In comment #24 of the "Called to Communion" thread, Michael Liccione said:
How to locate and identify “the Church,” and what kind of teaching authority she has, are questions to be answered by divine revelation.This of course was part of a larger argument he makes, but these are his foundational assumptions. Breaking that out into two separate items:
1. How to locate and identify "the Church" is a question to be answered by divine revelation.
2. How to locate and identify what kind of teaching authority "the Church" has is a question to be answered by divine revelation.
(Nearby, he describes his larger argument this way: I will say that the form of the argument is conditional. Thus, if we are to reliably distinguish between divine revelation on the one hand and human opinions about the “sources” on the other–whatever those sources are taken to be–we need “a living, dominically instituted authority that is divinely preserved from error under certain conditions.” Taking Scripture “alone” as the needed “final” authority doesn’t cut it. For one thing, Scripture is a book, and books do not tell us how to interpret them. For another, given that Scripture itself does not assert sola Scriptura, taking Scripture alone as the final authority is itself a developed doctrine that cannot be considered irreformable if the Church is always fallible.)
Elsewhere he says virtually the same thing: in order to distinguish “the propositional content of divine revelation from mere human opinions about the data taken as sources,” disputes about how Scripture and Tradition answer the above questions only be settled by a living, dominically instituted authority that is divinely protected from error under certain conditions.
Talk about starting with your conclusion. The Roman Catholic Church actually posits itself as "“a living, dominically instituted authority that is divinely preserved from error under certain conditions.”
So we can set out the argument this way:
P1: If we are able to reliably distinguish between divine revelation and human opinions [about what actually is "divine revelation"], then [God will provide(?)] “a living, dominically instituted authority that is divinely preserved from error under certain conditions.”
P2: We [can only assume that God would give us an infallible way to] reliably distinguish between divine revelation and human opinions.
C: Therefore, [God provides(?)] “a living, dominically instituted authority that is divinely preserved from error under certain conditions.”
I hope someone will please let me know if I am missing something here.
Elsewhere, he says "But the debate is precisely about the extent to which something called "the Church," the Mystical Body of Christ which, together with the risen Christ, makes up "the whole Christ," has been granted such authority. I don't believe, and never have been able to believe, that we can dispense with the living voice of "the" Church—whichever communion of churches that may be—in ascertaining what God has revealed to us. In that belief, I am far from alone."
The authority question restated, February 5, 2009.
I've discussed this at length. Here, for example, Adrian Forescue "assumes the church":
All we suppose, before we come to the Church, is that our Lord Jesus Christ was a man sent by God and whom we must follow if we wish to serve God in the proper way; that he founded one visible Church, to which his followers should belong; that this Church is, as a matter of historic fact, the communion of Rome (not, however, supposing anything about the papacy, but supposing only visible unity and historic continuity). This much must be presupposed and therefore does not rest on the authority of the Church. All else does. (Pgs 26-27, the parenthetical note is Fortescue's).Before him, John Henry Newman said:
Till positive reasons grounded on facts are adduced to the contrary, the most natural hypotheses, the most agreeable to our mode of proceeding in parallel cases, and that which takes precedence of all others, is to consider that the society of Christians, which the Apostles left on earth, were of that religion to which the Apostles had converted them; that the external continuity of name, profession, and communion, argues a real continuity of doctrine; that, as Christianity began by manifesting itself as of a certain shape and bearing to all mankind, therefore it went on so to manifest itself; and that the more, considering that prophecy had already determined that it was to be a power visible in the world and sovereign over it, characters which are accurately fulfilled in that historical Christianity to which we commonly give the name. It is not a violent assumption, then, but rather mere abstinence from the wanton admission of a principle which would necessarily lead to the most vexatious and preposterous scepticism, to take it for granted, before proof to the contrary, that the Christianity of the second, fourth, seventh, twelfth, sixteenth, and intermediate centuries is in its substance the very religion which Christ and His Apostles taught in the first, whatever may be the modifications for good or for evil which lapse of years, or the vicissitudes of human affairs, have impressed upon it.And once you make this assumption (and only then), then do you [or rather, Catholic theologians]
return to the sources of divine revelation: for it belongs to them to point out how the doctrine of the living Teaching Authority is to be found either explicitly or implicitly in the Scriptures and in Tradition.”These "implicit" or "explicit" ways that "the doctrine of the living Teaching Authority" are found either in the Scriptures or Tradition or both? ("Tradition" not being genuine "tradition," but rather, something that some church father or council may have said that this "living Teaching Authority" has "picked and/or choosed" to be a part of "Tradition"?)
In this way "the living Teaching Authority" is equated with "divine revelation" in that it identifies both "the Church" and also "how to locate and identify what kind of teaching authority "the Church" has".
Am I missing something? Is this the Michael Liccione method?