Ecclesiasticus 4:28

"Fight to the death for truth, and the Lord God will war on your side."

Ora pro nobis,

Most Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Francis de Sales, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Dominic. Amen.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Open Forum 2



Welcome to Barque of Peter's second Open Forum. I'm going to be taking an intentional break (as opposed to all those unintentional ones that have caused the Luminous Mysteries to take so long to appear) and start the Sorrowful Mysteries in Lent, and hopefully finish them then, too, so that I can do the Glorious Mysteries during the Easter Season. However, the best laid plans of mice and me...

Anyway, this Open Forum will have to tide you over until then. It is an Open Forum, so if you want to address something I've written in the last five posts, fire away. If you want to wrangle over doctrine unrelated to anything ever discussed here before, fire away! Whatever's on your mind, state it. And if you just want to use the comments section as a place to discuss things with each other, and leave me out of it altogether--that's great too!

I'll just give three disclaimers:
1st--If this goes well, I'll do them a lot more often!
2nd--I reserve the right to use anything in the comments as fodder for future posts.
3rd--Let everything you say be said in a spirit of charity.

Other than that, have fun! Let the good times roll!

(Category: Miscellaneous: Open Fora)

48 comments:

Christopher said...

Does claiming authority, even if one claims authority from a "biblical perspective", give one the right to assert it over others?

Sharon said...

By definition, yes.

http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=authority

Christopher said...

Alright then, Sharon. I claim authority, and my first assertion is to tell you to become a Protestant evangelical Christian, and stop being Catholic (assuming you are one, of course. Your profile doesn't show when I click on it).

That should be sufficient to get you to do what I think I'd like. I have claimed the right to that authority, afterall.

So get to it!

Sharon said...

You can claim authority to your hearts content. It's up to the indavidual to decide whether or not to bow to that authority. I don't recognize your authority, because I don't know where it came from. I do, however, recongnize the authority of the Pope, because he was duly elected by the college of Cardinals under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, in accordance with Apostolic tradition passed down throughout church history going all the way back to Peter.

Christopher said...

Well, Sharon, I can one-up the Pope. I claim the authority of the priesthood of all believers going back to Adam and Eve. So, if succession is your marker, I've got the Pope KO'ed.

So, when did you say you'd convert?

Less tongue-in-cheek, however, a bunch of people agreeing with each other that another person has 'authority' does not effect the reality of that person's authority. Urban VI was elected Pope; did he have actual authority that we should all agree was from God, given that he was a rapist, murderer, fornicator, endorsed simony, and was a flagrant unrepentant drunkard? Was Peter patting Urban VI head and praising God that his succession was carried out so willingly?

Christopher said...

Okay. So, from what's been discussed so far, simply claiming authority, even if you can trace that claim back 2000 years, doesn't make a person or an institution an authority. So there must be something more to this self-proclamation style authority.

The papacy claims itself as the authority in all matters spiritual and moral, but so what? What grounds that claim in reality better than a successive bevy of dead guys?

Sharon said...

Are you interested in having a discussion, or are you interested in setting up straw men so you can knock them down? Cause I'm all for having a discussion, I'm have neither the time nor the energy to get into a pissing contest. You asked about the nature of authority. I gave you a dictionary definition. You used it to attack my church. I'm done. If you want to have a respectful discussion, great. If you want to stand on a soap box and yell, I'm not interested.

Christopher said...

"Are you interested in having a discussion, or are you interested in setting up straw men so you can knock them down?"

Straw men? Point them out, please.

"Cause I'm all for having a discussion, I'm have neither the time nor the energy to get into a pissing contest."

Okay, then don't start one. I've written in an ironic style what my perspectives are. You've taken offense and accused me of initiating a pissing contest. I'm fairly certain your reaction doesn't follow logically from my contentions.

"You asked about the nature of authority. I gave you a dictionary definition. You used it to attack my church. I'm done."

Yes, I did ask about the nature of authority. Giving a dictionary definition that doesn't answer to the nature of authority does nothing to answer my question. So, I used your dictionary definition to prove that point. If you didn't understand the irony in that, then you would do well to re-think how you want to answer the question.

"If you want to have a respectful discussion, great. If you want to stand on a soap box and yell, I'm not interested."

No soapbox. Just an irony to note.

Gregory said...

Hey Chris, you're being an ass. Did I need to put that in the three rules in the post itself? I thought that fell under the "charity" clause. I don't blame Sharon at all for responding the way she has to you.

You rigged the conversation from the very beginning into being nothing more than schoolyard bullying by asking your question,

Does claiming authority, even if one claims authority from a "biblical perspective", give one the right to assert it over others?

In other words, "Do your parents know you're gay?"

How do you answer what seems to be such a simple yes or no question? If you say yes, then you have indeed admitted to being gay. If you answer "no" you've still admitted to being gay. And assuming that you're not gay, as I'm not, and wasn't when the schoolyard bullies asked me this question in grade 6, there's no way out without getting made fun of, or spending too much time trying to answer it without making a fool out of yourself.

Now, I'm going to assume that your intent isn't simply to call the Catholic Church "gay", but to actually have a reasonable discussion about authority, its source, its nature, and who, if anyone, rightly can claim it.

So let's find out, shall we? If you're serious about having such a conversation, feel free to start over. Otherwise, "Homie don' play dat game."

Christopher said...

Alright, Gregory. Despite being an ass -- if that's indeed what I was being -- it is pertinent to point out that a good deal of assertion on the grounds of 'authority' is simply shitty theology. And I'd personally like to wipe myself clean of that.

So let's phrase the question a different way.

1. The Catholic Church claims authority in all matters of faith and morals;
2. The Catholic Church uses Scripture to make the claim in #1;
3. Does this ipso facto make the Catholic Church the authority in all matters of faith and morals simply by virtue of claiming it is so?

Christopher

Gregory said...

Hey Chris,
I'm fairly certain your three-point syllogistic question is incomplete. Still, it's better than your initial question :)

What I mean by it being incomplete is that your point #2 seems to imply a thought to the effect of the Church solely basing its claim to authority on Scripture. This, it seems to me, becomes somewhat circular, since the Church produced the Scriptures which then are cited in defence of the Church's claim to authority.

I have to think there is more to it than that. Historical evidence, etc. What use is appealing to Scriptures which you yourself have compiled and claimed as authoritative in order to bolster your own authority? Obviously that authority had to preexist the Scriptural basis, since it was that authority which gave the Scripture its basis in the first place.

So if we look at your question, we must answer "no", simply making the claim does not make the claim true. That said, simply rejecting that claim also inadvertently rejects a good number of other things, including those same Scriptures, leading to a dilemma that I can find no resolution to, outside of accepting the claim to authority.

When we reject the Church's authority, the entire system fails to make a coherent sense. That this is not immediately recognised by people who reject the authority has more to say about their rebellion than it does about the merits of their own system.

Sharon said...

Any authority carries with it a buy in from the persons over whom it holds sway.
Take the speed limit. The speed limit is set by a governing body, with an eye to the good both of the indavidual, and society as a whole. The indavidual driver has a choice to recognize the authority of that governing body and either drive the speed limit or ignore it. If that driver chooses to obey the speed limit, even if other car on the road drives faster, even if his adherance to the speed limit is annoying to other drivers, even if they all pass him and give him the finger, everyone still pretty much understands that he is not in the wrong. He is obeying the posted speedlimit. He recognizes and yeilds to the authority that posted it.
Now, if that same driver decides NOT to recognize that authority, and drives whatever speed he deems appropriate, there are risks and consequences to that choice. He risks getting a ticket-affecting only him, really. He risks wrapping his car around a pole, killing himself and inconveniencing the people who's powerline he took out, and the workers who must now scrape him off the road. He also risks an accident in which he and other drivers or pedestrians are killed, impacting on even more people, by his arrogance and failure to yield to authority.
The same idea can be applied to the authority of the Church. To grossly oversimplify, and group of people got together not just once, but over the course of history, and prayerfully studied and discussed and came up with a set of "rules" if you will. We, as indaviduals, have the choice to recognize that authority and yield to it, or to reject it. There are, of course, consequences to that choice.
To choose to reject that authority is to be excommunicated-not by any action on the part of the church, but by the indaviduals choice to remove himself from communion with the church. He is no long In Communion but is Ex Communion. Excommunication does not say "You are excluded!!" It says "I exclude myself." Since this indavidual protests against the authority of the church, he is, by definition, a protestant.

I always find it strange that people use Scripture to critisize or condemn or seek to refute the teachings of the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church cannonized what was and wasn't scripture. It did so asking the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Critisizing the Church based on Scripture is alot like trying to use my own hand to smack me in the face.

Christopher said...

"Hey Chris,
I'm fairly certain your three-point syllogistic question is incomplete. Still, it's better than your initial question :)"


Why, thank you, Gregory. ;)

"What I mean by it being incomplete is that your point #2 seems to imply a thought to the effect of the Church solely basing its claim to authority on Scripture. This, it seems to me, becomes somewhat circular, since the Church produced the Scriptures which then are cited in defence of the Church's claim to authority."

I see your point. So do you think you can extend your logic to defending the notion that the Catholic Church is the 'only' authority on Scripture? That all else who fall outside the communion of Catholicism are non-authoritative concerning Scripture?

"When we reject the Church's authority, the entire system fails to make a coherent sense. That this is not immediately recognised by people who reject the authority has more to say about their rebellion than it does about the merits of their own system."

I follow you on your other points, but I have to highlight the quote above for a reason: people who reject the Church's authority -- people like myself -- don't do so on the basis that authority is fallacious in and of itself. We reject the notion that the fallible, visible, and institutional church can overrule an individual's conscience before God via a simple claim to authority. Christ came to set people free, not enslave them to an institutional ideal promoted by a hierarchy of clergymen, and enforced through threats of 'banning' and the like.

Jesus was pretty clear about this when He rebuked the Pharisees and their ilk for laying on burdens without lifting a finger to help. I think called them "white-washed tombs" and told them their mouths were "open graves", and other such startling remarks.

Christopher said...

"I always find it strange that people use Scripture to critisize or condemn or seek to refute the teachings of the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church cannonized what was and wasn't scripture. It did so asking the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Critisizing the Church based on Scripture is alot like trying to use my own hand to smack me in the face."

Oh, well, then! The Catholic Church called on the Holy Spirit. Must mean the Catholic Church is right then. Hell, that must mean that Bush Jr. was right when he called on God to help him smite the baddies over there in the mid-east; must mean that the chattel slavers were right when they prayed God use the ends of their whips to teach those lowly slaves to obey; must make all those nuns and priests who raped, tortured, and enslaved Native American children 'right' for doing so because they prayed for guidance from God in all their actions.

Give me a break!

Criticizing the Church based on Scripture proves the point that it is God, and God's Word alone that establishes true authority, and not the man-made institution people call the 'church'. And the fact that a coterie of bishops got together a few hundred years after Christ resurrected, and sifted through the available documentation -- of which there are no existing originals -- does not mean they were ontologically perfect to the task because they prayed for the Holy Spirit's guidance.

Not only that, but the Apocrypha Catholics so enjoy, was rejected by the leaders of the Reformation, who, it is interesting to note, were Catholic priests. A delicious irony, don't you think? If the Catholic Church is inviolably correct in their assessment of what is Scriptural, then why would priests praying for the guidance of the Holy Spirit -- just as much as any other priests in the same Church -- reject the 'authority' of certain books of the Bible?

Must be a little more to this than you know, Sharon.

Sharon said...

"not the man-made institution people call the 'church'"
But it's not man made, that's the point.

Christopher said...

The institution is man-made, Sharon. That's my point. Jesus didn't found the institution of Catholicism. Jesus didn't found the communions of Lutheranism, or Methodism, either.

Jesus did found the mystical church, His body and Bride, and the whole while He was doing so there were no formal structures, just a bunch of normal guys with no pretense to a papacy who followed Christ's call.

That's a church.

It's only when we started mucking around with things and trying to assert control over others that the rigours of a formal institution started creeping into place. That wasn't Christ's doing, it was ours (as in, people's).

Sharon said...

18 "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it. 19 "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

Christopher said...

48"However, the Most High does not live in houses made by men." (Acts 7)


I can quote, too.

Would you like to reason your position out? Or would you like to fart around like this a little more?

Christopher said...

Sharon,

Proof-texting is not going to get either of us anywhere. So I encourage you to delineate your thoughts a little more thoroughly than you have so far. Simply quoting a passage does nothing to establish the validity of your position, nor does it do anything to disestablish mine.

You asked earlier if I was "interested in having a discussion..." The answer to that is 'yes', but not if you think tossing pericopes at me is rational discussion; it isn't. It's shrugging responsibility to deal with the subject matter.

So, are you interested in having a discussion? Or are you going to shrug your responsibility to support your assertions?

Sharon said...

I'm confused. I thought you are all about the Word of God and only the word of God. I let the word of God speak for itself. It's pretty clear. Christ makes Peter the seat of the Church and gives him authority, promising His protection over it.

Christopher said...

lol... Sharon, the last thing I am is a solo scripturist. A sola scripturist, yes, but the difference between the 'o' and the 'a' is vast.

In any case, it was a bit of an assumption on your part to think of me as "all about the Word of God and only the Word [sic] of God". I haven't stated that at all in any of my comments.

Rather, I enjoy rational, witty discussion. Yes, I'll use Scripture to build my points, but no I won't rely only on Scripture.

So, anyway, are you going to go after an answer to some of my questions?

Shall we examine the distribution of dative singulars and plurals in the passage you mentioned on Peter? The results might show something a little different than you'd be comfortable to admit. Then again, you may just hold to your position -- which is fine -- and refuse to hear the rationale of hundreds of years of scholarship from Reformers and former Catholics alike. But that just begs the original question, "do you hold to claims of authority simply because the Catholic Church has made them?"

Cheers!

Hidden One said...

"Shall we examine the distribution of dative singulars and plurals in the passage you mentioned on Peter? The results might show something a little different than you'd be comfortable to admit."

Chris, thy will be done.

Gregory said...

I love it when Open Forum discussions take on the note of ridiculous acrimony. Makes the heart glad.

"What I mean by it being incomplete is that your point #2 seems to imply a thought to the effect of the Church solely basing its claim to authority on Scripture. This, it seems to me, becomes somewhat circular, since the Church produced the Scriptures which then are cited in defence of the Church's claim to authority."

I see your point. So do you think you can extend your logic to defending the notion that the Catholic Church is the 'only' authority on Scripture? That all else who fall outside the communion of Catholicism are non-authoritative concerning Scripture?


I guess the logic of my point would be this: The Catholic Church collected, codified, and canonised the Scriptures. She then copied and preserved those Scriptures, translating and disseminating them to the peoples as they were converted. The Church neither tampered with nor hid those Scriptures in any way, nor felt that there was some sort of contradiction between them and Her.

Had She felt there was such a contradiction, logically she would be faced with one or the other alternative: Change the Church to line up with the Scriptures, or change the Scriptures to line up wtih the Church. Since neither course has been taken at a Structural or Doctrinal level, we are faced with the conclusion that either the Church is wilfully blind to Her contradictions, or that there are, in fact, no such contradictions. In my investigation of the Church, I concluded the latter.

Such a conclusion does not mean that the Catholic Church is the only authority on Scripture. Many fine and scholarly people from all faiths have contributed much to greater understandings of Scripture. Especially fellow Christians, who also reverence Scripture as the Word of God.

But when non-Catholic biblical scholars use the Bible in order to attack the Catholic Church, then they set their authority over and against Hers. On what grounds? Only by rejecting Her claim to divinely guided infallibility, by which they can claim that their interpretation of the Scriptures are at least equal to that of the Catholic Church. But here we again have a dilemma.

If your interpretation is just as authoritative as mine, who then is the arbiter between us when we disagree, as we currently do? Obviously Scripture cannot arbitrate--it has no voice. It is precisely Scripture over which we disagree. No Tradition can prevail, because we have determined that Scripture is superior to Tradition, and Tradition can be rejected according to whether it agrees with our interpretation of Scripture. Logic can assist us, but even the best logic is flawed when based on faulty premises (which was Chesterton's entire point at the beginning of Orthodoxy and his discussion of the inmates of Hanwell). We can appeal to the Holy Spirit, trusting Him to lead us into all truth, as Christ promised He would, but assuming we both sincerely seek and want that, how do we reconcile our continued disagreement? And why should we expect the Holy Spirit to guide us when He apparently failed to guide the Church?--which must be the case if the Church is ruled out as an infallible authority. And round and round it goes.

"When we reject the Church's authority, the entire system fails to make a coherent sense. That this is not immediately recognised by people who reject the authority has more to say about their rebellion than it does about the merits of their own system."

I follow you on your other points, but I have to highlight the quote above for a reason: people who reject the Church's authority -- people like myself -- don't do so on the basis that authority is fallacious in and of itself.


I never said that. You misread the quote you yourself highlighted. There was a definite article preceding "authority". I was saying that those who reject the Church's authority, not authority in general. Anarchy is an utterly different discussion.

We reject the notion that the fallible, visible, and institutional church can overrule an individual's conscience before God via a simple claim to authority.

And we reject that the visible, institutional Church is fallible. Does a simple claim of fallibility make the Church fallible?

Christ came to set people free, not enslave them to an institutional ideal promoted by a hierarchy of clergymen, and enforced through threats of 'banning' and the like.

I don't see Christ rejecting Law, Institution, or Religion at all in the Gospels or the rest of Scripture. Perhaps if you'd get your head out of The Shack, you'd show me something that Christ said that wasn't fiction?

Jesus was pretty clear about this when He rebuked the Pharisees and their ilk for laying on burdens without lifting a finger to help. I think called them "white-washed tombs" and told them their mouths were "open graves", and other such startling remarks.

Rebuking the Pharisees' hypocrisy is a much different thing than rejecting religion and institution. Otherwise, what sense does Matthew 23:2-3 make: "The Scribes and Pharisees occupy the chair of Moses. You must therefore do and observe what they tell you; but do not be guided by what they do, since they do not practise what they preach." Sure seems like something other than a wholesale rejection of institutional authority...

Gregory said...

"I always find it strange that people use Scripture to critisize or condemn or seek to refute the teachings of the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church cannonized what was and wasn't scripture. It did so asking the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Critisizing the Church based on Scripture is alot like trying to use my own hand to smack me in the face."

Oh, well, then! The Catholic Church called on the Holy Spirit. Must mean the Catholic Church is right then. Hell, that must mean that Bush Jr. was right when he called on God to help him smite the baddies over there in the mid-east; must mean that the chattel slavers were right when they prayed God use the ends of their whips to teach those lowly slaves to obey; must make all those nuns and priests who raped, tortured, and enslaved Native American children 'right' for doing so because they prayed for guidance from God in all their actions.

Give me a break!


Chris, your line of response is utter bullshit, and you know it. In essence, it amounts to saying that we cannot know what Sacred Scripture is, because the Church apparently didn't know what it was doing when She defined it. Apparently the guidance of the Holy Spirit isn't enough.

Your examples (Bush, immoral clergy and religious) are non sequiturs. Immoral acts are never carried out by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. At least, I would say that if Bush asked God for guidance about the War, he didn't listen. And I guarantee that no priest or nun ever prayed to God, "Should I rape and torture the Natives today?"

Immoral behaviour in sinful people is a completely different thing than God's ability to preserve the Church from error.

Criticizing the Church based on Scripture proves the point that it is God, and God's Word alone that establishes true authority, and not the man-made institution people call the 'church'.

The tools one uses in order to effect an argument cannot in any way prove the validity of that argument. I mean, seriously, are you thinking?

As I said in my previous comment, Scripture alone cannot be the absolute last word, because it is Scripture over which we are in disagreement. Further, that same Scripture indicates that "The Word of God" is something including Scripture, but not contained solely in Scripture. So yes, The Word of God is the authority--but that Word of God includes the Sacred Tradition of the Church, as well as Her living voice today in the Magesterium. You will have to demonstrate otherwise before you can assume Sola Scriptura as a rationale.

And the fact that a coterie of bishops got together a few hundred years after Christ resurrected, and sifted through the available documentation -- of which there are no existing originals -- does not mean they were ontologically perfect to the task because they prayed for the Holy Spirit's guidance.

So again, you claim we cannot actually be certain that the Bible is indeed God's Word, and yet the Bible is, apparently, the final authority? This doesn't seem sketchy to you?

Not only that, but the Apocrypha Catholics so enjoy, was rejected by the leaders of the Reformation, who, it is interesting to note, were Catholic priests.

No one ever said a priest had the authority to declare what was and wasn't Scripture. What individual priests decide to believe has no bearing on the Church's doctrinal stance. Especially when that stance was decided 1000 years before these rogue priests were born.

A delicious irony, don't you think?

Not really. It leaves a rather bitter taste. And oh, it's not ironic. Who are you, Mariah Carey?

If the Catholic Church is inviolably correct in their assessment of what is Scriptural, then why would priests praying for the guidance of the Holy Spirit -- just as much as any other priests in the same Church -- reject the 'authority' of certain books of the Bible?

If my understanding is correct, these 'priests' didn't reject said books until after separating from the Church, right? They had already rebelled (which, according to Scripture, is as the sin of witchcraft (1 Sam 15:23), and were therefore not in a state of grace. Therefore, they could not be open truly to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. At least, that would be the Catholic understanding. Any other understanding would render your question nonsensical.

Hidden One said...

"If the Catholic Church is inviolably correct in their assessment of what is Scriptural, then why would priests praying for the guidance of the Holy Spirit -- just as much as any other priests in the same Church -- reject the 'authority' of certain books of the Bible?"

Because individual priests do not have the charism of infallibility that was given to the Church.

You know this, Christopher. You almost became a Catholic, remember? Did you really do so little research as to basic Catholic theology at that time? You do your argumentative position no favours by asking such questions, you who claim to be an authority on the nature of the Church.

Gregory said...

The institution is man-made, Sharon. That's my point. Jesus didn't found the institution of Catholicism. Jesus didn't found the communions of Lutheranism, or Methodism, either.

Jesus did found the mystical church, His body and Bride, and the whole while He was doing so there were no formal structures, just a bunch of normal guys with no pretense to a papacy who followed Christ's call.

That's a church.

It's only when we started mucking around with things and trying to assert control over others that the rigours of a formal institution started creeping into place. That wasn't Christ's doing, it was ours (as in, people's).


That's a lot of assertion and opinion which, to my mind, has neither basis in Scripture nor in History.

Care to back it up at all?

Sharon's quotation of Matthew 16 seems perfectly relevant as a response, Chris. Your return quotation has rather little to do with anything.

I'm also rather interested in your dative whatevers when it comes to Matt 16. I thought we'd had that discussion, and I showed you that your understanding of the Greek was faulty. But if you'd like to run it by us again, be my guest.

For the record, H1's latest comment is bang on the money, Chris. Your objections here are the same-old, same-old objections that have been spouted by the most ignorant of anti-Catholics in the past. This is the main reason why these most recent discussions with you have frustrated me so. You should know better, but instead you keep attacking paper tigers and straw men.

I have utterly no issue with discussing these things with you, but I sorely miss the days when that discussion had some hint of intelligence, even when we disagreed.

God bless
Gregory

Sharon said...

(psst, Greg...minor point? Alanis Morrisette, not Mariah Carey)

Christopher said...

"Chris, thy will be done."

I suppose you think that was clever, hey?

"Because individual priests do not have the charism of infallibility that was given to the Church.

You know this, Christopher. You almost became a Catholic, remember? Did you really do so little research as to basic Catholic theology at that time? You do your argumentative position no favours by asking such questions, you who claim to be an authority on the nature of the Church."


So, individual priests are excluded from the gift given to the Church. So does that mean that they're not able to access this Church-wide gift? Or that it's aportioned so minutely amongst the members of the Church that it is rendered ineffective when an individual tries to use it? Like Voltron: bits of power to the individual fighter pilots, but amazing super-power when combined into the mech-warrior? Or does it mean that you treat the 'Church' separate from the people that comprise it?

As far as almost becoming a Catholic at one point, yes, I remember that. I was there. I attended that 'almost' in full force. With my whole person, even. But no, I did not do so little research at that time; I was in a good deal of communication with Gregory, Mike Anderson (who's a pinch away from priesthood), and sundry other Catholic theologians. Read a few good books, too. Including most of the CCC. Did I find Catholic theology dissatisfactory in answering about the nature of authority? YES! Same with the Prostestant church: no good answers, so far.

Do I have an definitive answer? No. That's why I proposed it as a conversation piece. You know, for discussion, and all that nonsense that sane people participate in.

Oh, and do you mind sharing with me where I've claimed to be an authority on the nature of the church? I don't remember claiming that. I'm not. I'm simply an interested participant.

Christopher said...

"I love it when Open Forum discussions take on the note of ridiculous acrimony. Makes the heart glad."

Hmm...

"Had She felt there was such a contradiction, logically she would be faced with one or the other alternative: Change the Church to line up with the Scriptures, or change the Scriptures to line up wtih the Church. Since neither course has been taken at a Structural or Doctrinal level, we are faced with the conclusion that either the Church is wilfully blind to Her contradictions, or that there are, in fact, no such contradictions. In my investigation of the Church, I concluded the latter."

Go read Misquoting Jesus. Then come back tell me if you have anything different to say on the alterations in Scripture.

"But when non-Catholic biblical scholars use the Bible in order to attack the Catholic Church, then they set their authority over and against Hers. On what grounds? Only by rejecting Her claim to divinely guided infallibility, by which they can claim that their interpretation of the Scriptures are at least equal to that of the Catholic Church."

Well, I reject the claim that the Catholic Church has divinely guided infallibility. But that's not the reason why I think 'authority' ends in a contradiction when two claims face each other from different sides of the fence.

For my own part, I'm starting to think of the issue of 'authority' as a bit of an illusion. That is, I don't think it's a real issue. I think at some point in the past a proverbial beer bottle got thrown into the historical crowd and people have been fighting ever since. Though what they're really fighting about, they don't really know. Hence the reason why no-one here (including myself) has really been able to box out a convincing, or accurate remark as to what 'authority' actually is.

What I can say is what I think 'authority' isn't: it's not derived of people, it's not written into the 12" high gold inscription surrounding the cupola at St. Peter's, and it's not stamped into the Augustana Non Variata.

More poignantly, since (I think) it's not derived of people, it is therefore not found in the political entities known as the Magisterium, or any of the prelacies of Protestantism. Authority is not from man, or for man to wield. It is God's alone, and any appointment/ordination God gives to a person is not for the purpose of ruling, or organizing prelacies, magisteriums, or any such factions, but specifically for serving the welfare of others. "Feeding widows and orphans in their distress" and all that stuff James notes.

Another point: 'authority' may not be a permanent thing in a person, or group of people. Sometimes people come across as having 'authority', and insomuch as they reflect the character of God, they seem authoritative. But that authority is not theirs, it is God's. And, that brush with the authority of God in a person may not be continual; it may just be for that moment, for you, from God, and not a part of the usual constitution of that person. Like prophesy, for instance.

"Logic can assist us, but even the best logic is flawed when based on faulty premises..."

Indeed. You have accurately expressed my view of the Catholic problem: it's view of 'authority' is based on a faulty premise. What I've seen of the Catholic claim to authority, so far, is much the same as the Faith Movement's name-it-and-claim-it tactic. That is, the RCC names itself as the 'authority' and claims to act 'authoritatively' therefore. I find this specious at best.

"We can appeal to the Holy Spirit, trusting Him to lead us into all truth, as Christ promised He would, but assuming we both sincerely seek and want that, how do we reconcile our continued disagreement?"

We don't have to. Because all truth is Christ, and we already agree on that. The rest is just doctrine, and I don't think that was what the object of the Holy Spirit's leading is. Rather, the object of the Holy Spirit's leading is Christ -- and He is 'all truth'. He is central, everything else is simply peripheral.

I'm going to leave it there for now. I'm tired.

Christopher said...

"I was saying that those who reject the Church's authority, not authority in general."

"...people who reject the Church's authority -- people like myself..."

I can see where your confusion came in: I stated afterward that I don't reject the Church's authority "on the basis that authority is fallacious in and of itself." I should have continued with more specificity and written, "on the basis that the Church's authority is fallacious in an of itself."

So, for your benefit, and the necessity of clarity overall, the quote should read as follows:

"...people who reject the Church's authority -- people like myself -- don't do so on the basis that the Church's authority is fallacious in and of itself."

In any case, it still begs the question of the Church naming itself the authority, and then presuming to claim that authority over the spiritual responsibility of each person before God. It also begs the definition of what the church is, and again, what authority is. And like I stated in my last comment, I have not come across an adequate definition of 'authority', and think the issue somewhat more an illusion than a reality.

So, no, I was not advocating anarchy, but on the face of it, I do think Christian anarchy (not the dissolution of morality, or antinomianism) a better option than the oppressive so-called 'authority' of, say, the RCC, or even Lutheranism.

"And we reject that the visible, institutional Church is fallible. Does a simple claim of fallibility make the Church fallible?"

Then I suppose we both have a burden to prove our positions. Shall we relegate that to a more formal debate? Say, one that we could host on the front pages of our blogs?

I think it would be an interesting examination, to say the least: the notion of fallibility as the key to the Church's 'authority'.

"I don't see Christ rejecting Law, Institution, or Religion at all in the Gospels or the rest of Scripture. Perhaps if you'd get your head out of The Shack, you'd show me something that Christ said that wasn't fiction?"

The Shack? Are you kidding me? Do you seriously think I'm entirely incapable of coming to any of these conclusions apart from some Christian pop-culture literature? Are you actively seeking to insult me? Or is your comment a natural reaction to having read a book in common with me?

Gregory, I do see Christ rejecting false lawmakers, and religious oppression, and institutional mindsets. I don't see Him rejecting Law, and Religion in and of themselves, and I don't see Him setting up an institution but a covenant. Big difference, don't you think?

"Rebuking the Pharisees' hypocrisy is a much different thing than rejecting religion and institution. Otherwise, what sense does Matthew 23:2-3 make: "The Scribes and Pharisees occupy the chair of Moses. You must therefore do and observe what they tell you; but do not be guided by what they do, since they do not practise what they preach." Sure seems like something other than a wholesale rejection of institutional authority..."

Again, Christ rejected false lawmakers (e.g., the Pharisees and all their extra-Mosaic laws to regulate the lives of the people), and religious oppressors (e.g., the Pharisees and Sadducees), and did not set up an institution (e.g., Catholicism).

The sense of Matthew 23:2-3 is rather plain, to me: insomuch as Christ had not ratified the new covenant through His blood, the Jews were still bound by Old Testament Law ("The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so practice and observe whatever they tell you..."). Hence Christ told them to observe that Law, but not to be hypocritical like the Pharisees by imposing laws on others that they don't intend to fulfil themselves ("...but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice").

So, anyway, you're right: Christ didn't subscribe to the wholesale rejection of institutional authority. He rejected wholesale the false authority of hypocritical scribes and Pharisees, and encouraged His followers to do the same while still adhering to God's Law until He fulfilled it through His death and resurrection (which, while this passage does not mention that, was most certainly foreknown by Christ).

Christopher said...

"Chris, your line of response is utter bullshit, and you know it."

Utter bullshit, is it? I like the pairing of bovine parts in that phrase. Makes for a really bizzare picture.

"Immoral acts are never carried out by the guidance of the Holy Spirit."

That's true. But I think the Inquisitions, Witch Trials, 2nd - 4th waves of the Crusades, the anabaptist drowning pools, etc. testify to the notion that simply praying for guidance from the Holy Spirit doesn't mean that the powers-that-be actually followed the guidance that was given. And now you see my point about the coterie of bishops, Bush Jr., and pederast priests.

And as to the latter, I didn't say that the nuns and priests prayed "God, should I rape and torture the Natives today?" I said that they prayed for guidance in all their actions. They probably received that guidance, too, but again, they obviously didn't follow it in 'all' their actions, did they?

How this affects Scripture is plainly borne out in the disputes as to, say, the Apocrypha. Or, the Didache; the internal inconsistencies of Scripture; the fact that we don't have any original documents; the alterations made to Scripture by the RCC (e.g., changing female names to male names). Did the Holy Spirit guide the RCC to alter female names to male names? And to what purpose?

"Immoral behaviour in sinful people is a completely different thing than God's ability to preserve the Church from error."

I disagree. God preserves the Church despite error, not from error. Otherwise, what was John-Paul's purpose in repenting of the RCC's historical atrocities if God preserves the Church from error? If the Church can do no wrong, why repent?

"The tools one uses in order to effect an argument cannot in any way prove the validity of that argument. I mean, seriously, are you thinking?"

Are you suggesting that using Scripture to effect an argument does not establish the validity of that argument? If so, then we're very much on the same page. All we can do is approximate to the best of our fallible, and limited abilities. After that, it's all about trusting ourselves to the mercy of God.

As to whether I'm thinking, yes I am. But that's not a guarantee that I'll get everything right. I apply that same qualification to the Magisterium: they're thinking, but that's not a guarantee they'll get everything right. To state otherwise is simply lying. Are you willing to go that far?

From your views on the divine infallibility of the Church so far, you seem to be willing to state that. So, are you lying? And is the Magisterium lying to you and relying on your uncomprimising obedience to perpetuate that lie? The implicit lie that seeking divine guidance must mean ipso facto having infallible pronouncements?

"As I said in my previous comment, Scripture alone cannot be the absolute last word, because it is Scripture over which we are in disagreement."

No, we're in disagreement as to the definition, nature and application of 'authority'. Scripture just dove-tails into the conversation as a logical recourse for examples in what may be considered 'authoritative.'

"The Word of God is the authority--but that Word of God includes the Sacred Tradition of the Church, as well as Her living voice today in the Magesterium. You will have to demonstrate otherwise before you can assume Sola Scriptura as a rationale."

No, sir. You will have to demonstrate that the Magisterium is the highest authority on the interpretation of Scripture. Scripture already bears itself out as authoritative, as you have so rightly pointed out. The burden of proof is on your shoulders in this instance, to prove the Magisterium as equally authoritative to Scripture.

"So again, you claim we cannot actually be certain that the Bible is indeed God's Word, and yet the Bible is, apparently, the final authority? This doesn't seem sketchy to you?"

I haven't claimed this. Go back and read again what I wrote.

"No one ever said a priest had the authority to declare what was and wasn't Scripture. What individual priests decide to believe has no bearing on the Church's doctrinal stance. Especially when that stance was decided 1000 years before these rogue priests were born."

You're not making sense here, Gregory. If what an individual priest believes doesn't matter, why burn, say, Jan Huss for having a different doctrinal stance? Why issue papal bulls against Luther, and burn his books while plotting his assassination if his doctrinal differences didn't matter? And so what if the composition of our present Canon was decided 1000 years prior to Huss, Luther, Tyndale, Wycliffe, Calvin, Menno, et al.? If it doesn't matter, why were they persecuted for questioning things? Or even for the ghastly crime of translating Scripture into the vernacular? My God what a rotten thing to do! But they were individual rogue priests, and it didn't really matter. Or did it? History reports a different matter concerning what actually mattered, and it doesn't look good on the RCC. But we already know that since Jean-Paul II repented of that dastardly era where 'it didn't matter.'

"If my understanding is correct, these 'priests' didn't reject said books until after separating from the Church, right? They had already rebelled (which, according to Scripture, is as the sin of witchcraft (1 Sam 15:23), and were therefore not in a state of grace. Therefore, they could not be open truly to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. At least, that would be the Catholic understanding. Any other understanding would render your question nonsensical."

The Council of Trent AD 1546 (the year of Luther's death) saw the official inclusion of the Apocrypha as canonical. So, no, Luther, at the very least, rejected the books prior to Trent since he died before Trent convened. I'm not sure about Calvin and the rest. Chemnitz (who was present at Trent), I'm fairly certain rejected the Apocrypha, too, prior to Trent.

In any case, yes, the Reformers had rebelled prior to the Council of Trent when the Apocrypha was canonized by the RCC. And you think, or believe the Magisterium's interpretation of 1 Sam. 15:23 that the Reformers were guilty of witchcraft because they rebelled against some questionable practices of the RCC? Hmm...

The Magisterium must have a problem reading in context.

Saul didn't kill Agog, the king of the Amalekites, and his soldiers saved the best of the cattle for sacrificing to the Lord. Clearly this is not what God asked. God gave specific instructions to slaughter everyone and everything, including the cattle. Bad on Saul. He rebelled against clear instructions from God, and was therefore guilty.

Now, some ca. 3500 - 4000 years after the fact of Saul, the RCC has put its roots down in the world, and the Reformers were judged guilty of witchcraft on level with Saul because they disagreed with some doctrinal issues of the Church? I hardly think so.

Nevertheless, I can't beat you in this argument because you're stuck in a system that sees the Magisterium as the direct voice of God on earth. So accordingly, your logic works out (despite its faulty premise) that the Reformers were guilty of witchcraft.

On this side of the fence, however, the Reformers, who didn't want to break from the Catholic Church, and were largely abused by power-politics in the papacy, rebelled against very definite sins (e.g., Tetzel's wanton sale of indulgences). So, from a Reformation perspective, yes, the Reformers rebelled, though not against God, but against the uncharitable manipulations of a corrupted papacy.

Christopher said...

"That's a lot of assertion and opinion which, to my mind, has neither basis in Scripture nor in History.

Care to back it up at all?"


Not really. Other, better theologians than myself have poured over this issue to a much higher, and more intelligible degree than I could give you in a simple blog comment.

In any case, it should be implicit from your reading of Scripture, and from the first decade or so of Christian history.

"Sharon's quotation of Matthew 16 seems perfectly relevant as a response, Chris. Your return quotation has rather little to do with anything."

There's relevance insomuch as her quotation is used to back up her presumption that a dictionary definition of 'authority' suffices to vindicate the Catholic Church's claim to have authority over others. It does nothing to establish what 'authority' is, and how it can be validly applied to others who serve Christ but shy away from the Roman Communion.

My quotation has everything to do with the subject, Gregory. While you guys re-circulate the papal argument for the authority of papalism via Matt. 16, St. Stephen, does nothing to acknowledge Peter as his prelate, completely brushes past the notion of a corporate entity such as the Roman Catholic Church, and declares that the house of God is not built by human hands. In other words, as some have understood it, it is not a political structure, or a successive lineage of prelates pushing building expenses to keep up with their land taxes and building expenses; it is not this-or-that certain sanctified location upon which some blessed structure has been erected. It isn't any of that at all. Those things are empty in and of themselves, and serve no real purpose. The house of God is the presence of His people world-wide, unified by the blood of Christ, and free in Him to walk past the torn veil and enter into the holy of holies, into His personal presence. Roman Catholicism has simply mended the veil and claimed authority as to who will get past into the sanctuary of God's presence by declaring themselves the sole guardians of the 'truth', and as I see it, the papacy stands in the way of what is supposed to be free passage into the holy of holies.

Sure, you can make the argument, "but Chris, as Catholics we are allowed to go to God whenever we want. No-one is stopping us. The pope encourages that, absolutely." But when it comes down to it, you're not allowed to disagree even when things are overtly wrong for fear of your salvation. Doctrinally, the Catholic Church encourages being Borg: assimilated and buzzing with the thoughts of the hive.

That is not a Church that squelches the free expression of human beings, all the while rambling out its pretenses that anything less than the way they would have you live your life is not living in the 'fulness of the faith.' That -- and I agree with the atheist Christopher Hitchens here -- is a tyranny of the worst sort: one that smiles outwardly while subjecting its people to casual indifference inwardly.

"I'm also rather interested in your dative whatevers when it comes to Matt 16. I thought we'd had that discussion, and I showed you that your understanding of the Greek was faulty. But if you'd like to run it by us again, be my guest."

Yes, you did. And I used my corrected understanding. Thank you for bringing that up in such an unnecessary fashion. What's the view like up there?

"For the record, H1's latest comment is bang on the money, Chris. Your objections here are the same-old, same-old objections that have been spouted by the most ignorant of anti-Catholics in the past. This is the main reason why these most recent discussions with you have frustrated me so. You should know better, but instead you keep attacking paper tigers and straw men."

Yes, H1's comments are bang on the money. That is, possessing no inherent meaning, and committed to perpetuating false value.

And as far as the age of the arguments, and their repetition, are you going to deal with them or just cite your fallacy of anachronism as sufficient to the cause? Would it help you if I pointed out that your responses boast nothing original? That they're just recycled arguments cast in your unique personal rhetoric? What would that do to promote discussion between equals here? Would that spur you on to more generous writings? Would it fan the flames of discussion for you any further? Or would it just seem to you what it is: a snobbish insult?

Paper tigers and straw men... you haven't demonstrated that to be the case, so what do you want me to do with this?

"I have utterly no issue with discussing these things with you, but I sorely miss the days when that discussion had some hint of intelligence, even when we disagreed."

Right. Like when I referenced quotes from other scholars, and you responded by referencing quotes from other scholars? Or like those days we would spend a couple of hours on the phone occasionally coming up with quotes from this-or-that author who made a provocative statement? I've changed my tact. I'm sure you've noticed. I'm going after these things in a bit of a solo venture these days. And if I cite another person's thoughts, that's because I hadn't considered what they'd said. The point: I'm attempting to work through these things by trudging through the sledge of my brain, and seeing what comes of what. I'm thinking on my own. It's scary, and I'm often wrong. But I have the courage to do it. I don't expect you to do the same, however, because that would cut against the grain of the Magisterium, and you wouldn't be a good Catholic anymore. Whatever that means.

So while you find that there isn't a 'hint' of intelligence, you can rest assured that as long as I need to walk this path of self-discovery, probing, and existential accountability purely between Christ and myself, I'll remain your stupid friend.

Gregory said...

And as far as the age of the arguments, and their repetition, are you going to deal with them or just cite your fallacy of anachronism as sufficient to the cause?

I'll get to it, Chris. You've spouted off a whole lot recently, in very sporadic and non-continuous comments. It's been hard enough reading it, analysing it, synthesising it, and preparing a response.

And that's just when you've actually made an argument touching on something that I actually believe.

At least half of what you've written above seems to be denegrating a Catholic Church that doesn't exist.

It annoyed me when Jacob Allee did that. It annoyed me when Steve Rudd did that. But with you, it royally pisses me off when you do it, because, again, one would think you'd know better.

Whatever. I'll hopefully be able to respond to everything up to your last comment this weekend, or next week.

You suggest a formal debate, though. I'm more than up for that, once the Rosary series is finished. So, end of the Easter Season. Hopefully it will help us both be much more rational, focused, and to the point.

Christopher said...

Alright, Gregory: a formal debate it is. After the Easter season.

And the "Catholic Church that doesn't exist" borrowed from Bishop Sheen... that was a nice touch, but it's easily overturned. But that's something we'll have to address in the debate.

Christopher said...

Gregory,

Do you have a suggested resolution for the debate?

Christopher said...

So, what's going on here? No-one else has anything to contribute to this Open Forum? Surely there are other things on peoples' minds?

Christopher said...

So, what do you guys think of Benedict XVI reviving indulgences as a celebratory measure of St. Paul's birth 2000 years ago?

Does it make sense to you? Are you convinced that gaining a plenary indulgence will be more efficacious to your union with God than simply asking His forgiveness?

Gregory said...

Hey Chris,
I've finally finished replying to your barrage of comments (the five preceding my last reply), and will type them up here shortly.

First, I wanted to reply to your last three comments, since they're short and should take less time.

First, no, I haven't thought through a resolution for our debate. I've been too busy replying to your comments here. After doing so, the only debate Resolution springing easily to mind is "Resolved: An argument must actually criticise what its opponent actually believes in order for it to be logical and effective." I would be arguing for the resolution, and you, if interested, would apparently be arguing against it. At least, that's the only way I could fathom you trying to justify the majority of your comments so far.

Second, as far as anyone else commenting here, you seem to have either scared, irritated, or annoyed them away.

Third, the Pope hasn't revived indulgences. They never died or went away. What he did was attach the reception of indulgences to a particular pilgrimage for the duration to the time mentioned in the article, as a means of encouraging the faithful to participate more fully in the year of Saint Paul.

As far as whatever it is you think indulgences are, you're wrong. They don't replace asking forgiveness. They lessen penance. One must already be in a state of forgiveness--a state of grace--in order to even receive an indulgence. Thus it is non-sensical to think they replace asking God's forgiveness.

As for being efficacious towards a greater union with God, yes, any pious act done for that aim, done through Christ's grace, is efficacious for bringing us closer to God. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" (Matt 5:8).

Once again, having your facts straight will go a long way to engendering fruitful discussion.

Now, on to the rest of what you had to say...

Gregory said...

"Chris, thy will be done."
I suppose you think that was clever, hey?

I quite thought it was.

So, individual priests are excluded from the gift given to the Church. So does that mean that they're not able to access this Church-wide gift? Or that it's apportioned so minutely amongst the members of the Church that it is rendered ineffective when an individual tries to use it? Like Voltron: bits of power to the individual fighter pilots, but amazing super-power when combined into the mech-warrior? Or does it mean that you treat the 'Church' separate from the people that comprise it?

Chris, for someone who apparently so thoroughly looked into the Catholic Church, it's paragraphs like these which make me wonder whether you are simply being disingenuous in this whole conversation. The Catholic Church very clearly defined the charism of Infallibility--what it is, what it isn't, who has it, who doesn't, when, and why. First of all, it is a charism. A gift of grace from the Holy Spirit. Like all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, He gives it to whom He will for the edification of the whole Body. He does not give it to all the Church, any more than He gives prophecy or tongues to all the Church. Secondly, one cannot "try to access" it any more than one can "access" prophetic words on demand. Third, any gift of the Holy Spirit is effective ipso facto, no matter how many or how few people operate in the gift. Since it is not the role of an individual parish priest to define doctrine and pronounce it as binding on the Church, he does not need to operate in the charism of infallibility. Moreover, infallibility is not proper to the person(s), but to the office. It is, in the case of the Pope, the charism pertaining to the one appointed as St. Peter's Successor. Even then, it only functions when he exercises his role as pastor to define a matter of faith and morals in accordance with his office (ex cathedra).
Likewise, all bishops, having received the same fulness of the Sacrament of Holy Orders, share in the charism of Infallibility, but it only functions when they, as a whole, come together with the intention of pronouncing on dogma, as at an Ecumenical Council. In that sense, your Voltron analogy is very apt.
As to whether the Church is separate from "the people that comprise it," I believe that the Church is definitely more than the sum of its parts. The benefit of the Church as institution (whatever that term is supposed to mean) is precisely this: that the people belong to the Church; the Church does not belong to the people. It is the Institution that can be without error despite its membership being prone to error. The Institution can be infallible without every member being able to "access" that charism. If the Church were simply defined by the people who comprise it, then it would have nothing more or greater to offer those people. The Gates of Hell have prevailed over every one of us; they will never prevail against the Church.

As for your researching Catholicism, Chris, I think Hidden One's point (and my own) is that, even if the Church's answers weren't satisfactory for you, that should be no excuse for you to misrepresent its teachings and its self-understanding in your arguments against it. Out of charity, we can assume (and hope) that you didn't research quite adequately, or perhaps didn't understand the research. If that is not the case, then the only other conclusion is that you are in fact being disingenuous.

As for reading Misquoting Jesus, I'll read it if I can find it at the library, but I won't spend money on it. I don't have the budget to buy books from an author who, for all his theological training, can call human suffering "God's Problem".

Well, I reject the claim that the Catholic Church has divinely guided infallibility.

So far, you haven't demonstrated an understanding of what the Church's claim to infallibility means. Yet you have rejected it. What, out of hand?

But that's not the reason why I think 'authority' ends in a contradiction when two claims face each other from different sides of the fence.

I'm honestly not sure what this sentence is supposed to be arguing. My claim above was that rejecting an infallible interpreter of Scripture and Tradition (such as the Catholic Church claims to be) leads to a stalemate where no position can ultimately be known to be right or wrong, saving or damning. That is, when the Catholic Church's claim to infallibility is rejected, it is done by claiming that infallibility does not exist at all, not that it simply does not belong to the Catholic Church. If infallibility does not exist, then the best we can do is doctrinal relativism, and the perpetuation of disunity within Christianity. If infallibility does exist, then either the Church has it, or she doesn't. If she doesn't, then who does? Our formal debate should probably begin somewhere hereabouts.

For my own part, I'm starting to think of the issue of 'authority' as a bit of an illusion. That is, I don't think it's a real issue. I think at some point in the past a proverbial beer bottle got thrown into the historical crowd and people have been fighting ever since. Though what they're really fighting about, they don't really know. Hence the reason why no-one here (including myself) has really been able to box out a convincing, or accurate remark as to what 'authority' actually is.

Chris, perhaps that is because you haven't actually asked what authority actually is. You've asked whether the Catholic Church can justify its claims to authority by Scripture. You've asked whether such justification actually verifies the claim. You've ranted about God-knows-what erroneous ideas about the Church's claim. But all this time you've assumed, and we've assumed right along with you, that authority is important and understood. Now, twenty-odd comments later, you pull the rug out from under everything by denying not just that authority is understood, or even understandable, or that it is important--but now, whether it even exists! And you wonder why some people are honestly questioning your good will, or even your sanity?

What I can say is what I think 'authority' isn't: it's not derived of people, it's not written into the 12" high gold inscription surrounding the cupola at St. Peter's, and it's not stamped into the Augustana Non Variata.

I don't know what those things are, but I do know that no one has claimed anything different--except you, and that, only so you can reject the claim (hence our accusations of straw men). You make the claim that the Church is an institution founded by men in order to deny that the human institution called the Church has any authority. But your starting assumption is not agreed to, nor proven in any way by you, and so your denial isn't compelling to me, Sharon, Hidden One, or any other Catholic worth his or her salt.

More poignantly, since (I think) it's not derived of people, it is therefore not found in the political entities known as the Magisterium, or any of the prelacies of Protestantism. Authority is not from man, or for man to wield. It is God's alone,...

This conclusion does not follow logically from the premise, nor from Scripture.
First, the fact that authority does not derive from people, but from God alone, does not preclude God from delegating that authority or from allowing mankind to participate with Him in wielding that authority. It would be similar to the way God, who alone is the Creator, allows and enables us to participate in creating, be it in a limited fashion through such things as artistic expression, or in the more perfect, but still limited, act of procreation.
Biblically, we are told that all human authority comes from God. But that fact is not used to minimise human authority, but to reinforce it. Romans 13 tells us, "Everyone is to obey the governing authorities, because there is no authority except from God, and so whatever authorities exist have been appointed by God. So anyone who disobeys an authority is rebelling against God's ordinance; and rebels must expect to receive the condemnation they deserve" (vv. 1-2). If this is true of secular authorities, how much more so of the Church's authority? When St. Paul's apostolic authority was questioned by some in the Corinthian church, he responded, "It is ideas that we demolish, every presumptuous notion that is set up against the knowledge of God, and we bring every thought into captivity and obedience to Christ; once you have given your complete obedience, we are prepared to punish any disobedience. Look at the evidence of your eyes. Anybody who is convinced that he belongs to Christ should go on to reflect that we belong to Christ no less than he does. Maybe I have taken rather too much pride in our authority, but the Lord gave us that authority for building you up, not for knocking you down, and I am not going to be shamed into letting you think that I can put fear into you only by letter" (2 Cor 10:4b-9).
We see from Paul's words that God has given authority to the Church (the apostles) to exert leadership in the realm of "ideas". It is the role of the leadership of the Church to "bring every thought into captivity," that is, to define and proclaim sound doctrine. It is not enough simply to believe in Christ and let the details work themselves out. Every notion contrary to the knowledge of God must be demolished. Our complete obedience is demanded, and when we submit, we yield to the Church's right and duty to give due punishment. This is what authority it. And that authority didn't end with Paul, or the Twelve, but we see from Titus 2:15 that Paul delegated "full authority" to Titus to do the same work, and in 2 Timothy 2:2, we see that Paul moreover instructed Timothy (whom he also ordained to wield authority) to ordain others and pass that authority on in Apostolic Succession.
In 1 Timothy 1:19b-20, Paul gives us an example of those who are disobedient, and the due punishment that the Church has authority to mete out: "Some people have put conscience aside and wrecked their faith in consequence. I mean men like Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan so that they may learn not to be blasphemous."
That is, Paul excommunicated these men. If the Church were not intended as a visible institution, an organised structure, this most severe punishment would have utterly no meaning. This is why Jesus instructed that if your brother is in sin, and will not listen to your correction, or that of two or three witnesses, to bring him before the Church. If he will not listen to the Church, he is to be treated as a tax collector or gentile (cf. Matthew 18:15-17). It is the verse immediately following these (18) in which Jesus gives the rest of His apostles a participation in Peter's authority to bind and loose, which was given to him with the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven (Matt 16:18-19).
In sum, according to the Scriptures, God has given authority to the Church in the realm of ideas (the doctrines of Faith) and in the realm of conscience (the doctrines of Morals), and the duty to discipline those who rebel against these doctrines accordingly. These are exactly the realms, Faith and Morals, over which the Catholic Church claims to exercise her authority.

...and any appointment/ordination God gives to a person is not for the purpose of ruling,...

According to Romans 13, that is precisely the purpose of secular authority. Of course, there are right and wrong ways to rule.

or organizing prelacies, magisteriums, or any such factions,...

I'm not sure how the Church leadership (biblically mandated and detailed) can be considered "factious".

...but specifically for serving the welfare of others. "Feeding widows and orphans in their distress" and all that stuff James notes.

The social justice aspect of the Gospel is no the sole way in which the Church meets the welfare of others. Neither are all duties to the welfare of others the equal responsibility of every member of the Church. This is the very point of Acts chapter 6, when the Apostles (the Magisterium) ordain deacons for the work of feeding the poor, in order that the Apostles can devote their time to teaching God's Word.

Another point: 'authority' may not be a permanent thing in a person, or group of people. Sometimes people come across as having 'authority', and insomuch as they reflect the character of God, they seem authoritative. But that authority is not theirs, it is God's. And, that brush with the authority of God in a person may not be continual; it may just be for that moment, for you, from God, and not a part of the usual constitution of that person. Like prophesy, for instance.

It seems to me that while, yes, all authority is God's, and when humans exercise any authority, it is by participation in God's authority, that charism of authority must nevertheless be a static thing. What I mean is this, that if a person can participate in God's authority at some times and not at others, then the authority ceases to be authoritative, because one can never be sure whether such a person is actually in authority or merely presuming authority at any given point.
I would certainly agree that 'authority' is not a personality trait, or intrinsically constituted in a particular person. Rather, authority belongs to an office or position. A king, for example, is not in authority over a country until his coronation. While he is but a prince, he has no authority over the affairs of state. Once he has been throned, however, he now possesses the authority of the kingly office which had, to that point, belonged to his predecessor.
But for the king's authority to mean something, it must belong to the kingly office, not be transferred to various courtiers on a whim. It is similar to the flaw in thinking of those who claim that Scripture is only "the Word of God" when it speaks to them personally, but is not "the Word of God" in an objective, ontological sense. But if it is only God's Word when it "speaks" to them, then it is a small step to not allowing it to speak at all. In the same way, if authority is not continual in a person (or, rather, office), then who is to say where authority resides at any given time?

Indeed. You have accurately expressed my view of the Catholic problem: it's view of 'authority' is based on a faulty premise. What I've seen of the Catholic claim to authority, so far, is much the same as the Faith Movement's name-it-and-claim-it tactic. That is, the RCC names itself as the 'authority' and claims to act 'authoritatively' therefore. I find this specious at best.

More caricatures of the actual Catholic position.

We don't have to. Because all truth is Christ, and we already agree on that. The rest is just doctrine, and I don't think that was what the object of the Holy Spirit's leading is. Rather, the object of the Holy Spirit's leading is Christ -- and He is 'all truth'. He is central, everything else is simply peripheral.

I believe St. Paul would disagree with you rather forcefully here.
"Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by giving heed to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, through the pretensions of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and enjoin abstinence from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving; for then it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer. If you put these instructions before the brethren, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the words of the faith and of the good doctrine which you have followed. Have nothing to do with godless and silly myths. Train yourself in godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe. Command and teach these things" (1 Timothy 4:1-11, emphasis mine).

"Follow the pattern of the sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus; guard the truth that has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us" (2 Timothy 1:13-14, emphasis mine).

"Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. Avoid such godless chatter, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will eat its way like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth by holding that the resurrection is past already. They are upsetting the faith of some" (2 Timothy 2:15-18, emphasis mine. Notably, the error mentioned referred to the Resurrection of the body at the end of time, not specifically to Jesus Himself. Apparently, other truths are important for salvation).

"I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths. As for you, always be steady, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry" (2 Timothy 4:1-5, emphasis mine).

See also Ephesians 4:11-14; Titus 1:5-9. Not that that's an exhaustive list by any means.

In any case, it still begs the question of the Church naming itself the authority, and then presuming to claim that authority over the spiritual responsibility of each person before God. It also begs the definition of what the church is, and again, what authority is. And like I stated in my last comment, I have not come across an adequate definition of 'authority', and think the issue somewhat more an illusion than a reality.

You are the one begging questions, assuming that the Church makes the claim unjustly, ignoring the Scriptural remarks stating that there is a Church, and that it does have authority over its members. That the definitions of Church and Authority continue to elude you is becoming tiresome. Especially since your accusations of "question-begging" again come after you have neglected to ask those questions in the first place in this conversation.

So, no, I was not advocating anarchy, but on the face of it, I do think Christian anarchy (not the dissolution of morality, or antinomianism) a better option than the oppressive so-called 'authority' of, say, the RCC, or even Lutheranism.

I find it ironic that a devout Catholic such as Dorothy Day is hailed in support of Christian Anarchism, which immediately makes the intellectual foundations of its position suspect (in much the same way as a certain quote from the devout Catholic Blaise Pascal is often used to disparage religion in general). Further, having looked at the link provided, its claims to use the Gospel to support its position is specious when considering how contextless many of those quotations were. Though, that may be simply Wikipedia's fault. Further, claiming that the authority of the Catholic Church is "oppressive" seems to be unduly pejorative. I myself certainly have not found it to be oppressive in the least.

I think it would be an interesting examination, to say the least: the notion of fallibility as the key to the Church's 'authority'.

I think perhaps here you have stated the problem (or at least a problem) with our current discussion: your incoherent blurring of two distinct topics. (In)fallibility is not the 'key' to the Church's authority. The Church would have authority (as demonstrated by the above-quoted passages) whether or not it was infallible. Infallibility is God's protection for those of us under that authority, that we can be secure in knowing that the Church will not be wrong in its teaching of Faith and Morals.

The Shack? Are you kidding me? Do you seriously think I'm entirely incapable of coming to any of these conclusions apart from some Christian pop-culture literature? Are you actively seeking to insult me? Or is your comment a natural reaction to having read a book in common with me?

Chris, when you present something resembling an original and coherent argument, I will give you credit for not getting your ideas from either Christian pop-literature, anti-Catholic rhetoric, or atheistic propaganda. Until then, what am I supposed to think? I assure you, though, I am not actively seeking to insult you. Passively, maybe.

Gregory, I do see Christ rejecting false lawmakers, and religious oppression, and institutional mindsets. I don't see Him rejecting Law, and Religion in and of themselves, and I don't see Him setting up an institution but a covenant. Big difference, don't you think?

False lawmakers, yes. But if the Church is, indeed, the authority on Faith and Morals, then they are not 'false' lawmakers. Religious Oppression, yes. But the Church demanding obedience of its members is not oppression. As far as "institutional mindsets", I'm no more sure of what that term means than I am of why "Institution" is a negative thing. As far as thinking that there is a "big difference" between "institution" and "covenant", seeing as a covenant is a type of institution, no, I don't see any difference whatsoever. Again, perhaps you should define your understanding of "institution" and explain why it is a bad thing.

Again, Christ rejected false lawmakers (e.g., the Pharisees and all their extra-Mosaic laws to regulate the lives of the people), and religious oppressors (e.g., the Pharisees and Sadducees), and did not set up an institution (e.g., Catholicism).

Again, I disagree that Christ did not found the institution of the Catholic Church, and so far you have not offered any actual argument to the contrary.

The sense of Matthew 23:2-3 is rather plain, to me: insomuch as Christ had not ratified the new covenant through His blood, the Jews were still bound by Old Testament Law ("The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so practice and observe whatever they tell you..."). Hence Christ told them to observe that Law, but not to be hypocritical like the Pharisees by imposing laws on others that they don't intend to fulfil themselves ("...but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice").

The sense, precisely, is this: That there was an institution known as the Old Covenant, which, in whatever way you look at it, was endorsed by Christ--even if that was a conditional endorsement only until the New Covenant. Thus, implying that Christ disagrees with "institutions" per se contradicts this passage.

So, anyway, you're right:

Thank you.

Christ didn't subscribe to the wholesale rejection of institutional authority. He rejected wholesale the false authority of hypocritical scribes and Pharisees, and encouraged His followers to do the same while still adhering to God's Law until He fulfilled it through His death and resurrection (which, while this passage does not mention that, was most certainly foreknown by Christ).

If your above statement implies that the New Covenant annulled the Law through fulfilling it (thus making Matthew 23 irrelevant to Christians), I think this contradicts much of what Christ said previously in the Gospels (especially Matthew 5, the sermon on the mount--particularly verse 17). Fulfilling the Law does not make it inapplicable. It changes both the motive we have in fulfilling it (love, rather than duty) and our ability to fulfil the Law (infused grace). Granted, certain aspects of the Law were not only fulfilled in Christ, but completely satisfied as well (animal sacrifices), and others were replaced (baptism instead of circumcision). Nevertheless, Christ did not absolve us of our obligation to the moral points of the Law, at least.

None of this, regardless, demonstrates that Christ was anti-institutional (which you yourself admit) or that He didn't establish an institution Himself (which you haven't proved).

"Immoral acts are never carried out by the guidance of the Holy Spirit."

That's true. But I think the Inquisitions, Witch Trials, 2nd - 4th waves of the Crusades, the anabaptist drowning pools, etc. testify to the notion that simply praying for guidance from the Holy Spirit doesn't mean that the powers-that-be actually followed the guidance that was given. And now you see my point about the coterie of bishops, Bush Jr., and pederast priests.

Yes, Chris, I see the point that you're trying to make. I saw it in the first place. It doesn't change the fact that it's bullshit. I believe the technical term would be non sequitur. What does a "coterie" (read: council) of bishops have that neither the former president of the USA or sinful individuals (including priests) have? First, the obligation to guide the Church, particularly in defining Faith and Morals. Second, they have the grace of Conciliar Infallibility--that is, the guidance of the Holy Spirit, in a specific manner, for a specific purpose.

And as to the latter, I didn't say that the nuns and priests prayed "God, should I rape and torture the Natives today?" I said that they prayed for guidance in all their actions. They probably received that guidance, too, but again, they obviously didn't follow it in 'all' their actions, did they?

Again, utterly irrelevant. We all (hopefully) pray for the Spirit's guidance in our lives, and yet I, at least, still continue to sin. Whether or not one sins has absolutely no bearing on the question of infallibility. What your examples argue against (even then, not well), is the notion of "impeccability," which, since no one believes, anyway, is rather a dead issue. Hence why I call it bullshit--a non sequitur.

How this affects Scripture is plainly borne out in the disputes as to, say, the Apocrypha.

There were no disputes about the Apocrypha until the "Reformers" rejected them from the canon (which is why they never needed a formal pronouncement of inclusion until the Council of Trent).

Or, the Didache;

I'm not sure what the Didache has to do with anything at this point.

the internal inconsistencies of Scripture;

Such as?

the fact that we don't have any original documents;

Papyrus is fragile?

the alterations made to Scripture by the RCC (e.g., changing female names to male names). Did the Holy Spirit guide the RCC to alter female names to male names? And to what purpose?

I'll have to look more deeply into that question, but from the research I have done so far, it still seems like a non sequitur to me.


"Immoral behaviour in sinful people is a completely different thing than God's ability to preserve the Church from error."

I disagree. God preserves the Church despite error, not from error. Otherwise, what was John-Paul's purpose in repenting of the RCC's historical atrocities if God preserves the Church from error? If the Church can do no wrong, why repent?

Obviously, again, you are confusing "Infallibility" with "Impeccability." The Church's historical atrocities were sinful acts, not infallibly defined doctrinal stances. Infallibility, as defined by the First Vatican Council, is the Spirit's preventing the Church from teaching as dogma formal heresies. It does not mean that any member of the Church will always live up to those teachings.

Are you suggesting that using Scripture to effect an argument does not establish the validity of that argument? If so, then we're very much on the same page. All we can do is approximate to the best of our fallible, and limited abilities. After that, it's all about trusting ourselves to the mercy of God.

Not exactly, Chris. I'm suggesting that using Scripture to establish the fact that Scripture is the sole authority is called circular reasoning. Using it to deny the authority of the Church, by which we know what Scripture is in the first place, is called sawing off the branch you're sitting on. And while you may be ready to accept such doctrinal relativism, I am not.

As to whether I'm thinking, yes I am. But that's not a guarantee that I'll get everything right. I apply that same qualification to the Magisterium: they're thinking, but that's not a guarantee they'll get everything right. To state otherwise is simply lying. Are you willing to go that far?

Chris, it is not a matter of getting everything right that makes me question your thought process. It's your feeble non-arguments and utter misrepresentations of Catholic teaching. Yet you seem to be presenting these comments not as some sort of ironic joke, but in all seriousness.

As to whether the Magisterium gets everything right "because they're thinking" isn't at all the issue. Obviously the fact that the bishops happen to be intelligent theologians certainly doesn't hurt, but whether the the Magisterium "gets everything right" is ultimately a grace of the Holy Spirit, as stated (ubiquitously) above.
Thus I can say that thinking doesn't guarantee correct answers, but that, nevertheless, when the Church's Magisterium formally pronounces on matters of Faith and Morals, they get "everything" (every formal declaration) right. And I can say that most certainly, not lying.

From your views on the divine infallibility of the Church so far, you seem to be willing to state that. So, are you lying? And is the Magisterium lying to you and relying on your uncomprimising obedience to perpetuate that lie? The implicit lie that seeking divine guidance must mean ipso facto having infallible pronouncements?

I've very clearly, and belabouredly, stated what my views are of the Church's infallibility. I am not lying. If the Magisterium is lying really isn't my moral fault. My taking them on good faith does not make me a liar. The evidence that I've seen and experienced has convinced me of the truth of their claims. As to the "lie" that anyone seeking the Holy Spirit's guidance ipso facto is infallible has not been claimed by anyone here, and is thus your own misunderstanding--or worse.

"As I said in my previous comment, Scripture alone cannot be the absolute last word, because it is Scripture over which we are in disagreement."

No, we're in disagreement as to the definition, nature and application of 'authority'. Scripture just dove-tails into the conversation as a logical recourse for examples in what may be considered 'authoritative.'

Since, as a Sola Scripturist, you believe that, whatever else may be authoritative, Scripture itself is the final authority, the fact that you and I, for example, do not agree about the meaning of particular passages of Scripture--or, for that matter, what actually comprises Scripture--it seems to me that my comment stands as evidently relevant, that it cannot, of itself, settle disagreements pertaining to itself. Thus, there must be some other authority to decide definitively when disagreements do happen to arise. It is that, or, as I've stated so often before, doctrinal relativism. You've claimed to disagree with that assertion, but you've never demonstrated that I'm wrong, or provided a reasonable alternative. In fact, when you say, "All we can do is approximate to the best of our fallible, and limited abilities. After that, it's all about trusting ourselves to the mercy of God," you seem to be embracing just such relativism. Yet your ongoing participation in this very discussion belies your claims. If I truly am free to approximate to the best of my fallible abilities, and then trust the rest to the mercy of God, and I've approximated that the Church is infallible and authoritative, and demands my obedience, then I am free to submit myself to the Church, and trust myself to God's mercy if I am wrong, according to you. Except, for some reason, you don't like my conclusion, and the logical actions stemming from it, and so you engage me in debate in order to disprove my fallible, doctrinally relative approximations. Another example of your incoherent contradictions.

Sigh.
Hate to leave it there, but other duties beckon.

I'll be back later on to finish up the rest.

God bless,
Gregory

Hidden One said...

""Chris, thy will be done."
I suppose you think that was clever, hey?"

Clever or not, I found it applicable.

Gregory said...

And now, for the rest of the story...

"The Word of God is the authority--but that Word of God includes the Sacred Tradition of the Church, as well as Her living voice today in the Magesterium. You will have to demonstrate otherwise before you can assume Sola Scriptura as a rationale."

No, sir. You will have to demonstrate that the Magisterium is the highest authority on the interpretation of Scripture. Scripture already bears itself out as authoritative, as you have so rightly pointed out. The burden of proof is on your shoulders in this instance, to prove the Magisterium as equally authoritative to Scripture.

If Scripture bears itself out as authoritative, it is only because there was a magisterial authority to even tell us what was, indeed, Scripture. I believe that I made this point above. If there was no infallible "coterie" of bishops to define which books were and were not inspired by God, we would not have any Scriptures which could be considered authoritative. And if the Magisterium has the authority (and divine guidance) to infallibly define what Scripture is, is it not logical that it would also have the authority to declare what Scripture means?
Further, who was it who settled the disagreements over faith and morals in the Early Church? Did everyone simply read the Bible for themselves and decide to be an Arian or a Catholic? No. Instead, the bishops came together at the First Council of Nicaea and infallibly decided the truth about the Deity of Christ. This is the pattern of the Church since the beginning (cf. Acts 15) until this day. Thus, since the beginning, the Magisterium has been held to be the infallible authority on doctrine and the correct interpretation of Scripture.
Since no other notion was even posited until the Reformation, I still stand by my statement that the burden of proof lies with the Sola Scripturists to defend their novel stance.

"So again, you claim we cannot actually be certain that the Bible is indeed God's Word, and yet the Bible is, apparently, the final authority? This doesn't seem sketchy to you?"

I haven't claimed this. Go back and read again what I wrote.

You claimed, first, that the men who decided what the Bible is, apparently could have been mistaken about it. In fact, you claim that they were, and that some 1000 years later, it took the "reformers" to undo the errors of including too much in Scripture. You claim that the Catholic Church has made various alterations to the text, which, due to the destruction of the originals, cannot be ascertained--which you point out as though it were some grand conspiracy--and finally, you claim that there are various inconsistencies in the Scriptures.

Now, if we can't be sure we got the right books, if we can add or remove certain books based on our personal view toward their inspiration, if these books have been tampered with, and we can't ascertain what they should say because someone disposed of the originals--I'd say that means we can't really be sure whether these Scriptures are in fact God's Word. And the kicker, that the Scriptures are internally inconsistent, would lend extra weight to that assertion, because God is not a God of confusion.

So no, you didn't straight-out claim that we can't know if the Bible is really God's Word, but unfortunately, the logical conclusion to which your statements point is precisely that. If you like, I'll restate my objection more precisely:

"So again, you claim we cannot actually be certain that the Bible has all the right books, that it hasn't been tampered with, that we wouldn't be able to undo such tampering even if we could tell which parts were tampered with, and that the Bible as we know it, and on top of it all, it often contradicts itself; and yet the Bible is, apparently, the final authority? This doesn't seem sketchy to you?"

"...What individual priests decide to believe has no bearing on the Church's doctrinal stance..."

You're not making sense here, Gregory. If what an individual priest believes doesn't matter, why burn, say, Jan Huss for having a different doctrinal stance? Why issue papal bulls against Luther, and burn his books while plotting his assassination if his doctrinal differences didn't matter? And so what if the composition of our present Canon was decided 1000 years prior to Huss, Luther, Tyndale, Wycliffe, Calvin, Menno, et al.? If it doesn't matter, why were they persecuted for questioning things? Or even for the ghastly crime of translating Scripture into the vernacular? My God what a rotten thing to do! But they were individual rogue priests, and it didn't really matter. Or did it? History reports a different matter concerning what actually mattered, and it doesn't look good on the RCC. But we already know that since Jean-Paul II repented of that dastardly era where 'it didn't matter.'

I never claimed that what an individual priest says doesn't matter (now who's putting words in other people's mouths?). What I said was that, since an individual priest doesn't have the authority or the role of defining doctrine, the gift of infallibility does not pertain to his office. What he teaches certainly does matter--he is the spiritual father of his parish. If he is disobedient to the teaching of the Church, then he can have a seriously detrimental effect on the souls of the people. For that reason, the Magisterial authority of the Church has a duty to duly discipline rogue priests and theologians. Of course, there is a moral and an immoral way of effecting such discipline. What the Pope was repenting of was not the fact that the Church disciplined heretics, but the immoral and sinful means which the Church employed. Hence, your entire argument in the above paragraph is utter non sequitur. It again honestly raises the question of what you are thinking during this discussion.
Oh, and as to translating Scripture into the vernacular, that is assuredly not a 'rotten thing to do'. The Church has done that since the beginning. The problem was in the erroneous translations put out by the Reformers--inserting words here and leaving out books there, for example.

The Council of Trent AD 1546 (the year of Luther's death) saw the official inclusion of the Apocrypha as canonical. So, no, Luther, at the very least, rejected the books prior to Trent since he died before Trent convened. I'm not sure about Calvin and the rest. Chemnitz (who was present at Trent), I'm fairly certain rejected the Apocrypha, too, prior to Trent.

First of all, when Trent happened has little to do with whether Luther rejected the Deutero-Canonical books before or after he was excommunicated. As such, you never addressed my argument.
Second, the historical Church had accepted the Deutero-Canonical books since the early centuries--else, how would they appear in the Vulgate to begin with? Why would St. Jerome defend their inclusion? ("What sin have I committed if I follow the judgment of the churches? But he who brings charges against me for relating [in my preface to the book of Daniel] the objections that the Hebrews are wont to raise against the story of Susannah [Dan. 13], the Song of the Three Children [Dan. 3:29–68, RSV-CE], and the story of Bel and the Dragon [Dan. 14], which are not found in the Hebrew volume, proves that he is just a foolish sycophant. I was not relating my own personal views, but rather the remarks that they are wont to make against us. If I did not reply to their views in my preface, in the interest of brevity, lest it seem that I was composing not a preface, but a book, I believe I added promptly the remark, for I said, 'This is not the time to discuss such matters'" (Against Rufinius 11:33 [A.D. 401]).)? Why would Pope Innocent I list them in his list of the Books of the Bible? ("A brief addition shows what books really are received in the canon. These are the things of which you desired to be informed verbally: of Moses, five books, that is, of Genesis, of Exodus, of Leviticus, of Numbers, of Deuteronomy, and Joshua, of Judges, one book, of Kings, four books, and also Ruth, of the prophets, sixteen books, of Solomon, five books, the Psalms. Likewise of the histories, Job, one book, of Tobit, one book, Esther, one, Judith, one, of the Maccabees, two, of Esdras, two, Paralipomenon, two books . . ." (Letters 7 [A.D. 408]).) How could the Council of Trent's Decree Concerning the Canonical Scriptures say "And it has thought it meet that a list of the sacred books be inserted in this decree, lest a doubt may arise in any one's mind, which are the books that are received by this Synod," and other such statements? However, unlike the New Testament, there had been no major controversy regarding these particular books until Luther's day, and so there had been no reason to make a formal pronouncement on the Old Testament Canon until the Reformation. That formal pronouncement came at the Council of Trent, and merely affirmed dogmatically what had been the Tradition of the Church since the beginning. The Bishops did not, as you seem to be implying, decide to add the Deutero-Canon to the Bible in AD 1546.

In any case, yes, the Reformers had rebelled prior to the Council of Trent when the Apocrypha was canonized by the RCC. And you think, or believe the Magisterium's interpretation of 1 Sam. 15:23 that the Reformers were guilty of witchcraft because they rebelled against some questionable practices of the RCC? Hmm...

Had the Reformers simply been rejecting "certain questionable practices of the RCC", it's quite possible that they could have become great saints, like Francis of Assisi or Catherine of Sienna (who herself got directly in the Pope's face on occasion). These were Reformers in the best sense of the term. The Church, at the time of the Reformation, admittedly had been carrying on some rather sinful and scandalous practices. However, those sinful practices were never endorsed (and were often actually condemned) by official Catholic teaching. Thus it was perfectly right and just to rebuke and correct these atrocities. The problem comes in when these same "reformers" rejected key doctrines of the Church in favour of their own understandings. When Luther went from denouncing the simonising of indulgences to denouncing indulgences themselves--and then further, to invent new ideas such as Sola Fide, he crossed a very definite line. That line was further violated when he rejected the Church's leadership, particularly the Papacy (calling the papacy the anti-Christ) and substituting for it the doctrines of Sola Scriptura and the perpescuity of Scripture. Successive "reformers" brought their own understandings and interpretations, disagreeing with each other as much as with the Catholic Church, each claiming to be following "the Bible alone" until we arrive at the disunity of the present day--occasioned by the idea that each one of us has the right and the duty to decide for ourselves what the Bible really means, rather than submitting to the constant Tradition passed down from the Apostles through the bishops--primarily the Pope--who are biblically acknowledged to be responsible for preserving the faith. It is this latent, implicit pride that says, "I know better what the Bible says than those partaking in the Apostolic Succession," that is tantamount to the witchcraft that is rebellion.

The Magisterium must have a problem reading in context.

No, Chris. As you have demonstrated time and again in the above discussion, that problem is yours.

Saul didn't kill Agog, the king of the Amalekites, and his soldiers saved the best of the cattle for sacrificing to the Lord. Clearly this is not what God asked. God gave specific instructions to slaughter everyone and everything, including the cattle. Bad on Saul. He rebelled against clear instructions from God, and was therefore guilty.

I know the story, Chris. I knew it when I (not actually "the Magisterium") referenced it in the first place. Although, your relaying of it here interests me. For it wasn't God Himself who gave the instructions to Saul, was it? It was Samuel, who, allegedly, had heard from God. Saul could have used quite the same reasoning as you for his rebellion. After all, Samuel was just a fallible human being. The fact that he was a prophet didn't mean he got everything right, did it? God couldn't be so vindictive as to deprive Saul and his army of the spoils--especially when they were going to sacrifice them to Him, anyway! Samuel, being a fallible human being, probably garbled the message (if there even was such a message!) due to his deep-seated racism towards the Amalekites. Surely Saul could reinterpret these instructions according to his own understanding of who God is?
I find, then, the parallel rather striking. If Saul's rebellion was as bad as witchcraft because he didn't listen to a man who claimed to speak for God, then if the Pope truly is Christ's vicar on earth, calling him the anti-Christ (as many of the early 'reformers' did), is just the same kind of rebellion. And we already noted St. Paul's words regarding the due discipline of rebellious people, who had previously pledged their full obedience (2 Corinthians 10:6; Romans 13:2).

Now, some ca. 3500 - 4000 years after the fact of Saul, the RCC has put its roots down in the world, and the Reformers were judged guilty of witchcraft on level with Saul because they disagreed with some doctrinal issues of the Church? I hardly think so.

Yes, Chris, because those doctrinal issues pertained directly to the question of how we are saved. Moreover, ultimately, they amounted to a rejection of the Church Christ founded.

Nevertheless, I can't beat you in this argument because you're stuck in a system that sees the Magisterium as the direct voice of God on earth. So accordingly, your logic works out (despite its faulty premise) that the Reformers were guilty of witchcraft.

Hm. I thought you were trying to engage in honest inquiry, not trying to "beat" me in an argument. As for being "stuck" in a system, you seem utterly to forget that I had to do my own free thinking, study, and research before I decided on the truth of the Catholic claims. I looked at the other alternatives, and concluded for myself that they didn't stack up. Since when does embracing a creed mean I'm not free to think? I'm sure St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, G.K. Chesterton, and many more of the world's best thinkers would disagree with you! in the end, you have continually failed to demonstrate that believing the Catholic Church is "the direct voice of God" (your words) is a faulty premise.

On this side of the fence, however, the Reformers, who didn't want to break from the Catholic Church, and were largely abused by power-politics in the papacy, rebelled against very definite sins (e.g., Tetzel's wanton sale of indulgences). So, from a Reformation perspective, yes, the Reformers rebelled, though not against God, but against the uncharitable manipulations of a corrupted papacy.

As I said above, had the reformers stopped at decrying very real and scandalous sins in the Church, they might have become great saints. When they rejected the office of the papacy instead of rebuking the sins of the pope, when they invented new doctrines and rejected the Traditions of the Church, then they were dealt with. Again, not well, and for its part, the Church has repented, as you've acknowledged. When is it going to be time when the Protestant leaders repent for their failings in the Reformation?

"That's a lot of assertion and opinion which, to my mind, has neither basis in Scripture nor in History.

Care to back it up at all?"


Not really. Other, better theologians than myself have poured over this issue to a much higher, and more intelligible degree than I could give you in a simple blog comment.

*Cough*Cop-out*Cough*

In any case, it should be implicit from your reading of Scripture, and from the first decade or so of Christian history.

Oddly, it was precisely my reading of Scripture and the early years of the Church which led me to the Catholic Church. Interesting comments, coming from you, though, since above you said that our disagreement isn't about the interpretation of Scripture, and further on in this comment, you claim to be thinking for yourself without needing to refer to scholars and theologians. Way to utterly contradict both of those positions, though. And in just two sentences!

"Sharon's quotation of Matthew 16 seems perfectly relevant as a response, Chris. Your return quotation has rather little to do with anything."

There's relevance insomuch as her quotation is used to back up her presumption that a dictionary definition of 'authority' suffices to vindicate the Catholic Church's claim to have authority over others. It does nothing to establish what 'authority' is, and how it can be validly applied to others who serve Christ but shy away from the Roman Communion.

Chris, need I remind you that this whole discussion started when you asked a stupid and loaded question? Her dictionary definition is quite sufficient to demonstrate that authority is the right to enforce laws on those under your authority. Matthew 16:18-20 shows plainly that such authority has been given to St. Peter for the founding and protection of the Church. She answered your question as thoroughly as it deserved. As for establishing "what 'authority' is"--that's precisely the purpose of a dictionary definition. As for how it is applied to others who serve Christ but aren't Catholic, you never actually asked that question. Being irate with us for not asking questions that you haven't asked (this is at least the second time you've done so) is hardly sensical.

My quotation has everything to do with the subject, Gregory. While you guys re-circulate the papal argument for the authority of papalism via Matt. 16, St. Stephen, does nothing to acknowledge Peter as his prelate, completely brushes past the notion of a corporate entity such as the Roman Catholic Church, and declares that the house of God is not built by human hands. In other words, as some have understood it, it is not a political structure, or a successive lineage of prelates pushing building expenses to keep up with their land taxes and building expenses; it is not this-or-that certain sanctified location upon which some blessed structure has been erected. It isn't any of that at all. Those things are empty in and of themselves, and serve no real purpose. The house of God is the presence of His people world-wide, unified by the blood of Christ, and free in Him to walk past the torn veil and enter into the holy of holies, into His personal presence. Roman Catholicism has simply mended the veil and claimed authority as to who will get past into the sanctuary of God's presence by declaring themselves the sole guardians of the 'truth', and as I see it, the papacy stands in the way of what is supposed to be free passage into the holy of holies.

Now who has trouble reading in context? Stephen's sermon is his defense of very specific charges brought against him, not a comprehensive dissertation on the structure of the Church. It should, then, be no wonder that he didn't mention deacons, priests, and bishops under the prelature of Peter. He wasn't talking about that. He was specifically addressing charges that he had been preaching that Jesus would destroy the Temple (Acts 6:13-14). It is that charge to which Stephen replies by mentioning the construction of the Temple, and the fact that God doesn't actually need a Temple. To interpret his words as a commentary on institutional Catholicism is pure eisegesis.
As for the rest of your ramblings about church buildings and taxes and such, no one has claimed that these things are "the Church" or even particularly important for "the Church" to exist. So I have utterly no idea what you are going on about.
As far as your accusation that Roman Catholicism has "mended the veil," I rather wholeheartedly disagree. Of course, we have, apparently, rather diverse interpretations of what was symbolised by the rending of the veil in Luke 23:45--but I forgot, our disagreement isn't over the proper interpretation of Scripture, is it?

Sure, you can make the argument, "but Chris, as Catholics we are allowed to go to God whenever we want. No-one is stopping us. The pope encourages that, absolutely." But when it comes down to it, you're not allowed to disagree even when things are overtly wrong for fear of your salvation. Doctrinally, the Catholic Church encourages being Borg: assimilated and buzzing with the thoughts of the hive.

Who are you?! Jack Chick?! I can't believe you'd even write that I can't go directly to God! Seriously, do you really believe all the anti-Catholic propaganda out there? 'Cause from where I sit, you seem to be copying and pasting it onto my blog!
As far as not disagreeing even when things are "overtly wrong", I can disagree about anything except the infallibly defined doctrines of the faith. As far as those go, I've never seen anything subtly wrong, let alone overtly so--and you have yet to point out any "overtly wrong" dogmas and demonstrate that they are, in fact, wrong.

That is not a Church that squelches the free expression of human beings, all the while rambling out its pretenses that anything less than the way they would have you live your life is not living in the 'fulness of the faith.' That -- and I agree with the atheist Christopher Hitchens here -- is a tyranny of the worst sort: one that smiles outwardly while subjecting its people to casual indifference inwardly.

I have no idea what you're talking about--most likely because you have no idea what you're talking about. But hey, an atheist said it, so it must be true.

"I'm also rather interested in your dative whatevers when it comes to Matt 16. I thought we'd had that discussion, and I showed you that your understanding of the Greek was faulty. But if you'd like to run it by us again, be my guest."

Yes, you did. And I used my corrected understanding. Thank you for bringing that up in such an unnecessary fashion. What's the view like up there?

Chris, you haven't "used" anything. So far, you've only offered to. As far as a corrected understanding, you mentioned "dative plurals" above, referring to Matthew 16:18-19. Since there are no dative plurals in that passage, I'm going to question how "corrected" your understanding is. Maybe, instead of getting all snippy, you'd like to simply and rationally present an argument--preferably one about something that actually resembles an issue that I actually believe.

Yes, H1's comments are bang on the money. That is, possessing no inherent meaning, and committed to perpetuating false value.

Good one, Chris. Way to make an expression out to mean the exact opposite of what it actually does. With English comprehension skills like that, I'm tempted to understand why you've seemed to have such a difficult time grasping what I've said so far.

And as far as the age of the arguments, and their repetition, are you going to deal with them or just cite your fallacy of anachronism as sufficient to the cause? Would it help you if I pointed out that your responses boast nothing original? That they're just recycled arguments cast in your unique personal rhetoric? What would that do to promote discussion between equals here? Would that spur you on to more generous writings? Would it fan the flames of discussion for you any further? Or would it just seem to you what it is: a snobbish insult?

Chris, I have, in my latest comments, dealt with the arguments. I've dealt with them repeatedly in the past (particularly with people like Jacob Allee and others), and, as you put it, "other, better theologians than myself have poured over this issue to a much higher, and more intelligible degree than I could give you in a simple blog comment." Of course, I have still endeavoured to provide a response, regardless.
As far as taking my comment as a "snobbish insult", the tenor of your entire discussion, so far, has been such that it has been hard to take you seriously. If I do take you seriously, then you must be gravely insulting me, as well. Again, I repeat the refrain that you should know better about many of the issues you bring up.

Paper tigers and straw men... you haven't demonstrated that to be the case, so what do you want me to do with this?

Initially, I didn't think I should have to demostrate that you were presenting paper tigers and straw men. After all, having investigated Catholicism yourself, I would have thought you'd know that. Evidently, I was wrong, and I trust I have now demonstrated my charge. Regardless, though, by completely refusing to acknowledge the Church's own self-understanding vis-à-vis infallibility and authority, you are debating against a construct of your own devising. That is a paper tiger. That is a straw man.

Right. Like when I referenced quotes from other scholars, and you responded by referencing quotes from other scholars? Or like those days we would spend a couple of hours on the phone occasionally coming up with quotes from this-or-that author who made a provocative statement? I've changed my tact. I'm sure you've noticed. I'm going after these things in a bit of a solo venture these days. And if I cite another person's thoughts, that's because I hadn't considered what they'd said. The point: I'm attempting to work through these things by trudging through the sledge of my brain, and seeing what comes of what. I'm thinking on my own. It's scary, and I'm often wrong. But I have the courage to do it. I don't expect you to do the same, however, because that would cut against the grain of the Magisterium, and you wouldn't be a good Catholic anymore. Whatever that means.

Chris, how many scholars you reference, or I reference, doesn't make our discussions more intelligent. That's not at all what I was referring to when I lamented the lack of intelligence in this Open Forum. When I wish you would display more intelligence, I again refer to the fact that the majority of your comments fail to make any coherent argument, but rather seem to dance around the subject, and then you accuse us of not answering you. When it is that you've actually made something resembling an attack on our beliefs, you either wilfully or unwilfully misrepresent those beliefs. The intelligence I seek from you in this discourse is the ability, honesty, and willingness to actually criticise me for believing something that I actually believe. I honestly try to afford you the same courtesy, when it is that I can pin down what you believe--and I'm open to correction when I err in my understanding of it. Is some reciprocation too much to ask?

As far as thinking on your own, have at it. I'll not point out the arrogance behind the assumption that you can do so. If you manage to figure it all out, give me a call--though, if I'm alive by that time, I'll likely be too deaf to hear you, or too senile to understand. I'm not calling you slow--I'm trying to point out that none of us could hope to figure it all out on our own. We were never intended to.

As for whether I have the courage to think for myself, I suppose "snobbish insults" go only one way, right?--and I'm supposed to see loving generosity in your frequent assertions that I'm a mindless automaton simply because I made a choice. Need I remind you, again, that that choice came after some three years of "thinking for myself", and following my conclusions and my conscience, despite the cost? It was when I recognised the arrogance of thinking I could have it all figured out that I discovered the freedom of just trusting Jesus.

So while you find that there isn't a 'hint' of intelligence, you can rest assured that as long as I need to walk this path of self-discovery, probing, and existential accountability purely between Christ and myself, I'll remain your stupid friend.

Please, Chris, play the martyr elsewhere. If you're going to pick a fight, don't act so shocked when I retaliate. Or does it help to vindicate your anti-institutional mindset if you can goad your friend who belongs to "the Institution" into hurting your feelings?
Walk your road of self-discovery. Just please, as you contemplate your navel, have the integrity to not call mine an outie if it's an innie.

That's really the last I want to write on this topic, until the formal debate. I'll try to come up with a resolution by Easter at the latest. Feel free to suggest your own ideas.

My wife's beginning to feel like a blog-widow. This took a while. I'm out.
I'm praying for you.
God bless
Gregory

Christopher said...

Whew! You've written a lot, Gregory. I'm going to have to take some time to read through it all.

You will get a response from me very soon. Hope you read it before Easter.

Sarah said...

Gregory wrote: When we reject the Church's authority, the entire system fails to make a coherent sense. That this is not immediately recognised by people who reject the authority has more to say about their rebellion than it does about the merits of their own system.

A system stands even without adherents, which is the first strike against it as an authority of any sort. Systems are perimeters set up to prevent spillage to either side of the boundaries and cannot account for, or make way for, actual human interaction with the universe and God Himself, which is why every system fails when an attempt to place it in the stead of relationship is an utter failure- a sociopathy.

I have little problem with anyone adhering to any set of doctrines as they personally relate with the Saviour, whatever church they align themselves with, but I where their system is what gives them the *illusion* of life and the *allusion* of God, then they have fallen for idolatry, and completely missed the reality of Christ's atonement for the sake of reconciliation no less than to balance the weights of true justice- to restore cosmic equilibrium. This idolatrous system is a continued eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, rather than of the tree of Life.

Also, it is impossible to rebel against a system. One either accepts or rejects a system, but to rebel implies a substantial existence, which a system is/has not; it is rather an abstracted proxy for the control that most human beings could not otherwise exercise with any success over others. Those few who have done so are understood to be tyrants. Systems serve to exonerate tyrants, and continue to be insubstantial anyway, even considering all that they are credited for accomplishing (for which if any reward is granted, it is surely given to an actual human being and not the system, ironically).

Gregory, you assume that to rebel against the system of the Roman church is to not give merit to one's own system (but rather to show one's rebellion). I am sure it has occurred to you that not all 'buy in' (to use Sharon's very appropriate terminology here) to systems for deriving life, faith and morals. It is simply not necessary. Some systems may be beneficial for some people from their perspective, but this is not universal, and I patently reject your claim that to dismiss the Roman system is to rebel. I simply reject it, and not in favour of another system. I actually reject systems that stand in the stead of relationship, always deferring to and preferring relationship over rules and laws and systematic interpretations, etc...

It is possible to live this way without being consumed in chaos; I still have a rather strong compass and it still points north, even without your system.

Sharon wrote: Now, if that same driver decides NOT to recognize that authority, and drives whatever speed he deems appropriate, there are risks and consequences to that choice. He risks getting a ticket-affecting only him, really. He risks wrapping his car around a pole, killing himself and inconveniencing the people who's powerline he took out, and the workers who must now scrape him off the road. He also risks an accident in which he and other drivers or pedestrians are killed, impacting on even more people, by his arrogance and failure to yield to authority.

It is a dangerous analogy that equates legislation with Law- and here I am quick to distinguish between God's Law and that of the Roman Church. Since we are discussing the Roman Church, and here you've referred to legislated authority (and politics, and never-mind that it is assumed that you are describing a democratic legislation which renders the analogy regarding authority very odd indeed... Would you use the same illustration if your originating system of authority was a communist dictatorship? Just curious.), I'll comment as this relates to assumed authority of the Roman Church and assumed authority of legislation and enforcement having been agreed upon by the masses.

It is rather clear to me that both the system of authority as you call it that the Roman Church and so-called democratic legislation claim are defended by the, imo, erroneous assumption that I need to be told how to live, otherwise I would end up killing myself and others around me. This is the strongest argument in defense I've ever seen, and it doesn't stand to testing, although thorough, controlled testing is impossible, some incidental testing can give some weight to the reality that human beings are actually equipped without either 'authority' to not kill themselves and others. If this were not true, there would have been no human beings to either devise, or from your perspective, receive such authority because we'd all be dead, having been incorrigibly clumsy and idiotic- in the classical sense.

To illustrate part of what I mean, if I drive faster than the posted speed limit, I am not ipso facto in peril of losing my life or killing others. I have a brain, a big one, even, and I am actually more (gasp) than capable of discerning the conditions under which I am driving and considering the variables when determining the speed at which I travel. A posted sign just sits there, static, standing in the stead of a human being who can't stand there pointing his fingers and flashing numbers for me to obey as I motor past to the next human being with placards. The posted speed limit is a way to control what I do because it is impractical to have somebody there to tell me and my stupid head what to do next because in my arrogant ignorance, I apparently have no idea... ugh. Please.

If this is your demonstration of the place and meaning and necessity of authority, then God is a traffic cop (of many sorts), and that makes me sad. :(

Blessedly, I do not believe this and will travel on my merry way at the speed that suits me as a thinking, reasoning, sensate being of impressive intellect and reflexes. :) It may well be that at points, I happily confirm the sign's number with my speedometer, but not the other way around.

Sharon wrote: I always find it strange that people use Scripture to critisize or condemn or seek to refute the teachings of the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church cannonized what was and wasn't scripture. It did so asking the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Critisizing the Church based on Scripture is alot like trying to use my own hand to smack me in the face.

Indeed.

Thankfully, I also have reason and ingenuity at my disposal.

Gregory wrote: If your interpretation is just as authoritative as mine, who then is the arbiter between us when we disagree, as we currently do? Obviously Scripture cannot arbitrate--it has no voice. It is precisely Scripture over which we disagree. No Tradition can prevail, because we have determined that Scripture is superior to Tradition, and Tradition can be rejected according to whether it agrees with our interpretation of Scripture. Logic can assist us, but even the best logic is flawed when based on faulty premises (which was Chesterton's entire point at the beginning of Orthodoxy and his discussion of the inmates of Hanwell). We can appeal to the Holy Spirit, trusting Him to lead us into all truth, as Christ promised He would, but assuming we both sincerely seek and want that, how do we reconcile our continued disagreement? And why should we expect the Holy Spirit to guide us when He apparently failed to guide the Church?--which must be the case if the Church is ruled out as an infallible authority. And round and round it goes.

I guess if it's that important to you that others be captive to an identical understanding then you do have a dilemma. The problem remains that though you stand in seeming solidarity with others, you cannot actually determine whether or not your understanding and experiences are actually the same, that you actually agree. Even the best wordsmiths come frequently to points where they cannot know if they agree or disagree and so the subject of semantics is a valid one if not for polemics, but just for mutual understanding.

You lose the 'round and round' when you realise that the only one who can see where and with whom you actually stand is God Himself, since He alone sees into hearts. A system doesn't speak for your heart and cannot fill in the gaps left by your intellect. From a purely human perspective, you are unique and every thought and inclination and experience, etc... is truly known by only you in some way. We can say 'yes, yes- it's the same for me!' to one another, but we must realise that we can only approximate mutual understandings, in a best case scenario.

I think you also set up a false dichotomy when you assert that to not trust the teachings of the Roman church is to reasonably also not trust the Holy Spirit. I can easily trust the Holy Spirit; not so much the Roman Church.

Christopher wrote: We reject the notion that the fallible, visible, and institutional church can overrule an individual's conscience before God via a simple claim to authority.


Gregory responded: And we reject that the visible, institutional Church is fallible. Does a simple claim of fallibility make the Church fallible?

No, the claim is not enough- for either, which is Christopher's point. There must be evidence- not only of a certain sort for any will do if it is understood correctly- which there is, quite a bit of, regarding the Roman Church's fallibility in actions and even doctrine. If other perspectives don't do it for you, why not just look at the Roman Church's own recognition and repentance (which of course is not merely an apology, but an admission and also a *turning away* from that which it acknowledges it did WRONGLY!).

To refute this is to redefine our entire vocabulary and turn it into an expression of that which the Roman Church wants to express and nothing else. The english language is not captive to the Roman Church and doctrines, so I and the majority of english-speaking people will go on using it without making concessions for Roman re-definitions.

The Roman Church has made ghastly mistakes in the name of God, and has repented of some of them. Thus, the Roman Church is fallible, not only evident through reason, but also by it's own admission, though it retains the claim of infallibility in spite of having to continually redefine it (but only for this, and not that, only in this circumstance, and not if the papacy did this, because then it wasn't really the papacy that erred- but the *people*, but then became the papacy once again once the error was corrected, and as you put it "Immoral behaviour in sinful people is a completely different thing than God's ability to preserve the Church from error" and "What individual priests decide to believe has no bearing on the Church's doctrinal stance... rogue priests... and on and on...) to mean what it wants for the sake of upholding an error as truth.

Gregory wrote: Moreover, infallibility is not proper to the person(s), but to the office. It is, in the case of the Pope, the charism pertaining to the one appointed as St. Peter's Successor. Even then, it only functions when he exercises his role as pastor to define a matter of faith and morals in accordance with his office (ex cathedra).

Here again. You absolutely must suspend reason in all ways to accept this. That since the office exists apart from the person who fulfills it, even though the tenets of that office be in error (I believe), it is always the fault of the individual who has somehow transgressed the tenets, and never the office itself that could possibly be in error. Well, of COURSE!

This is the *system*, the sociopathy of the Roman Church, because it is that office and from that office that an actual human being claims authority and makes rules and enforces them, and as an institution, the Roman Church is exonerated through this same system by immediatey separating itself from the error through means of its office. And in exercising claimed authority, it defers to the 'authority' of the 'office' as though the office were a being of its own substance.

It seems impossible to pin down what exactly the Roman Church even *is* given that when it is in error, it's the people and not the church and when it claims authority, it's the Church and not the people and that authority is from God and when the one who speaks as the authority is in error, it's neither the Church, nor and we agree about this, God who is in error, but mere human beings. It's like sand through a sieve.

As a mother, I have a specific role in the lives of my children. I would be understood quite accurately to be a sociopath if every time I erred, I deferred my children to listen to the motherhood and to disregard the human being, flesh and blood me who offended them. Obviously it's *me* causing offense, and not the motherhood that did it. That's not really the issue.

Motherhood is always perfect. I am not- in fact I am never, but it does nobody any good to think this way about the actual life, and relationships involved in the carrying out of my motherhood 'office' if you will for my illustration (since this idea makes me somewhat ill and I would not equate motherhood with an inanimate office otherwise). The doctrines of the office of motherhood may very well be perfect, but we don't have the original set, so we're left with the traditions of successive women who have fulfilled the office to have handed down the rules. The things is, they did so, faithfully, and they still erred, and those errors have filtered down into my life and yours and and everyone else's too.

Nobody thinks that there were any original errors in the organising of the faithful into assemblies- just the way it was carried out, the way it was passed down, and even now the way it continues to offend the reasonable well-being of human beings everywhere.

Has God Himself not preserved motherhood? Why yes, He clearly has. Do we carry it out infallibly? No. Is the office of motherhood fallible? Of course not; it's an 'office' and like a rock or a piece of wood, cannot be in error (again I do not equate motherhood with an office). Is the office necessary? I don't think so. Is motherhood? Absolutely. Do I think God made an office out of what is better preserved in relationship? NO! (Here, enter Christ Himself and not another tablet of rules which seemed to fail to communicate what Christ was able to by relating to us and with us) So, I don't think that any office of the Roman Church is in error- because it can't be- it is inanimate and exists apart from its representative. I don't think the office is necessary and I also think that God doesn't need such offices where they confound relationship, which the offices of the Roman Church have done for centuries. The people? Well, they are just people doing what they do, but the office sits within the perimeter of the system, and I am very content to sit very far away from it where it can't block my sun.

Hidden One wrote: ...individual priests do not have the charism of infallibility that was given to the Church.

Again, here it is, as if the Roman Church exists apart from and completely separate from the people who make up its substance. From this perspective, are you positing that the Church is like a big bucket that stands as it is whether or not any water falls into it? THIS is what you propose is the Body of Christ- a proxy *bucket*? If we want to, we can jump in, but if not then the bucket remains?

Why- WHY???!!!- do you propose He instituted a *bucket* to stand in His stead when He himself is alive and doesn't need a secondary vessel? And without any faithful neither do human beings need a secondary vessel! The only way that His Body could be understood as His church is if the very substance of that church *is* both in essence and tangible mass, human beings! If nobody at all believed, would His bucket suffice as His representative on earth? Bizarre.

Gregory wrote: If the Church were simply defined by the people who comprise it, then it would have nothing more or greater to offer those people.

What do you mean by this? Is the Body of Christ inadequate to provide for the needs of its members, even as Christ is its head? This would easily be a slippery slope, but for your insistence in the protection of the Magisterium saving us from our folly...

What is this more and greater you refer to here? There's more than Christ and His members? Please explain. It would help if you could be equally practical in your explanation so that we can discuss substantial ideas and not just lofty, un-demonstrable ones.

Gregory wrote: The Gates of Hell have prevailed over every one of us; they will never prevail against the Church.

But it is everyone of us that makes the church... And it is precisely by becoming a part of the church that the gates cannot prevail against us. How are you again separating the church from it's members? The Body of Christ and its members is a metaphor with meaning- a body cannot exist without its parts- it is the parts which make the whole, and the whole cannot be greater than that which comprises it. That is, the whole is greater than each individual member which cannot function on its own, but as a whole, the body (the metaphor used, obviously to demonstrate a straight-forward concept, except to the over-spiritualised language of the Roman Church apparently) is what it is, *fully* functional as its parts, not in spite of them, and not without them.

Christopher wrote: The burden of proof is on your shoulders in this instance, to prove the Magisterium as equally authoritative to Scripture.

I really don't see any burden of proof being necessary here. The Magisterium, having laid claim to the scriptures/letters/books and compiling them already has assumed authority. Whether or not that authority was given or taken (and therefore not valid) is really the question. Then again, if you're not a biblical inerrantist, neither will be of import to you anyway.

Gregory wrote: Out of charity, we can assume (and hope) that you didn't research quite adequately, or perhaps didn't understand the research. If that is not the case, then the only other conclusion is that you are in fact being disingenuous.

I have read through this thread and I am hard-pressed to find any semblance of what you seem to be calling 'charity' forth-coming from either you or Hidden One. What I have seen is Christopher's sometimes polemic irony against ideas and principles, and your ad hominem attacks against him. I have also read his comments and find that there are more options than that unless he agrees with you and the ideas of other Roman Church adherents, he must be either ignorant or disingenuous. I think he's been rather charitable given your outright insults toward him; here I wonder just how highly you must prize your 'system' over human relationship.

I think you've lost the context of the conversation such that you see his questions as attacks on you personally, and cannot see that in his attempts to communicate with you, he presupposes the security of your friendship, whereas you clearly do not, or do you think that it is suddenly acceptable to treat your friend with utter disdain? I hope that maybe it's your reading of Chesterton and other ascerbics of his time who thought it good sport to call one another by animal names and hurl insults at one another and then go out for a beer together. Do you recognise the damage you are doing, or do not care given that if he doesn't adhere to your beliefs about the Roman Church he's no friend of yours anyway? I hope you have a better option in mind. I am not defending him; he is very able to do that on his own, but I thought maybe you could consider what is at stake. Christopher is far too loyal to dismiss a friend even for years of abuse, but he suffers for it, and then so do I and so do his children. This is the reality of human relationship, Gregory. It just doesn't fit so neatly into a system and come out neat at the end of the ticker tape machine with all of its little pieces intact. You may well think you've won an argument, but you may lose its import in the end.

You and your system are not one and the same.

Gregory wrote: As for reading Misquoting Jesus, I'll read it if I can find it at the library, but I won't spend money on it. I don't have the budget to buy books from an author who, for all his theological training, can call human suffering "God's Problem".

He is not a theologian. He is a historian, and textual critic. His conclusions are wanting for sure, from my perspective, but he presents some interesting information which I feel free to interpret on my own. I don't see the theological 'problems' he does because he often falls for the fallacy of the undistributed middle when he tries to assess the import of the evidence. The evidence on its own is worthwhile learning though. It is a very dry book, and I even enjoy reading manuals, so that's saying something. Have another book on the go while you read this one, if you do.

Gregory wrote: If infallibility does not exist, then the best we can do is doctrinal relativism, and the perpetuation of disunity within Christianity.

I say yes to doctrinal relativism; ambiguity would be even better... I disagree that to accept that we don't hold the whole truth and the place to pronounce doctrine and enforce it concludes in disunity of *believers*- the Roman Church, yes, the protestant church, yes, Christianity, again, yes, but disunity of *believers*? What's that? Impossible. If I take down the fence between me and my neighbour, how do you suppose that keeps us further apart? I think it promotes community and unity to stand on the same turf, no fences (AAAHHH! but how will I hold my neighbour accountable for his neglect of overgrown bushes if there's no fence to delineate the boundary?).

Christopher wrote: For my own part, I'm starting to think of the issue of 'authority' as a bit of an illusion. That is, I don't think it's a real issue.
Gregory responded: ...but now, whether it (authority) even exists!

Perhaps Gregory, you missed the subject of his comment. He wrote specifically about his concern about the 'issues' surrounding authority. This should rather clearly demonstrate both his ascent to the reality of authority and his sanity. That authority exists is implicit in his comment.

Questioning his 'good will' and his 'sanity' seems again to be rather unnecessarily off-base and rude- certainly not charitable, especially given that you have left no room for the rather obvious syntactical error you made in interpreting what he made very clear, not then supposing yourself rather insane or lacking in good will. I hope the ad hominems are about finished...

Gregory wrote: It would be similar to the way God, who alone is the Creator, allows and enables us to participate in creating, be it in a limited fashion through such things as artistic expression, or in the more perfect, but still limited, act of procreation.

But this is not what the Roman Church claims. It claims that it stands in the stead of the Lord, speaking on His behalf, not that it participates in a limited way in the authority of the Creator. To claim limited authority would topple the whole system, which you have already pointed out.

Gregory wrote: More caricatures of the actual Catholic position. (re: Christopher's accusation of name-it-and-claim-it tactics)

Not really or at least necessarily. I have yet to read any literature presented by converts or the Roman Church itself that in compelling others to convert and in telling how one came to conversion to the Roman Church, that does not use this very concept at its inception. Gregory, you have yourself written this, that it is most compelling to you that the RCC claims authority in all matters of faith and morals, to the exposition of the truth, and being the only church on earth to do so, gives it at least that much credence over and above all others who make no such claim. It is the claim that stands out and compels you and others to investigate, to convert, having as your premise for all investigation this claim to authority and embodiment of Christ on earth in the papacy. This is the faulty premise upon which one converts. Sort of like taking a step into quick sand and then explaining away all the while the various and sundry proper ways of holding a vine to keep oneself from sinking, where just stepping out would suffice- but that's not an option to the one who rests his reason on the ones telling him how not to sink while he is firmly planted in the sand. Sort of like Stockholm Syndrome.

Gregory wrote: I believe St. Paul would disagree with you rather forcefully here.
"Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by giving heed to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, through the pretensions of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and enjoin abstinence from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving; for then it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer. If you put these instructions before the brethren, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the words of the faith and of the good doctrine which you have followed. Have nothing to do with godless and silly myths. Train yourself in godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe. Command and teach these things" (1 Timothy 4:1-11, emphasis mine).

I might very well use these very same passages to demonstrate the oppression of the Roman Church against believers who were set free by Christ (amongst other issues), but it is fruitless because the Roman Church claims that the scriptures testify to its authority and full truth-holding-ness.

You've focussed on the instructions and admonishments, doctrines and teachings parts and completely ignored the substance here. Where you focus on how this fits neatly into your system, I focus on how this tends relationship. I am not in danger of departing in favour of demonic doctrines because I know the voice of my Lord and cannot be swayed by a claim to authority, no matter how forcefully or sweetly doctrine is enforced/taught. In fact, being in this position, where I don't posit my whole life on a system of doctrines, I am less likely to fall prey to demonic ones than if I spent my time trying to derive life from doctrine and systems. I'm not saying that you do, just that I'm not in danger of being poisoned by apples if I don't even eat apples to begin with. We have been safe from many recalls of products this way because we don't eat processed food or buy plastic/painted toys. Much simpler. And yet, we still eat and play- rather diligently actually.

Gregory wrote: I find it ironic that a devout Catholic such as Dorothy Day is hailed in support of Christian Anarchism, which immediately makes the intellectual foundations of its position suspect (in much the same way as a certain quote from the devout Catholic Blaise Pascal is often used to disparage religion in general).

Why find it ironic? They are just people, and they didn't even hold an office that would exonerate the Church for turning out such naughty people as these.

There are so many assumptions in your assessment here, that it would be best for me to ask you to explain your comment if it interests you to do so rather than to try to figure out what combination of logical fallacies you've used to become suspect of christian anarchism.

It seems almost like a form of institutional-mascarading-as-spiritual eugenics. Catholics are above such base ideas as anarchy and dissolution of religion, don't you know? They are a better, more consistent form of human being than everyone else, most especially those who form such ridiculous and laughable ideas as those not taught directly by the Roman Church...

Gregory wrote: Chris, when you present something resembling an original and coherent argument...

Gregory, when you present something resembling an original and coherent argument...

Seriously, coming from a Catholic, that's really rich. You *cannot* present an original argument (if that were even possible for anyone) since in doing so from your own perspective, you would be diverging from Roman teachings, and yet, you require this of others in order to take their concerns and arguments seriously? You must see the double standard here. Christopher and I and anyone who thinks knows that ideas are generated upon previous thought and not original in the sense of unique. If by 'original' you mean originating in its current form from the one commenting, then you are still expressing a requirement that you cannot and do not hold yourself to fulfilling.

So, unless you concede this, you are once again, simply taking a perceived opportunity to insult and belittle. Besides that, if all truth is God's truth, then why does it vex you or give you cause for suspicion if it comes from an atheist, anti-catholic rhetoric, or a popular fictional story? I highly doubt that Christopher persists in this discussion to gain credit from you for his 'original' ideas. I hope you have a better purpose in mind for yourself as well.

Gregory wrote: As far as thinking that there is a "big difference" between "institution" and "covenant", seeing as a covenant is a type of institution, no, I don't see any difference whatsoever. Again, perhaps you should define your understanding of "institution" and explain why it is a bad thing.

Perhaps you could furnish us with a definition of 'institution' as you use it here too. I think we know that it can be used to denote the purposed beginning of something, which in many cases does make it synonymous with 'covenant', but I also think it is clear that a covenant isn't the same thing as a public school or any other public institution with its assumed adherence to its internal policies. If you are going to use those contextual definitions interchangibly without qualification, it becomes very difficult to communicate, especially when you use whichever meaning you want when it suits defense of the Roman Church but will change the definition when it suits degrading the rest of believers and their little 'institutions.'

Christopher wrote: He fulfilled it
Gregory responded: If your above statement implies that the New Covenant annulled the Law through fulfilling it...

Ummm.... That's an unnecessary leap. You've complicated what is simple, Gregory, and interjected something completely new that cannot reasonably be inferred from Christopher's comment.

Gregory wrote: Whether or not one sins has absolutely no bearing on the question of infallibility. What your examples argue against (even then, not well), is the notion of "impeccability," which, since no one believes, anyway, is rather a dead issue. Hence why I call it bullshit--a non sequitur.

This is called 'splitting hairs.' It has bearing where the instruction in faith and morals, as carried out in the fulfillment of an office in the Roman Church contains immoral or sinful teachings. Separate anything you like- infallibility from impeccability from the office from the representative of the office from whomever and whatever you like. Nobody thinks God Himself is in error or that His instructions were given in error, we just disagree that those perfect communications were received and carried out in perfection as they were/are given by God. Even call it a non-sequitur, but you skirt the issue when you do so.

Gregory wrote: Using it [scripture] to deny the authority of the Church, by which we know what Scripture is in the first place, is called sawing off the branch you're sitting on. And while you may be ready to accept such doctrinal relativism, I am not.

Only if you presuppose that the Roman Church is the owner of the scriptures and all of what they contain, and that those scriptures were always intended to testify within the sole context of the Roman Church's institution and historical and spiritual expressions all the truths contained therein. I don't. I am not sawing off the branch I'm sitting on, I'm sawing off the one *you* are sitting on. It's as if being an apple tree, it claims ownership of the orange I am currently eating simply because it provided the shade that allowed me to discover the orange in front of me.

Gregory wrote: If the Magisterium is lying really isn't my moral fault. My taking them on good faith does not make me a liar.

So again, no personal risk. They Magisterium made me do it. Of course this would only occur with formal declarations, so we have another distinction for Roman protection (welllll... *that* wasn't a *formal* teaching, so....)

Gregory wrote: As to the "lie" that anyone seeking the Holy Spirit's guidance ipso facto is infallible has not been claimed by anyone here, and is thus your own misunderstanding--or worse.

Right. It's just the Magisterium that can do that, not just *anyone*.




Gregory wrote: Thus, there must be some other authority to decide definitively when disagreements do happen to arise. It is that, or, as I've stated so often before, doctrinal relativism. You've claimed to disagree with that assertion, but you've never demonstrated that I'm wrong, or provided a reasonable alternative. In fact, when you say, "All we can do is approximate to the best of our fallible, and limited abilities. After that, it's all about trusting ourselves to the mercy of God," you seem to be embracing just such relativism.

If trusting ourselves to the mercy of God (with all of our fallible and limited abilities) is how you define doctrinal relativism, then I'm in. It seems you think that Roman teaching is doing one better.

Gregory wrote: Yet your ongoing participation in this very discussion belies your claims. If I truly am free to approximate to the best of my fallible abilities, and then trust the rest to the mercy of God, and I've approximated that the Church is infallible and authoritative, and demands my obedience, then I am free to submit myself to the Church, and trust myself to God's mercy if I am wrong, according to you. Except, for some reason, you don't like my conclusion, and the logical actions stemming from it, and so you engage me in debate in order to disprove my fallible, doctrinally relative approximations. Another example of your incoherent contradictions.

This is called black and white thinking. Remember, in this discussion, it is you who is bound by a system with its perimeter strictly in place with no room for overgrown bushes or roots springing out from underneath. Christopher is free to discuss and sift his ideas without fear of straying from the flock because he's already with them all, inclusive of those corralled in their Roman enclosure. He is free to look in; it is you who cannot look out.

Even if he does consider himself a doctrinal relativist (and I don't know if he does or not- although I do consider myself one in a sense not worth expounding upon here), he is not bound to include every thought there is about doctrine in his mind and hold all as equal. Relativist doesn't mean sociopath. He is and I am still very capable of sifting information, reasoning, feeling, sensing, praying, and discerning which is or approximates correctness, even without a Magisterium turning our heads for us.


Gregory wrote: And if the Magisterium has the authority (and divine guidance) to infallibly define what Scripture is, is it not logical that it would also have the authority to declare what Scripture means?

Ideally, but not necessarily. I can easily point at a motor vehicle and say, that is a motor vehicle, but I couldn't take it apart and put it back together again, tell you what everything inside of it does or how this affects that, write a whole set of manuals to help you understand it better and use it for yourself and your family and society as a whole, make rules about how it will be used on the road, in the garage and by whom, etc... It is not the only option that if I can recognise something, then I must also be able to determine its meaning and conclusions in all of its faculties.


Gregory wrote: Further, who was it who settled the disagreements over faith and morals in the Early Church?

How early do you want to go because many of the letters of the new testament writers addressed disputes and were sent to deal specifically with them- all without a Magisterium to guide their proceedings. Clearly nobody went and read their own bibles, since they didn't have the letters until they had them read aloud, assumedly as was requested by the writers much of the time, and was a common practice anyway. This seems a weak argument for the apparent necessity of the Church's hierarchy.


Gregory wrote: The problem was in the erroneous translations put out by the Reformers--inserting words here and leaving out books there, for example.

You mean reformers like the earliest scripture copyists/scribes who gave of their time and effort to make the letters/books more widely available but also of their own doing 'harmonised' gospel accounts, adding words and whole passages and removing some of the same, or Jerome commissioned by Pope Damasus because of his concern over the vast number of differing copies, or Richard Simon a devout Catholic who declared that we mustn't ever rely on the scriptures because they are so unstable and this information was used to give credence to the Roman Church's authority because only the apostolic succession could then be trusted, etc...

Glaringly obvious in scriptural history is that the scriptures we read today have been worked on since the earliest times. There were doctrinal changes made to the earliest letters, changes made to clarify political, social and gender issues, to end arguments between different regions about the nature of various things, even Christ Himself. This was not in the midst of the writing of the originally inspired documents; this happened afterward, and I dare say that there were no reformers then in the sense that the Roman Church uses the term. In fact they may well have *all* been reformers who were searching the letters and books circulating in the old world in their various copies.

You must know that there are more differences in the scriptures than there are words in the new testament- most of which are immaterial, but some of which are very substantial (Paul's admonishment of women teaching having just greeted female teachers, his insistence that we not judge one another and then seeming complete reversal just a few paragraphs later, to demand that the church judge and purge itself of the wicked man that he himself has already judged! Jesus being described as having compassion on the leper and healing him, and also in many many other manuscripts being described as being angry at the man and healing him anyway- a pretty big difference if we are to learn the character of Christ through the scriptures and of course an even bigger one if we consider the scriptures inerrant and without internal inconsistencies).


Gregory wrote: It is this latent, implicit pride that says, "I know better what the Bible says than those partaking in the Apostolic Succession," that is tantamount to the witchcraft that is rebellion.

You tread a dangerous path here. You accuse all of those believers who reject the Roman Church with witchcraft and rebellion. Hmmm. There are a lot of us, and I at least, most assuredly do not practice witchcraft or rebellion when I discern the meaning of a simple text or when I reject the erroneous interpretation of it by the Roman Church.

I think you may be mistaking zeal for authority here.



Christopher wrote: The Magisterium must have a problem reading in context.

Gregory responded: No, Chris. As you have demonstrated time and again in the above discussion, that problem is yours.

Everyone reads in *a* context. It is the accurate definition of the context that assures that the intended meaning is interpreted and understood. The Roman Church always reads in context too- a Roman Church hierarchy (inclusive of all of its claims) forms the context within which all of the scriptures are interpreted. It retains consistency this way and perpetuates the system. But it isn't correct, and that doesn't matter nearly as much as the comfy couch it provides to many.

Gregory wrote: As for being "stuck" in a system, you seem utterly to forget that I had to do my own free thinking, study, and research before I decided on the truth of the Catholic claims.

And yet, isn't it curious that nearly all conversion stories lined up side-by-each are nearly parallel? They follow the same formula given in books with the papal insignia intended to 'help' people convert. And they all incorporate the Roman claim to all authority as unique and unprecedented, somehow giving credence to it. I just find that interesting. All roads lead to Rome as many say and as conversion stories go- the thing is that if the road is going there, and you're on the road, then aren't you going to Rome? I mean, if not going were an option, then surely *some* of the roads would lead elsewhere, no? I'm being facetious, but only partly.

Gregory wrote: in the end, you have continually failed to demonstrate that believing the Catholic Church is "the direct voice of God" (your words) is a faulty premise.

But it isn't- any more than my feet are covered in red fur. Choosing to spiritualise this with abstraction and then treating it as literal is bizarre.

The Roman Church is not the voice of God. It is no more the voice of God than the mountain in my view right now, or the pile of rocks under the pile of snow in our driveway. It *isn't*. Whether it bears characteristics of God is a different discussion, but it in and of itself the Roman Church is not the voice of God. The voice of God is the voice of God. I am not playing semantics with you here; your implicit assertion is absurd.



Gregory wrote: When is it going to be time when the Protestant leaders repent for their failings in the Reformation?

If they never do, it would be fine since none of the people who were present then are alive now. Does it not seem absurd to you to ask that of people alive now, to repent of the actions of dead people? In the case of the Roman Church, the repentance comes in the present because until it happens, it has been upholding its actions and teachings in the present. It is not so for most protestants who nowadays have little knowledge of what one another is up to anyway.




Gregory wrote: Interesting comments, coming from you, though, since above you said that our disagreement isn't about the interpretation of Scripture, and further on in this comment, you claim to be thinking for yourself without needing to refer to scholars and theologians.

He said not that he has no need of reference to theologians and scholars (he's had a pile of books on the go about subjects such as this since I met him), just that instead of quoting the words and responses of others to you like in the past (because he has an awesome memory for that sort of thing and can have a whole conversation in quotations, lol), he is trying to work things out in a more integrated manner, by breaking up what others have shared and trying to intertwine it and work through it. There is no contradiction here. He's not decided to forego study (his head would explode, I know it!); I wonder that you've concluded this.

You're rather disconnected from one another at this point in life, I think.



Gregory wrote: Chris, need I remind you that this whole discussion started when you asked a stupid and loaded question?

Loaded questions are valid questions. There are many subjects that in order to querie, one cannot avoid asking loaded questions because the subjects themselves are loaded, such as this one- authority.
If the loadedness of the question upsets you, it is easy to acknowledge that the question is loaded and then to reply with which aspect of the subject you'll address. I do this all the time. It's really quite simple. I did this with the subject of euthanasia just the other day. Like this subject, it really is impossible to pose any question that isn't loaded about euthanasia.

That the question is loaded means ipso facto that you are not in a position to call it stupid, because either you have considered every possible facet of its meaning and responses and found that the subject as a whole is stupid (is there such a thing?) or you have to concede that there is room in the loaded question for interpreting it as being an intelligent and useful inquiry.

Sometimes loaded questions are for probing as well. One knows that the question is loaded and asks it for the purpose of pulling out the information that others may have to offer with no pretense of an agenda other than to discuss whatever is of import to the ones answering. That is the sort question Christopher's was. It was open and broad and allowed for whatever anyone might offer. Christopher's bias is not synonymous with an agenda, and so his question was genuine.

Gregory, you know that Christopher is naturally polemic, and he's is in a playful way. He enjoys a good row, but name-calling, belittling and treating him and his abilities with suspicion of disingenuity and incompetence is really uncalled for; it also really spoils his enjoyment of discourse with you. I wonder too, how it is that you've come to allow yourself to demean a man who isn't even here to defend himself, making his name synonymous with the assumption of idiocy and belligerence. That charity you wrote about; it is woefully lacking.


Christopher wrote: Sure, you can make the argument, "but Chris, as Catholics we are allowed to go to God whenever we want. No-one is stopping us. The pope encourages that, absolutely." But when it comes down to it, you're not allowed to disagree even when things are overtly wrong for fear of your salvation. Doctrinally, the Catholic Church encourages being Borg: assimilated and buzzing with the thoughts of the hive.


Gregory responded: Who are you?! Jack Chick?! I can't believe you'd even write that I can't go directly to God! Seriously, do you really believe all the anti-Catholic propaganda out there? 'Cause from where I sit, you seem to be copying and pasting it onto my blog!

Ummm... He *didn't write that you can't go to God. He wrote that you are not free to disagree with the Pope, for in-so-doing you may be endangering your salvation as the RCC teaches about it. Read it again.


Gregory wrote: As far as not disagreeing even when things are "overtly wrong", I can disagree about anything except the infallibly defined doctrines of the faith. As far as those go, I've never seen anything subtly wrong, let alone overtly so--and you have yet to point out any "overtly wrong" dogmas and demonstrate that they are, in fact, wrong.

You *couldn't* see anything subtly or overtly wrong because your whole understanding of what is taught is informed by the context within which it is taught, which is the assumption that it is all correct. Saying that you are free to disagree with anything other than infallibly defined doctrines of faith, is saying that you are not free to disagree. Saying then that this is a fine arrangement because you don't see any errors anyway is a bit Brave-New-World-ian, and irrelevant as well. 



Gregory wrote: But hey, an atheist said it, so it must be true.

But hey, a Roman Catholic said it so it must be true. Are you suggesting that it is impossible for an atheist to make a correct determination about the Roman Church? Only if s/he is in disagreement, of course, but that goes for everybody, not just those atheists. Also, you are referring to an actual human being here, and discrediting him based solely upon him being a lowly atheist does nothing to support your position but does much to again show that your system takes precedence over human relations, which in and of itself is concerning to me and hopefully to you if you recognise it.

Atheists and anybody with perspective is worthy of your time and respect. You may not have time to give, and that is fine, but basic dignity is easily afforded with little effort from you, and they are still worthy though you may not address each one in your lifetime.

I wanted to add in case I was not clear enough, that atheists owing to their disbelief in God or of a god, are not just then full of noxious gases and sewage until they come into conformity with a set of theistic doctrines; they are imbued with the same potential for observation, evaluation, critical analysis and every other quality that is given to humanity. To dismiss what they share (or anyone) out of hand for whatever prejudices you hold for whatever reasons, is rather presumptuous at best and just lacking in wisdom in general.



Christopher wrote: Yes, you did. And I used my corrected understanding. Thank you for bringing that up in such an unnecessary fashion. What's the view like up there?

Gregory responded: Maybe, instead of getting all snippy, you'd like to simply and rationally present an argument--preferably one about something that actually resembles an issue that I actually believe.

Pot calling... and since he's just begun to tire of being insulted, and finally overtly addresses that, maybe instead of continuing in a likewise snippy fashion, you also could address his arguments. He wrote this to indicate to you that your continued condescending remarks are not invisible to him.

Christopher wrote: Yes, H1's comments are bang on the money. That is, possessing no inherent meaning, and committed to perpetuating false value.

Gregory responded: Good one, Chris. Way to make an expression out to mean the exact opposite of what it actually does. With English comprehension skills like that, I'm tempted to understand why you've seemed to have such a difficult time grasping what I've said so far.

Nothing of what you have written is beyond the grasp of Christopher or me, but how you defend it in the face of so many inconsistencies (of course, you'd have to peek over your fence to see them), is difficult to grasp. It's like an example that I have used before. If you see blue and I see green, who sees with greater precision, the one who sees only one colour, or the one who sees two and the resulting blend as well?

His attempt at a joke about the value of money doesn't indicate a lack of intellectual competence, Gregory. Your grasping at straws with that assessment.




Gregory wrote: As far as taking my comment as a "snobbish insult", the tenor of your entire discussion, so far, has been such that it has been hard to take you seriously. If I do take you seriously, then you must be gravely insulting me, as well.

Again, though, you seem to think that a criticism of principles and ideas in this case regarding the Roman Church is synonymous with criticism of you. You take what he says as though it is directed at you personally, and then continue to insult him and anyone who thinks similarly, with no regard for the human being, just defense of your system. This is not an either/or situation unless you are a complete sociopath; it is possible and indeed easy to present arguments that can be taken seriously without being misunderstood as personal attacks. You seem incapable of this, and for this reason, I find it odd that you participate and invite such discussions as ones wherein you may find others who disagree with you and the whole of the Roman Church (still not synonymous).

Perhaps our worlds are so completely different that where I stand as a human being with ideas and beliefs, you stand as a human idea and human belief. I don't know. This seems like a psychological issue to me.



***
Gregory, I'll not quote the last section of your most recent comment, but your assessment of what you have contributed and your assumptions about Christopher are completely baffling. You are full of accusations, you view yourself as being charitable and honest, open to correction, willing, etc... I think that even if you read through Christopher's comments and think you have him and his intentions figured out, think you have some place in his life to hold him to a standard of your own choosing, you could ask him questions relating to your concerns. Instead, you've judged him and his intentions continuously. You are not judge and jury over him, and the worst part of this is that having been privy to his personal responses to your comments, I am in a position to know that his intentions and general considerations are not at all as you've assessed. Even if you claim that his writing conveys these things to you, and that this is all you have to go on, you always had him, the actual flesh and blood human being called Christopher, your friend to ask- even loaded questions. You didn't though. You began your retorts to him with name calling and haven't stopped since.

If Christopher's probing has insulted you, it is clearly incidental; your insults have been overt, hurtful as they were intended, and confusing. I don't think it is wise for you to engage in a debate with him since you are not able to separate criticism of the Roman Church with criticism of you personally, and also, your judgments at least at present and as evidenced in this thread are far quicker and harsher than they are wise and charitable.

I hope you can make some reparation to your friendship; I cannot imagine the system, RCC or not that would place itself ahead of the preservation of loving relationship.

May the Lord bless you,
Sarah

Gregory said...

Sarah,
I'm not going to reply to your entire comment at the moment (if at all, though likely I'll cave in my desire to avoid this Open Forum further).

However, I would like to take the time to tell you that, as far as my latest replies to Chris go (especially the second of the last long two), you are absolutely right. I was woefully lacking in charity and patience when I wrote that. I shouldn't have published it the way it was. For my attitude, I deeply apologise to you, and especially to Chris. It was out of line.

It's funny how, having just written that, everything in my being screams at me to offer some sort of vindication of myself, some demonstration of how Chris insulted me first or some such thing. The truth is, though, I answered what I perceived as insults with actual insults, and I am sorry. Even had Chris actually meant to hurt me, I have no excuse for the way I responded above.

As far as our discussion goes, I personally think it would be better to start over. At least, I think that I've been so caught up in my emotional responses to Chris' comments that I probably am rather incapable of returning to the conversation (right now, anyway), with any sort of calm objectivity.

If Chris is still willing, I'm still up for a formal debate on the topic we've been discussing. In fact, I'm more desirous of it now than before--if only so we can have a fresh start with this subject.

I hope that you both will forgive me.
God bless
Gregory

sarah said...

Dear Gregory,

Thank you for replying so soon!

For myself, if you choose to not engage in further discussion, but you and Christopher begin your discussion anew, then I am so, soooo happy!!! :)

I am sure a round of forgiveness would benefit us all, and so I hope you will forgive any harshness that I see now in my writing, but that wasn't intended to hurt you either, and it is with cheer and compassion that both Christopher and I forgive you too.

So, then do you prefer to resume discussion on this topic by debate with Christopher? I am happy to relent in my own goading, lol, so you can close up this forum since it has understandably been a bit of a bane to you and your lovely wife.

Let us know. God bless you too (two),
Sarah (& Christopher)

Christopher said...

Gregory,

You are my brother in Christ. I love you. We have differing opinions, and quite strongly so.

I want to remind you that we have known for a while that the philosophical gulfs that divide us would eventually come to loggerheads. We have also reviewed, time and again, that we each have tremendous respect for each other's intellectual capacities. I want to add to that that I have a deep, warm-hearted respect for your decision to be Catholic, and your continued life within the Roman Catholic Church. I also understand that you may have felt slighted when I stated my intention to become Catholic, birthed this blog with you, sought-out your tutelage, and then summarily rejected my journey into the Catholic Church.

These things combined, I think there is a lot of emotional turmoil, perhaps even a desire to pit your passion and zeal for Catholicism against my decision to run from Rome. Then again, there might not be. In either case, I think our relationship has been strained because of my decision against Rome.

In the midst of all this, however, I have nothing but joy in my heart when I think of you. You are dear to me, and I am enormously grateful for our friendship.

So, please, don't flog yourself over this excursion into our differences, or your harshness toward me. My wife, Sarah, expressed it well: we forgive you. I forgive you. It isn't between us anymore.

I know my writing style is just ambiguous enough, at all the wrong places, too, to lead people to believe I'm being insulting. I'm working on that. I also know that my writing tone seems contrary; because it is. However, my contrarian attitude is never a matter of maliciousness, or condescension. I just enjoy using language in twisty, off-handed ways. But I always feel enormous respect for the people I'm communicating with. Like you.

So, if I've misled you to believe that I stand in opposition to you, please forgive me. I'm not in opposition to you. I'm walking the same walk as you with a markedly different pace and gait. And we're both still walking toward Our Blessed Saviour.

God bless you,
Christopher

Christopher said...

p.s. I'm totally down with our formal debate still! Bring it on, dude. Let's beat the crap out of each other. Nicely, that is. ;)

Gregory said...

All right. Sounds good.

Formal Debate, after Pentecost Sunday (sometime). We can work out the details ourselves--maybe in the next Open Forum (which will be posted, ideally, right around Easter, after I finish the Sorrowful Mysteries, the first of which I hope to post today).

Forgiveness is good.
Psalm 133:1

God bless you, two, too.