Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Fictional Dialogue on Sola Ecclesia

Bilis ad bilis loquitur.

"Gallbladder speaks to gallbladder" - John Henry Endocardium Newman


Protestants accept Biblical authority, whereas Catholics "pick and choose" which traditions to accept according to their own particular denominational taste. This is arbitrary in two ways:

1) There is really no cogent, non-arbitrary method for Catholics to determine which tradition is authentic and which is inauthentic;

2) The notion of "authority” in Catholic ecclesiology is inadequate for the task of proclaiming "authoritatively" which tradition is authentic, and the grounds will be circular in any event.


Dave (D): Sacred Tradition is authentic tradition because it’s traditional.

Calvin (C): According to which denominational tradition?

D: Mine.

C: How do you know your Catholic traditions are true, while others which contradict them are false?

D: Cuz our traditions are the most traditional.

C: How do you know yours are the most traditional?

D: Because our traditional dogmas are true to the clear teaching of tradition.

C: But the other venerable traditions (e.g. Greek Orthodox, Armenians, Copts) claim the same superiority . . .

D: I am compelled to say they have a faulty tradition of tradition, and I must stand firm for traditional tradition.

C: How do you know they have a faulty tradition of tradition?

D: By Catholic tradition and allegorical exegesis, and especially because Marm Davestrong says so.

C: But again, the others claim the same prerogative and abilities.

D: Then if they are wrong, they must be blinded by their presuppositional biases, or else by venial and mortal sin.

C: How do you know that?

D: Because they come to the wrong conclusions about the perspicuity of tradition.

C: Frankly, I would say that that is circular reasoning. But, even granting your contention for the sake of argument, how does an uneducated seeker of Christian truth choose which denomination’s tradition is true to Sacred Tradition?

D: The one which is most traditional . . .

C: Now, don't start that again [smiling]. They all claim that.

D: Yes, I suppose so [frowning].

C: But what if it’s found that the great majority of Fathers have a traditional opinion of tradition contrary to yours?

D: Then they are wrong on that point.

C: How do you know that?

D: By studying tradition. Not all traditions count as Sacred Tradition.

C: How do you know which traditions count as Sacred Tradition?

D: The sacred ones.

C: So when all is said and done it is irrelevant what the early Church, or the Fathers, or the Church from 500 to 1500 believed?

D: Yes, the doctrine of development has mooted that quaint old appeal.

C: Therefore you are - in the final analysis - the ultimate arbiter of true Sacred Tradition?

D: Well, if you must put it in those blunt terms, yes.

C: Isn't that a bit arrogant?

D: Not as much as Luther and Calvin telling me what I should believe [scowling].

C: You make yourself the arbiter of the true church, yet you object to the right of private judgment!!!! Most remarkable and ironic! I say you are obviously a Super-Pope, then.

D: You can say what you like. I like what I say.

C: So you think that your own individual opinion of what’s the true church is superior to the Copts and Armenians and Greek Orthodox?

D: Yes, for if a tradition is traditional, then I must denounce any rival tradition that opposes traditional tradition.

C: For that matter, how do you know what Sacred Tradition is?

D: Cuz Catholic tradition tells me so:

C: That seems intrinsically unreasonable. Yet you've attempted to give me reasons and logic throughout this whole conversation!

D: Faith requires no reasons. The Holy Father knows best.

C: Well, that's a whole 'nother ball of wax. But I would say that you would not know what Sacred Tradition was for sure unless you knew which church was the true church, and which pontiff was a Pope and not an Anti-Pope. Your criterion is essentially no different than the Mormons' "burning in the bosom" as a justification for their beliefs.

Besides, on what grounds do you trust Roman Catholicism when it contradicts the Copts and Armenians and Greek Orthodox? Tradition is not self-authenticating, in the sense of its determining the extent and parameters of itself. This is clearly shown in divergences between Copts, Catholics, Armenians, and Greek Orthodox, to name a few. There is more than enough difference to require an authoritative decree by the true church to put the matter to rest.

D: That’s why God guided my own denomination.

C: But God didn’t guide the Protestant Reformers?

D: That’s right.

C: How do you know that?

D: Because their traditions clearly aren't traditional enough.

C: According to which "clear" denominational tradition?

D: Mine . . .

C: [smacks forehead, then throws hands up and gazes toward the heavens, wincing in despair]


And so on and so forth. Yet Catholics claim we are the ones with an epistemological problem!


  1. If you anti-Catholic clowns would stop making such utter fools of yourselves, we could all get back to much more important things. But - since that continues to be the case - there was no way I could possibly resist chronicling this absolute silliness:

    Amazing (and Hilarious) Anti-Catholic Double Standards on Fake Blogging & E-Mails (Frank Turk Ready to Press Federal Charges)


    How will dear old Frank's bizarre behavior be rationalized away, in light of how y'all treated me for simply having fun trying to find the fake hoaxter? I can't wait to see you guys spin this. LOL Federal charges for the harmless joke of a friend??!! LOL

  2. Just got home from work and read your blog before Ann Coulter's. I'm not from around here, and our new girl fire chief won't let us have water fights in the station anymore, so these pranks are something I really miss. I could read Avogadro's number of these.

  3. Wasn't it Luther who said he would rather be ruled by a frank Turk than by an unfrank Christian?

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Relevant to this discussion are Steve Hays' critique of Philip Blosser's critique of sola scriptura, "By Scripture Alone," and Blosser's rebuttal, "Sola Scriptura revisited: a reply to Steve Hays (in 95 antitheses)."