ago threatening to leave the parish they’ve been in for the past 20 years when he realized all his friends had become ‘country club’ republicans. He felt it was a betrayal of RC.

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  53. Sean, right, the appeal over the fundies for some can be the earthy lack of enthusiasm. But all it takes is about ten to fifteen minutes of sober consideration of the actual doctrinal and ecclesiastical claims (and the inherent pietism) until the luster wears and the high church fundamentalism is revealed. That’s not to say confessional Protestantism doesn’t have its epistemological pietism, etc., but at least it doesn’t do so along with the audacious(!) claims.

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  54. Susan – I won’t be back here commenting anymore.

    Susan – Once last comment.

    Erik – You can’t go. Just take a deep breath and come back in a day or two. You won’t get this dialogue anywhere else. If your faith can survive it after an extended period of this type of interaction it will be stronger. If it can’t it will be time for another paradigm change. That’s life.

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  55. Zrim – That’s not to say confessional Protestantism doesn’t have its epistemological pietism, etc., but at least it doesn’t do so along with the audacious(!) claims.

    Erik – Yeah, but most of the pietism in our ranks comes from “extracurricular reading” — too much Jonathan Edwards, Doug Phillips, Scott Brown, etc.

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  56. Darryl,

    “You refuse to consider the errors of the church despite evidence supplied by higher critics who are priests and bishops in your own church and in fellowship with the Bishop of Rome”

    I truly have not refused to consider anything. Errors….well, that is a matter of intepretation; you call the Eucharistic Sacrifice of the Mass a damnable error. If a Pope or Cardinal sends out an army to butcher a Protestant village, they are wicked, wicked people. I haven’t loss a sense of judgement of right and wrong. God is still good and on His throne, it’s that those who were called to be His servants( like the bad Pharisees whom Jesus chided for worrying about the picking of head of wheat on the Sabbath even when His disciples were hungry. People who’d pull pull their own ox, sheep or child away from danger, but condemn someone else when they are doing a greater good than observance of the Sabbath) ignore the weightier matters of the law–justice, mercy and faithfulness.

    But say we were in the same epistemic boat and with all the confusing difference of our different denominations( which I maintain the RCC is not one), I can at least go back prior to the Reformation and see what was the normative rule of faith for 1500 yrs. If I am mistaken, God knows I tried to find out where His true Church on earth is. Yes, you could say that my mistake is in presupposing a Church, but I can also say that, by using my own fallible mind, I see that the scriptures teach that Jesus began a church.According to ( the self-refuting doctrine) sola scriptura, I am not mistaken to read it for it is very clear, and who is anyone to take issue with my interpretation. So we can’t agree on this and that’s fine, but it is here again proof that without a interpretor to help us know for certain that this IS what scripture testifies, you and I should both be on the lookout for a visible church; a church where we also stop imposing our presuppositions into that entity, otherwise we will stay on the merry-go-round indefinately.
    The reason, I should stop commenting is because you believe that I am turning a deaf ear to problems within the RCC, and I believe that you don’t see how problematic it is that Christianity doesn’t have a way to establish what is constitutes heresy.
    I also wouldn’t mind commenting, but in truth, the bantering tends to being brutal.

    Erik, what can I say…..I’m fickle.

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  57. Susan, you still haven’t considered what it means when your infallible church changes and doesn’t teach what it used to.

    But if you think I think the church has no way to establish what constitute heresy, what planet are you living on? Rome has a way. Protestants have a way. Neither way convinces EVERYONE. And that seems to be your criteria — it must be universally, visible, and unerringly true.

    But Rome’s mechanism hasn’t stopped Protestantism. It hasn’t stopped a secularizing Europe (not to mention Italy).

    What you have is nothing more than wishful thinking. Rather, it’s a decision you made that what YOU found is certain. Very few other people agree with you. That doesn’t mean you’re wrong. But your view doesn’t eliminate mine.

    To borrow a line from Woody Allen, “I’m due back on planet earth.”

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  58. Susan
    Posted January 4, 2014 at 1:55 pm | Permalink
    Darryl,

    “You refuse to consider the errors of the church despite evidence supplied by higher critics who are priests and bishops in your own church and in fellowship with the Bishop of Rome”

    I truly have not refused to consider anything. Errors….well, that is a matter of intepretation; you call the Eucharistic Sacrifice of the Mass a damnable error. If a Pope or Cardinal sends out an army to butcher a Protestant village, they are wicked, wicked people. I haven’t loss a sense of judgement of right and wrong. God is still good and on His throne, it’s that those who were called to be His servants( like the bad Pharisees whom Jesus chided for worrying about the picking of head of wheat on the Sabbath even when His disciples were hungry. People who’d pull pull their own ox, sheep or child away from danger, but condemn someone else when they are doing a greater good than observance of the Sabbath) ignore the weightier matters of the law–justice, mercy and faithfulness.

    But say we were in the same epistemic boat and with all the confusing difference of our different denominations( which I maintain the RCC is not one), I can at least go back prior to the Reformation and see what was the normative rule of faith for 1500 yrs. If I am mistaken, God knows I tried to find out where His true Church on earth is. Yes, you could say that my mistake is in presupposing a Church, but I can also say that, by using my own fallible mind, I see that the scriptures teach that Jesus began a church.According to ( the self-refuting doctrine) sola scriptura, I am not mistaken to read it for it is very clear, and who is anyone to take issue with my interpretation. So we can’t agree on this and that’s fine, but it is here again proof that without a interpretor to help us know for certain that this IS what scripture testifies, you and I should both be on the lookout for a visible church; a church where we also stop imposing our presuppositions into that entity, otherwise we will stay on the merry-go-round indefinately.
    The reason, I should stop commenting is because you believe that I am turning a deaf ear to problems within the RCC, and I believe that you don’t see how problematic it is that Christianity doesn’t have a way to establish what is constitutes heresy.
    I also wouldn’t mind commenting, but in truth, the bantering tends to being brutal.

    Susan–

    “Jesus began a church” CHECK

    “Eucharistic Sacrifice*” CHECK

    “normative rule of faith for 1500 yrs” CHECK

    “( the self-refuting doctrine) sola scriptura” CHECK

    “in truth, the bantering tends to being brutal” CHECK

    Your work here is done. They have not laid a glove on you. I’ll keep an eye out for you in more peaceful climes.

    Best,
    Tom
    ______
    * For instance
    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05573a.htm#section1

    where dozens of scriptural arguments are given for the Real Presence. In the end, one either accepts or rejects this interpretation of these passages, returning us once again to Square One.

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  59. Susan – I can at least go back prior to the Reformation and see what was the normative rule of faith for 1500 yrs.

    Erik – One thing to think about with the 1500 years is how much that was made possible by a system in which governments would not tolerate any other churches forming. You might say, “Well that was God’s will.” If that’s the case, why did God remove his “protective hand” from the Roman Catholic Church’s monopoly? Did Rome somehow displease him? Or was the Church’s monopoly just one of those many facts from history that we can not explain.

    Rather than looking at history I would encourage you to look at Scripture, which Protestants and Catholics both accept, and read it plainly. Most of it is pretty darn clear for those who have the stomach to accept it on its face.

    Maybe you could point out to us where you see the Reformed Creeds & Confessions being wrong based purely on your reading of Scripture (without citing extrabiblical Roman Catholic teachings).

    Like

  60. Erik Charter
    Posted January 4, 2014 at 2:50 pm | Permalink
    Tom – I’ll keep an eye out for you in more peaceful climes.

    Erik – Do it. Spend more time away from here looking for Susan.

    Classy as always, Erik. Your co-religionists must be proud of you. You keep coming back into my life to remind me of the story of the Scorpion and the Frog. The fault is of course mine, not yours; you are what you are. Still, I am also told “seventy times seven,” so that how I will live, brother. [Although it’s literally approaching 490, I take it he was speaking figuratively.]

    Peace on you.

    —T.

    Like

  61. Tom,

    As soon as you are ready to interact here other than how you do, the treatment will change. Look at how I get on with Susan & Kenneth? I’ll give you & those like you crap all the live-long day. It’s my gift.

    Like

  62. Erik Charter
    Posted January 4, 2014 at 3:12 pm | Permalink
    Tom,

    As soon as you are ready to interact here other than how you do, the treatment will change. Look at how I get on with Susan & Kenneth? I’ll give you & those like you crap all the live-long day. It’s my gift.

    You don’t seem to get His point, brother.

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  63. “where dozens of scriptural arguments are given for the Real Presence. In the end, one either accepts or rejects this interpretation of these passages, returning us once again to Square One.”

    Yes Tom, the circle is round. It looks pretty on the wall, in the store, under bright lighting and with mood music and/or incense. In the meantime, Francis is concerned about the fundamentalist ideologues and monsters being created in the formation centers. IOW, what it looks like in the home, apart from the contrived space is a disaster.

    Like

  64. I know, Tom. Jesus was all about sunshine, puppy dogs, and universalism. Just take a refutable position, live it out, and stop trying to be above it all and we’ll get along fine.

    In other news, The New York Times is on to The New Calvinists, about a decade late.

    The article uses the phrase “neo-Calvinists” toward the bottom. Someone needs to tell them the term is already taken.

    My mom sent me the article with a note that she didn’t know Marc Driscoll was a Calvinist. I had to rain on her parade and send her the “I see naked people” clip.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/04/us/a-calvinist-revival-for-evangelicals.html?smid=fb-share&_r=1&

    Like

  65. I still wouldn’t say I dislike Tom. I dislike how he interacts here because I find it annoying and tedious. He has a lot to offer, but as long as he tries to maintain the posture he does, while thinking he is making great points, I will remain annoyed.

    Tom,

    Start with this:

    I, Tom, am a member in good standing of the Roman Catholic church: Yes or No

    I, Tom, am a member of no church because:

    You say you won’t reveal such things because they’ll be “used against you”. If you affirm something you shouldn’t fear that if what you are affirming is true. People who try to use it against you will just look foolish.

    Notice how no one gives you crap anymore for being on a game show? That got old because there is nothing wrong with being on a game show.

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  66. Sean,

    Regarding Old-School Catholic earthiness:

    I’m listing a 1970 cookbook for St. Mary’s Bell Ringers of Chokio, Minnesota. Inside the front cover is an ad for Schmidt Beer.

    Now that’s a religion I can get behind.

    Like

  67. The KofC sold awesome steak sandwiches on game day at ND. We washed them down with OldStyle, not Schmidt though.

    Like

  68. Your work here is done. They have not laid a glove on you. I’ll keep an eye out for you in more peaceful climes.

    Au contraire, Thomas. Since it’s not fair to fight with women, once our commentor with the fairest avatar (hint, the goofy glasses have got to go) leaves the premises, we can demolish the same old tired Roman objections without hurting anybody’s feelings. Except Kenneth and he’s cool with that because we “really care”.

    What you want me to say is that Rome is in the same epistemological boat as Protestantism, but it isn’t.

    We’re all in the same ship of fools. Everybody uses their private fallible judgement to make judgements about reality and infallible truths. Some buy into Rome’s paradigm and others protestantism. That everybody’s convinced they did the right thing, doesn’t necessarily make it so.
    So how does anybody know? In this case because we are talking about Christianity, either the Church or the Bible is the infallible bottom line.

    Of course the sticking point for the prot sticks in the mud is that the only way anybody knows that Jesus promised that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against his church’ is because it is written in the Bible.
    And two, the only place in black and white where Jesus explicitly said “Rome” is the “True Church” or the gates of hell shall not prevail against the “Pope” is in the Gospel of Judas written between the lines in invisible ink.
    Can we say non sequitur? That trades on ambiguity, equivocation or a fallacy of the missing middle term? That sounds good, but only suck in the newbs and the biblical/theological naive? Of course we can. (That includes, you Tom.)

    I’m sure many in the clergy( the good ones) are terribly grieved about the number of Catholics who don’t know their faith.

    Huh? Either Ignorant as in Implicit faith is an official infallible dogma of Romanism or it’s not. But if a devout and sincere romanist doesn’t know that, what more can one say?
    Other than our low exceedingly expectations have been over filled?

    . . . so why are you pointing out the activities of “some” of those within Catholicism?

    Because. like the homosexual “pedophile” thing, the excuses and cover up goes to the infallible top. (Nixon didn’t break into Watergate, he just lied about it.) To whom much is given, much is required. The pope claims to be the infallible vicar of Christ’s church. If the buck doesn’t stop there, where does it?

    Protestantism has all of this too except for having a locus for knowing truth from heresy.

    Scripture, clearly tells us that what is contrary or in addition/along side of Scripture is not a obligatory infallible truth that anyone is required to believe to escape purgatory hell.
    Which is enough for some of the cradle cats who got the jesuit dialectic in their bones, contra Bryan who thinks he’s in The True Church because it is in possession of the apostolic bones.
    Apostolic doctrine? Nah. That’s way over rated.

    So did you find out why the separation of Church and state was once forbidden and now approved or why the Vatican once had an army and doesn’t anymore?

    Hello? Rome had infallible/unreformable teachings on church and state: That. Have. Changed.

    [Come on, Bryan. Don’t be a cheapskate. If OLTS has to run a catechism class for all your converts, we ought to be able to get some funky purple philosopher birettas berets sans the smirk out of the deal. Whadda ya say, pal? Pony up or send your sophomores some place else.]

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  69. Bob,

    “We’re all in the same ship of fools. Everybody uses their private fallible judgement to make judgements about reality and infallible truths.”

    And what about after one makes their fallible judgment? Are Rome and Protestantism still in the same boat?

    “Of course the sticking point for the prot sticks in the mud is that the only way anybody knows that Jesus promised that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against his church’ is because it is written in the Bible.”

    You are aware Rome teaches three sources of mutually attesting/interdependent authorities, not just one right? So it’s not “the only way anybody knows that” – except in Protestantism.

    “Scripture, clearly tells us that what is contrary or in addition/along side of Scripture is not a obligatory infallible truth that anyone is required to believe to escape hell.”

    What if something that is additional/along-side of Scripture helps to clarify its teaching? Is it only the concept that what is contrary/additional to Scripture is not obligatory that is clear in Scripture, or is it also that the actual things that are obligatory are clear in Scripture as well?

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  70. Cletus,

    You are aware Rome teaches three sources of mutually attesting/interdependent authorities, not just one right? So it’s not “the only way anybody knows that” – except in Protestantism.

    When the Magisterium’s doctrine can be reformed, then we’ll believe they’re interdependent. Until then, it’s sola ecclesia for Rome.

    Like

  71. CVD

    (Seriatum.)
    Once you choose Rome, unless grace intervenes you’re now on the hell bound train. Enjoy the ride.

    I am aware that Rome claims all kinds of things for itself. So what/your point is?
    IOW Rome appeals to the infallible Scripture to justify its infallible tradition and magisterium.
    All the while the same T/M teaches stuff like the supremacy of the pope, the immaculate conception of Mary, the worship of images (if it walks, talks and quacks like a duck, it is a duck all red herrings and special pleadings of adoration/veneration/latria/doulia aside), the sacrifice of the mass/transubstantiation, all of which the universal consent of the fathers absolutely proves beyond a shadow of a doubt because they never dreamed any of this stuff up or thought it possible to begin with didn’t deny any of this.

    The WCF helps clarify what Scripture teaches, but it hardly needs to be infallible to accomplish that, infallibility being the impossibility of error. Yet can you demonstrate that the WCF errs as per something being inerrant or “without error”. They are not the same thing.
    Both/and. Prots have been waiting since the Reformation for Rome to substantively respond to 2 Tim. 3:17; that Scripture equips the man of God for “every” good work. Every. As in “all”. It’s a universal. Nothing is left out. Not even determining which church is the true church.
    (Hint, it’s the one that preaches the gospel as per the sufficiency of Scripture. Those who want to dilute or water down either the gospel or the supremacy of Scripture have already departed what they profess to believe.)

    cheers

    Like

  72. Robert,

    Thanks for also answering the first question with that comment.

    And we’ve been over the sola ecclesia charge before. It doesn’t work – Rome can’t tomorrow declare Mary is eternal, James is uninspired, Book of Mormon is inspired, feast days that weren’t celebrated in history actually were, Arianism was actually approved by Nicea, etc. Dei Verbum’s statement on Magisterium being servant of Scripture and Tradition wasn’t spun out of thin air.

    Like

  73. Bob,

    “So what/your point is?”

    Pretty simple – you claimed Protestants and RCs are all in same boat. I agree everyone (not just Protestants/RCs) are in same boat when making a fallible judgment to assent to something – I disagree that we all remain in the same boat after that judgment. Protestants stay in the boat – Rome and other bodies don’t (although of course they all could be wrong in their claims as you believe, but we’re talking in theory). You just listed a bunch of “doctrines” (rather caricatures) that are irreformable teaching in RCism. You would not list a bunch of doctrines that are irreformable according to your side. So RCs are on the island; Protestants still rock with the waves on the boat (and are quite content it seems).

    “The WCF helps clarify what Scripture teaches”

    Well, according to your branch of Protestantism.

    “Prots have been waiting since the Reformation for Rome to substantively respond to 2 Tim. 3:17; that Scripture equips the man of God for “every” good work. Every. As in “all”. It’s a universal. Nothing is left out. Not even determining which church is the true church.”

    I agree Scripture is profitable/useful for equipping the man of God for good works. But it’s a jump from that to formal sufficiency. And as I’ve said before, if formal sufficiency was not operative when that was written, such verses cannot be used to support formal sufficiency unless you abandon authorial intent and violate GHM.

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  74. Clete,

    Did the Magisterium err on Unam Sanctam or did Tradition develop so that that Papal Bull was no longer relevant?

    How do we know which beliefs are unchanging and which could be changed? Is there a definitive list of (a) things we believe as Catholics and will always believe, and (b) things we believe as Catholics but might change our minds on. If so, where are the lists and who is in charge of them? Can items move from one list to the other?

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  75. One might ask, can the Pope merely have a bad day, week, month, or year? If so, what of the Callers rhetoric that he is the mechanism that Protestantism lacks and so badly needs.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unam_sanctam

    “The palace was plundered and Boniface was nearly killed (Nogaret prevented his troops from murdering the pope). Boniface was subjected to harassment and held prisoner for three days during which no one brought him food or drink. Eventually the townsfolk expelled the marauders and Boniface pardoned those who were captured. He returned to Rome on 13 September 1303.

    Despite his stoicism, Boniface was shaken by the incident. He developed a violent fever and died on 11 October 1303. In A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century, Barbara Tuchman states that his close advisors would later maintain that he died of a ‘profound chagrin'”

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  76. Dei Verbum on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dei_Verbum

    The Catechism states that “the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully, and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures.”[6]

    Nevertheless, the Catechism clearly states that “the Christian faith is not a ‘religion of the book.’
    Christianity is the religion of the ‘Word’ of God, a word which is ‘not a written and mute word, but the Word is incarnate and living’. If the Scriptures are not to remain a dead letter, Christ, the eternal Word of the living God, must, through the Holy Spirit, ‘open [our] minds to understand the Scriptures.'” [7]

    The Catechism goes on to state that “In Sacred Scripture, God speaks to man in a human way. To interpret Scripture correctly, the reader must be attentive to what the human authors truly wanted to affirm, and to what God wanted to reveal to us by their words.” [8]

    “But since Sacred Scripture is inspired, there is another and no less important principle of correct interpretation, without which Scripture would remain a dead letter. ‘Sacred Scripture must be read and interpreted in the light of the same Spirit by whom it was written.'” [9]

    This sounds like if you get a bad pope or enough votes in a Council the Church could say that Scripture means an awful lot of things that Catholics have not believed it said in the past. It turns Scripture into a “living, breathing document”. As Francis appoints more liberals, how does this not become a concern?

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  77. Erik,

    Unam Sanctum still applies. Vat2 said there is no salvation outside the church, along with its other statements – it wasn’t being inconsistent. US and other related teaching never stated formal membership was required for salvation. There’s also a distinction to be made between unchanging doctrinal principles and prudential/contingent application of those principles.

    There are criteria for identifying infallible teachings. One such criterion is that the teaching is taught to the universal church – that is the whole faithful both geographically and anthropologically. Some are obvious, others may not be. So no there is no exhaustive definitive list. How could there be a definitive list when development does and will continue? But, just because I can’t point you to an exhaustive list doesn’t mean I can’t point you to samples, and as I’ve said before, even one example of irreformable doctrine in RCism is sufficient to show we’re not in the same boat.

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  78. Erik,

    Do you think RCism will declare Jesus never existed or wasn’t divine or that Mary is eternal? The current state of RC dogma has built off the foundations of previous dogmas (which built off their predecessors, etc) – even if you don’t agree to the doctrines I think you would at least admit there’s a flow and harmony to them. What you’re suggesting would be some cataclysmic rupture in terms of negation/contravention. Yes, things develop, but are consonant with principles that came before.

    Do you apply the same skepticism to Scripture and textual/historical criticism? Maybe some manuscript or archaeological or historical evidence will be discovered soon that completely debunks core Scriptural claims. Should that concern you as well?

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  79. CvD,

    .

    Do you apply the same skepticism to Scripture and textual/historical criticism? Maybe some manuscript or archaeological or historical evidence will be discovered soon that completely debunks core Scriptural claims. Should that concern you as well?

    Selective skepticism is wack. These guys are among the worst I have ever encountered.

    Erik,

    As Francis appoints more liberals, how does this not become a concern?

    Because the Church isn’t guided by Scripture and the magesterium alone. We are also aided by an infallible and timeless Tradition that anchors our faith in the teachings of the apostles. You have abandoned that apostolic tradition for the teachings of jaded monks in the 15th century. Good luck with that. Seems like the protestant experiment is thriving….. If you’re into schism and all that jazz. Not my thing.

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  80. I agree Scripture is profitable/useful for equipping the man of God for good works.

    Liar, liar, pants on fire.
    IOW CVD, not only do you t not agree with what was said, you can’t/won’t even properly paraphrase it.
    But regardless, if the OT Scriptures in Paul’s day were sufficient to make Timothy wise unto salvation in Christ, how much more the NT in this day?
    End of story. You can hide behind formal/material as long as you wish, but at bottom you have to deny/evade/equivocate about the sufficiency of Scripture to “every” good work.

    IOW this is the typical Roman diversion re. the status questionis.
    Nominal assent out of one side of the mouth and denial out of the other. Formal acquiescence, material divergence. The old Jesuital dialectic in action.

    Either that or again hiding behind the definition of formal sufficiency. Rome originally taught neither. What it does now after the dog food version of a pig’s breakfast that was Vat. 2 is anybody’s guess.

    (In the FWIW dept. here’s one papist that said read in context V2 supports the conservatives, but at first glance it appears to support the liberals. So everybody is happy and he’s an unhappy conservative. http://www.traditioninaction.org/bkreviews/G_006br_MW_Harrison.htm)

    John says,

    But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name Jn. 20:31

    Rome says that’s not good enough. Who are you gonna believe?

    You disagree that we all remain in the same state after choosing Rome. So what? Do you really expect us to agree when you can’t even make your case/state your argument beginning with the infallible Scripture which is that common ground we all believe in/appeal to.

    And I stated caricatures of Roman doctrines? Please. Rather I didn’t state them with the proper amount of fawning obsequiousness that is proper for a duly respectful and compliant lick spittle romanist. Again, so what?

    You guys want to beg the question and assume what you need to prove and then get angry when prots don’t play along. IOW you keep forgetting about that V2/Francis chrism for the layman.

    cheers

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  81. Selective skepticism is wack. These guys are among the worst I have ever encountered.

    Hurry, somebody quick run and tell Photiphar’s wife and Athaliah that the Chinese are flooding the market with cheap knock offs of their phony denial/accusation routines.

    Like

  82. Bob,

    “IOW CVD, not only do you not agree with what was said, you can’t/won’t even properly paraphrase it.”

    I’m not the one injecting the word sufficient where it doesn’t exist, or injecting meaning the author could not have held at the time of writing.

    “But regardless, if the OT Scriptures in Paul’s day were sufficient to make Timothy wise unto salvation in Christ, how much more the NT in this day?”

    Okay, the NT is superfluous. Got it.

    “Either that or again hiding behind the definition of formal sufficiency. Rome originally taught neither.”

    Rome has never taught formal sufficiency of Scripture.

    “Jn 20:31 – Rome says that’s not good enough. Who are you gonna believe?”

    Protestantism also says that’s not good enough. You have other books besides John in your canon.

    “Do you really expect us to agree when you can’t even make your case/state your argument beginning with the infallible Scripture which is that common ground we all believe in/appeal to.”

    We don’t have the same canon, and we don’t justify our assent to Scripture on the same basis, and we don’t both agree that the only valid way to exegete/appeal to Scripture is via GHM alone. So our common ground is not entirely common.

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  83. Clete, but the church can determine who is a saint, who has to stay in purgatory (without indulgences), whether Mary is sinless. Your saying what the church can and can’t do is a bit above your pay grade. Last I checked, you’re not the Vicar of Christ.

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  84. Clete,

    At the level of theory, Protestants also escape the boat. We have GOD’S WORD AND THE HOLY SPIRIT. That means that nothing — not even the gates of hell — can prevail against the church. It’s a theory. I think it superior to Rome’s. Does the reality of each theory raise doubts? Sure.

    But if you’re going to stand on theory, the compare theory to theory or reality to reality. (On the latter, conservative Protestants still uphold condemnations like Pius X’s against modernism. On the former, your theory has proved its inadequacy because it means that Pius X, the guy with the authority and charism, condemned teachings and methods that are now prevalent in your church. Your theory allows for that about face. Conservative Protestants actually believe that what is true at one time remains true at another time.)

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  85. Clete, on the matter of flow and harmony, why is it that Rome’s commitment to dogma and all its infallibility meant that modernism was a heresy and now Rome’s commitment to dogma doesn’t mean modernism is a heresy? To repeat, the flow and harmony of papal supremacy means an arbitrary officer. Think Alexander VI.

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  86. Clete, gotta throw a flag. “You have other books besides John in your canon.” If you’re going to employ the word canon, then John stands for everything, meaning John is speaking for the whole kit and kaboodle of God’s inspired word.

    Your posing John against the other books is a classic move of biblical criticism. Pius X is condemning you. I hope you don’t pray to him.

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  87. DGH,

    SPX condemned modernism and now the Church is still fighting off modernism in its own ranks. (perhaps losing that fight) Nicea condemned Arianism and yet the “whole world groaned to find itself Arian”. If you want to argue that the declarations of SPX are worthless today you should also argue that Nicea was worthless then. If the Churchs infallibility is proven wrong by modernism then it also was by Arianism. Remember when Jason made the distinction between Authority Crisis 1 and 2? Your cross crossing the problem. We all have to deal with AC1 (dissent). The RC paradigm is advantageous because we don’t suffer from AC2 which is explained as….

    In addition to the general ignorance or disregard of a church’s teachings (AC1), there is a further problem that is unique to Protestantism that, Stamper insists, is “an authority crisis seated at the root of its theological principles.” This additional problem, or AC2, exists on a fundamental level for Protestantism, since those who claim to speak in Christ’s name in any Protestant sect lack, by their own admission, any authority that transcends mere fallible human opinion. This is not a controversial charge, for the material principle of the Reformation, Sola Scriptura, states that our only source for infallible revelation is the Bible. Human interpreters of Scripture may and do err, and therefore all that they teach must be judged by Scripture.

    The difficulty enters in when we admit, to quote Keith Mathison, that “all appeals to Scripture are appeals to interpretations of Scripture.” The result of this admission is that one fallible interpretation of Scripture may be rejected in favor of a contrary, and equally fallible, interpretation of Scripture, with no infallible person or court that can adjudicate the dispute and bring an end to the he-said-she-said hermeneutical spiral. “Authority” in Protestantism by its very design and material principle, therefore, reduces to fallible opinions rooted either in charismatic and persuasive rhetorical skills or academic acumen, neither of which are divinely protected from error under any conditions, which is why they cannot compel the assent of divine faith to their teachings (even if those teachings happen to be correct).

    “Orthodoxy,” then, inevitably devolves into “that set of doctrines that conforms to my fallible interpretation of Scripture, or that of the denomination of which I am a member.” And to whatever degree the various traditions of the ancient church are invoked on this score, since there is no infallible body to differentiate between “biblical” and “unbiblical” traditions, such appeals are no less arbitrary (since the only traditions that will make the cut are those that conform to one’s own, or one’s denomination’s own, interpretation of Scripture).

    Now whether Catholicism is the church Christ founded or the synagogue of Satan, what Stamper and other Catholics are asking Protestants to acknowledge is the fact that it is not susceptible to AC2, despite its having to wrestle ceaselessly with AC1.

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  88. Kenneth – This additional problem, or AC2, exists on a fundamental level for Protestantism, since those who claim to speak in Christ’s name in any Protestant sect lack, by their own admission, any authority that transcends mere fallible human opinion.

    Erik – Which is worse, to say that you have fallible human opinion when that is the case, or to say that you have authority that transcends fallible human opinion when you don’t?

    The whole dog & pony show is an exercise in question begging and special pleading.

    It’s possible that Rome is not who she says she is AND people who claim to be Catholics ignore her teaching.

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  89. Kenneth,

    This additional problem, or AC2, exists on a fundamental level for Protestantism, since those who claim to speak in Christ’s name in any Protestant sect lack, by their own admission, any authority that transcends mere fallible human opinion.

    Well if we want to push this fallacious line of reasoning, this means Rome’s epistemology is equivalent to that offered by the Watchtower Society, the Mormon Prophet, several varieties of Shi’a Islam, and the crazy guy on the corner who thinks he is Jesus.

    Your AC2 is only as good as your ability to infallibily know Rome is that organ. Since you have no external authority that can tell you that infallibly, the whole argument fails and you are essentially on the same starting point as anyone else epistemologically. Which is all to say that Rome doesn’t offer anything superior to Protestantism, despite its vaunted claims, that most cradle RCs ignore anyway.

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  90. You can’t pin them down, Erik.

    When they are backed into a corner of their own making, they just turn off their mind, flap their arms, and fly away. And they land and forget the conversation and go back to thinking they have everything solved.

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  91. Kenloses, this is simply a definitional tactic. Your defining something doesn’t make it true.

    First, Protestantism has a theory as coherent as RCsm. We have an inerrant Scripture, a doctrine of the Holy Spirit, and an ecclesiology that mean truth will prevail. You don’t buy it. I get it. You think the reality of 29,000 denominations disproves this. I say Garry Wills and Evangelii Gaudium disprove your theory. We are both at square one.

    Second, because of Protestantism’s theory of authority and truth, we also have an AC1 and AC2 (I guess, since I don’t exactly trust Stellman, but for the sake of argument . . .). We have dissent. And Protestants have also had liberalism. At the same time that Pius X was opposing modernism, conservative Protestants were opposing liberalism. Conservative Presbyterians (more or less) dealt with the problem. So did Pius X. Both rejected adapting the faith to the modern world. The truth of Protestantism and RCsm transcended modern or ancient or medieval time.

    Conservative Protestants have not had a Vatican II. You did. And at your Vatican II your magisterium did an about face on modernity. It used to oppose it. Now it not only sought adaptation but gave a big sloppy kiss. (And then came your turbulent 1970s and 1980s and 1990s.) And in case you haven’t noticed, your theologians and biblical scholars are indistinguishable from mainline Protestant biblical scholars and theologians, even despite John Paul II trying to herd the cats.

    And you have the temerity to tell me you don’t suffer from an AC2 problem. Are you kidding?

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  92. Erik,

    It’s possible that Rome is not who she says she is AND people who claim to be Catholics ignore her teaching.

    Please try to follow the conversation Erik. One can always say “yes but your view isn’t true”. What we are doing right now is exploring the philosophical underpinnings and epistemological soundness of each “theory” (Daryls term). We are comparing “theory to theory and reality to reality” (Daryls term). If you don’t want to play ball then fine. But dont act like I’m question begging. You just aren’t paying attention.

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  93. @K
    Stellman is confused on the meaning of fallible. The fact that the interpretation of data if fallible does not mean that all interpretations are on equal footing. My interpretation of some passage could be wrong, but that does not mean that I cannot demonstrate that some interpretations are definitely wrong. This pops up in philosophy of science (see Popper…HA!).

    Second, this infallibility didn’t attach to the teaching of the Pharisees and their traditions, but that did not mean they weren’t a valid authority. However, their teachings were to be subjected to the scrutiny of scripture.

    Third, the fact that no human authority is infallible does not mean that we lack protection from error or that interpretation is utterly arbitrary. We believe that those God elects will have their eyes opened and will properly understand the necessary parts of the gospel.

    This interpretation thing is a problem with all communication. I mean has your wife ever misunderstood what you meant? You have more disagreement among RCs than between conservative RCs and conservative evangelicals. An infallible magisterium doesn’t solve any problems, and history and sociology suggests that the unity of the church pre-reformation was more about political power than first principles. This doesn’t prove that the magisterium isn’t infallible, but it does suggests that it isn’t necessary.

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  94. Robert,

    Well if we want to push this fallacious line of reasoning, this means Rome’s epistemology is equivalent to that offered by the Watchtower Society, the Mormon Prophet, several varieties of Shi’a Islam, and the crazy guy on the corner who thinks he is Jesus.

    Yes that is correct. Anyone who claims to have (or be) a living organ through which God can still communicate infallible truth directly to man would be in the same realm as the RC paradigm.
    They would not suffer from AC2 in the same way you do.

    Your AC2 is only as good as your ability to infallibily know Rome is that organ. Since you have no external authority that can tell you that infallibly, the whole argument fails and you are essentially on the same starting point as anyone else epistemologically. Which is all to say that Rome doesn’t offer anything superior to Protestantism, despite its vaunted claims, that most cradle RCs ignore anyway.

    I don’t have AC2 Robert. I don’t deal with it at all. So it can’t properly be said “to be only as good as” anything. AC2 is a problem built into the protestant paradigm by design. Its an engineering flaw. The fallibility of each given adherent to each paradigm is irrelevant to this conversation.

    Further, we aren’t looking to make ourselves infallible. We are looking to make ourselves certain. I am certain 2+2 is 4. I’m not infallible…. But I’m certain that its true. I’m certain that the bible is the word of God. What we need is a way to be *certain* of what the Word teaches. You offer only opinion (which opens the door for AC2) the Church offers something more. Namely…. Certainty.

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  95. Kenneth,

    I am certain that what the Bible teaches is true. The question is, how do we determine what it teaches. You do not infallibly know that Rome is the interpreter that provides certainty. You can’t get to AC2, or whatever you guys want to call it, any more than anyone else can.

    Your argument is reducing to the fact that the Watchtower Society can provide the same degree of certainty that Rome can. Congratulations on being certainly wrong.

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  96. Kenneth et al,

    These discussions of infallibility are a bit grating to me because we keep referring infallibility to doctrinal statements. In my mind, infallibility attaches to living things. It can attach to people or to Scripture or to God because all are living and active. It can’t really attach to conciliar statements unless we want to put them on equal footing with Scripture, and even Rome doesn’t really have the temerity to do that. In my mind it is better to speak of inerrancy. The WCF can contain inerrant statements no less than the “protected” statements of Rome.

    The issue then goes back to the exercise of infallibility. Rome’s understanding is very different, which is why the charge of selective skepticism is just whack. We say that the Apostles were infallible whenever they taught. Rome says that Rome is infallible only sometimes when it teaches. Our view of infallibility is actually much higher, and we have a list of infallible statements called the canon. Rome has yet to give us such a list.

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  97. The truly ironic thing about Bryan & Jason is that, unable to defend the audacious claims of Reformed theology any longer, they decided to shift to the even more audacious claims of Roman Catholicism. It’s as if, after being dealt a bad hand, they decided to double-down instead of folding.

    The question remains, where do they go if (when?) they have a crisis of faith as Roman Catholics? Maybe where they should have gone after the initial crisis – liberalism or atheism.

    At some point the spotlight will fade and they’ll have to deal with not being celebrity converts from Protestantism but just garden variety Roman Catholics in the pews (although Scott Hahn appears to have been able to make a career out of it). What then?

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  98. Kenneth – You just aren’t paying attention.

    Erik – I’m paying attention. At some point you need to get beyond square one and show evidence that your theory is correct. You tried this by positing all the good that Catholicism has done for the world and we shot you down. Where do you go next? If you never move on you become like a broken record a la Doug Sowers.

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  99. DGHART,

    First, Protestantism has a theory as coherent as RCsm. We have an inerrant Scripture, a doctrine of the Holy Spirit, and an ecclesiology that mean truth will prevail. You don’t buy it. I get it. You think the reality of 29,000 denominations disproves this. I say Garry Wills and Evangelii Gaudium disprove your theory. We are both at square one.

    You do have a theory. However, your theory suffers from both AC1 (Gary Willis) AND AC2 while the RC theory doesn’t. So unless you show that isn’t the case or that I suffer the same problem somehow we can’t properly be said to be on equal footing here on square one.

    Second, because of Protestantism’s theory of authority and truth, we also have an AC1 and AC2 , since I don’t exactly trust Stellman, but for the sake of argument . . .). We have dissent. And Protestants have also had liberalism. At the same time that Pius X was opposing modernism, conservative Protestants were opposing liberalism. Conservative Presbyterians (more or less) dealt with the problem. So did Pius X. Both rejected adapting the faith to the modern world. The truth of Protestantism and RCsm transcended modern or ancient or medieval time.

    You are here describing AC1 which we both share. We are now concerned with AC2 since that is what I allege protestants suffer from in a unique way that the EO and RC paradigms do not contend with.

    Conservative Protestants have not had a Vatican II. You did. And at your Vatican II your magisterium did an about face on modernity. It used to oppose it. Now it not only sought adaptation but gave a big sloppy kiss. (And then came your turbulent 1970s and 1980s and 1990s.) And in case you haven’t noticed, your theologians and biblical scholars are indistinguishable from mainline Protestant biblical scholars and theologians, even despite John Paul II trying to herd the cats.

    The biblical scholars and theologians dissenting from proper church teaching falls under AC1 which I admit we also have to deal with. Shoot, I’ll even admit that we are doing a POOR job handling AC1 recently…. But what I’m looking for is AC2. You contend that Vat 2 TEACHES modernism. Now that could seriously throw a kink in my hose! You didn’t get into any specific texts… But for what its worth I’ll throw in my honest 2 cents on what happened at V2.

    Cardinal Walter Kasper made the long-awaited admission in L’Osservatore Romano on April 12, 2013 that Vatican II was created with ambiguities and contradictory statements for the precise purpose of fomenting division between the liberal and conservative ranks of the Catholic prelature.

    Here are some choice excerpts from the article:

    “In many places, [the Council Fathers] had to find compromise formulas, in which, often, the positions of the majority are located immediately next to those of the minority, designed to delimit them. Thus, the conciliar texts themselves have a huge potential for conflict, open the door to a selective reception in either direction.”

    “For most Catholics, the developments put in motion by the council are part of the church’s daily life. But what they are experiencing is not the great new beginning nor the springtime of the church, which were expected at that time, but rather a church that has a wintry look, and shows clear signs of crisis.”

    “For those who know the story of the twenty councils recognized as ecumenical, this[the state of confusion] will not be a surprise. The post-conciliar times were almost always turbulent. The [Second] Vatican, however, is a special case.”

    You catch that part about “compromise formulas”? Basically it is my opinion that the documents of V2 are ambiguous… Apparently intentionally ambiguous… So as to be able to be interpreted in either a liberal or orthodox sense. This shouldn’t really be a problem as V2 issued no new definitions and only voiced the “ordinary magesterium” which is only infallible when repeating already infallibly declared dogma. Basically, if the ordinary magesterium is ever ambiguous we go back to previous statements that ARENT ambiguous. Only that’s not what happened is it? What happened was a MASSIVE case of AC1. And I mean massive. Liberals took those ambiguities and ran with them for decades. But now that the dust is settling… And the liberals are all dying off… We see that there is no change in teaching. Its what Christopher Ferrara has called “the great facade”. Everything has changed…. Yet nothing has changed at all. And until this present day we can (and should) go on living our lives as if that council never happened. Is it embarrassing that such a council should have occurred? Yes. It is definitely embarrassing. But it doesn’t prove AC2. It just shows that RC ecclesiology isnt utopia. Which we all already knew

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  100. SBD,

    Stellman is confused on the meaning of fallible. The fact that the interpretation of data if fallible does not mean that all interpretations are on equal footing. My interpretation of some passage could be wrong, but that does not mean that I cannot demonstrate that some interpretations are definitely wrong. This pops up in philosophy of science (see Popper…HA!).

    Yes of course that’s true. So lets say for the sake of argument we have 40,000 interpretations of scripture. Each verse has its own 40,000 interpretations. We could probably wittle that number down to, say, 50 (this is being very generous) interpretations that can not definitively be shown to be false through pure reason. That’s over 50 interpretations of any given scripture that have to be taken seriously. Is that certainty? Lets be even more generous and assume we can get the number down to 15. That’s 15 viable interpretations for any given verse. How about now, are we certain? Perhaps just in the “main things”? Lets say there are only 5 viable and completely reasonable interpretations on the “main things” (how to get to heaven etc). How certain is that? Its worse odds than guessing blindly on a scantron what!

    Second, this infallibility didn’t attach to the teaching of the Pharisees and their traditions, but that did not mean they weren’t a valid authority. However, their teachings were to be subjected to the scrutiny of scripture.

    it didn’t attatch to “Traditions of men” but the pharisee did have oral tradition that were infallible and authoritative. Remember the “chair of Moses”?

    Third, the fact that no human authority is infallible does not mean that we lack protection from error or that interpretation is utterly arbitrary. We believe that those God elects will have their eyes opened and will properly understand the necessary parts of the gospel.

    “those that God elects” could mean anything to anyone. The Mormons could say that. Pentacostals could say that. Kenneth Copeland can say that. MacArthur can say that I can say that its a meaningless statement from an epistemological angle. OK “some group” named the elect will get it right. That provides no certainty at all.

    This interpretation thing is a problem with all communication. I mean has your wife ever misunderstood what you meant? You have more disagreement among RCs than between conservative RCs and conservative evangelicals. An infallible magisterium doesn’t solve any problems, and history and sociology suggests that the unity of the church pre-reformation was more about political power than first principles. This doesn’t prove that the magisterium isn’t infallible, but it does suggests that it isn’t necessary.

    it is necessary for certainty and to avoid AC2

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  101. Darryl,

    “Clete, but the church can determine who is a saint, who has to stay in purgatory (without indulgences), whether Mary is sinless. Your saying what the church can and can’t do is a bit above your pay grade. Last I checked, you’re not the Vicar of Christ.”

    No, I’m not. But the church binds herself to statements. If you think by her own criteria Rome could tomorrow declare Christ never existed or Mary is a fourth person in a Quadernity or Nicea actually taught Arianism, your skepticism has gone off the rails.

    “At the level of theory, Protestants also escape the boat. We have GOD’S WORD AND THE HOLY SPIRIT. That means that nothing — not even the gates of hell — can prevail against the church.”

    You don’t escape the boat if you don’t (and cannot) claim any ability to define any irreformable doctrine/articles of faith. RCism along with some other bodies claim that authority. Hence they, not you and other semper reformanda folks, are out of the boat.

    “Your theory allows for that about face. Conservative Protestants actually believe that what is true at one time remains true at another time.”

    Our theory (both theories) allows for dissent, as Kenneth has continued to distinguish. You would have a point if you could show that Rome officially and universally reversed/negated her condemnations of modernism, or it universally silenced conservative scholars, both of which haven’t happened.

    “why is it that Rome’s commitment to dogma and all its infallibility meant that modernism was a heresy and now Rome’s commitment to dogma doesn’t mean modernism is a heresy?”

    Modernism is still heresy. See above statement.

    ““You have other books besides John in your canon.” If you’re going to employ the word canon, then John stands for everything, meaning John is speaking for the whole kit and kaboodle of God’s inspired word. Your posing John against the other books is a classic move of biblical criticism. Pius X is condemning you. I hope you don’t pray to him.”

    I’m not posing John against the other books. I’m just following Bob’s logic. There are 2 points here – first you presume the whole kit and kaboodle of God’s inspired word is the Protestant canon. Secondly, I agree that a “canonical hermeneutic” should come into play when interpreting Scripture. However, I do not see how a canonical hermeneutic does not violate GHM which is the cornerstone of Protestant exegesis (and used to attack RC/EO exegesis/interpretation).

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  102. Robert,

    “The WCF can contain inerrant statements no less than the “protected” statements of Rome.”

    The WCF does not make any claims to be inerrant (it actively endorses the opposite principle). It could contain opinions that happen to be true, but opinions that happen to be true are not the same as articles of faith.

    “We say that the Apostles were infallible whenever they taught. Rome says that Rome is infallible only sometimes when it teaches. Our view of infallibility is actually much higher, and we have a list of infallible statements called the canon. Rome has yet to give us such a list.”

    So every statement of scripture remains binding and irreformable? OT all still in effect? Everything the apostles taught remains in force? What’s up with head coverings and eating blood then? You distinguish between infallible/irreformable teaching/principles in Scripture and prudential/contingent application of those principles and practice just as Rome does. And your list called the canon isn’t an infallible list, according to Protestantism’s own criteria (not to mention textual criticism has and continues to modify the contents of that list). It’s easy to offer RC fallible lists – Denzinger, Ott, Ratzinger have all done it.

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  103. Kenloses, says you. Rome embraced modernity and has liberalism (and an ambiguous Vatican Council to boot). Conservative Protestantism does not (for now). When I see your biblical scholars and theologians constrained by church dogma — let alone their bishop or superior or pope — I’ll think you have a point. Until then, Ken, you’re screwed.

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  104. Clete, where are the “statements” of Tradition? No transparency on that one. And if you don’t see that you alone have access to saying what Tradition says, and you don’t have to show it, you’ve got tyranny. Oh, but you think it is good tyranny, like Aquinas’ ideal king. How’s Alexander VI working for you?

    Who says an ability to define any irreformable doctrine/articles of faith is the norm? You did. I didn’t. Where does the Bible say that? Tradition?

    Do you honestly mean to say that Vatican II took an opposite view of the modern world from Vatican I? And do you really expect me to believe that you can’t tell the difference between those views in the documents produced? Do you think we’re stupid? (We’re not Bryan’s Mormons at the door.)

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  105. DGHART,

    if “screwed”=have to deal with AC1 then sure. If you don’t think I have a point about AC2 until AC1 is totally vanquished then you have failed to grasp the argument all together friend.

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  106. Darryl,

    “Who says an ability to define any irreformable doctrine/articles of faith is the norm? You did. I didn’t. Where does the Bible say that? Tradition?”

    Did Christ and the Apostle define irreformable doctrine/articles of faith? Or just reformable opinions? This again evades the point – the whole issue is whether Protestants and RCs are in the same boat. We’re not – the fact that you disagree Rome’s ability is the norm does not make us in the same boat. Rome could be completely wrong – that is secondary and irrelevant to evaluating who is in or out of the boat.

    “And do you really expect me to believe that you can’t tell the difference between those views in the documents produced?”

    Where did I deny Vat2 was a development or emphasizing different aspects than Vat1 did? All I said was that it did not reverse the condemnations of modernism or endorse modernism. You said to Kenneth that “Rome embraced modernity and has liberalism (and an ambiguous Vatican Council to boot). Conservative Protestantism does not (for now).” Nice switch (Protestantism has both libs and conservatives) – I could just as easily say Liberal RCs have embraced modernity, conservative RCs do not. Conservative RCs have not been universally silenced by Rome. So Rome has not “embraced modernity”.

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  107. Robert,

    I am certain that what the Bible teaches is true. The question is, how do we determine what it teaches. You do not infallibly know that Rome is the interpreter that provides certainty. You can’t get to AC2, or whatever you guys want to call it, any more than anyone else can.

    You aren’t paying attention Robert. We aren’t striving to “get” authority crises 2! Authority crises 2 is something built into the protestant paradigm. We dont have to deal with it. The fact that all humans make fallible cognitive decisions is irrelevant. The goal isn’t to transform ourselves into infallible beings. The goal is to be *certain* of dogma. You can’t offer this. We can. That’s the point.

    Your argument is reducing to the fact that the Watchtower Society can provide the same degree of certainty that Rome can. Congratulations on being certainly wrong.

    The fact that JWs dont suffer from AC2 doesn’t make their worldview correct…. It merely makes their religion more satisfying epistemologically if we grant the truth of their authority structure. That’s all we are talking about. Theory vs theory and reality vs reality

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  108. Cletus,

    You distinguish between infallible/irreformable teaching/principles in Scripture and prudential/contingent application of those principles and practice just as Rome does.

    Wait, you mean no fish on Fridays was an infallible statement? I though infallibility applied only to faith and morals in Roman dogma.

    You distinguish between infallible/irreformable teaching/principles in Scripture and prudential/contingent application of those principles and practice just as Rome does.

    But Rome doesn’t make this distinction until generations after the fact, and then, it generally doesn’t apologize for it. IE, No salvation outside the Church doesn’t mean what Boniface thought it meant. So for thousands of years, countless RCs were led astray by the papacy as to the true meaning of what it means to be united to Christ’s church. But that doesn’t impact the infallibility of the church? If the infallible teaching authority can’t infallibly understand its own statements, you’ve got serious problems, not the least of which is the continual call for us to overlook that elephant in the room.

    Again, you will admit that not everything that the pope has said while teaching is infallible. You limit it to faith and morals and then not all faith and morals. I say that everything Peter, Paul, and Isaiah said while teaching is infallible. That includes faith, morals, history, aesthetics, philosophy, etc., etc. It’s a much higher claim.

    As far as the canon. Our infallible criteria is “My sheep hear my voice.” That is practically no different from Roman Catholicism. At the end of the day, you guys have to confess something akin to the self-authenticating nature of Scripture for the Magisterium.

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  109. Kenneth,

    You can’t offer this. We can. That’s the point.

    Of course we cannot. Certainty is the job of the Holy Spirit. Where does Jesus tell us that it is the job of the church to produce certainty?

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  110. Robert, re the nature of infallibility coming from over there, right, it’s like saying water is only wet in spots on certain days. They might be able to brag about the certainty that comes from their mechanism (yawn), but do they consider that they talk about their infallible human source the way Protestant liberals talk about the Bible (Crossan and the Jesus Seminar’s marbles, anyone)? But confessional Prots can say the Bible is infallible 24/7/365.

    Ken, you mean like the tradition of hand washing? Yes, “the pharisee did have oral tradition that were infallible and authoritative,” but Jesus himself took great issue with it. Why don’t you?

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  111. Clete,

    Christ, the apostles, and the prophets did not give us dogma. They gave us revelation. The Bible is not an ST or a catechism. It requires interpretation. You say your bishop of Rome’s are infallible. I say I see almost no exegesis until the 20th century among any of Peter’s successors. Revelation is not opinion. It’s not dogma.

    BTW, turns out your infallible interpretations have to be interpreted, right? The popes never do it any more.

    “Emphasizing different aspects” is a nice euphemism. You honestly think that the 1960s were less of a threat to Christendom or a Christian moral order than the 1840s, 1850s, or 1860s? Vatican I opposed modernity. Vatican II embraced an even more modernized modernity. No wonder the faithful were confused.

    Conservative RCs have embraced modernity if they are following their bishops — the ones who gave you Vatican II. Of course, you could opt out and go SSPX. I dare you. Double dare.

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  112. Darryl,

    “They gave us revelation.The Bible is not an ST or a catechism. It requires interpretation. Revelation is not opinion.”

    Bingo. Is Revelation reformable? No. What does Protestantism and its confessions claim again?

    “BTW, turns out your infallible interpretations have to be interpreted, right? The popes never do it any more.”

    To some degree yes – that’s why things can be clarified (e.g. the councils following Nicea). But that doesn’t mean RCs are all just floating out in the ether. There’s a spectrum – some are pretty obvious which you freely admit in how you write about them – Assumption, IC, PI, Resurrection, Trinity, etc.

    “Vatican II embraced an even more modernized modernity.”

    I continue to see this assertion, but no citations from the council, nor evidence showing condemnation/silencing of conservative RC scholars.

    “Conservative RCs have embraced modernity if they are following their bishops.”

    I’m not sure what this means. You guys love to cite Brown and Fitzmyer and Johnson. There are other RC scholars (including cardinals) who opposed their positions. Those scholars were not silenced or condemned.

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  113. “That’s 15 viable interpretations for any given verse.”
    So are you telling me that the RC has a definitive, infallible interpretation for any given verse in the Bible? That’s not what my RC friends tell me. That’s a long way from this priest:

    “the pharisee did have oral tradition that were infallible”
    So how was one to distinguish between the infallible parts and the fallible parts? Infallible doesn’t simply mean true. If you can’t distinguish the fallible and infallible components a priori, then the body of tradition is fallible. Sure the Pharisees taught things that were true and had traditions that were good ideas. They were also terribly wrong about some things. Whether or not was the case was determined by whether what they taught was consistent with the teaching of scripture.

    ““those that God elects” could mean anything to anyone…That provides no certainty at all.”
    It does to the elect. He says in the OT and NT that the ability to see the truth comes from a spiritual change. The fact that people can be deluded and that there is no external reference from which one can demonstrate that one isn’t deluded does not imply that one can’t be certain of this or that (see Plantinga’s argument about belief in God and other minds). Stellman’s whole argument about authority rests on a naive foundationalist epistemology that is definitively false (McGrath has a nice lay summary of the problems with foundationalism in volume 2 of his Scientific Theology). AC2 is not a crisis. Authority and certainty were not in question despite the absence of an infallible high priest or infallible magisterium in 1century judaism. Similarly, we don’t have an authority crisis in science even though we don’t have an infallible magisterium. Yet we do have certainty about a great many things.

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  114. SBD,

    So are you telling me that the RC has a definitive, infallible interpretation for any given verse

    No, I am arguing that you suffer from AC2 and we do not.

    You are mistaken on your historical account of ancient Judaism and what the “Chair of Moses” signified.

    Exodus 18:13 On the morrow Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood about Moses from morning till evening. When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What is this that you are doing for the people? Why do you sit alone, and all the people stand about you from morning till evening?” And Moses said to his father- in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God; when they have a dispute, they come to me and I decide between a man and his neighbor, and I make them know the statutes of God and his decisions.”

    In the Mishna, we read that the Torah was given to Moses, and then passed on to Joshua and from Joshua to the Judges and the Judges to the Prophets, and the Prophets to the Great Assembly.

    Matthew 23:2-3 “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice.”

    It would seem like that ancient Jews also had a way to resolve AC2. If you would like to read a more in historical proof see here

    Chair of Moses, as referred to by Jesus in Matthew 23, was an element of Jewish oral Tradition. The “chair of Moses” was Moses’ teaching authority – the authority inherited by the legitimate teachers of Israel:

    It is recorded in the Midrash Rabbah:
    They made for him (Moses) a chair like that of the advocates, in which one sits and yet seems to be standing. (Exodus Rabbah 43:4)

    Also, the Pesikta siRav Kahana 1:7 mentions the “chair of Moses”, and the editors of the English edition comment:
    The particular place in the synagogue where the leaders used to sit was known metaphorically as the “chair of Moses” or as the “Throne of the Torah”, symbolizing the succession of teachers of Torah (from Moses) down through the ages.

    Also, if you ask any Orthodox Jewish rabbi, he will tell you that he holds (in part) the “Chair of Moses” today.

    Jesus teaches that the scribes and Pharisees (i.e, the full Sanhedrin, with the High Priest as its head) rightfully succeeded to this “Chair of Moses”. See also Acts 23:3-5, where Paul calls the High Priest the legitimate ruler of the people of Israel.

    Simply put, the “Chair of Moses” was the teaching authority of the synagogue; and …
    a)On the local level, the “Chair of Moses” was held by the principal rabbi of a particular city’s synagogue (e.g. Corinth or Rome).

    b)On the regional level, the “Chair of Moses” was held by the principal rabbi of a particular region (e.g. Rabbi Akiba at Jamnia).

    c)BUT, … On the universal level, the “Chair of Moses” was ACTUALLY held by the High Priest in Jerusalem. This is more than clear from John 11:49-52 and from Acts 23:2-5, where Paul backs down because the law defined the High Priest as “the ruler of thy people”. See also Acts 28:17-21, where those who held the “Chair of Moses” in Rome (i.e., the “leaders of the Jews”: 28:17) speak about receiving authoritative instruction from Jerusalem (i.e., from the ACTUAL and UNIVERSAL “Chair of Moses”, the High Priest).

    For the Jews of the Diaspora, one could not be said to be part of Israel if he rejected the rightful authority of Jerusalem. Such a position would make oneself a Samaritan.
    Indeed, the Jewish historian Josephus says how the Hellenistic Jews before the fall of the theocracy in Palestine looked reverently toward Jerusalem and favored religious currents coming from it:

    Doubts were referred there for solution… (Josephus, Contra Apion 1.30-36)

    We also know that the Jews of the Dispersion turned to Jerusalem for their Scriptures (2 Maccabees 2.13-15) and for its translation [Est 11.1 (Vulgate); 10.31 (LXX)]. Such were appeals to the ultimate “Chair of Moses” (Matthew 23:1-3), the High Priest and the Sanhedrin itself.
    So, to answer your other question about the Septuagint Greek canon being approved by Jerusalem in c. 200 B.C., … Both Josephus and 2 Maccabees 2:13-15 (compared with 2 Maccabees 1:1-6) testify to the fact that the Jews of Alexandria, Egypt (where the Septuagint canon was fomed) based their orthodoxy on the decrees from Jerusalem.

    Also, … According to both Jewish and Christian tradition, the Septuagint was compiled by scholars from Jerusalem under the supervision of the High Priest:

    The Septuagint Version is first mentioned in a letter of Aristeas to his brother Philocrates. Here, in substance, is what we read of the origin of the version. Ptolemy II Philadelphus, King of Egypt (287-47 BC) had recently established a valuable library at Alexandria. He was persuaded by Demetrius of Phalarus, chief librarian, to enrich it with a copy of the sacred books of the Jews. To win the good graces of this people, Ptolemy, by the advice of Aristeas, an officer of the royal guard, an Egyptian by birth and a pagan by religion, emancipated 100,000 slaves in different parts of his kingdom. He then sent delegates, among whom was Aristeas, to Jerusalem, to ask Eleazar, the Jewish high-priest, to provide him with a copy of the Law, and Jews capable of translating it into Greek. The embassy was successful: a richly ornamented copy of the Law was sent to him and seventy-two Israelites, six from each tribe, were deputed to go to Egypt and carry out the wish of the king. They were received with great honor and during seven days astonished everyone by the wisdom they displayed in answering seventy-two questions which they were asked; then they were led into the solitary island of Pharos, where they began their work, translating the Law, helping one another and comparing translations in proportion as they finished them. At the end of seventy-two days, their work was completed, The translation was read in presence of the Jewish priests, princes, and people assembled at Alexandria, who all recognized and praised its perfect conformity with the Hebrew original . The king was greatly pleased with the work and had it placed in the library. …Aristeas’s story is repeated almost verbatim by Flavius Josephus (Ant. Jud., XII, ii) and substantially, with the omission of Aristeas’ name , by Philo of Alexandria (De vita Moysis, II, vi). (Catholic Encyclopedia)
    …also…
    The Greek version, known as the Septuagint, welcomed by the Alexandrian Jews, spread quickly throughout the countries in which Greek was spoken; it was utilized by different writers, and supplanted the original text in liturgical services. Philo of Alexandria used it in his writings and looked on the translators as inspired Prophets; it was finally received even by the Jews of Palestine, and was employed notably by Josephus, the Palestinian Jewish historian. (Ibid)

    So, the bottom line is that, before the time of Christ, the Septuagint canon was approved for use by the reigning Jerusalem establishment (the legitimate “Chair of Moses”). It’s subsequent rejection by the Jews under Rabbi Akiba (after A.D. 90) was not the act of a legitimate Chair of Moses, since that Chair had ceased to exist, both because of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70 and by the Old Covenant’s replacement by the New Covenant in Christ – a Covenant overseen, not by the “Chair of Moses”, but by the subsequent “Chair of Peter” – the teaching authority of the Church.

    Christians all throughout history…. you might call them “the elect” if you wish…. have always seen the connection between the chair of moses and the chair of Peter. See here

    http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2011/02/the-chair-of-st-peter/

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  115. Robert,

    “Wait, you mean no fish on Fridays was an infallible statement?”

    No, it wasn’t – the faithful are still to obey discipline and respect the Church’s authority to bind/loose such disciplines.

    “But Rome doesn’t make this distinction until generations after the fact, and then, it generally doesn’t apologize for it. IE, No salvation outside the Church doesn’t mean what Boniface thought it meant. So for thousands of years, countless RCs were led astray by the papacy as to the true meaning of what it means to be united to Christ’s church. But that doesn’t impact the infallibility of the church? If the infallible teaching authority can’t infallibly understand its own statements, you’ve got serious problems, not the least of which is the continual call for us to overlook that elephant in the room.”

    Of course the infallible teaching authority can infallibly understand its own statements. That’s why the RCC interprets its own statements according to its own criteria/standards, and not external ones like Protestant critiques often presuppose. That’s why subsequent councils to Nicea interpreted that council in an orthodox manner contra the heretical interpretations floating around. And yes, there can be development. If there was always perfect understanding of all things, there would never be any development since the 1st century. Baptism of desire and other teachings of implicit desire and invincible ignorance and exceptions to formal membership were known (even by popes) before Boniface. The fact is Boniface could have said formal membership was required, but he didn’t. The distinction between principles and application is *sometimes* not made until after discernment has been made with the passage of time (saying this is always the case for all infallible teaching is not accurate). RCs were only led astray if it can be shown that the leaders/hierarchy promoting such teaching knew better and were culpable for their negligence and intentionally led the faithful astray. From our historical vantage point, it is easy to judge and assign culpability, but it’s not that easy – we judge properly according to time, circumstances, and context, not when we are very far removed.

    “Again, you will admit that not everything that the pope has said while teaching is infallible. You limit it to faith and morals and then not all faith and morals. I say that everything Peter, Paul, and Isaiah said while teaching is infallible. That includes faith, morals, history, aesthetics, philosophy, etc., etc. It’s a much higher claim.”

    So why aren’t you obeying the OT laws anymore? Why aren’t you obeying Paul’s command on head coverings?

    “As far as the canon. Our infallible criteria is “My sheep hear my voice.” That is practically no different from Roman Catholicism.”

    Were the Christians before the Reformation who got the canon wrong not His sheep then? Were the Christians who held to disputed passages as inspired for 1500 years not His sheep then?

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  116. Cletus,

    Baptism of desire and other teachings of implicit desire and invincible ignorance and exceptions to formal membership were known (even by popes) before Boniface.

    Of course, to say that one can be saved without being a part of the visible church destroys the visible church as a sacrament of salvation. You guys need to get the memo.

    RCs were only led astray if it can be shown that the leaders/hierarchy promoting such teaching knew better and were culpable for their negligence and intentionally led the faithful astray.

    Now that’s a doozy. So the Magisterium does not infallibly know when it knows better. So you really cannot provide an infallible interpretation of oneself. The “development in understanding” and this statement reduce to ever provisional opinions that you say are infallible, but you really can never be certain of what they mean. You have no idea if what you believe today will not be so qualified thousands of years from now that you would not be able to recognize it.

    So why aren’t you obeying the OT laws anymore?

    Because Jesus fulfilled them. They’re still infallible, however. They just don’t apply any longer, at least not in the same way. You’ve just admitted that no fish on Friday is not an infallible teaching, but it is a teaching. Again, we don’t claim the Bible is only infallible sometimes.

    From our historical vantage point, it is easy to judge and assign culpability, but it’s not that easy – we judge properly according to time, circumstances, and context, not when we are very far removed.

    I agree, but why state that salvation requires submission to the Roman pontiff if one can be in submission to the Roman pontiff without knowing it? It’s a pointless declaration. All men of “goodwill” are already there.

    Were the Christians before the Reformation who got the canon wrong not His sheep then? Were the Christians who held to disputed passages as inspired for 1500 years not His sheep then?

    The fact that some sheep misunderstand only says something about the receiver, not the clarity of the revelation. Same in Rome. Do Roman Catholics who hold to beliefs not sanctioned by Rome make them not Roman Catholic? Careful here, they haven’t been excommunicated.

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  117. sbd,

    The fact that people can be deluded and that there is no external reference from which one can demonstrate that one isn’t deluded does not imply that one can’t be certain of this or that (see Plantinga’s argument about belief in God and other minds).

    Plantiga insists that one can be certain of the existence of God from nothing else but the inner witness of the Holy Spirit. That is to say, if there were no other evidence at all for Gods existence except the inner witness a Christian would still be justified in calling belief in God properly basic. But being certain of “this or that” without any evidence and being certain of a systematic theology in the face of multiple and competing possible views is a different animal all together. Further, Plantiga and WLC both admit that if “given good reasons” why your personal experiences were fraudulent you should abandon your personal experience and follow the evidence where it leads. You would also have to posit that salvation history begin with Luther and Calvin (arguably Luther) since no other Christian in history had ever read the bible the way they did until the fifteenth century. You would also have to account somehow for all of those who *dont agree with your interpretations* and yet profess sola fide. Are methodists not elect? What about well meaning ignorant charismatics? Lutherans? Baptists? Or is the Holy Spirit confused?

    Stellman’s whole argument about authority rests on a naive foundationalist epistemology that is definitively false (McGrath has a nice lay summary of the problems with foundationalism in volume 2 of his Scientific Theology).

    Curious that you would point us to Plantiga as an authority and then later call a belief that he shares (foundationalism) definitively false! You should know that Plantiga has no problem with foundationalism and actually advocates his own nuanced version. After you get through Plantiga you also get the pleasure of parsing through Aquinas and Aristotle. Definitively false? Hardly.

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  118. sdb,

    “Authority and certainty were not in question despite the absence of an infallible high priest or infallible magisterium in 1century judaism.”

    With the OC, it was not difficult to identify God’s covenant people – it was a matter of physical/ethnic descent and fidelity to the Law. But there were disputes on the canon and interpretations thereof amongst the factions of the OC – so there was no “certainty” beyond the Pentateuch and they got many things wrong which is to be expected as revelation was still unfolding – that’s why Prophets were raised and later that’s why Christ and the Apostles corrected interpretations. Such markers no longer apply in the NC – the church is now worldwide and universal. At the close of revelation (no more prophets and Christ is the ultimate revelation), it becomes critical to be able to identify – no longer as a visible body maintained by physical descent – God’s NC family as such before one could understand what definitive divine revelation is or by what authority disputed matters can be resolved; the criteria for understanding that divine revelation is not personal opinion.

    We don’t experience divine revelation directly as those during the OT and Christ’s life did – that revelation was still unfolding – it had not yet reached a definitive final form anyone could be infallible about. The question is how divine revelation is known after that unfolding has completed. The NC is also greater than the OC – we should expect correspondence and continuity (authority of some sort), but not an equivalence, as in many other aspects.
    If the NC was just the OC repackaged on the authority question, we would be limited to the equivalents of opposing bodies like the Pharisees, Sadduccees, Essenes, etc. – it wouldn’t be any different from the situation when there was no completed deposit of faith.

    “Similarly, we don’t have an authority crisis in science even though we don’t have an infallible magisterium. Yet we do have certainty about a great many things.”

    Yes natural sciences and other disciplines besides theology are human disciplines – they can be explored and knowledge acquired via human/natural reason alone. Supernatural divine revelation cannot be discovered by human/natural reason alone; God must show and tell us if we are to know any of its content. Hence, we can know it only on divine authority.

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  119. Robert,

    “Of course, to say that one can be saved without being a part of the visible church destroys the visible church as a sacrament of salvation.”

    Man is bound to the sacraments, God is not – the HS blows where it will.

    “Now that’s a doozy. So the Magisterium does not infallibly know when it knows better. So you really cannot provide an infallible interpretation of oneself. The “development in understanding” and this statement reduce to ever provisional opinions that you say are infallible, but you really can never be certain of what they mean. You have no idea if what you believe today will not be so qualified thousands of years from now that you would not be able to recognize it.”

    Development does not negate what came before – it’s not ever provisional. Those in Boniface’s time could be certain there was no salvation outside the church (as has been the constant teaching in Tradition). They may not have been certain of all the nuances contained in that statement. Part of development was pulling out those nuances (and indeed some circumstances that had not been considered in Boniface’s time forced new considerations and insights). Some developments have to wait for other developments to occur (e.g. Marian doctrines could not have developed before Christological and grace doctrines had). That does not mean there can never be any certainty – there would be no certainty if anything and everything can be revoked or completely upturned, which Protestantism claims can happen – such cannot serve as a foundation for faith. It was known that abstaining from meat was a discipline. It was known that Christ’s divinity was irreformable. Based on the church’s own teaching/standards.

    “They just don’t apply any longer, at least not in the same way.”

    Bingo.

    “You’ve just admitted that no fish on Friday is not an infallible teaching, but it is a teaching. Again, we don’t claim the Bible is only infallible sometimes.”

    The infallible teaching is the church has the authority to bind/loose discipline. The actual discipline is not (it can be loosed). So is your wife wearing a head covering to church?

    “I agree, but why state that salvation requires submission to the Roman pontiff if one can be in submission to the Roman pontiff without knowing it? It’s a pointless declaration. All men of “goodwill” are already there.”

    Culpability is person-variable. Just because something is possible, does not mean it is likely or that it won’t be very difficult without the normal means of grace. Not holding that doctrine makes RCism a matter of indifference. RCism does not teach indifferentism.

    “The fact that some sheep misunderstand only says something about the receiver, not the clarity of the revelation.”

    Sure, but why you still call them sheep in that case confuses me. If the canon is ascertained and definitive based on sheep hearing his voice, and some got the canon and/or its contents wrong, then either the sheep do not hear his voice, or they are not his sheep.

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  120. Zrim: re the nature of infallibility coming from over there, right, it’s like saying water is only wet in spots on certain days.

    Thanks Zrim, this is probably the best metaphor I’ve ever seen for this!

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  121. Cletus van Damme
    Posted January 6, 2014 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    Citing DGH: “Vatican II embraced an even more modernized modernity.”

    I continue to see this assertion, but no citations from the council, nor evidence showing condemnation/silencing of conservative RC scholars.

    CVD, this statement from you shows that you really don’t seem to know what the real agenda is. And the statement from Ratzinger is worse:

    for every statement advanced in one direction the text offers one supporting the other side, and this restores the balance, leaving interpretations open in both directions.

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2013/10/ratzinger-for-every-statement-advanced.html

    I’ve got a lot more like that. The concept of “what’s true” is meaningless in Roman Catholicism. It all comes down to “we’re allowing ourselves wiggle room”. This is not a decent way at all for human beings to communicate God’s revelation.

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  122. Imagine the Arians and the Trinitarians at Nicaea saying “for every statement advanced in one direction the text offers one supporting the other side, and this restores the balance, leaving interpretations open in both directions.”

    That’s just total BS in the context of Nicaea. But perfectly acceptable for Vatican II.

    But there’s the Roman Catholic concept of “development” in a nutshell.

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  123. Cletus,

    Those in Boniface’s time could be certain there was no salvation outside the church (as has been the constant teaching in Tradition). They may not have been certain of all the nuances contained in that statement. Part of development was pulling out those nuances (and indeed some circumstances that had not been considered in Boniface’s time forced new considerations and insights). Some developments have to wait for other developments to occur (e.g. Marian doctrines could not have developed before Christological and grace doctrines had). That does not mean there can never be any certainty – there would be no certainty if anything and everything can be revoked or completely upturned, which Protestantism claims can happen – such cannot serve as a foundation for faith. It was known that abstaining from meat was a discipline. It was known that Christ’s divinity was irreformable. Based on the church’s own teaching/standards.

    So the Roman Catholic faithful can have at the same time an understanding of the church that confines it only to the visible church, but that doesn’t matter because there is an abstract statement that can be twisted like a wax nose to mean something different than what Boniface meant and scores of people since his time. Yeah, that’ll sell to those who believe in unchanging truth. Meanwhile, confessional Protestants are doing just fine rejecting modernism while RC goes on into postmodernism.

    The RC doctrine of infallibility is the ultimate example of reader-response criticism. It don’t matter what the original authors thought, it only matters what we think today. Talk about a church bound to the vicissitudes of history and guilty of temporal snobbery. Those rubes in the past had it bad, making infallible statements they didn’t get and all.

    Culpability is person-variable. Just because something is possible, does not mean it is likely or that it won’t be very difficult without the normal means of grace. Not holding that doctrine makes RCism a matter of indifference. RCism does not teach indifferentism.

    Yeah, the recent popes are doing a bang-up job of evangelization, what with the kissing of Qur’ans and calls on atheists to follow their consciences even when their consciences deny God.

    Sure, but why you still call them sheep in that case confuses me. If the canon is ascertained and definitive based on sheep hearing his voice, and some got the canon and/or its contents wrong, then either the sheep do not hear his voice, or they are not his sheep.

    Who are the people that got the canon wrong, I mean besides the Magisterium contra its own actual biblical scholars? I know of people who did not have access to all 27 NT books. I don’t know of any, besides radical gnostics, who wanted the gospel of Thomas. No one is advocating some personal individualism on the matter of canon, except for some extreme low-church Protestants. But you have the functional equivalence of that with your mystics.

    Self-attestation is only one element of canonicity, the other main two being Apostolic provenance and corporate reception. We actually believe the church plays a vital part in recognizing Scripture. What we deny is that Scripture is Scripture because the church says it is. At the end of the day, that is Rome’s confession. If the Magisterium infallibly declared tomorrow that Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” is Scripture, you could not contest it. Whether that is likely is entirely besides the point. Remember St. Ignatius, if the church says black is white, then black is white.

    We actually have a doctrine of corporate necessity. Because of sin, no individual sheep hears God’s voice perfectly. We need one another. The Reformation was born because the medieval church refused to listen to all of God’s sheep. The canon is recognized by all of God’s sheep corporately. Then there is Rome, who grants one sheep the ability to hear God perfectly…

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  124. John,

    ah yes because the doctrine of biblical inerrancy is so simple and straightforward with only minimal caveats and nuance. Like how we have to watch out for analogy and cultural references (conveniently generations of people can go by taking something literally only to discover later *through scientific research* that it was metaphor. We have to take into consideration that inerrancy is not negated by Biblical phenomena such as a lack of modern technical precision, irregularities of grammar or spelling, observational descriptions of nature, the reporting of falsehoods, the use of hyperbole and round numbers, the topical arrangement of material, variant selections of material in parallel accounts, or the use of free citations.Most importantly we have to keep in mind that even though the bible is absolutely free from error… It may have abunch of scribal errors that we don’t know about yet (generations can go by with everyone *thinking* whole passages are scripture only to find out later that they aren’t) or entire passages that were added on or dropped out…. Not 100% on that but pretty darn sure that its inerrant besides all those things. You realize atheists just think of this list as a million copouts that have been added on the more and more scripture is scrutinized? Yet you have the gall to call Church infallibility wet only sometimes in certain places?!? Insane. Selective skepticism is wack. Please apply your inner atheist consistently

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  125. Clete, just read the Roman Catholic historians like Mass and O’Malley. I’m not making this up.

    Conservatives embraced modernity by following Vatican II. SSPXers knew when to get off the let’s-just-get-along bandwagon.

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  126. Clete, do you admit that Vatican II has any problems or that Roman Catholicism is a lot more squishy that it used to be under the Pius’? At least Kenneth can sometimes concede that the church has made mistakes. But your biggest comeback seems to be — well, you have problems.

    You might gain a more sympathetic discussion if you actually reflected the state of affairs in your church that every Roman Catholic academic acknowledges. Otherwise, you seem to have a case of denial.

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  127. DGHART,

    I’m sure you meant to say

    “conservatives embraced modernism when they followed the liberal interpretation and implementation of Vatican 2”

    You can’t just say “followed Vatican 2”. That could mean anything.

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  128. Christians all throughout history…. you might call them “the elect” if you wish…. have always seen the connection between the chair of moses and the chair of Peter.

    That’s awfully generous of you. I agree that there is a very close parallel between the authority of Jewish leaders and present day church leaders. But both are fallible. How did one know, “You [left] the commandment of God and held to the tradition of men.”? The standard was scripture. They erred big time, led their people astray, and really missed the boat on the messiah (oops). Further, even without Luther, there were numerous sects even in an age of persecution, limited freedom, and no printing presses. You complained above about the multiple interpretations any given passage of scripture could have among protestants. We have no infallible authority to arbitrate these contested claims. Either does Rome. The infallible verse-by-verse commentary doesn’t exist. The Jews didn’t have it either. But “Fallible” does not mean “not authoritative”.

    Plantiga insists…in calling belief in God properly basic.

    Yep.

    Further, Plantiga and WLC both admit that if “given good reasons” why your personal experiences were fraudulent you should abandon your personal experience and follow the evidence where it leads.

    Yep. Not sure what this has to do with justifying the epistemic need for an infallible human authority.

    You would also have to posit that salvation history begin with Luther and Calvin (arguably Luther) since no other Christian in history had ever read the bible the way they did until the fifteenth century.

    You are exaggerating the extent of the discontinuity between Luther and Hus and their forebears.

    You would also have to account somehow for all of those who *dont agree with your interpretations* and yet profess sola fide. Are methodists not elect? What about well meaning ignorant charismatics? Lutherans? Baptists? Or is the Holy Spirit confused?

    Yeah, once you are regenerate, your theology becomes infallible. Right. That’s exactly what we protestants believe.

    You should know that Plantiga has no problem with foundationalism and actually advocates his own nuanced version. After you get through Plantiga you also get the pleasure of parsing through Aquinas and Aristotle. Definitively false? Hardly.

    One might note that he advocates a novel, nuanced twist on foundationalism because of the problems with the naive (classical?) foundationalism underlying Stellman’s confusion. My books are in storage because I’m in the middle of a move, so I can’t offer you direct quotes, but I think you’ll find McGrath’s summary of the problems with classical foundationalism helpful.

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  129. “The question is how divine revelation is known after that unfolding has completed.”
    An odd statement from an RC. No more revelation? Where does mysticism fit in? What about plain old fashioned development. Can there be no new dogma?

    “Hence, we can know it only on divine authority.”
    Yeah, that’s why an infallible magisterium isn’t necessary.

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  130. Robert,

    “So the Roman Catholic faithful can have at the same time an understanding of the church that confines it only to the visible church, but that doesn’t matter because there is an abstract statement that can be twisted like a wax nose to mean something different than what Boniface meant and scores of people since his time. Yeah, that’ll sell to those who believe in unchanging truth. Meanwhile, confessional Protestants are doing just fine rejecting modernism while RC goes on into postmodernism.”

    It’s not a wax nose. Did Boniface say “one must be a formal member to be saved”? No. Can it be interpreted as saying only those who culpably reject or the church or cannot justify invincible ignorance are damned? Yes. Perhaps Boniface meant what you think, perhaps not (historical psychoanalysis isn’t a very worthwhile field) – but as everyone knows, infallibility is a negative protection – even if he did intend what you mean, the HS protected the crafting of the decree. Scores of people since him – you mean the ones who held to baptism by implicit/explicit desire and invincible ignorance? Those people who were well-known theologians and popes and never condemned for such positions? Such doctrine has been an undercurrent in RC theology for ages. Again, this is why I said earlier the infallible interpreter can infallibly interpret its own statements according to its own internal principles, and we don’t judge such by external standards – which is exactly what you’re doing.

    Pius IX – no modernist – asserts both doctrines just as Vat2 did in Singulari Quadam from 1854:
    “It must, of course, be held as a matter of faith that outside the apostolic Roman Church no one can be saved, that the Church is the only ark of salvation, and that whoever does not enter it will perish in the flood. On the other hand, it must likewise be held as certain that those who are affected by ignorance of the true religion, if it is invincible ignorance, are not subject to any guilt in this matter before the eyes of the Lord. Now, then, who could presume in himself an ability to set the boundaries of such ignorance, taking into consideration the natural differences of peoples, lands, native talents, and so many other factors?”

    Pius X echoes the same thought – the same Pius who condemned modernism. If you only saw the first sentence, you might interpret it as you do US. So you can’t just say because strong language is used, the intent must have allowed for no degree of culpability, or that he intended it as necessarily as restrictive as possible, or that this just became an issue last century because modernism overtook the church.

    Well-regarded fathers before Boniface echoed non-restrictive inclusivist views. This is just a sample:
    Augustine: “How many who do not belong to us are really inside, how many of our own people are actually outside [the Church]”
    “How many sheep there are without, how many wolves within!…When we speak of within and without in relation to the Church, it is the position of the heart that we must consider, not that of the body…. All who are within in heart are saved in the unity of the ark.”
    “Baptism is administered invisibly to one whom not contempt of religion but death excludes.”
    Gregory of Nazanzius: “He was ours [a Christian] even before he was of our fold. His way of living made him such. For just as many of ours are not with us, whose life makes them other from our body [the Church], so many of those outside belong to us, who by their way of life anticipate the faith and need only the name, having the reality”

    Even a Pope before Boniface writing to a Muslim King echoes Vat2:
    “This affection we and you owe to each other in a more peculiar way than to people of other races because we worship and confess the same God though in diverse forms and daily praise and adore Him as the creator and ruler of this world. For, in the words of the Apostle, ‘He is our peace who hath made both one.’…For God knows our true regard for you to his glory and how truly we desire your prosperity and honor, both in this life and in the life to come, and how earnestly we pray both with our lips and with our heart that God Himself, after the long journey of this life, may lead you into the bosom of the most holy patriarch Abraham.”
    Pope St. Gregory VII, Letter XXI to Muslim King of Mauritania, 1076

    As I said, this has always been an undercurrent in RC theology, even during Boniface’s time.

    “Those rubes in the past had it bad, making infallible statements they didn’t get and all.”

    Again, you assume you can read the intents of the authors and that the infallible interpreter has no right to interpret her own documents and that the words have no meaning in the texts. You also treat all infallible teaching on the same level – I said earlier there’s a spectrum – some are clear (as Protestants admit when they write against them), some might not be as clear. The point as I’ve said repeatedly is that just one such example of infallible teaching (and the principle for defining such and resolving disputes) gets one off the boat onto the island.

    “Who are the people that got the canon wrong”

    I am not talking about just the NT canon.

    “If the Magisterium infallibly declared tomorrow that Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” is Scripture, you could not contest it. Whether that is likely is entirely besides the point.”

    No, it’s not besides the point. If tomorrow an indisputable manuscript or archaeological evidence was uncovered that proved Christianity was a fake, you could not contest it. The Magisterium is the servant of Tradition and Scripture – it can’t just make it up – where’s the historical witness that the church considered MLK’s writing Scripture? Why did Trent codify the canon if it could’ve just made stuff up? I mean, Scripture contradicts RC teaching right? Seems silly for them to have defined something that shoots them in the foot – they should’ve just taken out the books that contradicted their teaching.

    “Remember St. Ignatius, if the church says black is white, then black is white.”

    Yeah, if the church has the authority it claims, I don’t continually subject its teachings to my opinions/interpretations before assenting to them. Kind of like your side does – RC Sproul: “However, if something can be shown to be definitively taught in the Bible without questioning, and somebody gives me a theory from natural revelation—that they think is based off of natural revelation—that contradicts the Word of God, I’m going to stand with the Word of God a hundred times out of a hundred. But again I have to repeat, I could have been a mistaken interpreter of the Word of God.”

    “Because of sin, no individual sheep hears God’s voice perfectly.”

    Yep – so everything is reformable and provisional, including the canon.

    “We need one another. The Reformation was born because the medieval church refused to listen to all of God’s sheep.”

    Yes and the Trinitarian and Christological heretics could have claimed they were the sheep and said the same thing about the ecumenical councils.

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  131. sdb,

    “An odd statement from an RC. No more revelation? Where does mysticism fit in? What about plain old fashioned development. Can there be no new dogma?”

    Public revelation has ended. The deposit of faith is fixed. Our understanding is not and continues to grow. Your position that development means revelation continues or is incomplete is the error of the modernists which was condemned over a century ago.

    ““Hence, we can know it only on divine authority.”
    Yeah, that’s why an infallible magisterium isn’t necessary

    It is unless everything reduces to varying degrees of plausible opinion. But maybe you’re cool rocking in the boat.

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  132. D. G. Hart
    Posted January 6, 2014 at 8:49 pm | Permalink
    Clete, just read the Roman Catholic historians like Mass and O’Malley. I’m not making this up.

    Conservatives embraced modernity by following Vatican II.

    Darry. What do you mean by “modernity?”

    Having done some study in this area meself–of the philosophers AND the theologians–I think Pope Ratzinger put it just right: “The dictatorship of relativism.” That’s “modernity,” the denial of even the existence of eternal and universal truth.

    If you’re going to stray off the “sola scriptura” plantation, I’ll be happy to share what I’ve picked up about the rest of the world. Show you my scars, even.

    As for Vatican II, it merely expanded the understanding of “there is no salvation outside the [Catholic] Church” to folks like you and your followers here.

    http://www.ewtn.com/library/councils/v2church.htm

    You may disclaim the pope and the Catholic Church, but they claim you. [That’s damn “catholic,” small “c”. Good argument.]

    As a[n] historian, Dr. Hart, surely you endorse going directly to the source. If you’re going to assault it, you need to assault the Vatican castle, not just burn its peripheral farmlands and kill the livestock. You’re not going to live forever, you know. You need to leave some decent arguments behind, not just heads on pikes.

    Heads are cheap, good arguments ain’t. Oppose “Lumen gentium” in its own words, not “Jason and the Callers.”

    The restoration of unity among all Christians is one of the principal concerns of the Second Vatican Council. Christ the Lord founded one Church and one Church only. However, many Christian communions present themselves to men as the true inheritors of Jesus Christ; all indeed profess to be followers of the Lord but differ in mind and go their different ways, as if Christ Himself were divided. Such division openly contradicts the will of Christ, scandalizes the world, and damages the holy cause of preaching the Gospel to every creature. (Unitatis Redintegratio, 1)

    Have at it then, DG, and stop being content with burning fields and killing the livestock.

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  133. Darryl,

    The church has made mistakes and could’ve done things better in many areas. There are many liberals and modernists and dissenters. Implementation of Vat2 ideas wasn’t handled well in many areas/aspects. That does not mean Rome has embraced modernism or errs in all teaching or practice. So that’s out of the way – now what?

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  134. Cletus: It’s not a wax nose. Did Boniface say “one must be a formal member to be saved”? No

    He clearly said “Indeed, we declare, announce, and define that it is altogether necessary to salvation for every human creature to be subject to the Roman pontiff.” SUBJECT TO THE ROMAN PONTIFF.

    Why bring up ‘membership’ – formal or otherwise?

    He also asserted that, “Both swords, the spiritual and the material, are in the power of the church; the one, indeed to be wielded for the church, the other by the church…”

    Does the RC continue to assert that the state is to wield the sword on behalf of the RC and that the RC should wield a sword?

    Yes or no?

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  135. Ewel,

    “Indeed, we declare, announce, and define that it is altogether necessary to salvation for every human creature to be subject to the Roman pontiff.”

    That statement is still true, just as it’s true every creature is subject to God, whether they are aware of it or not. JP2 references it in his “All Salvation Comes Through Christ” general audience you can read here while still being inclusive.
    It has never been taught pre or post boniface that one must be a formal member or visibly embrace the faith to be saved. The restrictive interpretation is not necessitated.

    I cited another papal statement from Pius IX above:
    “It must, of course, be held as a matter of faith that outside the apostolic Roman Church no one can be saved, that the Church is the only ark of salvation, and that whoever does not enter it will perish in the flood.” WHOEVER DOES NOT ENTER IT.

    but of course that same author interpreted that statement in an inclusive sense in the same document as stated above.

    More such comparisons:
    Pius X – Jucunda Sane:
    “It is our duty to recall to everyone great and small, as the Holy Pontiff Gregory did in ages past, the absolute necessity which is ours, to have recourse to this Church to effect our eternal salvation.” ABSOLUTE NECESSITY

    That same Pius writes in his catechism:
    “A person outside the Church by his own fault, and who dies without perfect contrition, will not be saved. But he who finds himself outside without fault of his own, and who lives a good life, can be saved by the love called charity, which unites unto God, and in a spiritual way also to the Church, that is, to the soul of the Church.”

    Leo XIII – Annum Ingressi Sumus:
    “This is our last lesson to you; receive it, engrave it in your minds, all of you: by God’s commandment salvation is to be found nowhere but in the Church.” NOWHERE BUT IN THE CHURCH

    That same Leo in Caritatis Studium (1898 btw – Vat2 did not coin separated brethren):
    “The ardent charity which renders Us solicitous of Our separated brethren…We know that many of the Scottish people [i.e. Calvinists], who do not agree with us in faith, sincerely love the name of Christ, and strive to ascertain His doctrine and to imitate His most holy example.”

    Pius XII:
    “By divine mandate the interpreter and guardian of the Scriptures, and the depository of Sacred Tradition living within her, the Church alone is the entrance to salvation: She alone, by herself, and under the protection and guidance of the Holy Spirit, is the source of truth.” CHURCH ALONE IS THE ENTRANCE TO SALVATION

    Same Pius XII in Mystici Corporis:
    “For even though, by a certain unconscious desire and wish, they [those outside the Church] may be related to the Mystical Body of the Redeemer, they remain deprived of so many and so powerful gifts and helps from heaven, which can be enjoyed only within the Catholic Church….”

    My point is not to debate EENS. My point is that the infallible interpreter has the ability and right to infallibly interpret her own documents, and that such interpretations are quite plausible given the above – the Magisterium is not wax nosing it or making words mean whatever it wants. To judge her interpretations by an external standard rather than by her own principles is to assume what’s in dispute.

    I’ve already been over the Vat2 religious liberty/state stuff and development on another thread here that was a long discussion I have no desire to rehash and takes us off tangent from the main points in this discussion.

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  136. Argument? Did somebody say argument?
    You mean like:

    If inspired Scripture thoroughly furnishes the man of God unto all good works 2 Tim. 3:16,17
    And determining whether Jesus included Rome when he said “the gates of hell shall not prevail against my church” Matt. 16:18 is a good work.
    ∴ Then the inspired Scripture thoroughly furnishes the man of God unto determining whether Jesus included Rome when he said “the gates of hell shall not prevail against my church”.

    If inspired Scripture thoroughly furnishes the man of God unto all good works 2 Tim. 3:16,17
    And determining whether the Trad/Mag is Godbreathed/inspired/infallible is a good work.
    ∴ Then the inspired Scripture thoroughly furnishes the man of God unto determining whether the Trad/Mag is Godbreathed/inspired/infallible.

    If inspired Scripture thoroughly furnishes the man of God unto all good works 2 Tim. 3:16,17
    And determining if Scripture necessarily includes the Trad/Mag because it is God breathed/inspired or infallible is a good work
    ∴ The inspired Scripture thoroughly furnishes the man of God unto determining if Scripture necessarily includes the Trad/Mag because it is God breathed/inspired or infallible.

    Oh, but the objection is that the Godbreathed/inspired and infallible Scriptures don’t thoroughly furnish the man of God unto “all” good works, contra what 2 Tim. 3:16,17 explicitly/plainly/clearly says.

    Then the objector is inveterate and hardened papist that has been given over to a strong delusion that they might believe a lie, because they do not have a love for the truth. (Words only mean what they want them to mean according to -take your pick – Humpty Dumpty or Ignatius Loyola.)
    QED

    IOW somebody needs to stop futzing around and tell us as per Augustine’s common ground, where Scripture says the Trad/Mag is Godbreathed/inspired/infallible.

    But if the Trad/Mag is not God breathed/inspired or infallible then the papists need to shut up and go home and pout all by their lonesome instead of stuffing this combox with their stupid opinions and inane comments.

    Not that hardened papists respond to revelation or reason, they like to talk to much.

    cheers,

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  137. Sbd,

    That’s awfully generous of you. I agree that there is a very close parallel between the authority of Jewish leaders and present day church leaders

    really? Do you agree that the “chair of Peter” and the “Chair of Moses” is one such parallel?

    But both are fallible

    unsupported assertion

    How did one know, “You [left] the commandment of God and held to the tradition of men.”? The standard was scripture.

    Ancient Jews didn’t operate under sola scriptura.

    The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church notes in its article on the Pharisees:

    Unlike the Sadducees, who tried to apply Mosaic Law precisely as it was given, the Pharisees allowed some interpretation of it to make it more applicable to different situations, and they regarded these oral interpretations as of the same level of importance as the Law itself (Cross, 1077).

    They had Oral Traditions, an authoritative and binding magesterium, and the Sacred Scriptures. However, revelation was still ongoing. Special revelation had not yet come to an end and the chair of Moses needed to be replaced by the chair of Peter. Even still, God was faithful to the Jewish magesterium until the very end…

    John 11:51

    51 He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation,

    The standard was not scripture alone. Never has been.

    You are exaggerating the extent of the discontinuity between Luther and Hus and their forebears.

    But wait! Did you forget McGraths doctoral thesis in you storage as well? Allow me to refresh your memory

    McGrath on justification and regeneration Iustitia Dei, Vol. 1

    p. 186 “The essential feature of the Reformation doctrines of justification is that a deliberate and systematic distinction is made between justification and regeneration. Although it must be emphasized that this distinction is purely notional, in that it is impossible to separate the two within the context of the ordo sautis, THE ESSENTIAL POINT IS THAT A NOTIONAL DISTINCTION IS MADE WHERE NONE HAD BEEN ACKNOWLEDGED BEFORE IN THE HISTORY OF CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE. A FUNDAMENTAL DISCONTINUITY WAS INTRODUCED INTO THE WESTERN THEOLOGICAL TRADITION WHERE NONE HAD EVER EXISTED, OR EVER BEEN CONTEMPLATED BEFORE. The Reformation understanding of the nature of justification – as opposed to its mode – must be regarded as a genuine theological novum.”

    All your favorite sources keep on biting you in the butt.

    Yeah, once you are regenerate, your theology becomes infallible. Right. That’s exactly what we protestants believe.

    wouldn’t it need to be if you are arguing for properly basic canon and doctrinal certainty? That is what you are arguing right? That you can know “this or that” without external reference?

    One might note that he advocates a novel, nuanced twist on foundationalism because of the problems with the naive (classical?) foundationalism underlying Stellman’s confusion

    Yes, Plantiga argues against classical foundationalism but puts forth a type of moderate foundationalism in the rest of his work. There are all kinds of foundationalism. Internal, external, classical, moderate, etc. I’m not sure that the AC1&2 argument is strictly any of them. You will have to explain what type it falls under and then argue why such epistemology is false… Once you can find your text books or whatever….

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  138. Bob,

    Jimmy Akin answers this well

    3.There is such a thing as hyperbole (exaggeration to make a point), and it is a common Hebrew idiom and a common feature of Paul’s letters. For example, in Colossians 1:20 Paul states that God was pleased to reconcile all things to himself through Christ. But obviously he does not mean absolutely all things or he would have to say that God reconciles Satan and the damned to himself through Christ (cf. 2 Cor. 5:19, Eph. 1:10). Thus Paul’s statement that Scripture makes a minister one complete may be no more than a typical Hebraic hyperbole.

    4.Absurdities result if we take the principle that he uses to interpret 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and apply it to other texts. The principle is: “If (X) makes you complete then you don’t need anything other than (X)” (hence his reasoning, “If Scripture makes you complete then you need Scripture only”). If we apply this principle to James 1:4, which states, “And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” If we applied the principle to James 1:4 we would have to say that we do not need anything other than steadfastness, including Scripture!

    http://jimmyakin.com/library/2-timothy-316-17-and-sola-scriptura

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  139. Clete, “Can it be interpreted as saying only those who culpably reject or the church or cannot justify invincible ignorance are damned? Yes. Perhaps Boniface meant what you think, perhaps not (historical psychoanalysis isn’t a very worthwhile field). . .”

    There goes the link between infallibility and certainty. You have an infallible interpreter, but he won’t tell you what it means.

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  140. Tom, I sure would like to have an exchange with you, but you rarely engage seriously. You’ve already dismissed Massa. You don’t think Boston College is representative. Jesuits? No. You don’t seem to think Oxford University Press is publisher worthy of addressing their author’s argument. So when you show up, an alternative universe emerges. It has resonances with Doug Sowers and a little with Ken Loses. But overall, the effect is simply to be disagreeable with the majority of commenters. Mob? Hardly.

    If you don’t think you understand my point about liberalism in the Roman Catholic Church — from changes on freedom of religion and church and state, on Protestants as heretics to separated brethren, on pre- and post-Vat 2 devotional practices, on the state of RC biblical scholarship, theologians, and universities — I don’t think you will really consider any other sources or observations.

    But I will keep posting and you’ll likely keep annoying.

    So have a really great day.

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  141. Clete, you’d have a point about Caritatis Studium if Leo could actually tell the difference between the Church of Scotland and the Free Church of Scotland. Why does Rome keep approving of liberal Protestant communions (see the accord with Lutherans on justification)?

    How hurtful.

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  142. Cletus,

    This affection we and you owe to each other in a more peculiar way than to people of other races because we worship and confess the same God though in diverse forms and daily praise and adore Him as the creator and ruler of this world.

    This statement just shows us the fallibility of the church, the ignorance of the pope, or both. Christians and Muslims do not worship the same God. My God is a Trinity. Muslims hate the Trinity and worship a monad.

    No one is denying that there has a been a universalistic undercurrent in the church. It goes back at least to Origen. The question for me is how did the majority of the church leaders understand no salvation outside the church? We can get at this through ordinary methods of historical study, and if you say that is impossible, then welcome to Rome’s infallibility, the ultimate example of reader-response criticism. Who cares what people in the past thought about the statements they uttered. It only matters what we say today. And by the way, that means that what you believe today could be wrong and, in fact, heresy.

    For generations, the Magisterium asserted its own authority and killed those who denied it. They clearly believed that “heretics” such as Hus and Luther were introducing doctrines that would lead to the damnation of souls. We could put a good spin on it and say, well, those guys were culpable in a way that their descendants are not, a la Vatican 2. But that does not account for the generations of followers between the Reformation and the present that were harassed, persecuted, et al by the Inquisition from the period of the Reformation through the beginning of the twentieth century. These popes and curia failed to make the magical distinction between founders and followers that led to me being a separated brother who is still nevertheless in submission to the Roman pontiff and on my way to heaven even if I never become Roman Catholic.

    You have to deal with the fact that your infallible Magisterium did not infallibly understand its own infallible pronouncements. If this is possible—and it is—I never know when the church has infallibly interpreted itself. I’m left in the same “epistemic boat” that you charge Protestantism as possessing. Actually, I’m worse off. Confessional Protestants like the ones who hang out here try their darndest to avoid the reader-response criticism of modern Rome. Like, it actually matters to us what the Westminster divines thought about the Westminster Confession.

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  143. John, Kruger needs to pick up on Kline’s development of canon and covenant and do ‘that’ for the NT. I never can get scholars to do exactly what I require of them and I’m busy.

    Clete, CtC would’ve fired you by now. The WHOLE basis of popes is to have PERSPICUITY that you can’t get from the text; persons vs. texts. Now it turns out people aren’t very readily understood, psychoanalysis and all, and it gets even dicier once they are dead. Oh, the humanity. I think I’ll stick with divinely inspired texts and the Holy Spirit.

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  144. Oops, That is, “Actually, I’m better off. Confessional Protestants like the ones who hang out here try their darndest to avoid the reader-response criticism of modern Rome. Like, it actually matters to us what the Westminster divines thought about the Westminster Confession.”

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  145. “But both are fallible [is an] unsupported assertion”
    You may not accept the support I’ve offered, but it is false that the assertion is unsupported. I’ve pointed out several times in this and previous threads that there are several instances of Jesus criticizing the Jewish leaders because they “followed the traditions of men rather than the word of God”. For example, see Mark 7. It is left to you offer evidence to the contrary: perhaps you can show that the Jewish leaders distinguished among different part of their traditions such that they thought that some were fallible while others were infallible. Then show that the parts they thought were infallible were in fact protected from error. This is going to be a very hard case to make. What is clear from the NT is that many of the authoritative traditions enforced by the Pharisees were wrong. They erred, thus they were not infallible. If you are going to say, well that part wasn’t part of the magisterium because it was wrong, then an infallible magisterium is meaningless.

    “Ancient Jews didn’t operate under sola scriptura”
    That’s right and they came under pretty withering criticism for not doing so.

    K: “salvation history started with Luther”
    S: this is an exaggeration
    K quotes M: [A] systematic distinction is made between justification and regeneration. Although [this is] notional, in that it is impossible to separate the two within the context of the ordo sautis….[this notional distincition] is genuine theological novum ”
    S: Like I said, you have exaggerated the discontinuity ushered in by the magisterial reformation. Neither Calvin nor Luther (nor McGrath for that matter) believed that this novel way of understanding the relationship between justification and regeneration meant that no one prior to this was “saved”.

    I noted that naive (i.e. classical) foundationalism is definitively false to which you responded: “You should know that Plantiga has no problem with foundationalism and actually advocates his own nuanced version.” That turned into “Yes, Plantiga argues against classical foundationalism.” Make up your mind. Perhaps you need an infallible source to settle Plantinga’s understanding of classical foundationalism. Or perhaps you were aware of his arguments against classical foundationalism but thought you could get in a zinger anyway? I sure hope not.

    “wouldn’t it need to be if you are arguing for properly basic canon and doctrinal certainty? That is what you are arguing right?”
    Not at all. The fact that the data is infallible does not mean the theory is – even if you are certain about your theory. Further the fact that theories are falsifiable (fallible) in principle doesn’t mean they are wrong. Quantum mechanics may be supplanted by a more fundamental theory, but the atom isn’t going anywhere – I can move them around one by one and spell IBM with them! The fact that we are fallible and our theory is fallible does not mean that I have any kind of epistemological crisis about the existence of atoms. Further, the theory must bow to the data. That doesn’t mean that everyones interpretation of the data is on equal footing or that data is never underdetermined.

    Similarly with scripture – it is our data that we have to work with. Our theories are theology. While all theories are in principle fallible, certain theological understandings aren’t going anywhere. The analogy breaks down of course – theology isn’t empirical science. And I don’t have the time or energy to work it out in detail at the moment. However, I think the analogy does a good job of sketching out the contours of an argument for how the principle of Sola Scriptura need not lead to a crisis of authority (discussed this some in the context of van Fraassen’s work (an RC!) a few threads back – I forget which one).

    I’ll be offline for the rest of today and likely tomorrow, so we’ll have to pick this up later in new thread if you are interested.

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  146. Kenneth, I can’t give the RC Walrus my five bucks. He and I have history. I’ve staked my soul, that he’s wrong.

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  147. Robert,

    “No one is denying that there has a been a universalistic undercurrent in the church.”

    EENS does not teach universalism. Letter from the Holy Office responding to Feeney’s errors:
    “With these wise words [in Mystici Corporis] he reproves both those who exclude from eternal salvation all united to the Church only by implicit desire, and those who falsely assert that men can be saved equally well in every religion.”

    “But it must not be thought that any kind of desire of entering the Church suffices that one may be saved. It is necessary that the desire by which one is related to the Church be animated by perfect charity. Nor can an implicit desire produce its effect, unless a person has supernatural faith”

    “For generations, the Magisterium asserted its own authority and killed those who denied it.”

    There was not some universal genocide of heretics and non-Catholics.

    “But that does not account for the generations of followers between the Reformation and the present that were harassed, persecuted, et al by the Inquisition from the period of the Reformation through the beginning of the twentieth century.”

    The link between heresy and stability of the state was viewed differently than it is now. RCism has never said it hasn’t made mistakes.

    “These popes and curia failed to make the magical distinction between founders and followers that led to me being a separated brother who is still nevertheless in submission to the Roman pontiff and on my way to heaven even if I never become Roman Catholic.”

    You *may* be – that’s the whole point. Stop with this “I’m golden no matter what” business – no document has ever said that.

    “You have to deal with the fact that your infallible Magisterium did not infallibly understand its own infallible pronouncements.”

    I just explained above how it does. Here’s what the same Holy Letter to Feeney that endorsed inclusivism said:
    “Therefore, no one will be saved who, knowing the Church to have been divinely established by Christ, nevertheless refuses to submit to the Church or withholds obedience from the Roman Pontiff, the Vicar of Christ on earth.”
    Pretty similar to US language. Again, you interpret US in the strictest sense possible when that is not necessitated, and then critique RCism’s interpretation when it is the one who has the authority/ability to interpret its own documents and teachings. It’s like an atheist pounding you over the head with Scriptural contradictions based on his own interpretations. That’s what I meant by you critique a system according to its internal standards, not external ones.

    “If this is possible—and it is—I never know when the church has infallibly interpreted itself. I’m left in the same “epistemic boat” that you charge Protestantism as possessing.”

    Right – because it’s just up in the air whether Rome has infallibly defined the Assumption or Christ’s divinity, or under what principles it could issue definitions. Once again ignoring the fact that just because we might not be able to list every infallible doctrine, or expound it in its fully developed form, we can’t list some. Protestantism cannot and will not do that by its own admission (nor has any mechanism for doing so). So keep rocking in the boat.

    “Like, it actually matters to us what the Westminster divines thought about the Westminster Confession.”

    Not really – because it’s all reformable and provisional, by its own admission. Reymond and others didn’t care what people thought of Nicea and that it needed to be tweaked. No one in Protestantism thinks the divines had any irreformable authority.

    sean,

    “Clete, CtC would’ve fired you by now. The WHOLE basis of popes is to have PERSPICUITY that you can’t get from the text; persons vs. texts. Now it turns out people aren’t very readily understood, psychoanalysis and all, and it gets even dicier once they are dead.”

    It’s pretty well-established that the majority of the Tridentine fathers held to partim-partim. We do not have the records of the immediate discussion that led to the change of the decree on tradition and scripture (we have the ones showing the revisions right before that one, but the debate before that draft has been lost) – so it’s quite possible they intended partim-partim even with the change to “et”. But again, infallibility is a negative protection – the words are protected, not necessarily the intent.
    The popes can clarify things, and continue to clarify things by infallibly interpreting their own documents (as the councils did with previous councils). Feeney was confused about EENS. The Pope corrected him. What I meant by psychoanalysis is that Robert was just throwing out “Boniface could not have possibly meant other than the strictest restrictive sense possible” – he did not throw out any support for that assertion – he was the one psychoanalyzing, not me. I have shown inclusivist sense of EENS was well-attested before and after Boniface.

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  148. Darryl,

    “There goes the link between infallibility and certainty. You have an infallible interpreter, but he won’t tell you what it means.”

    People were certain then that there was no salvation outside the church (just as they are now). Just as people were certain Christ was divine, but not all the nuances of the Trinity (hence the litany of heresies that still popped up after Nicea forcing further councils). People are certain the Assumption happened – we are not certain whether Mary died beforehand – perhaps that will be defined at a later date. Just because that then gets infallibly interpreted/defined later does not mean we were floating in the ether until then.

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  149. Cletus,

    Not really – because it’s all reformable and provisional, by its own admission. Reymond and others didn’t care what people thought of Nicea and that it needed to be tweaked. No one in Protestantism thinks the divines had any irreformable authority.

    Sure, no one thinks the Westminster divines are irreformable. When they were wrong, we admit it. When modern Rome’s interpretation of a past statement doesn’t jive, they just change the interpretation and deny that they’ve made a reformation. When the intent of the author of the statement is not followed, however, you’ve changed the statement and its meaning even if not formally.

    Right – because it’s just up in the air whether Rome has infallibly defined the Assumption or Christ’s divinity, or under what principles it could issue definitions. Once again ignoring the fact that just because we might not be able to list every infallible doctrine, or expound it in its fully developed form, we can’t list some. Protestantism cannot and will not do that by its own admission (nor has any mechanism for doing so). So keep rocking in the boat.

    There is nothing to stop Rome from interpreting a statement contrary to the intent of the author and then claim it hasn’t done that. It did it at Vatican 2 with Lumen Gentium and extending salvation to all people as long as they don’t “knowingly” reject RC. Of course, Rome still can’t tell us what it means to knowingly reject RC. Which is why I’m golden. I believe in the divinity of Christ and do good works. Hey, I might get a few more turns in purgatory, but as long as I don’t start killing people or deny Christ’s divinity, I’ll be good. Heck, I’m not even sure on that.

    You’re in a church that is essentially universalistic but hasn’t had the guts to formally say so. Give it time. There’s certainly enough conflicting signals that have made ever RC I’ve known personally, including priests, universalists.

    . Again, you interpret US in the strictest sense possible when that is not necessitated, and then critique RCism’s interpretation when it is the one who has the authority/ability to interpret its own documents and teachings. It’s like an atheist pounding you over the head with Scriptural contradictions based on his own interpretations. That’s what I meant by you critique a system according to its internal standards, not external ones.

    The link between heresy and stability of the state was viewed differently than it is now. RCism has never said it hasn’t made mistakes.

    No, I’m interpreting US according to what can be discerned of the intent of the original author and the way it was interpreted officially, by and large, until V2. That’s exactly how I would interpret Scripture or any other historical record. You had an infallible statement that was not interpreted infallibly. If it had been, then the Inquisition and other errors would not have been “mistakes” but good and necessary consequences. No reason to apologize at all, even faintly, for Rome’s use of the sword against heretics.

    So you have infallible statements uttered by people who can’t get their meaning straight from one generation to another. And I’m supposed to believe the Magisterium is infallible. I’ll stick with a fallibly interpreted infallible Bible, thank you. It’s effectively the same hermeneutic (except that we practice the GHM stuff that only Roman exegetes can stomach today, the rest of you don’t like it), less idolatrous, and much easier to follow.

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  150. Clete, so that’s all the infallible dogma you have? Oh, right. Denzinger. A guy without office or charism. You learned from Muhammad Ali well — the rope-a-dope part. Which is why it feels like talking to Jehovah’s Witnesses with Prot-RC converts.

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  151. Robert,

    “It did it at Vatican 2 with Lumen Gentium and extending salvation to all people as long as they don’t “knowingly” reject RC.”

    The understanding of EENS at Vat2 has historical witness, as I’ve shown – even endorsed by people who used language just as strong as in US. It wasn’t new.

    “There is nothing to stop Rome from interpreting a statement contrary to the intent of the author and then claim it hasn’t done that.”

    You have not shown that your restrictive interpretation is the only one permitted, or the one that was intended by the author – which is partly why I adduced other popes using strong language while they also endorsed inclusivist interpretations.

    “No, I’m interpreting US according to what can be discerned of the intent of the original author and the way it was interpreted officially, by and large, until V2.”

    You have not shown that your restrictive interpretation was the official one by and large until V2. I have shown inclusivist interpretation running throughout RC history before and after US.

    “That’s exactly how I would interpret Scripture or any other historical record…we practice the GHM stuff.”

    Did the NT authors interpret the OT strictly according to the OT author’s intentions? Does the canonical hermeneutic used in interpreting NT writers by other NT writers interpret strictly according to the author’s intentions?
    Incidentally equating Scripture to the level of any other historical record and interpreting it as such is one of the problems with Protestantism – Scripture is a unique document – it shouldn’t be interpreted like any other document. That’s why Pius X condemned following error of modernism:
    “If he wishes to apply himself usefully to Biblical studies, the exegete must first put aside all preconceived opinions about the supernatural origin of Sacred Scripture and interpret it the same as any other merely human document.”

    “If it had been, then the Inquisition and other errors would not have been “mistakes””

    Confusing irreformable doctrinal principles with the prudential application of those principles, as I went over in the thread on vat2 religious liberty in the thread I referenced with ewel. Prudential application/practice can be good, bad, or indifferent – the church is made of sinners – so it can be bad at times. The infallible dogma did not change between the inquisition and vat2. Vat2 never endorsed an unqualified right to religious liberty.

    “So you have infallible statements uttered by people who can’t get their meaning straight from one generation to another.”

    All generations understood there was no salvation outside the church.

    Darryl,

    “Clete, so that’s all the infallible dogma you have?”

    No I can offer more if you like. Ratzinger also gave a non-exhaustive list when he was in the CDF, but I feel that doesn’t matter to you either.

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  152. Cletus,

    Confusing irreformable doctrinal principles with the prudential application of those principles, as I went over in the thread on vat2 religious liberty in the thread I referenced with ewel.

    So, the irreformable and infallible doctrine was applied fallibly. I rest my case. You got nothing. Your infallible interpreter routinely fallibly interprets and applies its own statements. Again, like Protestants with our infallible Bible, we just admit it.

    Incidentally equating Scripture to the level of any other historical record and interpreting it as such is one of the problems with Protestantism – Scripture is a unique document – it shouldn’t be interpreted like any other document.

    Scripture is unique in its authority, not unique in requiring special interpretative juju. Even Rome has rejected the 4fold allegorical interpretation, at least formally its exegetes have.

    Did the NT authors interpret the OT strictly according to the OT author’s intentions? Does the canonical hermeneutic used in interpreting NT writers by other NT writers interpret strictly according to the author’s intentions?

    The NT authors do not interpret the OT contrary to its author’s intentions. Then there is Rome, where in addition to no salvation outside the church, modern councils interpret papal authority in a way never intended by the earliest ecumenical councils. Primacy of jurisdiction runs contrary to the understanding of a primacy of honor given in the early church. That’s why the East rejects papal authority as well.

    Reader-response criticism, Rome perfected it years before the postmodern era.

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  153. Clete, I’d be interested but I think I know to text to which you refer. Was Ratzinger infallible in doing this? Is this a list that stands over time? Would Pio Nino agree? Will the head of CDF issue the same list in 50 years?

    With all of the certainty you think you have, the list of infallible dogma is hardly writ in stone.

    It’s hard for me to believe any post Vat 2 pope would affirm this:

    13. Now We consider another abundant source of the evils with which the Church is afflicted at present: indifferentism. This perverse opinion is spread on all sides by the fraud of the wicked who claim that it is possible to obtain the eternal salvation of the soul by the profession of any kind of religion, as long as morality is maintained. Surely, in so clear a matter, you will drive this deadly error far from the people committed to your care. With the admonition of the apostle that “there is one God, one faith, one baptism”[16] may those fear who contrive the notion that the safe harbor of salvation is open to persons of any religion whatever. They should consider the testimony of Christ Himself that “those who are not with Christ are against Him,”[17] and that they disperse unhappily who do not gather with Him. Therefore “without a doubt, they will perish forever, unless they hold the Catholic faith whole and inviolate.”[18] Let them hear Jerome who, while the Church was torn into three parts by schism, tells us that whenever someone tried to persuade him to join his group he always exclaimed: “He who is for the See of Peter is for me.”[19] A schismatic flatters himself falsely if he asserts that he, too, has been washed in the waters of regeneration. Indeed Augustine would reply to such a man: “The branch has the same form when it has been cut off from the vine; but of what profit for it is the form, if it does not live from the root?”[20]

    14. This shameful font of indifferentism gives rise to that absurd and erroneous proposition which claims that liberty of conscience must be maintained for everyone. It spreads ruin in sacred and civil affairs, though some repeat over and over again with the greatest impudence that some advantage accrues to religion from it. “But the death of the soul is worse than freedom of error,” as Augustine was wont to say.[21] When all restraints are removed by which men are kept on the narrow path of truth, their nature, which is already inclined to evil, propels them to ruin. Then truly “the bottomless pit”[22] is open from which John saw smoke ascending which obscured the sun, and out of which locusts flew forth to devastate the earth. Thence comes transformation of minds, corruption of youths, contempt of sacred things and holy laws — in other words, a pestilence more deadly to the state than any other. Experience shows, even from earliest times, that cities renowned for wealth, dominion, and glory perished as a result of this single evil, namely immoderate freedom of opinion, license of free speech, and desire for novelty.

    15. Here We must include that harmful and never sufficiently denounced freedom to publish any writings whatever and disseminate them to the people, which some dare to demand and promote with so great a clamor. We are horrified to see what monstrous doctrines and prodigious errors are disseminated far and wide in countless books, pamphlets, and other writings which, though small in weight, are very great in malice. We are in tears at the abuse which proceeds from them over the face of the earth. Some are so carried away that they contentiously assert that the flock of errors arising from them is sufficiently compensated by the publication of some book which defends religion and truth. Every law condemns deliberately doing evil simply because there is some hope that good may result. Is there any sane man who would say poison ought to be distributed, sold publicly, stored, and even drunk because some antidote is available and those who use it may be snatched from death again and again?

    But I guess you’ll defend this too as one more instance of continuity — just a different application.

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  154. Robert,

    “So, the irreformable and infallible doctrine was applied fallibly. I rest my case.”

    You rest your case that there is a distinction between irreformable doctrinal principles and the application of those principles? Where does RCism teach application or prudential judgment is infallible?

    “Your infallible interpreter routinely fallibly interprets and applies its own statements.”

    It infallibly interpreted US to exclude the erroneous interpretation you insist upon it. Councils have infallibly interpreted previous councils. That does not mean those councils were wrong or that there was no certainty, as I said with Christ’s divinity and the Assumption

    “Scripture is unique in its authority”

    So you interpret divine revelation as you do natural revelation. The Trinity can be known just as 2+2=4 and who was president last year.

    “The NT authors do not interpret the OT contrary to its author’s intentions.”

    Do you interpret the OT in light of the NT or the OT on its own? Do you interpret NT authors in light of other NT authors?

    “Primacy of jurisdiction runs contrary to the understanding of a primacy of honor given in the early church.”

    The two are not mutually exclusive.

    Darryl,

    “Was Ratzinger infallible in doing this?”

    No. As I’ve said all along, there is no infallible list of infallible teachings.

    “With all of the certainty you think you have, the list of infallible dogma is hardly writ in stone.”

    Right, we have no idea if the Assumption or Trinity or IC or PI or Resurrection is infallible. Again, just because some infallible teaching might be unclear does not mean all is – just because there is no exhaustive list does not mean we know none.

    “But I guess you’ll defend this too as one more instance of continuity — just a different application.”

    RCism doesn’t endorse indifferentism. I already cited Letter from the Holy Office from 1949 – not long before Vat2:
    “With these wise words [in Mystici Corporis] he reproves both those who exclude from eternal salvation all united to the Church only by implicit desire, and those who falsely assert that men can be saved equally well in every religion….
    But it must not be thought that any kind of desire of entering the Church suffices that one may be saved. It is necessary that the desire by which one is related to the Church be animated by perfect charity. Nor can an implicit desire produce its effect, unless a person has supernatural faith”

    And of course Vat2 itself, along with JP2, still endorsed and stated EENS along the same lines as above. Not indifferentism/moralism.

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  155. Clete, but what about the freedom to publish? What happened to the lists of banned books? Did those previously banned books become good?

    When I golf, you only get one mulligan per nine. With age, that may be changing. Maybe that’s your excuse. Papacy’ old. Old guys make lots of mistakes. “Our bad”!

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  156. Cletus,

    The Trinity can be known just as 2+2=4 and who was president last year.

    Any honest reader of Scripture can conclude that Scripture teaches that Jesus is God and that it makes a distinction between Him and the Father, who is also God. What they cannot do without God’s Spirit is believe that said teaching is true to reality. Case in point would be someone like Bart Ehrman who can admit that John teaches the deity of Christ, Ehrman just rejects John’s authority.

    The two are not mutually exclusive.

    According to generations of interpretation they do. Just ask the Patriarch of Constantinople.

    You rest your case that there is a distinction between irreformable doctrinal principles and the application of those principles? Where does RCism teach application or prudential judgment is infallible?

    A application or prudential judgment reflects interpretation. You don’t have the former without the latter. The Inquisition is an application that reflects an interpretation that says those who teach against the Magisterium are not in submission to the pope and in danger of leading people into hell. The Inquisition is no longer applied, at least in the same way, because the interpretation has changed. Today, those around the world who teach against the Magisterium are merely separated brethren who are in submission to the pope even if they don’t really know it, and they’re not leading anyone into hell. Remember, even Muslims are good now.

    The application changed because the interpretation changed. And there is no reason to change the interpretation if it was correct.

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  157. Darryl,

    We’ve done this before. The heresies within condemned books are still heresy. Banning books themselves is a prudential judgment, not doctrine (it’s not very likely that every single sentence in a work is heretical). The prudential application here is governed by fallible men in their own context and time. RCC could ban them again if they desired – given our current climate and context, it does not think such an action is prudentially necessary or wise. Banning/not banning does not have any impact on the condemnations of the heresies themselves – it could never revoke the heresies that lead to such banning.

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  158. Dr. Hart,

    Clete, but what about the freedom to publish? What happened to the lists of banned books? Did those previously banned books become good?

    C’mon, you know the rules. As long as it wasn’t prefaced with “Here ye, Here ye, this here is an infallible decree,” then all’s good for Rome. It doesn’t matter if the pope issuing the list thought his judgment was infallible and that those books were infallibly evil. He’s fallible about when He’s infallible.

    Clear, right? But as long as it makes you feel better. Just ask Cletus. I mean, Rome and the JWs both give certainty. You just “feel” more right with either one than as a poor, poor Protestant.

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  159. Robert,

    “Any honest reader of Scripture can conclude that Scripture teaches that Jesus is God and that it makes a distinction between Him and the Father, who is also God.”

    So non-Trinitarians are just dishonest readers. I bet that goes over well in evangelization (“Hey you dishonest Mormon!”) Also can honest readers plainly conclude all of the following are heresy, and are just accepting them because they reject Scripture’s authority?
    Adoptionism, Apollinarism, Arianism, Docetism, Eutychianism, Pneumatomachians, Melchisedechians, Monarchianism, Monophysitism, Monothelitism, Patripassianism, Sabellianism, Nestorianism

    “According to generations of interpretation they do.”

    Just because there are multiple and conflicting interpretations does not mean there is not a correct one or we’re all just floating in the ether. Otherwise we may as well throw all the Trinitarian heresies back in the mix.

    “A application or prudential judgment reflects interpretation. You don’t have the former without the latter.”

    Can you have the latter without the former? Or how do I apply the doctrine of the Assumption of Mary or IC or use prudential judgment in applying that? A pope can be mistaken in how he understands an author or work when he bans it – that does not mean that because he interpreted say “Catcher in the Rye” as teaching Arianism when it did not, that therefore means Arianism must be fine or we can’t know Christ is divine. It doesn’t follow at all.

    “The Inquisition is an application that reflects an interpretation that says those who teach against the Magisterium are not in submission to the pope and in danger of leading people into hell. The Inquisition is no longer applied, at least in the same way, because the interpretation has changed.”

    I guess I’ll have to cite from my discussion on Vat2 religious liberty after all:

    Here’s the doctrine I agree with Brian Harrison that DH espouses and was bringing to light: “all human persons as such (including, therefore, non-Catholics) have a natural right to immunity from coercion in publicly expressing their beliefs, in circumstances where this does not violate public morality, public peace, or the rights of other citizens.” To those last 3 criteria Harrison drew from DH could also be added “objective moral order”. DH bases it on natural law – that is doctrine.

    Now practice – in this case ecclesiastical public law which is changeable legislation.
    – Before Vatican II: in a Catholic society, the public practice of non-Catholic cults may, as such, be judged a sufficiently serious threat to the rights of other citizens as to justify legal repression;
    – After Vatican II: even in a Catholic society, the public practice of non-Catholic cults may not, as such, be judged a sufficiently serious threat to the rights of other citizens as to justify legal repression.

    The change in legislation should be seen as due to a change in the Church’s practical judgment as to the relative weight of the social goods and evils involved in repression or non-repression respectively. Bishop De Smedt, official relator for the schema on religious liberty at Vat2, told the Council Fathers that the concept of the “common good” is to be understood as “something relative: it is linked to the cultural evolution of peoples and has to be judged according to that development”.

    So, the essence of the doctrine has been in place long before Vat2, just as the essence of the doctrine of US and EENS was in place long before Vat2.

    “Today, those around the world who teach against the Magisterium are merely separated brethren who are in submission to the pope even if they don’t really know it, and they’re not leading anyone into hell. Remember, even Muslims are good now.”

    I cited from a pope in the 19th century referring to separated brethren, and I cited from a 11th century pope writing to a Muslim whom you criticized. Again, the view of Vat2 was not out of nowhere, and that needs to be accounted for in your needlessly restrictive interpretation of US.

    “The application changed because the interpretation changed. And there is no reason to change the interpretation if it was correct.”

    Popes often change conditions for indulgences. Does that mean the interpretation of the doctrine of indulgences has changed?

    “It doesn’t matter if the pope issuing the list thought his judgment was infallible and that those books were infallibly evil.”

    RCism makes a distinction between reformable disciplines/prudential application and eternal doctrinal principles. You seem to not agree on such a distinction. So when Lateran IV stated: “We forbid all clerics to hunt or to fowl, so let them not presume to have dogs or birds for fowling.” That was apparently an unchanging doctrinal principle that was part of the deposit of faith in your view. Fine, but you cannot criticize the system based on that – you criticize based on her own criteria.

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  160. Cletus,

    Also can honest readers plainly conclude all of the following are heresy, and are just accepting them because they reject Scripture’s authority?
    Adoptionism, Apollinarism, Arianism, Docetism, Eutychianism, Pneumatomachians, Melchisedechians, Monarchianism, Monophysitism, Monothelitism, Patripassianism, Sabellianism, Nestorianism.

    Assuming they’ve studied Scripture in detail, the answer is yes. Some people are just ignorant of what the Bible teaches.

    you cannot criticize the system based on that – you criticize based on her own criteria.

    Well, I would be more amenable to that if Rome’s criteria didn’t keep changing. As Eric noted in the other thread, discipline is defined functionally as anything that is inconvenient and cannot be explained away.

    In any case, Rome collapses under its own weight. You claim this principled distinction, but even your own Curia can’t even decide what is right on so many things, as Dr. Hart has often pointed out.

    And finally, if a system can be criticized based only on its own criteria, then all systems are true.

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  161. CVD: you criticize based on her own criteria.

    If that is your standard, then why do you repeatedly not allow Protestants to say what Sola Scriptura is? That is, you continually say that it is a “self-defeating principle”, when in fact, it doesn’t mean “no other criteria outside of Scripture”. Luther, at the beginning of the Reformation, said “Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason …” and the later Reformers (in the WCF, for example) said “Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture …” and “a due use of the ordinary means” (which for all practical purposes is “plain reason”).

    But since the Reformation, Roman Catholics have always erected the straw man of “nuda scriptura”.

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  162. Cletus,

    All human persons as such (including, therefore, non-Catholics) have a natural right to immunity from coercion in publicly expressing their beliefs, in circumstances where this does not violate public morality, public peace, or the rights of other citizens.

    So, presumably, coercion is proper where public expression would disturb public morality, public peace, and the rights of citizens. Guess that means Saudi Arabia is fine to outlaw public expressions of Christianity. Oh wait, they worship the same (non-Trinitarian) God, except that they don’t, but they might if they’re invincibly ignorant, but no one knows if they’re invincibly ignorant…

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  163. Clete, but if the church condemned books that were heretical before, why isn’t it still condemning those books? Doesn’t the church have an obligation to protect the faithful? Is not the confession, I believe in a holy church, doctrine?

    So you believe in a holy church but admit the church is not holy.

    The doctrine discipline distinction only gives cover for so long.

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  164. Clete, “The change in legislation should be seen as due to a change in the Church’s practical judgment as to the relative weight of the social goods and evils involved in repression or non-repression respectively.”

    Or it could be that the church hierarchy no longer believe non-Catholic ideas can hurt you, and that even if they may, they won’t send you to hell. Do you really think Trent condemned Protestant teaching because the bishops were worried about the common good?

    The more you explain, the more liberal you sound.

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  165. John,

    I haven’t said Protestants hold nuda scriptura. I have said that it’s not consistent to appeal to Scripture to teach SS, and that SS is not a doctrine to be derived from scripture, nor is the canon, and that all authority is authoritative insofar as it conforms to scripture reduces to solo, not sola – all based on Protestantism’s own principles. But I have never claimed Protestantism itself teaches no other criteria but scripture or imported an external standard in evaluating it.

    Darryl,

    “Clete, but if the church condemned books that were heretical before, why isn’t it still condemning those books?”

    Are you asserting because it does not ban books right now, it isn’t condemning heresies that led to those bans anymore?

    “Doesn’t the church have an obligation to protect the faithful?”

    Would you like Rome to start bugging everyone’s homes and cars to make sure they stay on the straight and narrow? Rome protects the faithful when it judges disputes and condemns heresies. The catechism is freely available. Churches/masses are freely available. Conciliar texts are freely available. Devotional and saints’ writings are freely available. Papal encyclicals are freely available. It’s hard to claim ignorance in this day and age.

    “Do you really think Trent condemned Protestant teaching because the bishops were worried about the common good?”

    The condemnations of heresy still apply – they haven’t vanished, nor has what Rome held doctrinally in opposition to those condemnations vanished – nor has EENS or US. The common good was concerning legal repression, not condemnation of heresy.

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  166. Kenny,
    Context is king. Scripture is the external authority/revelation of God that makes one wise unto salvation in Christ. Steadfastness is a personal quality makes one a mature Christian. Big category diff there, but no worries. The word/concept fallacy trumps all and the spiritual bunglers are up to the usual of denial and and obfuscation.

    And of course, Scripture doesn’t deny that the Trad/Mag and Mary and St. Jude aren’t infallible God breathed standards for the church, so they must be.
    And if St. Jude, what about the patron saints for clowns? Why leave out personal favorites when it comes to the infallible rule for faith and life?

    Yet if Scripture equips the man of God unto all good works and determining the true church is a good work, Scripture equips us to determine that Rome’s claims are fraudulent. She can claim the early church, just like the catholic reformed, but nominalism is just that. Superficial.

    And Akin? Come on, you’re complaining about DT King’s academic credentials, but Akin passes muster? Neither does the anglican McGrath speak for the P&R.

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  167. Robert,

    “Guess that means Saudi Arabia is fine to outlaw public expressions of Christianity.”

    No, I talked about this earlier with you in that same thread.

    DH does not say government/society should not play any role in defending truth or that it has an obligation not to because there is no true religion or they are all the same:
    “First, the council professes its belief that God Himself has made known to mankind the way in which men are to serve Him, and thus be saved in Christ and come to blessedness. We believe that this one true religion subsists in the Catholic and Apostolic Church, to which the Lord Jesus committed the duty of spreading it abroad among all men….On their part, all men are bound to seek the truth, especially in what concerns God and His Church, and to embrace the truth they come to know, and to hold fast to it.”

    DH is concerned with freedom from coercion:
    “Religious freedom, in turn, which men demand as necessary to fulfill their duty to worship God, has to do with immunity from coercion in civil society. Therefore [this Council] leaves untouched traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion and toward the one Church of Christ.”

    Later:
    “[Government’s] action is to be controlled by juridical norms which are in conformity with the objective moral order.”

    I mentioned “objective moral order” above with the 3 you listed which you left out – that was added because of JP2’s experiences with communism – that’s why Saudi Arabia’s outlawing and suppressing of Christianity for public order is not just fine. A similar objection was raised in the thread:

    “Cd-host: John Paul II doesn’t agree with you. He most certain did object to the belief of the Reichsgau Wartheland (Polish Nazi Occupation Government) that they had the right to suppress Catholic propaganda and that such actions were unjust even though the priests were a threat to the public order.

    Me: That’s why John Paul II demanded “objective” qualify “moral order” in the statement on religious liberty.”

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  168. Bob,

    Context is king. Scripture is the external authority/revelation of God that makes one wise unto salvation in Christ.

    The text reads that scripture is PROFITABLE in making one wise unto salvation.It does not read SUFFICIENT it does not read “the external authority/revelation”… You are merely inserting whatever words and concepts you like into the text.

    Steadfastness is a personal quality makes one a mature Christian. Big category diff there, but no worries. The word/concept fallacy trumps all and the spiritual bunglers are up to the usual of denial and and obfuscation.

    Thats not what James says. Again, the text says that you will be made PERFECT, lacking in NOTHING…. it does not say “You will be made a mature christian through the personal quality of steadfastness”… You once again completely misrepresent the text

    And of course, Scripture doesn’t deny that the Trad/Mag and Mary and St. Jude aren’t infallible God breathed standards for the church, so they must be.

    Strawman.

    And if St. Jude, what about the patron saints for clowns? Why leave out personal favorites when it comes to the infallible rule for faith and life?

    Why leave out personal favorites? Im not even sure what that means. Are you drunk again?

    Yet if Scripture equips the man of God unto all good works and determining the true church is a good work, Scripture equips us to determine that Rome’s claims are fraudulent. She can claim the early church, just like the catholic reformed, but nominalism is just that. Superficial.

    Yup, definitely drunk.

    And Akin? Come on, you’re complaining about DT King’s academic credentials, but Akin passes muster? Neither does the anglican McGrath speak for the P&R.

    Akin just presented coherent arguments that you can not refute without misrepresenting the text. Further, these are very standard RC responses and not arguments of his own making.

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  169. Clete, I don’t know if the church still condemns those heresies. They are on the books. But the books that contained them are now available to everyone. Don’t you think it odd that your parents once forbade you from seeing certain movies but now they don’t say anything about what you see? A plausible explanation is that they don’t care anymore about what you see or how bad it might be. And that could be that they think either the bad movies aren’t bad or that the bad movies won’t hurt you.

    The point stands. Your church, to keep people out of hell or from longer stays in purgatory, prevented people from reading certain books (and more). They don’t do that any more. Given the way the Roman Catholic universities have gone, it’s hard to believe that someone like David Hume is considered dangerous. And given how generous Vat II and the popes since have been about non-Roman Catholics, it’s hard not to think that the magisterium thinks only the worst people are in danger of going to hell.

    BTW, did you think the banning of books was an instance of bugging cars and homes?

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  170. Clete and Kenloses, here’s what happens when heresy is optional: Protestants become fellow believers.

    I think Phil is largely guiltless of most of the charges made against him: he was not equating homosexuality with bestiality anymore than he was equating greed with bestiality and he was not condemning any individual to hell; he was giving a list of sins that the Christian tradition has long understood as on God’s list of objectively gravely sinful actions. Phil himself acknowledges forthrightly that he has been a practitioner of a many objectively gravely sinful actions who has been saved by Christ. He knows Christ’s redemptive grace is extended to all other sinners as well and has given great personal witness of his ability to reach out to and love those embroiled in destructive and sinful life styles. . . .

    Phil Robertson never wanted to do Duck Dynasty – he is happiest when duck-hunting, but his love for God and others has caused him to put himself forward to preach the gospel. We will want to do so differently from him but we must do so. We must struggle to find the right way to engage others on these sensitive, unpopular issues because the fate of souls lies in the balance.

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  171. Dr. Hart,

    Clete and Kenloses, here’s what happens when heresy is optional: Protestants become fellow believers.

    Exactly. You and I are golden. We love Christ, believe in the Trinity, and seek to do good to our fellow men. We are way better off than the nominal RC who takes the sacrament but doesn’t really know why. We’re golden. The concern of lay RCs that we become RCs doesn’t really make any sense in light of what the Vatican has been saying for about 100 years or so. We’re golden.

    Ain’t life grand?

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  172. Robert,

    Nahhhhh, I think you will probably go to hell for eternity. Very slim chance of you being invincibly ignorant at this point… which would mean that it is absolutely necessary for you to be in union with the bishop of Rome. Sorry pal. Produce for me an official statement from the Vatican (not a quote about duck dynasty or some biblical scholar or Notre Dame Prof) that says invincible ignorance isn’t a factor and you have a point. Until then, eternal life is looking pretty bleak unless God can move you to repentance.

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  173. Darryl,

    “And that could be that they think either the bad movies aren’t bad or that the bad movies won’t hurt you.”

    Or it could be context/circumstances have changed the prudential judgment to baby everyone. People are much more literate/educated now, civil society has changed (link between heresy and state stability is no longer viewed the same by both RCs and Protestants), and people now have much greater access to resources.

    “BTW, did you think the banning of books was an instance of bugging cars and homes?”

    You were asking why doesn’t Rome protect the faithful by banning books. I just took that logic and ran with it. They’ll need to ban movies, tv, songs, organizations, etc. Essentially they would need to bug cars and homes to make sure nothing bad slipped their radar. It’s ridiculous to say because they no longer ban books, they no longer condemn heresies. Did Rome not condemn heresies before it banned books containing those heresies? Nope, but by your logic that must’ve been the case.

    Robert,

    Non-Catholics are not just golden. I cited Singulari Quadam earlier:
    “It is also a perfectly well known Catholic dogma that no one can be saved outside the Catholic Church, and that those who are contumacious against the authority and the definitions of that same Church, and who are pertinaciously divided from the unity of that Church and from Peter’s successor, the Roman Pontiff, to whom the custody of the vineyard has been committed by the Savior, cannot obtain eternal salvation.”

    Contumacious and pertinaciously are the important words and where culpability and vincibility lies.

    I cited from Mystici Corporis earlier:
    “For even though, by a certain unconscious desire and wish, they [those outside the Church] may be related to the Mystical Body of the Redeemer, they remain deprived of so many and so powerful gifts and helps from heaven, which can be enjoyed only within the Catholic Church”

    You *may* be related, and even if so, those outside are deprived of many gifts and helps (though not all) – it is more difficult outside than inside. You do have a point though that nominal RCs can be in far worse shape – to whom much is given, much is required.

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  174. Clete, “Or it could be context/circumstances have changed the prudential judgment to baby everyone. People are much more literate/educated now, civil society has changed (link between heresy and state stability is no longer viewed the same by both RCs and Protestants), and people now have much greater access to resources.”

    Oh, so you’re a progressive. So why do you bother with all those encyclicals from the past? Aren’t today’s clergy better educated, isn’t our society more civil, aren’t people better?

    The more you explain, the more you sound like a mainline Protestant.

    BTW, that context changes jazz is precisely the observation that spawned modernism (both RC and Prot). Times have changed. The old formulas are outdated. Let’s adapt to the times.

    So you agree with Massa’s point.

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  175. Darryl,

    “BTW, that context changes jazz is precisely the observation that spawned modernism (both RC and Prot). Times have changed. The old formulas are outdated. Let’s adapt to the times.”

    This would be true if discipline and prudential judgment are conflated with doctrine. How on earth could prudential judgment not take into account circumstances/time/context? Make the distinction between doctrine and discipline/application and you’ll see why I’m not some progressive or modernist and why I still bother with encyclicals from the past.

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  176. John,

    I’m glad to have inspired creative juices. I agree teaching on eating blood/head coverings applied to cultural context and times. My point was simply they are no longer being followed by you, but they were commands by Paul (with no caveats that this was just a contingent thing). Your “interpretive community” (Darryl’s phrase) has interpreted those commands to no longer apply in your situation. Something that is infallible or a perpetually binding unchanging doctrinal principle is – surprise – perpetual and unchanging – it is always to be held. Contingent and temporary or context-sensitive practices/disciplines/teachings are not. That’s my point when the objection to the distinction between contingent/temporal teaching/application and eternal/infallible doctrinal principles comes up – Protestants apply the same distinction to Biblical teachings (both to Paul and of course much of the OT).

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  177. Clete, how on earth could prudential judgment ever come up with papal infallibility? Does infallibility depend on context or does what popes say remain true across time, no matter whether they are talking about doctrine or discipline? Or put another way, is papal infallibility dogma or discipline?

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  178. Darryl,

    PI is dogma, not discipline. PI does not apply to everything the pope says. What popes or councils or the extraordinary/ordinary magisterium says infallibly remains true across time, what they say concerning discipline or application does not. “Provide a just wage” and “treat people humanely” remains a true moral command. Francis’ opinions and recommendations on how to best achieve that or apply those principles in the current economic climate is not infallible. Nor was this statement from Lateran:
    “We decree that truces are to be inviolably observed by all from after sunset on Wednesday until sunrise on Monday, and from Advent until the octave of the Epiphany, and from Septuagesima until the octave of Easter.”
    or
    “We forbid all clerics to hunt or to fowl, so let them not presume to have dogs or birds for fowling.”
    or many such statements from all the councils throughout history that both defined irreformable dogma as well as contingent discipline/application.

    To conflate the distinction between the two as you keep doing is the problem; you don’t interpret Scripture in that way, nor does RCism interpret its own teachings that way.

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  179. Clete, looks to me that PI as dogma doesn’t do anything without discipline, and of course, back in the pre-VatII days, dogma and discipline went hand in hand.

    I’m sure you also think that hell is part of dogma. But you don’t hear much about that from the infallible ones.

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  180. Darryl,

    How does PI do nothing without discipline? Here’s something it did – solemnly define the Assumption.

    Dogma and discipline did not go hand in hand. I just cited discipline from Lateran. I could do the same for Trent. Vat2 did not change anything with the distinction held between the two.

    Uh yeah hell is part of dogma regardless of how much a pope talks about it. But here’s Benedict from 2008: “Jesus came to tell us that he wants us all in heaven and that hell, of which so little is said in our time, exists and is eternal for those who close their hearts to his love.”

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  181. Kenneth
    Posted January 8, 2014 at 11:47 am | Permalink
    Robert,

    Nahhhhh, I think you will probably go to hell for eternity. Very slim chance of you being invincibly ignorant at this point… which would mean that it is absolutely necessary for you to be in union with the bishop of Rome. Sorry pal. Produce for me an official statement from the Vatican (not a quote about duck dynasty or some biblical scholar or Notre Dame Prof) that says invincible ignorance isn’t a factor and you have a point. Until then, eternal life is looking pretty bleak unless God can move you to repentance.

    FTR, Catholicism prays that they be saved despite even their vincible ignorance.*

    “While invincible ignorance prevents a sinful action from being a sin, vincible ignorance at most mitigates it. It may even aggravate guilt. The guilt of an act performed or omitted in vincible ignorance is not to be measured by the intrinsic malice of the thing done or omitted so much as by the degree of negligence discernible in the act.

    Ignorance stemming from making little or no effort is termed crass or supine; it removes little or no guilt. Deliberately fostered ignorance is affected or studied; it can increase guilt.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vincible_ignorance

    It is always very difficult to tell whether a disingenuous interlocutor is being crass or studied. We can only hope he is spared in God’s mercy anyway. The existence of a “Purgatory” was probably derived from the belief that regardless, some sort of spanking is in order.

    Vincible ignorance can also refer to the intentional refusal to understand or consider a particular point of doctrine.

    Such as

    Clete, how on earth could prudential judgment ever come up with papal infallibility? Does infallibility depend on context or does what popes say remain true across time, no matter whether they are talking about doctrine or discipline? Or put another way, is papal infallibility dogma or discipline?

    —PI is dogma, not discipline. PI does not apply to everything the pope says.** What popes or councils or the extraordinary/ordinary magisterium says infallibly remains true across time, what they say concerning discipline or application does not. “Provide a just wage” and “treat people humanely” remains a true moral command. Francis’ opinions and recommendations on how to best achieve that or apply those principles in the current economic climate is not infallible.

    Was the question crass or studied? Even if we give the benefit of the doubt, vincible. One can only hope and pray, that nonetheless, divinely forgivable. It is said there are no stupid questions, but that surely applies only to invincible ignorance, not the vincible.
    ______
    *Catholic Catechism 1058: The Church prays that no one should be lost: “Lord, let me never be parted from you.” If it is true that no one can save himself, it is also true that God “desires all men to be saved” (1 Tim 2:4), and that for him “all things are possible” (Mt 19:26).

    ** Catholics visiting this blog should probably preface every exchange with “[Papal infallibility] does not apply to everything the pope says,” or risk every discussion inevitably end up circling that bowl. [Like this one.]

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  182. Clete, the pope’s power is all bound up with his infallibility. If the pope is fallible, he doesn’t have the authority to fix the church. That’s why Pio Nono doubled down on infallibility when his temporal authority vanished.

    And in case you didn’t notice, Roman Catholicism is nothing without the pope. You’re a bright guy. This is all pretty obvious.

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  183. Maybe Vatican II isn’t to blame, but how wise were the Bishops to engage the modern world when signs were indicating the modern world wasn’t going to be pretty?

    Forty-eight per cent never attend Mass; one in three claims to have “no religion”. A moment’s reflection, however, confirms that it cannot ever have been thus. The Catholic birthrate would need to be vastly above average (it isn’t) to break even, let alone grow, in the face of such attrition. So when, exactly, did the haemorrhage begin? And why?

    One need not spend long in the left-footed reaches of the internet to find a definitive answer to both questions: Vatican II. Precisely how the Council Fathers conspired to commit “ecclesicide” might be endlessly debated, but the culprit itself is never seriously in doubt. And,it has to be said, a first glance at the evidence doesn’t look good for the council’s counsel.

    Using British Social Attitudes data,it is possible to gauge the proportion of Catholics born in a given decade who still identified as such in adulthood. Seventy-eight per cent of cradle Catholics born between 1915 and 1924 retained their Catholic identity: a 20th-century high. In fact, every cohort prior to the end of World War Two has a retention rate of
    more than 70 per cent. Not so for those born in 1945-54, however. The baby boomers were the ones approaching adulthood during Vatican II itself: their retention rate is only 61 per cent. The next two cohorts, the true “post-conciliars” born in 1955-74, fared even worse: 57 per cent apiece. The laity did not so much “come of age” at Vatican II, a cynic might say, as pack up and leave the family home.

    Fortunately, I am not a cynic. And nor, I think, need you be. Post Concilium, ergo propter Concilium – the notion that because something happened after the council it is necessarily caused by the council – is by no means so obvious as such statistics might suggest. This is so for two reasons.

    The plummeting graph lines one sees from the 1960s onwards (in all areas of Church life, not just regarding identity) are not at all exclusive to Catholicism. The Church of England, for example, publishes its statistics on all manner of things: confirmations per parish, number of baptisms as a proportion of live births, total of Easter and Christmas communicants, and so on. They all show the same pattern: consistent levels in the first half of the 20th century, perhaps even with a slight rise in the late 1950s, and then swift and unambiguous decline, from the 1960s to the present day.

    Similar stories can be told for every major denomination – only one of which, be it noted, held an ecumenical council at more or less the watershed moment. What it was about the 1960s that precipitated all this is keenly debated among sociologists and social historians. Strangely though, none of them regard either guitar Masses or female altar servers as the primary drivers.

    While decline since the 1960s has been dramatic, it certainly did not arise out of nothing. The pre-war retention rates may look aspirational to us, but they still amount to around one in every four cradle Catholics coming to see themselves as something else: in most cases, then as now, as having “no religion” at all.

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