Friday, May 11, 2012

The bloom is off the Rose

Devin Rose on May 8, 2012 at 10:20 am said:

Hmm, I think you are overstating the case going in the other direction. Firstly, note that the Catholic canon, including the seven deuterocanonical books, was also “codified” at the ecumenical council of Florence in the 1400s (long before the Reformation began). Trent merely reaffirmed Florence (dogmatically so), which was reaffirming the consensus that had emerged in the Church’s discernment during the first four hundred years, as seen at the council of Rome and those in North Africa in the 300s and early 400s. So it is inaccurate to say that the Catholic canon was only codified at Trent.

According to Metzger, the Tridentine Fathers were divided on the canon, some espousing the Augustinian position and others espousing the Hieronymian position. When the final vote was taken, not even a majority of the bishops voted for the Augustinian position. It merely passed by a plurality.

So Trent didn’t reaffirm a preexisting consensus on the canon. There was no consensus at the Council of Trent. Rather, it was by an arbitrary fiat.

Devin Rose on May 8, 2012 at 5:01 pm said:

Regarding the alleged horns of the dilemma you propose, yes during the time of the canon’s discernment (which was not “chaos” but did take centuries to settle), popes and apostolic succession were in place. And sola Scriptura was not. So the Church functioned fine without having a dogmatically settled canon, just as she functioned fine before having dogmatic settled doctrines of the Trinity and Christology. She had the Scriptures, such as the canon had thus far been discerned, and the Apostolic Tradition. Because she was led by rightful authorities, the legitimate successors of the Apostles, as Irenaeus and many others attested to, and this, the Magisterium, was guided by the Spirit. The gradual nature of the canon’s discernment presents a problem for Protestants (who are sola Scriptura) but not for Catholics.

Several problems:

i) You might as well say the church did just fine in the first few centuries without ecumenical councils. For the first ecumenical council wasn’t until the 4C.

ii) And when the early church did begin to settle disputes through ecumenical councils, it was the emperor rather than the pope who convened the councils. By the same token, ecumenical councils weren’t conducted under the auspices of Rome.

iii) Ecclesiology was unsettled in the early church. The Donatists and Novatianists regarded ordination as invalid if conferred by an unworthy officiant. And that would destroy apostolic succession.

Therefore, Devin can’t claim apostolic succession without begging the question. Although the Donatists and Novatianists were condemned, their condemnation is only as good as the church that condemned them. But if they were right, then the condemnation was illegitimate. For if the Roman succession was broken by invalid ordination, then Rome was in no position to condemn the Donatists and the Novatianists.

iv) At best, Devin could claim that while the papacy and apostolic succession were de jure in place, recognition of the papacy and apostolic succession was gradual.

That, however, would parallel the argument that the canon was de jure in place even though recognition of the canon was gradual. 

1 comment:

  1. I find it interesting that Devin Rose would rely on the Council of Florence for support.

    It was after all, this council that Calvin pointed to as the beginning of the schism of the Roman Church. The pope thereof, having been elevated by civil authorities.