“Which doesn't actually help you, because Christianity is not Judaism.”
i) Irrelevant unless you’re a Catholic Marcionite. The OT is part of the Christian canon. Christians were never bereft of Scripture.
ii) I’d add that Christianity is the true Judaism. Jesus was Jewish. The apostles were Jewish. All the NT writers were Jewish (Luke was probably a proselyte.)
However, your anti-Semitism is characteristic of traditional Catholicism (as well as Orthodoxy). Consider yourself a true son of Rome.
“Once again, you're unable to follow the bouncing ball. If the Magisterium isn't subject to scripture because it decides what it is and what it means, then neither is Steve subject to it for the same reasons. Try to pay attention. You're so used to trotting out your favourite one liners that you can't seem to think clearly anymore about the issues.”
i) Once again, you’re unable to follow the bouncing ball. You fail to distinguish between a cognitive starting point and a criterional starting point. In Catholicism, the Magisterium performs a criterional function. Hence, there is no higher court of appeal.
In Protestantism, by contrast, the individual is not his own criterion. Scripture is the criterion.
ii) In both Catholicism and Protestantism, the individual is the cognitive starting point.
iii) Apropos (i)-(ii), the multiplication tables illustrate the criterional starting point while a mathematician, in using the multiplication tables, illustrates the cognitive starting point. When a mathematician applies the multiplication tables to a particular problem, the application depends on his subjective interpretation, but that doesn’t make him his own criterion of what 2x2 equals. He is answerable to the multiplication tables, not vice versa.
iv) Catholics must also apply their subjective judgment in the choice of a criterion.
Try to pay attention next time. You're so used to trotting out your Catholic one-liners that you can't seem to think clearly anymore about the issues.
“1. Your "parallel arguments" attack your own position as was demonstrated. Steve defines what scripture is and what it means.”
Your parallel arguments attack your own position as was just demonstrated. You keep failing to distinguish between a cognitive starting point and a criterional starting point.
“2. Your parallel arguments attack the Christian position in general, by making all revelation subjective by way of the individual's position in the process.”
i) You continue to repeat the same mistake (see above).
ii) You, as an individual, have applied your subjective judgment in judging Christian revelation to be true, rather than, say, the Koran or the Vedas or the Book of Mormon.
“3. A church needs a rule of faith as a principle of unity.”
i) You assert what you need to prove.
ii) The Catholic rule of faith has failed to achieve unity. There is no unity on the interpretation of Vatican II. There is no unity on Humanae Vitae. You didn’t prevent the Reformation. Or the rise of Modernism. So, if we measure your own church by your own yardstick, it comes up short.
“The Catholic method is to continually subject oneself to the catholic understanding.”
Your subjective understanding of the Catholic understanding. Your alternative does nothing to escape your own subjectivity.
“It's a principle which puts the overall direction of one's understanding in a continual movement towards commonality.”
Groupthink is no index of truth. If Muslims think alike, does that make Islam true?
“The limitations of the individual's understanding do not impede this fact, because his understanding is not bound to interpret what he finds in any old direction, but rather in the direction of catholicity.”
i) You subjectively interpret what you find in the direction of catholicity.
ii) The fact that you make catholicity your goal is, itself, a subjective value judgment.
“Thus it is a workable rule of faith.”
i) You haven’t begun to show that a rule of faith is supposed to be “workable” as you define it. Did 2nd temple Jews have a “workable” rule of faith? Were 2nd temple Jews unified?
The first condition for a rule of faith is that it be true, not that it be “workable” (as you define it).
ii) The Catholic rule of faith isn’t “workable.” Look at disputes over Vatican II or Humanae Vitae.
iii) Achieving unity is not the only possible function for a rule of faith. Truth is divisive as well as unitive.
“Protestants of the 21st century are further away from agreeing about anything than they were 500 years ago.”
Traditionalist Catholics would say the Vatican has moved away from what it agreed on 500 years ago.
“Individual protestants are just as likely to have their understand move away from that of their church than towards it, leading to continual dispute, confusion and church hopping.”
There are Catholic critics of modern Catholicism on both the left (e.g. Kung) and the right (e.g. Lefebvre).
“Who said the only access to Scripture is via the Magisterium?”
You make the Magisterium the official interpreter and gatekeeper. You can’t get past that checkpoint without Magisterial permission.
“That's like saying that because Paul makes an infallible interpretation of Genesis, the only access anybody has had to Genesis is via Paul.”
Now you’re comparing one Bible writer with another Bible writer. That’s disanalogous to an extrascriptural Magisterium. One Bible writer isn’t accountable to another Bible writer. Both are directly accountable to God.
“And it's quite relevant to point out that your definition of perspicuity makes sola scripture unworkable. It's the old bait and switch.”
i) You’re the one who’s playing the bait-and-switch. Bryan presumed to attack the Protestant doctrine of perspicuity. But he misrepresented the position attacking.
Before Bryan (or you) can attack the doctrine as “unworkable,” he must begin with an accurate definition of the doctrine he’s attacking. This he failed to do.
You are now changing the subject. Classic bait-and-switch.
ii) You also beg the question by saying that perspicuity is unworkable according to the Catholic definition of what a rule of faith is supposed to accomplish.
“First you claim scripture is perspicuous, and then you define perspicuous so that it makes sola scripture unworkable.”
i) It was never first…then.” That’s how perspicuity was defined all along. Read classic definitions in Turretin or the WCF.
ii) It’s only unworkable as you tendentiously define feasibility. And you have yet to defend your utilitarian definition in the first place.
“1. This is a different statement to saying we need to "trap Jesus in a piece of bread".”
I wouldn’t expect you to be that candid. It would expose the crudity of Catholic piety.
“2. Lutherans apparently need to "trap Jesus in, on or under a piece of bread", but apparently escape the same accusation.”
Since I’m not a Lutheran, that’s a dumb charge for you to make. Lutheranism doesn’t escape the same accusation. I’ve criticized Lutheran sacramentology in the past. Spare me your ignorant imputations of what I do and do not censure.
“3. Please document any Catholic saying "God can't damn you with a piece of Jesus inside you".”
Once again, I wouldn’t expect a Catholic to be that candid. I’m merely pointing out the implications of his faith and practice.
“4. Since you can only receive Eucharist if you are in a state of grace, it hardly seems rational to talk about the Eucharist as primary means for remaining in a state of grace and avoiding dying in mortal sin.”
i) A priest only administers the sacrament to communicants he knows to be in a state of grace? I don’t think so.
ii) Naturally a communicant will think he’s in a state of grace, and view the Mass as a maintenance program which is instrumental in preserving him in a state of grace. Why do Catholics go to Mass? To receive the means of grace. Grace channeled through the Eucharist.
“On paper, STEVE honors the authority of Scripture, but in practice STEVE's authority supplants and subverts Biblical authority.”
You need to prove that this is an issue of “authority” in both cases. You’ve given us an argument from analogy minus the argument.
“And I was responding to the claim that Catholicism is reducible to me and my Magisterium.”
If that was your objective, then you fell short.
“1) The laity doesn't always have to know the how and why of something to benefit from it. If the Magisterium keeps good order in the church through a correct understanding of scripture, the laity benefits without knowing the details.”
So the Magisterial interpretation of “the whole Bible” is classified? Only available on a need-to-know basis?
“2) Even without linking dogma to specific verses, the laity benefits from the correct understanding. For example, the laity benefits from the knowledge that it is correct to baptise infants without needing be told what texts might be relevant to that.”
Beneficial if true. Where is the supporting argument for the conditional?
“Pointing out the nonsense of your arguments about the Magisterium not being subject to scripture does not lead to parity. It just defeats your arguments.”
You keep ducking your distinctive burden of proof: the superiority of the Magisterium to sola Scriptura.
“There is no parity between the Church of God defining what scripture is, compared to STEVE defining what scripture is. That should be obvious to anyone.”
i) You haven’t given us any good reason to believe that God has conferred that prerogative on “the Church.”
ii) And even if he had, it comes down to your subjective interpretation of Magisterial teaching. So you’re stuck with parity.
“Having a central authority make judgement can't have epistemological equivalence to every man and his dog making their own judgement.”
There was no “central authority” in the OT. And there’s no “central authority” in the NT.
“Again, the old bait and switch. I refuted your argument that the Magisterium is not subject to scripture, now you're using that as bait and switch to pretend epistemological equivalence. That won't wash.”
You failed to refute my argument (see above). And my argument wasn’t a fallback argument. I’ve been using that all along. Try again.
“But I do note that your argument gives epistemological equivalence to atheists.”
Mistaken on a couple of counts:
i) Atheists use the wrong criterional starting point.
ii) Atheists also use the wrong cognitive starting point since the reprobate and unregenerate are disqualified by the noetic effects of sin from.
“That's like saying that the Supreme court's interpretation is equivalent to my own, because both must be filtered through my brain. But you'll find it aint so if you try and disregard a Supreme court order.__The fact is, institutions are needed to interpret texts. It's a fact of life and can't be refuted through some philosophical infinitely reductionist argument. Otherwise you could make the courts disappear in a puff of logic.”
That’s a very damaging analogy to draw in relation to Catholicism. A judicial ruling is binding, not because it’s true, but because it enjoys the coercive force of law.
Both lower and higher courts are quite capable of misinterpreting the law as well as mistaking the facts of the case. They are both fallible and authoritative.
Nazi judges were a fact of life under the Third Reich. And to judge by your totalitarian appeal, you would have made a good German.
By contrast, the Bible authorizes civil disobedience under certain circumstances.
“If Paul couldn't override other bible writers then clearly he WAS subject to them, since it wasn't within his authority to override them. Case closed.”
Are you playing dumb, or are you just plain dumb? This is what I originally said: "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. "
I made a claim about the symmetrical authority of Bible writers which you turn into a claim about the asymmetrical authority of Bible writers. You deduce a conclusion which follows, not from what I said, but from your misrepresentation of what I said.
Paul can’t override Isaiah, and Isaiah can’t override Paul. One isn’t subject to the other, or vice versa. Bible writers are equally inspired, infallible, and authoritative.
“No, my private judgement is with the aim of subjecting myself to a unifying principle which is the Spirit led Church.”
The choice of what authority to submit yourself to is a subjective value-judgment. And your interpretation of Magisterial teaching is equally subjective.
“Protestant private judgement is merely private judgement that doesn't care whether it leads you into or out of unity.
i) Unity doesn’t select for truth. Many cults are far more unified than Catholicism.
ii) Protestant private judgment cares about a correspondence between what I believe and God reveals.
“If it leads you to found a new church with you as the only one in it, so be it. That is not an equivalent position.”
You’re equivocating. The point at issue is not whether the Catholic rule of faith and the Protestant rule of faith have equivalent consequences. That was never the argument.
The point, rather, is that individual interpretation is an unavoidable and irreducible condition of both positions.
“Yes, scripture is so perspicuous that you need commentaries, sermons, and internal light to understand it.”
You’re simply acting petulant because the actual formulation of perspicuity in Protestant theology doesn’t give you an easy target.
The contrast is not between teaching and non-teaching. The contrast is between teaching which appeals to reason and evidence to justify its interpretation, and teaching which appeals to its own authority because its interpretation is unreasonable and counterevidential.
“But if someone else interprets differently and claims internal light, you're left with nothing objective. If someone is led astray by a bad commentary, cest la vie.”
I’m not responsible for someone who willfully misinterprets the Bible. And that also serves the purpose of God. For example, God knew that the message of the OT prophets would generally fall on deaf ears. Yet he sent them to preach anyway. Jesus knew that many Jews would reject his message. Yet he proclaimed himself to the Jews anyway. God knew that the message of the Apostles would be rejected by many Jewish listeners. Yet the Apostles were supposed to preach to Jew and Gentile alike.
Do you think the word of God failed in all these cases? Did it fail to achieve God’s appointed purpose?
Like all high churchmen, you disregard the actual purpose of God’s word, and substitute the purpose you think it should serve.
“So perspicuity becomes a meaningless catchphrase that proves nothing and helps no-one.”
It’s only “meaningless” according to your Catholic assignment, which you assert rather than defend.
“The Catholic faith itself is an infallible commentary on the bible.”
i) You’re being mendacious. Where is the Magisterial commentary on Chronicles, to take one example?
ii) And what residual of Catholic theology even claims to be infallible?
“Great. So prove to me which of those books are infallible.”
Does this mean you deny the plenary inspiration of Scripture?
Evangelical apologetics has presented many lines of evidence for the inspiration of Scripture. I don’t need to reinvent the wheel in response to you.
“Neatly avoiding the point that the apostles did not limit their teaching to the written Torah.”
You’re behind the curve. I’ve already addressed that appeal in response to Jay Dyer, among others.
“Nonsense. Prove to me that I wouldn't know to baptise infants unless it was written down.”
Which Apostle personally told JJ to baptize infants? Did you hold a séance recently?
“It's not an evasion to point out that radical skepticism cuts both ways.”
To say that it cuts both ways does nothing to salvage your own position. Since you’ve surrendered you own position, you have spared me the effort.
“How do you trace every link in every chain in every book back to the apostles or prophets, and then do the same for every book which you don't think came from the apostles or prophets?”
i) I’ve made my case for the Bible on many occasions. I don’t have to repeat myself for your benefit.
ii) You, by contrast, haven’t begun to make a case for your alternative.
iii) And, once again, you’re resorting to the tu quoque tactic, which fails to establish the superiority of the Magisterium over sola Scriptura.
“Obtusely equivocating between having teachings and having a list of teachings.”
You don’t have what you can’t point to.
“It's all there in the tradition.”
“Tradition” isn’t neatly catalogued and indexed. You need to specify what particular traditions (plural) count as Sacred Tradition (singular).
“What silliness. The Magisterium is in continuous contact with the rest of the church.”
Now you’ve abandoned your prooftext for a very different argument. You back down very quickly. Unfortunately, you don’t learn from your mistakes. You simply make different mistakes.
“And there is no reason to believe Philip was infallible in his dealings with the Eunuch.”
So even if your analogy between the teaching of Philip and the teaching of the Magisterium held, that would only illustrate fallible ecclesial teaching. And how is fallible Catholic teaching any improvement over fallible Protestant teaching?
“It seems to me it is you who is obsessed with infallibility.”
The Catholic argument for the Magisterium is that the perpetuity of the church is grounded in the indefectibility of the church, which is, in turn, grounded in the infallibility of the church insofar as is immune to heresy. For example, Cardinal Dulles uses that precise argument as the Catholic rationale for the Magisterium—in his recent book on the subject (64-65).
You’re either ignorant of basic Catholic theology or else you don’t believe it.
“The point is, someone in communion with the church could give him a correct interpretation.”
One doesn’t need to be in communion with the church to correctly interpret a passage of Scripture. A secular Hebraist can correctly interpret a passage from the OT. A secular Classicist can correctly interpret a passage from the NT.
“Pointing out your hypocrisy is very relevant here.”
Pointing out “hypocrisy,” even if the charge were true, does nothing to salvage your own position. When you keep resorting to this tu quoque tactic you tacitly admit that your own position is indefensible. You can try to attack my position, but you can’t defend your own. Disproving mine, even if successful, wouldn’t begin to prove your own.
“Again the obsession with infallibility.”
That’s a Catholic obsession.
“But the court process IS authoritative.”
So is Fascism. And Maoism. And Stalinism. Sharia courts are authoritative for Muslims.
“So is the protestant notion that they have the authority to interpret as individuals.”
i) Once again, you can’t keep track of the argument. In my reply to Bryan Cross, I denied that interpretation presupposes authority. And I argued for my position. Where’s your counterargument?
ii) I’d add that it’s self-refuting for you to play the authority card since you yourself are not an authority-figure. You don’t belong to Magisterium. You have no authority card to play. If interpretation is contingent on authority, then you’ve disqualified yourself from having anything worthwhile to say on the subject.
“And when exactly did they have the right to set up a new Levitical priesthood?”
i) Once again, you’re changing the subject. Every time you do that it’s a backdoor admission that you lost the argument.
You had argued for the antecedent probability of the Magisterium. But the force of that argument would apply retroactively to the old covenant community as well as the new covenant community. However, the old covenant community had no infallible teaching office.
ii) When you shift grounds to the issue of schism, you abandon your original argument. If you have so little faith in your argument, why should anyone else?
iii) In order for your analogy to work, which you’re substituting for the your failed, opening move, you would need to show that the Church of Rome is the NT counterpart to the OT priesthood. I’m waiting for you to present your argument, although I don’t harbor high expectations that you’ll rise to the challenge which you posed for yourself.
“Who would have interpreted the scriptures on how, where and when to carry out temple sacrifices? (a) Every man and his dog. (b) the Levitical priesthood.”
Once again, I already addressed that objection in my review of Dulles’ book. You’re behind the curve.
You’re doing another bait-and-switch. The question at issue is not whether OT priests would have occasion to interpret OT law. Rather, the question is whether there was an infallible teaching office in the OT.
“People followed the tradition as best as they could grasp it.”
“As best as they could grasp”? You think that’s an improvement over the right of private judgment?
“Notice that the catholic principle of unity did pretty well even without a dogmatic proclamation.”
In which case unity doesn’t depend on ecumenical councils or infallible papal pronouncements. Congratulations! You just torpedoed your case for the necessity of the Magisterium. The only remaining question is whether you’d rather become a Baptist or Plymouth Brethren.
“As do you, but I have the higher view of providence.”
No, you have a lower view of providence since you think that God can only guide his people by telling them what to do.
“Again the obsession with infallibility.”
Look, you nitwit, infallibility is a *Catholic* obsession. Pius IX is a case in point.
“It's antecedently absurd as a method for identifying truth, since people claiming inspiration disagree.”
Another obtuse comment. The fact that people disagree doesn’t make it *antecedently* absurd. Try to screw your head on straight.
That outcome would only make it ex post facto absurd. You don’t even grasp the concepts you deploy.
People claiming inspiration disagree because everyone is not, in fact, inspired. Remember, an argument for the Magisterium based on antecedent probabilities is, in the first instance, an *a priori* argument based on the *hypothetical* advantages of the Magisterium.
Universal private inspiration is a counterfactual scenario. So, of course, in the real world, people claiming inspiration disagree.
But that doesn’t render the proposition *antecedently* improbable. And if your argument for the antecedent probability of the Magisterium is that Magisterial guidance is a means of achieving the aim of Christian unity, then there are antecedently more probable mechanisms of achieving that goal since there are more efficient hypothetical means of achieving Christian unity.
I’m responding to you on your own grounds. Have the grace to remember your own argument, pitiful as that may be.
“The aim isn't to prevent dissension, but provide an identifiable source of unity for resolving it.”
Once again you’re too dense to follow your own argument. A way of achieving unity is to prevent dissension. If the aim is to achieve unity, then preventing dissention is a necessary means to that end.
Instead, you’ve abandoned the *practicality* of the goal, and are now taking refuge in a rule of faith which can, in *principle*, resolve conflict even though, in a real world situation, it fails to *effect* unity by the resolution of conflict. So your rule of faith is a paper theory which doesn’t “work” in real life. An abstract and purely formalisic principle of unity that doesn’t effect unity fails to actually solve the problem (disunity) which you posed for yourself.
“What these supposedly more probably methods are we are not told.”
I told you quite specifically. Were you drunk at the time?
Innate knowledge would accomplish that aim. So would universal private inspiration.
“Having the canon is worthless without understanding the canon. To go half way with this argument is absurd. We must believe that the Church both has the canon and understands it.”
i) Which begs the question of whether we need a Magisterium to interpret the Bible.
ii) And you yourself have undermined your own case by belittling the issue of infallible guidance. If the Magisterium offers us fallible interpretations of Scripture, then how is that supposed to confer any advantage over fallible individual interpretations?
“If God wants us to know the canon, why don't all Christians know the canon?”
i) As usual, you’re impotent to defend your own position. All you can do is to throw the question back into the lap of your Protestant opponent.
ii) I don’t think it’s God’s will that every professing believer know the canon. It’s God’s will to leave some people in error. Just as he consigns liberal members of apostate denominations to damnable heresies.
It’s not essential to my position that John Spong know the canon. Or Swedenborg. Or Marcion. Or Pope Benedict XVI.
“If you want to nit pick around this kind of argument, then suddenly you don't have a canon. Suddenly, maybe your canon is just completely wrong.”
Based on what? Cartesian demons? Cartesian demons are more than happy to bedevil whatever Catholic alternative you propose. Floating purely hypothetical defeaters is not a rational basis for doubting anything. You need some concrete evidence that the hypothetical true. Otherwise, you’re like moviegoers who make themselves psychotic by taking The Matrix too seriously.
“You need at some level to identify with the argument of what God is likely to do. God is likely to make his word known.”
Such a generic argument (which you haven’t even furnished) doesn’t begin to yield the Catholic Magisterium.
“God is likely to make true scriptures clearly distinguishable from false ones.”
I don’t deny that God has made true scriptures clearly distinguishable from false ones.
“Perhaps. But the scriptures themselves have been occasion for both unity and division. I don't think you would therefore reject scripture as a point of unity.”
i) I’m not the one whose treating unity as a criterion.
ii) The scriptures have been more than an “occasion” for division. That’s one of the purposes of Scripture. It’s meant to have a winnowing effect on the audience.
“Again, if you have no epistemic advantage in having Paul's infallible interpretation of Genesis, then throw out Paul. You won't, because you know it aint so.”
Did I say there’s no epistemic advantage in having *Paul’s* infallible interpretation of Genesis? No.
“How this helps your case that people can get things right but without a valid reason to do so, I can't see.”
Did I say people can get things right without a valid reason? No.
“Luke doesn't say he received all his information directly from exclusively eyewitnesses, he says his story is "handed down to us" by eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Clearly there weren't eyewitnesses alive for everything Luke wrote. Clearly he didn't have eyewitnesses for all the facts in Ch 3 for example.”
There were no living witnesses to the ministry of John the Baptist?
And what makes you think he clearly didn’t get his genealogy of Jesus from a member of Jesus’ family (e.g. James, Jude)?
a) All scripture is inspired (2 Tim 3:16)
b) Luke is Scripture (1 Tim 5:18; cf. Lk 10:7).
c) Therefore, Luke is inspired.
And spare me the objection that 2 Tim 3:16 is referring to the OT. 2 Tim 3:16 is making a categorical statement about Scripture qua Scripture.
“In that case, apostolic succession is an historical fact.”
No, in that case, apostolic succession is a historical *claim*. Present your evidence.
You can’t fall back on the authority of your church since the authority of your church is contingent on apostolic succession. You must verify the institution before the institution can verify anything else.
“It renders the claim as verifiable or unverifiable as many other theological claims.”
So verify it. It’s your dogma. The onus lies on you to verify your own dogma.
“Epistemologically however, the Magisterium is an entity created by the apostles, and you aren't, so you don't get to claim epistemological equality.”
i) You don’t get to claim the Magisterium is an entity created by the apostles. Give us something resembling an actual argument to bolster your contention.
ii) And, I, for one, have argued for the alternative (sola scriptura, private judgment).
“What's your definition of sola scripture? That scripture is the sole infallible rule of faith for the church? But hang on, now you're claiming the church doesn't need a rule of faith for its unity and good governance. Oops, there goes sola scriptura out the window.”
JJ is blind to his own Catholic presuppositions. He begins with a definition. Then he says sola Scripture would go out the widow if sola Scriptura is not a unifying principle. But that doesn’t follow from his own definition. Rather, he has assigned that function to a rule of faith based on his Catholic priorities.
“We agree enough to remain one church.”
That begs the question of how much discontinuity with the past is permissible and still call yourself the same church.
“Sorry, you need to document your ramblings. Claiming stuff doesn't cut it.”
You might begin by applying that yardstick to your own assertions, for which you offer no supporting arguments.
“Since Paul is your infallible interpretive authority, then the only real access you have to Genesis is via the Paul. Thanks for confirming what I've been saying.”
i) To begin with, Paul is not the only Bible writer or inspired speaker within a Biblical narrative who interprets Genesis.
ii) One of the problems with the Magisterium is that it does, indeed, presume to speak with the same interpretive authority as an Apostle. So there is, in fact, a putative parallel, and that’s the problem. The Magisterium is not entitled to claim the same interpretive authority.
You have this mindless, mechanical tu quoque response to everything we say without bothering to consider that parity or equivalence doesn’t vindicate your own position.
“How does having an infallible Bible, alleviate the problem of subjectivity of the fallible individual's intepretation?”
Once again, JJ falls back on his brainless tu quoque response as if that salvages his own position.
i) He begs the question by assuming that subjectivity is a problem for Protestant theology. That is not a problem for Calvinism. Human subjectivity is not autonomous. God is the Lord of our subjectivity. He made it.
ii) And even if, ex hypothesi, this were a problem for the Protestant rule of faith, to say we suffer from the same problem is no way of defending the Catholic rule of faith.
Notice that JJ can never defend his own position. He can only attack the opposing position. He leaves objections to his own position intact. He’s giving the reader reasons to reject Protestantism, but he’s not giving the reader reasons to accept Catholicism. To say that Protestantism is wrong doesn’t make Catholicism is right.
Yet this is JJ’s modus operandi, as if that were an adequate apologetic for Catholicism.
“But we don't allow it to be shaken to the ground, because we believe in God leading his people, such that we believe the testimony about the prophets, we believe the testimony about Paul, and we believe the testimony about the magisterium.”
All he’s done here is to assert his belief. A Muslim or Mormon or Hindu or Scientologist could do the same.
“We are just consistent in who we believe.”
Even if you were consistent, you can be consistently wrong.
“Once we start making up for ourselves which bits we believe, we shake our epistemological foundation with our personal opinions so that the church itself topples over.”
i) This sidesteps the crucial question of whether you laid a firm foundation to begin with. You can also lay a firm foundation in the wrong location. You need to lay the correct foundation.
ii) And, of course, JJ is very selective about what he’s prepared to believe. He’s not a Gnostic or an Arian or a Bogomile or a Mormon.
iii) As a matter of fact, Christians are supposed to exercise discernment. The NT frequently warns us to be on guard against false teachers.
“1) Because the Magisterium can react to the ongoing situation to clarify enough to retain unity in the church. So it works as a rule of faith. Are you going to claim the church doesn't need a workable rule of faith?”
i) As usual, he merely stipulates what a rule of faith is supposed to accomplish. He never presents an argument for his crucial claim.
ii) Assuming, for the same of argument, that he is correct, then the Magisterium has failed to retain unity. Is there a unified interpretation of Vatican II? Is Catholic opinion united behind Humane Vitae?
In fact, these are two examples where the Magisterium generated disunity. It achieved the very opposite of what JJ says a rule of faith is supposed to achieve.
“2) The magisterium has an historical (and thus objective) link with the scriptures via apostolic succession.”
Notice how he constantly assumes what he needs to prove. He substitutes his make-believe for evidence and reason.
Not only does he fail to furnish any evidence for apostolic succession, but he also fails to address the counterevidence. What about the Great Schism (1378-1417)? What about ecclesiastical impediments to valid ordination? What about rigged papal elections?
“Thus STEVE's claims about what scripture is and what it means are purely subjective. in relational to someone else's claims.”
How does he define “subjectivity”? The mere fact that two men may disagree? But Catholics disagree with each other. Protestants disagree with Catholics. Eastern Orthodox disagree with Catholics. Oriental Orthodox disagree with Catholics. Marxists disagree with Catholics.
If two people disagree, we should listen to their arguments. Which side has the best argument?
If JJ is going to object that this evaluation is subjective, then he can’t argue for Catholicism.
“That's compounded with the problem that we don't have access to all the circumstances both immediate and cultural that give the text its full meaning.__Grammatical-historical exegesis at best comes up with a range of possible interpretations, and the most likely one on a grammatical-historical basis, even if one could decide such a thing objectively (which is itself a doubtful claim), is not necessarily the true one.”
i) JJ, like Catholics generally, simply stipulates what he thinks should be the case, then picks a theological just-so story to illustrate his stipulation.
The proper question we should ask ourselves is what does God require of us? Does God demand that we come up with a necessarily correct interpretation? Does God hold us to apodictic proof? No.
Because JJ thinks in armchair terms rather than historical terms, he doesn’t bother to look at the actual record. Consider 1C Jews in relation to the Torah. Did 1C Jews have “access to all the circumstances both immediate and cultural that give the text its full meaning”?
No, the Torah was written over a millennium before their time. Despite that epistemic limitation, were 1C Jews responsible for their adherence to the Torah? Yes.
Did God expect them to come up with a “necessarily true” interpretation of every Mosaic injunction? No.
Were OT judges infallible? No. Many OT judges were worse than fallible—they were corrupt. They deliberately misapplied the law.
ii) BTW, notice that JJ, on the one hand, says that I’m “obsessed with infallibility” while, on the other hand, he sets the bar at a “necessarily true” interpretation. Isn’t that synonymous with infallibility?
iii) Can JJ point us to his “necessarily true” interpretation of Magisterial teachings?
“If we had the examples of the apostles doing gramatical/historical exegesis on a consistent basis, or even once for that matter, then maybe you'd have the kernel of an argument.”
JJ exhibits his self-reinforcing ignorance. There’s a whole book on that subject: Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, G. Beale and D. A. Carson, eds.
“There is no objective link between the bible and STEVE.”
You don’t need a “link” to correctly interpret a statement. When Jesus and the Apostles debate the Jews, they don’t appeal to a “link.”
If I read the Tale of Genji, I can correctly interpret many statements without my having a “link” to the imperial court of 11C Japan.
“No, the Magisterium couldn't override scripture because the Magisterium and those writers were both writing under the power/inspiration of the Holy Spirit Himself and they had the same authority.”
i) All assertion, no argument.
ii) Even on its own grounds, it fails to distinguish between the ordinary and extraordinary Magisterium.
iii) Why is JJ appealing to the inspiration of the Magisterium? Doesn’t that betray an “obsession” with infallibility?
“1) Notice that GENEMBRIDGES has a canon because of the principle he repudiates.”
This assumes that we cannot argue for the canon apart from the Magisterium. I, for one, have done that in detail.
“2) Notice that the early church only had an existence and a correct canon because of the same principle.”
JJ’s church didn’t have an official canon until the 16C. And there was intense debate among the Tridentine Fathers over the identity of the canon. It simply came down to a vote. Which side had more votes. Is that any way to settle a factual question.
“3) Notice that for all the talk by protestants about "rule of faith", that term isn't in the bible.”
Now he’s talking like a Jehovah’s Witness.
“What is in the bible is 1Cor. 1:10 I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose. __Whether you want to link it to "rule of faith" which isn't in the bible, the fact is we are commanded to take this approach to unity.”
i) How is that supposed to help JJ’s case? The Corinthians had a living, infallible teacher in the person of the Apostle Paul. He was their “pope,” speaking ex cathedra. So Paul embodied the rule of faith.
Did that Pauline rule of faith effect unity among the Corinthians? No. They were fragmented into various factions. And some of them openly challenged his authority.
So, by JJ’s yardstick, the Pauline rule of faith was a failure. It didn’t work. It wasn’t workable since it failed to “retain unity.”
ii) Evangelicals don’t deny that we ought to agree with the Apostles. Unity with apostolic doctrine.
But as the church of Corinth vividly illustrates, a rule of faith is not a recipe for ecclesiastical unity. A rule of faith sets the standard. Whether individuals comply with the standard is irrelevant to the rule of faith. If they defy the standard, they will incur divine judgment. That’s one function of a rule of faith.
JJ’s prooftext undercuts his thesis.
iii) Point us to the infallible Magisterial interpretation of 1 Cor 1:10.
“If it's not, then dozens of heretical groups with and without their own scriptures have equal claims to the truth.”
Truth-claims are only equal if they’re equally true—or equally false.
“What is unique about Catholicism is historical continuity and objective link with Jesus and the apostles.”
Of course, that’s just another truth-claim. Unless we’re permitted to “subjectively” evaluate competing truth-claims, JJ’s radical scepticism vitiates his own position.
“But Catholics also have the trump card of being objectively the apostolic church.”
Notice that JJ never gets beyond the bare assertion of his belief. Like a two-year old who affirms his faith in Santa.
“So you don't know if you're influenced by instruments of reprobation or of salvation. Quite a conundrum. I hope you luck out in the end.”
JJ’s the one who’s trapped in the conundrum since he never evaluates his tradition.
“There are over 3500 articles on the internet. Search them.”
So the Internet is JJ’s magisterium. Pope Wikipedia I?
“Do you believe Philip was infallible in everything he said?”
i) Does JJ think Philip was fallible in what he taught the eunuch? If so, how would his fallible interpretation of Isaiah guide the eunuch into the truth? How would it point him to Christ?
ii) Why does JJ fault the right of private interpretation because it fails to yield a “necessarily true” interpretation when he also denies the necessary truth (or even incidental truth) of Philip’s interpretation?
iii) And how is the analogy between Philip and the Magisterium advantageous if, according to this comparison, the Magisterium is fallible? Even if we accept the parallel for the sake of argument, then that would be a prooftext for a fallible Magisterium (since JJ denies the infallibility of Philip).
“If not, then his claim to authority with the Eunuch was his valid ordination.”
How is fallible authority an improvement over sola scriptura or private judgment?
“2) There is no reason to say he was living under any covenant. He wasn't a Jew or a Christian.”
A good example of JJ’s self-reinforcing ignorance. As a Catholic, he doesn’t bother to study the Bible. Yes, the eunuch was a Jew. That’s why he was making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem (Acts 8:27). That’s why he had a copy of Isaiah.
He wasn’t an ethnic Jew. But he was a convert to the Jewish faith. A worshipper of the true God. A “God-fearer” from the Diaspora.
JJ trotted out this text as his prooftext for the Magisterium. Yet he lacks an elementary grasp of his own prooftext.
“Whatever veil he may have had about interpretation was lifted by oral communication with someone from the true church.”
*Fallible* oral communication (according to JJ).
“Not by someone with more scriptures, not by someone who had read more scriptures, but by someone with oral teachings.”
That’s because he only had the OT. He didn’t have one of the Synoptic Gospels, or John, or Romans, or Hebrews, &c.
Does JJ think that if the eunuch read Matthew, he still wouldn’t know who the Messiah was?
“As in all these early church situations, the apostles didn't practice sola scriptura. They could hardly be teaching what they didn't practice.”
A dumb statement. No one is arguing that sola Scriptura is the rule of faith during the age of public revelation. And the Apostles did practice writing down what they said.
“In other words, all those cases of Israel going astray did not invalidate the Levitical priesthood's authority right up until a special intervention of the Messiah.”
i) The Levitical priesthood was dynastic. That’s why it’s called “Levitical.” Church office is not dynastic.
ii) You’re also assuming what you need to prove, i.e. the church of Rome is a divine institution on par with the Levitical priesthood. If the church of Rome is just another denomination, then we don’t have to overcome some presumptive ecclesiastical authority to break with Rome.
“That puts in a very high standard of intervention before we should accept the existing authority over the people of God has been invalidated.”
No, the Pastoral Epistles supply the qualifications for church office and—by implication—the conditions which would disqualify a church officer or ordinand. Have you ever attempted to apply those qualifications to the papacy or the episcopate?
“First step is first, which is acknowledging an authoritative magisterium, just like you first have to acknowledge an authoritative Levitical priesthood.”
An argument from analogy minus the argument.
“Again the obsession with infallibility. Let's start with authoritative and work our way to infallibility.”
Is a falsehood authoritative? It can be authoritative in the coercive sense that it might force you to do something at gunpoint, but isn’t Christian theology supposed to be true? Does falsehood bind the conscience?