Thursday, January 03, 2008

Unity Update On The Unified Church


I get mailings from Catholic apologist Gerry Matatics (He makes Catholic apologetics interesting!). I found a link that really shows what type of unity even those Catholics opposed to current Roman Catholicism have. Try reading through this link.


On a similar note, Catholic apologist Steve Ray had an interesting blog entry on the Jesuits. Ray quoted an article stating,


"The mission of the Jesuit order, as understood by most of its members, has changed radically in recent decades. As recently as the mid-20th century, the Jesuits were known as stalwart defenders of the Pope, who trained loyal young Catholics to defend Church doctrines. Today they are inveterate critics of the Vatican, who train young Catholics to question their faith. Is there any discussion among Jesuit leaders of a return to the defense of Catholic orthodoxy? Evidently not.


Perhaps not coincidentally, as the Jesuits have maneuvered to establish what amounts to a "loyal opposition" within the Catholic Church, the order has suffered heavily from defections and lost its ability to attract young recruits. In 1965 when Father Arrupe became superior general, there were about 36,000 Jesuits in the world. Today that figure has been cut nearly in half, with about 19,000 Jesuits remaining in a rapidly aging society. . . . "


And finally, contrast this to a recent statement made by another Catholic apologist:

"The same thing happens with Protestants, in their internal squabbles. This is one of the ongoing tragedies of Protestantism. Protestants can scream "sola Scriptura" and perspicuity (clearness) of Scripture till kingdom come, but they can't agree on its teaching, and so they need authoritative interpretation and a guide: the Church, tradition, councils, popes, and apostolic succession."

37 comments:

Carrie said...

Love the blog labels you chose for this post!

I may have to go back and add that to some of my old posts.

Rhology said...

Let's not forget these comments from a recent combox:

More unity.
Unity pointed out.
Unity reiterated.
Yet more unity.

I mean, there's just unity all over the place.

Glenn said...

What confuses me a little is why any Catholic would expect Matatics to promote unity among Catholics. After all, he claims that the seat of Peter is currently vacant. What unity could he hope for in a church that, even according to him, is headless?

Mateo said...

rhology,

If you have a point to make, make it. Pontificator and I both explained our vision of the Catholic Church's diversity-in-unity, for lack of a better term. Pontificator explained that Catholics are able to disagree about issues about which there have not been clear dogmatic teachings and even about those issues which have been dogmatized (Trinity, for example) if one remains within the "circle" of orthodoxy. We are a spirit-led people of God, not a set of propositional statements. We are united in those truths of course but also in our common love for Christ and our common sharing of His presence in the Eucharist.

I am not able to defend that view, unless you move from implicit to explicit criticism. I think it is noteworthy that, though James Swan thought Carrie to need "extra-thick armor", the responses to her post were both irenic and thought-provoking on both sides. A number of Protestants noted that they were encouraged by the discussion, but the following posts still repeated the same tired, old (certainly fair) criticisms of the apologists, without making it clear that they are not really typical of Catholic thinking...

Very frustrating...

Rhology said...

Hi Mateo,

If you have a point to make, make it

I've made it a few times in the past. Basically it is, of course, that RCC is manifestly un-unified on even very important matters.

Pontificator explained that Catholics are able to disagree about issues about which there have not been clear dogmatic teachings and even about those issues which have been dogmatized

And many thanks for his explanation, but that does not explain in any way the existence of the liberals and other such believers in the RC ranks.
This also doesn't do anythg to bolster the RC's case for more unity w/in his church - my own denomination, the Southern Babdist Convention, displays more unity than does RCC.

We are a spirit-led people of God, not a set of propositional statements.

Hey, "God is not a god of confusion, but of peace." Your sola ecclesia epistemology is a blueprint for anarchy.

the responses to her post were both irenic and thought-provoking on both sides

It would seem that some of the angrier and more blustery RCs have stopped commenting here of late. I agree that's good for everyone, but it's not the norm.

Peace,
Rhology

Mateo said...

"I've made it a few times in the past. Basically it is, of course, that RCC is manifestly un-unified on even very important matters."

I'd like to see these posts. I'm not sure what exactly you are referring to (manifest disunity on WHICH very important matters?), though if you are expecting the absolute uniformity described in the pop-Catholic apologists, you are correct in using the facts of history and experience to refute them. What you are apparently unaware of is that your argument is not in any way a refutation of the ecclesiological views of any serious Catholic scholars. Read Yves Congar or Karl Adam or the like, then let me know if you're arguments even touch those positions.

"And many thanks for his explanation, but that does not explain in any way the existence of the liberals and other such believers in the RC ranks.
This also doesn't do anythg to bolster the RC's case for more unity w/in his church - my own denomination, the Southern Babdist Convention, displays more unity than does RCC."

Again, your only points of reference are the likes of Dave Armstrong and Steve Ray--very unfortunate. But anyway, I'm not sure that someone like Pontificator would say that the Catholic Church has greater doctrinal unity than any other particular denomination. That remains to be seen. The comparison is usually between the RCC and Protestantism (or even the Reformed Churches) in general. That raises some different issues. And, despite the disagreements, the ecclesiology of Catholics does lead to less fracturing, though, at the same time, it leaves some theological issues unsettled. Many Catholics, though they disagree, stick around, while, generally speaking, in evangelicalism at least, one would often see the foundation of a new denomination. That is a difference, but there are admittedly problems on both sides, and I will take the controversies within Catholicism over the frequent fracturing to be found outside the ancient churches (Rome, Constantinople, etc.)

And the liberals are clearly out of line with the Cathecism. That seems significant, don't you think? The CDF has condemned liberation theology, Hanz Kung, etc., etc., etc. What more do you want the RCC to do? If these people want to go on calling themselves Catholics, what are we supposed to do about that? I'm not sure that the implications of your argument reach very far at all.

"Hey, "God is not a god of confusion, but of peace." Your sola ecclesia epistemology is a blueprint for anarchy."

And there is peace between, say, the Thomists and the Molinists. We sit on the same pew and worship together since the Bible does not clearly condemn either side. Can we say the same for even denominations as close as the OPC and the PCA? Are you telling me that there is absolute doctrinal uniformity in the Southern baptist Convention or are there some issues where there can be disagreement(since there are arguably a number of different legitimate possibilities for making sense of the Revelation?)

And the accusation of "sola ecclesia" shows once again that you refuse to or are unable to engage with serious Catholic ecclesiology. I am not one of those ecclesiologists, but I for one would NEVER refer to my own view as Sola Ecclesia, and I can't imagine that you'd be able to accurately describe it as such. This is, as far as I can tell, merely a cliche to win points in a polemical exchange.

"It would seem that some of the angrier and more blustery RCs have stopped commenting here of late. I agree that's good for everyone, but it's not the norm."

Well, after reading your response, the fact that angry and blustery RCs are typical commentators on your posts makes a great deal of sense. Irenic Catholics seeking serious theological discussion, exchange, and debate are "refuted" with cliches like "sola ecclesia"! Why would anyone besides the blustery types want to waste their time?

I very much enjoyed the exchange on the previous thread, but if an openness about the complications in Catholic history leads to nothing more than points scored against the E-apologists (as you used them in this thread), then, well...I'm sure you catch my drift.

Rhology said...

Mateo,

Thanks for your thoughts.
Pop e-pologists are most all we get around here. Have you not noticed? They're the ones who make the noise. They engage the public. They debate. They do Catholic Answers Live. If it's all so horrible that this is the status quo, maybe the Vatican should do sthg about it...

I'm not sure what exactly you are referring to (manifest disunity on WHICH very important matters?)

For liberals, the list is very long.
Kung, who doesn't hold to the Infallibility of the church.

though if you are expecting the absolute uniformity described in the pop-Catholic apologists

It is not my fault that
1) the RCC is presented in this light by such, and
2) that Protestantism is attacked in that very light by such.

It's in YOUR house.

you are correct in using the facts of history and experience to refute them

Thank you, I'll continue doing so.
Why don't you step in and lend a hand? Seems like it'd be in your best interest to.

not in any way a refutation of the ecclesiological views of any serious Catholic scholars

Had I a mind to, I might just do that.
But you were right that I'm engaging the thoughts of online RCs as I encounter them. If they misstate the RCC position, that's RCC's problem, hardly mine.

The comparison is usually between the RCC and Protestantism (or even the Reformed Churches) in general

Which is a terrible comparison. Such comparisons should be body-to-body, as you seem to agree.
Interestingly, let's go ahead and add this to the list of disunity - you state the argument one way or even perhaps deny it's an argument at all. Other RCs disagree with you. Who is right and how could we know? Neither you nor the Pontificator is infallible, I shouldn't think...

Many Catholics, though they disagree, stick around

Maybe many do. Many don't, like Gerry Matatics.
There are also often far fewer social consequences for dropping out of a Prot church than out of an RC church.

And the liberals are clearly out of line with the Cathecism.

How could you or I possibly know that since we are fallible interpreters? Surely our fallibility of interpretation doesn't apply only to the Bible (especially when the Bible speaks against RC dogma), does it?

What more do you want the RCC to do?

Excommunicate the unrepentant schismatics.
My church does it. It is terrible, but it's hardly too much to ask.
We also excommunicate those who engage in constant immorality like divorcing their spouses or, say, abusing children. But I guess that's another question altogether.

If these people want to go on calling themselves Catholics, what are we supposed to do about that?

Excommunicate them.
You have the VATICAN as a resource. The VATICAN. Make it PUBLIC.

there is peace between, say, the Thomists and the Molinists.

I fail to see how that's anywhere good enough.
The 5-pt Calvinists in my church aren't exactly ready to burn the houses of the non 5-pt Calvinists there... whoopie.
If you have unity, then have unity. If you don't, then stop claiming you do. Or in your case stop coming (kind of) to the defense of those who say you do.

Can we say the same for even denominations as close as the OPC and the PCA?

That they worship together?
Don't see why not.
I'm a Babdist and if there weren't any decent Babdist churches around I'd sure as heck go to a decent OPC church.

Are you telling me that there is absolute doctrinal uniformity in the Southern baptist Convention

No, just arguably more than in RCC.

And the accusation of "sola ecclesia" shows once again that you refuse to or are unable to engage with serious Catholic ecclesiology.

I don't expect you to agree, but you are not in step with your own church's thinking, and it's yet more certain that you are not in line with your church's ACTIONS.

I am not one of those ecclesiologists, but I for one would NEVER refer to my own view as Sola Ecclesia

Such an assertion leads me to question the intellectual honesty of your position.

Peace,
Rhology

Mateo said...

I think you are beginning to see where I'm coming from. Let me restate:

1) I AM your ally in refuting the poor arguments of the E-catholic apologists; I have not defended them. They are really loud and that's quite disturbing. However, as I said elsewhere, it is Jared Wicks (a Catholic source for some of Swan's research on Luther), not Steve Ray who had an official position in the Vatican. And I agree that maybe the Vatican should do something about it, though it probably doesn't even know a thing about it! My only position in this debate is that Protestants should use a different tactic, as James Swan has sometimes done. Use serious Catholic scholars to show how the Catholic apologists are out of line with their Church, instead of (as you have done) using Catholic apologists to show a more irenic Catholic is not in line...

2) The Church has excommunicated and stripped the license to teach Catholic theology from these liberals. They HAVE made it public and they get eaten alive for it. Ratzinger was criticized like crazy for how aggressive he was with the liberals. Are you saying he should have gone harder? If so, you just don't get how the public nature of the Catholic Church makes a prudent course of action important...

3)

"It is not my fault that
1) the RCC is presented in this light by such, and
2) that Protestantism is attacked in that very light by such.

It's in YOUR house."

Do you really think this? Would you like me using some of the hack Reformed Southern Baptists to characterize your positions or the positions of your denomination? Come on.

4) "I don't expect you to agree, but you are not in step with your own church's thinking, and it's yet more certain that you are not in line with your church's ACTIONS."

"I am not one of those ecclesiologists, but I for one would NEVER refer to my own view as Sola Ecclesia"

WOW! Anyway, I hope you know that the Catholic Encyclopedia was written in the 1910s in the midst of the anti-Modernist controveries. It is a great source, but we need to be a bit more historically sensitive, don't you think? How about giving me a source written in the last 80 years (or even better since Vatican II, where Catholic ecclesiology and its view of Scripture was significantly developed)

I do believe that the Church is directed by the Spirit to declare for the faithful what they ought to believe about faith and morals. Don't get me wrong...I'm not a "liberal"! But I believe the sources for those determinations are the Revelation of God Himself in Christ, which was testified to by the Apostles in the New Testament and prophecied in the Old. This position, as far as I know, is referred to as the "material sufficiency of Scripture." Again, read Congar or Dulles (Models of Revelation and Models of the Church). They argue against the kind of views you might find in a Neo-Scholastic context, which might be said to typify the OLD Catholic Encyclopedia. And they were both made Cardinals, etc., etc., that is, they were and are not peripheral "radicals" or anything like that. You all should be happy that major authorities in the Catholic Church are turning away from some of the old 19th-century positions on ecclesiology and Scripture, which were much more opposed to classic Protestantism. Right?

Rhology said...

Hi Mateo,

Just a little bit to say this time, hope you don't mind...

Use serious Catholic scholars

Carrie is quite adept at that...

The Church has excommunicated and stripped the license to teach Catholic theology from these liberals

The RCC has excommunicated them?
Kung is excommunicated? Or just unable to officially teach anymore?

Are you saying he should have gone harder?

Harder than what? If they were excommunicated, what would be harder than that?
If they weren't, then yes they should have been dealt with harder.

Would you like me using some of the hack Reformed Southern Baptists to characterize your positions or the positions of your denomination?

None of these hacks present themselves like your hacks do. There's no Baptist Answers Live that gets nearly the pub, the money, that CAI does, for example.

I hope you know that the Catholic Encyclopedia was written in the 1910s in the midst of the anti-Modernist controveries.

I don't know what to say to this. It carries the imprimatur:

"The Encyclopedia bears the imprimatur of the Most Reverend Archbishop under whose jurisdiction it is published. In constituting the editors the ecclesiastical censors, he has given them a singular proof of his confidence and of his desire to facilitate the publication of the work which he has promoted most effectively by his influence and kindly cooperation.""

I find it highly questionable that you throw away imprimatur-ed documents like this at your own convenience. It's a blueprint for anarchy.

Peace,
Rhology

Mateo said...

"None of these hacks present themselves like your hacks do. There's no Baptist Answers Live that gets nearly the pub, the money, that CAI does, for example."

What is the equivalent? TBN. Is it my fault that these apologist types have gotten so much traction in the conservative American Catholic community. I still believe, nevertheless, that you should make sure that these apologists are at least in conformity with the Catechism and standard scholarly opinion among Catholics, esp. if you want to use the weakness of their arguments as an argument against Rome as such. Before I use the work of a contemporary E-Southern Baptist commentator as representative of the flaws of "Baptism" as such, I would certainly make sure that what they are saying is in conformity with their own confessional statements and theological masters (let's say August Strong, etc.) Isn't that a sensible approach?

"I don't know what to say to this. It carries the imprimatur:

I find it highly questionable that you throw away imprimatur-ed documents like this at your own convenience. It's a blueprint for anarchy."

This reminds me of an earlier discussion with Carrie. The imprimatur simply means that IT MAY BE PRINTED. Raymond Brown's rather liberal biblical introductions get the imprimatur, but he would certainly be in disagreement with other Catholics who also get the imprimatur. And this is not some sign of the rank disunity and fallibility of Catholic ecclesiology! PLEASE! An imprimatur doesn't mean that it is the infallible teaching of the Church or anything like that. You people need to stop making such a big deal about "nihil obstats" and all of that. It's really quite silly.

Yes, whatever is said is apprently free from heresy or the like in the mind of that bishop (and Catholic writers often "fish" for approving prelates). What I am saying, in short, is that imprimaturs don't oblige all the Catholic faithful to agree with that book.

And with your comment on anarchy:

1) You are starting to sound like the Catholic apologists you despise so greatly. Any assertion of my ability to read a Catholic book critically is a recipe for disaster...

2) Are you really saying that any book with a nihil obstat must be completely affirmed by all the Catholic faithful. If I were saying the same thing about the Catechism or about the papal encyclicals, then you would have a point. But you have almost no ground to make such a claim about distancing myself from the OLD Catholic Encyclopedia.

Rhology said...

Mateo,

I do not consider TBN Christian, sorry. So the example fails.


Raymond Brown's rather liberal biblical introductions get the imprimatur, but he would certainly be in disagreement with other Catholics

OK.
This is of course during your defense of the unity of the church.


And this is not some sign of the rank disunity and fallibility of Catholic ecclesiology!

What, Roman Catholics disagreeing among themselves?
RIght, of course that's not disunity. What was I thinking?

You people need to stop making such a big deal about "nihil obstats" and all of that.

Um, there aren't any nihil obstats or such in Lifeway. It's not *US* who are making a big deal out of them.

You are starting to sound like the Catholic apologists you despise so greatly. Any assertion of my ability to read a Catholic book critically is a recipe for disaster...

1) I don't despise them.
2) OTOH, I do think them extremely foolish.
3) I demonstrate their foolishness by showing that the standards they would apply to us are not fulfilled by their own position.
I wouldn't talk like this had I not met these epologists. But they're like broken records.
"Protestant disunity!"
"30000 denominations!"
"You don't know the canon!"



Are you really saying that any book with a nihil obstat must be completely affirmed by all the Catholic faithful(?)

1) Nihil obstats are silly, so no.
2) I really feel like you're losing track of what I'm trying to say. I'm applying RC apologists' arguments to their own position.
3) Again, if you want to say you have unity, fine. Have unity. If you don't, then don't. I don't see how I'm asking too much here.

But you have almost no ground to make such a claim about distancing myself from the OLD Catholic Encyclopedia.

Upon what basis that is not based on your personal fallible judgment can you justify doing that?

Peace,
Rhology

Mateo said...

OK...this is going crazy, but would you agree that this statement...

"Upon what basis that is not based on your personal fallible judgment can you justify doing that?..."

...would not pertain to me since I do not affirm the position on unity (doctrinal uniformity!) of the Catholic apologists?

I have never tried to argue that all Catholics agree on anything. Our unity is primarily sacramental and based upon our common participation in a single community marked by that sacramental life and apostolic succession, headed by Peter's successor. It is not total doctrinal uniformity, though we all have submitted ourselves to the Magisterium, which limits opinions which are acceptable by proposing beliefs which all Catholics must believe and those which Catholics are forbidden to believe. This is why Raymond Brown and Scott Hahn can be in the same Church, though the disagree (while, as I said in a previous thread, this is not necessarily ideal!) Besides that, it is a matter of debate, discussion, what have you.

So, yes, my fallible judgment has determined that Catholic Encyclopedia is not authoritative. But my fallible judgment is relatively well-informed by history, by the developments in Catholic theology before then and since then, etc. I think that's a pretty good leg to stand on. Anyway, I think you'll agree that your whole argument about "fallible judgment" is a (legitimate) polemical point against Catholic apologists; I hope you will accept that it completely falls flat when used against me and (I would argue) against almost any academic or high-ranking Catholic ecclesiologist...

Cool?

Carrie said...

Carrie is quite adept at that...

That’s nice to say, but probably not true. The problem is that what constitutes “serious Catholic scholars” is in the eye of the beholder.

Note that Mateo does not care for Raymond Brown. Neither did a frequent commenter on my blog, however, that same commenter held a high regard for the Old Catholic Encyclopedia. Meanwhile, I am pretty sure I have heard either David Waltz or Pontificator recommend Raymond Brown on this blog. Who is correct? Who is accurately representing Catholicism and how can I be certain of that fact??

I can give lots of examples like this. The fact remains that a large group of Catholics with competing opinions of what is or is not “legitimate Catholic thought” are all allowed to co-exist. Mateo has admitted that Thomism and Molism are at odds (plus there is Scotism and others?) yet are all within the Catholic umbrella of orthodoxy. Yet Mateo gets upset when we raise up what he considers Molinistic ideas as legitimate Catholic thought, but it is legit by his own admission.

The imprimatur must mean something since Catholics employ it in the first place. It is suppose to mean that whatever is contained in the document does NOT CONFLICT with Catholic faith and morals - does that not have some value? But Mateo wants us to believe that the inclusion of an imprimtur doesn’t mean much. Again, there is no winning here.

Is this chaos not the epitome of disunity? The only difference b/w the unity of Catholics and the unity of Protestants is that the Catholics claim to be unified when in reality they do not meet the basic definition of that word. According to the Catholic criteria, any Protestant who calls himself a Protestant is unified. End of story.

Mateo, are you claiming that the mainstream Catholic apologists are not Catholics? I assume you would not claim that, in which case their opinions/arguments are representative of Catholic faith (albeit, not your personal faith) since they are allowed to believe what they believe without automatic excommunication. I understand that fact stinks from your perspective, but that is not my problem.

Rhology said...

Hi Mateo,

You know, ISTM that a lot of RC apologetics center around the Unity of the RCC vs. the disunity of the Prots. How could Sola Scrip be right since it leads to 30000 denoms? That sort of thing.
If one takes away the Unity of the RCC idea, I don't see much else the RCC has going for it. Certainly not Scripture. Maybe Tradition, a defense that is of course fraught with its own problems. What am I missing?

But why wouldn't I as an outsider assume that a body that is submitted to an infallible Magisterium should be unified under what that Magisterium says?
Is it b/c, as the Reformed say about the Bible, it by no means logically follows from the infallibility of a source that uniformity of obedience from fallible humans will necessarily result?

OTOH, you argue the Old Cath Ency is not authoritative though it carries the imprimatur of a member of the Magisterium.
Leaving aside all the fluff from RC epologists and just focusing on you for a sec, isn't there still a reasonable question to be asked when a professing-to-be-faithful member of a religion explicitly picks and chooses what he wants to believe and doesn't want to believe out of the set of beliefs that are taught by his religion's authorities? You may not call yourself a liberal or even resemble libs in most of their beliefs, but that is itself a HIGHLY liberal practice.

Finally, if you're right that there are good arguments outside of "the Magisterium says so" to deny that the OldCathEncy is authoritative, what does that say about the Magisterium that said that it was an OK book?

Peace,
Rhology

Mateo said...

"That’s nice to say, but probably not true. The problem is that what constitutes 'serious Catholic scholars' is in the eye of the beholder."

Not true. Again, you people are starting to sound like the Catholic apologists. There are critical standards of scholarship and thought which allow you to evaluate an author (without "magisterial" guidance!). Also, in evaluating who is "serious" or not, academic position might be an indicator (but just an indicator!); maybe what kind of presses publish their work can tell you something. The people that I have suggested transcend even those standards . I have suggested Congar, de Lubac, Dulles, Wicks, and so on. These guys were all made cardinals (except for Wicks) for their theological insights. A number of them were chief theological advisers at the Second Vatican Council. Can we say the same for the E-Catholic apologists? Of course not. This is really not that difficult.

"Who is correct? Who is accurately representing Catholicism and how can I be certain of that fact?"

Raymond Brown was in the circle of Catholic orthodoxy. But I'm not a fan. Some of the things he says and some of his methods, I believe, are threating to ALL of Christian orthodoxy (consider his views on the Biblical basis for the Virgin Birth), but he's in the circle (since he never personally denies the Virgin Birth, for example). And I will admit that "orthodoxy" (in this construal) is largely a "sociological" definition, at certain points. What is permitted in one era is not permitted in another and vice versa, though it is pretty clear what is permitted in the era in which one is living (and so there is not CHAOS!). In the era when the OLD Catholic Encyclopedia (which is a fine source, by the way...we just need to be careful!) was written, Brown probably would have been condemned as a Modernist. But I am using orthodxy here not necessarily as RIGHT TEACHING, that is, the essential doctrines which are proposed for a Catholic to believe (those are much clearer and have developed in a much more straightforward way.) I am using ORTHODOXY in this discussion as the circle of acceptable theological discussion within which Catholics can freely disagree without being condemned by the Church. And I apologize for any equivocation in my discussion thus far on this point.

Nevertheless, within that circle, one Catholic can feel free to use reason, Scriptural evidence, history, experience, or whatever to refute his fellow Catholic. This is only disturbing if you have the view of the Church found in th work of the E-apologists. I actually find it rather liberating (Chesterton's book on Orthodoxy actually explains this quite well!) But this does not entail anarchy or chaos, far from it! See below.

"Mateo has admitted that Thomism and Molism are at odds (plus there is Scotism and others?) yet are all within the Catholic umbrella of orthodoxy. Yet Mateo gets upset when we raise up what he considers Molinistic ideas as legitimate Catholic thought, but it is legit by his own admission."

All I argued in the previous thread (I was not upset!) was that you did not seem to recognize that the Molinist view was not the exclusive (and not the most historically grounded) option on these soteriological issues WITHIN the circle. Wouldn't you agree that the existence and sure orthodoxy of the Thomist "option" changes the discussion quite a bit? You can argue that the Catholic Church should have condemned Molinism as a view too close to semi-Pelagianism, but you can't argue that Catholics must believe these doctrines about grace (e.g., that free will makes sufficient grace effective) to which you object. That's all I was saying! I would do the same if I was describing some Reformed view that I believed to be erroneous. That is, I would explain whether that particular Reformed view was binding upon all the Reformed Churches or simply an option (as you know, the Reformed tradition has multiple confessions...see Richard Muller for his discussion of the Reformed Churches' unity-in-diversity.)

And, incidentally, Catholicism for Dummies' presentation was even less "Augustinian" than Molina ("man is basically good"). I don't object to your pointing out the problems in a Catholic source, but my point throughout is that you all should be at least somewhat aware about where that source fits in within Catholic thought both historically and (especially) today. That's pretty difficult, I know, but that might be why the Internet is not the best place for theological discussion and argument.

As I've said, if I start talking this way about papal encyclicals and the Catholic Catechism, then you would have a point! I do believe there is authority in the Catholic Church; I just don't believe that every Catholic book with an imprimatur is binding on me. Is that so hard to accept?

"The imprimatur must mean something since Catholics employ it in the first place. It is suppose to mean that whatever is contained in the document does NOT CONFLICT with Catholic faith and morals - does that not have some value? But Mateo wants us to believe that the inclusion of an imprimtur doesn’t mean much. Again, there is no winning here."

It does mean something. It does mean that that book is not considered dangerous at that time, that it does not contain explicit heresies. And it means the one giving the imprimatur almost certainly believes that the book in question is well within the range of acceptable Catholic opinion. And that is almost always true. So it does mean something, but it doesn't mean that it is binding or even representative!!! That's all I've been saying. Remember this started when I showed myself to be uncomfortable with the 80-year old ecclesiological formulations (BEFORE VATICAN II!!!) of an American Catholic Encyclopedia with an imprimatur. I have no doubt that that opionion was acceptable at that time (it may be today, but Vatican II did develop Catholic ecclesiology quite a bit, so I am not sure). But is it binding? That is the question. I say NO--do you have any grounds for saying the opposite?

"Is this chaos not the epitome of disunity? The only difference b/w the unity of Catholics and the unity of Protestants is that the Catholics claim to be unified when in reality they do not meet the basic definition of that word. According to the Catholic criteria, any Protestant who calls himself a Protestant is unified. End of story."

There is no chaos. Since as a Catholic I am not BOUND to the "imprimatur", there is no huge problem when I say that I disagree with a book that has one. WOW! But I would assent to every word in that huge Catholic Catechism just published and there are A LOT of doctrines in there!!!!!! That's pretty good, I think. If someone dissents from the Catechism, I would agree that that raises some serious questions about their orthodoxy. Is that not good enough? Is that an indication of doctrinal chaos? But outside of that Catechism and the papal encyclicals (which are still not at the height of definitions of orthodoxy like Councils and papal definitions like the Immaculate Conception, as you all know), there is a lot of room for theological exchange and even disagreement. Is that a bad thing? The chaos you have described is simply not an accurate one. Please try and understand what I am saying. My claims, again, are quite modest.

"Mateo, are you claiming that the mainstream Catholic apologists are not Catholics? I assume you would not claim that, in which case their opinions/arguments are representative of Catholic faith (albeit, not your personal faith) since they are allowed to believe what they believe without automatic excommunication."

This is a good question. I would say that they are Catholics. Most of their views are within the circle of orthodoxy, though (I would argue based on my "fallible [though informed] judgment") they are not "representative" of Catholic thought. You infer that they are representative from the fact that they are "orthodox" (in the broad definition I discussed above). This is not a good inference.

I have given some criteria for determining what is representative of Catholic thinking at the highest levels, and they don't meet any of those criteria (Scott Hahn might be sort of an exception).

Most of the things I object to in E-Catholic apologetics are their use of old Catholic historians who HATED Protestants, their uses of the seventeenth-century polemical views of Protestant doctrines (like calling "sola fide" antinomian), and their view of the nature of the Church's unity (which is of course a polemical strategy against the supposed disunity of Protestantism caused by sola scriptura.)

The first two objections are not really doctrinal. They are methodological. (We must remember, though, that they also argue against the likes of Jack Chick, so we must give them credit for operating at a much higher level than those types.) My problem with them is that they don't uphold basic standards of scholarship, which James Swan has pointed out quite persuasively in his essays on Luther. They don't know languages; they don't read the updates in the scholarly literature, and (of course, worst of all) they quote out of context, make clearly inaccurate and biased interpretations, and only use historians who agree with them, etc. While this is bad, I don't believe anyone would say that these things are grounds for excommunication; they are just bad scholarship (and PLEASE don't say that this is simply my "fallible judgment"--all of you would agree with my assessment based on your judgment as well! Using "fallible" judgment (as I have argued throughout) doesn't somehow disqualify me from being a Catholic!)

On the third point (their views about the Church, esp. the utter security and certitude that comes from an infallible magisterium), I do believe that there are some questions about whether there views are acceptable after the developments of Vatican II (read Gaudium et Spes or Lumen Gentium). But this isn't clear. So, yes, they are "orthodox" in the broad sense but not representative and very often very bad scholars. That is my chief problem, and there is nothing about that in the Catechism.

When I don't quote official church documents, I have quoted authors who have been honored in the highest way by the Vatican itself (made theological advisors or even cardinals!) It is absurd to make these authors equivalent to the E-Catholic apologists and then use the different views among Catholic authors (of such widely different levels) as evidence for CHAOS within Catholicism!

Can't you see that?

And, by the way, though I know the apologists do this, I would never say that any particular Protestant's arguments are representative of Protestantism as such. That is ridiculous!

Mateo said...

All right. I know you posted before I did, but I thought I'd reiterate some points and clarify some things.

"You know, ISTM that a lot of RC apologetics center around the Unity of the RCC vs. the disunity of the Prots. How could Sola Scrip be right since it leads to 30000 denoms? That sort of thing.
If one takes away the Unity of the RCC idea, I don't see much else the RCC has going for it. Certainly not Scripture. Maybe Tradition, a defense that is of course fraught with its own problems. What am I missing?"

First of all, I wonder if you would get the unity vs. disunity polemic if you asked Avery Dulles why he is a Catholic and not a Protestant. I bet you wouldn't. So...

But let me just lay it out here very briefly. I do not believe that the grounds of the Protestant schism were legitimate. The Catholic Church had it right on salvation (though, on many points, Luther had it right too...see David Yeago's The Catholic Luther.) That is one of my major reasons for staying Catholic. And I do believe that the Church has a special unity, and that the sign of that unity is apostolic succession, esp. the Roman succession of St. Peter which we call the papacy. We have that; Protestants don't, right? And I believe, moreover, that I am Catholic because of my reading of the Bible. I don't want to argue about that right now, but I want it to be clear that if I believed the implications of my reading of the Bible led me to another confession, I would go, after much prayerful consideration. But I haven't and I don't see that I will.

And I believe that Protestantism (not the supposed 30,000 but the great confessions) have a lot going for them. This is the difference in my outlook; it is not so oppositional. I have a profound respect for Lutheran and Reformed orthodoxy (seventeenth century systematic theology). But I remain Catholic because I believe, among other things, that though there was no infallible decree to put the Bible together in the early Church or anything like that, I do believe that one must trust the early Church to have made some important decisions like that. I don't trust them as such, but I trust the Holy Spirit who promised to guide His people. But how do we find His people? With all the rancour and the politics, I believe (based on the Bible, logic, etc.) that the Councils got it right on the doctrines of Christ, for example. It is on bases like this that I trust the Church which is identified by apostolic succession (see Ireneaus) to be a Church worthy of my trust and, yes, my obedience. Though you obviously won't agree with this, this is something "going for it" which (as far as I know) no Protestant demonination has. So the "unity" vs. "disunity" argument still is an important reason why I am Catholics, but it works much differently than the way it works for the apologists, wouldn't you agree?

"But why wouldn't I as an outsider assume that a body that is submitted to an infallible Magisterium should be unified under what that Magisterium says?"

It is. Dissenters from the Magisterium do get in trouble. But the infallible or even extraordinary Magisterium does not extend as far as "imprimaturs".

"Is it b/c, as the Reformed say about the Bible, it by no means logically follows from the infallibility of a source that uniformity of obedience from fallible humans will necessarily result?"

That's pretty good, I think.

"OTOH, you argue the Old Cath Ency is not authoritative though it carries the imprimatur of a member of the Magisterium."

See above. And I would assent to the testimony of that bishop (though the time changes things here!) that the Catholic Encylcopedia has nothing dangerous or heretical. But the "it may be printed" does NOT imply that it is binding. I argued this in my previous post...let me know if I was clear.

"Leaving aside all the fluff from RC epologists and just focusing on you for a sec, isn't there still a reasonable question to be asked when a professing-to-be-faithful member of a religion explicitly picks and chooses what he wants to believe and doesn't want to believe out of the set of beliefs that are taught by his religion's authorities?"

That would be a problem, yes! But it doesn't stick with me at all. Show me one source like a papal encyclical or the Catechism or anything like that which I dissent from. If you think that the charge sticks because of an "imprimatur", then you simply don't understand what an "imprimatur" implies. But again, see the previous post where I explain in what sense I do believe imprimaturs to be authoritative.

"Finally, if you're right that there are good arguments outside of 'the Magisterium says so' to deny that the OldCathEncy is authoritative, what does that say about the Magisterium that said that it was an OK book?"

I think the Old Catholic Encyclopedia is a great source on so many issues, though it is dated and it was NEVER binding. My problem was your quoting their section on ecclesiology to show that my views are not representative of my Church. This simply doesn't work since the MAGISTERIUM (please pay attention here!) has significantly developed Catholic ecclesiology SINCE that document was written. I am not just making this stuff up. I am submitting to the Magisterial teaching found in the Second Vatican Council, which doesn't seem to resonate with what you quoted from the Old Catholic Encyclopedia. Do you now see what I'm trying to say? I am going with the assembled Magisterium found at a Council in opposition (a too strong formulation!) to a single member of that Magisterium who believed that the Old Catholic Encyclopedia was not heretical or dangerous (a judgment which I still would agree with!) I hope this clarifies. Please let me know. If not, I just don't know what else to say.

Carrie said...

Mateo,

I don't have time to respond to the different aspects of your comment. So let me just say that I do understand your point, and you are very agreeable (which is greatly appreciated) but I don't agree with your conclusions.

While I understand you think that your viewpoints are most inline with historical/scholastical Catholic theology (and they may be), unless you can exclude the other views (which I think you admit you cannot), then you really can't make a convincing argument as to why I should accept your viewpoints as most representative. And for the record, are you saying "most" or "solely" or "best"? I would argue that your view is actually a minority (which I think you agreed with previously) which makes your "most" simply about accuracy or something else (historical?) and not "most" with regards to popularity. If I were to oppose Catholicism, shouldn't I go with the prevalent views?

The Catholic Encyclopedia may not be binding, but is it flat out wrong on the ecclesiology issue? Perhaps your views are representative of the Church, but there appear to be other differing views which are also representative of the Church. So while our arguments may not stick to you, they rightfully stick to others within the circle of orthodoxy.

Show me one source like a papal encyclical or the Catechism or anything like that which I dissent from.

I am submitting to the Magisterial teaching found in the Second Vatican Council,

How is that not Sola Ecclesia? Are you in total submission to all that the Church teaches and to the Pontiff himself?

"The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ." This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome." CCC 85

Again, if the Church alone can authentically interpret both scripture and tradition, how are you not under sola ecclesia? Is the Church not your sole, infallible guide or is there another?

(my questions are largely rhetorical so don't feel obligated to answer.)

Mateo said...

I'm not sure if we had a breakthrough or not, but I think there is significant agreement here.

"While I understand you think that your viewpoints are most in line with historical/scholastic Catholic theology (and they may be), unless you can exclude the other views (which I think you admit you cannot), then you really can't make a convincing argument as to why I should accept your viewpoints as most representative."

I agree that my soteriological views are not the most prevalent today, either among scholars or the generality of laypeople. My point throughout has NOT been that my opinions on THIS issue are representative (though they have better historical credentials than the alternative). My point has simply been that a much more Augustinian soteriology, remarkably similar to your own, is permitted within the confines of Catholic orthodoxy. That's all.

"If I were to oppose Catholicism, shouldn't I go with the prevalent views?"

Well, it depends. How do you oppose "Catholicism" when Catholicism is diverse on a certain point? If you wanted to oppose the Catholic doctrine of the Trinity (which I know you wouldn't), then you would have a much easier time.

If you are opposing the vast majority of Catholics, then you are right in doing so. If you are opposing the fact that the Catholic Church has permitted a more Arminian soteriology to be permitted within acceptable orthodoxy, then (from your presuppositions) you certainly have a point. If you are saying that the Catholic Church's soteriology is wrong, well, then you have a problem. The "Catholic Church" as a body proposing orthodox teaching for all Catholics to believe has not authoritatively proposed the beliefs you are condemning. In fact, soteriological beliefs much closer to your own (like mine, from what I can gather) are perfectly acceptable within Catholic orthodoxy. I AM NOT SAYING THAT THEY ARE THE MAJORITY OR PREVALENT OR REPRESENTATIVE (though I personally believe, based on my study of history and my reflections on the arguments of some of the greatest Christian theologians, that they are the best.) This is why "Catholicism" is such a complicated term. Does that help? So I hope you've seen how I've conceded much of your point here.

"The Catholic Encyclopedia may not be binding, but is it flat out wrong on the ecclesiology issue? Perhaps your views are representative of the Church, but there appear to be other differing views which are also representative of the Church."

Agreed. I'm not sure what you mean by representative, though, as discussed above. I don't necessarily think the Catholic Encyclopedia is flat out wrong, but I don't want it thrown in my face as showing how out of step I am with "my Church", as Rhology said above. Your quotation from the Catechism is much more helpful...

"So while our arguments may not stick to you, they rightfully stick to others within the circle of orthodoxy."

This is probably true, though (as I've said) it is suspicious when those who convert under the influence of these apologists turn into Pius X Catholics. Do you see what I'm saying? It seems that Vatican II is a problem for some of these guys. And remember Vatican II is Magisterium; Steve Ray is not. :-)

"How is that not Sola Ecclesia? Are you in total submission to all that the Church teaches and to the Pontiff himself?"

I'm not sure what "total submission" means (see below), but, yes, I accept the Church's authority.

"Again, if the Church alone can authentically interpret both scripture and tradition, how are you not under sola ecclesia? Is the Church not your sole, infallible guide or is there another?"

This is where I must clarify. First of all, sola ecclesia as you've used the phrase cannot be usefully juxtaposed to sola scriptura. I believe that Scripture is the sole infallible witness to the Revelation of God in Christ Jesus. I follow theologians like Yves Congar in moving away from the partim-partim theory of authority (Scripture standing next to Tradition) and accepting the material sufficienty of Scripture (which Sacred Tradition draw out, preserves, makes explicit, etc.) (This, by the way, is not a position that all Catholics must hold!) While I do interpret Scripture myself, bringing other Scripture, reason, my experience, and (I hope) the illumination of the Holy Spirit to those texts, I don't believe that my own interpretations have the kind of authority that the Roman Catholic Church's Magisterium has. It is only that Church which has the kind of "infallible" authority in INTERPRETATION. So, yes, while one could argue that I hold to sola scriptura, in a certain sense, when it comes to Revelation itself; I probably could assent to the formulation of "sola ecclesia" when it comes to authority in INTERPRETATION.

But I must qualify yet again. If tomorrow the Church rejected the doctrine of the Trinity, for example, I would leave the Catholic Church. I would be convinced that the Church is no longer worthy of my trust. I would realize that she was never the Spirit-led interpreter that I had believed her to be. But I am convinced that that will never happen because, based on my studies of history and theology, I have come to the conclusion that the RCC is guided by the Holy Spirit and is therefore trustworthy in proposing matters of faith and morals for all Christians to believe. I believe that the Holy Spirit wil not let the Church fall (irrevocably?) into error. But if it seems to me that she does (after much prayerful consideration, godly counsel, reflection on Scripture, etc., etc., etc.), I would leave.

So...I guess that is how I could assent to Sola Ecclesia. I don't believe in sola scriptura in the sense that the Scripture is self-interpreting or anything like that (not that any of you necessarily believe that). So I don't think that my conviction about the nature of Scripture itself contradicts my convictions about the authority of the Church in interpretation. But what I said above (about the possibility of some future discovery of the Church's serious fallibility) is why I'm uncomfortable with assenting to your formulation "total submission". I hope that helps.

Rhology said...

Hi Mateo,

Just a few...

the sign of that unity is apostolic succession, esp. the Roman succession of St. Peter which we call the papacy. We have that; Protestants don't, right?

No, neither Prots nor you have it.

that though there was no infallible decree to put the Bible together in the early Church or anything like that

Right, nor has there been for any putting together of a canon of RC infallible teachings, with the result that anythg you *think* is infallible is just your fallible thinking that it's infallible.

Dissenters from the Magisterium do get in trouble.

Except for whoever's on the wrong end of the Molinist/Thomist/Scotist controversy, it would seem.
Among other things.

But the infallible or even extraordinary Magisterium does not extend as far as "imprimaturs".

How do you know that? It was imprimatur'd by the Archbishop.
can you give a good reason why one should believe you and not the Archbishop?

But the "it may be printed" does NOT imply that it is binding.

OK... what does it tell you? At this point I can't tell if it means anything.

Show me one source like a papal encyclical

Well, do you hold to EENS or the CCC's inclusivity?

If tomorrow the Church rejected the doctrine of the Trinity, for example, I would leave the Catholic Church.

What about if Mary were declared Co-REdemptrix of mankind?

Peace,
Rhology

Carrie said...

Mateo,

Thanks for the clarifications and thanks for your honesty. I understand your points and I think you understand mine, I think we just disagree on what should be done about it.

If you are saying that the Catholic Church's soteriology is wrong, well, then you have a problem. The "Catholic Church" as a body proposing orthodox teaching for all Catholics to believe has not authoritatively proposed the beliefs you are condemning. In fact, soteriological beliefs much closer to your own (like mine, from what I can gather) are perfectly acceptable within Catholic orthodoxy.

This is an odd statement to me. I was going to make a comment here but I think this may be worth a post b/c there are commenters on this blog who are better equipped for this discussion than me, and this post is getting old.

Mateo said...

I'm not going spend too much time responding to the fly-by assertions and responses that clearly ignored my extensive discussions, but here's a few things (which ended up being much too long!):

"No, neither Prots nor you have it."

This is a bare assertion. What is gratuitously asserted can be gratuitously rejected.

"Right, nor has there been for any putting together of a canon of RC infallible teachings, with the result that anythg you *think* is infallible is just your fallible thinking that it's infallible."

This is very cute, by the way.

But, well, this isn't my independent judgment; remember Vatican II talks about the papacy in communion with the bishops and vice versa. As Avery Dulles says, a consensus of opinion will form around those teachings which were given the charism of infallibility (say, the Immaculate Conception) that they were in fact declared infallibly. Is there any serious dispute by devout, orthodox Catholics about the infallibility of that decree (Immaculate Conception)? Show me where that is and then we can have a discussion. I think this is just another assertion. Give evidence about a dispute over whether a certain teaching is infallible, and then we can deal with the circumstances which have led to that disagreement.

Papal infalliblity, by the way, is not a reason for my being Catholic. For some of the apologists, this is one of their major reasons for being Catholic in the first place. But as you know, there was a long time where the doctrine of infallibility was, let's say, unclear and, even once it was developed, there were many serious orthodox theologians (Gallicans) who had a different view on the papal office. Nevertheless, at the time, they were still Catholic. Therefore, though I believe in infallibility, I don't think you need papal infallibility for Roman Catholicism to, well, make sense.

"Except for whoever's on the wrong end of the Molinist/Thomist/Scotist controversy, it would seem.
Among other things."

WHAT?! The Magisterium never condemned any of these positions.

"How do you know that [infallibility doesn't excent as far as imprimaturs]?"

Give me one Catholic scholar who says otherwise. This whole "How do you know"..."Who gives you the authority to say that" mantra is very irritating! Even the meaning of the words themselves suggests nothing more than that "this can be printed" and that "nothing obstructs" it from being read. Do either of these formulations suggest that whatever the contents in the book are BINDING?!

"Can you give a good reason why one should believe you and not the Archbishop?"

I agree with the archbishop that this book should have been ALLOWED TO BE PRINTED which is what the words mean! So...there is no disagreement here between me and the archbishop.

"OK... what does it tell you? At this point I can't tell if it means anything."

It certainly doesn't mean as much as you think it means. As I have said many times already, the "imprimatur" and "nihil obstat" mean that that a particular Church authority believes there is nothing dangerous or heretical in these documents. And as I've said a number of times already, I agree with the archbishop's assessment. My disagreement (possibly!) with one article in the Encyclopedia does not mean that I think it is heretical or dangerous.

"Well, do you hold to EENS or the CCC's inclusivity?"

This is completely off-topic. But I will assent to the CCC's inclusivity. The Magisterium develops and deepens its understanding of implications of the Gospel (though I am not sure that these views are binding on all the faithful...you'll have to show me the passage from the CCC). Check out Avery Dulles' article on the First Things website on this issue, by the way.

"What about if Mary were declared Co-REdemptrix of mankind?"

Again, completely off topic!

First of all, this almost certainly won't happen (see Neuhaus's articles on this doctrine!) But if it was declared and the formulations defined compromised Christ's role as Sole Mediator of our salvation before God, then I would leave the Church. But whenever I've seen the doctrine explained by serious Catholic scholars, they explain it in a way that is in line with the Catholic understanding of Christ's central (and really exhaustive) role in our salvation. But, again, that is another issue.

This response, by the way, has given me an insight into why so many Catholic bloggers seem so angry. Maybe they didn't start that way.

Carrie said...

This response, by the way, has given me an insight into why so many Catholic bloggers seem so angry. Maybe they didn't start that way.

Mateo, I think you are missing Rhology's style of dialoguing. That is probably b/c he was quiet for a few weeks and I can't even remember the last time he actually made a post (teasing, Rhol).

Rhology is actually a very agreeable guy, even some atheists seem to like him. I love reading his comments, he has a way of dismantling another person's arguments in very few words and with a sense of humor. It really is a gift.

Mateo, the point I think you may be missing in the "why should we believe you" is that you admit that their are many views. So why should yours be "the best" or "the most accurate" or "the most historical", etc. If I accepted your view as mainstream, then the Catholics who disagree with you (molinists for example) would take me to task.

That is all we are asking you to understand on that point, that your voice is just one of many acceptable voices and no one voice can claim the other voices are wrong. The best we can do to figure everything out is to look to some sense of authority through things like imprimaturs, titles, etc.

Mateo said...

"I love reading his comments, he has a way of dismantling another person's arguments in very few words and with a sense of humor. It really is a gift."

There was not any dismantling here, and I didn't find it funny, but maybe I'm just a bit dour. Sorry about that.

And on the next point you made: I find it incomprehensible that you, esp. as Protestants, cannot accept that I am able to say that other Catholics are wrong. I am making these claims based upon my study of history, study of logic, my reading of Scripture, etc. Why do we need an infallible authority to straighten that out? Now, I will admit that you don't have to accept my word as authoritative (maybe that's what you've been saying...if so I TOTALLY AGREE!). I am just another human being, but I think I have shown myself worthy at least for you to examine my views. But examine them by looking at the relevant literature and sources--don't just prooftext from imprimatured documents.

Now for specifics:

"Mateo, the point I think you may be missing in the "why should we believe you" is that you admit that their are many views. So why should yours be "the best" or "the most accurate" or "the most historical", etc."

How do YOU determine which theological position or which "school" or even denomination is the "best"? We probably have relatively similar criteria, though historical pedigree is probably a bit more important to me (though I'm not sure about that). As for the "most accurate" or the "most historical", I don't think any Molinists that I know of are seriously claiming the authority of St. Augustine or Thomas Aquinas as support for their views. Molina himself even acknowledges that, if his position is not in accord with these doctors, so much the worse for them! So...there is not much disagreement on the facts of the matter.

The way to evaluate my claims is, I agree, not simply to agree with me. But if you are interested, check out the historians or the sources that pertain to this subject; imprimaturs simply won't seal the deal, that's all.

"If I accepted your view as mainstream, then the Catholics who disagree with you (molinists for example) would take me to task."

THIS IS SIMPLY MADDENING! I have never said my view is the most "mainstream" and I have acknowledged that my view is a minority. Why do you keep on saying otherwise?

"That is all we are asking you to understand on that point, that your voice is just one of many acceptable voices and no one voice can claim the other voices are wrong."

No voice can claim the other voices are wrong?! Why not? Just because they are acceptable doesn't necessarily mean they are right; it just means that the Church does not belief it is fitting for either position to be condemned or anything like that. That's really all. We need to examine the issue using the methods we study any theological issue. If you are saying that you cannot just accept me at my word, then I AGREE! I am not an authoritative commentator, though I am arguably better informed about these issues than most of you. That is not arrogance; it is simply that I have spent a lot of time with this subject, while you all have spent your time in other areas. So...you might want to at least give me the benefit of the doubt. But that is up to you. So check out more credible historians and theologians, examine their arguments--why should imprimaturs completely end discussion? I just don't understand this any more.

Carrie said...

No voice can claim the other voices are wrong?! Why not? Just because they are acceptable doesn't necessarily mean they are right; it just means that the Church does not belief it is fitting for either position to be condemned or anything like that. That's really all. We need to examine the issue using the methods we study any theological issue. If you are saying that you cannot just accept me at my word, then I AGREE!

I can't speak for Rhology, but your last sentence is exactly what I have been saying. So we are agreed on that.

Sure, you can say the other voices are wrong, but there is no reason I must believe you and even if the others are wrong, your Church is allowing those views as possible - so in my mind, you saying the others are wrong is just your opinion since your authority says they may be right.

That's all. Sorry for maddening you! ;)

Carrie said...

THIS IS SIMPLY MADDENING! I have never said my view is the most "mainstream" and I have acknowledged that my view is a minority. Why do you keep on saying otherwise?

Sorry, I know you said that. I should have said "more accurate historically"?

Certainly, if you are not mainstream you can understand why I am unable to accept your views as representative of Catholicism? Maybe it is a matter of wording, but representative to me would reflect the majority more than the minority.

Mateo said...

"I can't speak for Rhology, but your last sentence is exactly what I have been saying. So we are agreed on that."

Wonderful. I'm glad we clarified this one. Sorry about getting so frustrated.

"Sure, you can say the other voices are wrong, but there is no reason I must believe you and even if the others are wrong, your Church is allowing those views as possible - so in my mind, you saying the others are wrong is just your opinion since your authority says they may be right."

Ah...I think I know where there might be some breakdown in communication here. When I say the Molinists, for example, are "wrong", I mean that they are not in keeping with some of my criteria for evaluating theological claims (I'll just give 2):

1) they don't seem to be as much in line with the revealed data, esp. the Pauline corpus, as the Thomists. While the Molinists might not agree with this claim, I think that you do, right?

2) they disagree with many of the giant theologians of the Western Christian tradition: Augustine, Aquinas, Scotus, Luther, Calvin, Soto, Banez, Edwards, Barth. That seems problematic.

Those points are based on what I believe to be sensible criteria for evaluating theological opinions. So these are grounds for my assessment that the Molinist approach to soteriological matterse is, well, flawed. But I think when you are using the word "wrong" in this discussion, you seem to think that I am saying that the Molinists are not accurately describing the nature of Catholic orthodoxy. Then you are right that the only criteria for evaluating that claim are authoritative documents. Am I right in my speculations here?

"That's all. Sorry for maddening you! ;)"

See above. Sorry about that.

"Sorry, I know you said that. I should have said 'more accurate historically'?

This is a claim which can be evaluated based on the normal procedures of historical methodology, right? What I'm saying is that you don't need the special guidance of the Holy Spirit to figure this one out.

"Certainly, if you are not mainstream you can understand why I am unable to accept your views as representative of Catholicism? Maybe it is a matter of wording, but representative to me would reflect the majority more than the minority."

I don't think I ever said they are "representative" of Catholicism today. I have consistently (as far I remember) stated that my views are orthodox, though they are not prevealent, majority views. As I said earlier, you can feel free to reject the soteriology of most Catholics. My only caution is that, in the back of your mind at least, you remember that the Thomist soteriological position is a legitimate option. I'm not sure all the implications of that for your arguments against Rome, but it seems to me that there are a few (some of which we've already discussed). That's all. Again, not majority, not prevalent, not representative, not anything like that, just orthodox (and, to stretch a bit, the position with greater historical pedigree in the Western Church...basically I've got Augustine and Aquinas and the sixteenth-century Dominicans...that's a pretty good crowd) If you find Molinists who are seriouslly claiming these guys, then we'll have a discussion. But Freddoso, Flint, and other big Molinists admit that Thomas disagrees with them and, as they would say, so much the worse for Thomas!

Cool?

Mateo said...

Quick clarification:

My discussion of criteria for evaluating theological claims came off as much too individualistic. I don't think this our personal criteria that I simply made up. They seem to be sensible, widely held, reaonsable, etc., etc., etc. These criteria are conformity to Scripture, with some deference to the interpretations of Scripture found in "the masters."

Carrie said...

Mateo,

I think we are in agreement and just talking past each other at this point. I understand that your Thomist views are a minority but orthodox and that you disagree on many points with the Molinists.

It just seems to me that your argument lately is "Carrie's points aren't valid against Catholicism b/c I don't hold the views she is condemning as an orthodox Thomist Catholic". But my point back is that the Molinists are also orthodox (we agreed) and are also the majority (we agreed), so they are a legitimate target. Now, perhaps my arguments would be stronger if they hit both you and the Molinists, but one step at a time :)

On a side note, do you like the New Catholic Encyclopedia? And I know you have done this across a few comments but if you wouldn't mind, can you tell me some of your favorite authors - I'd actually be interested in older authors and historians. Thanks!

Rhology said...

Mateo,

Carrie is too kind! Except when she teases me. Then she's a big meanie!

I understand dour... that's my default, against which I struggle. Don't worry about it.

I actually don't have time to keep up w/ this. If you care to, I'll be happy to answer 2 questions you'd really like me to deal with. But don't feel obligated.

Peace,
Rhology

Mateo said...

"I think we are in agreement and just talking past each other at this point. I understand that your Thomist views are a minority but orthodox and that you disagree on many points with the Molinists."

Sweet.

"It just seems to me that your argument lately is Carrie's points aren't valid against Catholicism b/c I don't hold the views she is condemning as an orthodox Thomist Catholic. But my point back is that the Molinists are also orthodox (we agreed) and are also the majority (we agreed), so they are a legitimate target. Now, perhaps my arguments would be stronger if they hit both you and the Molinists, but one step at a time :)"

Largely true. But this is the difficulty with arguing against THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. You just need to clarify what you are referring to. The target is the majority of Catholics and a currently orthodox option--yes indeed. And it is totally legitimitate as it stands. Let me illustrate, though, what I mean by saying that you are not arguing against the "Catholic Church."

Let's just say you completely refute a Molinist based on Pauline-Augustinian-Calvinist reasoning. That Molinist has to run to his mommy because you so effectively destroyed his arguments. Would the implication of your victory be that he should cease to be a Catholic? I think the existence of Thomism as an orthodox option says NO to that possible inference. Your defeated Molinist can simply because a Thomist and remain an orthodox, devout Catholic. Does that make sense?

"On a side note, do you like the New Catholic Encyclopedia? And I know you have done this across a few comments but if you wouldn't mind, can you tell me some of your favorite authors - I'd actually be interested in older authors and historians. Thanks!"

I use the Old Catholic Encyclopedia all the time. It is the only source like it available online, and I can't afford the New Catholic Encyclopedia (which would probably be more accurate on certain issues.) Look, after reading hundreds of Old Catholic Encyclopedia articles, I come away continually impressed by all the topics that they were able to handle in such depth. But there are some unbelievably prejudiced articles which are artifacts of the anti-Modernist crusades and the fact that the encyclopedia was put together before Vatican II and the ecumenical movement. So it is still useful; I am just careful with quoting it as absolutely authoritative in their judgments. All right.

Well, my two favorite "classic" theologians are Augustine and Aquinas, as I'm sure has been made clear. I also like the great Dominican theologians of the sixteenth century (Domingo de Soto, Banez, Vitoria, etc.) I also really love reading Jonathan Edwards and Karl Barth.

My favorite historians (on theological issues) are Heiko Oberman, William Courtenay, John O'Malley, Denis Janz, Jaroslav Pelikan, Alister McGrath, Wawrykou, and (most of all!) Richard Muller. But as I said, given what I do, I generally read specialists on whatever issue I am researching.

Modern theologians (who are not alive) that get me thinking (though I don't agree with everything they say) are Yves Congar, Henri de Lubac, von Balthasar, Louis Bouyer, and Garrigou-Lagrange.

But I have probably been most shaped by reading the documents of the Second Vatican Council and the new Catechism. These documents, I think, are the best way to avoid falling into either "progressive" or "traditionalist" Catholicism. Pelikan's line has really moved me: "Traditionalism is the dead faith of the living; tradition is the living faith of the dead."

"I actually don't have time to keep up w/ this. If you care to, I'll be happy to answer 2 questions you'd really like me to deal with. But don't feel obligated."

Neither do I, yet I persist to the protests of my wife. :-) Anyway...I'm not sure I have any questions for you. The only thing that I think we had a strong disagreement about is the definition of imprimatur (unless my previous post clarified that.) I think Carrie's posts have helped out a lot in clarifying. If you are with her on this stuff, then you are with me.

Richard Froggatt said...

In reading through the comments of this post the themes of which seem to be;

A- the unity argument
and
B- pop Catholic apologists

A- this argument (as presented here) seems to be a misrepresentation of the actual argument put forth by any Catholic apologist. For proof of this; can one person to point out where a Catholic apologist argues that Catholics are united on all doctrine? The unity argument is based on the infallible decisions of the Church and the fact that the Church remains one. However, the argument against the Protestant position concerning unity is that you can not have a Protestant church decision and know that you are still a part of the church (in the Catholic sense)because you would have more than one decision because of the many Protestant bodies.

B- What distinguishes a pop apologist from any other apologist? This term gets thrown around freely here, and, ISTM, arrogantly.

Rhology said...

Mateo was the one making the distinction. I'd probably ask him.

Mateo said...

By way of defense and admission:

On misrepresenting the argument of the Catholic apologetics on Church unity:

I was basically (perhaps wrongly...but I am not willing to invest too much energy in discovering the truth of the matter) assuming that the arguments of the Catholic apologists quoted on Protestant blogs were reasonably accurate.

But even your defense of their position leaves some of the same issues in the air. Like them, you have lumped together all "Protestants" without recognizing the historical pedigrees and significant catholicity of the heirs of the magisterial Reformation (Lutheranism, the Reformed Churches, even the Baptists (see the great article in this month's First Things), etc.--check out Richard Muller for a discussion of "confessional Protestantism" as opposed to "evangelical Protestantism"). Also, I am uncomfortable with basing Catholic unity PRIMARILY on papal infallibility, as it seems you have done.

B--"Pop apologists" is probably not a very kind formulation. Though I wanted to make it clear that I was distancing myself from that crew, I could probably have used a better generic term. Sorry about that. But I think that even the apologists themselves would acknowledge that their work is "popular" AND THERE IS NOT NECESSARILY ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT AS SUCH. Generally speaking, the popular apologists are not analyzing the sources in their original languages, they have not received academic training or positions (and don't have an academic audience).

It is also interesting (as James Swan has noted) that their views of Luther and the Reformation are not typical of some of the great Catholic historians of the 20th century (Lortz, Wicks, Tavard, Janz, Pesch, Jedin, etc.) These discrepancies are in need of an explanation. My explanation (which is perhaps incorrect) is that the polemical agenda of the apologists cannot really appropriate the scholarship of these folks because of the ecumenical implications of many of their conclusions. If you have a better explanation, I would love to be disabused of my erroneous one...

Carrie said...

Mateo,

Thanks for the recommendations on Catholic theologians and historians!

Mateo said...

By the way, about half the historians are Protestants. I just thought I should clarify.

Richard Froggatt said...

Hi Mateo,

This is my first time speaking directly to you, but let me say first that I've enjoyed reading your comments.

Your words will be italicized.

I was basically (perhaps wrongly...but I am not willing to invest too much energy in discovering the truth of the matter) assuming that the arguments of the Catholic apologists quoted on Protestant blogs were reasonably accurate.

I don't blame you too much for that, it's quite understandable; we want to believe the best of everyone.

But even your defense of their position leaves some of the same issues in the air. Like them, you have lumped together all "Protestants" without recognizing the historical pedigrees and significant catholicity of the heirs of the magisterial Reformation (Lutheranism, the Reformed Churches, even the Baptists...

I'm not sure that making this distinction matters from the Catholic perspective; though I can see how it would matter to a Lutheran re: Lutheranism etc. But it still leaves the question of which confession is correct.

Also, I am uncomfortable with basing Catholic unity PRIMARILY on papal infallibility, as it seems you have done.

I'm sorry that I've given you that impression; for one I wasn't thinking of papal infallibility but the infallibility of the Church as a whole, and, I was gearing the statement torwards what Catholics are bound to believe and know the bounds of what it means to be Catholic. But if asked what is the PRIMARY cause of unity I would say that would be through the Holy Spirit and the truth of Catholic teaching. I could probably explain that better though.

B--"Pop apologists" is probably not a very kind formulation.

Actually, I didn't express myself very well. I was actually thinking of that term and also the term "Catholic e-pologists". It seems that the latter is used to somehow discredit Catholic apologists on the internet but the term is being used by "Protestant e-pologists". It just seems that the way the term is used that the folks using it somwhow think they're in a better class. I could be wrong though.


Generally speaking, the popular apologists are not analyzing the sources in their original languages, they have not received academic training or positions (and don't have an academic audience).

I agree. However, there is much to their work that is beneficial. Let's look at the flip side of the coin. Much of what's written on the internet by Protestant sources does not have an academic audience so it's only natural that much of what you find from Catholic sources will be in the same vein.

I've always looked at the materials from any apologist as a starting point. Whether it's something written about Church history or Martin Luther, I tend to let them speak for themselves.

It is also interesting (as James Swan has noted) that their views of Luther and the Reformation are not typical of some of the great Catholic historians of the 20th century (Lortz, Wicks, Tavard, Janz, Pesch, Jedin, etc.) These discrepancies are in need of an explanation. My explanation (which is perhaps incorrect) is that the polemical agenda of the apologists cannot really appropriate the scholarship of these folks because of the ecumenical implications of many of their conclusions. If you have a better explanation, I would love to be disabused of my erroneous one...

I'm not sure what you mean by their ecumenical conclusions and how that would affect the polemics of apologists.

But in all, I would take the opinion of a scholar over a "pop apologist" any day.

Carrie said...

By the way, about half the historians are Protestants. I just thought I should clarify.

Ahhh. History is not my strong point, obviously.