Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Does the Magisterium actually solve the problem it poses for itself?

RR: You say that the attempt to relativize a subset of doctrinal disagreements has a fatal flaw as regards the challenge of identifying which doctrines can be properly relativized. You then suggest that the way to neutralize that flaw is by appealing to an authoritative magisterium which can guide us in discerning which doctrines are proper candidates of relativization.
But here’s the problem: prior to appealing to Catholic magisterial authority, you offered preliminary reasoned arguments as to which doctrines can be properly relativized. For example, you argued that one cannot relativize the means of salvation or the nature of posthumous punishment: “hell either is eternal, conscious suffering or it isn’t.” Notably, none of those arguments appeals to the Magisterium of the church. On the contrary, they stand independent of it and thus can be evaluated on their own merits whether or not one accepts the Catholic Magisterium.
So it seems to me that your own analysis actually undermines your claim that the challenge of discernment constitutes a fatal flaw which requires appeal to a magisterial authority.
TH: I agree that we can know from reason alone that certain doctrines refer to objective statements that are either true or false for all people (like statements about the existence of God or divinity of Christ). Indeed, we can know from reason that any statement about reality is either true or false and any Christian practice is either permissible, forbidden, or obligatory. The problem still arises, however, as to knowing which doctrines and practices are binding only upon a certain community, only upon believers, or are binding upon all people.
You could say in response, “Well, let each person examine the sources for belief and come to his own conclusion on those questions” and in one sense, everyone has to do that. For example, I don’t believe in the authority of the Church’s magisterium solely because it is useful in settling these disputes or because it says it is required in doing so (the former being crude pragmatism and the latter being invalid circular reasoning).

7 comments:

  1. I also highlight some of the issues that divide Catholics:

    https://rationalchristiandiscernment.blogspot.com/2018/11/refuting-catholicism-is-objective.html

    So when Romish apologists utilize their beloved unity argument, they are at best being deceptive. Their unity is only a mirage.

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    1. It's only organizational unity. There are other kinds of unity.

      When people were teaching about Jesus who weren't with Jesus and the 12, at least according to the gospels, Jesus was fine with that.

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  2. I was thinking the other day about how a catholic once told me that they can use their private judgment to exegete passages from the Bible, so long as their conclusions square with the teaching of the Magisterium. Of course, there are other problems with that, but one issue that strikes me is how do they know their exegesis is right? If unaided private judgment is unable to arrive at truth, and the Magisterium only places the guarantee of infallibility on the outcome of their interpretation, then there's zero reason to have any confidence in one's interpretation of the text.

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  3. How do catholics know that even when they read a text, they are not reading the accidents of a text that differs from its substance?

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  4. Trent Horn wrote:
    You could say in response, “Well, let each person examine the sources for belief and come to his own conclusion on those questions” and in one sense, everyone has to do that. For example, I don’t believe in the authority of the Church’s magisterium solely because it is useful in settling these disputes or because it says it is required in doing so (the former being crude pragmatism and the latter being invalid circular reasoning).

    Didn’t he just admit RC apologetics is at root wrong?

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    1. Yes, he pulled the rug out from under most of his fellow Catholic apologists. Maybe that's a tactic to establish himself. Instant promotion by eliminating the competition!

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