I’ve been following the conversion story of “A Presuppositional and Brilliant Calvinist Convert to Rome.” This event interests me, simply because the convert claims to be some sort of former presuppositionalist and former Calvinist. Checking his blog, I noticed that Catholic apologist Scott Hahn greeted him on his arrival across the Tiber:
“I was pleasantly surprised to have received an e-mail from a certain Scott Hahn, today. I was more surprised when he called my cell phone. We spoke for about 45 minutes. I must admit that it was one of the most refreshing and encouraging conversations I have had in a while. As if great couldn't get better, he will be sending me a number of books. PS- My family was invited to spend a few days with Mr. Hahn and his family in Ohio. We are seriously considering the idea but would need to plan it around school, the pregnancy and our wanting to visit other friends who happen to live in the same state.”
I can’t help but wonder how Scott Hahn came to officially greet this convert. This is purely speculation, but I wonder if my blog entry, which James White linked to, was the reason Scott Hahn came upon this new convert. This would mean of course, Scott Hahn reads James White’s blog, which would not surprise me.
Meanwhile, over on Craig French’s blog, a discussion about Rome, infallibility, and defined Biblical texts is underway. In the comments section, a person nicknamed “Jargon” posted a few comments. This is probably the same guy mentioned who asked the new convert, “Where would one attend church during the first 1,500 years of church history?” I pointed out the flawed nature of this question here. Anyway, take a look Jargon’s comments from 1/30/07 on Craig’s blog, and note the hidden presuppositions:
“Infallibility is certainly not a necessary condition of knowledge or truth, but it is a necessary condition of *binding* doctrine and characteristic feature of whatever has been taught by God.”
Says who? Who determines an infallible binding doctrine? Why, it’s none other than whichever sola ecclesia group one places their faith in. In other words, one begins with placing their faith in a particular group/person.
“There is a difference between making a (private) judgment and formulating doctrine carrying divine authority, the extra-Scriptural principle of Sola Scriptura and Protestant ecclesiology can and have never produced the latter. No statement produced or interpretation delivered by Protestant bodies carries divine authority.”
But a statement produced by a sola ecclesia group does carry divine authority, because they say so.
But my favorite argument is the following:
“Infallibility is rooted in Divine Power. The Church can be and the Scriptures are infallible by virtue of it. If the Church cannot possess the divine charism or power of infallibility simply because it is human, then we do not have an ecclesiological problem, we have a Christological problem. The fact that the Church is human does not mean that it cannot be infallible anymore than the fact that Christ was human means that Christ is fallible. Are the divinity and humanity of Christ opposed? Does the Divinity suppress or empower the humanity of Christ? Is the humanity of Christ extrinsic to Him or part of who He is? If the Church is merely human then Christ is not Divine. If the Church cannot be infallible then the humanity of Christ is extrinsic to Christ rather than part of who He is.”
First one must ask, on what basis does one determine the church is infallible? I submit, it is merely assumed, all sola ecclesia groups assume their authority. In regards to Rome, when asked how the Roman Catholic Church can establish her authority, they answer sometimes that it is proved by the testimony of the Scriptures. Hence, the Roman Catholic uses a circular argument: they prove the authority of the Scriptures by the Church, and the authority of the Church by the Scriptures. Other Catholics, realizing the viciousness of this circle, simply assume it being the case that Rome is infallible.
The second aspect of this argument compares the divinity/humanity of Jesus with the divinity/humanity of the Church. It is argued that just as Christ was infallible and human, so the church can be infallible and human. Yet, the argument forgets that Christ in His humanity, was perfect in every aspect of that humanity. Is the church perfect in every aspect of its humanity? I submit, no Roman Catholic would argue it is. The Roman Catholic Church has many blots on her record. Christ has none. Thus, the analogy is a false analogy.
“It is must be noted that it is intellectually dishonest to deny that a persuasive case can be made for Rome and that this does nothing but show an inability or unwillingness to engage the principled reasons and arguments that people give for making that move and validity of which is not dependent upon the person's character or psychological state(s). Unless one can say that his understanding of Catholicism is the result of studying the relevant primary sources and representative texts/theologians, then one cannot claim to have done his homework or that his opinion deserves to be taken as seriously as one who has.”
Rarely do Roman apologists begin with what I look for in a compelling argument: the revealing of initial, unproven, faith claims. No, they keep these hidden away, buried under citations of church fathers and complicated arguments. Here’s an analogy. When I went to see Lord of the Rings, all the evidence and information made sense. The ring had to be destroyed. It was the only way to save Middle Earth. Now, I could engage in all sorts of arguments about which way Middle Earth could’ve been saved better, and devote my life to proving my theories. I could live my living devoted to Middle Earth. What must I assume to do this? That Middle Earth is a real place. In the same way, much of the Catholic argumentation may appear to make sense once the first point is believed, that Rome is infallible. This claim though, is unproven- it is assumed. Thus, like Middle Earth, it is a system of fantasy, not reality. But if one accepts the first point, all the others follow. With Rome, even though the points follow, the argumentation which appeals to history and Scripture is not compelling anyway.