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)