Thursday, October 07, 2010

The super-duper-uper Magisterial authority (aka Part 3)

First came this post and its combox.
Next came this post and its combox.
Then Paul Hoffer wrote up a lengthy reply, found here.  Unfortunately, as we'll see, he has left most of my argument untouched.  His reply consists mostly of responses of the equivalent strength of "Nuh uh!" and self-repetition in the face of substantive rebuttal.
The way I wrote it is addressed to Paul.

You say:
I disagree with Rhology’s question begging statement that the Catholic Magisterium as an interpreter is useless because magisterial statements in turn need an interpreter in order for one to understand them

It's not question-begging.  It's my contention.



unlike the Scriptures, one can consult the Magisterial interpreter and seek clarification of the decision or interpretation.

A point which I addressed clearly in my ROUND 2 post, in at least two ways.  So far you're just ignoring my points, rather than interacting with them.
Namely, 1) the infinite regress (which tries and fails to solve the "problem" of human fallibility) and 2) the fact that the Magisterium virtually never actually does any clearing up of controversies when it easily could do so.



While more questions may have arose about the Church’s understanding of Christ’s nature, the Church was able to respond to them

Now that begs the question, that you can identify "The Church" and that "The Church" that you identify was in the right to do these things. 
Don't go off on a rabbit trail and ask me whether I disagree with those councils' which have been later identified as Big-E Ecumenical Big-C Councils statements w.r.t. Christology; the point is that the later church identifies as "The Church" those people who actually won the struggle.  The winners wrote the history books in a very real sense here.  This is simply pointing to the position with which you agree today and saying "See?  The Magisterium spoke!"  There'd be no way to falsify the statement "The Magisterium spoke." 



one does not have to decide all over again each time they are read what the Scriptures mean as the Church has already done that for them

1) But does one have to decide all over again each time Magisterial proclamations are read what they mean, as the Church has already done that for them? 
2) How can one judge whether the Church spoke correctly in a given case? 
3) How do you know when The Church spoke?  Do you have a list of those infallible proclamations?  If not, doesn't that leave open the very real possibility that you are ascribing authority and infallibility where none exists, and leaves you open to the problem of individual fallibility and error?  And doesn't that mean that "just ask your priest or bishop" would be a completely useless answer?
If so, where is it and does it include itself in the list?

B/c you have no good answers to these questions, what this means for you is that your house is built on sand. Your Magisterium is a paper tiger, a golden gun that's never fired.


Disagreements between adherents who hold different views becomes the means by which doctrines are tested and determined leading to a shared understanding of the what the Church holds thereby leading to greater unity in faith. This is an advantage that those who claim to practice sola scriptura could never have.

Such fideist claims fall apart under scrutiny.


If attorneys were bound by some notion of sola scriptura, we would have to start over and decide what constituted the elements of contract

A statement that makes me think you don't even understand Sola Scriptura.  This is a strawman.  I'd've hoped that you, as an attorney, would put more effort into properly representing your opposition. What was it you said earlier?
“If the facts are against you, argue the law; if the law is against you, argue the facts; if both are against you, abuse opposing counsel.”



we Catholics do not have to re-decide all of the old questions again

How about solving some of the ones that have remained all this time?  I listed quite a few in my ROUND 2 post.  Why don't you go ahead and show us where the Magisterium has cleared all of those up?



I must say though that the James White allusion ("Give me Romans 8 anytime over the code of Canon Law") you use is a bit vague.

I'm a bit of a fanboy, and he has said that numerous times during his Dividing Line webcast, just FYI.  But he first said it in a debate, yes.



as a Catholic I too would say give me Romans 8 over the Code of Canon Law since Romans 8 is part of the Word of God and the Code of Canon Law

Um, except you just finished telling us we need the Magisterium to understand Romans 8 and clear up disagreements about it, whereas the Code of Canon Law comes from The Church, that body that can clear that stuff up for us!  Why move the goalposts now?



Or are you perhaps working off James White’s reputation to lend your argument an air of Protestant magisterial authority?

If the facts are against you, argue the law; if the law is against you, argue the facts; if both are against you, abuse opposing counsel.



Why does one need recourse to a super to the nth power authority in order to make a decision IN RESPONSE TO A DISPUTE?

B/c of the problem you've been trying to solve yourself!  I've already dealt with this, like I mentioned above.  When are you going to take the next step and actually deal with my response?



And if the parties to the dispute both come into the dispute with an “obedience in faith,” that is an attitude of assent to the teachings of the Church, the parties to the dispute will submit to the decision by the Magisterium rather than breaking off to form their own Church or advocate disobedience to the teachings of the Church.

A historically ignorant statement.  This is faithful adherence to Sola Ecclesia! 
"Don't listen; it's the Kool-Aid talking."



we need only one Magisterial authority.

And when ppl disagree about the meaning and application of its proclamations, what then? 
I mean, since ppl's disagreement about the Scr's meaning and application means we need an infallible interpreting authority, let's be consistent, shall we?  Which means you haven't dealt with my points at all. 



Rhology’s smug argument suffers from more question begging as to whether the above referenced scripture passages actually need to be “infallibly” interpreted in order to be understood.

Oh, OK.  Then I'll just say the same thing about any passage YOU bring up and claim that it's unclear.  Unless you're less concerned about consistency than about defending Mother Rome.
For example, you'd said earlier in our interaction the following:
Where the perspecuity of Scriptures falls by the wayside is when there are disputes between Christians as the Scriptures can not arbitrate the dispute. Two people can have sincere differences over the regenerative properties of baptism, paedo-baptism, etc. How does reliance on Scripture help when both parties rely upon them?

Paul Hoffer's smug argument suffers from more question-begging as to whether the above referenced Scripture passages actually need to be “infallibly” interpreted in order to be understood.


No, it is Rhology that introduced the idea that a teaching authority is to be measured by the laity’s response and obedience to it as demonstrated above.

No no no no!  YOU introduced the idea!  You did!  It's in your first comments!  I just quoted you. Here it is again.
Where the perspecuity of Scriptures falls by the wayside is when there are disputes between Christians as the Scriptures can not arbitrate the dispute. Two people can have sincere differences over the regenerative properties of baptism, paedo-baptism, etc. How does reliance on Scripture help when both parties rely upon them?

You still haven't grasped my argument, and it's getting sad.  Do you need to talk over the phone or something, so I can explain it to you?  Maybe this is why you claim (when convenient) the Scriptures aren't perspicuous - you can't even understand my internal critique of your own position, and it's your position.


And since the Church has steadfastly taught since apostolic times that abortion is inherently immoral, evil, and sinful,

And since you can take any two Roman Catholics and ask them about abortion and get 2 different answers... let me virtually-quote Paul again: 
Where the perspicuity of Magisterial proclamations fall by the wayside is when there are disputes between RCs as the Mag proclamations can not arbitrate the dispute. Two people can have sincere differences over the whether it's OK to dismember babies.  How does reliance on the Magisterium help when both parties rely upon them?
If Paul responds, "But it's not true that BOTH are relying on them!", he needs to tell us why that same answer is not available to me as well w.r.t. the Scripture.  I won't hold my breath.


PH had said:
Unlike Protestantism which bolds that each person is his own magisterial authority

I'd responded: How do strawmen help the Roman cause?  Is it Mag teaching that strawmen are the best strategy?  Is that in Lumen Gentium too?

PH never answers but instead quotes some fallible individual who happens to go to his church, saying:  When we speak of private judgment, then, let us be quite clear as to what we mean; it has its uses and it has its abuses. Private judgment, in the sense of compiling a creed for yourself out of the Bible, of accepting this doctrine and rejecting that, of judging what should be and what should not be an integral part of the truth revealed by God -- this, of course, is entirely forbidden, for it is directly contrary to the method of arriving at the truth instituted by Our Lord Jesus Christ.

1) Luke 12:57“And why do you not even on your own initiative judge what is right?"
Matthew 22: 29But Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God."
Mark 12:26“But regarding the fact that the dead rise again, have you not read in the book of Moses"
Luke 6:3And Jesus answering them said, “Have you not even read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him"
Mark 12:10“Have you not even read this Scripture: ‘THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone; 11THIS CAME ABOUT FROM THE LORD, AND IT IS MARVELOUS IN OUR EYES’?”
Matthew 19:4And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE"

Hmm, isn't that crazy?  Jesus actually pushed people back to the Scripture to correct when 2 people disagreed! 

2) Unless Paul can produce an infallible list of Magisterial proclamations, he exercises private judgment in figuring what things the Church says that are infallible things to be obeyed and what things the Church says that are fallible and non-binding.  Paul seems not to have yet wrestled with this problem, and I've given him several chances now over the course of this interaction.

3) He never apologises for the strawman or withdraws it.  Doesn't encourage me to take his point very seriously, since he seems to be talking to someone else.


When opinion, or private judgment, or to borrow Rhology’s term “logical argumentation,” becomes the measure of truth it is only a matter of time before all doctrinal issues become irrelevant due to the utter subjectivity of one’s own opinion.

How does this address the rebuttal I've already laid out?  It doesn't.


I even read an article where a bi-sexual woman who was promoted to the status of “bishop” in the Protestant Episcopal Church proclaim that abortion is sacramental! Where is Protestant unity on these matters or is redefining what constitutes sin a non-essential matter?

1) Ah, the tried-and-true method of lumping me in with flaming liberals!  Maybe Paul would like to be held responsible for everything Mel Gibson does.  After all, he's "Catholic".  He says so!  Just ask him!
2) Again, such fideist claims fall apart under scrutiny.


As I stated in the FIRST ROUND above, Jesus Christ is the measure of truth since He is the one Way, the Truth and Life, not logical argumentation.

Gosh, I wonder if anyone reading this will stop to wonder whether, when I say "logical argumentation", I mean it in the naturalistic materialist sense, or whether I mean it in the presuppositional Reformed sense, wherein one applies logical and contextual hermeneutics to the final standard of truth - God's Word?  Hmmm... I guess I could go back to my blog and delete all the references to "but, believing in Jesus is more probably true than not b/c the Earth's axis is tilted just right!" 
Oh wait, I don't say that kind of thing.  Never mind.  Then maybe Paul could actually do me the service of remembering to whom he's talking.



After all, I can point to some 252 dogmas that have been infallibly defined by my Magisterium.

That sounds like a fallible list to me.  Where is Paul's imprimatur? 
See, that's the thing - to Paul, apparently, the "authority and infallibility of the Magisterium" is a tool to be pulled out of the shed when convenient, say like a screwdriver, but when he needs to cut through a board, he hides his saw behind his back and tries to convince us all he's actually using the screwdriver. Then he shows us the cut board - "See?" 
Buy into the sleight-of-hand at your own peril.


61 comments:

Jennie said...

unlike the Scriptures, one can consult the Magisterial interpreter and seek clarification of the decision or interpretation.


Did he forget that Christians can pray, and that Christians have the Holy Spirit to guide us in understanding scripture?
James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

steve said...

A basic problem is how Roman Catholics identify theological progress. They simply take their denomination as the point of reference: if a theological trend is moving in the direction of modern Catholicism, then that's progress–but if a theological trend is moving away from Catholicism, then that's a deviation.

The Roman church keeps developing, and the Roman church defines theological progress in terms of a development that develops into modern Catholicism!

It's the same circular reasoning that Darwinians use to identify evolutionary pathways. They take macroevolution as a given, start with some extant species, then postulate a trajectory which brings the past into the present. The theory is used to fill in the gaps.

Rhology said...

And if Jae or Bellisario wants to comment, they need first to answer the question asked of them.

Jae's question

Bellisario's question

Unless you first answer the question, your comment will be deleted.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"You [Paul Hoffer] still haven't grasped my argument, and it's getting sad."

Does he really not grasp it? I wrote the following comments on a recent Beggars All thread and he hasn't responded. Which leads me to the hope that he is (finally) grasping the argument.

From HERE:

[Paul Hoffer] "However, to the point, if dogmatic expressions were merely a matter of a poll or a popular vote, then the Association of ego-driven catholic priests in Ireland or whatever else they may choose to call themselves might someday matter. But since it doesn't, women will never be ordained as priests in the Catholic Church."

There's something else you're missing. A Catholic objection to Protestantism is that Sola Scriptura leads to a situation where everyone is their own Pope. There is no one Infallible Interpreter, whereas Catholics do. Protestants scoff and say that Catholics have just pushed the problem back a step.

This case is an example. RC priests know what current Magisterial teaching is about WO. There are some priests and laity who disagree with that Church teaching or that Church interpretation of Scripture.

Having a Magisterium, an Infallible Interpreter, is not the panacea that Catholics say that it is.

Obviously, I'd much rather have my ultimate Authority be Scripture (which all 3 Faith-Traditions agree is God's Inspired Word) than a fallible, man-made authority like the Magisterium whose claims of spiritual benefits and superiority are vastly overblown.

And it's not just WO. There are Catholics who don't trust and who don't believe in the Magisterium's interpretation on the Real Presence, the Magisterium's interpretation on contraception, the Magisterium's interpretation on masturbation, etc.... They have their own interpretation. These Catholics are their own pope. And they are numerous.

Catholics: "We have a Magisterium."

Protestants: "So."

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

(cont.)

Paul Hoffer: "Frankly, I do not care what women pretending to be priests say. Misuse of private judgment to disregard the authority of the Church Christ founded is self-defeating and sinful regardless of how noble sounding or pious one may attempt to rationalize it."

Let's substitute a few words and transpose the above to the following:

"Frankly, I do not care what Liberals pretending to be Christians say. Misuse of private judgment to disregard the authority of the Scriptures God provided is self-defeating and sinful regardless of how noble sounding or pious one may attempt to rationalize it."

Paul, whatever you say about the Authority of the Church that Christ founded, a Protestant could probably adapt it in its essence and make the same claim about the Authority of the Scriptures that God provided.

Thank God for the Reformation.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

(Cont.)

Here's another recent column about how (in)effective having a Magisterium is: Catholics Sound Off on the Homosexualist Agenda, Modest Dress.

Excerpts:

"I have seen schools where open homosexuals teach and work in the Administration. I have overheard conversations between nuns and students where the language was as disturbing as the topic. My older brother works in higher education and has been fired from a Catholic college for being 'too Catholic.' A dear friend once told me, 'I will not spend money on or make sacrifices to send my children to a Catholic School just so they can loose their faith.'

My point in all of this is simply, you are not alone in this fight. The Catholic Church is under attack from within.

We have six children and have homeschooled in the past because of the liberal nature of Catholic schools.

We are conservative Catholics and adhere to the Church's teachings but we found it a better choice to send our older child to a non-denominational Christian school.

We had to move our kids to a Lutheran school because they had far more respect for parents than the Catholic school. Catholic administrators could care less about what the Church teaches and the principle of subsidiarity."

Having a Magisterium, having an Infallible Interpreter sure solves all the issues that Catholics say that Protestants have with private interpretation.

(Not.)

Jae said...
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steelikat said...

Rhology:

But what Paul Hoffer is talking about (if I understood it correctly) is not an infinite regress.

For example, the early christological controversies:

Nicaea and Constantinople attempted to clear up some christological misunderstandings. Some people still didn't get it. Ephesus further clarified. Some people still didn't get it. Chalcedon clarified some more.

From that point on, the only people who didn't "get it" were those people who disagreed with one or more of the aformentioned councils, those people who chose not to accept what the magisterium said.

That is not an infinite regress, that is a finite back and forth. It may have seemed interminable for awhile but after chalcedon it was pretty much nailed down. Of course, a lot of people are still Arians, and some people are still monophysites, nestorians, etc., but those are people who don't accept the first four councils or who don't know anything about them.

It's not quite that cut-and-dried, I would argue that there are still some crypto-nestorians who intend to be chalcedonian in their christology but have a different understanding as to what the terms "nature" and "person" mean, but there is no reason to doubt that christological ecumenical council number five, were modern crypto-nestorians inclined to be taught by it, could clear that up as well. The problem is that we now have a disunited church so real ecumenical councils have become impossible.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Fact: Individual Catholics have differing interpretations of Magisterial dogma.

steelikat said...

"The Magisterium virtually never actually does any clearing up of controversies when it easily could do so."

But it does (or "they do," I think now we have competing magisteriums, unfortunately). The Christological controversies are a good example of that. When Nicaea and Constantinople did not succeed in clearing up the controversies, two more councils were convened. The early church did not give up until it had succeeded in clearing up the controversies.

Some controversies aren't getting cleared up because there are now multiple magisteriums that don't interact. There was some interaction between the Lutherans and the Roman Catholics but the two parties gave up a few hundred years ago and now there isn't a unified Protestant magisterium that is capable of interacting with the Roman magisterium in order to clear up the controversies that separate them.

That is where your idea of a "super-magisterium" might be meaningful. The church needs a real ecumenical council.

Rhology said...

Jae,

Read my first comment in this combox.


steelikat,

I'd need to see why it's NOT an infinite regress. I've made my case.


From that point on, the only people who didn't "get it" were those people who disagreed with one or more of the aformentioned councils, those people who chose not to accept what the magisterium said.

And yet there have been OTHER councils which we LATER judge to have been wrong. And yet we could say the same thing about those councils' decision. If they had come out historically ahead, then we'd be saying that OTHER people didn't follow "the Magisterium".


That is not an infinite regress, that is a finite back and forth.

You're also talking about something pretty different than Paul Hoffer, and therefore I, was.


It may have seemed interminable for awhile but after chalcedon it was pretty much nailed down.

Except for those who disagreed.


Of course, a lot of people are still Arians, and some people are still monophysites, nestorians, etc., but those are people who don't accept the first four councils or who don't know anything about them.

Yes, exactly. And BY MODERN STANDARDS you judge them wrong. But such was far from clear BACK THEN.


The problem is that we now have a disunited church so real ecumenical councils have become impossible.

Why precisely is that a problem? Please include an exposition of 1 Cor 11:17 in your response.


But it does (or "they do," I think now we have competing magisteriums, unfortunately).

1) In my ROUND 2 post, I laid out a great deal of issues on which it HASN'T spoken.
2) If I am judged on the basis of people who don't go to my church, it's only fair that I return the favor to the RC.

steelikat said...

Of course radical skepticism condemns you to infinite regression but I don't think anyone is advocating radical skepticism here.

What catholics say is that there is manifest controversy within the church regarding points of doctrine, even though we all have access to the same scripture, so we ought to look to the magisterium to clear things up. What Roman Catholics add is that the magisterium is infallible, which it seems to me does more harm than good. How do Trent and Augsburg settle controversies if both sides, Trent officially and Augsburg effectively, consider themselves absolutely infallible?

Rhology said...

The skepticism is on Paul Hoffer's part with respect to the perspicuity of Scripture. It's his excuse for appealing to the Magisterium all the time. Don't make the same mistake he is, of forgetting who's the skeptic here.


What catholics say is that there is manifest controversy within the church regarding points of doctrine, even though we all have access to the same scripture, so we ought to look to the magisterium to clear things up.

See, there YOU go again with the same stuff.
What I say is that there is manifest controversy within the RCC regarding points of doctrine, even though we all have access to the same Magisterium, so we ought to look to the super-Magisterium to clear things up.

steelikat said...

"And when ppl disagree about the meaning and application of its proclamations, what then?"

Let's face it, some people are just not too bright.

When there is enough disagreement, however, so that it becomes manifest that the first proclamation (clarification of scripture) was unclear, the SAME magisterium can come back a second time, or even a third and fourth time, whatever it takes, to make itself clear. That's what happened with the early christological controversies.

A "super magisterium" isn't needed, what is needed is a magisterium that is made of actual people who can observe that they weren't misunderstood and come back with clarifications. And that is one advantage that a magisterium has over scripture. Scripture is static and cannot observe and respond, it is not a person or a group of people. Of course the magisterium has to respond FROM scripture and IN ACCORDANCE WITH scripture, we can't allow it to just make things up.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Steelikat: "What Roman Catholics add is that the magisterium is infallible, which it seems to me does more harm than good."

I hear what you're saying Steelikat.

Jae said...
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Jae said...
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steelikat said...

It isn't clear to me what perspicuity means, even though I just looked it up.

Leaving aside that question, then, scripture is certainly not sufficient in the sense that the church can always succesfully read it and agree on the right conclusion. That is manifest by the fact that Augsburg and Geneva have substantial disagreements even though they have access to the same scripture. That is manifest by the fact that there were substantial christological disagreements in the early church. Ecumenical councils were needed to clear things up, not because scripture is inadequate in some way, but because it is not a person, it cannot have a dialog with you to clear up your misconceptions. A magisterium though inferior to scripture in that it is not "inerrant," is superior in the one sense that it is made up of actual living people who can notice when errors creep in and actively respond to them to clear them up.

Rhology said...

Jae,

If you want to comment, you need first to answer the question asked of you.

HERE IS YOUR QUESTION. ANSWER IT.

Unless you first answer the question, your comments will be deleted.

Jae said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rhology said...

steelikat,

You haven't taken into acct the fact that:
1) The Holy Spirit illumines the hearts of believers.
2) The Scripture is living and active.

You're still dealing with a slightly different topic.

Tim Enloe said...

If Catholics would just learn the REAL Reformation doctrine of perspicuity instead of perpetually confusing it with cheap caricatures drawn from the worst of Protestant Fundamentalism, much of this conflict would be unnecessary.

Sure, you can find lots of "me and Bible out in the woods" modern Protestants who pretend that whatever pops into their narrow little minds as "the literal interpretation" or "face value" of Scripture actually IS that, and who then use that to divide from others with whom they disagree. But this is hardly the classical Protestant notion of "clarity" or "authority."

It's one thing to attack modern Protestant Fundamentalism. It's another thing to retroject the categories of Fundamentalism into the Reformation itself. It wouldn't hurt to actually GET "deep in history" instead of just CLAIMING to be.

steelikat said...

Rhology,

"What I say is that there is manifest controversy within the RCC regarding points of doctrine, even though we all have access to the same Magisterium, so we ought to look to the super-Magisterium to clear things up."

The RCC has its own magisterium. As long as the controversies you are referring to remain within the RCC and the church as a whole is content to remain disunited, the RCC's own magisterium can clear up any controversies that threaten become so serious that they threaten to hurt the RCC.

The super-magisterium is only needed insofar as the universal church decides that we are no longer content to remain disunited. In that case, our individual confessions' magisteriums will not be sufficient, we will need a super-magisterium to clear up the serious differences that separate us as confessions.

Jae said...
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Rhology said...

Jae,

Your next comment will either answer the question or will point me to where you've answered it.

Jae said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
steelikat said...

Rhology,

I am dealing with a slightly different topic because I think my topic brings more clarity to the world. If Paul Hoffer didn't bring the supposed infallibility of the magisterium into the debate he could make a lot more headway. An effective magisterium does not have to be absolutely infallible it only has to be reliable and trusted.

How do you know I haven't "taken into account" the two facts you mentioned? As for fact two, I know of a way scripture can metaphorically said to be a person, but metaphor is open-ended so maybe you should clarify what you mean and explain how taking it into account would change what I said. As for fact 1, it is true but I don't see how "taking it into account" changes what I said. I can see how, if I were writing an essay elaborating on what I said I would take into account the work of the holy spirit in all that. That wouldn't change the conclusion however and I'm trying to be brief. This is a comment area.

steve said...

steelikat said...

"But it does (or 'they do,' I think now we have competing magisteriums, unfortunately). The Christological controversies are a good example of that. When Nicaea and Constantinople did not succeed in clearing up the controversies, two more councils were convened. The early church did not give up until it had succeeded in clearing up the controversies."

How did that clear up the controversy? Didn't that trigger a schism by excommunicating the Oriental Orthodox churches?

Paul Hoffer said...

Hello folks, I just got Rhology's e-mail this morning that he posted an article in response. I will try to read the article and offer a sur-response hopefully sooner than Rhology replied to my article. Unfortunately, with work, classes with responsibilities that go with same, trying to finish up my Lampesian posts and family matters, I have been rather "fractionated" to coin a term. With the upcoming holiday, I will try to give Rhology's article and the comments here, pro and con, the attention they deserve.

I would give Mr. Hays credit though-his first comment does hit upon a truth that I will try also address in responding to Rhology's article since I do not agree that the application of tradition is either evolutionary or circular.

God bless all here!

steelikat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
steelikat said...

Steve,

That's why a magisterium should not try to settle every controversy, only the ones so important they are worth causing a schism over. There is always the danger that some will sacrifice catholicity rather than give up the erroneous doctrine they are attached to. Worse, there is a danger that the Magisterium is wrong or misunderstands the faction they may be alienating.

steelikat said...

Rhology,

"there is still controversy...even though we have access to the same magisterium."

But we don't. non-RCs don't accept the authority of the Roman magisterium, at least not after the date of the particular schism that divides them. Similarly, calvinists and Lutherans have different magisteriums, and radical Protestants deny that they need a magisterium. Once you reject the authority of a magisterium, you no longer have access to it as a magisterium, because you don't accept it as magister.

I agree with you that a super-magisterium is needed, to unite the various tragic schisms, where I disagree is the proposition that a small cardinal number is infinity. Four christological councils is a lot, for example, but only a neurotically impatient person would call it "infinity."

steelikat said...

If in order to understand me, you had to ask my dad for clarification, in order to understand him you had to ask his dad for clarification, etc, is that an infinite regress? Yes. Or if not infinite it might as well be, you're going to have to go all the way back to Adam.

But what if, in order to clear up a misunderstanding, you could just ask me. It my be necessary for a dialog, there might be some back-and-forth, but if we were both patient, I could get the point across, without anything resembling an infinite regress. It would simply take a dialog.

Similarly, in order to understand the magisterium, you don't need a super-magisterium, you can get clarification from the magisterium itself, "what did you mean by that." And that precisely has happened in history. An infinite regress is not necessary because the magisterium is literally personal and a kind of real dialog is possible.

But can't you do the same with scripture, can't you let scripture interpret scripture? You can of course, and you should, but scripture is not literally personal and there are limits to what the metaphorical dialog can accomplish. Scripture is static, and can not literally react to misunderstanding the way a person, or a magisterium that is really and literally personal, can.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Fact: Individual Catholics have differing interpretations of Magisterial dogma.

This is an indisputable fact, yes? I believe that Pope Benedict XVI would agree that this is an indisputable fact.

Catholics: "We have a Magisterium."

Protestants: "So."

steelikat said...

Truth,

OK, I'll bite. So...what?

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Steelikat,

Have you not read and understood Rhology's post this whole time?

Here's a relevant excerpt from Rho's post:

"And when ppl disagree about the meaning and application of its proclamations, what then?
I mean, since ppl's disagreement about the Scr's meaning and application means we need an infallible interpreting authority, let's be consistent, shall we?"

steelikat said...

Truth,

I disagree slightly with Rhology on this. All we need is a trusted authoritative teaching authority. If it's infallible that's a bonus but I don't think it's something we need to worry about as long as we trust the Holy Spirit to guide the church, fallibility or not.

In case you are wondering, I think "ppl" means "people," and "Scr" means "scripture."

Rhology said...

All we need is a trusted authoritative teaching authority.

And we have one. The Scripture. Done and done.

steelikat said...

Truth,

I'm sensing that there's something your're not getting, which I'll try to explain again.

Suppose someone says to you, we need the magisterium (leave "infallible" out of it for now) to settle disagreements over the meaning of scripture (in formulating specific doctrines). If you haven't thought it through carefully, your knee-jerk reaction might be: 1. Why don't we need a super-magisterium to settle disagreements over the meaning of magisterial teaching?

The answer would be, the magisterium is personal. It can settle the disagreements itself. Let's say the magisterium teaches something, but Christians disagree over what the teaching meant. The magisterium ITSELF can notice this, and react with more clarification.

Now if you really weren't thinking things through carefully, you might say "well why can't scripture do that, why can't it notice that Christians misunderstood what it said originally and issue clarifications ITSELF, thereby eliminating a need for a magisterium." Well, a simple and sufficient answer is, "Now that the last apostle has died, the canon is closed. No clarifications are permitted." In other words, scripture is not literally personal and living in that sense.

Rhology said...

Let's say the magisterium teaches something, but Christians disagree over what the teaching meant. The magisterium ITSELF can notice this, and react with more clarification.

1) In theory. In practice, it almost never does so.
2) In theory it would also need to provide an absolutely clear notice that "this statement is infallible". They NEVER do that.
3) Let's say the Magisterium teaches something, but RCs disagree over what the teaching meant. The Magisterium ITSELF can notice this, and react with more clarification. Now, let's say RCs disagree over what the clarification meant. The Magisterium ITSELF can notice this, and react with more clarification.
Now, let's say RCs disagree over what THAT clarification meant. The Magisterium ITSELF can notice this, and react with more clarification.
Now, let's say RCs disagree over what THAT clarification meant. The Magisterium ITSELF can notice this, and react with more clarification.
Now, let's say RCs disagree over what THAT clarification meant. The Magisterium ITSELF can notice this, and react with more clarification.
Now, let's say RCs disagree over what THAT clarification meant. The Magisterium ITSELF can notice this, and react with more clarification.
Now, let's say RCs disagree over what THAT clarification meant. The Magisterium ITSELF can notice this, and react with more clarification.
Now, let's say RCs disagree over what THAT clarification meant. The Magisterium ITSELF can notice this, and react with more clarification.
Now, let's say RCs disagree over what THAT clarification meant. The Magisterium ITSELF can notice this, and react with more clarification.
Now, let's say RCs disagree over what THAT clarification meant. The Magisterium ITSELF can notice this, and react with more clarification.
Now, let's say RCs disagree over what THAT clarification meant. The Magisterium ITSELF can notice this, and react with more clarification.
Now, let's say RCs disagree over what THAT clarification meant. The Magisterium ITSELF can notice this, and react with more clarification.
Now, let's say RCs disagree over what THAT clarification meant. The Magisterium ITSELF can notice this, and react with more clarification.
Now, let's say RCs disagree over what THAT clarification meant. The Magisterium ITSELF can notice this, and react with more clarification.
Now, let's say RCs disagree over what THAT clarification meant. The Magisterium ITSELF can notice this, and react with more clarification.
Now, let's say RCs disagree over what THAT clarification meant. The Magisterium ITSELF can notice this, and react with more clarification.
Now, let's say RCs disagree over what THAT clarification meant. The Magisterium ITSELF can notice this, and react with more clarification.
Now, let's say RCs disagree over what THAT clarification meant. The Magisterium ITSELF can notice this, and react with more clarification.
Now, let's say RCs disagree over what THAT clarification meant. The Magisterium ITSELF can notice this, and react with more clarification....

steelikat said...

Rhology,

"We have one...done and done."

Of course, but Truth and I were talking about a literally personal teaching authority, one that can react in history to how Christians may or may not be "getting it," so to speak.

For example, scripture didn't settle the major critical differences between Lutherans, Calvinists, and Armininians, all of whom were sola scripturists. It cannot do so the way a literally personal teaching authority can do, precisely because it is static and the canon is closed. That is why we have protestant magisteriums, that is why we have the Augsburg confession, the council of Dort, the Westminster confession, etc. Our continued division is why we ought to take seriously the idea of an ecumenism of biblical orthodoxy and keeping the protestant magisterium alive. Of course radical protestantism (by which I mean non-magisterial) will follow its own path into anarchy no matter what we do, but that doesn't mean the church should abandon its own faithful.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"Of course, but Truth and I were talking about a literally personal teaching authority, one that can react in history to how Christians may or may not be "getting it," so to speak."

I did not think that I was talking about a "literally personal teaching authority".

My thesis rather was that the "Infallible" Magisterium of the RCC doesn't really buy Catholics all that much. Sola Scriptura is better and more biblically argued than Rome's sola ecclesia

Rhology said...

For example, scripture didn't settle the major critical differences between Lutherans, Calvinists, and Armininians, all of whom were sola scripturists.

The Magisterium didn't settle the major critical differences between Augustinians and semi-Pelagians, all of whom were sola Romists. Or evolutionists and creationists. Or charismatics and not. Or Thomists and Molinists.


It cannot do so the way a literally personal teaching authority can do, precisely because it is static and the canon is closed.

So when is it going to get off its scarlet-clad rear end and do so?


keeping the protestant magisterium alive

No thanks. The Scripture is a surer guide than mere men.

You need to go thru and read these articles again. You're not getting anywhere, and this has already been discussed many times.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Steelikat: "For example, scripture didn't settle the major critical differences between Lutherans, Calvinists, and Armininians, all of whom were sola scripturists."

True.

But that's the way it goes.

BTW, the Magisterium didn't settle the Great Schism with the Eastern Orthodox either.

Or sedevacantist Catholics.

Or other Catholic splinter groups.

steelikat said...

Rhology,

"1. In theory. In practice, it almost never does so."

In practice, it almost never has to. For various historical reasons a large segment of the church is radically protestant, by which I mean non-magisterial. If these people don't get it the first time it's because they're stubborn (collectively stubborn--I'm not talking about people with a simple faith they've inherited). What is needed in that case is not more clarification, but a humble attitude of willingness to be taught.

2. I disagree with you on the need for the magisterium to be literally infallible so that doesn't seem like a problem to me.

3. Typing something over and over multiple times does not prove there is an infinite regress (it only proves you don't know how to use ctrl-c and ctrl-w, ha ha) Seriously, though, clarification when it occurs does not work that way. You already know that if you have ever engaged in a patient dialog with a real person where something needed to be clarified. Sometimes it may seem like an infinite regress but that is impatience. Sometimes a back-and-forth is necessary, it may take time and several clarifications, but with patience clarification is eventually achieved. Several is not infinity.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Steelikat,

Do you understand Rhology's comment at 11:53 am from today?

Rhology said...

Seriously, though, clarification when it occurs does not work that way.

Name me one time when you KNOW the Magisterium has infallibly spoken to clear up a relevant controversy. In the last 400 years, let's say. Include how you know it was infallible.

steelikat said...

Truth,

"I did not think that I was talking about a 'literally personal teaching authority'.

I thought that's what you were talking about--that is, you were talking about a magisterium and a magisterium by definition is a personal teaching authority.

I think it's problematic to talk about the RCC in this regard unless you yourself are an RC (forgive me if I've misunderstood and you are). You don't accept the magisterium of the RCC after the reformation and you shouldn't. My comments were intended to be more general.

Rhology,

Splinter groups are manifestly anarchist and radically protestant. What we are saying about the magisterium does not apply to them because they don't want to be taught. They (collectively) lack humility. Furthermore a few RC splinter groups are the least of the RCCs problems. The real problem in the church is the Catholic/Protestant schism itself, and the Western/Eastern Schism that preceded it. The magisterium failed in both cases (if that isn't proof that it isn't literally in-fail-able I don't know what is).

You are wrong about Augustinians and Semi-Pelagians and some of your other examples, though. The Magisterium did not fail. The existence of small spinter groups is not failure--that is, your definition of success is impractically rigorous. Those who will not be taught will not be taught and the teacher can do nothing about it no matter how good he is. Success is preventing major schism, it is keeping the mainstream of the church on track, and presenting scriptural truth to every generation, being a pillar of scriptural truth.

Rhology said...

The Magisterium did not fail. The existence of small spinter groups is not failure--that is, your definition of success is impractically rigorous.

In that case, the Scripture did not fail. The existence of small spinter groups from what Scripture teaches is not failure--that is, your definition of success is impractically rigorous.

For real, you need to read this. Until you show that you even understand what the issue is here, I'm going to step back from this thread.

steelikat said...

Rhology,

"Name me one time when you KNOW the Magisterium has infallibly spoken to clear up a relevant controversy."

This is a good example of give-and-take and patience being necessary for clarification. As I've said, but apparently not clearly enough, I disagree with your idea that we need to know with certainty that magisteriums have "infallibly spoken." It's really best to leave the question of infallibility out of it. I wasn't talking about the magisterium being infallible I was simply talking about the magisterium being necessary, and really only touching on the subject. I think the discussion of the subject needs to delve someday into the magisterium as a historic witness.

Of course if you want to talk to a knowledgeable RC about the doctrine of infallibility I encourage you to do so. Be patient and charitable, as you are being with me, and with sufficient (not infinite) back-and-forth the two of you will come to understand each other's positions and the substance of your differences.

steelikat said...

"Until you show that you even understand what the issue is here...

Oh, I will read that article, thank you. It seems to be only obliquely related to most of the points I was making in my comments, which were not in a very specific sense about the doctrine of sola scriptura or the doctrine of sola ecclesia per se nor were they about the urban legend of 30,000 denominations or whatever it's supposed to be. I WILL read it though.

"I'm going to step back from this thread."

That seems wise. I sense that you are eager to talk to an infallibist and a Romanist about some very specific things whereas I was addressing some more general ideas about the need for magisteriums and the specific question of whether logical consistency demands super-super-super... magisteriums or infinite regressions or other such absurd monstrosities.

steelikat said...

Rhology,

Oh, I want to be on the record that I most heartily agree that scripture did not fail.

One thing that did happen in christian history is that the some of the sincere faithful failed at times to properly understand the meaning of scripture in regards to important and "major" doctrines. It seems obvious to me that we were given a magisterium for that reason, and shame on us for not cultivating it and taking it seriously.

Of course magisteriums fail to be scripture, scripture fails to be a literal personal magisterium, dogs fail to be cats and men fail to be women. But that's just because the world is complex rather than simple.

steelikat said...

More fundamentaly, scripture cannot succeed or fail, as scripture is not literally personal.

Only a literal person can act. If anybody talks about scripture being fallible or infallible they must be speaking metaphorically or speaking gibberish. That is why it is a good habit to always modify "scripture" with the adjective "inerrant."

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"That is why it is a good habit to always modify "scripture" with the adjective "inerrant."

I'll lift up a toast to that statement.

natamllc said...

Whew,

gone over all these comments; some more carefully than others, though.

Jennie, you win!

The rest of you guys probably need to submit to that woman as she has brilliantly put forth the best response!

Sola Scriptura anyone? How's about Sola Scriptura ala prayer by Faith believing God will answer?

James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

And, furthermore, when Rhol cites:

Luke 12:57“And why do you not even on your own initiative judge what is right?"

I hope that is considered gas being poured onto a flame of combustions?

If my hope is realized, then this should flame hotter?

1Co 10:15 I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say.

Jennie said...

Natamallc,
Your last verse is great. Sensible people, those who have wisdom because they fear the LORD, can judge for themselves what the Apostles and prophets said. They have faith and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and can come directly to the throne of God without any mediator but Christ.
Here is an Old Testament passage that show this, too. Each parent is to teach his/her children the word of God, which will be in their hearts, and be spoken of in every situation and place in their lives. Since the word is in their hearts and God is with them, they can interpret for themselves and their children. Are we any less than the Israelites who came before Christ?
Deuteronomy 6:1 “Now this is the commandment, and these are the statutes and judgments which the LORD your God has commanded to teach you, that you may observe them in the land which you are crossing over to possess, 2 that you may fear the LORD your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, you and your son and your grandson, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. 3 Therefore hear, O Israel, and be careful to observe it, that it may be well with you, and that you may multiply greatly as the LORD God of your fathers has promised you—‘a land flowing with milk and honey.’
4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

steelikat said...

More math:

Rhology in his hypothetical case, listed 20 clarifying statements.

20 does not equal infinity.

And to the retort "well, if we'd kept going it might have taken an infinity of clarification"

My response would be, "only if the people who needed the clarification were infinitely stupid." A lot of people are stupid but nobody is infinitely stupid.

The "infinite regression" argument does not work if the same living magisterium that clarified disagreements on scripture is clarifying its own clarifications (when necessary).

steelikat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rhology said...

20 does not equal infinity.

Um, you still don't understand what I've been talking about, sorry.



My response would be, "only if the people who needed the clarification were infinitely stupid."

So it's stupid to ask for clarification, then, is what you're saying.



The "infinite regression" argument does not work if the same living magisterium that clarified disagreements on scripture is clarifying its own clarifications (when necessary).

And what if you need clarification for the clarification? And then clarification for that? I mean, if we're trying to solve the "problem" of the fallible individual interpreter...
Seriously, I suggest you give it up. You're headed nowhere.

steelikat said...

"so it's stupid to ask for the clarification."

no, I'm saying that an infinite number of clarifications will not be necessary. probably not even close to twenty, for that matter.

"And what if you needed clarification for the clarification?"

in a dialog, you could ask.

"and then clarification for that."

And again one could ask.

"I mean if we're trying to solve the problem of the 'fallible' interpreter."

You eliminated the problem when you conceded that the magisterium could clarify it's own statements. if we posit that magisterial statements must be clarified by a super-magisterum, which must be clarified by a super-super-magisterium, etc, we would indeed have a logical infinite regress, but your concession eliminated the logical problem.

"you're headed nowhere..."

Where there's life there's hope. :-)

Seriously, though, your attempt to prove a point by pretending to be the infinitely stupid interlocutor doesn't prove anything, either. To succeed, a magisterium does not have to produce something that will teach the stupidest of laymen, all it has to do is be accepted as an authority by the church, correct errors that historically arise, and yes, occasionally clarify it's own teachings. Traditional Protestantism has demonstrated that this can succeed. Radical Protestantism, furthermre, which insists a magisterium is not necessary, unknowingly benefits by this process by living parasitically off traditional protestantism. One of the (temporal) reasons that your obscure denomination has degenerated into som wacky cult is the positive influence of magisterial Protestantism.

steelikat said...

I meant, "has not degenerated."