Fr Alvin Kimel
“I suggest that the Bible does not in fact function as that external Word upon which your faith relies.”
Well, I suppose we should commend Fr. Kimel for being so candid about the Catholic view of Scripture. For him, Christian faith can rely on the Scriptures. Instead, Christian faith must rely on the sacraments and the words of the priest.
“The Bible is not an external Word in the direct personal way that either preaching or sacrament is.”
What about mass baptism? Is that direct and personal?
What about an open air mass in which the Pope speaks to hundreds of thousands of strangers?
What about a televised papal mass in which he speaks to a live audience numbering in the millions?
What about a televised mass by a now-deceased pontiff?
“None of the biblical books were written personally to you or to me.”
i) True. But the Bible contains categorical statements for the benefit of posterity.
ii) For that matter, the Rosary wasn’t written personally to you or me. So does this mean, according to Kimel, that Catholics who pray the Rosary can’t directly and personally appropriate the Rosary?
“We may read them AS IF they are first- and second-person discourse addressed directly to us–and we are not wrong to do so–but in fact they were written for people who lived and died 2,000 years ago.”
What about church fathers? Papal encyclicals? And conciliar decrees?
“A complex interpretive step has to occur to transform the general promises of salvation found in the Scripture into promises spoken to us directly and personally.”
I’m not sure how much complexity is involved in the personal appropriation of, say, Jn 3:16. And even if that were complex, is it any more so than reciting the Rosary?
“There is a world of difference between reading about Jesus in the gospels or reading the salvation promises spoken by Paul to the church in Rome and hearing the preacher speak directly to me ‘Christ died for YOU’ or the priest declaring to me in the confessional ‘I absolve YOU from all your sins: in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.’”
Yes, indeed, there’s a world of difference. Unlike the word of God, a Catholic priest has no right to give a listener that assurance. Has no right to absolve anyone of sin.
“This is why Scripture cannot function as an external Word in the same way that baptism and the other sacraments can. Baptism gets done to me and becomes an inescapable item in my history.”
So does getting a tattoo. How is that relevant?
“I am reminded of an episode of ‘All in the Family.’ Archie Bunker wants Michael and Gloria to get their baby baptized. Michael refuses. Archie retorts, ‘What’s the matter, you were baptized, weren’t you.’ ‘Yes,’ Michael says, ‘but I renounce my baptism.’ Archie, being the astute theologian that he is, replies, ‘You can’t do that. You can renounce your belly button, but it’s still there.’ At some point in time, God claimed me as his own and spoke to me his baptismal Word of salvation.”
i) Of course, that simply begs the question of whether Catholic sacramentology is true. Where’s the argument?
ii) But there’s another problem. How does Kimel know that baptism is efficacious?
In this very thread we’ve had Catholics who try to prooftext the efficacy of baptism from certain baptismal promises in Scripture. And let’s suppose, for the sake of argument, that the Catholic interpretation is correct.
Yet if Kimel’s objection is sound, then their extrapolation is fallacious. Catholics can’t directly and personally appropriate the baptismal promises of Scripture. For the baptismal promises weren’t spoken to them individually.
“There is nothing impersonal or mechanical about the sacramental life.”
I’m sure that Mafiosi who attend Mass would be cheered by that statement.