<< I would, however, insist that your easy acceptance that the prima facie conflict just equals ultima facie conflict violates the principle of charity that should guide any honest exegetical effort. You must realize that the Fathers who wrote the documents of Vatican II were far more familiar with the teaching of the Church than you are. You must also realize, then, that they would recognize that in some cases there is a prima facie conflict between what they've written, and what was written before. So it is a mere matter of accepting their basic honesty to grant that they would have an answer--perhaps even a compelling answer--to your claim that there really is a contradiction between the two documents. >>
<< I think your approach to Church documents--in what I've seen--always works this way. You're so eager to find error or contradiction in Church documents that when you see something that *can* be interpreted that way, you *do* interpret it that way, without ever pausing to wonder if there is a different plausible reading. This is the point I was making when I talked about the fact that the Council Fathers who wrote the documents of Vatican II know the teaching of the Church better than you do, and presumably considered their documents compatible with that tradition. You ought to try to understand the document as they intended it to be understood. That's just what exegesis is about, after all. >>
i) I’ve not only cited the documents. I’ve cited the testimony of two periti to Vatican II (Rahner, Ratzinger) as that bears witness to a fundamental change in the traditional definition of tradition.
ii) I’ve also cited Vorgrimler’s 47 page account, in volume three of his five-volume commentary on Vatican II, in which he records the way in which the Council was prepared to reaffirm the RCC’s traditional stance on the plenary inspiration of Scripture until Cardinal Koenig turned the tide by citing higher criticism to prove that Scripture was not inerrant after all. Cf. Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II, H. Vorgrimler, ed. (Herder & Herder, 1969), 3:199-246.
So I’ve gone behind the text to the context, and the context confirms my prima facie impression of the text.
iii) I’d also reiterate that this is not simply my outsider’s take on the RCC. The Lefebvre-wing of the church, which certainly knows its way around the primary sources and the history of debate, is saying the same thing from inside the fold.
iv) As to honesty and charity, I’d say three additional things. Liberalism is a universal phenomenon in contemporary Christendom. Every denomination is confronted with this phenomenon. Some fight it off, others succumb.
This is generic theological liberalism. It uses the same arguments, tactics, strategies, and stratagems. The same semantic games. The same incrementalist agenda. You find it in every theological tradition. The methods and arguments are interchangeable. Half the time, if you didn’t already know what theological tradition was in view, you couldn’t tell from the liberal argumentation itself, for it’s the same bag of tricks regardless of the tradition in view.
The RCC is simply adopting and adapting the critical view of Scripture which originated within the 19C liberal Lutheran circles in Germany.
At first, the RCC, under Pius IX and Leo XIII, suppressed modernism. The effect was to drive modernism underground. It floated a trial balloon with Pius XII, and then rallied to victory at Vatican II.
v) It is possible for a theological liberal to be quite idealistic. He honestly believes that he’s doing the church a big favor.
Liberals like Bultmann and Rahner are not out to destroy the faith, but to save it. They were trying to update the faith in order to keep it credible to modern man. No intelligent man living in the proud age of the electric toothbrush can continue to believe in that old saltbox model of supernatural beings “outside” the box—God and angels—coming “down” to us, speaking to us, doing miraculous deeds, and going back “up.”
Modern man can’t believe in that old saltbox model of the “ghost within the machine,” which “goes” to heaven or hell when the body dies. No, we live on the other side of Copernicus, Hume, Kant, Darwin, Freud, Edison, and the flush toilet. So we must modernize the faith for modern man. So goes the argument.
This can all be cast in very hortatory, high-minded terms. But under the guise of filling new wineskins with old wine, they are really draining the old wineskins of the old wine and filling them with new wine.
vi) And beyond generic liberalism is the particular bind for those who believe in apostolic succession and identify the true church with one institutional expression. Come what may, they are committed to the system. This is the only wheel in town. You can only reform the system from within the system. You can never buck the system itself.
Now, for an evangelical, when liberals infiltrate a denomination to the point where they outvote the faithful, the faithful simply leave and either join another evangelical denomination or form a new one.
But you can’t do that in Catholicism, for that would be schismatic. You can’t challenge the system itself. You must go through proper channels.
And so, in order to keep as many people on board as possible, there is a certain amount of fudging and retrofitting and corner-cutting. A sincere commitment to a flawed system will commit a man to a certain amount of special-pleading to keep it afloat.
vii) Apropos (vi), company men have a vested interest in rendering their tenure unfalsifiable. The “Pedantic Protestant” gave us some textbook examples, viz., Marxism, Darwinism, Freudian psychology.
There is a place for principled distinctions, but some distinctions only exist to leave an escape route. And this is what is on public display with Catholicism. No matter who it is I quote, I’m greeted with the same game of hide-and-seek, cat-and-mouse. “Can’t catch me!” “Can’t catch me!”
At a certain level, this will work. But it comes at a cost to itself. If everyone is passing the buck and making excuses--“Not my dept. Go down the hall, then make a right turn, and a left turn, and a right, turn, and a left turn, and two right turns followed by two left turns, then take the elevator to the fifth floor, then walk across the sky-bridge, then take the elevator to the lower basement, then go through the underground tunnel, then…”—well then your church stands for nothing.
<< Fourth, your questions about the authorship of the Biblical text presuppose that ancient standards for authorship claims are the same as present standards--a dubious presupposition.>>
No, there has been quite a lot written on pseudonymity in the ancient world by Donald Guthrie and others. I’m applying ancient standards to ancient literature, not modern standards.
<< Fifth, I'm afraid I don't see why I need to make any "arguments" about what Archbishop Chaput meant. It's part and parcel of both Molinism and Thomism that people who actually do X (where X is a free act) could have done differently. So when Chaput says "Mary (who actually said "yes") could have said 'no,'" there's really no mystery about what he meant. The notion you seem to have that he was endorsing openism is just absurd. >>
<< Actually, I should add what I consider an important point. Your interpretation of Chaput's comment is a wonderful illustration of your overall approach to Church documents. You take the worst possible reading, and assume it is the only sensible one. That is, that one sentence of Chaput's is indeed compatible with Openism. So you read it that way, and attack Catholic teaching for being openist. But in so doing, you completely fail to recognize that that one sentence is also compatible with either Thomism or Molinism, and, furthermore, that basic considerations of exegetical method would make it imperative to interpret Chaput in the latter sense. >>
i) I never classified Chaput as an open theist. You have imputed that to me. I don’t need to classify Chaput to comment on what he said.
ii) You are defending Chaput by invoking two mutually exclusive theories of providence. What is this—an epistemic lottery? If Chaput is a Molinist and Molinism is right, he wins, but if Chaput is a Molinist, and Molinism is wrong, he loses. If Chaput is a Thomist, and Thomism is right, he wins, but if Chaput is a Thomist, and Thomism is wrong, he loses.
So by your own odds, he only has a 50/50 chance of getting it right. By my own odds he has zero chance of getting it right because Molinism is a flawed theory while Thomism is a good deal better, but incompatible with the open-ended scenario proposed by Chaput.
Okay, just to show how charitable I can be, suppose we split the difference and say that Chaput has only a 1-in-4 chance of being right. I can live with those odds. What about you?
<< The idea that everyone ought to follow Jesus in precisely the same way is simply an uncatholic idea. There are various vocations. Some people are called to the priesthood, some to religious life, some to life in (but not of)the world. I'm a father and husband. I have a profession. My obligations are different from Francis's. My calling is different from Francis's. If I tried to live as St. Francis did, I'd be failing to follow Jesus as I've been called to. >>
You’re right. It’s a very uncatholic idea. Catholicism has this two-tiered piety, with the laity on the lower tier and a spiritual elite of monks and nuns on the upper tier.
Is that how you interpret the Sermon on the Mount? Is the Sermon on the Mount only for some Christians, and not for all Christians?
You then have a lengthy postscript on the relation between inspiration, apostolicity, and canonicity. This amounts to a long-winded straw man argument.
What I originally said was self-explanatory: "Why do we believe that such a letter is inspired at all? Although you don’t have to be an Apostle to be inspired, you have to be inspired to be an Apostle. Their apostolicity is the traditional reason that Petrine and Pauline letters are believed to be inspired in the first place."
Turning this into a syllogism:
i) All apostolic authors are inspired
ii) Not all inspired authors are apostolic
iii) Peter is an apostolic author
iv) Ergo: 1-2 Peter are inspired writings
You then upturn this proposition into the following, and impute that to me:
i) All inspired authors are apostolic
ii) Not all NT authors are apostolic
iii) Ergo, not all NT writings are inspired
i) Apostolicity is the only criterion of canonicity
ii) Not all NT writings are apostolic
iii) Ergo, not all NT writings are canonical
There is really nothing here for me to respond to. One has only to compare what I said with what you made of it to see the patent misrepresentation, whether intentional or not.
I never brought up the subject of canonicity. FYI, I’ve already posted an essay on “The canon of Scripture.”
<< So Apostolicity, in my view, is not at all threatened by a late dating of certain epistles, nor are claims of authorship called into question, provided what was meant by an attribution of authorship to an deceased apostle was simply the assertion of the apostolicity (in the sense discussed above) of the teaching therein. >>
Apostolicity is not threatened by the fact that a letter said to be by Peter was written long after he died. It is this sort of parsing, special-pleading, and double-talk that makes it possible for Catholics like you to accommodate any contradiction, however blatant, in any Catholic source, however authoritative.
<< The reason we believe they are inspired is that the Church tells us they are, and the Church knows that because she has always treated them as inspired by reading them to the faithful during the liturgy. >>
i) Up until Vatican II, the Church always told you that books of the Bible were written by the men they were said to be written by.
ii) I always find it striking that otherwise intelligent and reasonable Roman Catholics fail to see the regressive fallacy lurking in this appeal. “We know the Bible is inspired because our church tell us so.” And how do you know that your church is inspired in telling you so?