Sunday, July 25, 2010

Rebuttal to Argument from Exhaustive Guidance ...

One of the Roman Catholic arguments that is popular is the argument that Scriptures alone are insufficient as our rule of faith and life, because they do not explicitly (or perhaps even implicitly) address issues that allegedly did not exist at the time Scripture was written. Usually topics like birth control are broached as the issue to be addressed.

Steve Hays has provided an excellent, if somewhat amusing, rebuttal by pointing to Islam as an example of a religion that seeks to regulate a much deeper amount of people's lives than even Catholicism (link to rebuttal). One way to apply the rebuttal is that if Catholicism is supposed to be an exhaustive rule is by showing that there are many questions it does not answer, such as whether it is appropriate for a woman to be alone in the same elevator with a man who is not part of her immediate family.

If Scripture's alleged failure to answer the question of stem cell research is a problem, why isn't the failure of Catholicism to tell us which side of our body to lie on at night a problem for Catholicism?

And there is really no need to limit ourselves to the extremes of the Muslims or Jews - where is Catholicism's answer as to whether I should buy Pepsi or Coke? And if I find myself in an elevator that is playing music by Britney Spears, am I permitted to stay on the elevator as long as I don't allow myself to enjoy it?

-TurretinFan

18 comments:

Turretinfan said...

The answer to the last question, of course, depends on whether the song is in 4/4 or some less godly time.

Coram Deo said...

TF wondered: And if I find myself in an elevator that is playing music by Britney Spears, am I permitted to stay on the elevator as long as I don't allow myself to enjoy it?

And then extrapolated: The answer to the last question, of course, depends on whether the song is in 4/4 or some less godly time.

Yet the question cuts even deeper, TF!

In an elevator the tune would be muzak, thus the level of sinful worldly enjoyment could arguably be tied directly to one's personal knowledge of the omitted lyrics and their titillating intent, or lack thereof.

If a Britney Spears song is played in the forest, and no one hears it, is it still potentially sinful?

Sophistry for the masses!

In Him,
CD

Enterprise24 said...

re:Coram Deo - lol!

natamllc said...

Steve Hays is different.

This portion upfront: "Usually topics like birth control are broached as the issue to be addressed." can be easily explained from the Word of God, provided you want to learn from God and the Word of His Grace, here:

Ecc 7:13 Consider the work of God: who can make straight what he has made crooked?
Ecc 7:14 In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other,
so that man may not find out anything that will be after him.

There are plenty of things that have come after all of the writers used by the Holy Spirit to put together this complete collection of inspired Words, the Bible. The RCC knows that and so do all the devils behind their inspirations throughout their own dogmas down through history to date.

I leave off one quote from, as some conclude, is the oldest writing of our collection of sixty six books to point to a manifestation of the facts King Solomon expresses there in Ecclesiastes 7 cited above:

Job 28:3 Man puts an end to darkness and searches out to the farthest limit the ore in gloom and deep darkness.
Job 28:4 He opens shafts in a valley away from where anyone lives; they are forgotten by travelers; they hang in the air, far away from mankind; they swing to and fro.


Maybe God opened the corridors of time to Job so he could peer into the future to write about what he saw, that is, just how science brought an end to darkness with the discovery and invention of the light bulb or drilling for water or oil or natural gas in the last couple of centuries? I rather think not. I rather think Job was moved upon by the Holy Spirit and then He, the Holy Spirit with Our Heavenly Father and Jesus confirmed the facts as yet not in evidence simply underscoring: so that man may not find out anything that will be after him.

natamllc said...

CD, you asked:

If a Britney Spears song is played in the forest, and no one hears it, is it still potentially sinful?

One Biblical answer would be, if it was not played with Faith, it would be sinful.

Another might be, if it was a song played and it was not the Will of God, well?

Paul Hoffer said...

Actually TF the answer to the Coke vs. Pepsi issue is neither-we are supposed to drink "RC" cola.

Seriously though, I have never been on an elevator that plays Britney Spears music nor listen to radio stations that play BS music nor watch shows that play BS music. I not even sure that I would know what a Britney Spears song sounded like. I am somewhat surprised that you would.

Then again, since you and the folks commenting here apparently are not aware that the sole and true rule of faith of the Catholic faith is the Word of God preached by the Church of God, I probably should not surprised by anything these days.

Coram Deo, if you knew anything about the original songs of the Church, such as Gregorian chant, you would know that they had no meter, regular rhythm or time signature at all. So that is not much of an issue. However, the time spent mocking Catholics here and listening to your Britney Spears albums, perhaps you should have spent more time reading John Calvin as to what he had to say on the subject of music:


"But still there is more: there is scarcely in the world anything which is more able to turn or bend this way and that the morals of men, as Plato prudently considered it. And in fact, we find by experience that it has a sacred and almost incredible power to move hearts in one way or another. Therefore we ought to be even more diligent in regulating it in such a way that it shall be useful to us and in no way pernicious. For this reason the ancient doctors of the Church complain frequently of this, that the people of their times were addicted to dishonest and shameless songs, which not without cause they referred to and called mortal and Satanic poison for corrupting the world. Moreover, in speaking now of music, I understand two parts: namely the letter, or subject and matter; secondly, the song, or the melody. It is true that every bad word (as St. Paul has said) perverts good manner, but when the melody is with it, it pierces the heart much more strongly, and enters into it; in a like manner as through a funnel, the wine is poured into the vessel; so also the venom and the corruption is distilled to the depths of the heart by the melody."

As someone who sings the Liturgy of the Hours every day, I would humbly add: "Amen!"


Natamllc, while you are quoting from Scriptures why don't you provide us all the answer to the issue of whether artificial birth control is morally correct. And if it is so easily explained from Scriptures why did every single Protestant denomination teach along with the Catholic Church that its use was sinful until 1930 and thereafter, not so much? Considering that the use of artificial contraception was sinful before 1930, why is not still sinful now?

God bless!

Gordan said...

Britney Spears sings?

Nick said...

I believe this post is based upon a fallacy, and this fallacy is rooted in using the term "exhaustive." No Catholic should be arguing in terms of "exhaustiveness", since there are infinite combinations of sins or potentially sinful situations.

Even in the Torah there are examples/instructions of what happens when an unclear issue comes up and needs resolution by a cleric.

This doesn't mean no issues should be clarified simply because the Bible doesn't (or at least doesn't appear to) speak (sufficiently) on any given subject. For example, on what conditions, if any, does the New Testament permit Divorce? Some would say it's never permitted, others would say it's permitted only on the case of 'adultery' strictly speaking, while most (Protestants) today would expand 'adultery' to anything involving choosing something to love more than your spouse (e.g. alcohol addiction).

Other issues like masturbation clearly highlight the problem at hand, and that resolving this has nothing to do with "exhaustiveness".

The proper way of looking at this is that guidelines are set and in which answers are to be sought within them. So, for example, if masturbation is a sin, then at least in principle so is contraception - since they both confine sex to a sphere of pleasure, totally 'divorced' from it's natural/ordinary ends.

And the real life application of this problem is very telling: each pastor is ultimately deciding what is and is not a sin, severed from any objective/consistent standard for all Christians.

Turretinfan said...

"Actually TF the answer to the Coke vs. Pepsi issue is neither-we are supposed to drink 'RC' cola."

Yes, yes - or whatever "PopeYes" is serving these days.

"Seriously though, I have never been on an elevator that plays Britney Spears music nor listen to radio stations that play BS music nor watch shows that play BS music. I not even sure that I would know what a Britney Spears song sounded like. I am somewhat surprised that you would."

I should find a way to get you to read my posts that are not directly relevant to your church. (see this example) Then you'd be less surprised that I happen to overhear some of her music.

"Then again, since you and the folks commenting here apparently are not aware that the sole and true rule of faith of the Catholic faith is the Word of God preached by the Church of God, I probably should not surprised by anything these days."

We're aware of Rome's blasphemous claim that her traditions are God's word.

I'm glad to hear you agreeing with Calvin, even if you seem to misunderstand what he is arguing for. He did away with many of the hymns that had sprung up in the West, returning the church mainly to Psalmody.

"Natamllc, while you are quoting from Scriptures why don't you provide us all the answer to the issue of whether artificial birth control is morally correct. And if it is so easily explained from Scriptures why did every single Protestant denomination teach along with the Catholic Church that its use was sinful until 1930 and thereafter, not so much?"

The denominations you reference didn't distinguish between artificial and natural birth control, did they?

"Considering that the use of artificial contraception was sinful before 1930, why is not still sinful now?"

And, of course, as you know - we are not locked into the traditions of men - even if those were their traditions before 1930.

-TurretinFan

Paul Hoffer said...

Hello TF, I see you are answering queries posted to others again. Why not let them answer for themselves?

As for the issues of pop and BS, I was merely addressing through sarcasm the point that Nick made~we do not pretend that our Magisterium is an exhaustive authority that you seem to make it out to be. The use of loaded terms such as "exhaustive" smacks of straw man argumentation which is rife among Reformed e-pologists these days. I must wonder why you folks refuse to use the actual language of how we define things in our Catechism and official documents rather than adding your own gloss and spin to things. Aren't you able to take Catholic doctrines head-on and instead must distort what we believe in order to interact with it? If you did, I would perhaps read your blog more often as it would have something meaningful to read.

As for what constitutes the Word of God and whether what the Church teaches constitutes "blasphemy," you are again using loaded terms that distract from dialogue rather than add clarity to the issue. Whether or not apostolic tradition is blasphemous is a question begging premiss you have yet to establish.

As for John Calvin's writing, I am aware that he had issues with Western psalmody. Apparently he wasn't aware of that the psalms and the canticles of the Bible were sung every day by the Church in the prayer of the Church~the Liturgy of the Hours. That said, I do not disagree with the concerns he expressed about music.

Finally, birth control. You seek to distinguish between "artificial" and "natural" birth control. There are natural means that lessen the chances that the wife could get pregnant that do not fit within the definition of birth control, but the bottom line is that all birth control is artificial. The methods to prevent conception might be more sophisticated these days, but historically, the basics have been used for over 3000 years-condoms, spermicides, the use of chemicals, sterilization, etc.

You use the catch phrase "traditions of men" to again cloud dialogue. I would invite everyone here to read "Humanae Vitae" ("Of Human Life"), "Casti Connubii" ("On Christian Marriage") , and "Familiaris Consortio" ("The Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World") and ponder the Scripture citations contained therein and then compare what your own Reformers said on the matter versus what your various denominations teach today and one would see how flippant and hollow TF's use of "traditions of men" actually is in this instance.

Seriously, if one looks at the consequences of a "birth control" polluted culture~the depopulation of the West, the rampant immorality that one sees even on shows that are labeled as "children" or "family" entertainment, promiscuity outside of marriage, the ballooning divorce rates, abortion, etc,~one certainly would wonder which path promotes a tradition of man as opposed to God's.

God bless!

Turretinfan said...

"Hello TF, I see you are answering queries posted to others again. Why not let them answer for themselves?"

Your faulty reasoning is showing. My answering your questions does not preclude or prevent others from answering.

"As for the issues of pop and BS, I was merely addressing through sarcasm the point that Nick made~we do not pretend that our Magisterium is an exhaustive authority that you seem to make it out to be."

I don't "make it out to be" something it is not. In fact, it was precisely my point that your magisterium falls short in providing exhaustive guidance.

"The use of loaded terms such as "exhaustive" smacks of straw man argumentation which is rife among Reformed e-pologists these days."

Whatever.

"I must wonder why you folks refuse to use the actual language of how we define things in our Catechism and official documents rather than adding your own gloss and spin to things."

Perhaps this is more of your sarcasm, but obviously we do in fact cite your CCC and other official documents, and we do so frequently. If you're not aware of that, may I suggest that perhaps you ought to be a more regular reader of my blog. If you are aware, then your comment seems to be disingenuous.

"Aren't you able to take Catholic doctrines head-on and instead must distort what we believe in order to interact with it?"

Same false accusation as above.

"If you did, I would perhaps read your blog more often as it would have something meaningful to read."

Maybe it's just your bad luck to read only those without references to the CCC or other official documents?

"As for what constitutes the Word of God and whether what the Church teaches constitutes "blasphemy," you are again using loaded terms that distract from dialogue rather than add clarity to the issue."

You seem rather long on rhetorical criticism and short on argument.

"Whether or not apostolic tradition is blasphemous is a question begging premiss [sic] you have yet to establish."

It's not the premise, it's the conclusion.

"As for John Calvin's writing, I am aware that he had issues with Western psalmody. Apparently he wasn't aware of that the psalms and the canticles of the Bible were sung every day by the Church in the prayer of the Church~the Liturgy of the Hours."

It's highly improbable that he was unaware of the contemporary practices of Rome.

[cont'd in part 2]

Turretinfan said...

[cont'd from 1]

"That said, I do not disagree with the concerns he expressed about music."

ok

"Finally, birth control. You seek to distinguish between "artificial" and "natural" birth control."

Actually, it seemed as though you sought to distinguish between them by using the designation "artificial" in your comment.

"There are natural means that lessen the chances that the wife could get pregnant that do not fit within the definition of birth control, but the bottom line is that all birth control is artificial."

That's not the way the birth control industry uses the term. But I'm sure you know that.

There's a difference between "artificial" methods like barriers and chemicals, and "natural" methods like NFP, withdrawal, and a few less savory things.

"The methods to prevent conception might be more sophisticated these days, but historically, the basics have been used for over 3000 years-condoms, spermicides, the use of chemicals, sterilization, etc."

I have no doubt that both artificial and natural approaches have a long history.

"You use the catch phrase 'traditions of men' to again cloud dialogue."

More of your rhetoric.

"I would invite everyone here to read "Humanae Vitae" ("Of Human Life"), "Casti Connubii" ("On Christian Marriage") , and "Familiaris Consortio" ("The Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World") and ponder the Scripture citations contained therein and then compare what your own Reformers said on the matter versus what your various denominations teach today and one would see how flippant and hollow TF's use of "traditions of men" actually is in this instance."

I'm tolerating this comment, but I would suggest against this sort of "soap box" approach in which you refer to the blog owner in the third person.

And I note that you have not addressed the issue, you've simply called the use of the fitting Scriptural expression a name.

"Seriously, if one looks at the consequences of a "birth control" polluted culture~the depopulation of the West, the rampant immorality that one sees even on shows that are labeled as "children" or "family" entertainment, promiscuity outside of marriage, the ballooning divorce rates, abortion, etc,~one certainly would wonder which path promotes a tradition of man as opposed to God's."

This fallacious argument can be similarly rebutted by reference to Muslims. Need I explain?

-TurretinFan

Paul Hoffer said...

I read your reply TF. Since this a comment section, I will try to be brief~My queries were addressed to the people who raised certain points. The reason my queries were addressed to those people was to see their thought processes as to why they said what they said and to test the strength of their argument. Since you took the initiative and answered for them, whatever response they give will be affected by what you wrote. Thus, it will not actually be their response.

As for your point~ you now claim that you are faulting the Church for not being an exhaustive rule. However, that is not what you argued earlier. Your original argument rested on the on the assumption that "if" Catholicism is supposed to be "an exhaustive rule" then such a claim can be rebutted by showing that there are many questions that it does not answer. The problem is that Catholicism has never claimed to have an exhaustive rule. Thus the supposition you make in the beginning is different than the supposition you present now. Make up your mind.

As far your claim that you "frequently" cite to the CCC and other magisterial documents in presenting Catholic doctrine, I humbly submit that can not be the case here because there are no such documents that make such claims. If you want to label my claim as false so be it, but at least where I am from a claim of falsity has to be pled with specificity and regardless of the label you wish to pin on my remarks, it still doesn't refute my contention that you can not quote from any magisterial document to show that the Church claims that it is an "exhaustive rule."

As far as whether your statement "We're aware of Rome's blasphemous claim that her traditions are God's word." constitutes a premiss (correct spelling and usage thank you very much) or conclusion, it is certainly conclusory for sure, but one would have thought the conclusion is that "Rome's traditions" are not part of the Word of God. If your statement is a conclusion, then it is an enthymematically challenged one.

BTW, I enjoyed how you use the catch words "rhetorical criticism" and "rhetoric" to avoid addressing the points I made which in itself constitute rhetoric does it not?

BTW, here is something I came across that suggests how at least one Orthodox Presbyterian minister apparently agrees with what the Catholic Church teaches on the use of contraception and artificial birth control:
http://www.religionnews.com/index.php?/rnstext/christians_examine_morality_of_birth_control/

If you are intellectually honest about it, let see you pull the traditions of men argument on him.

God bless!

Nick said...

Paul (and TF),

I just finished an apologetics article which I think highlights the very problem at hand:

http://catholicnick.blogspot.com/2010/07/protestantisms-adulterous-affair.html

Turretinfan said...

Mr. Hoffer:

As to your first paragraph, I guess you now know that your idea of some how interrogating my readers in isolation may not work in these comment boxes. I'll leave at that.

As to your second paragraph, you seem to think that if you don't follow my argument and I have to explain it to you, this means I'm changing my mind. Sorry, I don't agree.

As to your third paragraph, I have no idea what you're trying to say. It looks as though, instead of apologizing for your false representation of my blog, you've decided to take shelter in the absence of citations to official RC documents in this particular entry. However, I may well have misunderstood what you are trying to say.

As to your fourth paragraph, I notice you still haven't substantively gone beyond simply reminding us of Rome's blasphemous claim. I have no particular interest in the non-substantive portion of that paragraph.

Same goes for your fifth paragraph.

As for your sixth-seventh paragraphs, I'm not sure whether you think I would disagree with the conclusions of the OPC member (the article suggests he is no longer a minister). In any event, without reading his book , I can hardly judge whether he is properly applying Scripture or improperly relying on human tradition, can I?

As a matter of principle, for the Reformed churches it is not sufficient that something has been a widely held or long-standing view. In matters of religion, we seek the true word of God, which is found in the pages of Holy Scripture, and nowhere else these days.

-TurretinFan

Paul Hoffer said...

TF wrote: In matters of religion, we seek the true word of God, which is found in the pages of Holy Scripture, and nowhere else these days.

PH responds: Why bother having ministers preach then? If your statement constitutes your rule of faith, everytime a human being no matter how gifted opens his mouth, everytime a man no matter how learned and wise puts pen to paper they are adding to the Scriptures by interpreting them and applying them to real life today. Ultimately, your rule is unworkable because it ignores the fact there is no index that one can consult that says when a believer is in this situation, turn to page so-and-so. The Word of God (whether it is Scripture alone as you contend or Scripture and Apostolic Tradition as I fervently believe) as our rule of faith does not regulate our faith save when it is applied, proposed and declared, and since
this may be done well or ill, therefore it is not enough to know that the Word of God is the true and infallible rule of right-believing. We need to apply it in our lives, we need to hear it proposed and declared through His Church in order for it to be the Rule of life itself.

I love the Scriptures, I love reading them, I love singing them, I love praying them. But, they do not amount to a hill of beans if we do not apply its words to our lives. The Word of God is the foundation of what we are as Christians, but one still must build upon that foundation as is so amply shown in Mt. 25 and 1 Cor. 3.

P.S. You still haven't provided any reference to a magisterial source that purports to say what you are claiming the Catholic Church holds, that it is some sort of exhaustive rule.

God bless!

louis said...

Where did the Calvin quote come from? Just curious.

Turretinfan said...

Calvin's preface to the Psalter. See this link.