Saturday, September 08, 2007

Quote on Church Authority


"Let us say frankly at the outset, that there has been a little, if we may not rather say a great deal, of exaggeration in the importance people have given to it [the authority of the Council of Trent]. One thing strikes us in the preaching and the writings of the Roman Catholicism of our day: it is the care with which it avoids discussions in detail, and controversies positively doctrinal. The course almost invariably pursued by the great preachers of the day, is to preach authority, the Church, and then to assume as admitted all that the Church teaches….

Such is the sense in which we would say that the importance of the question of authority is at the present day exaggerated...Let him [the Roman Catholic] then be beaten on a single point, and we shall be entitled to say to him, 'Your authority has been mistaken; what you have told us of its infallibility, therefore, is necessarily false. It makes no answer to objections; in fact, it exists only for the man who renounces objecting'…

…We are told that we must renounce our own individual judgment; that to the Church alone belongs the right to interpret the Bible; and, lo, the first thing done, is to give us the Bible to interpret. If the passages adduced seem insufficient, what shall be done? Should they appear conclusive, should the Church, happy to see us enter into her views, tell us that we have judged rightly—we then come to a very simple conclusion, which is this: that if we have made a good use of our judgment once, we cannot believe ourselves incapable of making an equally good use of it another time.

Thus every demonstration of the Church's infallibility is, of itself, a vicious circle. Infallibility gains converts by imposture, not by demonstration."

-L.F. Bungener, History of the Council of Trent (1855)

12 comments:

kmerian said...

Carrie, first of all, you do realize this book is a profoundly Anti-Catholic text?

Also, what the author is speaking of, is present in every denomination. If I went into a reformed Baptist Church and began to say that after my personal reading of John 6, I believe in the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist. They would have a cow! I would be called and apostate and be accused of improperly discerning the scripture. This post is really the pot calling the kettle black.

Carrie said...

Carrie, first of all, you do realize this book is a profoundly Anti-Catholic text?

Because it is by a Protestant author who opposes the Catholic Church?

This post is really the pot calling the kettle black.

Sorry, I don't see that.

kmerian said...

No, I call it anti-catholic because of its overall tone and lack of charity towards Catholics. To disagree is one thing, to disparage and demean is another.

This post is the pot calling the kettle black in that if Catholics claim that our reading of the Bible inspires us to be Catholic we are called unregenerate or apostate. If we say our reading causes us to be protestant we are praised for discerning the Bible correctly. This is the exact same thing Dr. Bungener was accusing Catholics of doing.

Carrie said...

This post is the pot calling the kettle black

No.

If your private interpretation of the Bible tells you to join the Catholic Church, you are joining a Church system that tells you that you cannot trust your own private interpretation. So how could you have been right in your first choice (joining the RCC) but not be right again.

Protestant Churches don't claim the infallible interpreter role, so joining them after private interpretation doesn't provide the same conundrum.

kmerian said...

Carrie no where does Catholicism state that I cannot trust my private interpretaion. I am Catholic because of my faith, my faith is not because I am Catholic. The church does not dictate what I am to believe. It is because of what I believe, from how I interpret the scriptures, that I am Catholic.

Protestant Churches also demand that their members interpret the Bible a certain way. Can I remain a Baptist if I believe in Transubstantiation? Or, in the existance of Purgatory? The answer is, of course, I cannot.

That is what I mean by the pot calling the kettle black.

Carrie said...

The church does not dictate what I am to believe.


Catechism of St. Pius X, Article 9:

31 Q: Are we obliged to believe all the truths the Church teaches us?
A: Yes, we are obliged to believe all the truths the Church teaches us, and Jesus Christ declares that he who does not believe is already condemned.

32 Q: Are we also obliged to do all that the Church commands?
A: Yes, we are obliged to do all that the Church commands, for Jesus Christ has said to the Pastors of the Church: "He who hears you, hears Me, and he who despises you, despises Me."


"Mindful of Christ's words to his apostles: "He who hears you, hears me", the faithful receive with docility the teachings and directives that their pastors give them in different forms." CCC 87

"... the faithful of whatever rite and dignity, both as separate individuals and all together, are bound by a duty of hierarchical submission and true obedience, not only in things pertaining to faith and morals, but also in those which pertain to the discipline and government of the Church spread over the whole world, so that the Church of Christ, protected not only by the Roman Pontiff, but by the unity of communion as well as of the profession of the same faith is one flock under the one highest shepherd. This is the doctrine of Catholic truth from which no one can deviate and keep his faith and salvation..." [Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Vatican Council I, 1870]

Carrie said...

Carrie no where does Catholicism state that I cannot trust my private interpretation.

"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; [Page 20] or even contrary to the unanimous consent of the Fathers; even though such interpretations were never (intended) to be at any time published. Contraveners shall be made known by their Ordinaries, and be punished with the penalties by law established." Council of Trent

Carrie said...

BTW kmerian, I know you are playing on words with me here and you'll go on to tell me the Catholic sources I have quoted don't directly address what you are saying but I know that you know what I am talking about.

Now, I have spent too much time in the past playing these games. If you want to trust your own private interpretation of scripture and believe what you want to believe as far as faith, go right ahead. But I suggest you not call yourself Catholic then.

kmerian said...

I am not going to tell you anything of the sort, Trent was right, a person should not wrest meaning from the scriptures that is not there and call themselves a Catholic.

But, would you agree, that a Baptist should not interpret the Scriptures differently from the Baptist faith and still call themselves a Baptist, nor should the Adventist interpret the scriptures differently from the Adventist faith and still call themselves such?

My point with all this Carrie, is that every denom puts this same restriction on its members, it is not a purely Catholic thing.

Carrie said...

My point with all this Carrie, is that every denom puts this same restriction on its members, it is not a purely Catholic thing.

No, it's different.

I am a part of the Church because I am saved, I am not saved because I am part of the Church.

Yes, Prot Churches have certain core beliefs that need to be agreed to by its members, but our Churches don't dictate all we are to believe and we follow along with docility. The Church authority and the members our all subject to the authority of scripture.

Lynn said...

Bravo, Carrie. I love your blog.

GeneMBridges said...


My point with all this Carrie, is that every denom puts this same restriction on its members, it is not a purely Catholic thing.


False. Denominational distinctives are not the same thing as defining saving faith as dogmatic faith.

Second, you're drawing a comparison between Catholicism and (insert denomination here), but that's not the right comparison. Rather, it should be between Protestantism and Catholicism.Protestants also do not view each other as "no true Protestant" when at variance over some doctrines. We agree that all of these supply the basis for a credible profession of faith:

The 39 Articles, the WCF, the Formula of Concord, the BFM, the LBCF1 or 2, the AoG Statement of Faith. - and this is only a sample.

A Baptist is free to differ with a historic confession. He should not join a local church with which he is at variance with the confession or local church covenant, but that does not, thereby, mean he is regarded as "no true Baptist." For example, my Mom's church has "regeneration through faith" - an Arminian tenet - in their confession. I cannot, in good conscience, join that local church. However, this does not mean I am not considered a true Baptist because I am a Calvinist. Rather, I am a Particular Baptist.

I can, however, join a Reformed Baptist church in good conscience, and the PCA will even accept me as a member, even though I do not affirm infant baptism.I am not a Presbyterian, but they do not thereby say I am not a Protestant or a Christian. I can also join an SBC church as long as it views the BFM as allowing for my views. I simply cannot serve as an elder or deacon in the PCA, but I could serve as a deacon or elder in a Reformed Baptist or SBC church.