A discussion in the combox of this post veered into the topic of RC versus Protestant justification. In accusing me of “inaccuracies” and “caricatures” in my presentation of RC soteriology, David made some confusing assertions with regard to RC authority and interpretation:
The basic tenor of your above posts is that the issues between Catholics and Protestants on the all important teaching of “the Biblical gospel” are ‘black and white’ (i.e. clear –cut). I believe that just the opposite is true: the issues are very complex…There have been numerous works, recently published, that identify and discuss the complexities involved; and though great strides have been, and are being made, much more work is needed. Important for OUR discussion at hand is the need to be conversant with this literature, for if one is not ‘up-to-date’, one will be at a significant disadvantage.
To which I asked:
Are the Councils of Trent not up to date?
As up to date as the Bible; but the interpretation of Trent, like the ongoing process of interpreting the Bible, is not static; if you have not read what Catholic and Protestant scholars have written on Trent over the last couple of decades you are bound to misunderstand how Catholics are currently interpreting Trent.
I then responded:
Sorry, I thought Trent was infallible - I don't understand how that leaves room for future interpretation. If infallible councils are now a matter of interpretation for Catholic theologians (magesterium members or just random theologians?) then we are back to Rhology's argument that "infallibility" has gained you nothing in certainty and clarity.
There are degrees of clarity. Some defined doctrines are crystal clear, but others have room for further development….And BTW, what you so affectionately term “Protestantized form”, is simply cutting-edge, up to date, Catholic thought—that you have little interest in such scholarly discourse has painfully come to my attention.
I’ll admit, I haven’t kept up with “cutting-edge Catholic thought” as I wasn’t aware such a thing existed in an infallibly-led institution that claims almost 2000 years of consistency in teachings. Of course, this idea flies in the face of the certainty that an infallible authority is suppose to provide since 400+ years post-Trent it appears Catholics are still trying to figure out what the infallible Trent decrees actually mean. And in the context of justification, does this mean that Catholics are still not certain exactly how they are made right with God?
As supporters of this “cutting-edge Catholic thought”, David listed Augustine, Aquinas, Rahner, Yves Congar, Joseph Fitzmyer, Cardinal Dulles. It seems odd that the proper interpretation of Catholic truths should be coming from mostly Catholic theologians and not from the magesterium. If I were a lay Catholic, how would I know whose interpretation to trust? Would I know whether or not Hans Kung’s interpretation of Trent and justification is accurate (while ignoring his opposition to papal infalliblility)?
This is just another example of how the claims of Roman Catholic authority just don’t add up.