Saturday, September 15, 2007

Infallibly Interpreted Scripture


"Furthermore, in order to restrain petulant spirits, It decrees, that no one, relying on his own skill, shall,--in matters of faith, and of morals pertaining to the edification of Christian doctrine, --wresting the sacred Scripture to his own senses, presume to interpret the said sacred Scripture contrary to that sense which holy mother Church,--whose it is to judge of the true sense and interpretation of the holy Scriptures,--hath held and doth hold;"
- Council of Trent

We know that Roman Catholics must not interpret Scripture in a contradictory way to the Church's teachings. We also know that Roman Catholics must accept everything that their Church professes for their belief.

That said, I have been unable to find a clear list of infallibly interpreted scriptures by the Roman Catholic Church. At best I have found just a few random sources who estimate that a very small number of verses have actually been infallibly interpreted. In light of the restrictions on lay Catholics in interpretation, I would think that knowing the verses that have been infallibly defined would be rather important.

So I am asking the RCs reading here - does anyone actually know how many and what verses of the Bible have been infallibly interpreted? If you can link to a source of that information, that would be great.

- Carrie

26 comments:

kmerian said...

Carrie, let me get this straight, you want a list of which of the 165,590 verses in the Bible have been infallibly interpreted? I suggest you go to the Catechism, It gives the beliefs of the church and the scriptural support for all those.

orthodox said...

Not interpreting scripture contrary to the beliefs of the Church, and having Church interpretations of specific passages are completely different concepts. You confounded them and hoped nobody would notice. Tsk tsk.

Albert said...

In one of his posts, Dr. James White mentioned, "If Jimmy Akin is correct, and only eight texts have been infallibly defined (by the RCC)...." If this is true, how about the rest of the Bible? For the context of Dr. White's statement, go to http://www.aomin.org/index.php?itemid=2247.

Carrie said...

I have seen Akin, Catholic Answers, and some random source take a crack at this. I know they each GUESSED less than a dozen so a list shouldn't be that difficult to put togther.

You confounded them and hoped nobody would notice.

No I haven't. As I said above, very few verses have actually been infallibly defined - I am asking for a list of them. The point with interpretation is that since the RC is limited in how they can interpret any bible verse, they would be completely limited in those verses which have been infallibly defined. Therefore it seems obvious that RCs should be familiar with these particular verses so that they only ever provide the Church's infallible interpretation.

Ree said...

kmerian said,

"I suggest you go to the Catechism, It gives the beliefs of the church and the scriptural support for all those."

Carrie said she's looking for an infallible interpretation of Scripture which the catechism, apparently, can't provide.

Johann Adam Möhler says "Catholic theologians teach with general concurrence, and quite in the spirit of the Church, that even a Scriptural proof in favour of a decree held to be infallible, is not itself infallible, but only the dogma as defined." Johann Adam Möhler, Symbolism: Exposition of the Doctorinal Differences between Catholics and Protestants as evidenced by their Symbolical Writings, trans. James Burton Robertson (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), p. 296.

and Ludwig Ott, while commenting on Pius IX’s papal bull Ineffabilis, that defined the dogma of the immaculate conception of Mary, said “The Bull does not give any authentic explanation of the passage [i.e. Gen. 3:15]. It must be observed that the infallibility of the Papal doctrinal decision extends only to the dogma as such and not to the reasons given as leading up to the dogma.” Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, ed. James Canon Bastible (Rockford: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., reprinted 1974), p. 200.

So then, where can one find this infallible interpretation of Scripture?

According to the RCC paradigm, The Holy Spirit hasn't really illuminated the meaning of Scripture at all. I guess God gave us the Scriptures just so that He could tell us that they don't mean what Protestants think they do.

Rhology said...

Hmm, we got a resounding silence recently when we asked a similar question. Maybe we'll get an answer this time.

Hope springs eternal.

Rhology said...

And Orthodox, you keep confounding who is saying what. If you want to argue EO-doxy, fine. But this post is about RC dogma and RC claims. Tsk tsk.

Ellen said...

I thought Orthodox was responding to kmerian. IF I understand correctly, all the imprintaur does is tell us that the work does not contradict RC teaching, not that it is the teaching.

Thus, that stamp of approval doesn't indicate infallible teaching.

Carrie said...

I thought Orthodox was responding to kmerian.

Oh, was he? I can't figure out which side he is on exactly except in general he is on the side against Protestants.

He's been arguing in favor of the RC side for most posts but then says the EO is the one true Church. I would think the battle over who exactly IS the one true Church would be the focus b/w RCs and EOs.

orthodox said...

Ree: So then, where can one find this infallible interpretation of Scripture?

O: The infallible interpretations aren't linked to specific verses, but rather the scripture as a whole.

Rhology: And Orthodox, you keep confounding who is saying what. If you want to argue EO-doxy, fine. But this post is about RC dogma and RC claims. Tsk tsk.

O: You don't have to be in one particular religion to recognize a flawed argument. The sooner protestants can stop burning up straw men, the sooner they can get onto meat.

Rhology said...

Haha, Orthodox accuses me of burning strawmen. I love that.

Anonymous said...

Written by Dude:

Carrie, I think reading the article by Jimmy Akin (linked at this Rock) does a fine job of explaining it. I have always read the number is about 7. Here you go:
http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/2001/0101bt.asp

Now as to how do we know what to believe? - At this point, we stick to what is outlined by the Catechism.

Again though, we only need to compare how this application of authority works with regard to Catholics and Protestants. This is the real issue at hand here.

Catholics: Unity on Baptism and other sacraments, unity on church heirarchy from Pope to priestly office (in terms of Bishop and priest)to deacon to laity (with about a .5% falloff for radical traditionalists), unity on nature of church, unity on salvation, Unity on divinity of Jesus Christ. The basics are quite clear to Catholics who search what the Church teaches through The Pope, the bishops in union with him and as outlined in the Catechism.

Protestantism: Unity on Baptism (just watched a lady on 3ABN who was baptized 3 times) and other Sacraments - no. Unity on church heirarchy - no. Unity on nature of Church - no. Unity on salvation - no. Unity on divinity of Jesus Christ - no. Not even on the Lord's day (7th day adventists - going so far as to calling Sunday worship the Mark of the Beast, which is a pretty serious charge).

If the Holy Spirit illuminates the Holy Scriptures easy enough for you to all clearly understand and agree upon, then we have a problem.

Now Rhology, your trying to pit Orthodoxy into an internal conflict regarding his allegiance to arguments agaist the Western Church: Ortho's reply is good enough.

I have much more in common with Orthodoxy in terms of all things above than your Anglican will have with your Reformed Baptist. More than the Oneness Pentecostal will have with the Lutheran. More than the 7th Day Adventist will have with the United Methodist. Or the denomination of 'non-denominationalist' (which is actually loosely Baptist, whatever Baptist now means) will have with the Presbyterian from the PCA. I will not even mention the thousands of little fundamentalist groups who come to all kinds of teachings on their own, who would never even consider ascribing to the sinful word - 'churchism'.

The Ortodox (Eastern Rite) Church is the right lung, and the Catholic (Western Rite)Church is the left lung. I believe they will, by and large, be reunited one day. We pray for it and will work toward it.

I do not see how the Christian unity that Jesus prayed for and that Paul requested (Phil 2:2) is possible under the Protestant rubric.

You can kick all you want about Catholic infallibility, and try to muddy the water, create deliberate confusion, setup straw-men, but this is only a problem to Protestants. In particular, mosty reformed ones at that.

The real issue this points to is how are we saved, what is the church , how are we to conduct this church, the nature of Grace, the Nature of Christ.

Only so long as you are with your specific group of Reformed (non-hyper) folks can you have consistency. But the moment you step into the other 95% of Protestantism, the clearness or illumination of the Holy Spirit with regard to the scriptures, and unity crumbles upon the first step.

Typically you only have unity on 2 fronts: You love Jesus, you hate the Catholic Church.

Carrie said...

Protestantism: Unity on Baptism (just watched a lady on 3ABN who was baptized 3 times) and other Sacraments - no. Unity on church heirarchy - no. Unity on nature of Church - no. Unity on salvation - no. Unity on divinity of Jesus Christ - no. Not even on the Lord's day (7th day adventists - going so far as to calling Sunday worship the Mark of the Beast, which is a pretty serious charge).


Dude,

If you think the above is true then I can understand your gripes about Protestantism . However, your list isn't accurate.

There is alot more unity in core beliefs than you are implying for one, and second, SDAs and oneness-Pents aren't true Protestants. If you want to lump in everyone not-RC/not-EO with Prots then you can take all the liberal vs traditionalist vs sedevacantists plus things like The Army of Mary and have just as much "chaos".

orthodox said...

Carrie: If you want to lump in everyone not-RC/not-EO with Prots then you can take all the liberal vs traditionalist vs sedevacantists plus things like The Army of Mary and have just as much "chaos".

O: The RCC has a clearly defined idea of what the Church is. But what precisely is your criteria for including whoever you include in your mob, but excluding SDAs? How is anyone to to know who is to be lumped "in" and "out" if we are to make a fair comparison?

Oh, and who told you the canon, and why did you believe them against other groups with a different canon?

L P Cruz said...

Orthodox,

I realize you are in propaganda mode for Orthodoxy but frankly as a former RC myself, I do not see your claim against the Roman Church anything superior at all and I can pretty much speak about RC church being a devote child of Mother Church myself.

If you are thinking why the Prots should become Orthodox and not RCs then your job should be to show why it is a better alternative than the RC church. You should not only agree with the RC when their point coincide with yours, you must distinguish yourself from them. You should not simply point we Prots are wrong but point us where we should go - frankly the points you are making are not interesting at all, it just takes us on an emotional merry go round.

I tell you why the RC church claim and pedigree is superior than yours, they do not only claim they are the True Church, they are the True Church because they have the pedigree and you don't. They are descended from Peter. Since you got excommunicated in the 11th century you got excommunicated faster than us, at least we got excommunicated in the 16th century.

So as an Orthie apologist, you got to do better than simply say where we are wrong, for after all - as ex-RCs we can turn around and say - well who are you anyway, your claims are not that superior with RCs at all. Can you figure? I hope so.

I mean no disrespect but I do not think you are getting the clue, Mother Church will welcome us back home to Rome, do you get it?

So you hanging around this turf must have a point and that is to give a positive presentation why yours Church is the True Church compared to the claims of Rome.

BTW, the Prots have a doctrine of the visible and invisible church, if you were a former Prot, that should have played in your use of the word Church. If that is foreign to you, then deal with it also.


LPC

orthodox said...

LPC: I do not see your claim against the Roman Church anything superior at all

O: Sounds like an interesting discussion to be had there, but I don't want to take over someone else's blog discussing something else to have it.

LPC: If you are thinking why the Prots should become Orthodox and not RCs then your job should be to show why it is a better alternative than the RC church.

O: Sure, when such an argument is on topic.

LPC: You should not simply point we Prots are wrong but point us where we should go - frankly the points you are making are not interesting at all, it just takes us on an emotional merry go round.

O: Again, I don't want to co-opt a topic that is an argument between prots and RCs _too_ much. I'm just pointing out the flaws in this particular spat. If you have a blog or a location you want to discuss other things, that could be interesting. But are you really suggesting I take over threads that are unrelated?

wagthedog said...

"So I am asking the RCs reading here - does anyone actually know how many and what verses of the Bible have been infallibly interpreted? If you can link to a source of that information, that would be great."

First, you need to tell me infallibly what verses are in the bible, or I can't even begin to form a reply.

Ree said...

O: "The infallible interpretations aren't linked to specific verses, but rather the scripture as a whole."

It's utter nonsense to say that one can give an infallible interpretation of the whole, but cannot say with any certainty what any individual part means.

Wag: "First, you need to tell me infallibly what verses are in the bible, or I can't even begin to form a reply."

Infallible human knowledge is an RC concept, not a Protestant one.

Rhology said...

'Course, it seems that infallibility is not even an RC concept. They keep saying we need it but can't provide ANY demonstration of having it themselves, describing when they have it, describing how they know when they have it, or describing how having it gets around the problem of the fallible individual.

orthodox said...

O: "The infallible interpretations aren't linked to specific verses, but rather the scripture as a whole."

R: It's utter nonsense to say that one can give an infallible interpretation of the whole, but cannot say with any certainty what any individual part means.

O: I don't see why. Sounds like a presupposition to me.

orthodox said...

Rhology: 'Course, it seems that infallibility is not even an RC concept. They keep saying we need it but can't provide ANY demonstration of having it themselves, describing when they have it, describing how they know when they have it, or describing how having it gets around the problem of the fallible individual.

Orthodox: You can't see how having infallibility gets around the problem of the fallible individual?

And yet you already conceded above that it can get around the problem. I asked you that if we presuppose the Orthodox Church is correct in doctrine, would that mean infant baptism is correct. You, as a baptist of some type (I believe), was able to figure out the great debate between presbyterians and baptists by looking to tradition. You solved the great fallible individual problem by looking to tradition.

Now don't act all incredulous now as if you can't see how it solves anything.

L P Cruz said...

Orthodox,

I purposely waited to give you a reply.

I asked you that if we presuppose the Orthodox Church is correct in doctrine....

That is the meat of what you are trying to say when I was baiting you out, so now stop beating around the bush and give us a link somewhere in your blog (and you do have one!) and give us proof that you are the one TRUE Church. Because that is the reason why you are in this blog, I just want you to admit that. As human beings we are thrilled with the truth we have found so, you must be eager to share that with us poor benighted Prots, right?

My observation is that you say that you are the ONE True Church and your proof is this --"because we say so!" or "because we are old". My take is that it is a Non Sequitur.

Now since you see that some Prots do not make any claim that they are the one true church, that means they are not. You have to qualify btw who are these Prots you are critiquing.

I think you are starting with the Baptistic ones, correct? OK just do not assume that since you have put them in their place, you have managed to put aside the others like the Anglicans and the Lutherans.

Ree said...

"I don't see why. Sounds like a presupposition to me."

Yes, and an incoherent one at that.

Thos said...

Again, I would recommend Ott's "Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma" if you want to understand this part of Christian dis-unity better. There is not an on/off switch between formal infallible teaching and that about which Catholics can freely believe. I'm not Catholic, so may not express this properly, but here we go - The ordinary and usual form of the Papal teaching activity (like encyclicals), while not infallible, is to be accepted by Catholics with an inner assent. Merely expressing "reverent silence" (I think this means keeping disagreements to yourself) will not suffice.

So, for example, for a Catholic to refuse to call their priest "father" because of the verse that says "call no man father" would be impermissible, even if the Church has not come out and made an infallible declaration about what that verse really means (which is what you seem to be digging at - that they would have to be that explicit).

I hope this adds to an informed discussion!

Peace in Christ,
Thos.

Rhology said...

Thos,

There is not an on/off switch between formal infallible teaching and that about which Catholics can freely believe.

This is the very heart and soul of Sola Ecclesia.
But the criticism leveled at Prots by RCs deals with personal, fallible interping of the Scr text. If I'm going to give up what the text clearly says in favor of a Romish interp, I want to be sure that interp is infallible. If not, there's no reason to overthrow the Scr text.

Merely expressing "reverent silence" (I think this means keeping disagreements to yourself) will not suffice.

I'm sorry, but that tells me a whole lot of nothing. I'm looking for the much-ballyhooed guarantor of unity within the RCC. It's such a strange dynamic - on the one hand you say we can't disagree with the RCC (even though others tell me that there is freedom outside of the infallibly interped teachings of Rome) (thus providing proof, once again, of the disunity of the RCC) and on the other hand you act like a Protestant in denying this hierarchical authority structure really does exist and really does play a part. I'm getting more and more confused.

Thanks.

Peace,
Rhology

Thos said...

Rhology,

As I said, "I'm not Catholic". But I don't see what is so confusing about their claims on authority. They believe that they hold to the teachings of the Apostles, who were the witnesses and students of Christ. We believe the writings of the Apostles because they witnessed Christ and learned first-hand what the New Covenant, the Gospel was (is). The traditions received from the Apostles, they say, are what we are to follow (good tradition noted in scripture, vice traditions of men). Then they have their succession of Bishops, and a truth was tested in the early church based on whether or not the claimant was in submission to a bishop who could trace a line back to an Apostle (a witness of Christ). Either you accept this testimony (evidence) handed down, or not. We all believe the Bible is infallible, but the Catholics believe it because that is the evidence (tradition, testimony) that has been handed down. Why do we Protestants believe it? Who tells us to? My confessional church says I should believe it because the Holy Spirit makes it plain to us in our heart (or, at least made it plain to the Westminster Divines when they met in Assembly). Other churches give other reasons why we believe it. What does your church teach?

The Catholic does not need a digital infallible transmission, but trusts the analog signal of witnesses, that the Truth their authorities point to are not in error (infallible). My last point before was driving at this - even the non-"infallible" teachings of their Magisterium are to be trusted and learned from. Catholics aren't supposed to spent their lives questioning what their authorities teach, but putting it into practice (and we'd agree many of them have a long way to go, as I do).

I hope this too helps to further a fruitful dialogue.

Peace in Christ,
Thos.