Sure, I find Bryan Cross’s grading of all my utterances for logical correctness annoying. But aside from my own mental inadequacies, I have trouble understanding how logic can be such a part of the apologetic tactic Bryan (along with Jason and the Callers) brings to the interweb. Have these fellows not heard of Vatican’s Sacred Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith or what this congregation said about doctrinal formulations and hermeneutics? Consider this:
First Question: Did the Second Vatican Council change the Catholic doctrine on the Church?
Response: The Second Vatican Council neither changed nor intended to change this doctrine, rather it developed, deepened and more fully explained it.
This was exactly what John XXIII said at the beginning of the Council. Paul VI affirmed it and commented in the act of promulgating the Constitution “Lumen gentium”: “There is no better comment to make than to say that this promulgation really changes nothing of the traditional doctrine. What Christ willed, we also will. What was, still is. What the Church has taught down through the centuries, we also teach. In simple terms that which was assumed, is now explicit; that which was uncertain, is now clarified; that which was meditated upon, discussed and sometimes argued over, is now put together in one clear formulation.” The Bishops repeatedly expressed and fulfilled this intention.
This 2007 explanation, of course, fits entirely with the idea of development of doctrine even if it doesn’t fit with Bryan’s appeal to logic. Part of the difficulty on the latter matter concerns whether what the CDF said in 2007 follows logically from the premise established by Pius X roughly 100 years earlier when he required of any priest an Oath against Modernism which contained this:
Fourthly, I sincerely hold that the doctrine of faith was handed down to us from the apostles through the orthodox Fathers in exactly the same meaning and always in the same purport. Therefore, I entirely reject the heretical’ misrepresentation that dogmas evolve and change from one meaning to another different from the one which the Church held previously. I also condemn every error according to which, in place of the divine deposit which has been given to the spouse of Christ to be carefully guarded by her, there is put a philosophical figment or product of a human conscience that has gradually been developed by human effort and will continue to develop indefinitely.
This is merely the policy that followed from Pius X’s condemnation of Modernism and the notion of evolution of doctrine (13).
Maybe someone schooled in upper level logic can reconcile development of doctrine (A) with a condemnation of development of doctrine (not A). Curious minds do want to know. But perhaps Bryan along with Jason and the Callers should consider one of their fellow converts from a semi-Reformed Protestant background who might judge their high view of logic as just one more instance of Protestant rationalism and logocentrism:
For evangelicals, things say what they mean and mean what they say. Lines are drawn, people get clear on where they stand, and clarity and consistency throughout is paramount. That is its literal, either/or, univocal approach at work again. that view also reflects Protestantism central emphasis on the word. . . . Correct words, for Protestants — particularly for evangelical rationalists — are therefore nearly themselves sacred, because Christian truth itself is presented directly in the right words.
Catholics also care very much about right words. But their approach to words is a bit different in a way that turns out to make a big difference. Catholicism, in short, recognizes a gap between words and what the words express or represent. For Protestants, the words are the truth. That is why one must get them exactly right. For Catholics, by contrast, words formulate expressions of truth. There is not in Catholicism a literal, exact, univocal correspondence or identity between words and truth. Much of the truth, especially truth that directly concerns God, is in Catholicism a mystery. Ultimately the truth is God. And God is not words. (Christian Smith, How to Go from Being a Good Evangelical to a Committed Catholic, 104-105)
Tell that to Pius X.
Smith goes on to quote from the CDF (quoted above) and goes on to say:
Catholicism can thus at once claim infallibility for some of its teachings and at the same time revise the verbal expression of those teachings. Even the doctrine of papal infallibility does not claim that the verbal formulations per se that are promulgated by popes are infallible. Rather, it is the real truths which their verbal formulations express that are infallible. In short, we haven’t gotten at all wrong what we say is true, even though the way we say the truth might not be quite right or adequate. (106-107)
I for one don’t know what Smith’s hermeneutic means for the status and authority of a papal encyclical or for Bryan Cross’ love of logic, but it has all the marks of theological modernism and the way that Protestant and Roman Catholic liberals said that words and their meanings wobbled across time without needing to be pinned down. H. L. Mencken, by no means a Protestant or a Roman Catholic, like Pius X saw through the hockum of modernism and recognized its threat to all forms of knowledge:
I confess frankly, as a life-long fan of theology, that I can find no defect in his defense of his position. Is Christianity actually a revealed religion? If not, then it is nothing; if so, then we must accept the Bible as an inspired statement of its principles. But how can we think of the Bible as inspired and at the same time as fallible? How can we imagine it as part divine and awful truth, and part mere literary confectionary? And how, if we manage so to imagine it, are we to distinguish between the truth and the confectionary? Dr. Machen answers these questions very simply and very convincingly. If Christianity is really true, as he believes, then the Bible is true, and if the Bible is true, then it is true from cover to cover. So answering, he takes his stand upon it, and defies the hosts of Beelzebub to shake him. As I have hinted, I think that, given his faith, his position is completely impregnable. There is absolutely no flaw in the argument with which he supports it. If he is wrong, then the science of logic is a hollow vanity, signifying nothing.