Turretinfan" has recently taken to claiming not only that I am not a "real" Catholic (because I don't answer every question about my faith the way he ignorantly demands that it should be answered), but that I also have supposedly not "apparently" defined the word Christian anywhere. He even uses this as one of his excuses to not have a chat room debate with me.
***END OF QUOTATION***
We've already documented that this assertion is not fully true (though he is correct that the present author mistakenly believed that Dave had not provided any explicit definition of Christianity). Let's dig a bit deeper into the morass of Dave's position:
Note particularly Dave's remark: "because I don't answer every question about my faith the way he ignorantly demands that it should be answered."
Since when does Dave have ownership of the "Catholic faith." Isn't that the point of being "Catholic" that one holds to a universal (i.e. catholic) faith? Or is Catholicism really about people having their own individual faith? Of course the answers are that Dave does not have ownership of Catholicism, he's not even an ordained member of the Roman Catholic clergy, much less the pope. Now, on issues that the RCC has not dogmatically defined, I suppose it is reasonable to let Dave have some leeway for now, until those points get defined.
Note also I do not have any problem with Dave disagreeing with the "Catholic" faith, nor do I refuse to let Dave define his own personal faith. That's his business. But these are matters that the Roman Catholic Church has spoken on in one of the very few ways in which she actually speaks as an organization, namely by the mouth of the popes and ecumenical councils.
To call one's personal views "Catholic" when they are contrary to the teachings of the popes and ecumenical councils (all twenty-something of them) is bizarre. In other words: who defines what the Roman Catholic position is, Dave, me, or the writings of the RCC? Of course the answer is the writings of the RCC - and they are contrary to Dave's position. This is not an issue of me "demanding" (ignorantly or wisely) that he answer questions in a specific way - this is an issue of Dave answering questions the way the writings of the RCC answer the questions.
What's even more bizarre and contrary to historic Catholicism is to label (as Dave does) systems of theology as being properly "Christian" which are not part of the "Catholic" (universal) church.
Compare Dave's position (namely that anyone who affirms the Nicean Creed is Christian - apparently even without the filoque) to this description (a summary of work by a professor of Ancient History at a school that's known for its ancient history, Prof. Gillian Clark):
Chapter 2, ‘Christians and others’, investigates the problem of sources and the distinctions that historians have inherited from early Christian writings: Christians and pagans, Christians and Jews, Christians and heretics. Most of the sources for early Christianity have survived because they were acceptable to the Christians whose theology prevailed. How then can we reconstruct the perspective of people who thought they were Christians but whose theology was classed as heresy, or of people who were not Christians, or of the silent majority who did not write about their beliefs? Were the distinctions so clear in practice? Were Christians and non-Christians divided only by misunderstanding and polemic, or were there fundamental differences of beliefs and values? Did Christian groups offer an alternative family, a level of emotional and practical support, or of moral and religious teaching, that was not available in other religious options? Why would anyone choose the one religious option that carried the risk of an appalling public death?What do you think?
(source) (emphasis added).
Is the official position of Rome (as Dave asserts) that heretics condemned by Rome and subject to the death penalty at the hands of the state for their heresy can still properly be considered Christians? Can anyone claim that they have read any history of the Spanish Inquisition and conclude that Rome's position was that heretics were Christians that just seriously disagreed?
Ah, but perhaps Gillian Clark is to left-leaning for you ... consider then this comment from newadvent.org (an allegedly Catholic encyclopedic site, but perhaps Dave will claim he knows better):
"Marriages, however, between Catholics and heretics were not subject to the same impediment. They were held as valid, though illicit if a dispensation mixtæ religionis had not been obtained." (anyone want to guess what mixtae religionis suggests?) (source)
And if marriage between Catholics and heretics was a marriage of mixed religions, and the Catholics were allegedly Christian, what would that make the heretics?
or again (from the same source, though a different page):
"The guiding principles in the Church's treatment of heretics are the following: Distinguishing between formal and material heretics, she applies to the former the canon, "Most firmly hold and in no way doubt that every heretic or schismatic is to have part with the Devil and his angels in the flames of eternal fire, unless before the end of his life he be incorporated with, and restored to the Catholic Church."" (source)
After all, contrary to Dave's implicit assertion, Rome's official position is not that the RCC is just one sect of Christianity, and that all those who adhere to the Nicean creed are properly designated "Christian" whether or not they are incorporated with Catholic Church.
Please tell me, why should Dave's personal, private interpretation of the "Catholic faith" trump either my interpretation or - more importantly - the writings of the RCC?