Monday, January 04, 2010

Magisterium More Sufficient than Scripture? (Part 1)

Is the Roman Catholic Magisterium More Sufficient than Sacred Scripture?
Bryan Cross answered on the subject of the ability of the Scripture to interpret Scripture sufficiently, from Scripture, reason, and tradition.
(Part 1 - Meaning of "Scripture Interprets Scripture")

Augustine (about A.D. 354-430) commenting on Psalm 145:13:
The Lord is faithful in all his words, and holy in all his deeds. We might well have believed him if he had chosen only to speak to us, but he wanted us to have his scriptures to hold onto; it is like promising something to a friend and saying to him, “Don’t rely on word of mouth; I’ll put it in writing for you.” It was necessary for God’s written guarantee to endure as each generation comes and goes, as the centuries roll by and mortals give way to their successors. God’s own handwriting would be there for all the passers-by to read, so that they would keep the way of his promise.
- Augustine, Expositions of the Psalms, Psalms 121-150, Exposition of Psalm 144.17 (Hyde Park: New City Press, 2004), pp. 393-394.

In responding to a recent article (link to article) by Bryan Cross, I had pointed out that his claim that the ultimate holder of interpretive authority is the individual in sola scriptura is wrong because Scripture is its own interpreter. Scripture is the ultimate interpretive authority of itself. Of course, the individual is the final one in the communication link and must interpret what Scripture says, but the same is true for everyone's rule of faith: the Roman Catholic must interpret what the Magisterium says.

The first relevant part of Bryan's response was to suggest that Scripture is insufficient to interpret Scripture. Bryan stated:
In addition, since Scripture needs to be interpreted (otherwise you would never say "Scripture interprets Scripture["]), then the Scripture that interprets Scripture needs to be interpreted.
(parenthetical in original, bracketed addition mine)

What Bryan is doing here is (1) inserting his own presupposition that Scripture needs to be "interpreted" and (2) equivocating over the term "Scripture." Neither of Bryan's actions are helpful.

When we say that "Scripture interprets Scripture" we are not making a categorical statement that each part of Scripture requires some further interpretation. Some parts of Scripture are written in a plain matter that does not require further interpretation (Job 33:3 My words shall be of the uprightness of my heart: and my lips shall utter knowledge clearly. John 16:29 His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb. 2 Corinthians 3:12 Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech:). Some parts of Scripture, however, are less clearly expressed (2 Peter 3:16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.). Those less clear parts are interpreted by the more clear parts (John 16:25 These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father. 2 Peter 1:20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.). As well, it is only reasonable that the obscure should be interpreted by the clear rather than conversely.

This is not only the teaching of Scripture, but of the fathers as well.

Tertullian (about A.D. 160-220):
And, indeed, (since some passages are more obscure than others), it cannot but be right — as we have shown above — that uncertain statements should be determined by certain ones, and obscure ones by such as are clear and plain; else there is fear that, in the conflict of certainties and uncertainties, of explicitness and obscurity, faith may be shattered, truth endangered, and the Divine Being Himself be branded as inconstant.
- Tertullian, ANF: Vol. III, On the Resurrection of the Flesh, Chapter 21.

Jerome (about A.D. 347-420):
Some may say: ‘You are forcing the Scripture, that is not what it means.’ Let Holy Writ be its own interpreter . . .
- Jerome, FC, Vol. 48, The Homilies of St. Jerome: Vol. 1, On the Psalms, Homily 6 (Washington D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1964), p. 45.

Basil of Caesarea (about A.D. 329-379):
Whatsoever seems to be spoken ambiguously or obscurely in some places of holy Scripture, is cleared up by what is plain and evident in other places.
- Basil of Caesarea, Regulas Brevius Tractatas, Question CCLXVII, PG 31:1264.

Augustine (about A.D. 354-430):
Hold fast to the open texts and accept them wholeheartedly, and you will deserve to have the obscure ones unfolded to you. How can you penetrate obscure passages if you shrug aside the plain ones?
- Augustine, John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, Part 3, Vol. 2, trans. Edmund Hill, O.P., Sermons, Sermon 46.35 (Brooklyn: New City Press, 1990), p. 286.

Basil of Caesarea (about A.D. 329-379):
You could find many passages of this sort in the writings of the evangelists and the Apostle. Now, then, if a command be given and the manner of carrying it out is not added, let us obey the Lord who says: ‘Search the Scriptures.’ Let us follow the example of the Apostles who questioned the Lord Himself as to the interpretation of His words, and learn the true and salutary course from His words in another place.
- Basil of Caesarea, FC, Vol. 9, Saint Basil: Ascetical Works, Concerning Baptism, Book II, Q&R 4 (New York: Fathers of the Church, Inc., 1950), p. 399.

Irenaeus (about A.D. 130 - 200):
For by the fact that they thus endeavour to explain ambiguous passages of Scripture (ambiguous, however, not as if referring to another god, but as regards the dispensations of [the true] God), they have constructed another god, weaving, as I said before, ropes of sand, and affixing a more important to a less important question. For no question can be solved by means of another which itself awaits solution; nor, in the opinion of those possessed of sense, can an ambiguity be explained by means of another ambiguity, or enigmas by means of another greater enigma, but things of such character receive their solution from those which are manifest, and consistent and clear.
- Irenaeus, ANF: Vol. I, Against Heresies, 2:10:1.

Tertullian (about A.D. 160-220):
Well, if it occurs occasionally in certain portions of it, you will say, then why not in that phrase, where the resurrection might be spiritually understood? There are several reasons why not. First, what must be the meaning of so many important passages of Holy Scripture, which so obviously attest the resurrection of the body, as to admit not even the appearance of a figurative signification? And, indeed, (since some passages are more obscure than others), it cannot but be right — as we have shown above — that uncertain statements should be determined by certain ones, and obscure ones by such as are clear and plain; else there is fear that, in the conflict of certainties and uncertainties, of explicitness and obscurity, faith may be shattered, truth endangered, and the Divine Being Himself be branded as inconstant. Then arises the improbability that the very mystery on which our trust wholly rests, on which also our instruction entirely depends, should have the appearance of being ambiguously announced and obscurely propounded, inasmuch as the hope of the resurrection, unless it be clearly set forth on the sides both of punishment and reward, would fail to persuade any to embrace a religion like ours, exposed as it is to public detestation and the imputation of hostility to others. There is no certain work where the remuneration is uncertain. There is no real apprehension when the peril is only doubtful. But both the recompense of reward, and the danger of losing it, depend on the issues of the resurrection. Now, if even those purposes of God against cities, and nations, and kings, which are merely temporal, local, and personal in their character, have been proclaimed so clearly in prophecy, how is it to be supposed that those dispensations of His which are eternal, and of universal concern to the human race, should be void of all real light in themselves? The grander they are, the clearer should be their announcement, in order that their superior greatness might be believed. And I apprehend that God cannot possibly have ascribed to Him either envy, or guile, or inconsistency, or artifice, by help of which evil qualities it is that all schemes of unusual grandeur are litigiously promulgated.
- Tertullian, ANF: Vol. III, On the Resurrection of the Flesh, Chapter 21.

Thus, for example, a passage must be read in context:

Augustine (about A.D. 354-430): Commenting on Matt. 23:2-3:
When bad members of the clergy hear this that is said against them in this text, they try to twist the meaning. Yes, I’ve actually heard some of them trying to twist the meaning of this judgment. If they were allowed to, wouldn’t they simply delete it from the gospel? But because they can’t delete it, they look for ways of twisting its meaning. But the grace and mercy of the Lord is at hand, and he doesn’t let them do so, because he has hedged all his judgments round with his truth, and balanced them. Thus no matter who tries to cut something out or to tamper with it by reading or interpreting it wrongly, the person of sound and solid sense should join to scripture what has been cut out of scripture, and read what goes before or comes after, and they will find the true meaning which the others tried to explain away wrongly.
- Augustine, John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, Part 3, Vol. 4, trans. Edmund Hill, O.P., Sermons, Sermon 137.7 (Brooklyn: New City Press, 1992), p. 376. (Note the emphasis on context, and that one needs no infallible interpreter [“they will find the true meaning”] to understand the text correctly).

Similarly the Scripture as a whole interprets individual passages.

Tertullian (about A.D. 160-220):
Scripture interpreted by the whole, Chapter XX.—The Scriptures Relied on by Praxeas to Support His Heresy But Few. They are Mentioned by Tertullian. They would have the entire revelation of both Testaments yield to these three passages, whereas the only proper course is to understand the few statements in the light of the many. But in their contention they only act on the principle of all heretics. For, inasmuch as only a few testimonies are to be found (making for them) in the general mass, they pertinaciously set off the few against the many, and assume the later against the earlier. The rule, however, which has been from the beginning established for every case, gives its prescription against the later assumptions, as indeed it also does against the fewer.
- Tertullian, ANF: Vol. III, Against Praxeas, Chapter 20.

Jerome (about A.D. 347-420):
A: This passage to the ignorant, and to those who are unaccustomed to meditate on Holy Scripture, and who neither know nor use it, does appear at first sight to favor your opinion. But when you look into it, the difficulty soon disappears. And when you compare passages of Scripture with others, that the Holy Spirit may not seem to contradict Himself with changing place and time, according to what is written, “Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy water spouts,” the truth will show itself, that is, that Christ did give a possible command when He said: “Be ye perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect,” and yet that the Apostles were not perfect.
- Jerome, NPNF2: Vol. VI, St. Jerome Against the Pelagians, Book I, §14.

Jerome (about A.D. 347-420):
. . . let us call upon the Lord, probe the depths of His sacred writings, and be guided in our interpretation by other testimonies from Holy Writ. Whatever we cannot fathom in the deep recesses of the Old Testament, we shall penetrate and explain from the depth of the New Testament in the roar of God’s cataracts—His prophets and apostles.
- Jerome, FC, Vol. 57, The Homilies of St. Jerome: Vol. 2, Homily 92 (Washington D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1966), p. 246.

Augustine (about A.D. 354-430):
Chapter 9.—How We Should Proceed in Studying Scripture.
14. In all these books those who fear God and are of a meek and pious disposition seek the will of God. And in pursuing this search the first rule to be observed is, as I said, to know these books, if not yet with the understanding, still to read them so as to commit them to memory, or at least so as not to remain wholly ignorant of them. Next, those matters that are plainly laid down in them, whether rules of life or rules of faith, are to be searched into more carefully and more diligently; and the more of these a man discovers, the more capacious does his understanding become. For among the things that are plainly laid down in Scripture are to be found all matters that concern faith and the manner of life,—to wit, hope and love, of which I have spoken in the previous book. After this, when we have made ourselves to a certain extent familiar with the language of Scripture, we may proceed to open up and investigate the obscure passages, and in doing so draw examples from the plainer expressions to throw light upon the more obscure, and use the evidence of passages about which there is no doubt to remove all hesitation in regard to the doubtful passages. And in this matter memory counts for a great deal; but if the memory be defective, no rules can supply the want.

[Alternative translation]

What those who fear God and have a docile piety are looking for in all these books is the will of God. The first step in this laborious search, as I have said, is to know these books, and even if not yet so as to understand them, all the same by reading them to commit them to memory, or at least not to be totally unfamiliar with them. Next, those things that are put clearly in them, whether precepts about how to live or rules about what to believe, are to be studied with the utmost care and diligence; the greater your intellectual capacity, the more of these you will find. The fact is, after all, that in the passages that are put plainly in scripture is to be found everything that touches upon faith, and good morals, that is to say hope, charity, which we dealt with in the previous book.
Only then, however, after acquiring some familiarity with the actual style of the divine scriptures, should one proceed to try to open and unravel their obscurities, in such a way that instances from the plainer passages are used to cast light on the more obscure utterances, and the testimony of some undoubted judgments is used to remove uncertainties from those that are more doubtful. In this matter what is of the greatest value is a good memory; if this is wanting, these instructions cannot be of any great assistance.
- Augustine, NPNF1: Vol. II, On Christian Doctrine, Book II, Chapter 9. & (respectively) John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, Part 1, Vol. 11, trans. Edmund Hill, O.P., De Doctrina Christiana, Book II, Chapter 9, §14 (New York: New City Press, 1996), p. 135.

Augustine (about A.D. 354-430):
Now, although I may not be able myself to refute the arguments of these men, I yet see how necessary it is to adhere closely to the clearest statements of the Scriptures, in order that the obscure passages may be explained by help of these, or, if the mind be as yet unequal to either perceiving them when explained, or investigating them whilst abstruse, let them be believed without misgiving. But what can be plainer than the many weighty testimonies of the divine declarations, which afford to us the dearest proof possible that without union with Christ there is no man who can attain to eternal life and salvation; and that no man can unjustly be damned,—that is, separated from that life and salvation,—by the judgment of God?
- Augustine, NPNF1: Vol. V, On the Merits and Forgiveness of Sins, and on the Baptism of Infants, Book III, Chapter 7.

In particular, the less clear allegorical sections are interpreted by the more clear literal sections:

Augustine (about A.D. 354-430):
For what else is it than superlative impudence for one to interpret in his own favour any allegorical statements, unless he has also plain testimonies, by the light of which the obscure meaning of the former may be made manifest.
- Augustine, Letter 93, Chapter 8, Section 24

Chrysostom (about A.D. 349-407):
There is something else we can learn here. What sort of thing is it? It is when it is necessary to allegorize Scripture. We ourselves are not the lords over the rules of interpretation, but must pursue Scripture’s understanding of itself, and in that way make use of the allegorical method. What I mean is this. The Scripture has just now spoken of a vineyard, wall, and wine-vat. The reader is not permitted to become lord of the passage and apply the words to whatever events or people he chooses. The Scripture interprets itself with the words, “And the house of Israel is the vineyard of the Lord Sabaoth.” To give another example, Ezekiel describes a large, great-winged eagle which enters Lebanon and takes off the top of a cedar. The interpretation of the allegory does not lie in the whim of the readers, but Ezekiel himself speaks, and tells first what the eagle is and then what the cedar is. To take another example from Isaiah himself, when he raises a mighty river against Judah, he does not leave it to the imagination of the reader to apply it to whatever person he chooses, but he names the king whom he has referred to as a river. This is everywhere a rule in Scripture: when it wants to allegorize, it tells the interpretation of the allegory, so that the passage will not be interpreted superficially or be met by the undisciplined desire of those who enjoy allegorization to wander about and be carried in every direction. Why are you surprised that the prophets should observe this rule? Even the author of Proverbs does this. For he said, “Let your loving doe and graceful filly accompany you, and let your spring of water be for you alone.” Then he interprets these terms to refer to one’s free and lawful wife; he rejects the grasp of the prostitute and other woman.
- Chrysostom in Duane A. Garrett, An Analysis of the Hermeneutics of John Chrysostom’s Commentary on Isaiah 1-8 with an English Translation, Isaiah Chapter 5 (Lewiston/Queenston/Lampeter: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1992), pp. 110-111.

We have multiplied many similar statements here in case Bryan Cross does not understand that what we are proposing by "Scripture interprets Scriptures" is just what the Christians of previous generations believed and taught. In the next section will proceed through his argumentation.

[to be continued in Part 2]

- TurretinFan

17 comments:

Geoffrey Miller said...

Yes, this helped clear up some misconceptions I had about what you meant by sola scriptura in a previous post. Thank you.

Viisaus said...

"Commenting on Matt. 23:2-3:

When bad members of the clergy hear this that is said against them in this text, they try to twist the meaning. Yes, I’ve actually heard some of them trying to twist the meaning of this judgment. If they were allowed to, wouldn’t they simply delete it from the gospel? But because they can’t delete it, they look for ways of twisting its meaning."


It seems that Augustine already had the same experience as many modern Protestants: namely, that Matthew 23 is by no means the favorite Gospel chapter that RCs or EOs like to do exegesis on, or even draw attention to.

Like Augustine, I also suspect that many RC/EO priests would secretly wish to simply delete verses like Matthew 23:8-9 out of the Bible rather than deal with their blatant meaning.

bkaycee said...

Should'nt we about now here the "private theologian" excuse for all the Early Church Fathers?

SP said...

Turretin Fan,

What of those same church fathers when they affirmed authority of the catholic church held by the succession of the bishops?

The material sufficiency of scripture is one thing. There is also no argument that some passages of scripture make others clearer.

But what did those fathers say to heretics who went off and their own and interpreted scripture contrary to the holy tradition that was passed down through the church?

“Those, therefore, who desert the preaching of the Church, call in question the knowledge of the holy presbyters, not taking into consideration of how much greater consequence is a religious man, even in a private station, than a blasphemous and impudent sophist. Now, such are all the heretics, and those who imagine that they have hit upon something more beyond the truth, so that by following those things already mentioned, proceeding on their way variously, in harmoniously, and foolishly, not keeping always to the same opinions with regard to the same things, as blind men are led by the blind, they shall deservedly fall into the ditch of ignorance lying in their path, ever seeking and never finding out the truth. It behooves us, therefore, to avoid their doctrines, and to take careful heed lest we suffer any injury from them; but to flee to the Church, and be brought up in her bosom, and be nourished with the Lord's Scriptures."

Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 5,20:2 (A.D. 180).

"Since this is the case, in order that the truth may be adjudged to belong to us, "as many as walk according to the rule," which the church has handed down from the apostles, the apostles from Christ, and Christ from God, the reason of our position is clear, when it determines that heretics ought not to be allowed to challenge an appeal to the Scriptures, since we, without the Scriptures, prove that they have nothing to do with the Scriptures. For as they are heretics, they cannot be true Christians, because it is not from Christ that they get that which they pursue of their own mere choice, and from the pursuit incur and admit the name of heretics. Thus, not being Christians, they have acquired no right to the Christian Scriptures; and it may be very fairly said to them, "Who are you? When and whence did you come?"

Tertullian, Prescription against the Heretics, 37 (A.D. 200).

"Now I accept no newer creed written for me by other men, nor do I venture to propound the outcome of my own intelligence, lest I make the words of true religion merely human words; but what I have been taught by the holy Fathers, that I announce to all who question me. In my Church the creed written by the holy Fathers in synod at Nicea is in use."

Basil, To the Church of Antioch, Epistle 140:2 (A.D. 373).

"But when proper words make Scripture ambiguous, we must see in the first place that there is nothing wrong in our punctuation or pronunciation. Accordingly, if, when attention is given to the passage, it shall appear to be uncertain in what way it ought to be punctuated or pronounced, let the reader consult the rule of faith which he has gathered from the plainer passages of Scripture, and from the authority of the Church, and of which I treated at sufficient length when I was speaking in the first book about things."

Augustine, On Christian Doctrine, 3,2:2 (A.D. 397).

"But those reasons which I have here given, I have either gathered from the authority of the church, according to the tradition of our forefathers, or from the testimony of the divine Scriptures, or from the nature itself of numbers and of similitudes. No sober person will decide against reason, no Christian against the Scriptures, no peaceable person against the church."

Augustine, On the Trinity, 4,6:10 (A.D. 416).

Turretinfan said...

SP wrote: "What of those same church fathers when they affirmed authority of the catholic church held by the succession of the bishops?"

What if they did? What would that have to do with the comments in the post above?

SP wrote: "The material sufficiency of scripture is one thing."

These comments on Scripture serving as its own interpreter really relate more to the formal sufficiency of Scripture.

SP wrote: "There is also no argument that some passages of scripture make others clearer."

Great! Then this post may not be a point of contention between us, even if it may be between us and Mr. Cross.

SP wrote: "But what did those fathers say to heretics who went off and their own and interpreted scripture contrary to the holy tradition that was passed down through the church?"

By far the main way was by resorting to Scripture. Sometimes they tried to appeal to an oral tradition passed down from the fathers. In the case of earlier imitators of Christianity (Gnostics and the like), the fathers sometimes pointed to a chain of ordination (though that obviously wouldn't have worked with the Arian and later major heresies).

And if we're just asking how folks have handled heresies, we might also point out the medieval persecution of perceived heretics. Surely you don't think that such persecution, even if historical, is mandatory. So too, you shouldn't think that every way that the fathers refuted heretics was appropriate, simply because it was done. In other words, one needs more warrant than simply: "occasionally, the fathers did it that way." Will you concede that?

-TurretinFan

SP said...

TFan.

What if they did? What would that have to do with the comments in the post above?

Well, for one thing it shows that the fathers did not divorce scripture from the Church.

These comments on Scripture serving as its own interpreter really relate more to the formal sufficiency of Scripture.

In a certain sense scripture does help to interpret scripture. If this were not the case than the Catholic church wouldn't bother with exegesis but as you know the Catholic Church is and has always been heavily involved with exegesis.

But as the other quotes that I posted illustrate, to the fathers at least this does not mean the church does not have the authority to define biblical doctrine.

By far the main way was by resorting to Scripture.

I would say that the fathers writting against heretics resorted to scripture and tradition. But they never pitted scripture against tradition. The heretics did just that which is why the fathers called them out.

So too, you shouldn't think that every way that the fathers refuted heretics was appropriate, simply because it was done. In other words, one needs more warrant than simply: "occasionally, the fathers did it that way." Will you concede that?

I wouldn't agree that the fathers just 'occasionally' defended the faith by appealing to the dogma of the Church. They did that all the time.

Here is the deal: If I see Scott Hahn, for example, write about baptism and if he only appeals to scripture in his writing am I supposed to conclude that Scott Hahn doesn't believe that the Church has the authority to define biblical doctrine?

Turretinfan said...

"Well, for one thing it shows that the fathers did not divorce scripture from the Church."

Do you think that saying that Scripture itself speaks clearly involves divorcing Scripture from the Church? If so, why?

"In a certain sense scripture does help to interpret scripture."

I'm glad we agree about that.

"If this were not the case than the Catholic church wouldn't bother with exegesis but as you know the Catholic Church is and has always been heavily involved with exegesis."

Can you provide me with a list of infallibly exegeted verses? I think you'll find it is a short list.

"But as the other quotes that I posted illustrate, to the fathers at least this does not mean the church does not have the authority to define biblical doctrine."

We'd probably have to get clarification on what it means for the church to "define biblical doctrine" but it seems that would be the subject matter of a different post than this one.

"I would say that the fathers writting against heretics resorted to scripture and tradition. But they never pitted scripture against tradition. The heretics did just that which is why the fathers called them out."

Do you recall Jesus pitting Scripture against the tradition of the Pharisees? Do you suppose the fathers never did anything like that (i.e. pit Scripture against human traditions)?

"I wouldn't agree that the fathers just 'occasionally' defended the faith by appealing to the dogma of the Church. They did that all the time."

In fact, most of the time they appealed specifically to Scripture. That was the main way that they refuted heretics. Your expression "all the time" must just mean "frequently," but my experience in reading through the fathers' writings is that they actually appeal to tradition against the heretics quite infrequently, with the overwhelming supermajority of the refutation coming either from Scripture or reason.

"Here is the deal: If I see Scott Hahn, for example, write about baptism and if he only appeals to scripture in his writing am I supposed to conclude that Scott Hahn doesn't believe that the Church has the authority to define biblical doctrine?"

Again, see above about "define biblical doctrine." That expression would need clarification.

There are lots of things one could conclude from Scott Hahn writing such a book. Probably, one would at least conclude that Hahn thinks that the Scriptures are formally sufficient on the particular subject he's addressing - or that Hahn is being inconsistent. One may simply conclude that Hahn is carrying over techniques he learned before he turned coat and joined the RCC.

-TurretinFan

SP said...

TFan,

Do you think that saying that Scripture itself speaks clearly involves divorcing Scripture from the Church? If so, why?

The implication of saying that scripture 'speaks for itself' with no regard to the Church's authority (which comes from Christ) to define dogma is that scripture is ripped from the Church and put into the hands of every Tom, Dick and Harry and then it's up from them to decide what the scriptures teach. And this is indeed an attempt to divorce scripture from the Church…something the fathers you quoted never allowed and in fact preached against.

Can you provide me with a list of infallibly exegeted verses? I think you'll find it is a short list.

This is not how the deposit of faith is kept.

We'd probably have to get clarification on what it means for the church to "define biblical doctrine" but it seems that would be the subject matter of a different post than this one.

What I mean is dogma. The Trinity. The incarnation. The virgin birth. The immaculate conception. Several examples.

Do you recall Jesus pitting Scripture against the tradition of the Pharisees? Do you suppose the fathers never did anything like that (i.e. pit Scripture against human traditions)?

Scripture does not identify the Pharisees as being the pillar of truth. The church was not built with the Pharisees as her foundation. Jesus did not say that the gates of hell will not prevail against the Pharisees.

The Church is the mystical body of Christ. These are scripture's words, not mine.

Your expression "all the time" must just mean "frequently," but my experience in reading through the fathers' writings is that they actually appeal to tradition against the heretics quite infrequently, with the overwhelming supermajority of the refutation coming either from Scripture or reason

I already posted several examples from the same fathers that you quoted saying in certain terms that no person can go against the teaching of the Church.

There are lots of things one could conclude from Scott Hahn writing such a book. Probably, one would at least conclude that Hahn thinks that the Scriptures are formally sufficient on the particular subject he's addressing - or that Hahn is being inconsistent. One may simply conclude that Hahn is carrying over techniques he learned before he turned coat and joined the RCC.

TFan, packed into that statement are some pretty sad arguments about the Catholic Church and Her teaching on scripture. I suggest you pick up a copy of the catechism if you are really under the impression that the Catholic Church thinks so little of scripture.

I would also add that 'turn coat' is an offensive characterization. I am grateful and glad for you interaction on Called to Communion lately. I am pleased that the discourse has been charitable and peaceable. Don’t you agree that this is a better way to work out our differences?

CB in Ca said...

Question here: Doesn't the Westminster Directory create a magisterium of one...the Pastor?

Turretinfan said...

CB: Answer is "no."

Turretinfan said...

You wrote: "The implication of saying that scripture 'speaks for itself' with no regard to the Church's authority (which comes from Christ) to define dogma is that scripture is ripped from the Church and put into the hands of every Tom, Dick and Harry and then it's up from them to decide what the scriptures teach."

It seems like you're setting up a false dichotomy of either relativism or an extrinsic interpreter. Actually, if the Scriptures are their own interpreter, their teachings are an objective fact - not something that can be bent any which way that any reader pleases.

I asked: "Can you provide me with a list of infallibly exegeted verses? I think you'll find it is a short list."

You responded: "This is not how the deposit of faith is kept."

I hope you realize that it would be a short list if such a list were kept. The point is that contrary to your prior claims, your church hardly ever (even by her own claims) infallibly exegetes Scripture.

I had noted: "We'd probably have to get clarification on what it means for the church to "define biblical doctrine" but it seems that would be the subject matter of a different post than this one."

You responded: "What I mean is dogma. The Trinity. The incarnation. The virgin birth. The immaculate conception. Several examples."

We could discuss those in a different post.

I had asked: "Do you recall Jesus pitting Scripture against the tradition of the Pharisees? Do you suppose the fathers never did anything like that (i.e. pit Scripture against human traditions)?"

You responded: "Scripture does not identify the Pharisees as being the pillar of truth. The church was not built with the Pharisees as her foundation. Jesus did not say that the gates of hell will not prevail against the Pharisees."

That hardly seems relevant to my question. After all, nice things were said about the Jews and Jewish leaders (they "sit in Moses seat" and to them the oracles of God were entrusted) that are not specifically said about the church or the leaders of the church. In point of fact, I think you recognize that you answered as you did, precisely because the answer to my questions are "yes" and "yes."

"The Church is the mystical body of Christ. These are scripture's words, not mine."

Scripture also warns us of false teachers that will arise. None of the words of Scripture that you've identified above should lead us to think that the church is an infallible source of knowledge - especially when viewed in light of passages about false teachers and about the general sinfulness of human beings.

[cont'd in part 2]

Turretinfan said...

[cont'd from part 1]


"I already posted several examples from the same fathers that you quoted saying in certain terms that no person can go against the teaching of the Church."

Those aren't actually the words of any of them. In fact, while we can (perhaps in a new post) discuss those quotations you identified, it looks from where I'm standing as though you would like to interpret their comments in view of a presumption that they thought (1) that "the Church" taught with one voice; (2) that they thought that such a voice was infallible; and (3) that the voice should receive the assent of the faithful regardless of whether it accords with Scripture.

"TFan, packed into that statement are some pretty sad arguments about the Catholic Church and Her teaching on scripture."

I think your bias might be showing a tad. :)

"I suggest you pick up a copy of the catechism if you are really under the impression that the Catholic Church thinks so little of scripture."

I may be mistaken, but I wouldn't be surprised if I were more familiar with more of the catechisms that have been promulgated by your church's authority than you are, and at least as familiar with the CCC as you are.

"I would also add that 'turn coat' is an offensive characterization."

"Turn coat" is a factually accurate description of his changed allegiance. I don't feel compelled to use neutral language to report his sinful act. If it is offensive, it is offensive because I am saying that he turned to a false gospel, yet that it is the very limited area where offense is necessary in this sort of discussion. After all, that's the reason that this discussion is more significant than the two of us discussing how many angels could dance on the head of a pin.

"I am grateful and glad for you interaction on Called to Communion lately."

Thanks.

"I am pleased that the discourse has been charitable and peaceable."

I hope it has been polite. Nevertheless, there is one point over which there is a division of love and an absence of peace. The absence of peace is on the issue of the gospel, and the division of love is that sometimes the happiness of the person with whom one is talking must be sacrificed for their eternal benefit.

"Don’t you agree that this is a better way to work out our differences?"

I'd say that the way must be with gentleness and reverence. I hope that even if you find my positions and opinions offensive, you will not find me adding unnecessary offense to the offense of the gospel of the alone rock in whom we are to trust, even Christ Jesus to whom, together with the Father and Spirit, be all glory and power, dominion and praise, now and forever.

- TurretinFan

SP said...

Turretin Fan.

The point is that contrary to your prior claims, your church hardly ever (even by her own claims) infallibly exegetes Scripture.

Of course it doesn't. If you read the Council of Nicea or Chalcedon or Trent or Vatican I or Vatican II, never does the church say, "The correct interpretation of this verse is...."

If I conveyed that than blame it on my poor ability to convey things.

The Church's teaching is infallible and is derived from scripture which she exegetes and proclaims. I did not mean to say that the Church has a list of 'infallible exegesis."

That hardly seems relevant to my question. After all, nice things were said about the Jews and Jewish leaders

I did not claim that the Church is any different because the bible says nice things about the Church.

The Church is the Body of Christ.

Scripture also warns us of false teachers that will arise

And they have!

(1) that "the Church" taught with one voice; (2) that they thought that such a voice was infallible; and (3) that the voice should receive the assent of the faithful regardless of whether it accords with Scripture.

It depends on what you mean by 'one voice.' The teaching of the Church accords with scripture perfectly. Her teaching simply does not accord with the interpretation of every person on the planet who has ever taken up the bible and attempted to formulate the orthodox faith from her text.

Earlier today I read on another Reformed blog that, "It is up to every generation to wrestle the biblical truth from the scriptures" or something very close to that.

This notion is patently false and the source of all kinds of heresy. I can only imagine what sort of doctrine our children's children will figure out for themselves if they have to 'wrestle' the truth for themselves without any care of what the faithful have always believed.

I may be mistaken, but I wouldn't be surprised if I were more familiar with more of the catechisms that have been promulgated by your church's authority than you are, and at least as familiar with the CCC as you are.

I have the Baltimore catechism within about five feet of me and the current catechism on my desk.

I also read your post on Pius X and honestly I find nothing objectionable or contrary to the Catholic faith that you posted. I am also surprised that you think the Pius 10th catechism is so off base regarding spurious translations of the bible and footnotes. Would you give your children a Mormon Joseph Smith translated bible? How about a 'New World" JW translation? Didn't think so. You may not go to the extreme of 'burning it' but I bet you'd toss it out.

Seems to me that Pius' catechism was prophetic.

turn coat etc

Surely you can go about the work of protecting the gospel and such without being insulting? I believe you can.

When I was reading about the Catholic Church as a Presbyterian I was frankly drawn to the Church even more when I saw all the vitriol and vinegar coming from the Reformed apologists all in the name of the 'gospel.' I have met MANY converts who reported feeling similar.

When a Catholic appears on a website like 'Triablogue' and makes a comment that identifies him/her as Catholic the ensuing hate bombs that are thrown on them are a great asset to the Catholic Church. If the Triablogue guys only knew....

I tell you this because I think you are better than that. Cheers.

John Bugay said...

SP, in the first place, you should show where the "hate bombs" are at Triablogue, rather than just allude to them. You, after all, have been cited for having a problem with "equivocation". See this thread:

http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/whose-lens-are-you-using/#comment-68133

And second, that puts you in absolutely no position at all to lecture someon like TF on civility.

Jnorm888 said...

TF,

I've been reading the Pre-nicene and nicene fathers on and off for 12 or 13 years now, and I knew about those statements for years back when I was protestant.

Using Scripture to interprete Scripture wasn't the only method they used. They had several. And so, when you look at the context of what they said as well as the depth of all of what they had to say about these issues, then it is vanity to quote them in support of "Sola Scriptura".

For they were not protestant. They were not Sola Scripturists.


Viisaus,

What you said about Matt. 23:2-3 in regards to RC and EO is ridiculous.









ICXC NIKA

Turretinfan said...

Nika,

Thanks for your self-expression.

-TurretinFan

Simon Finley said...

I don't don't think those quotations are Roman Catholic in nature. I can see how they could be interpreted in a Protestant sense as well. Many Protestants agree with the aid of tradition to help interpret Scripture, and also with the authority of the church in a sense.

Having said that, I don't think these guys were either Roman Catholic or Protestant exactly.