Thursday, June 21, 2012

CTC's "Essential Role" of the Roman Church

From Called to Communion:
"Part in parcel with Calvin’s view that the Holy Spirit testifies in our hearts to the veracity of the canon, Calvin rejects the essential role of the Church in identifying the canon."

The key word here (as I see it) is "essential role." I would posit for this CTC contributor, "essential role" means the Roman Church infallibly identifying the contents of the canon. If this is the meaning intended, it would follow that without this "essential role" (according to CTC), the canon would not be infallibly identified. If something must needs be the "essential role", then without it, Scripture may in fact be the very words of God, but they would lack any power or authority to actually benefit anyone until the Roman church plays her "essential role." Until the "essential role" is played, how would one know that the texts they were relying on really were God's Word?

Sure, I guess some people got it right previous to the "essential role" being played, but they did so in such a way that they really, according to the paradigm offered, had no absolute certainty that the words they considered to be to the authoritative words of God really were the authoritative words of God.

The CTC blogger then cites a section from Calvin:
"But a most pernicious error widely prevails that Scripture has only so much weight as is conceded to it by the consent of the church. . . . For they mock the Holy Spirit when they ask: Who can convince us that these writings came from God? . . . . Who can persuade us to receive one book in reverence but to exclude another, unless the church prescribe a sure rule for all these matters?"
As far as it goes, this CTC blogger has done nothing more then point out Calvin rejected the notion of the "essential role" Rome's apologists claim she has.  Curiously though, the CTC blogger goes on to state:
"As an initial matter, Calvin misstates the Catholic position by stating that, according to the Catholic Church, Scripture has its authoritative weight accorded to it by the Church. Rather, the Catholic position is that Scripture has divine authority because it is God-breathed, the Holy Spirit having inspired the texts’ authors. That is, Scripture has divine authority because of its divine author, not because of the role of God’s Church in producing it."
Has Calvin misstated the Roman position? The CTC blogger first states Calvin rejected the "essential role" of the Church in identifying the canon, he then cites Calvin saying "Who can persuade us to receive one book in reverence but to exclude another, unless the church prescribe a sure rule for all these matters" and then the CTC blogger concludes Calvin misstates the Roman position?

Without Rome playing her "essential role" whether these words or those words are "God-breathed" really is irrelevant. In the Roman paradigm, "divine authority" must be identified as such by the infallible Roman church before it's "authoritative weight" can be officially effective or meaningful for the church.

Perhaps Calvin was on to something when he said,
"Thus these sacrilegious men wishing to impose an unbridled tyranny under the cover of the church, do not care with what absurdities they ensnare themselves and others, provided they can force this one idea upon the simple-minded: that the church has authority in all things."


Lest anyone think Calvin did not consider a "role" for the Church with the canon:
It is utterly vain, then, to pretend that the power of judging Scripture so lies with the church that its certainty depends upon churchly assent. Thus, while the church receives and gives its seal of approval to the Scriptures, it does not thereby render authentic what is otherwise doubtful or controversial. But because the church recognizes Scripture to be the truth of its own God, as a pious duty it unhesitatingly venerates Scripture. As to their question — How can we be assured that this has sprung from God unless we have recourse to the decree of the church? —it is as if someone asked: Whence will we learn to distinguish light from darkness, white from black, sweet from bitter? Indeed, Scripture exhibits fully as clear evidence of its own truth as white and black things do of their color, or sweet and bitter things do of their taste.

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