Saturday, January 20, 2007

Catholicism as functional Protestantism

Ecclesiological Theses

Michael Pahls

To the extent that John [Armstrong] is simply making the case that the Church may err, I think most of us would agree. However, Roman Catholics too have recourse to distinguishing an infallible Church from the sins and errors of its children. Even in the more knotty case of conciliar decrees and the infallible teachings of the Magisterium, Catholics have recourse to a notion of development whereby prior teachings may be rectified and corrected either in the course of dialogue with theologians who interpret and establish the sense of magisterial statements, or by subsequent councils that transcend prior teaching through the reconfiguration of a dogma. In both the Protestant and Catholic cases the net result is nearly the same. Regardless of whether a teaching is described as “errant” or as “infallible but obsolete” and regardless of the time and particular process involved, modifications, corrections, and (yes) rectifications occur. There is ample historical precedent for this.

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