I think Steve Hays pretty obviously believes that the placing of people like Fr. Brown on the PBC proves that the Catholic Chuch has liberalized itself, even if you yourself would avoid making such an error. Hays has repeatedly pointed to these appointments to "prove" that Dave and others are not really in line with the Church as a whole: he seems to have no grasp of the distinction between the sinfulness of members of the Church (including her highest officials) on one hand, and the teaching and life of the Church on the other. >>
No, actually the beauty of my argument is that it works either way. If you have Evangelicals who converted to Rome for conservative reasons, for a foundation of religious certainty, and if Roman Catholics are supposed to defer to the PBC, then if Evangelical converts do not defer to the PBC, their conversion is insincere.
But my argument doesn’t depend on that particular prong of the dilemma. Suppose a convert to the faith says, as a matter of principle, that he is not bound by the PBC?
Suppose he says, To hell with the PBC? I can believe whatever I want about the Bible. I can be to the right of the PBC or the left of the PBC?
Now, if he wants to take this position, then that plays into my argument just as well. For it makes a mockery of having a PBC in the first place. And it makes a mockery of the magisterium which put it in place.
What’s the point of the PBC if not to set the parameters for what is out of bounds? If you choose, let us say, to take a more traditional view of Scripture, then you are not looking to the modern magisterium for guidance. You are forming your own views independent of the magisterium. And if you, as a Catholic, don’t take the institutions of the RCC seriously, why should anyone else?
BTW, let us keep in mind that the PBC is not merely some adjunct body under the magisterium. Its membership is not limited to lowly members of the priesthood. Its membership includes some bishops and cardinals who are members of the magisterium in their own right.
But, yes, I happen to think that the choice of a subordinate says something about the superior who chose him. A superior chooses a subordinate who is simpatico with his own views. He doesn’t choose a subordinate who subverts his own views—not knowingly, at least. And if he does mistakenly make such a choice, he can unmake it as well. It is striking to see the number of Catholics who play dumb about something so very obvious as this.
Yet it isn’t merely a matter of inference. For even when we go further up the food chain, we find that the very same folks who thumb their nose at the PBC feel just as free to flip off the Prefect or the Pope when you cite their liberal views of Scripture, or salvation—or whatever else.
In the end, what’s the difference between a liberal and a conservative Catholic? Liberal Catholics dismiss conservative expressions of the magisterium, while conservative Catholics dismiss liberal expressions of the magisterium.
And that’s fine with me. They’re just doing my job for me. With enemies like that, who needs friends?
Of course the RCC has liberalized. You can see this in many respects and at many levels. Just compare Vatican II to ecumenical councils before it (e.g., Vatican I, Florence, Lateran IV), and you can see for yourself that the RCC has liberalized in its doctrine of Scripture, tradition, and salvation.
You have to wonder what would ever count as evidence against the RCC from the way that some of the converts talk. No matter how high-placed the source, they excuse it. If you want to see where the extremes of blind faith, skepticism, and libertinism meet, just tune into an “Evangelical Catholic" defending his new-found faith.