"My goodness, you think this is worthy of a response?"
My goodness, you think your response is worthy of a response?
“I'll just point out a few areas of total sillyness:
Which is irrelevant because the Apostolic teaching, even for a protestant, is not limited to what is found in the OT.”
I see you lack the attention span to follow a train of reasoning. I was responding to Bryan's argument that "the Church has never existed without her teaching authority, and without the oral tradition in the form of the preaching of the Apostles."
If Catholics claim that Christians were never bereft of the Church, then Protestants can counterclaim that Christians were never bereft of the Scriptures.
"And in your world, scripture means whatever STEVE says it means. But we're not told how this is different."
Once again, you're unable to follow the bouncing ball. Parity won’t win you’re the argument. The point at issue is whether the Catholic rule of faith is superior to the Protestant rule of faith. If, in fact, our position has the same consequences as yours, and vice versa, then you lose the argument. The lack of a difference undermines your position, not ours. Try to pay attention.
I don't claim that "individualism" is a problem for my position (i.e. "scripture means whatever STEVE says it means"). That's problematic on your grounds, not mine.
It's sufficient for my apologetics purposes to construct parallel arguments. It's insufficient for your purposes to deploy the same tactic—since your position isn't making comparable claims. Rather, it's making superior claims. Are you capable of absorbing that elementary distinction?
"That's like saying that because Paul interprets Genesis, therefore Paul is a higher authority than Genesis, and Paul's teaching and interpretation was not subject to the higher court of the Law and the Prophets. Of course, that is silliness."
Now you're confusing ontology and epistemology. Even if, a la Catholicism, Scripture is the highest intrinsic authority, if the only access to Scripture is via the Magisterium, then you can't distinguish the ontological authority of Scripture from the epistemic authority of the Magisterium. At that point the Magisterium has greater functional authority than Scripture. Try not to be so slow on the uptake.
"Which makes this whole discussion irrelevant, since we cannot empart internal light or prayer via the internet."
As usual, you miss the point. Bryan Cross was attacking a straw man. He caricatured perspicuity. I merely quoted a major Reformed theologian to correct him. It's quite relevant to the discussion if Bryan is attacking sola Scriptura via the perspicuity of Scripture, but then proceeds to mischaracterize the perspicuity of Scripture. In that event he's aiming at the wrong target.
You're habitually unable to keep track of the argument. Here's a little tip for you: my comments were pegged to Bryan's comments. Try to apply yourself to keep that comparison in mind.
"Too silly to dignify with a response."
Why? In Catholic theology, the Eucharist is a means of grace. Going to Mass is a primary means by which a Catholic remains in a state of grace (as over against dying in a state of mortal sin).
"Yeah... and? Neither side is disputing scriptura. It is the sola part which is at issue."
Try not to be so terminally dense. I already addressed that claim in response to Bryan. On paper, Catholicism honors the authority of Scripture, but in practice Magisterial authority supplants and subverts Biblical authority.
“So... the Magisterium has never quoted a commentary? Quite a bold claim that needs to be proven. How is Steve different to the Magisterium again?”
Gene was responding to your claim that "in your world, scripture means whatever STEVE says"—as if the Protestant position is reducible to me and my Bible.
"All of it presumably, since they read the bible like you and me. What parts of scripture has STEVE interpreted?"
i) Once again, you miss the point. Even if the Magisterium had interpreted the whole Bible, if the Magisterium keeps that interpretation to itself, then it's not teaching the laity what Scripture means in all those cases.
ii) And you keep resorting to the tu quoque tactic, which is self-defeating when Catholicism lays claim to epistemic superiority, not epistemic parity.
"How is this a response that makes STEVE different to the Magisterium?"
My you're obtuse. Once again, parity doesn't win the argument for Catholicism. Catholicism and Protestantism are making asymmetrical claims. I construct parallel arguments because that would undermine the Catholic claim to epistemic superiority. For you to construct parallel counterarguments, on analogy with my response, only succeeds in *reinforcing* the case against Catholicism rather than *rebutting* the case against Catholicism. Thanks for constantly corroborating my objections to Roman Catholicism. That’s very accommodating of you.
"That's like saying that every possible belief system must be on an epistemological par because they all have to be filtered through one's own ears and brain. If you want to believe that, hello absolute relativism."
Bryan's whole argument for Catholicism and against Protestantism is based on interpretive authority. But if, in fact, their respective authority sources must be filtered through the private interpretation of each individual, whether Catholic or Protestant, then that epistemic parallel directly undercuts his epistemological argument. Try to remember that we're responding to Bryan's own argument. If you can't remember that for longer than 3 minutes, write it down. I should have to keep reminding you of the Catholic argument.
"How is this different to STEVE again? He defines what scripture is for STEVE and he defines what it means to STEVE. So I guess there is no hope that STEVE could be subject to scripture, right?"
Gene was responding to your earlier contention that "that's like saying that because Paul interprets Genesis, therefore Paul is a higher authority than Genesis, and Paul's teaching and interpretation was not subject to the higher court of the Law and the Prophets. Of course, that is silliness."
i) As a matter of fact, Paul was not subject to a higher, OT court of appeal. One Bible writer can't overrule another Bible writer. So, if we play along with your own logic, then you admit that the Magisterium isn't accountable to the higher court of Scripture.
ii) In addition, JJ must define what the Magisterium is for JJ and define what it means to JJ. Therefore, the right of private judgment is inescapable. That's an argument for the Protestant position, JJ. Conceding that point is a concession to the Protestant position, JJ.
Every time you try to disagree with Gene and me, you end up agreeing with Gene and me. It's very gratifying when a Catholic commenter is so eager to confirm our case against Catholicism. That's real progress. Good to know that interfaith dialogue is so productive.
"I wasn't the one who claimed that internal light is needed to interpret scripture. If its internal light that we need, shut up now and let those with internal light bask in it. But if its commentary we need, then an infallible one is on an epistemologically higher plane than protestant fallible ones. Here I guess is where you will equivocate on whether we need commentaries or not."
i) Now you're committing the very same blunder as Bryan. You're attacking a simplistic caricature of perspicuity. In the very quote you're selectively alluding to, Turretin cites several qualifications on the perspicuity of Scripture. You have arbitrarily narrowed his list of qualifications down to just one. This is what he said: “Perspicuity does not exclude the means necessary for interpretation (i.e. the internal light of the Spirit, attention of mind, the voice and ministry of the church, sermons and commentaries, prayer and watchfulness). For we hold these means not only to be useful, but also necessary ordinarily,” Turretin, Institutes, 1:144.
Notice that he specifically and explicitly includes commentaries in his definition.
ii) What's your problem, JJ? Do you suffer from short-term memory loss? Is that your problem? If so, you could refresh your faulty memory by reading the original quote. You should also book an appointment with a neurologist.
iii) Or do you find it necessary to take refuge in dissimulation when debating a Protestant? You have to misrepresent what Turretin actually said to make your case. Is that it?
iv) No doubt an infallible commentary is on an epistemologically higher plane than a fallible one. Where has the Magisterium produced an infallible commentary on the Bible?
v) BTW, the NT is an infallible commentary on the OT. So Protestants do have access to infallible commentaries. Whenever NT writers (or later OT writers) comment on the OT, that's an infallible commentary. Whenever inspired speakers within the NT narrative (or OT narrative) comment on on the OT, that’s also an infallible commentary on the OT.
"And we've yet to hear why we should care. I'm sure everyone is quite aware of the existence of the OT. But we're also aware that the oral teaching exceeded the OT. Thus the apostles were not practitioners of sola scriptura."
It's the Pharisees who believed in the oral Torah. Thus the Pharisees were not practitioners of sola scriptura. And, of course, that was a bone of contention between Jesus and the Pharisees.
So you’re admitting that you use the same theological method as the Pharisees. Fine. You're welcome to the Pharisees. I'll take Jesus.
"Much of the oral tradition is the traditional understanding of scripture. Things like what the eucharist means, who should be baptised, how the church should be run and so forth. I'm sure you know full well the Catholic position on these things."
You only know about that tradition because it was written down at some point. You also need to show that what you call oral tradition is the same thing as apostolic tradition.
"The same way you can know Genesis through to Revelation is prophetic."
That's an evasion rather than an answer. How do you trace an oral tradition back to the Apostles? How do you double-check each link in the chain?
"So who gives a rip that protestants quote commentaries?"
Catholic Bible scholars who quote Protestant commentators give a rip. Next question.
"Who claimed there is a list or we need a list?"
So you admit that you don't know what the Magisterium says about the meaning of Scripture, and—what's more—you don't even need to know what the Magisterium says. Fine. Protestants would be the first to agree with you.
"Functionally it is identical, because Steve never goes against Steve's interpretation."
Functionally it is identical, because JJ never goes against JJ's interpretation.
"If so, then a magisterium which clarifies what the bible is unclear about, would put Catholics on a higher plane than protestants."
You just admitted you don't have a list or need a list. So how does your nonexistent list of Magisterial clarifications put Catholics on a higher plane that Protestants?
"And there's a substantial agreement I would say between the Church fathers in their exegesis. Funny how you always want to play that down and play up protestant agreement."
"Substantial" agreement? Funny how you ditch the unanimous consent of the fathers for merely substantial agreement. Now you’re moving on a lower plane.
"John made a further distinction - that of a _living_ interpreter. There is a fundamental advantage of having a living teacher compared to teaching yourself. That's why we still have schools, and not just books."
You're still tumbling down the bottomless pit of an infinite regress. It's still up to you to interpret every utterance of the living teacher.
"That why the eunuch said 'how can I understand unless someone guides me?'"
i) So you're going to universalize Acts 8:31 and then apply that to the Catholic vis-à-vis the Magisterium? Does this mean every Catholic is paired off with his very own Magisterium—like having your own guardian angel or personal trainer? Do you get to interview the Magisterium whenever you have a question? Do you have the pope's cellphone number?
If Acts 8:31 is a Catholic prooftext, then it disproves Catholicism. Thanks for saving Gene and me the effort.
ii) Are you interpreting Acts 8:31 with or without the Magisterium?
iii) Apropos (ii), where can we find the infallible Magisterial interpretation of Acts 8:31?
"What have I said which would lead you to ask such a question? Would you be happy if an agnostic asked you this question because of your committment to biblical inerrency?"
So you're dodging Gene's question because you can't answer it.
"Clearly, a rule of faith with an infallible interpreter to resolve disputes is better than a rule of faith with nobody to resolve. That's why we have courts, and appellate courts, and not just everybody or every local court making up their own mind."
How does an appellate process illustrate infallibility? If the verdict was subject to appeal, then the verdict wasn't infallible, now was it?
"If you want to concede that STEVE cannot be subject to scripture, then we can proceed."
You're comparing the incomparable. Appealing to the Magisterium is an argument from authority. The Magisterium will justify its interpretation of Scripture by invoking its own unappellable authority. By contrast, a Protestant commentator will justify his interpretation of Scripture by reason and evidence—which is equally accessible to the reader.
"The Jewish priesthood (call them a magisterium if you like) must have been carrying out their basic functions correctly, since God put them in charge with the responsibility over the temple to carry out their priestly duties for the people. If you want to say that the Jews as individuals were at liberty to abandon the Levites and set up a brand new priesthood if they weren't happy with the preaching of the priests, then you would be at odds with biblical history."
i) Obviously you haven't bothered to read biblical history, where Israel commits national apostasy, including and abetted by a corrupt religious establishment.
ii) Moreover, you haven't shown us where there was an infallible teaching office in ancient Israel.
iii) Furthermore, you ducked Gene's question about how Catholics got along for all those centuries without the official canon of Scripture promulgated by Trent.
"And the way you understand this concept and apply it here makes this blog and discussion obsolete."
How does it make the discussion obsolete?
"We believe God guides his church throughout history and yet we have a low view of providence? Ha!"
You limit the way in which God is allowed to guide his church.
"I think the issue is not whether I can point to a particular commentary which is infallible, but rather that the Church is infallible and the documents it produces, as a whole, considering its various writers, can point you to the Church's infallible understanding."
Point us to the infallible list of the infallible ecclesial pronouncements.
"On the other hand a commentary of a schismatic or heretic is simply one opinion versus another, at least as likely to point one away from the truth as towards it."
Only if you assume that all opinions are equal. If so, that nullifies your own opinion about the merits of Roman Catholicism.
"We have to limit our analysis of antecedent probabilities to exclude those which are clearly not true."
Fine. The claims of the Catholic Magisterium are clearly not true. That was quick.
"It's no use saying that the antecedent probability is that God would only ever create polka-dotted dragons, when clearly we are not polka-dotted dragons. To introduce absurd possibilities to argue against potentially true probabilities, is a bad argument."
i) The idea that God would inspire every individual is not *antecedently* absurd. You've abandoned the argument from antecedent probabilities. You're now excluding certain possibilities on a posteriori grounds.
ii) You posit unity as the goal. Applied to antecedent probabilities, there are antecedently more probable methods of achieving unity than the Magisterium. The Magisterium is a very inefficient mechanism for achieving unity. It didn't prevent the Reformation. Or modernism. Or dissention over Vatican II.
"That would only seem probable if it was a system which seemed to work. However it has never worked in keeping Christians united."
i) I didn't argue whether or not private judgment was antecedently "probable." I'm posing a factual question. How can you prejudge God's will in that matter?
ii) The Magisterium hasn't succeeded in keeping Christians united. So your Catholic criterion falsifies the Catholic Magisterium.
iii) If God wants all Christians to be united, then what aren't all Christians united? If unity is God's goal, when why didn't God simply create like-minded Christians, and refrain from creating heretics or schismatics?
"So maybe there will be a Vatican III if the church considers the points of dispute significant enough to warrant clarification."
i) In which case, Vatican II failed to achieve unity. Indeed, there was far more Catholic unity before Vatican II. Vatican II generated disunity.
ii) And, of course, different Catholic theologians would also offer differing interpretations of Vatican III.
"To claim we don't need councils to clarify things, because people might misinterpret councils would be to say we don't need Paul's commentary on Genesis, because someone might misinterpret Paul. The fact is, having Paul is better than not having Paul, even though Paul can be misinterpreted. If we didn't have Paul's interpretation, Christianity would be considerably impoverished."
You constantly play into our hands. Parallel arguments don't help *your* position—they help *our* position. Bryan is the one who cast the issue in terms of interpretive authority. If Catholics can, and do, misinterpret councils, then your rule of faith confers no epistemic advantage. You must still fall back on fallible, private interpretation.
"In this highly improbable science fiction scenario…"
Thought-experiments were never meant to be "probable." Their cogency doesn't depend on their probability.
"If we assume that his memories are a valid reason for knowing his surroundings aren't real, and that his memories can't have been interfered with, then the proposition has been proven by the memories. It might be difficult to transfer the proof to someone else because of the technological problem of proving what is in your brain, but it would be adequately proven to oneself. But if the memories are not a valid reason to believe because they may have been faked, then the person can't know what they think they know at all. The normal rules of proof or evidence are as applicable as in any other scenario." So this argument is not a valid one against someone thinking their interpretation is correct but being wrong."
Irrelevant. I'm dealing with the case of someone whose interpretation was correct. The hypothetical objection that he’d believe he was right even if he was wrong has no force if, in fact, he got it right.
"Luke wasn't there to witness many events he records either, but relied on an existing ecclesiastical tradition to obtain his information."
No, he relied on the testimony of eyewitness informants. That's hardly synonymous with "ecclesiastical tradition."
"In the same way the church has always taught that the truth subsists in those ecclesiastical bodies with succession from the apostles."
i) You’re shifting from secondhand information to third, forth, fifth, sixthhand…information. That's hardly comparable to Luke's epistemic situation.
ii) Moreover, Luke is inspired. Apostolic succession is not.
"This is not an entirely historical question, just like not everything Luke wrote is entirely historical, some of it is theological. Whether the church subsists in those bodies with succession is not something an historian is likely to address."
i) Whether y succeeded x is an irreducibly historical question. Either that event took place or it didn't. Succession, if true, would involve a historical process. Where's the commensurate historical evidence?
ii) There is, indeed, more to apostolic succession than public events. There's also the claim that ordination transfers an invisible charism from one successor to the next. That renders the claim completely unverifiable, even if you could document every historical link in the chain.
"How this establishes a blinkered Catholic view of divine guidance we are not told. Given that the number of people in the world who have a generally Catholic worldview exceeds by orders of magnitude those who hold to the style of Christianity found on this blog, and given that the Catholic worldview puts great emphasis on this fact, I would think Catholics are the ones with a high regard for divine providence."
Muslims would appreciate your numerical criterion.