Follow by Email

Sunday, February 03, 2013

10 Point Refutation Of A Common Argument For Infallibility

A common sentiment among Roman Catholic apologists is that discrepancy between Protestant denominations over doctrine implies that the Bible alone is not effective in settling all doctrinal differences. What we need is an infallible magisterium proven by the fact that there is no substantial doctrinal agreement among Protestants.

Ten points:

1. Protestant confessions go beyond the gospel of the Substitutionary Atonement, the essential doctrine all Protestants agree upon.
2. A confession that goes beyond the teaching of the gospel can recognize, as the Westminster standards do, that not all doctrines are equally plain. (WCF 1.7) In fact, Peter called some of Paul’s writings difficult to understand. (2 Peter 3:16) So, it’s not surprising that there are differences among believers. In fact, Scripture teaches that doctrinal differences are necessary in order to show who has God’s approval. (1 Cor. 11:19) It's no wonder that Paul didn't just point to the papacy instead of Scripture, or that the papacy wasn't invoked in Acts 15.

3. It is fallacious to conclude that disagreement implies non-clarity. Otherwise we’d have to conclude that God’s existence is not clear because professing atheists disagree with theists on God’s existence. (Romans 1:18ff)

 4. If we lump Rome in with all the rest of Trinitarian Christianity (and apply the fallacy of “disagreement implies lack of perspicuity”) then the disagreements among the set of all Trinitarians, including Roman Catholics, would imply that all doctrine held by Trinitarians is dubious, even Rome’s
5. How is it that Scripture is clearer to the Roman magisterium than to the Westminster Divines (for instance)? A Roman Catholic’s only appeal is that Rome says so. For as soon as the Roman Catholic reaches for his Bible to prove his point he undermines his conclusion that Scripture is “not an effective final infallible source of doctrine.”Not only do Roman Catholics believe Rome on her say so alone; they are unable to check her claims against Scripture because Scripture is apparently unclear and not effective in settling such matters. (BTW, Mormons have a similar problem.)

6. Why should we believe it is more difficult to reconcile James with Paul than it is to reconcile Vatican ii with Trent? After all, Protestans have no problem reconciling James with Paul, whereas Vatican ii and Trent contradict each other even to many professing Roman Catholics (who typically but not always opt for the new face of Rome.)

7. There is no OT precedent of infallibility (yet there has always been disagreement over Scripture). Given no such precedent, the burden of proof from a logical standpoint is not upon Protestants to disprove infallibility, which has been done ad nauseam by comparing Scripture with Trent etc., but upon Rome to positively prove infallibility. Yet how can one possibly prove Roman Catholicism from Scripture if Scripture is not effective in such matters?!

8. Given the Roman Catholic view of the ineffectiveness of Scripture to settle doctrinal matters, the conclusion of an infallible magisterium rests 100% upon Rome’s claims regarding infallibility. To accept such claims is hazardous and not available to one who has heard, been taught and learned from God. (John 6:45)

9. Epistles written to the church presuppose the perspicuity of Scripture for the laity.

10. Rome cannot provide a syllogism with propositions drawn from Scripture that proves the infallibility of Peter or a succession of infallible popes. 
Free Website Counter

17 comments:

Nick said...

Hello,

Here are my thoughts as a Catholic to your Ten Points:

(1) I don't think all Protestants agree with Substitutionary Atonement, especially given the fact there is basically a split between those who espouse Limited Atonement and those who espouse universal. If you're speaking of Atonement in it's most broad sense, then even Catholics agree with that.

(2) I think the problem with your second point is that it fails to realize there is no way to know which doctrines are "essential" and which are "non-essential" in Protsetantism.

(3) Agreed. Disagreement in itself doesn't automatically prove many things. But coupled with specific arguments, disagreement would prove some things. For example, if a Baptist and Presbyterian disagree on infant baptism, one of them must be wrong, but without a Magisterium neither the Baptist nor Presbyterian could settle the matter for all Christians. All they could do is remain divided.

(4) A variant of #3.

(5) Scripture is clearer for Catholics because Catholics have the correct interpretive lens by which to read Scripture. For example, Catholics know that scripture does not teach the Imputed Righteousness of Christ, where as Protestants insist it is clearly taught in Scripture. When pressed on this issue though, Protestants begin to admit that there is no good Scripture that really teaches this.

(6) It is not "more difficult" to reconcile either.

(7) There is a lot of OT precedent of infallibility, notably Moses himself.

(8) All Catholics are saying is that Scripture does not give a list of Essential vs Non-Essential doctrines, and without that information delineated in the text, Protestants end up becoming Magisteriums unto themselves while all the while denying they do so.

(9) When the Epistles were originally written to various Churches, these Churches had originally heard the Gospel orally preached and thus the Epistle was supplementary. There's a huge leap between that and someone who reads a given Epistle without any background of it at all. To give an example, if you were to go to a street corner and hand out tracts of the Book of Romans, anyone who was non-Christian wouldn't have the foggiest idea of what they were reading, they wouldn't know who Paul was, the Trinity, Jesus, the OT quotations, etc. The only way Romans can make sense is if you come to the book already knowing most of the background.

(10) Rome can provide a syllogism for the infallibility of Peter from Scripture. For example, Peter sinned in his life, but since he taught doctrines both orally and in two Epistles that we consider inspired and without error, he thus exercised the gift of Infallibility.

Reformed Apologist said...

Hello

Hi!

(1) I don't think all Protestants agree with Substitutionary Atonement, especially given the fact there is basically a split between those who espouse Limited Atonement and those who espouse universal. If you're speaking of Atonement in it's most broad sense, then even Catholics agree with that.

Substitutionary atonement encompasses many models of the atonement. Yet it’s not so general as to include Romanism properly understood. Romanism allows for man to suffer for his sin in Purgatory.

(2) I think the problem with your second point is that it fails to realize there is no way to know which doctrines are "essential" and which are "non-essential" in Protsetantism.

Point 2 does not address the question of which doctrines are essential. It merely makes the point that some doctrines are plainer than others, the gospel being one of the plain ones.

(3) Agreed. Disagreement in itself doesn't automatically prove many things. But coupled with specific arguments, disagreement would prove some things. For example, if a Baptist and Presbyterian disagree on infant baptism, one of them must be wrong, but without a Magisterium neither the Baptist nor Presbyterian could settle the matter for all Christians. All they could do is remain divided.

Your argument is a psychological one, not a logical one. The solution of an infallible magisterium to adjudicate differences is only useful if there is such a magisterium. The mere positing of such a magisterium may give psychological comfort to Roman Catholics, but psychological comfort doesn’t imply an actual infallible magisterium.

(4) A variant of #3.
Then same refutation applies.

(5) Scripture is clearer for Catholics because Catholics have the correct interpretive lens by which to read Scripture.

Blatant question begging
For example, Catholics know that scripture does not teach the Imputed Righteousness of Christ, where as Protestants insist it is clearly taught in Scripture. When pressed on this issue though, Protestants begin to admit that there is no good Scripture that really teaches this.

Assertion followed by assertion.

“(6) It is not "more difficult" to reconcile either. “

If it is just as easy to reconcile Trent with Vii as it is James with Paul, then there is a perspicuity of Scripture that renders an infallible magisterium unnecessary.


(7) There is a lot of OT precedent of infallibility, notably Moses himself.

What about Moses was infallible? The Scripture he penned was infallible. The revelation he received was infallible. But how is Moses infallible? If all you mean is preserved from error, then Johnny is infallible when he gets 100% on his arithmetic exam, in which case infallibility becomes a vacuous term for you.

(8) All Catholics are saying is that Scripture does not give a list of Essential vs Non-Essential doctrines, and without that information delineated in the text, Protestants end up becoming Magisteriums unto themselves while all the while denying they do so.

If this were true then you become your own magisterium in your choice of Rome, which means you have a double standard. But aside from the obvious, that the mind is engaged in discerning false and true doctrine hardly implies that man becomes his own magisterium. Rather, it only corroborates that man is to “test the spirits” to see if they’re from God.

(9) The only way Romans can make sense is if you come to the book already knowing most of the background.

Please provide the necessary and sufficient background.

(10) Rome can provide a syllogism for the infallibility of Peter from Scripture. For example, Peter sinned in his life, but since he taught doctrines both orally and in two Epistles that we consider inspired and without error, he thus exercised the gift of Infallibility.

So, you are conceding that Rome cannot provide a sound syllogism for a series of popes? Regarding what you tried to refute, see 7 above.

Anonymous said...

Excellent response to Nick!

Slimjim said...

Thank you for this post. Point 4 and 9 stood out to me.

PeaceByJesus said...

First, in discussing unity, one should consider that comprehensive unity was ever a goal not realized in the church, and while there can be a basic unity on core issues, even these can see disagreement in deeper aspects.

Also, the comparison should not be btwn one particular church versus a group of churches, but either btwn one particular church versus another one, or the two means of producing unity, sola scriptura (SS) and its alternative, sola ecclesia (SE).

Both the Catholic SE and evangelical type SS models can claim a limited unity in basic doctrines, while allowing for a level of disagreement in deeper aspects of these and varying levels of other teachings.

The more comprehensive unity is found in Se type cults, in which the magisterium is effectively supreme, and little to no dissent is allowed on most anything they teach. But this is inferior in quality to that which results from persuasion based upon Scriptural manifestation of the truth. (2Cor. 4:2)

1. I don't think all Protestants agree with Substitutionary Atonement,

And Catholics have some disagreement in similar issues. Having no universal unity in all such things, in this regard you can only compare Rome with particular SS churches, or compare unity under each basis.

As regards limited but widespread unity, among those who hold Scripture (as the wholly inspired word of God) as the supreme authority/rule of faith, overall there is a broad assent to salvific core truths, historically manifested in a common front against those who deny them, or who add unscriptural doctrines, as well as in moral views. If they had not this overall unity then they would not be targeted by liberals and Rome alike.

Among these an essential unity of the Spirit and fellowship in Christ can also be often seen in manifold ways, due to a common Scripture-based conversion and relationship - God in Christ and Christ in them (Jn. 17:21,23) that transcends denominational lines.

But again, outside these basic truths, as well as deeper aspects of them, there can be varying degrees of disagreement

Under the alternative, that being the church alone is supreme, (as it claims to uniquely infallibly define both the extent of Scripture and its meaning), assent to certain core teachings is required, while varying degrees of disagreement is allowed on deeper aspects of these as well as other things.

Both are a reality right within Catholicism, while the more perverse doctrines are seen in other sola ecclesia churches (LDS, etc.)

2. there is no way to know which doctrines are "essential" and which are "non-essential" in Protsetantism.


But many do make that rather evident, as an examination of typical historical statements of faith among many churches who preach Scripture as supreme typically do not extend to such things as instruments in church, but basic doctrines which find widespread affirmation.

And does Rome not make it clear which of each one of her teachings is essential versus non-essential - and what magisterial level each falls under, although she affirms different levels exist:

CCC 90 "In Catholic doctrine there exists an order or hierarchy of truths, since they vary in their relation to the foundation of the Christian faith."52

4. if a Baptist and Presbyterian disagree on infant baptism, one of them must be wrong, but without a Magisterium neither the Baptist nor Presbyterian could settle the matter for all

And whether she admits it or not, Rome effectively is as one denomination, and under SE Rome and the EOs disagree on many things, including papal infallibility and aspects of the nature of God.

The ideal of a central magisterium, should be acknowledged, but the issue is the basis for Rome's claim to occupy the apostle's place, and for her claim to perpetual assured infallibility. Unlike the early church, Rome simply does not have the Scriptural apostolic substantiation in word and in power, in purity and probity to match her claims.

PeaceByJesus said...

Pt. 2.

But while not claiming to be apostles may we all be contrite for our lack and seek conformity to Christ better.

5. Scripture is clearer for Catholics because Catholics have the correct interpretive lens by which to read Scripture

That is absurd wishful thinking. RCs are typically very Scripturally illiterate, with Scriptural warrant not being needed for doctrine, and most could not defend anything from Scripture.

Your own church-approved NAB notes testifies against Catholic enlightenment in Scripture on a fundamental level. And Rome has rarely given an infallible interpretation of Scripture verses, and V2 even sanctions two different interpretations of Mt. 16:16 (which also saw differences among CFs).

And within the parameters of Rome RCs have great liberty to interpret Scripture to support Rome, and which they often demonstrate, extrapolating what they want out of texts that do not teach it.

Nor does Rome have anything that compares with the extensive verse by verse commentaries by men such as Matthew Henry, Albert Barnes, Adam Clark, John Gill, Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown, Keil & Delitzsch, etc. and which have a great degree of concurrence.

In contrast to Evangelical types, Bible reading among Catholics is very low, and i also speak from my own experience as a weekly Catholics who became born again while still an RC and whose heart then hungered to know how to please God from Scripture, and which became a living book to me then.

Catholics know that scripture does not teach the Imputed Righteousness of Christ,

They do not know this error, except for the few who are indoctrinated by the few RCs who attempt to argue justification is due to an actual holiness of heart, versus imputation.

6. It is not "more difficult" to reconcile either.

And indeed it is easier to reconcile James with Paul than it is to reconcile Vatican 2 with Trent. (Rm. 10:10: Faith in heart justifies but works-confession confirm it is salvific.) That is why Rome has sects and division within her.

7. There is a lot of OT precedent of infallibility, notably Moses himself.

The issue is perpetual assured infalliblity as under Rome, who has infallibly declared she is and will be perpetually infallible whenever she speaks in accordance with her infallibly defined (scope and subject-based) formula, which renders her declaration that she is infallible, to be infallible, as well as all else she accordingly declares.

The Jewish magisterium was not perpetually or assuredly infallible, yet this was not necessary for truth to be preserved, and writings established as Scripture. God often raised up men of God from without the magisterium to reprove it, and to preserve truth among a relative remnant, though they were rejected. And thus the church began and thus saving faith has been preserved, though the church magisterium is necessary.

8. All Catholics are saying is that Scripture does not give a list of Essential vs Non-Essential doctrines, and without that information delineated in the text, Protestants end up becoming Magisteriums unto themselves while all the while denying they do so.

SS Christians are saying that Rome does not give a list of what magisterial level each one of her teachings falls under, whereby every RC can know what level of assent is required and possible dissent Scripture allowed.

And that RCS also do not have an infallible interpreter of their supreme authority, and in both cases they end up becoming Magisteriums unto themselves while all the while denying they are.

Then there is what Rome effectually fosters, which is overall liberalism and dissent from official teaching, in which such are treated as members in life and in death.

PeaceByJesus said...

Pt. 3.

And that Scripture does basically reveal what Rome herself affirms, that of a hierarchy of truths, " the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith," (Mt. 23:23) versus issues that are not salvific or primary. Thus you had such things as the fundamental evangelical movement 100 years ago (now diluted but yet more conservative than Catholics overall) in reaction against liberal revisionism on core fundamentals.

It is not always clear in the war where the front line exactly begins or stops, but this is the case in Catholicism as well.

9. The only way Romans can make sense is if you come to the book already knowing most of the background.

That is not true as a blank statement, although to those who have not been truly born again the Bible will seem to be a dead or closed book.

By the Holy Spirit a man can read Peter's sermon in Acts 10 and be saved, and after regeneration a seeking heart can progressively understand Romans, though he will be helped if he finds teachers, which is the normal means.

In any case, your response does not change the fact that the real basis for a Catholic's assurance of doctrine rests upon the premise of Rome's assured infallibility. This was not how believers had "full assurance of faith," (Heb. 10:22) and knew they possessed eternal life, (1Jn. 5:13)

10.
Peter sinned in his life, but since he taught doctrines both orally and in two Epistles that we consider inspired and without error, he thus exercised the gift of Infallibility.


That one can speak pure truth and under Divine inspiration is not the issue, but that a person and office and their successors will always be infallible whenever and whatever they universally speak on faith and mortals.

This perpetual magisterium is foreign to Scripture nor was it necessary.

Lori Teoli said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Reformed Apologist said...

http://reformedapologist.blogspot.com/2010/11/infallability-canon.html?m=0

Reformed Apologist said...

I have deleted your second post. You refused to deal with the refutation of your main axiom that's found in the link I provided. Your subsequent theorems introduced fallacies that are refuted all over this site. Lastly, your post indicates avoidance and obstinance as opposed to a desire to learn, let alone reconsider popery.

There's a time to strive with men and a time not to throw pearls before swine. I regret that you have proven yourself here and at other times to be treated according to the latter. May God save your soul.

Anonymous said...

From RA's blog link:

Jesus promised to build his church. (Matt. 16:18) Jesus also told his apostles that those who received them received Him. (Matt. 10:40) The implication is that the building project of the Lord was to be founded upon the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus being the chief cornerstone. (Eph. 2:20) Consequently, the words of the apostles and Christ had to be received without error because Jesus promised to build his church upon them, which is now a matter of history given the passing of the apostles. Therefore, the canon is closed, lest the church has no foundation. The apostolic tradition was both oral and written (II Thess. 2:15) but only the written apostolic tradition has been providentially preserved. Accordingly, Scripture alone is what the church is built upon, which must have been God’s intention since Scripture alone is all he left us in keeping with Christ Jesus’ promise to build his church.

Reformed Apologist said...

There's a lot more polemical stuff in the original, which deals with common RC objections but what you pasted is the skeleton. Thx

Anonymous said...

Well, Teoli is not interested in learning, obviously. How do I know that? Simple..he's too busy pushing RC teachings.

Reformed Apologist said...

He said earlier today he's not Catholic but Protestant... "Also, I am not catholic as you might think. I am myself protestant who has been studying"

That's like someone calling himself Trintarian while arguing for Islam.

Anonymous said...

Ha, well, he obviously was confused seeing that he signed Gabe but his blogger ID is Lori!

Gabe Teoli said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Reformed Apologist said...

Now you're talking. Post a number, I won't publish it. I'll call you.