Randy has responded once again:
"This is getting quite long and hard to follow. If I have trouble I can imagine anyone else. Not sure there is anyone else reading this but in theory it is possible. I will make a few more comments but we are coming to the end of usefulness anyway."
To judge by the daily site meter, plenty of folks are tuning in.
"First of all, you characterization of the RCC as drifting off into liberalism is totally against the facts."
No, the problem is that I repeatedly back up my characterization by specific examples from the Magisterium and its appointees. Randy, by contrast, replies with vacuous denials.
A denial is not a disproof. If someone has offered positive evidence, based on the opponent's own putative authority source, a mere denial in no way overcomes the contrary evidence.
All Randy does is to shut his eyes to the specific statements by high-placed Catholic authorities I've cited. And it's true that if you close your eyes to something you don't want to see, you will succeed in failing to see it.
"The RCC is the only major church that is standing firm with the truth. That is why the choice of Benedict XVI confused so many people. The story has always been that the liberal wing of the church wins. It isn't happening in the RCC. It is showing once again there is a fundamental differance between the RCC and every other church."
i) There are plenty of churches more conservative than the RCC, viz., the Southern Baptist Convention, the Presbyterian Church in America, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, the Missouri Synod, the Wisconsin Evangelical Synod, &c.
It is this elementary ignorance of the Evangelical landscape that is one reason why some "Evangelicals" cross the Tiber. They don't even know what they're leaving behind--much less what they're converting to.
ii) Liberal and conservative are relative terms. A conservative in a liberal denomination is a moderate in a conservative denomination, while a liberal in a conservative denomination is a moderate in a liberal denomination.
It isn't difficult to locate Ratzinger along this continuum. On the one hand you have the old school Catholics, a la Lefebvre, who want to turn the clock back to Trent and Pius IX.
Historically speaking, the old school Catholics have much the better of the argument. What they don't have are the votes. At Vatican II, they lost and the modernists won.
On the other hand, you have the liberal wing, viz., Kung, Curran, Garry Wills, Andrew Sullivan, &c. They share the same generic outlook as theological liberals in comparable denominations.
Ratzinger is somewhere in the middle--to the left of the liberal Catholics and the right of the old school Catholics. He is trying to straddle the unstable, compromise position of Vatican II, which was a cautious, incremental victory for modernism. The direction is leftward leaning and leftward leading, but not the far left--at least, not all at once.
For his part, Randy is somewhere to the right of Ratzinger. Randy has crawled into the same airtight bubble as Hahn, Armstrong, and other such converts. They are the freelance Catholics. They view themselves as the real deal, but if you compare the amount of distance they put between themselves and whatever teaching trickles down that they disown, you can see that they are really freelancing their way through the RCC, picking and choosing what to believe or disbelieve. Theirs is a cult within a cult--with self-appointed cult-leaders like Armstrong. I don't doubt their sincerity, but one can be sincerely self-deluded.
"You can go through one billion catholics and find some bad apples."
This, again, is a willful misrepresentation of the evidence I presented. I went plucking my bad apples from the crown of the tree--the magisterium and its appointees. These are not rotten apples that fell from the tree.
Catholic converts like Randy refuse to stare the magisterium in the face. Instead, they read the pretty inspirational literature--like a mortician who dresses up the corpse for public viewing.
"Still it is getting harder and harder to find a protestant church that hasn't gone totally liberal."
This is a completely baseless allegation. There is no liberal trend in Protestant theology. Rather, the liberal/conservative fight has been going on for generations now. The property has changed hands several times, but the battle goes on.
There are, for example, Reformed and Lutheran denominations which still adhere quite strictly to their 16-17 creeds, whereas the RCC no longer adheres to Lateran or Trent with any semblance of fidelity to original intent.
"As far as the rest goes it is hard to tell where you are serious and where you are just playing dumb and missing the point for rhetorical effect.
He won't bother. Yes, I think that sums it up quite nicely. Couldn't have put it better myself.
"I will make one more try at the history thing. The reformation assumes the first 1500 years of church history were seriously disfunctional. If the Catholic theology of the eucharist is wrong then it is condemnable idolatry. If the popes and the bishops do not in fact have legitimate authority from God then them claiming they do is a major error. Similarly on salvation, purgetory, Mary, sacred tradition, etc. These are major issues that the Holy Spirit was supposed to be leading us into truth about(Jn 14:26). Somehow He seems to have failed miserably. The history doesn't fit. Especailly since most of these teachings go back to the very early days of christianity."
i) No, the Holy Spirit is not supposed to be leading "us" into the truth. Jn 14:26 is a promise to the Apostles, not to "us," or the bishops, or the Pope, or the Patriarch of Constantinople. And that promise was fulfilled in the writing of the NT. This is the John's way of telegraphing to the reader his own inspiration which, along with his eyewitness testimony, is what qualifies him to write the Fourth Gospel.
ii) Here you see the self-reinforcing quality of Catholicism. Because it subordinates Scripture to tradition, it fails to respect original intent. It lifts verses of Scripture out of context, and then appeals to that illicit practice as a prooftext for tradition. The vicious circle could not be the more impregnable.
"When you look at the life and piety of many of the people who lived in these times it REALLY doesn't fit. Why didn't Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Fransis of Assisi and hundreds of others speak out? They seem like they should have been in tune with the Holy Spirit."
No, they were fallible, uninspired men. Simple as that. There's a lot of good material in Augustine and Aquinas. But we must still winnow the wheat from the chaff--using Scripture as our winnowing-fan.
As to St. Francis, he was a sweet, pious guy--but a bit of a simpleton, to tell the truth. We may admire his sanctity, but going around barefoot in the snow and preaching to the birds is...well...frankly for the birds. Does Randy go around barefoot in the snow and preach to the birds?
"You add to that the biblical ideas of the church as the pillar and foundation of the truth(I Tim 3:15). And the idea of God's wisdom being made known though the church (Eph 3:10). Plus the concept of the church as a final appeal for differances amoung believers(Mat 18:17). You get a picture that does not correspond to the present day reality of 30,000 denominations with contradictory teachings on almost every issue."
No matter how often you point out his question-begging assumptions and equivocations, Randy just doesn't get it. To quote stray verses about the "church" proves absolutely nothing about the Church of Rome.
This, again, goes back to the self-reinforcing quality of Catholicism. Take his citation of 1 Tim 3:15. The first question a responsible exegete would ask is, to what church was 1 Timothy written? It was written to the church of Ephesus (1:3), not the church of Rome. There is no indication that this has any reference to the universal church rather than the local church. But like the veil that was over the eyes of the Jews (2 Cor 3:15), Catholics like Randy don't pay attention to the actual wording or Scripture, or the context or occasion. What they see is a montage of Catholicism superimposed on the original.
Or take his citation of Mt 18:17? To begin with, this has to do with a point of discipline, not doctrine.
Secondly, there is nothing in this verse about the priesthood, or episcopate, or papacy, or primacy of Rome. Yet Randy is so blinkered by his Catholic conditioning that he reads a totally anachronistic picture back into this innocent little verse.
As to the present-day reality of rival denominations, the RCC is just one more of the rival denominations. If Randy already had some compelling reason to believe that the RCC was in a class apart, he could set up this invidious contrast. But, once again, he is assuming the very point at issue. The vicious circle has once more come full circle.