Sunday, March 17, 2013

Determining the Canon and Picking the Pope

On the canon, Roman Catholics frequently argue that an infallible decision of the Roman church is needed to secure the exact table of contents of the Bible. The canon was definitively settled for Roman Catholics at Trent. Roman apologists argue that the Holy Spirit worked through Trent to secure an infallible canon.

Now, consider the recent cardinals that picked a new pope. Roman Catholic apologist Jimmy Akin recently wrote:
God Guides the Church: We can be confident of the general principle that God guides his Church. This is something we have biblical assurance of. But his guidance does not prevent human free will from operating, and that means there is the potential for humans to abuse their free will. That applies to the college of cardinals, too, even when they are electing a pope. They do not lose their free will.
Human Failure in History: We have been very fortunate in recent times to have a series of very holy, wise popes, but this has not always been the case. If you look at history, certain popes have been real scoundrels, like Pope Benedict IX (first elected in 1032). He was elected pope when still a boy. His reign was scandalous. He insisted upon monetary compensation in order to get him to resign. And then he didn't stay resigned. He was the only man to ever hold the papacy more than once. (In fact, he may have held it as many as three times.) Without going into all the scandals attributed to him, the Catholic Encyclopedia states: "He was a disgrace to the Chair of Peter." 

Now, why is it, God can use fallible men who may pick the wrong pope (and that pope, in theory, has the power to speak ex-cathedra), yet Akin says God still guides the church, but when it comes to the canon, there has to be an infallible magisterium, or the canon cannot be certain?

Here with the election of a Pope, a Roman apologist like Mr. Akin has no problem that a fallible council of cardinals can pick a pope who might be the wrong choice.

In summary For Romanism:

A fallible assembly of cardinals can pick the wrong pope, and that pope will then have the ability to make infallible statements.

A fallible assembly cannot make a definite statement on the canon (a book of infallible statements).

I would argue that for the canon, an infallible church is not needed. God can determine His canon using a fallible church in the process.


Rooney said...

From what I read, almost all RCs say that the canon was settled at Hippo or Carthage, not Trent.

PeaceByJesus said...

They cannot say "settled" as in indisputable, as disagreement and questions re. apocrypha continued right into Trent. See

PeaceByJesus said...

On an another magisterial issue, re. such RCs as Vice Joe Biden and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi receiving Holy Communion,

The timidity of the bishops stems from the lack of agreement as to how a bishop should apply Canon 915. The canon states, Those who are excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion. This becomes problematic for two reasons: first, because many bishops are loathe to accuse politicians of grave sin; and second, because excommunication is a formal juridical act which effectively cuts off the offender from the sacramental life of the church. It also means the denial of a Catholic funeral. Since there is no direct mandate from the Vatican most bishops don’t want to take the risk of not being supported in their decision.

The hearers of doctrine look for the interpretation by how the preachers of apply it. And so, contrary to the Trad. RCs relegating nominal RCs as CINOS, such should be treated as members in life and in death, for,

"the one duty of the multitude is to allow themselves to be led, and, like a docile flock, to follow the Pastors." - VEHEMENTER NOS, an Encyclical of Pope Pius X promulgated on February 11, 1906