Responding to Hard-hearted Protestants on My Apparent "Roman Catholic Delusions"

Okay I am going to address the following points brought forth by my separated brother in Christ Rhoblogy on his blog. Read on…(his stuff is in bold and mine is not 🙂

These guys truly impress me. It’s like my pastor says: “Those who have faith do not need proof. For those without faith no proof is ever enough.” Anyway, because I love you I will continue to attempt to clarify your understanding of the Church and her teachings. I am not trying to convert you or anyone else for that matter – that is between you and the Holy Spirit. However, I do challenge any person to fully examine the Church with an open heart, in prayer for guidance and wisdom from the Holy Spirit. The result of this will most certainly result in showing that the Catholic Church is the One True Church established by Jesus.
lozeerose graced us with his presence on the previous post and inundated us with prooftexts for the unquestioned authority of the Roman Church.  I have some questions and comments on that whole mess.  Also of note is Vox Veritatis’ interaction with these statements in the same combox.
What Vox said.
Also, I have some questions for you, and there will be some overlap. 

 You cited a zillion out-of-context Bible psgs.
Firstly, neither you nor Vox do anything to counter the passages I cited and I suspect that you all did not take the time to fully examine them. I decided to provide these isolated verses in order to approach you both on your Sola Scriptura level. If you were to examine these verses, removing your own prejudices (difficult for any person) and place them in context you will note that Scripture does not (cannot) contradict Church teachings. After all, the Bible is a Catholic book.Both you and Vox make the assumption that the Church teaches that individuals cannot interpret Scripture on their own. This is a misunderstanding on your part (as is your understanding of all of the Church dogmas sans the inerrancy of Scripture, the Most Holy Trinity, the divinity of Jesus, the Canon of Scripture, worshiping on Sunday – all of which were defined by the Catholic Church). The Church encourages individuals to read, interpret and apply Scripture to their lives. What it prohibits is the acceptance of interpretations that are contrary to Church teaching. For example, Jesus is present in the Blessed Sacrament (John 6 for one), so a Catholic cannot deny this an purport to be in full communion with the Church.

Why do that if I have no “authority to interpret” them?
You misunderstand the Church’s teaching on “interpretive authority.” I will elaborate below.Why give with one hand and take back with the other?
Please clarify this question. I am not certain what I gave and then took back.

For that matter, on what basis do YOU cite them?
I cite these passages because they themselves are cited in the Catechism as the affirmation and basis of various Church doctrines an teachings in addition to being cited and commented on by the early Church Fathers.Do you have some sort of authority to interpret them?
The Church does not prohibit personal interpretation of Scripture. Like the Ten Commandments in the Old Covenant, the Church reminds Christians of dogmatic truths concerning various issues (that the Ten Commandments are still applicable is one of them). The faithful are thus freed from definitive error concerning the Christian faith. For example, both Protestants and Catholics understand the infallibly proclaimed dogma of the Divinity of Jesus Christ and the Truine Godhead. If, by reading Scripture, your interpretation lends to a contradictory understanding then you are definitively wrong concerning this truth and must reconsider in order to truly call yourself a Christian (see the account of Phillip and the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:27-39).

You said:
The Church indeed teaches on the permanence of marriage.Is that just your interpretation?
No. The Catechism states the following concerning the permanence of a valid marriage, especially between two baptized Christians:

  • 1638 “From a valid marriage arises a bond between the spouses which by its very nature is perpetual and exclusive; furthermore, in a Christian marriage the spouses are strengthened and, as it were, consecrated for the duties and the dignity of their state by a special sacrament.”(140, CIC 1134)
  • 1639 The consent by which the spouses mutually give and receive one another is sealed by God himself.(141, Mk 10:9) From their covenant arises “an institution, confirmed by the divine law, … even in the eyes of society.”(142, GS 48.1) The covenant between the spouses is integrated into God’s covenant with man: “Authentic married love is caught up into divine love.”(143, GS 48.2)
  • 1640 Thus the marriage bond has been established by God himself in such a way that a marriage concluded and consummated between baptized persons can never be dissolved. This bond, which results from the free human act of the spouses and their consummation of the marriage, is a reality, henceforth irrevocable, and gives rise to a covenant guaranteed by God’s fidelity. The Church does not have the power to contravene this disposition of divine wisdom.(144, CIC 1141) (1997 Catechism of the Catholic Church)

Again, this teaching is rooted in Scripture (link for combined verses below):

  • Mal 2:14-16 – for I hate divorce, says the Lord
  • Mt 5:32-33 – to divorce or marry divorced wife is adultery
  • Mt 19:4-6, 9 – to divorce wife and remarry = adultery
  • Lk 16:18 – to divorce & remarry or marry divorced = adultery
  • Rom 7:2-3 – wife consorts = adulteress if living, but not if dead
  • 1Cor 7:10-11 – if wife separated, stay single or reconcile
  • 1Cor 7:39 – permanence of a lawful marriage

Why should anyone accept your individual fallible non-authoritative word for it?
You shouldn’t. Go to the Church who was given the authority to bind and loose (Matthew 18:17-18). Does your church have the authority to bind and loose on earth and heaven as well as to retain and forgive sins? (Matthew 16:19, 18:18; John 20:23).

If your response resembles: “Well, just read the Church docs for yourself,” then
1) How would that help?  My interp wouldn’t be authoritative.
My response wasn’t to tell you to read Church docs for yourself. If I include Church docs it is to provide you with Church teachings in her own words. It doesn’t matter that our interps aren’t authoritative, the Church’s is and that is what matters. This is why it is important to read Church documents so that you and/or I can scrutinize her teachings against Sacred Scripture and know whether what she says is legit or not.2) Why is it possible to read Church docs but not Scripture?
You cannot have Church docs without Scripture. Your pastor does not give a sermon without it being based in Scripture correct? Same principle here except that the Church draws on Sacred Tradition as well. Remember that the Bible is not the end-all, be-all of the Word of God. That concept itself is not Biblically supported (John 21:25, Acts 20;35, 2Thess 2:15)

If you are suggesting that we accept the RCC a priori as the infallible interpreter, please let me know why I should. After all, there’s lots of competition out there for that spot!  EOC, the Watchtower, the LDS, David Koresh, José Luís de Jesús Miranda, etc.  If your response resembles: “Just check which church has the pedigree and
the line of apostolic succession,” then

1) EOC claims the same thing.  How can I know who’s right?
You must look at history. The EOC maintains her valid apostolic succession but refuses to recognize the primacy of Peter. Thus they claim that there have been no valid ecumenical councils convened since AD787. Also, these schismatic churches cannot agree on what the definition of an ecumenical council is and thus have not been able to hold one since. Keep in mind that there are many Eastern Churches that have reconciled with Rome and are now in full communion with the See of Peter.

2) Is it just your non-authoritative interp that apostolic succession/pedigree are the hallmarks of The One True Church®?
No, apostolic succession is one of the hallmarks. For example, the first ecumenical council was the Council of Jerusalem where Matthias was elected to take the place of Judas (Acts 1:20, 25-26). There are also the criteria for the three levels of Holy Orders as presented by St. Paul in 1 Timothy 3:1,8; and 5:17. I can provide a slew of other passages supporting this if you like.

3) If I were in fact to check apostolic succession, wouldn’t that be non-authoritative interp on my part?
No. That is a verification of a fact or truth (or an alleged fact from your POV). I do this every day in my line of work: trust and verify.
If you proceed to tell me to give up on that personal interp stuff, isn’t that begging the entire question?
Not sure what your getting at here, but again, the Church does not prohibit personal interp, just warns us that personal interp can lead to error and as such if your interp is contradicts the Church then you can rest assure your interp is wrong.

4) If JW/LDS, for example, is the infallible interpreter, wouldn’t their interpretation of church history (including a Great Apostasy and later Restoration) be correct by definition, since it’s infallible?
Both the JW and LDS, and even yourself, presuppose many things concerning Scripture and even the Church. In the case of the two aforementioned non-Christian sects, they have several things going against them. The first is that their formation only reaches back a hundred or so years (many Protestant churches suffer the same) and thus cannot be historically linked back to Jesus and the Twelve. Secondly, their presuppositions are based on faulty, manipulated interpretations and “new” Gospels that contradict 2,000 years of basic Christian doctrine (that even you and I can agree on). Thirdly, infallibility is not something the Church invented; it is a characteristic that was conveyed on her by Jesus via the Holy Spirit (Matthew 16:16,18; 28:20, Luke 10:16, John 14:26; 16:13, 1 Timothy 3:15, 1 John 2:27, Acts 6:10; 15:28). That is why these two sects must go outside of Scripture to claim a type of infallibility (they do not proclaim is like the Catholic Church does, as far as I know) and why Protestant churches don’t even attempt it.
(This will require that you examine the power of presuppositions.  Here’s hoping you do better on this count than other RCs I’ve met.)
Hope this is helps.You suggest that “disunity” in the church is impossible to consider. [Not sure I suggested that but the Catholic Church, as an institution, is united on issues that are infallibly proclaimed or taught.]  I submit to you the following:

1) You have apparently not wrestled with the interplay that “pro-unity” psgs like the ones you cited have with “a certain amount of diversity is tolerable, b/c 1) God has ordained that there would be some disagreement, for a particular reason; and 2) we are not yet in the Eschaton and sin and limited biblical knowledge and understanding exist in everyone” psgs such as 1 John 2, 1 Cor 8, Romans 14, 1 Cor 11:18-19, and Jesus’ High Priestly prayer in John 17.
You are spot on except that I do not wrestle with the interplay of unity vis-a-vis disunity that is obviously expected and anticipated in the passages you cite especially the Jesus’ prayer in John 17:20-26. There will always be chaff with the wheat and goats with the lambs. The divine unity exhibited by the Church is expressed through the infallible Magisterial teachings that have not changed since day one. Every person must freely choose to be in and remain in communion with the Church. Judas is a great example of the inherent disunity of which you proclaim damages the claims of the Church but this is not the case.

2) “Sacred Tradition” doesn’t produce unity either.  In fact, it produces LESS unity than does Sola Scriptura.
From the post linked above, you go with an “either or” mentality: Sacred Tradition versus Sacred Scripture. You make the claim that the Church is a Sacred Tradition only church, which is not the case. The Church is a “Word of God” Church. This includes both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition – both are equally important, the former affirming the latter and never contradicting. The production of unity is actually does not measure up because your Sola Scriptura churches agree on fewer doctrinal Truths than the Church as a whole. The Catholic Church, as an institution, does not exhibit doctrinal disunity – “a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand” (Mark (RSV) 3:25). And the Catholic Church, the Body of Christ, has stood for over 2,000 years without compromising her doctrines.

3) You live in a fantasy land if you think RCC has “unity” as you’re proposing is necessary to be a valid and true church.
The Office of the Pope holds “the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever [he] bind[s] on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever [he] loose[s] on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew (RSV) 16:19, cf Isaiah 22:21-22). Not recognizing this commission and authority goes in direct opposition of Jesus who said, “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me” (Luke (RSV) 10:16). As I demonstrated earlier, episcopal offices are transferable and were made such by Jesus so that the Gospel could be fully proclaimed and taught. The fact that any one person or groups of persons disagree with See of Peter or its role does not disprove the divine origin of the Church. Again, Judas is the best example of a dissenter within the very inner-circle of Jesus’ ministry. Did Judas’ betrayal disprove the divinity of Jesus? No.

4) What’s more, you’re instating an over-realised eschatology.  There’s a reason why this is not Heaven.  (Unfortunately, holding close to official RCC dogma will ensure you never see Heaven.)
You are aware that eschatology is the study of “last things” right? Because it has no direct bearing on the issues of marriage or Church authority. Now how do you know, in
fallibly, that holding to Church dogma will ensure that I never see Heaven. Can you read the hearts of men? Do you know the mind of God?

To illustrate this point, let me take this statement of yours:
if there is only one God (in this case the Holy Spirit), then can there be various, differing (sometimes drastically) interpretations of Scripture?

Since the answer is apparently a big “Yes”, then that’s my answer to your own question.
If God is of one mind, how can this be so? Please explain because your linked post does not.You said:
if you are inspired by the Holy Spirit and I as well

As Vox said, neither of us are, so let’s wave good-bye to that “if”.
How else do you interpret Scripture if not through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:20-21, “First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”)? All valid and true interpretations come from the Holy Spirit. Again, Church unity is found in the Truth she teaches. So without the help of the Holy Spirit we will not get the Fullness of Truth. There is One Truth.You said:
1 Tim 3:15, “the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth,” which church does is he speaking of?

1) He’s speaking of the local church of Ephesus.  Easy enough.
Really? How is a local church “the pillar and bulwark of truth?” So every church is its own truth, yet they differ in doctrine? Like some Methodists believe gay marriage is legit and some do not. But it seems that both are true and correct. Sounds like God is a bit confused. Oh wait, “God is not a God of confusion but of peace” (1Corinthians (RSV) 14:33).

2) Did you ever stop to consider that a pillar and bulwark hold something else (ie, the Scripture) up?
Well, I did consider it when I was attending a Southern Baptist Church but I found in studying Scripture (with them oddly enough) that Scripture does not support this. The Bible is not self-affirming despite “it inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2Timothy (RSV) 3:16-17). (Yes is the “Catholic Nick” verse.) You see, neither I nor the Church dispute this (the Bible being a Catholic book and all) because it is true but still does not affirm Sola Scriptura or even come close to supporting your argument above. The Bible is clear – the Church is the pillar and bulwark of Truth. If you do not believe this then you cannot believe in the inerrancy of Scripture and thus Sola Scriptura is shot down.

3) Since you’re big into Sacred Tradition, why did Irenæus apply the words “ground and pillar of our faith” to the Scripture, not the church, and especially not the church or bishop of Rome?
Please provide a proper citation for this quote. However, I will comment on this by stating that just because St. Irenaues was a Father of the Church, it does not make him or his writings infallible. Saints are not infallible, just holy.Finally, on annulments, I know what the Church *claims*.  I’m unimpressed with empty claims.  If you take a married couple and “annul” the marriage after children have been produced, that’s a divorce.  It’s not as if the marriage never took place!  If so, whence the children?
What does the Church claim and how is it empty? Annulment is an affirmation of a marriage that never was due to some impediment (an illicit union). People have kids out of wedlock all the time. An invalid marr
iage is technically not any different – it is a union that is not recognized in the eyes of God. I am in an invalid marriage (long story but con-validation is in the works) and I have kids. According to theological precepts and Canonical Law, I can divorce (civilly) my wife and resume a sacramental life after making a valid Confession. This is obviously not prudent so the Church provides a way for me to reconcile myself to her, which I am working on. (BTW my wife is a Baptist.) This does not make my children illegitimate or anything of that sort.

This reminds me of past Popes’ debauched lifestyles. Y’all RCs are quick to remind us that Popes are not impeccable, but then you point out when Protestant pastors have engaged in sexual immorality. According to 1 Timothy and Titus, these pastors are not fit for leadership and should be removed.  If so, so should these Popes have been removed. They were not, but biblically, they were disqualified from eldership/bishopric.  Yet they stayed in their positions.  Yet biblically they were not true elders. Then you have the gall to claim unbroken succession.  The whole thing is laughable.
Popes are popes for life, no matter how bad they are unless they either step down or are no longer lucid (if memory serves me). I am no Canon lawyer so I cannot fully comment on such canonical penalties. But again, papal infallibility is not contingent on the nature of the pope because it is guaranteed by the Holy Spirit. Thus there are no cases where any valid “bad” pope ever taught error. If any Catholic reminds you that Protestant pastors are sinful it is to help you take note of the log in your eye as you point out the speck in ours. Oh, as for your 1 Timothy and Titus references these are qualifications for persons to hold these offices. But as you know, people are people and sometimes liars make it through. Yet, there does not appear to be any direct statement that they should be removed (at least I did not see one). Besides, there is the Sacrament of Reconciliation which gives the assurance of the forgiveness of sins and I am certain that God’s mercy would allow a confessed sinner to continue doing his ordained job. God works despite their sinful nature.


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