Randy has responded to my reply.
"Thanks for replying. As far as consistent goes you will always find superfical contradictions."
I didn't cite "superficial" contradictions. I cited quite fundamental contradictions involving such elementary and elemental questions as Who is saved? What is tradition? Is Scripture inerrant? Can't get much more basic than redemption and revelation, if you ask me.
"People document long lists of biblical contradictions yet we believe scripture is inerrant."
i) "We"? Who is the "we"? This is true for conservative Evangelicals. It is no longer true for Catholic Bible scholars like Ray Brown and Joseph Fitzmyer.
ii) In addition, conservative Evangelicals have devoted a lot of time and attention to harmonizing apparent disprepancies in Scripture. By contrast, Randy doesn't lift a finger to harmonize the examples (out of many) that I have given of conflicting magisterial traditions.
"Why? Because of faith."
Faith in what? What kind of faith? We can exercise this sort of faith in Scripture because we have many good reasons for believing in the divine inspiration of Scripture. What argument does Randy offer that the RCC enjoys the same evidentiary bulwark as the Bible?
"Can we have this same faith that the Holy Spirit continues to lead his church into truth just as Jesus said he would? We can."
i) This begs the essential question by equivocating over the identity of the church. How does Randy know that the RCC is the very church which Jesus promised to lead by his Spirit?
ii) And let us keep in mind that contemporary Catholic scholarship is no longer committed to the proposition that Jesus said all the things attributed to him in the canonical Gospels. Consider the three-stage theory of composition issued by the Biblical Commission. Cf. J. Fitzmyer, A Christological Catechism, appendix. Or consider Ray Brown's five-stage model for the composition of the Fourth Gospel.
"The problem is then we can't pick our own doctines. Being catholic is a surrender of your will to God."
No, the problem is that we have more than one church out there competing for our allegiance. So, yes, we do have to make a choice. To be a Catholic is to choose Catholicism over rival claimants. Why did Randy pick that church?
"Am I a radical relativist? No. I believe it logically follows from Sola Scriptora. I reject both. You don't so I believe you are being illogical. It is very differant from interpeting sacred tradition because the church is a living community. You can't say the church says x when the church is right there saying y."
Suppose we were to apply this criterion to a Christian cult like the Watchtower. On the face of it, the Watchtower has issued a fair number of failed prophecies over the years. And the way the Watchtower saves face is to redefine the terms of the fulfillment. So what is to prevent a Jehovah's Witness from using this same line of defense to defend the discordant teachings of the Watchtower? The Watchtower is a living community. So you can't claim that the Watchtower says x when the Watchtower is right there saying y. Or can you?
The Mormons have their own magisterium, their own teaching office, their own living tradition, which conveniently abrogates embarrassing pronouncements from the past. Should we judge Joseph Smith or Brigham Young by the same standard as Randy applies to the RCC?
Why can't I observe that church says x when the church is right there saying y? When the church has spoken more than once on a subject, I can certainly read and compare two or more statements from the past, one more recent--the other more distant.
Notice how Jesus and the Apostles deal with Jewish tradition. They don't reject Jewish tradition in toto. But neither do you hear them claim that, You can't say the Sanhedrin says x when the Sanhedrin is right there saying y. No, what Jesus and the Apostles do is to go back to Scripture, quoting from the OT.
"As for accepting uncertainty, how much can you accept? There is a core of beliefs that we need certainty about. My experience is that the core is bigger than most think."
A Calvinist could agree with all this. How does that select for the RCC?
"The church needs to define that core and leave freedom about the rest."
Why? Why the church? Randy keeps assuming what he needs to prove, floating empty assertions in place of reasoned arguments.
"That is why we have dogma. If we lose certainty about critical things then we end up with the idea that absolute truth is unimportant, unknowable, or even an illusion."
Again, A Calvinist could agree with all that. How does this select for Catholicism?
Let us put aside the Protestant movement for a moment. Don't the Greek Orthodox say the very same thing? How is Randy's formula an argument for Roman Catholicism rather than Greek Orthodoxy?
"That idea is common today and it is the fruit of the reformation."
One would like to see something resembling a historical argument to back up this sweeping claim. There was a deep strain of scepticism that crept into Medieval nominalism (e.g., Ockham, Biel). That's pre-Catholic.
What about the Renaissance? Didn't that do a lot to shake up the Medieval synthesis? That was pre-Reformation.
What about the French Enlightenment (e.g., Voltaire, Diderot and other philosophes)? That took place in a Catholic country.
"If anything can be learned from the last 500 years it is that the reformation was a complete, total, and unconditional failure."
Nothing like a healthy dose of hyperbole to shore up a sagging case.
"It weakened the church by splitting into thousand of competing 'truths'."
i) As I've argued in my essay on "The Four-Door Labyrinth," the diversity boils down to how you answer four basic questions.
ii) I prefer a free market place of ideas to a monopoly on falsehood.
iii) Freedom is messy. Just as there are Russians who wax nostalgic for the golden age of Stalinist purges and Tsarist serfdom, there are Catholics who look longingly at a church built on patent fraud (e.g., the False Decretals).
"It caused much bloodshed."
i) Funny, I thought most of the blood was shed by Roman Catholic monarchs at the instigation of papacy, to stamp out the Protestant Reformation.
ii) And if Randy supposes that bloodshed discredits the claims of the Reformation, does Julius II discredit the claims of the papacy?
"It has created a long downward moral spiral especially in Europe and North America."
i) Randy has a rather backwards view of historical causation. Remember the Pilgrim Fathers? America was colonized by Puritans. It would make more sense to date the downward spiral to the mass influx of Catholic immigrants in the 19-20C.
ii) You also have to wonder why folks like Randy leave themselves wide open for obvious counterexamples. What about the pedophile priesthood? What about the majority of American bishops who facilitated the pedophile priesthood? Indeed, they continue to stonewall to this day. And did the Vatican not know of those confidential, out-of-court, multimillion dollar settlements?
What about Italian-American and other Roman Catholic directors in Hollywood and abroad who churn out all those R-rated movies? What about high profile Catholics like Sen. Kennedy, Gov. Cuomo, and Justice Brennan who have done so much to spearhead abortion-on-demand in America?
"It has removed the connection between us, Jesus, the scriptures, and the new testament church."
By my count, this is the third time that Randy has made that claim. I mounted a specific counter-argument against his claim in my last reply. You know, when someone gives you a reason for why he believes something, and you challenge that reason, and he continues to repeat himself without responding to the challenge, then is this a real reason, or does he say it because he feels the need to say something, and this is the only thing he can come up with? If he doesn't believe in his own reasons, why should anyone else?
"It's all rooted in 3 words: 'I am right'.
This, again, misses the point. Where people disagree, someone is right and someone else is wrong--unless both are mistaken. What's the difference between Calvin saying "I'm right" and the Pope saying "I'm right?"
"It is very hard to beleive that God could create a church that knows more than you do. We can believe the Red Sea and the resurection much easier."
Which church are we talking about, Randy? It's as though Randy has "Roman Catholic" etched on his spectacles, so that every time he reads a reference to the church in Scripture, he sees the RCC.
"We just need to get over our own egos and bow before God."
Once again, this sidesteps the essential question. Who speaks for God that we may bow before him? There is only one true God, but many false gods and many false prophets of the false gods. "Little children, keep yourselves from idols" (1 Jn 5:21).