Monday, June 25, 2012

Roman Catholics and Private Judgment

22. How may it be shown that the Romanist theory, as well as the Protestant, necessarily throws upon the people the obligation of private judgment?

Is there a God? Has he revealed himself? Has he established a church? Is that church an infallible teacher? Is private judgment a blind leader? Which of all pretended churches is the true one? Every one of these questions evidently must be settled in the Private judgment of the inquirer, before he can, rationally or irrationally, give up his private judgment to the direction of the self–asserting church. Thus of necessity Romanists appeal to the Scriptures to prove that the Scriptures cannot be understood, and address arguments to the private judgment of men to prove that private judgment is incompetent; thus basing an argument upon that which it is the object of the argument to prove is baseless.

Hodge, A.A., Outlines of Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1972 reprint), p. 91.


natamllc said...


just a typo acknowledgement.

You posted at

In your initial statement you spelled Jerusalem: Council of Jeruslaem .

Can you make a typo correction after posting an article there?

James Swan said...

Thanks, fixed.

Tim Enloe said...

I've always been puzzled by how RC apologists don't see this serious flaw in their argument. The only hypothesis I've been able to come up with that makes any sense is that most of them are "evidentialists" in their apologetic methodology. As evidentialists, they have an epistemologically superficial notion that there is this thing called "evidence" that somehow just "speaks for itself" to any "reasonable" person. Thus, the "evidence" for the RCC is "objective" and in no way requires the use of "private judgment" to recognize. It just is what it is, it's just "there" to be sort of passively recognized by the mind. This seems to me the only way to defend the oft heard refrain from the apologists that no, they didn't use their own judgment to determine the truth of the RCC - they merely "submitted to something outside of them."

James Swan said...

That's a good hypothesis, however, I think you're being too generous. I think most of the pop-converts convinced by Rome's authority arguments don't go that deep into epistemology. Maybe a few do, but for the most part, I don't think their hearts can "see" the basic flaw.

James Swan said...

Tim, I saw your comment over at CTC:

"I’m trying to figure out why you CTC guys continually emphasize 'He went to BIG TIME REFORMED SEMINARY and later converted to Catholicism.' What is the connection you perceive between going to a Reformed seminary and converting to Catholicism?"

Since we're speculating, here's what I think is going on with CTC. The Reformed (I'm including myself in this) have an an underlying assumption that the only cogent response to Romanism is Reformed theology.

CTC challenges this very assumption by saying in essence, "Here we are, ex-Reformed folks with credentials, and we are now Roman Catholics."

Tim Enloe said...

Oh, I know what they're up to. I was just trying to see if I could get them to admit it. As you see, Cross didn't.

It's just a game. It's fairly clear from these converts that either (A) the seminaries are failing to properly equip them (I'm rather pessimistic about the seminaries myself), or (B) these folks aren't paying attention in class and seriously contemplating their lessons.

James Swan said...

I think it could be either A or B depending on the seminary.

On the other hand, the longer one is out of seminary, I would assume, depending on the pastoral job taken, it might be the case that what was learned way back in seminary might not be actively in use, therefore hard to recall. I know I'm like that. I can think back of certain classes I've had in the past in which what's recalled now is a bit murky.

It certainly is a bit of game though.

Anonymous said...

Private judgment is good for realizing my own weakness and inability. But I'm having a hard time seeing how this judgment about myself is in error. I guess we should praise Romanism for helping us see their lack of power and authority over the interior life.