Follow by Email

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Sophistry and Confusion is Integral to Romanism

Bryan Cross from "Called to Communion" recently wrote this on Greenbaggins:

"But when a Catholic attempts to reason with a Protestant about, say, the gospel, and the Catholic appeals to the pope and the authority of Trent, etc., he begs the question, because the Protestant does not accept the authority to which the Catholic appeals. And likewise, when a Protestant attempts to reason with a Catholic about the gospel, and the Protestant appeals to his own personal interpretation of Romans 3, that begs the question, because the Catholic doesn’t accept the authority [i.e. personal interpretation] to which the Protestant appeals. That conversation isn’t going anywhere, because both persons are each appealing to paradigm-relative standards. So the conversation will go on for years, even five hundred years, or the communities will just turn their backs on each other and give up (and the back-turning isolation will remain for even five hundred years). To get over that hurdle, both sides have to recognize the paradigmatic nature of the disagreement."
I wrote to Bryan:
"1.  It’s interesting that when a Protestant points to God’s word you call it an appeal 'to his own own personal interpretation…' but when a Roman Catholic appeals to the pope and councils you don’t portray those appeals as reflecting mere opinion of the Roman Catholic, but rather you presuppose that what is inferred by the Roman Catholic is as equally true as the doctrinal pronouncement. In other words, nothing is lost in the translation for the Roman Catholic. And when it comes to the gospel, why there is perspicuity within Rome that cannot be found in Scripture is a curious thing, especially given that Rome was to have based her gospel upon Scripture.
2. You suggest the 'conversation isn’t going anywhere because…' of different authorities to which the Roman Catholic and Protestant appeal. But rarely, if ever, have I seen a Roman Catholic appeal to the pope or Trent to make his case. Rarely does one find a Roman Catholic assert 'the pope has said so and that settles it.' No, the Roman Catholic makes appeals to Scripture because Scripture, so it is claimed, is an authority for Rome, just not her only authority. Indeed, the faithful Catholic won’t interpret Scripture so as to undermine his understanding of Roman Catholic teaching, but notwithstanding he does attempt to reconcile James with Paul by the analogy of Scripture. That’s why I find it rather misleading to index the Catholic-Protestant impasse to a Protestant’s subjective understanding of Scripture versus a Roman Catholic’s appeal to the clear pronouncements of popes and councils. At the very least, doesn’t a Roman Catholic try to justify the very idea of the popes from Scripture? Or is his reasoning so circular that he would dare to justify the papacy from an appeal to the papacy?

Sundry implications
Can Rome produce an infallible tradition not found in Scripture that has its origins with the apostles? Of course not, which leads to the question – If Scripture does not inform the Roman Catholic magisterium about what Scripture has to say, then who or what does? To deny that the popes affirm the analogy of Scripture for the magisterium is to reduce Scripture to brute particulars that have no discernible coherence, which would mean that the magisterium with respect to interpreting Scripture must be making things up as they go along and that any appeal to Scripture is disingenuous at best. Therefore, it’s not so much that Rome denies the intelligibility and lucidity of Scripture. Rather, Rome would have us believe that Scripture is only intelligible and clear to the magisterium. Consequently, individual Roman Catholics should not, as they do, appeal to Scripture to justify the Roman Catholic communion and the church’s need for the popes. Rather, Roman Catholics should be consistent by simply pointing to the authority of the popes to defend the claims of the popes, and once they do that then yes, we will be at an impasse. That, however, would be an admission of being a blind follower of something other than Scripture, which is an embarrassment for Roman Catholics yet a necessary implication of their view of the church and Scripture.

In sum, as soon as a Roman Catholic argues from Scripture he denies the need for an infallible magisterium. Once he points to Rome apart from Scripture, he shows himself to be a blind follower of something in the face of Scripture."

~ End of my response to Bryan ~

Roman Catholics such as Bryan find themselves on the horns of an epistemological dilemma and in turn fall into a form of skepticism. By placing a mediator between God and men they render God’s living word inoperable. If their authority is Rome, then Scripture is rendered useless because any interpretation of any passage of Scripture must await adjudication for one to know what Scripture is saying.  Yet when a Roman Catholic reads Scripture they demonstrate that an infallible magisterium is unnecessary to know the truth. Roman Catholics live in a tension that they cannot reconcile. We all get that I think.

Roman Catholics pay lip service to the authority of Scripture, for given an apparent discrepancy between Scripture and tradition Scripture always loses. Whereas Protestants can become more Reformed and move toward the OPC! :) For instance, Scripture teaches that all miracles appeal to the mind through the senses. Now then, imagine that Jesus looked as though he were sinking in water yet claimed to be walking on it. Or imagine that the Israelites drowned in the Red Sea but that tradition said they crossed over on dry ground and only looked as though they drowned. Should we believe such testimony in the face of contrary truth? So it is with the hocus-pocus of the mass. We are told we must believe, lest we risk hell(!), that the bread and wine has changed into the body and blood of the Lord; yet the elements continue to manifest the physical properties of bread and wine. Not only is there no biblical precedence to accept such obviously false claims, in principle we are warned and commanded not to do so! Yet such blind, irrational faith is required for one to be a good Roman Catholic. Yes, the demands are high, maybe because the stakes are so high. The skepticism created by Romanism begets doctrinal infidelity. No, demands it!
Finally, Scripture has always taught that Scripture itself is to judge the teachers of God’s word. After all, if we were to allow the teachers to judge the Scriptures then the rejection of Christ by the religious leaders of his day would have been justified. There would be no Christianity! So it is with Rome. By placing herself above the Scriptures she too has fallen away - no less than the Jews. Or should we measure damnable heresies by degree? Roman Catholicism actually presents a bigger problem to true believers because she does hold to enough truth to be a more superior tempter.

Free Website Counter


Jeff Cagle said...

Hi Ron,

Shoot me an e-mail if you wouldn't mind.

Reformed Apologist said...

Not sure I have it. Send it and I won't publish post.