Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The quotable Sippo #7


I have an occasional feature called, "The Quotable Sippo." It's very simple, I just let Catholic apologist Art Sippo speak for himself. Recently, Dr. Sippo provided some of his insights, and well... let's just let the good doctor speak for himself:

While I can appreciate the desire to set good standards in apologetics, most of what we do on this board is colloquial apolgetics and quite frankly NONE of us is qualified to set any standards in defense of the faith. Only the Magisterium can do that and so far, the hierarchy has viewed the diversity of Catholic lay apologists (with some notable exceptions) with general favor.

And quite frankly, this is not a court of law where strict form and method are required. Nor is the field of Catholic apologetics a narrow discipline in which one can blithely dismiss approaches other than one's own.


-snip-


And my comment about "diversity" among Catholic Apologists is quite CENTRAL to this controversy. The strict Thomists and the Transcendenatal Thomists have very differnet ways of defending the faith. The same is true for the Franciscans and the Jesuits.

On this very board, we have a had a controversy over the title of the BVM as the "Mediatrix of All Graces" in which Pat Madrid and I strongly disagreed.

Nobody can claim to speak DEFINITIVELY for Catholic orthodoxy except the Pope and the bishops in communion with him. We apologists in the trenches may have our disagreements but we are all working for the same end. We need to respect that and not go attacking each other needlessly. Sometimes one needs to speak out, but this should be done only for grave necessity.

16 comments:

Howard Fisher said...

"Nobody can claim to speak DEFINITIVELY for Catholic orthodoxy except the Pope and the bishops in communion with him. We apologists in the trenches may have our disagreements but we are all working for the same end."

So the attacks against Sola Scriptura, that says the Bible is not a clear enough guide to be a sufficient infallible rule of faith because "we know" it leads to disagreements, is also true for Sola Ecclesia. Apparently Sippo admits that no one knows what Rome believes, and we should all just remain silent.

:-)

Just out of curiosity, how does Sippo know all RCs (I am assuming serious RCs) are working for the same end?

James Swan said...

"Nobody can claim to speak DEFINITIVELY for Catholic orthodoxy except the Pope and the bishops in communion with him."

So... is Dr. Sippo making a DEFINITE statement?

Hmmm....

Matt Oskvarek said...

Okay, so I have what I think is a fair question. Now, let me say that I am Evangelical/Reformed in my approach and understanding of Scripture. I say that at the outset.

Now, who would we say speaks authoritatively in our understanding of the Scripture? Is it our local pastor and session, in whatever denomination? Is there a "sense of the faithful" that we look for among all believers? Is it the Lutherans? Presbyterians? Non-denominationalists or another group?

How do we come to our collective understanding of what the Scriptures teach? There are, after all, differences in Lutheran and Reformed theology, Pentecostal and mainstream Evangelical theology. So do we just kind of wait and see what we all agree on?

I really do wonder about this. Any takers as to our provisional "magisterium"?

Matt

Matthew Bellisario said...

There is a key here to note when regarding Scripture and proper interpretation. If someone were to hand me a box of letters now written by my grandmother back in the 1930s it would be difficult to understand at times what she was referring to in her letters. For example, some things were implied in the writings that were already considered to be understood by my grandfather who was receiving the letter back in the 30s. When I read it 70 plus years later some things are not all together clear as to what exactly she may have been referring to.

The only way for me to solve this problem is to ask grandmother herself, unfortunately she is dead. I do however have my father who understood the situation at the time who can now pass on to me what the letters actually meant in their entirety. Then I can in turn pass down that information to my children and so on.

This is how the Scriptures work within the Church. The only way to understand Saint John for instance in his writing of his gospel when he was referring to eating the flesh and blood of Jesus is to ask John himself what he meant. Well, we can't do it because Saint John is dead. But he passed on his writing to others back in his day with the oral explanation of it so that those who received it would understand it in its entirety. And so we have the Church and her oral Tradition.

We can see that those who Saint John passed on his gospel to also read it and passed it on faithfully to the Church and the Church has kept this interpretation and passed it along through the centuries. Therefore it is of utmost importance from who you receive your teachings and interpretations from.

Plainly the Arian controversy gives a perfect example of why Scripture cannot be separated from this oral accompaniment. Saint Athansius clearly has this in mind when he wrote his Second Festal Letter attacking heretics and their false interpretations of Scripture. Who does he appeal to? Not someone's private interpretation, but the interpretation of the Saints, that is the interpretations as the Church has collectively handed down. Here Saint Athanasius is clearly referring to an oral Tradition, which he sets against man made tradition. In order for him to pit an accompanying false oral tradition against another, he must have assumed that there was an authentic oral Tradition to refute it with.

He wrote, "But after him (the devil) and with him are all inventors of unlawful heresies, who indeed refer to the Scriptures, but do not hold such opinions as the saints have handed down, and receiving them as the traditions of men, err, because they do not rightly know them nor their power" Festal Letter 2

This is in a nutshell how the Catholic Church holds to all of its doctrine and critical interpretations of Scripture when referring to central doctrine and dogma. The Church however has one advantage above just an ordinary passing on of information on a human level. Jesus said that the Church that He built would be guided infallibly by the Holy Spirit.

L P Cruz said...

Hehehe...
NONE of us is qualified to set any standards in defense of the faith. Only the Magisterium can do that

I am glad that Catholic apologists like Dr. Sippo acknowledges this very vital reality. If truth be told, only the Pope and the Magisterium has the right to speak for Rome.

Matt O,

You asked
who would we say speaks authoritatively in our understanding of the Scripture?

Why of course, who else but the first Protestants - you know who they are (LOL) ;-).

Nice to see you here bro.

Lito

Rhology said...

Can he definitively state that the RCC has definitively proclaimed ANYthing, then?

Where is his vaunted unity of the RCC?

Also, it would seem he's in quite a pickle, since RCC can't be troubled to solve ancient controversies even.

Rhology said...

Jesus said that the Church that He built would be guided infallibly by the Holy Spirit.

Is that a definitive statement? How do you know that? Do you know it infallible? Does it matter whether you know it infallibly? Does the word "infallible" appear in the NT?

EA said...

Matthew Bellasario said: "If someone were to hand me a box of letters now written by my grandmother back in the 1930s it would be difficult to understand at times what she was referring to in her letters...When I read it 70 plus years later some things are not all together clear as to what exactly she may have been referring to."

Matthew illustrates for us the problem of revelational insufficiency. Grandma did a poor job of revealing what she REALLY wanted to say to her family. Good thing Gramdma had family to help communicate things CLEARLY for us.

According to Catholic Theology, Holy Scripture has been insufficiently revealed, so it requires another "infallible" unveiling. A God who cannot clearly communicate with His own creation? Wow!

Back to our story...it turns out that Grandma and Grandpa never consummated their marriage. Why I'm offended that you would even suggest such a thing! Grandma was not like at all. We were all part of Grandpa's family from a previous marriage. As a matter of fact, family tradition has it that old Grandma was never buried. No sirree! She floated right up through the parlor ceiling one day and if you don't believe that, well it's just proof that you're not part of the family.

PaulSceptic said...

Can any of you good Calvinists or Catholics harmonize Paul with Paul?

PaulSceptic said...

Please give it a go http://egopaulus.blogspot.com/

tap said...

A God who cannot clearly communicate with His own creation? Wow!

So Is it God's fault that there are varying number of interpretations? Or is there a set of interpretations that one must follow? please tell.

Matt Oskvarek said...

A "shout out" to brother Lito. Hey man! How you doing, bro?! Long time no see. I used to visit your blog once in awhile. Need to go by there and see what is up.

Yes, I hear you on the provisional Evangelical Magisterium. Just when do our guys get the tall hats, however? lol.

Anyway, cool stuff.

And to all. There are a lot of "Matts" on the list here. I am Matt O (Oskvarek).

Peace and goodwill,
Matt

EA said...

tap said:"So Is it God's fault that there are varying number of interpretations? Or is there a set of interpretations that one must follow? please tell."

No, it's not God's "fault" that there are various interpretations of His Word. But if God doesn't like that, isn't He in a position to do something about it? Perhaps, God in His Wisdom uses the various interpretations and denominations to His purposes.

Catholics like to talk about the "tragedy" of denominations as if God was ill-equipped to deal with such circumstances. What was the situation in Jesus' day? There were the Sadducees, the Pharisees, the Essenes, the God-fearing Gentiles, etc...Did Jesus ever condemn the fact that the OT Covenant community was not a monolithic denomination? No.

tap said...

EA, we can continue this conversation on your blog if comments are off here. lemme know if you are interested.

EA Said:But if God doesn't like that, isn't He in a position to do something about it? Perhaps, God in His Wisdom uses the various interpretations and denominations to His purposes.

Tap:That quite interesting. So there is no need then for you or any calvinists to brow beat jehovah witnesses, Arians. Or call their interpretations wrong, since all can point to various verses that -from thier interpretive scheme- validates their beliefs. but i guess as you said; "...if God doesn't like that, isn't He in a position to do something about it? Oh well.

EA Said:What was the situation in Jesus' day? There were the Sadducees, the Pharisees, the Essenes, the God-fearing Gentiles, etc...Did Jesus ever condemn the fact that the OT Covenant community was not a monolithic denomination? No.

Tap: Please interpret these verses for me & how they relate to each other:

1. Matt 23:2-3 (On Pharasaic Authority);
"Saying: The scribes and the Pharisees have sitten on the chair of Moses. All things therefore whatsoever they shall say to you, observe and do: but according to their works do ye not; for they say, and do not."
2. John 4:20(With Samaritan woman pointing to jacobite ancestry as excuse for schismatic worship;
Our fathers adored on this mountain, and you say, that at Jerusalem is the place where men must adore.Jesus saith to her: Woman, believe me, that the hour cometh, when you shall neither on this mountain, not in Jerusalem, adore the Father.You adore that which you know not: we adore that which we know; for salvation is of the Jews.
3. matt 22:23-33, Mark 12:18-27( Jesus Correcting the sadducees on heretical interpretations)
More on Sadd. http://net.bible.org/dictionary.php?word=Sadducees
see also Acts 23:8, Josephus Antiq 13.10.6

Let continue this on your blog if you don't mind

PaulSceptic said...

Catholics shouldn't complain about the multiplicity of Protestant denominations in existence since they (the Catholics) caused it by sneaking the Marcion authored Pauline Corpus into the New Testament. You get exactly what you deserve for doing that!

Agellius said...

EA writes, 'According to Catholic Theology, Holy Scripture has been insufficiently revealed, so it requires another "infallible" unveiling. A God who cannot clearly communicate with His own creation? Wow!'

Your conclusion is invalid for two reasons:

First, you're begging the question. *If* it is held that the purpose of the scriptures is to be the sole source of Christian belief and morals, then you would have a point: the Catholic position on the necessity of oral tradition, would imply that God blew it. But since the Church does not teach sola scriptura, the Catholic position implies no such thing. We hold that God communicates clearly through both his written word and the Church. The oral tradition God provided for is what makes his revelation to us that much clearer.

Second, if oral tradition is needed to ensure that the proper interpretations are handed down, that does not necessarily imply that the scriptures are at fault. The fault could be the darkened intellect that man brings to the scriptures.