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. 
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Friday, February 01, 2013

Unity & John 17

Roman Catholics and undiscerning Protestants miss the point of Jesus’ prayer for unity in John 17. They think that this unity is to be found in a denomination.

This unity for which Jesus prayed takes place when believers are baptized into Christ. The fullest expression of this unity is love. Just as the Father is in the Son, Jesus prayed that the church might too “be in us” so that “the world may believe” that Christ was sent by the Father. The world cannot see the reality of believers "being in us", but it can witness love. So, Jesus is very clear that the witness to the world is love and the source of that witness is union with Christ and in him union with the Holy Trinity: “I in them and you in me – so that they may be brought to complete unity.” Jesus went on to pray: “Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me." Finally, Jesus closed his prayer with these words: "I have made you[ known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

There we have it. Through union with Christ the love of the Father for the Son may be in those in Christ, just as Christ himself indwells the believer. Yet many Roman Catholics, like Bryan Cross, think that unity entails all believers falling under one “Bishop” at Rome. But quite the contrary is the case. After all, Jesus prayed that his people might be kept from the evil one.

Only love is sufficient to demonstrate the harmonious nature of true unity. Yet, as we are well aware this side of glory, being part of the same denomination is not sufficient to display love, let alone unity.

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