Thursday, February 21, 2013

Past Popes vs “Called to Communion”

Paul Bassett takes on the Called to Communion gang, showing how past popes contradicted the “Catholic Interpretive Paradigm” (CIP) that they are advocating.

Here is how their claim works:

“The person becoming Catholic, by contrast, is seeking out the Church that Christ founded. He does this not by finding that group of persons who share his interpretation of Scripture. Rather, he locates in history those whom the Apostles appointed and authorized, observes what they say and do viz-a-viz the transmission of teaching and interpretive authority, traces that line of successive authorizations down through history to the present day to a living Magisterium, and then submits to what this present-day Magisterium is teaching. By finding the Magisterium, he finds something that has the divine authority to bind the conscience.”

Paul summarizes the mechanics of that quote here:

The superiority of the Roman Catholic IP consists in the claims that:

1.) it can be located in history,
2.) it has divine authorization, and
3.) it is consistent “through history”

As it turns out, history has given us a laboratory in which to test those claims:

If we were to test this IP we would look for a laboratory that contained only those items needed by the IP but was free from any contaminants not needed by it. And fortunately for us, history provides just such a laboratory – the Papal States. The Papal States was a European country entirely under the control of the Roman church and its hierarchy. It existed for 700 years until 1870 and was at its peak during the 16th century. The Vatican exercised complete and total control over every aspect of life within those borders and therefore qualifies as the perfect laboratory to test the IP.

Therefore, “the Catholic IP” must have flourished there, right? Wrong, actually:

The boys at C2C want us to believe that the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church is the only God-given instrument whereby Scriptures can be properly and authentically interpreted. And yet in a place and time where the Roman Catholic Church reigned supreme not only did they not exercise their alleged responsibility, but they used their temporal power to eliminate the Scripture to the greatest extent possible.

Read the whole piece here.


  1. I just get a kick out of the high degree of personal, private judgment goes into the process. Follow the verbs: the one joining the Roman Church "locates...observes...traces...and then submits." But Protestants could apply essentially that same set of verbs, with the object being Scripture, rather than the Magisterium. We "locate" the passage in redemptive history, "observe" how it addresses that situation, "trace" how it is fulfilled & applied in the rest of Scripture, "and then submit."

    So, I'm not sure how this Catholic IP is such a big improvement on the Protestant "private judgment."

  2. Hi Joshua,

    You are exactly right. Even granting the superiority of the Magisterium, one still has to account for the individual's choice to follow them. That is the point that Eric Svendsen and James White have been making for years.