Sunday, April 27, 2008

"they mean at least this much."

I ventured over to a discussion board (something I haven't done in a while), and noticed the following question:

"What is the official RCC teaching on the verses I bolded? Can you show me something from an official catholic document."

This is asking for something Roman apologists cannot give you. Just this month, Jimmy Akin, one of the main hosts of Catholic Answers admitted the Roman Church can't give you an infallible, official interpretation of exactly what any particular Bible verse means. The Roman Church, according to Akin, can only tell you, in some instances a Bible verse "mean[s] at least this much."The clip can be found here , or in the imbedded audio player below:

25 comments:

J.R. Polk said...

One has to wonder what has been going on in Rome for the past 2 millennia. It would appear that the Church "that gives life to the dead letter of Scripture" hasn't imparted much life at all. I guess it's easier to uphold sacred tradition when you keep Scripture in a coma.

Matthew Bellisario said...

Just in case you were wondering about Luther and the whole excommunication deal that was brought up by your group, here is your answer from the Pope himself when he was the Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith. So much for James White's 8 min video on the subject.

Question: Would it be realistic for the Catholic Church to lift Luther's excommunication on the basis of the results of more recent scholarship?

Cardinal Ratzinger: In order to do full justice to this question one must differentiate between excommunication as a judicial measure on the part of the legal community of the Church against a certain person, and the factual reasons which led to such a step. Since the Church's jurisdiction naturally only extends to the living, the excommunication of a person ends with his death. Consequently, any questions dealing with the lifting of Luther's excommunication become moot: Luther's excommunication terminated with his death because judgment
after death is reserved to God alone. Luther's excommunication
does not have to be lifted; it has long since ceased to exist.

DH (DumbHusband) said...

Unbelievable! My own daughter, swept along by emotionalism in her first year of college, has converted to Catholicism. Even though I've shared this sort of information with her (and much more), it doesn't matter. She still "believes" that Rome is the "infallible guide"!
It is heartbreaking.
Thank you guys for the information you provide. It has helped me tremendously and by Gods grace I pray will help my daughter too.

Alexander Greco said...
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Alexander Greco said...
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James Swan said...

My own daughter, swept along by emotionalism in her first year of college, has converted to Catholicism

So sorry to hear about your daughter's conversion... Pray for your daughter, and don't give up. Just recently, I talked with a man who was a Protestant, converted to Rome, and even appeared as a guest on The Journey Home. Now, he is no longer Roman Catholic, but a reformed protestant. Interestingly, Grodi and company know this, but still have "his story" on their website. In fact, I'll probably be posting some of his story at some point.

James Swan said...

Good idea to delete that comment Mr. Greco. I probably would've deleted it anyway.

Alexander Greco said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
James Swan said...

I erased my prior post because I didn't believe that it was constructive

I was seconds away from deleting it anyway.

do you really think that you are being constructive?

If you'd like to post here, be warned that I will delete stuff like that, so yes, my comment had a point.

I realize that your blog does not have a very large readership

Well, I don't sell anything, nor do I have a blog to be a superstar. But, interestingly, back in Jan. 2007 I added a sitemter to the blog, and I've had around 90,000 hits. Someone must be visiting here.

but isn't it unfair to me for you to comment on something that I (in good judgment) deleted?

Maybe. I've changed over the years. I no longer tolerate as much as I used to.

Why don't you delete your comment as well then? Or are you content with misleading people?

My post was a warning to you, as well as to other RC's who think I will tolerate silliness. I will not.

Alexander Greco said...
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Nick said...

James,

You totally misunderstand what Jimmy was saying. The phrase "at least this much" means that the Catholic Church has selected certain passages and infallibly defined them. For example James 5:14f is infallibly defined to be in reference to the Sacrament of Extreme Unction (aka anointing of the sick).

A Catholic must accept that interpretation of James 5:14, BUT they can still draw out other information from the passage as long as they are NEVER excluding the definition. The Church says James 5:14f means "at least Extreme Unction" but you are allowed to interpret it as more than that or draw on it for other truths.


There are multiple truths that can be drawn out of many passages of Scripture. For example a passage could be stating a historical event, but it could also be teaching a moral truth. Take the flight out of Egypt of the Jews, that was a historical event but it can also spiritually represent Christians being freed from their old sinful lives of bondage.


The bottom line is you simply misunderstood what Jimmy was saying.

Nick said...

To add one more thing to my last post. The Catholic Church sets parameters that Catholics have to stay within, you can hold a range of interpretations of any given passage as long as it doesn't conflict with the parameters the Church has laid down.

BJ Buracker said...

Nick,

What I think James is getting at, however, is that the Church teaches that believers need the infallible Magisterium in order to understand the Scripture, and at the same time don't have a large list of infallible teachings. In fact, I only know of ten passages that have been infallibly defined, in the way you describe.

James' post is showing that this is inconsistent. If we need the Church to tell us how to interpret the Bible infallibly, then shouldn't there be a bigger list than this? Shouldn't it be a little more reigned in, so to speak? As it is, it appears that the Catholic Church still allows for personal interpretation, and hence, then Church is unnecessary.

That's James' argument as I understand it.

In Christ,

BJ
Stupid Scholar

BJ Buracker said...
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The Dude said...

Hmm, this is news that the RC hasn't infallibly defined verses? The RC sets boundaries, so some verses are "infallibly defined" in that you couldn't interpret them in ways contradictory to dogma, such as in an Arian sense for example. But the RC allows for the sensus plenoir view of scripture in which verses are not limited to a single meaning. RC theology would be pretty boring otherwise; the Church sets the borders of the playground, theologians can move around freely within there.

BJ Buracker said...

Dude,

No, I don't think it's news, but I think that was James' point, nonetheless. That is, it just doesn't appear from Akin said that the infallible Magisterium is necessary, after all. But I could be putting words in his mouth.

Peace,

BJ
Stupid Scholar

The Dude said...

Ok, BJ. But the argument would be that the infallible magisterium is "necessary" in being able to define the boundaries and settle disputes authoritatively. This does not necessarily correlate to "it must interpret all verses exhaustively and in a final/definitive manner" then. I would venture "they mean at least this much" could be analogous to the notion of infallibility being mainly a negative doctrine, protecting definitions from error, but not necessarily meaning they are therefore absolutely and fully developed.

Matthew Bellisario said...

I find it interesting that someone would expect the Catholic Church to take each verse and infallibly define them to pertain to a certain doctrine. The living Church doesn't have to have a list put together to define each passage of Scripture. She is guided by the Holy Spirit which guides the Church as a living entity. The Catholic Church, as written in the text of the Catechism both the old and the new, shows that it has defined its doctrine on God's Word, both written and oral. There are many Scripture passages quoted in the Catechism that give substance to the Church's teaching on doctrine. Many more than ten as mentioned earlier in this post. The problem we have in the modern western society is this idea that everything has to be written down in order for anything to be authoritative. The Church has never held this mentality.

Although most of what the Church teaches in now written down in some form or another, there are still moral issues that arise in today's society that the Church must deal with. We find that the Protestants are at a loss when it comes to things in the moral arena. Examples, contraception, human cloning, end of life issues, genetic research, etc. The Catholic Church is prepared to deal with these issues and does so by the guiding of the Holy Spirit. Human cloning is not dealt with in the New Testament, yet the Holy Spirit infallibly guides the Church to deal with these issues. The best the Protestants can hope to do is mimic the Catholic Church, and when they do not we can see what happens. We now have a majority of Protestants endorsing birth control, many forms which are causing abortions by the millions, yet they think they are following God's Word. Or we find some apologists who are afraid to deal with the issue claiming these issues are not part of Christian apologetics. Yet nothing can be further from the truth. Contraception is another huge moral question that brings to light where the real Church is, and where it isn't.

Nick said...

BJ,

The Church isnt providing an exhaustive commentary on every passage of Scripture, that is why there are parameters set. It is impractical to go after each and every specific error or danger because there will always be someone saying, "yes the Church condemned this, but that isnt what I was teaching". It is better when the Church sets the tone and defines the parameters as the Church deems necessary.

If someone has questions as to what the Church teaches there are resources like the Catechism which reference other major Church documents.

You mentioned "personal interpretation" but if you mean "private interpretation" that isnt really the issue here. Private interpretation means someone who is not in authority defining teachings and claiming others must obey. Private interpretation does not apply to someone doing a bible study and expressing their opinion within the parameters of the Church.

Alexander Greco said...

Nick, BJ is simply clarifying the debate; however, I agree with you and Matthew in your argument that the Church does not need to infallibly interpret each and every verse of the Scriptures in order to remain consistent with its teachings on the Magisterium's role. James wants to conclude that because the Church declare's herself to be the sole infallible guide to the Sacred Scriptures, then it is uncomprehendable and inconsistent with that teaching that there would be too few infallibly interpreted passages of Scripture. In this case it would be reasonable to suggest that under the proposition that God infallibly guides the Magisterium, he is doing a very poor job infallibly interpreting his own Word. However, this would only be the case if this were God's design for the Magisterium to begin with, and James has, as of yet, offered no compelling case for this interpretation. You have rightly pointed out that the Church has, over time, set parameters for what would be considered an authentic interpretation in keeping within orthodoxy, and declaring heresy those interpretations which fell outside those parameters. I believe that we should also keep in mind that God did not desire to reveal himself to humanity in one instant, but over a very long period.

GeneMBridges said...

I agree with you and Matthew in your argument that the Church does not need to infallibly interpret each and every verse of the Scriptures in order to remain consistent with its teachings on the Magisterium's role. James wants to conclude that because the Church declare's herself to be the sole infallible guide to the Sacred Scriptures, then it is uncomprehendable and inconsistent with that teaching that there would be too few infallibly interpreted passages of Scripture.

As usual the Romanists move the question of the discussion to something we've not asserted.

Namely, to say that the Church would need to do this to remain consistent with the role of the Magisterium is not our argument.

In fact, it proves our argument, namely that your rule of faith reduces to "Sola Eccelsia" to say that she "sets parameters" through her dogmatics.

The argument we make and that none of you here ever seem to "get" is that you are the ones who say that Scripture requires an infallible interpreter, whereas our rule of faith results in "anarchy," because it results in "private interpretation."

The obvious problem is that, unless Rome has infallibly exegeting the meaning of the Scriptures directly (and not indirectly through her dogmatic proclamations), then your position is no better. In fact, it's obviously problematic, because you can't make infallibility jump from the page. To do that, you require an infallible HEARER OR READER, not an infallible interpreter. Ergo, epistemic par results - yet you are the ones who claim superiority.

Further to say "She is guided by the Holy Spirit" is a real problem for a number of reasons:

1. That simply begs the question.
2. Orthodoxy makes the same claim. I know of a number of things that the Orthodox disagree with you all about.
3. So, unless the Holy Spirit is in the business of contradicting Himself, how does one adjudicate the conflicts.

We get back to your fidesitic claims about Rome, which are nothing but question-begging assertions. So, you try to address us on our own level by Scripture, but when you do that you have a problem:

a. Unless Holy Mother Church has infallibly exegeted it for you, you're using private interpretation, which you denigrate in reference to us.

b. You can be true to tradition and tradition not be true, so you're forced into a vicous, circular regress out of which you cannot escape if we ask how we know your exegesis is correct and ours is not.

c. Indeed, when you try to proselytize a Protestant to Rome,that person is going to have to use his private interpretation in order to do it, yet you denigrate that sort of activity.

EA said...

Excellent points Gene!

One quibble though; the one private judgement allowed by Rome is the one which selects for Rome.

As others have pointed out in other venues; one could reasonably expect that a Holy Spirit-led church would not be deceived by the Pseudo-Isidorean Decretals or the Donation of Constantine. The Holy Spirit was remarkably quiet for several centuries while forgeries were employed to expand the reach of Rome.

Matthew Bellisario said...

Of course it needs an infallible interpreter. That is obvious since none of you are interpreting it correctly and are making all kinds of assertions that you cannot back up from Scripture alone. You have made no valid points here at all. The fact of the matter is the Holy Spirit through the Church that Jesus gave us, gives us the complete Gospel which includes Sacred Scripture. Your own private interpretations are just that, private and have no weight since everyone who is claiming to have this correct interpretation of Sacred Scripture all disagree with one another on fundamental Christian doctrine. I also noticed how no one here will take up the challenge on contraception and God's Word. It seems that my argument regarding moral questions was sidestepped and not even addressed. Typical.

Alexander Greco said...

Gene: As usual the Romanists move the question of the discussion to something we've not asserted.

Me: Who uses terminology like "Romanists?" What does this even refer, the Rite one belongs to? I know for a fact that Matthew isn't even a Roman Catholic; he is a member of the Ukrainian Rite. So are you carelessly lumping him in too? Or are you just using the term in a derogatory manner? Which I'm sure Mr. Swan would define as silliness which must not be tolerated.

Gene: Namely, to say that the Church would need to do this to remain consistent with the role of the Magisterium is not our argument.

In fact, it proves our argument, namely that your rule of faith reduces to "Sola Eccelsia" to say that she "sets parameters" through her dogmatics.

Me: We are discussing here those parameters which the Church defines as being within the realm of orthodoxy as pertaining to one's interpretation of Sacred Scripture.

Gene: The argument we make and that none of you here ever seem to "get" is that you are the ones who say that Scripture requires an infallible interpreter, whereas our rule of faith results in "anarchy," because it results in "private interpretation."

Me: I'm not saying that I agree with your simplistic representation of our position, but I am reminded of Acts 8:26-40.

Gene: The obvious problem is that, unless Rome has infallibly exegeting the meaning of the Scriptures directly (and not indirectly through her dogmatic proclamations), then your position is no better. In fact, it's obviously problematic, because you can't make infallibility jump from the page. To do that, you require an infallible HEARER OR READER, not an infallible interpreter. Ergo, epistemic par results - yet you are the ones who claim superiority.

Me: Only if you artificially separate the teaching office of the Church from the Sacred Scriptures, which you are very fond of doing. This is your problem, your presumptive bias interferes with your analysis. How can you come to a proper understanding if you automatically preclude the inherent wholeness between the Church's guidance by the Holy Spirit and the Holy Scriptures? You conveniently set up a straw man by artificially imposing a false dichotomy between the two. This is something that you do not seem to get.

Gene: Further to say "She is guided by the Holy Spirit" is a real problem for a number of reasons:

1. That simply begs the question.

Me: I beg to differ, and yet your assertion of sola scriptura engages in the same tautology.

Gene: 2. Orthodoxy makes the same claim. I know of a number of things that the Orthodox disagree with you all about.

Me: I would be interested in you naming them.

Gene: 3. So, unless the Holy Spirit is in the business of contradicting Himself, how does one adjudicate the conflicts.

Me: Name the conflicts, and we will go through them.

Gene: We get back to your fidesitic claims about Rome, which are nothing but question-begging assertions.

Me: Fideistic claims, huh? Conveniently ignoring the facts could cause someone to agree with you.

Gene: So, you try to address us on our own level by Scripture, but when you do that you have a problem:

a. Unless Holy Mother Church has infallibly exegeted it for you, you're using private interpretation, which you denigrate in reference to us.

b. You can be true to tradition and tradition not be true, so you're forced into a vicous, circular regress out of which you cannot escape if we ask how we know your exegesis is correct and ours is not.

c. Indeed, when you try to proselytize a Protestant to Rome,that person is going to have to use his private interpretation in order to do it, yet you denigrate that sort of activity.

Me: It is clear that your conception of the issues is not. By all means, mold our position into whatever you need to in order to defeat it.

BJ Buracker said...

All,

Matthew 18:15 states, "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone" (ESV).

It has been brought to my attention, in private, that I did not follow this mandate in my comment directed towards James. Therefore, I would like to sincerely, and publicly apologize.

James, I am truly sorry that I did addressed this issue in public. It was wrong and unscriptural. I have sinned against you, and I ask that you forgive me.

In Christ,

BJ
Stupid Scholar
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