Sunday, February 06, 2011

A Fallible Collection Of Infallible Books

R.C. Sproul's comments about the Protestant canon are often quoted by Catholics, sometimes without any further commentary, as if it's obviously unacceptable to have a fallible collection of infallible books. I don't know why they think it's unacceptable, much less why they think it's obviously so. And Catholics disagree among themselves about just how to define the church, which men have been Popes and which have been antipopes, which papal teachings have been infallible and which haven't been, etc. Is it acceptable to have a fallible collection of infallible traditions?


  1. Sproul said: "Rome believes the church was infallible when it determined which books belong in the New Testament. Protestants believe the church acted rightly and accurately in this process, but not infallibly."

    I don't disagree with Sproul's point, but this gives the Church of Rome far too much credit.

    It was Godly men who acted in the process, many of whom had involvement with the Church, but many who did not (such as the Apostle Paul himself).

    It is presumptuous to credit the Church, rather than the Holy Ghost for this process. It shows Rome's tendency to portray all pre-Reformation Christian's 'automatically' as Roman Catholic.

  2. ἐκκλησία,

    To be fair, Sproul doesn't typically mean "The Church of Rome" when he says "the church" in general. Thus, when he says "Protestants believe the church acted rightly...etc." I don't believe you should immediately assume he's saying "Protestants believe the church of Rome acted rightly...etc."

    In any case, the Holy Spirit was definitely at work, but He worked through the church as a whole--which was at the time nowhere near what the Catholic Church is today. I don't find it much different from saying that Paul wrote Romans, even though it was also breathed out by God.

  3. The Catholic argument that "You cannot get an infallible authority from fallible men" tends to have its wheels come off when we ask whether the Conclave of Cardinals, which elects the Pope, possess infallible authority. Under Canon Law, it certainly cannot depose a Pope, or disallow his decisions.