"Again, I continue to be misunderstood about a fundamental point (something I’ve underscored over and over again): Just as an evangelical is not defined by majority opinion about what evangelicals believe, a Catholic is not defined by official pronouncements about what Catholics believe."
This seems muddled at best. This depends on whether we're talking about internally, or externally.
Catholicism is committed to a particular rule of faith. That rule of faith commits the individual Catholic to relying on his communion, not his private opinions. So, Mr. Wallace is making an illicit appeal to say this. In critiquing the Roman Catholic's beliefs, we're simply taking the claims of his own communion at face value. If he chooses to violate those claims, then that's fine, but let's be clear here, it is not illicit to use the official pronouncements of Rome as representative of the faith of Romanists, since Romanism is committed to that particular rule of faith.
On the other hand, from a Protestant perspective, we draw a distinction between a saving profession and a credible profession of faith. For purposes of church membership, cooperation with other denominational entities, etc., since we cannot know of a certainty who is or isn't saved, we only require a credible profession of faith. A saving profession of faith lies solely between an individual and God.
For example, a Catholic that affirms the current dogmas of Rome cannot offer a credible profession of faith to a consistent Protestant. But whether a Catholic can offer a saving profession of faith is a different question. The answer varies on a case-by-case basis. It is easier to say who isn't saved than to say who is.
To be a Christian is to be, among other things, a Christian believer. One must believe certain things, and not believe certain other, contrary things. On the one hand, some dogmas are damnable dogmas. On the other hand, the Bible lays out certain saving articles of faith. This is God's criterion, not ours. We did not invent it. By the same token, how God applies that criterion in any individual case is up to God, not to us. We are not the judge, God is the Judge. To take a concrete example, Scripture teaches Sola Fide (faith alone) (Romans; Galatians). An individual is saved by faith in Christ and saved by the sole and sufficient merit of Christ.
However, in Catholic dogma, one is saved by the merit of Christ plus the merit of the saints plus one's own congruent merit. And this results in a divided faith. That is why a Catholic cannot give a consistent Protestant a credible profession of faith. In fairness, Protestants are more prone to give a Catholic church member a pass on the credible profession of faith than they do a Catholic bishop or the Pope or some of their lay apologists, because they very clearly have bought into the full range of Catholic dogmas.
Any of the following creeds/confessions could supply the basis for a credible profession of faith:
1. The Thirty-Nine Articles of the Christian Religion
2. The Formula of Concord
3. The Baptist Faith & Message (any version)(http://www.sbc.net/bfm/bfm2000.asp)
4. The C&MA statement of faith
5. The JFJ statement of faith (http://www.jewsforjesus.org/about/statementoffaith)
6. The EFCA statement of faith (http://www.efca.org/about/doctrine/)
7. The Campus Crusade statement of faith (http://www.ccci.org/statement_of_faith.html)
8. The AG statement of faith (http://www.ag.org/top/beliefs/truths.cfm)
These are all broadly evangelical affirmations of faith. Notice, not all are Reformed. Some are Lutheran; some are Arminian. By contrast, Trent or Vatican II does not supply the basis for a credible profession of faith. Still, it is possible for a Catholic to be saved, unlike a Muslim or Mormon or other suchlike.
Protestantism, particularly the Reformed tradition and its close cousins (less so, historic Lutheranism) has a system for dealing with error of differing degrees. Romanism does not do this. In Romanism, saving faith is dogmatic faith. As Turretin says, they, like the Lutherans, err to excess.
Mr. Wallace is wanting to evaluate Roman Catholics on the basis of Protestant criterion. There's a sense in which there is some truth to that, but we should remember that if a Romanist is differing with the official pronouncements of his communion it is in spite of, not in tune with, the official pronouncements of his communion. It is not illicit to hold him to the standards of that communion's rule of faith, if only to, if he believes in something like justification through faith alone, move him to leave his communion, which is what he should be doing.
1, Nothing ever definitively taught as true by the Catholic Church–no dogma–
has ever been “taken back”. What might seem like a reversal is never such.
It will be a legitimate development (or further “unpacking”) of that doctrine
to meet development in the world’s needs/cultural shifts or to meet some new
heresy; it will involve a changed emphasis.
File this away for future reference.
If anybody here thinks the Catholic
Church has denied/reversed/abandoned anything she once definitively taught,
then you are always welcome to float a specific assertion to that effect in the
Apologetics Forum back where I come from, and the issue will be substantively
How about here at Triablogue?
A. Where has Rome infallibly defined and exegeted any text of Scripture? This would include those related to Petrine primacy.
B. Where and how did Ancient Church define Petrine primacy? There are multiple views in the Fathers on this subject. Which is definitive for the others?
C. Does Rome today credobaptize by immersion by thrice dipping?
D. What about the Marian dogmas? Please explain the Gelasian Decree.
That's just for starters.
Somebody is wrong on the anathemas. Both the Catholic and the Protestant
worlds have dropped their mutual anathemas.
This, of course, undermines the statement:
More on that in a moment.
Nothing ever definitively taught as true by the Catholic Church–no dogma–
has ever been “taken back”. What might seem like a reversal is never such.
Don’t know the ProtestantAnd the reason the first sentence undermines Jubilee's first statement about is that this is a weasel of distinction to make. The anathemas of Trent were given on a doctrinal foundation and for a doctrinal, not an ethical reason. If that foundation has not changed, then the anathemas should not change either. And how are contemporary Protestants different? Doctrinally? Let's see what Jubilee says:
reasoning–and an anathema is not a teaching, so it can be dropped–the
Catholic Church sees the Reformation-generation Protestants as different from
Luther et al rejected the body they
were born into, fueling the biggest schism ever. He et al broke Christian unity,
the unity Our Lord prayed to the Father for
This is question-begging. Where does the Dominical Prayer of John 17 refer to visible unity under the banner of Rome? Notice how Jubilee assumes what s/he needs to prove.
It would also mean that membership in the church is determined by the conditions of one's birth. Where is this to be found in Scripture?
But Protestants today are born into schism
through no personal responsibility for the original division; their role is quite
other, so the anathemas are inappropriate.
Then in that case that would apply not only to us today, but those Protestants alive after the first and second generation of the Reforrmation, wouldn't it? However, they were still under anathema. What Jubilee is doing is looking for some sort of justification for his/her position, but that's untenable If true, it would mean that anybody who crosses the Tiber today for Geneva would be rightly under an anathema, particularly if born into Rome. It would mean that those of us who cultivate our opposition to Rome are rightly under anathema as well, since we've cultivated it. So which is it?