Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Unconditional submission

I'm going to respond to some remarks a commenter made at Beggars All:

Cletus Van Damme said...
You've moved the goalposts. guy's point is not that all catholics actually submit or never dissent, but that RCism, by the nature of its claims, allows for an actual change after submission - there is no such change allowed by Protestantism by nature of its claims. That's Devin's point which James and Svendsen are missing - everything remains under "private judgment" in Protestantism and perpetually so - because of the very nature of its claims. NT believers had to use private judgment in submitting to Christ/Apostles authority claims - that did not make those claims superfluous or meaningless (let alone worthy of rejection/indifference as Protestantism does in rejecting any body claiming divine authority/infallibility).

i) Private judgment is perpetual in Catholicism. The difference is that Catholics transfer private judgment from the laity to popes and bishops. Instead of laymen exercising private judgment, they submit to the private judgment of popes and bishops. But make no mistake: it's private judgment through and through.

ii) The difference is that Catholics arbitrarily relinquish the private judgment of the laity. It's an exercise in wishful thinking. Make-believe. They follow their private judgment to up a certain point, then suddenly act as if the private judgment of their religious superiors is unerring.

Is it really so difficult to see that a revealed religion demands, from its very nature, a place for private judgment and a place for authority? 

Protestant theology has that. The place for authority is occupied by God's written revelation. 

A place for private judgment, in determining that the revelation itself comes from God, in discovering the Medium through which that revelation comes to us, and the rule of faith by which we are enabled to determine what is, and what is not, revealed. A place for authority to step in, when these preliminary investigations are over, and say "Now, be careful, for you are out of your depth here....these and a hundred other questions are questions which your human reason cannot investigate for itself, and upon which it can pronounce no sentence, since it moves in the natural not in the supernatural order. At this point, then, you must begin to believe by hearsay; from this point onwards you must ask, not to be convinced, but to be taught." Is it really so illogical in us, to fix the point at which our private judgment is no longer of any service?"

That's a familiar paradigm. We see that dynamic in cults. You submit to the wisdom of the cult leader. You submit your decisions to him. He tells you how many wives you may have, how many kids you may have. If he orders you to assassinate his rival, you carry out his command without question. Nothing is more dangerous than unconditional submission to the judgment of another sinful, fallible man. 

No, the problem is such teachers and teaching are always subject to error (where error is defined as conflicting with my current provisional interpretation of Scripture) - hence semper reformanda and the ever-conditional authority of confessions and the like.

That's why everything remains subject to private judgment as I said above - there's no actual "submission" to such teachers (how can there be, given the nature of Protestant claims in the first place and rejection of the types of claims RCism and other bodies make).

This is where Catholics pretend that merely probable evidence enjoys the same warrant as certainty. Even though their private judgment in trusting Rome in the first place is admittedly uncertain, once they arrive at that uncertain conclusion, they posit certainty for the "divine teaching office" of the magisterium. But the actual state of the evidence, by their own admission, falls well short of warranting that confidence. 

(And, of course, Protestants deny that there's even probable evidence for the claims of Rome. Rather, there's impressive evidence that the claims of Rome are false.)

This might carry more weight if Scripture predated the church. 
It did. It's called the Old Testament.
But the church was operating for decades before Scripture was complete - the identification of the canon was based in part on the life of the church.
We could turn that around. Scripture was complete long before the church was complete. Indeed, the church of Rome is still a work in progress. Periodically redefining or reinventing itself.

Except the identification of the extent/scope of Scripture is not guaranteed to be free of corruption by your own principles.

i) Even if that were the case, so what? We have to accept the situation God has given us rather than invent a fictional ideal more to our liking.

ii) And if God intends to secure the scope of the canon for his people, he can ensure that result.

As said above, Scripture came out of the church which was operating with their successors before Scripture was completed. Therefore, they left behind both, not just one.

Scripture came out of individual Bible writers.

Now this is interesting. James [Swan] keeps on asserting Devin is assuming what he needs to prove, and yet what proof do we have that the model/precedent set by the Jerusalem council was a one-off thing that would no longer be followed once the final word of Scripture was penned? Granting sola scriptura, I would think that would have to be pretty explicitly stated in Scripture to be consistent.

Well, one reason it's a "one-off thing" is that it included apostles and a stepbrother of Jesus. But that's unrepeatable.

Similarly, you and James seem to agree apostolic preaching/practice of the faith preceded inscripturation. So at a minimum it seems Tradition and inscripturation were operating in parallel until the last sentence of the last book was written correct? So why assume that pattern and the rule of faith suddenly changed and shifted in essence in terms of transmission and operation when the last inspired word was penned – would it not be more reasonable to assume the pattern continued by default (especially when the church was already operating for decades) unless there was strong evidence to the contrary?

It's equivocal to equate apostolic preaching with "tradition." "Tradition" is something that's handed down from generation to generation. That's hardly equivalent to temporary oral communication. 
And given your rule of faith, such evidence would have to exist in the writings/Scripture themselves correct?
Sola scriptura doesn't exclude extrabiblical supporting evidence.
But if your rule of faith was not operating during inscripturation (as James [Swan] notes), I fail to see how that can even be possible, let alone probable since any appeal to support SS would violate the original meaning/intent of the words.
What words is he even referring to?

Because you only agree with those councils solely because they happen to agree with your interpretation of Scripture.

What's wrong with that?
You are telling me that a rule of faith that has infallible preaching/practice (i.e. Tradition) alongside infallible Scripture is not contradictory to Sola Scriptura. That would mean there are 2 infallible authorities, not one, which is contradictory to SS. 
i) That confuses a mode of communication with the content of communication. 
ii) Moreover, apostolic preaching isn't "tradition" (see above).  

1 comment:

  1. CCC 85-87:

    85 "The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ." This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome.

    86 "Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it. At the divine command and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it listens to this devotedly, guards it with dedication and expounds it faithfully. All that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed is drawn from this single deposit of faith."

    87 Mindful of Christ's words to his apostles: "He who hears you, hears me", the faithful receive with docility the teachings and directives that their pastors give them in different forms.

    On the topic of “which came first, ‘tradition’ or the New Testament, see also: