Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Church Christ Founded

One of Rome's frequently asserted claims is to be "the church Christ founded." There are a lot of ways to handle that claim. One way to handle it is to ask, "Would the church Christ founded do what Rome did in Ireland?" (see the Wikileak-enhanced story here).

I realize some will simply say, "Yes - there's no promise that the Church will be morally perfect." But then again, there's no promise that the Church will always get its doctrines right - or even that it will always be politically one.

In fact the use of "churches" to describe Christianity was already prevalent in the apostolic period. The visible church is the sum of all those churches, but the apostles founded churches, and wrote to them (see Paul's letters or the book of Revelation for examples).

Does the systematic abuse of children, the coordinated coverup, and the protection and support of the abusers in and of itself prove that Rome is a false church? Of course not - it's just evidence that is hard to reconcile with Rome's grandiose claims for itself.

- TurretinFan

95 comments:

natamllc said...

Amen TF.

For some reason the Holy Spirit has been hammering on me and inspiring me with these verses from Romans 7:5-6.

They are a clue that you indeed are a part of the Church Christ founded. He continues to establish people in this Truth. This Truth brings about obedience to the Faith.

Anyone interested can open to the Book of Romans and read 7:5-6.

One of the realities by which one can know they are a member of the True Body of Christ is to understand one of the particular missions God gave Jesus to do for us as our Christ and Savior while we live in this life.

You can turn in your Bible to Psalms 22 or 2 Samuel 7 or 1 Chronicles 17 to read to comprehend and understand that one of the marks of being a True Christian is that Jesus Christ personally reveals the Names of God to your heart!

I cannot resist quoting verbatim from one passage from the Book of Hebrews about one of several particular missions God has given to Christ to finish when He goes about saving His people from their sins in every generation, including ours:

Heb 2:10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.
Heb 2:11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers,
Heb 2:12 saying, "I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise."
Heb 2:13 And again, "I will put my trust in him." And again, "Behold, I and the children God has given me."


In the natural world when a man loves a woman and takes her to be his wife, she naturally loses her name and joyfully takes his name as her own! She now has a new identity by virtue of that new name she receives by being conjoined to her husband.

It is just as true for the Church Christ is wedded too that She should bear His Name forever after conjoined to His Life!

Coram Deo said...

Don't Romanists usually attempt to divorce the "Church" from the Vatican city-state and its political and economic machinations?

I realize in this case it's particularly difficult since the political city-state used its influence to affect the treatment of church officials.

It seems to be a rather convenient arrangement for the Romanists to use the power of their church-state when they see fit on the one hand, while on the other hand minimizing or denying outright the church-state amalgam when its outworkings are uncomfortable or inconvenient.

In Him,
CD

Turretinfan said...

Yes, CD.

Bryan said...

As a Catholic, any sin of the Church bothers me, but I'm comforted by the fact that Jesus warned us that there would be weeds among the wheat, good fish mixed in with bad fish, and wolves in sheep's clothing. The fact that the Church has continued on, sanctifying her faithful members in every generation with the sacraments He gave us, is all I need to hold faith against these tiresome arguments. Ultimately, the work of God in the lives of the Holy Catholic Saints obliterate them.

Of course I also believe strongly that the Devil, who constantly works against our sanctification works to cause these scandals, and then uses the same reasoning that you use in this post to discredit the very teachings which God has given to sanctify us.

And regarding the awful sex abuse scandal, I encourage you to find one organization that has taken steps to understand the nature of sexual abuse of its members and taken steps to correct it better than the Catholic Church has. I have not seen one, and although it has been far from perfect, I'm proud that my church has taken the steps it has to rid itself of this scourge. No organization, religious or otherwise, has done better in my opinion. If you can think of one, I'd love to hear it.

Turretinfan said...

"As a Catholic, any sin of the Church bothers me, but I'm comforted by the fact that Jesus warned us that there would be weeds among the wheat, good fish mixed in with bad fish, and wolves in sheep's clothing."

I'm not sure why that would comfort you ... but ok.

"The fact that the Church has continued on, sanctifying her faithful members in every generation with the sacraments He gave us, is all I need to hold faith against these tiresome arguments."

What argument exactly is the presence of the sacraments inconsistent with? After all, what sect doesn't provide sacraments?

"Ultimately, the work of God in the lives of the Holy Catholic Saints obliterate them."

How?

"Of course I also believe strongly that the Devil, who constantly works against our sanctification works to cause these scandals, and then uses the same reasoning that you use in this post to discredit the very teachings which God has given to sanctify us."

I'm pretty sure that these scandals were caused by lecherous men abusing their flock, and other men covering for them.

"And regarding the awful sex abuse scandal, I encourage you to find one organization that has taken steps to understand the nature of sexual abuse of its members and taken steps to correct it better than the Catholic Church has."

Practically every organization has done a better job of it than Rome has. Who else but Rome would even think that abuse should receive the seal of the confessional? Just look around - pedophiles are not unique to the Roman hierarchy, but you and I both know that if any large corporation or school district discovered their workers were engaging in that sort of action on the clock, they would be fired and reported (probably in that order) - not reassigned to a new location under cover of secrecy.

"I have not seen one, and although it has been far from perfect, I'm proud that my church has taken the steps it has to rid itself of this scourge."

Really? You're proud of the situation in Ireland, where Benedict XVI refused to accept bishops' resignations? Or how about his "apology" which consisted of blaming the Irish church, despite his own personal exhortation to them to treat the matters as confidential? I'm just curious how your mind works in this.

"No organization, religious or otherwise, has done better in my opinion. If you can think of one, I'd love to hear it."

The Orange County Public Schools is one example. Try to find any organization at all that had anything remotely like the national coverup that plagued Ireland.

But of course most institutions aren't made up of men who have no interest in marriage with women.

-TurretinFan

Bryan said...

"I'm not sure why that would comfort you ... but ok."

It comforts me because I know that God is more powerful than these weeds and wolves and that he wills for the truth to be protected.

"What argument exactly is the presence of the sacraments inconsistent with? After all, what sect doesn't provide sacraments?"

Your argument that the Catholic Church is not the Church Jesus established because there happen to be sinners in it. I might not understand your question because the second one seems completely irrelevant to me.

"How?"

Because our Saints led lives that are only possible by living in Christ. It shows that there is a sanctifying force in the Church much bigger than the men and women that make it up.

"I'm pretty sure that these scandals were caused by lecherous men abusing their flock, and other men covering for them."

No doubt that they had an awful part to play in it and participated in these crimes of their own freedom, but are you saying that the Devil doesn't have any part evil things? I think that the devil would want to attack the Church Jesus established (whichever Church that may be) in order to repel people from it. I'm not surprised that he is successful from time to time.

"Practically every organization has done a better job of it than Rome has."
Then name one organization that has 1)allowed independent researchers to compile data on the nature and scope of sexual abuse as the USCCB did and 2) publicly release these findings and place them on the internet like this: http://www.usccb.org/nrb/johnjaystudy/

"Who else but Rome would even think that abuse should receive the seal of the confessional?"

It is not only sexual abuse that is under the seal of confession. It is ALL sin that is under the seal, and it always has been. And how would you know how often this abuse is confessed at all, since it is under the seal?

"Just look around - pedophiles are not unique to the Roman hierarchy, but you and I both know that if any large corporation or school district discovered their workers were engaging in that sort of action on the clock, they would be fired and reported (probably in that order) - not reassigned to a new location under cover of secrecy."

Yes, pedophiles can live anywhere and work for any organization, however neither you nor I know whether or not a large corporation or school district would handle cases properly. Again, I have not found another corporation or school district that has allowed the type of inquiry done in the John Jay study linked above. In fact, here is an article which shows some of the shocking truth of abuse in school districts and that, sadly, other organizations aren't very forthcoming about abuse of minors within their own ranks: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/21/AR2007102100144.html

(continued)

Bryan said...

"I'm not sure why that would comfort you ... but ok."

It comforts me because I know that God is more powerful than these weeds and wolves and that he wills for the truth to be protected.

"What argument exactly is the presence of the sacraments inconsistent with? After all, what sect doesn't provide sacraments?"

Your argument that the Catholic Church is not the Church Jesus established because there happen to be sinners in it. I might not understand your question because the second one seems completely irrelevant to me.

"How?"

Because our Saints led lives that are only possible by living in Christ. It shows that there is a sanctifying force in the Church much bigger than the men and women that make it up.

"I'm pretty sure that these scandals were caused by lecherous men abusing their flock, and other men covering for them."

No doubt that they had an awful part to play in it and participated in these crimes of their own freedom, but are you saying that the Devil doesn't have any part evil things? I think that the devil would want to attack the Church Jesus established (whichever Church that may be) in order to repel people from it. I'm not surprised that he is successful from time to time.

"Practically every organization has done a better job of it than Rome has."
Then name one organization that has 1)allowed independent researchers to compile data on the nature and scope of sexual abuse as the USCCB did and 2) publicly release these findings and place them on the internet like this: http://www.usccb.org/nrb/johnjaystudy/

"Who else but Rome would even think that abuse should receive the seal of the confessional?"

It is not only sexual abuse that is under the seal of confession. It is ALL sin that is under the seal, and it always has been. And how would you know how often this abuse is confessed at all, since it is under the seal?

(To Be Continued below)

Bryan said...

"Really? You're proud of the situation in Ireland, where Benedict XVI refused to accept bishops' resignations? Or how about his "apology" which consisted of blaming the Irish church, despite his own personal exhortation to them to treat the matters as confidential? I'm just curious how your mind works in this."

I'm not proud that there was sexual abuse in Ireland. I am proud that, like the US Bishops the Irish bishops allowed a study to be done on the scope and nature of crimes so that they could implement policies aimed at removing this scourge from the Church.

I'm not sure why the Pope didn't accept resignations. I don't think he gave a reason why. Perhaps he thought that these bishops were responsible for the mess and needed to clean it up themselves. Please tell me you don't believe that the Pope did it because he wants children to be abused. Nobody could be that unreasonable.

I blame the Irish Church as well for the problems. It was their fault. Not Rome's. Do you know of any reasons why The Pope or Vatican should be blamed more than the Irish Church?

Confidentiality is important in these matters, Tfan. There are, after all, false accusations and I would hate for an innocent man - priest or otherwise - to have his reputation ruined by a false accusation of sexual abuse. Surely you agree?

"The Orange County Public Schools is one example. Try to find any organization at all that had anything remotely like the national coverup that plagued Ireland."

Surely, one example of one fired teacher does not top all of the men and women removed from ministry in Catholic parishes and schools AND the John Jay report which was done to, again, discover the nature and scope of sexual abuse in the Church. If Orange has produced such research, only then will I admit that they have handled their abuse as well or better than the Catholic Church.

Bryan said...

TFan -

Sorry about the double post. Had a browser mishap. There was one paragraph that got snipped that I feel is important. I'll do my best to rewrite it here:

"Just look around - pedophiles are not unique to the Roman hierarchy, but you and I both know that if any large corporation or school district discovered their workers were engaging in that sort of action on the clock, they would be fired and reported (probably in that order) - not reassigned to a new location under cover of secrecy."

Yes, we know that there are pedophiles living everywhere and working for anyone, however, unfortunately, we do not know with certainty that every school district or large corporation takes sexual abuse of minors as seriously as they should.

This article from the Washington Post shows that there is an unfortunate amount of tolerance of sexual abuse in this country. I think that school districts would do well to model how they deal with the problem after the way the Catholic Church has dealt with the problem which includes investigating the nature and scope of abuse which I believe is absolutely necessery for prevention.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/21/AR2007102100144.html

louis said...

"Your argument that the Catholic Church is not the Church Jesus established because there happen to be sinners in it."

I don't think that's what he argued. Nevertheless, the sin is rather egregious, going beyond what is tolerable even for unbelievers, and it is in the hierarchy, which claims to be infallible, and "Christ on earth", etc. So yes, the presence of this wickedness does suggest that this church is not what it claims to be.

By the way, the Roman church covered this up for many years, and only reluctantly admitted wrongdoing when it could no longer keep the lid on it. Even then Rome seemed more concerned about its own reputation than about the victims. The church Christ founded would not have acted this way.

Coram Deo said...

I blame the Irish Church as well for the problems. It was their fault. Not Rome's. Do you know of any reasons why The Pope or Vatican should be blamed more than the Irish Church?

So much for the "one true church"!

Let's get this straight, the Irish church is at fault, not the Roman church.

But this merely begs the question, what of Rome's claims to being the "one true church"?

To TF's point, would the "one true church" operate in this manner? Surely the answer, as you admit, must be "no" so you bifurcate the "one true church" into factions of "true" and "false"; the former being of Christ and the latter of the devil.

How does one discern which faction is in control of any particular diocese, or in this case country?

That sounds rather like a dualistic, schizophrenic "one true church" to me.

But what are we to make of Ratzinger's role in covering for, and moving around boy-bothering priests? Was he in league with Satan?

At what point must we conclude that the "one true church" doesn't live up to its much-vaunted claims?

Does any amount of actual on-the-job performance, such as an officially sanctioned cover-up of systematic raping of young boys for example, actually count against Rome; or is all of that merely consigned to the work of the devil while the actual people who engaged in the cover-up, such as Ratzinger, get a pass, while the absolute purity of the "one true church" still somehow remains intact and inviolate?

In Him,
CD

Bryan said...

"I don't think that's what he argued."

Fair enough. I've misinterpreted people before and probably will again at some point, so its possible I did here. When I read his statement, "Would the church Christ founded do what Rome did in Ireland?" I interpreted it to mean that because members of the hierarchy sinned a certain way that they must not be the Church Christ started. You are welcome to explain to me how I screwed up. I'll give you a fair listen.

"Nevertheless, the sin is rather egregious, going beyond what is tolerable even for unbelievers, and it is in the hierarchy, which claims to be infallible, and "Christ on earth", etc. So yes, the presence of this wickedness does suggest that this church is not what it claims to be."

Yes, the sin is rather egregious for people with half of a conscience, but nowhere - and I know that you know this - does the church claim that any of its members, including the hierarchy, are incapable of sinning. Because there is no claim for this, the fact that members of the hierarchy sin does not prove your point or TFan's point.

"By the way, the Roman church covered this up for many years, and only reluctantly admitted wrongdoing when it could no longer keep the lid on it."

Perhaps this is true. The sins were certainly embarrassing, and humans tend to try to hide their embarrassing sins. Of course, the Church and the World know a lot more about this type of sin that it did even twenty years ago.

"Even then Rome seemed more concerned about its own reputation than about the victims."

A nice, and totally acceptable opinion.

"The church Christ founded would not have acted this way."

How do you know this?

Bryan said...

"So much for the "one true church"!"

See comment above. These are all straw man arguments. You are both putting words in the mouth of the Catholic Church that she has never said. The Pope can commit the worst sin you can imagine. However, he will not preach moral or doctrinal error ex cathedra.

God is always in control of this Church. The human instruments either cooperate with him, or they cooperate with other influences. God allows them to cooperate with other influences, but he will not allow the Truth to be undermined at the universal level.

Final exam tomorrow. Off to bed. God Bless.

Coram Deo said...

I see Bryan, that's actually the response I expected from you.

So the "one true church" is really just an ephemeral, invisible, nebulous thing that exists somewhere as an ideal, but no one really knows where it is, how to get to it, or wherein it consists.

It's like utopia, an aspiration, but you're sure it's in or at least emanates from Rome and the papacy, yet no matter how much actual evil and vile practice emanate from the selfsame sources they remain free from all taint, like the rays of the sun when shining upon a dung heap.

How does that work out in practice for the average Romanist who doesn't want to be raped by his priests? Should he just keep believing the church knows best, and chalking his rape up to the devil and the sad moral failings of the one true church's hierarchy who enable and even protect the activity and perps? Maybe the fault lies not only with the Irish church, or with those who perpetrated acts of rape, but maybe those who were raped were somehow at fault too? Could they be to blame? Maybe they asked for it?

In Him,
CD

Turretinfan said...

"The Pope can commit the worst sin you can imagine. However, he will not preach moral or doctrinal error ex cathedra."

We have seen him preach error, even in allegedly ex cathedra contexts. We have seen him preaching error when he claimed that it was a matter absolutely necessary to salvation that every creature be subject to the Roman pontiff. We have also seen him preaching doctrinal error in the definition of the Immaculate Conception - a definition in which he even misquotes Scripture!

"God is always in control of this Church. The human instruments either cooperate with him, or they cooperate with other influences. God allows them to cooperate with other influences, but he will not allow the Truth to be undermined at the universal level."

Your particular church apostatizing is not the undermining of the Truth at the universal level.

-TurretinFan

louis said...

Bryan, thank you for the response.

You said: "I interpreted it to mean that because members of the hierarchy sinned a certain way that they must not be the Church Christ started. You are welcome to explain to me how I screwed up."

TF specifically said in his post, "Does the systematic abuse of children, the coordinated coverup, and the protection and support of the abusers in and of itself prove that Rome is a false church? Of course not...."

You said: "does the church claim that any of its members, including the hierarchy, are incapable of sinning. Because there is no claim for this, the fact that members of the hierarchy sin does not prove your point or TFan's point."

The Roman church doesn't claim that its hierarchy doesn't sin, but it does claim that it is Christ's "vicar", His personal representative, "Christ on earth", that it is in a sense the continuing incarnation of His body, and is cloaked with His attributes of prophet, priest, and king.

Certainly God uses sinful men to accomplish His purposes. Just as He led the Assyrian king around like a fish with a hook in his mouth. But he doesn't make unrighteous men like that His prophets and apostles, His personal representatives. The unrighteousness of the popes, and the highest levels of the Roman hierarchy, discredit its claims to be Christ's specially appointed representative on earth.

In other words, just as it is inconceivable that the apostle Peter would be found facilitating child sexual abuse (or his very apostleship would come into question), so it should be inconceivable that this would be found with Peter's so-called successor.

dtking said...

See comment above. These are all straw man arguments....The Pope can commit the worst sin you can imagine. However, he will not preach moral or doctrinal error ex cathedra.

This isn't really about the grandiose claim to papal infallibility. It's more about our Lord's own prescribed rule of epistemology...

Matthew 7:15-20
15 "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.
16 "You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?
17 "Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.
18 "A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.
19 "Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
20 "Therefore by their fruits you will know them."

The gloss of Chrysostom on this passage testifies to the same reality...

Chrysostom (349-407): And by the figure of “false prophets,” here, I think He shadows out not the heretics, but them that are of a corrupt life, yet wear a mask of virtue; whom the generality are wont to call by the name of impostors. Wherefore He also said further, “By their fruits ye shall know them.” For amongst heretics one may often find actual goodness, but amongst those whom I was mentioning, by no means. “What then,” it may be said, “if in these things too they counterfeit?” “Nay, they will be easily detected; for such is the nature of this way, in which I commanded men to walk, painful and irksome; but the hypocrite would not choose to take pains, but to make a show only; wherefore also he is easily convicted.” Thus, inasmuch as He had said, “there be few that find it,” He clears them out again from among those, who find it not, yet feign so to do, by commanding us not to look to them that wear the masks only, but to them who in reality pursue it. NPNF1: Vol. X, Homilies on Matthew, Homily XXIII, §8.

Matt said...

It seems to me that Bryan is giving every excuse a protestant could make in the name of the denomination he adheres to, and it would work- if he weren't a Catholic.

It's no skin off my nose, Bryan, if a Reformed Baptist preacher turned out to be a hardened criminal with people covering up his evil acts. People like him are just a fact of life, and the truth claims of my beliefs don't hinge upon the good behavior or lack thereof in the people elected as authorities in our churches.

The point we've been trying to get across is YOURS DO. Catholicism claims infallibility, and Catholics invite protestants to escape the chaos and confusion that must come with abandoning the "one true church." And yet, you can't even guarantee that your holy father the pope won't commit the most grievous of sins. What kind of infallibility is that? It seems to me then that individual pastors who claim no overall denominational authority are just as infallible as your Pope, and that our churches are every bit as safe- no, SAFER than yours since we invest no claims of infallibility on the lack of problems with those in leadership! Why then should we invest our trust your pope rather than our own pastors?

Bryan said...

Everyone -

Again, nobody seems to understand what infallibility means. You make it mean what you want it to mean, and you choose to live in this little box of a world you created. Fine, have at it. I'm not interested in discussing these issues - important as they are - with people who are afraid to actually take what someone says seriously. If you took me and my Church seriously, you would grapple with what we actually believe. This isn't my "Romanist delusion." Its common sense.

Back to point of this post, it is my belief that the Catholic Church has handled the sins of sex abuse of many of its members better than any other organization has because it has actually taken preventative steps which include pinpointing the nature and scope of the abuse. No other organization has done this.

I bet you didn't even know that pedophilia wasn't even the most common type of abuse, even though it was certainly the most publicized. Read my previous comments, and get back to me if you have anything new to report or add to the discussion.

Bryan said...

"It seems to me then that individual pastors who claim no overall denominational authority are just as infallible as your Pope, and that our churches are every bit as safe- no, SAFER than yours since we invest no claims of infallibility on the lack of problems with those in leadership! Why then should we invest our trust your pope rather than our own pastors?"

Good question Matt. You should trust our Pope because he has received authority from a legitimate source, as opposed to your pastors who attempted to give authority to themselves... which is not possible to do.

louis said...

"nobody seems to understand what infallibility means."

We understand what infallibility means. My post did not even mention infallibility, because it is beside the point. How about addressing the actual argument instead of tearing down straw men.

Bryan said...

"We understand what infallibility means. My post did not even mention infallibility, because it is beside the point. How about addressing the actual argument instead of tearing down straw men."

Your post at 3 am on Tuesday, December 14th mentioned infallibility. Unless of course, that is a different Louis.

I do not believe that you all do understand infallibility. If you did you wouldn't argue against infallibility by pointing out the sin of a person that claims to be infallible.

Look, people. I really do appreciate that you are trying to get me and fellow Catholics to discover Truth. I love truth, and I want to believe Truth. Frankly, however, you aren't doing a very good job. If I made a statement that I had Peanut Butter and Jelly for lunch and you refuted that by saying that you saw me at McDonalds around dinner time, so I therefore did not eat Peanut Butter and Jelly for lunch you would readily recognize that you are a bit foolish.

That is sort of what I - and other Catholics feel like. Come up with a good argument against infallibility.

Of course, this is beside the point of this post and I would like to stay on topic. Somebody please comment on my arguments about how well the Catholic Church has dealt with the sexual abuse crimes of some of its members.

louis said...

Bryan,

Sorry, my bad. I did mention it in my first post. I was referring to the second one, which you didn't address, and which doesn't depend on the infallibility issue.

As far as infallibility goes, it's not that we don't understand what Rome's claim is; it's just that we're not buying it. You sell infallibility as if it's such a stupendous thing that our churches are deficient without it; but somehow this infallibility doesn't keep you from the most egregious errors. I know, it's because you're only infallible when speaking ex cathedra on matters of faith and morals. But if it doesn't keep altar boys entrusted to your care from being raped and molested, then it's a hollow claim.

As far as how well they've dealt with sex abuse, I simply disagree. They only "dealt" with it when so many cases came to light that they couldn't deny it any more. Even then, prosecutors in a number of jurisdictions have complained that the church was stonewalling, and some of the perpetrators have continued to be protected.

Fredericka said...

Bryan, from your report, "These different methods both yielded the same statistic: approximately 4% of Catholic priests and deacons in active ministry between 1950 and 2002 have been accused of the sexual abuse of a youth under the age of 18." (2.2 Summary Results)

4% seems alarmingly high. You say, "Somebody please comment on my arguments about how well the Catholic Church has dealt with the sexual abuse crimes of some of its members." Do you know there is another 'church' that has done an even more impressive job; they had even more child abuse than did the Catholic Church and have also 'come clean?' David 'Mo' Berg's 'Children of God' at one time had a rate of sexual abuse of children in the movement that must have approached 100%, because it is rare to find a survivor of that group who does not report such a history. Back when this was going on David 'Mo' Berg was preaching sexual liberation. This entity still exists, so I'm told, though Mr. Berg has gone to his reward. But they have cleaned up their act since then and now preach against child abuse and report such incidents to the police, or so they say. By your standards, isn't this an excellent testimony? Why wouldn't someone hearing this story, be even more likely to believe that David 'Mo' Berg's 'Children of God' is the one true church, because they have been very up-front in dealing with their child abuse problem, and have put it behind them?

We expect people who get caught to sound contrite and say all the right things. Personally I'd be more impressed with the Catholic hierarchy's response to this scandal if they had caught it and cleaned it up themselves, without being prompted by outsiders. You want to make a virtue out of the fact that they eventually did the right thing. Did their lawyers leave them any choice?

Bryan said...

"Sorry, my bad. I did mention it in my first post. I was referring to the second one, which you didn't address, and which doesn't depend on the infallibility issue."

No problem. It happens.

"As far as infallibility goes, it's not that we don't understand what Rome's claim is; it's just that we're not buying it. You sell infallibility as if it's such a stupendous thing that our churches are deficient without it; but somehow this infallibility doesn't keep you from the most egregious errors. I know, it's because you're only infallible when speaking ex cathedra on matters of faith and morals. But if it doesn't keep altar boys entrusted to your care from being raped and molested, then it's a hollow claim."

That is almost the beauty of it. To me, infallibility tells me that God loves me and wants me to know as much Truth about Him as possible, that through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit I might allow it to be applied to my life independently of the quality of the man who taught it to me.

I think its easier for me, as a Catholic, to deal with Scandal in this sense. I don't need to call into question the Pope taught as a protestant might, who wonders if his Pastor caught in some crime was ever saved in the first place.

This, however, I believe is a good thing for Protestants and Catholics to discuss. Its actually somewhat new territory for me.

"As far as how well they've dealt with sex abuse, I simply disagree. They only "dealt" with it when so many cases came to light that they couldn't deny it any more. Even then, prosecutors in a number of jurisdictions have complained that the church was stonewalling, and some of the perpetrators have continued to be protected."

Again, that is an merely an opinion you are welcome to keep.

Matt said...

"Good question Matt. You should trust our Pope because he has received authority from a legitimate source, as opposed to your pastors who attempted to give authority to themselves... which is not possible to do."

The pastors of the churches I've attended have their authority because they were offered the position by their congregations, not by making a bare assertion of receiving God's authority, and then demanding people obey them despite the fact that their behavior mirrors your typical everyday scumbag (and yes, enabling child molestors to carry out their evil acts makes you a scumbag).

You see, Bryan, you've already confirmed that you need to look past the pope's sin, and because you've admitted that he is capable of the worst sin imaginable, then he could even be lying about his claims to authority from God. Your claim to infallibility despite all this is groundless and therefore irrational.

Bryan said...

Fredricka -

"Bryan, from your report, "These different methods both yielded the same statistic: approximately 4% of Catholic priests and deacons in active ministry between 1950 and 2002 have been accused of the sexual abuse of a youth under the age of 18." (2.2 Summary Results)."

Yes, 4% is rather high, but there is a nuance here that you may not have caught. "Sexual abuse" does not necesserily mean pedophilia. Actually, a much greater percentage of this 4% is ephebophilia, which is of a much different nature and requires much different solutions. Once the Church recognized that ephebophilia was the issue, they immediately began to deal with it in ways that the media failed to report. If you catch on to the differences between pedophiles and ephebophiles, you might learn why this is.

Skipping down, you said, "We expect people who get caught to sound contrite and say all the right things. Personally I'd be more impressed with the Catholic hierarchy's response to this scandal if they had caught it and cleaned it up themselves, without being prompted by outsiders. You want to make a virtue out of the fact that they eventually did the right thing. Did their lawyers leave them any choice?"

Some of the reforms the Church has made regarding ephebophiles have been very unpopular in the secular world. "The Outsiders" are telling us to get rid of celibacy in the priesthood. The Hierarchy is taking steps to make sure that those who might be more prone to ephebophilia aren't ordained.

Also, it is good that Children of God is turning in abusers, but I don't think we should judge whether or not it is the "The Church Jesus Established" based on this, however. Rather, I think we should judge it based on whether or not its doctrine is true.

Bryan said...

"The pastors of the churches I've attended have their authority because they were offered the position by their congregations, not by making a bare assertion of receiving God's authority, and then demanding people obey them despite the fact that their behavior mirrors your typical everyday scumbag (and yes, enabling child molestors to carry out their evil acts makes you a scumbag)."

Where did their congregations receive the authority to give their pastors authority?

"You see, Bryan, you've already confirmed that you need to look past the pope's sin..."

I'm not asking anyone "look past" any sin, if that is to mean that we should ignore it. Rather, I'm asking that claims that have nothing do with sin not be evaluated by the nature of a particular sin. Infallibility has nothing to do with sin.

"...and because you've admitted that he is capable of the worst sin imaginable, then he could even be lying about his claims to authority from God."

As a Catholic, I consider much more evidence than somebody's own claims about themselves when determining whether or not they have authority.

"Your claim to infallibility despite all this is groundless and therefore irrational."

Not seeing your point. Infallibility has nothing to do with sin, as I've repeated over and over again. It seems to me that your attacks of infallibility are groundless and irrational.

Bryan said...

Hey... one of my comments got deleted. Why? I don't believe I said anything offensive, did I?

Turretinfan said...

Bryan:

I haven't deleted any comments here. There is a pretty active spam filter in place. Perhaps one of your comments is stuck in it, I'll check.

One was stuck there earlier, and I released it.

I do feel free to delete comments (whether offensive or not), of course, but in this case I have not done so.

- TurretinFan

Bryan said...

TFan -

Thanks for checking. Its strange, because it did show up on the comment page after I posted it. I saw it with my own eyes.

It was a response to Louis' post at 8:03.

Fredericka said...

Bryan, I suspect the outsiders who are telling you to dump mandatory celibacy are giving you a helpful little nudge. These outsiders think that one rough-and-ready way to make it more unlikely that men attracted to young men will get ordained is to ordain those already known to be attracted to adult females, like Paul suggests: "A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach. . .One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity..." (1 Timothy 3:1-4).

You say, "Infallibility has nothing to do with sin, as I've repeated over and over again." I don't see how this can be. Don't you claim infallibility for the Pope because he is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, ex officio? Well, why would the Holy Spirit dwell in such a foul haunt as Rodrigo Borgia, for whom his successor discouraged prayers, saying, "It is blasphemous to pray for the damned." This Pope, Alexander VI, should have been in the penitentiary because he was a murderer. The Borgias were poisoners, an especially foul and cowardly way to commit this awful crime. And he is supposed to be a temple of the Holy Spirit? How can you make God dwell in such an unclean habitation?

I don't see in scripture where God promises to live within the wicked, rather, "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. . .Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." (John 14:21-23). It is the man who keeps Jesus' commandments who can grab and hold onto this promise, not the unrepentant serial killer. So when you claim that the Holy Spirit will have to speak through such a wicked man as Rodrigo Borgia, how can you possibly deliver what God never promised? God has not promised to dwell in such an unclean haunt.

Turretinfan said...

One from you and one from Fredericka released from the spam filter.

Turretinfan said...

"It comforts me because I know that God is more powerful than these weeds and wolves and that he wills for the truth to be protected."

The truth is protected, no doubt.

"Your argument that the Catholic Church is not the Church Jesus established because there happen to be sinners in it. I might not understand your question because the second one seems completely irrelevant to me."

That was not my argument.

"Because our Saints led lives that are only possible by living in Christ. It shows that there is a sanctifying force in the Church much bigger than the men and women that make it up."

The Saints are individuals. Even if I took the legends of the saints as true, they simply would show God's grace to those individuals.

"No doubt that they had an awful part to play in it and participated in these crimes of their own freedom, but are you saying that the Devil doesn't have any part evil things? I think that the devil would want to attack the Church Jesus established (whichever Church that may be) in order to repel people from it. I'm not surprised that he is successful from time to time."

I don't ascribe the devil what is more easily ascribed to evil men.

"Then name one organization that has 1)allowed independent researchers to compile data on the nature and scope of sexual abuse as the USCCB did and 2) publicly release these findings and place them on the internet like this: http://www.usccb.org/nrb/johnjaystudy/"

Actually, the website you identified seems to indicate that the researchers were engaged (hired) to perform the research. Thus, they were not "independent."


"It is not only sexual abuse that is under the seal of confession. It is ALL sin that is under the seal, and it always has been. And how would you know how often this abuse is confessed at all, since it is under the seal?"

a) It hardly makes it better that Rome conceals lots of other sins.

b) How often is concealing crimes against children acceptable?

"Yes, pedophiles can live anywhere and work for any organization, however neither you nor I know whether or not a large corporation or school district would handle cases properly. Again, I have not found another corporation or school district that has allowed the type of inquiry done in the John Jay study linked above. In fact, here is an article which shows some of the shocking truth of abuse in school districts and that, sadly, other organizations aren't very forthcoming about abuse of minors within their own ranks: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/21/AR2007102100144.html"

None of them try to claim the seal of the confessional nor do they seek diplomatic immunity to avoid liability for their crimes.

"I'm not proud that there was sexual abuse in Ireland. I am proud that, like the US Bishops the Irish bishops allowed a study to be done on the scope and nature of crimes so that they could implement policies aimed at removing this scourge from the Church."

Too little, too late, if you ask me.

Turretinfan said...

"I'm not sure why the Pope didn't accept resignations. I don't think he gave a reason why. Perhaps he thought that these bishops were responsible for the mess and needed to clean it up themselves. Please tell me you don't believe that the Pope did it because he wants children to be abused. Nobody could be that unreasonable."

He is a former Nazi youth member, of course, so quite a lot of depravity is possible. But I don't think he was all that into Nazi-ism at that time, and I don't think that he's all that into sexual abuse now. What he didn't want was scandal - the damage to children was a double effect of that intention.

"I blame the Irish Church as well for the problems. It was their fault. Not Rome's. Do you know of any reasons why The Pope or Vatican should be blamed more than the Irish Church?"

Because Rome told them to keep their mouths shut about it.

"Confidentiality is important in these matters, Tfan."

Actually, disclosure is important in these matters.

"There are, after all, false accusations and I would hate for an innocent man - priest or otherwise - to have his reputation ruined by a false accusation of sexual abuse. Surely you agree?"

That counsels discretion, not silence.

"Surely, one example of one fired teacher does not top all of the men and women removed from ministry in Catholic parishes and schools AND the John Jay report which was done to, again, discover the nature and scope of sexual abuse in the Church. If Orange has produced such research, only then will I admit that they have handled their abuse as well or better than the Catholic Church."

Maybe Rome tops the list in terms of organizations that have removed sex offenders. Note, however, that the school district in question did not seek to cover the matter up, but took immediate action. They didn't just transfer the guy to another job.

"Yes, we know that there are pedophiles living everywhere and working for anyone, however, unfortunately, we do not know with certainty that every school district or large corporation takes sexual abuse of minors as seriously as they should."

Why would knowing with certainty even be on the table?

"This article from the Washington Post shows that there is an unfortunate amount of tolerance of sexual abuse in this country. I think that school districts would do well to model how they deal with the problem after the way the Catholic Church has dealt with the problem which includes investigating the nature and scope of abuse which I believe is absolutely necessery for prevention.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/21/AR2007102100144.html"

Others would do well to learn from Rome's mistakes. That much we can agree on.

-TurretinFan

Matt said...

"Where did their congregations receive the authority to give their pastors authority?"

They would claim they have the freedom and obligation to do it given to them from the Bible, whereas in your situation you have to accept the pope's infallibility purely on his say-so since there's no means in which to verify his claim, and according to you, he could be lying anyway. I can't say your alternative presents a very impressive solution.

"I'm not asking anyone "look past" any sin, if that is to mean that we should ignore it."

That's not what I meant. 'Look past' means to accept someone as an infallible spiritual authority despite their scumbaggery is what 'look past' means.

"Rather, I'm asking that claims that have nothing do with sin not be evaluated by the nature of a particular sin. Infallibility has nothing to do with sin."

So sin is not a flaw? An enabler of child molester's isn't a flaw? You can be a monster of the worst kind, a pimp who peddles children, but that's not a flaw? I look forward to when you get a visit from your local pimp and he demands you accept him as your infallible authority on earth. Good luck telling him why you won't.

"As a Catholic, I consider much more evidence than somebody's own claims about themselves when determining whether or not they have authority."

I'm glad you admit the pope could be lying outright about his claim to authority. Thanks for confirming that you as a Catholic are no less lost in confusion as you claim we protestants are.

"Not seeing your point. Infallibility has nothing to do with sin, as I've repeated over and over again."

And as I and others have pointed out to you, there is no logical or rational means to say you can simultaneously be a spiritual scumbag and then be an infallible spiritual authority. If your spiritual authority is infallible, how then could you turn around and use that same authority to aid child molesters? This is not a difficult question, Bryan.

Coram Deo said...

Bryan's argument in a nutshell is that Rome is right because Rome is always right. No amount of sin and transgression emanating from Rome can ever be attributable to Rome.

Sola Ecclesia.

And so it goes for the Romanist.

In Him,
CD

Bryan said...

*Sigh*

Sorry folks, I've lost interest. Either I have miserably failed to explain things that seem rather simple in my head, or some of you are simply unwilling to abandon your characitures of us Catholics. I don't really see any other explanation for why there is such an inability to move forward in the discussion. FYI, it was this paragraph which sort of ticked me off:

"And as I and others have pointed out to you, there is no logical or rational means to say you can simultaneously be a spiritual scumbag and then be an infallible spiritual authority. If your spiritual authority is infallible, how then could you turn around and use that same authority to aid child molesters? This is not a difficult question, Bryan."

So, I'm probably crazy since I feel as though I and other Catholics have explained this to you well and you all can't understand the difference. But I'm done with this thread, which has probably gone on long enough anyway. I'm proud of what I have written, for the most part, so if any seekers come around and read what I have said to this point, I'm completely ok with that.

I hope you all have a wonderful celebration of the incarnation and enjoy your time with family and friends.

Blessings,

Bryan

dtking said...

Sorry folks, I've lost interest. Either I have miserably failed to explain things that seem rather simple in my head, or some of you are simply unwilling to abandon your characitures of us Catholics.

I wish I had a nickel for every Romanist who insisted that I do not understand Romanism, and I wish I had a nickel for every caricature that a Romanist has for Protestantism.

Forget your whole claim to infallibility for a moment, and hear the words of Jesus, "You will know them by their fruits" (Matthew 7:16). We, and all the world, have seen the fruit of Rome in all the glory of her felt sense of arrogance, with its long history of pedophilia, surpassed only by the massive cover-up of its own clergy, reaching even to the Vatican itself. We understand that infallibility does not mean impeccability, but a false prophet is nonetheless known by his fruit.

I have seen it firsthand, where I live, with an attorney whose firm is involved with multiple cases of pedophilia in a single diocese, where one abuse was committed after another repeatedly, and bishops simply transferred offenders to other parishes. We're not talking about just a few instances, but regular practices involving some 19 priests in the same diocese over two decades, and these civil cases have been won, and the diocese is trying to file bankruptcy. So, if you want to whine as a martyr, you're going to have to go elsewhere in order to seek out a sympathetic ear.

natamllc said...

Fredricka,

This is interesting to me that you introduce the numbers game into this important discussion. 4% of what whole number within the population of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church might just be ten times the whole number of the entire population of those that are of themselves known as the Children of God from the days of David Berg.

In any event, this has been a very difficult series of comments for me personally to read having gone through my own personal experience with molestation by others.

Also, I noticed that Bryan didn't even address the verses about Bishops being married to one wife. That is a very big issue for their practice as leaders of their faithful.

When I think of defining infallibility I think of verses such as these:

Num 7:89 And when Moses went into the tent of meeting to speak with the LORD, he heard the voice speaking to him from above the mercy seat that was on the ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubim; and it spoke to him.

2Sa 7:18 Then King David went in and sat before the LORD and said, "Who am I, O Lord GOD, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?

Heb 4:14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.
Heb 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Heb 4:16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.


I think it's obvious Bryan believes we don't understand his view of infallibility.

Bryan, correct me if I am wrong, but I would say the reality of infallibility is now a gift for every True believer, is it not?

All of us have the privilege, because of the eternal redemption Christ won for His people, to come into Christ's presence to receive an infallible Word.

In fact, I would raise concerns about any member of my Church who wasn't continually drawing near to the Throne of Grace so as to obtain mercy and find grace in a time of need.

In fact, according to the Apostle Paul, it is the elementary foundation of one who has received True Faith, as we can understand by these words too:

Rom 7:5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death.
Rom 7:6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.



Finally, it seems or rather is apropos to end my comments with these Words:

Pro 14:34 Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.

Fredericka said...

Hi natamllc, I agree that the 'Children of God' were never anything more than a tiny little cult, and in absolute numbers they are greatly eclipsed by the Roman Catholic Church. The reason I brought them up was that Bryan seemed to expect congratulations that the RCC is belatedly cleaning up their mess. But I never heard anybody congratulate the 'Children of God' for turning that same corner, and in relative terms they had a much bigger problem, because the false prophet they were following was of that persuasion. In any case you do not congratulate people for doing the right thing, because "So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do." (Luke 17:10). And besides it took a lot of prodding by the secular legal system, a lot of successful law-suits, before the RCC even acknowledged they had a problem.

Also I wondered if Bryan wasn't trying to suggest that all religious communities actually have similar rates of child abuse, but for one reason or another the spot-light got shone on the RCC more than on others. I have heard other people suggest that, but I don't think it has any merit. One way of telling that the rate of child abuse is not constant across all communities at all times is to look at those communities, such as the 'Children of God' in David Berg's hey-day and ancient Sparta for example, where the rate was really, really high. Why the RCC rates spiked in the 1960's and 1970's as is shown in the John Jay study charts, I'm not really sure, but they did have an out-of-control problem there for a while. Now they seem to have gotten a handle on it. But if you look at the charts the rate actually starts cratering about 1980, which is before they put into place the institutional controls they now have. All I can think of that happened then was that the media started amplifying the voice of victims, like yourself, who told about how hurtful this experience had been for them, in connection with some big day-care center molestation cases that came up at that time.

I think for a long time the RCC was deaf to the voice of the victims, because they have a two-tier system: the victims were laity, the perpetrators were clergy, and the one group is just plain worth more than the other. And when you look at the Irish horror story, a lot of the victims were foundlings and waifs, and it seems like nobody at all, not the Catholic church, not the secular authorities, ever viewed them as anything other than dirt.

Matt said...

So, I'm probably crazy since I feel as though I and other Catholics have explained this to you well and you all can't understand the difference."

My interactions with Catholics is nominal, Bryan, but one of the things I've heard is that when a Catholic has lost the argument, he poo-poos the protestant with statements like these. I'm sorry Bryan, but my question is simple, and even though you quoted it, you refused to answer it. I assert that you have no answer since your responses have consisted of no more than the bare assertion that 'a person's sin doesn't detract from their claim to infallibility.' You made no arguement to resolve the glaring contradiction between the two things, and you confirmed that the pope may not even be God's authority on earth as you believe him to be.

If you're proud of that, then you truly have my pity.

Tom said...

“Bryan's argument in a nutshell is that Rome is right because Rome is always right. No amount of sin and transgression emanating from Rome can ever be attributable to Rome.”

When you trademark the moniker One True Church it’s hard to admit otherwise.

Sam said...

I've skimmed the thread so apologies if I repeat, but I'm missing why an authentic bishop can't exercise infallibility unless he is sinless. Were there not certain times when God spoke through humans like Matthew, Mark, Luke, Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc... Do Protestants teach that these people were immaculately conceived? Do Protestants teach that Judas was not an authentic apostle because he was a traitor? Or Peter because he was a hypocrite in front of the Jews? Or James and John because they wanted to kill everyone in the Samaritan village? Should we consider their testimony in Scripture fallible then?

There is therefore no rationale to say that because a person has sin that God cannot use that person as an instrument for His voice. Ultimately, the issue should be determined by whether or not divine revelation teaches Church infallibility rather than someone's idea of "I don't see how God can pull that off" which is basically the sentiment of the critics here. And of course, Catholics recognize infallibility taught in divine revelation. Protestants don't---and the reasons given here haven't been rational.

So ultimately, the Church's understanding of infallibility isn't obligated to meet the criteria of internet bloggers. [shrug]

Turretinfan said...

Well, you've got yourself a straw man, there, Sam!

It's similar to one that Bryan proposed.

There's a world of difference between just "sinful" and what Rome's leadership is and has been guilty of.

Straight_Forward said...

Matt, I believe your question is:

"If your spiritual authority is infallible, how then could you turn around and use that same authority to aid child molesters?"

First, I think most here understand this, but to be sure: the Catholic teaching of infallibility means that the Pope can declare something with infallible truth if clearly announces this as his intention. Furthermore, this has only happened a handful of times in the history of the church.

Now, how can someone (a pope) claim to be able to make an infallible statement while there is such an evil going on inside the Church? This is how: because the Holy Spirit speaks through him.

After all, we know that while we were yet sinners, God loved us. Why would the sinfulness of a man make it impossible for the Holy Spirit to speak Truth through him?

Fredericka said...

Sam wrote, "Do Protestants teach that these people were immaculately conceived?"

You know this is what puzzles me. According to Catholics, Mary must have been conceived without taint of sin, because otherwise it is inconceivable that she could have carried the Christ child in her womb. Now this seems to me an exaggeration already, because Jesus never avoided physical contact with sinners: "And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, and stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment." (Luke 7:37-38). But that is what they say about the second person of the Trinity, that his mother must be sinless, and must have been so from the time of her own conception, because it is unthinkable for the Lord to inhabit an unclean vessel. But when we come to the third person of the Trinity, then any brothel or bar-room is a fit habitation, even the Renaissance popes. It is putting it very mildly and charitably to point out that these folks fell short of perfection. Certainly the two cases are not precisely parallel because the Holy Spirit does not become incarnate in those He indwells, but why is the thinking in the one case an inversion of the thinking in the other?

louis said...

The Holy Spirit spoke through Balaam's ass, but He didn't make him His vicar. God's prophets and apostles are always righteous men.

Matt said...

"Were there not certain times when God spoke through humans like Matthew, Mark, Luke, Isaiah, "Should we consider their testimony in Scripture fallible then?"

The big difference you're seemingly missing is that none of the men you mentioned, I.E. Judas, James, etc. didn't claim to be infallible spiritual authorities. Yours does, and that's where the difficulty lies.

"There is therefore no rationale to say that because a person has sin that God cannot use that person as an instrument for His voice."

Agreed, which is not what we have been disputing. We're disputing the claim to infallibility and how it makes sense when the pope not only sins but uses his authority to aid criminals.

"Ultimately, the issue should be determined by whether or not divine revelation teaches Church infallibility rather than someone's idea of "I don't see how God can pull that off" which is basically the sentiment of the critics here."

That sounds good, except that what has been divinely revealed is up to those whose authority you're attempting to prove in the first place.

"So ultimately, the Church's understanding of infallibility isn't obligated to meet the criteria of internet bloggers."

I'm glad you're so blissfully unaware about how that sweet little pejorative also cuts your way since you yourself are a, um, blogger. Smooth move, genius.

--------

"First, I think most here understand this, but to be sure: the Catholic teaching of infallibility means that the Pope can declare something with infallible truth if clearly announces this as his intention."

I'm sorry, I missed how that resolves the contradiction or answers my question.

"Now, how can someone (a pope) claim to be able to make an infallible statement while there is such an evil going on inside the Church? This is how: because the Holy Spirit speaks through him."

Actually the question is more along the lines of how can he claim to make an infallible statement while HE HIMSELF is committing such evil? Why assume that the Holy Spirit is speaking through the pope and not your local pimp?

Matt said...

Sorry, I should have said, "The big difference you're seemingly missing is that none of the men you mentioned, I.E. Judas, James, etc. claimed to be infallible spiritual authorities. Yours does, and that's where the difficulty lies.

Coram Deo said...

I've skimmed the thread so apologies if I repeat, but I'm missing why an authentic bishop can't exercise infallibility unless he is sinless. Were there not certain times when God spoke through humans like Matthew, Mark, Luke, Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc... Do Protestants teach that these people were immaculately conceived? Do Protestants teach that Judas was not an authentic apostle because he was a traitor? Or Peter because he was a hypocrite in front of the Jews? Or James and John because they wanted to kill everyone in the Samaritan village? Should we consider their testimony in Scripture fallible then?

This goes directly back to the "fruit" argument set forth by dtking earlier.

If Peter, James, or John systematically sexually abused young boys and/or facilitated and/or covered-up the systematic sexual abuse of young boys then they would not have been spiritual authorities selected by the One true and living God to inscripturate His Word; although it's arguable that they could have made it into sacred Scripture as shameful object lessons in depravity whose example believers should shun and avoid.

Rome's track record is one of vile wickedness, spiritual adultery, syncretism, false doctrine, legalism, and blasphemy.

That's why we can easily conclude in the light of Scripture that her fruit is rotten and her springs are bitter.

She is blind, wretched, and naked but thinks she is rich and in need of nothing. Welcome to Laodicea.

In Christ,
CD

Turretinfan said...

"After all, we know that while we were yet sinners, God loved us. Why would the sinfulness of a man make it impossible for the Holy Spirit to speak Truth through him? "

God can speak truth through a donkey. That's not the issue. The issue is whether God would hand over control of his church to wolves.

-TurretinFan

Sam said...

TF said: "There's a world of difference between just "sinful" and what Rome's leadership is and has been guilty of."

First, let me commend you on recognizing degrees of seriousness of sin. But second, so you believe Popes who weren't guilty of atrocities had infallibility then.

louis said...

"so you believe Popes who weren't guilty of atrocities had infallibility then."

Oh that's SO clever. However, God never conferred infallibility upon the papal office, and this is evidenced by the fact that He left it in the hands of ambitious, worldly, and wretched men; as also by the fact that these anti-Christian popes have erred many times, and in fact have led the entire Roman communion into blatant apostacy.

Turretinfan said...

Sam:

What I think is that those men were clearly wolves.

If Christ had founded a politically single church (as Rome claims), he would not have handed it over to wolves, would he?

Simon Peter was a sinful man, but he was not a wolf. King David and Moses were sinful men, but they were not wolves.

But men like Julius III and Alexander VI were wolves. And Benedict XVI's handling of the Irish scandal makes it appear that he too is a wolf.

Would the Good Shepherd hand the flock over to wolves?

Please answer that question. You're free to disagree about what the evidence of the sex abuse scandals shows, but can you at least agree in principle that if God were going to vest earthly headship of the church in a single man, he would not pick a false teacher?

-TurretinFan

Sam said...

TF said: "Would the Good Shepherd hand the flock over to wolves?"

No, and He didn't, nor has the Church taught wrong. Now how about answering my question. Did Popes who didn't commit serious sins have the charism of infallibility?

Turretinfan said...

"No, and He didn't, nor has the Church taught wrong."

I don't see how you could say that Alexander VI and Julius III, whose open, unrepentant sexual immorality is famous were not wolves.

So, either you must agree that they were not true popes, or you are contradicting yourself.


You asked: "Now how about answering my question. Did Popes who didn't commit serious sins have the charism of infallibility?"

No. Why would they? Rome's whole claim to papal infallibility lacks both Scripture and patristic support. From any historical or Biblical perspective, it's a bunch of nonsense.

The fact that some of the popes were extremely wicked is just evidence that their claims to be infallible heads of the church is false. That evidence may not be available in the case of a more docile pope like John Paul II. But, of course, simply being a nice guy doesn't make one infallible.

-TurretinFan

Straight_Forward said...

"how can he claim to make an infallible statement while HE HIMSELF is committing such evil?"

And you my friend, are you qualified to make such an evaluation of the condition of another's soul? Do you have the eyes of God that you may see into the heart of this Pope and realize that his sin is so great that anything he might think to declare infallibly would surely be nothing but his own broken opinion?

The Pope himself has not committed such evil: he molested no children. If you are referring to this evil that went on during his watch, I think you overstep your bounds because you do not know the full story of what he did or did not do to deal with the situation: unless you are someone very much unexpected, then you were not there when it all happened. The eyes of God aside, you lack even the eyes of a man who witnessed the crime (the crime which you say was the Pope aiding the criminal priests).

As for the doctrine of infallibility, if you wish to see the scriptural basis for this authority, you may find it here: http://www.catholic.com/library/Papal_Infallibility.asp

louis said...

"nor has the Church taught wrong."

How would you know? By what standard would you judge?

Sam said...

TF: "No. Why would they?"

So neither sin nor virtue seems to be your judging factor as to whether or not someone has infallibility. So it's not really their sin that you believe disqualifies them as true Church leaders even though that's the point of this thread.

You did finally turn to what I said was the proper measure in the first place as I mentioned in my first post here---what is taught by divine revelation? And on that we will disagree. Many Christians have looked at Scripture and patristics and concluded that the Catholic Church is undoubtedly the fullness of Christ's Church.

But divine revelation should be the discussion here. Not you judging whether or not James and John's desire to murder were not so bad, but a bishop who covered up molestation, well, that's "proof" that Catholic bishops aren't really God's leaders! David an adulterer?!! Clearly he is not God's chosen king! Judas committed the ultimate offense against the Son?! Surely he is no apostle. Saul murdered Christians?! God would never rise him to teach as an apostle! But that does not make sense.

If I can cite you a leader of say the Reformed tradition who committed some atrocities, does that mean whatever he taught about predestination or imputed righteousness is suddenly now false teaching? That is the essence of your argument.

A wolf is someone who teaches falsely. They are also called false "prophets." (Mt 7:15) Are the sins of Church leaders scandalous? Yes. Does that mean they are false teachers? No. It's a non sequitur as Bryan has pointed out in so many words.

So anyway, stick to the actual crux of identifying true shepherds. We all have sentience and free will to make an informed decision based on divine revelation through our reception of the Holy Spirit's guidance. You should try to disqualify Catholic teachers based on what they teach. Otherwise this is just a bunch of trash talk that ends up being a plank in one's own eye when another leader who believes as he does commits serious sin.

Matt said...

"And you my friend, are you qualified to make such an evaluation of the condition of another's soul?"

Not what I said, Straight_Forward. I said he was committing great evil.

"The Pope himself has not committed such evil: he molested no children."

I agree. That is not, however, the evil I'm talking about. It's how he and people before him actively participated in making sure molestations weren't exposed for what they were, but instead made a concerted effort to make sure this whole issue didn't come to light. I can see a dealer in child prostitutes doing the same thing, and even though the dealer himself might not molest any of his children, he's still nothing less than a scumbag who is committing great evil.

"If you are referring to this evil that went on during his watch, I think you overstep your bounds because you do not know the full story of what he did or did not do to deal with the situation: unless you are someone very much unexpected, then you were not there when it all happened."

And neither were you, so that pretty much flushes your whole objection down the toilet.

"The eyes of God aside, you lack even the eyes of a man who witnessed the crime (the crime which you say was the Pope aiding the criminal priests)."

When did I ever say that I did? See, this is typical of someone desperate to defend a person of a charge to which the evidence of their guilt is multitudinous. The only last resort is to point out that I didn't see the Pope refusing to sign a resignation form, or that he made a phone call demanding that one of his churches take a suspected child molester and bring him into their congregation. Well, Straight_Forward, I didn't see your birth either, so despite the presence of your words in this blog, so I'm going to assume for now that you don't exist.

ChaferDTS said...

"As for the doctrine of infallibility, if you wish to see the scriptural basis for this authority "

I looked it up and sure enough none of the verses quoted teaches it at all. It is a novel doctrine first made a dogmatically binding teaching on all Roman Catholics in 18070ad at Vatican I. It has never been a belief of the entire church at all. It is a claim made only by Roman Catholicism and is rejected by Eastern Orthodox, Old Catholics and all Protestant groups. History itself refutes the claim for Papal infallibility such as the case of Liberious Bishop of Rome, ole Pope Honorious condemned by the 6th ecumenical councils and many other examples are proof enough to refute it. What makes it funny is the fact that the Papacy itself has hardly ever made use of this so called papal infallibility. RCC scholars disagree with the number of times. The most I have seen was 6 claimed infallibily defined teachings. Big claim and so little use. Evidently in practice it is unimportant since its evidently limited use throughout a claimed 2,000 years. I always personally found it as the most useless doctrines of Roman Catholicism because of the mere fact of it's limited actual use. I honestly cant take the claims of the RCC on papal infallibility serious because of that. Then it's intentional ignoring of cases in point of past popes who taught and were guilty of formal heresy.

Straight_Forward said...

Matt, looks like I need to reiterate my point:

The first two paragraphs of my response were basically saying you have no grounds, moral or otherwise, to judge that the Pope cannot make an infallible declaration because of his sin. You are not fit to judge anyone, let alone the Pope, regarding his sins. That is for God alone.

And for anyone who takes issue with the doctrine itself, the third paragraph provided a link which explains perfectly adequately the Catholic teaching on infallibility.

If I am not a real person, perhaps I am your conscience speaking?

Matt said...

"The first two paragraphs of my response were basically saying you have no grounds, moral or otherwise, to judge that the Pope cannot make an infallible declaration because of his sin."

Duh, and I turned every single comment right around to undercut your vouching for the pope's innocence in this matter.

"You are not fit to judge anyone, let alone the Pope, regarding his sins. That is for God alone."

So I can't judge the pope- in fact, I can't judge anyone, but you can judge me. Riiight.

"And for anyone who takes issue with the doctrine itself, the third paragraph provided a link which explains perfectly adequately the Catholic teaching on infallibility."

Which I have no interest in reading. I don't need to go and read your link's article in lieu of your inability to resolve the contradiction in your own doctrine.

"If I am not a real person, perhaps I am your conscience speaking?"

No, you're just a Catholic who refuses to recognize that his entire rebuke of what I've said is completely and utterly toothless.

Straight_Forward said...

"but you can judge me"

I have done nothing of the kind.

"Which I have no interest in reading"

It is clear you have no interest in reading the explanation of infallibility, and it begs the question of why you are talking about it at all if you are unwilling to even learn what it actually means.

"you're just a Catholic"

Indeed, I am just a Catholic, who has been saved, who is being saved, and who will be saved, by Christ the King of Kings; praying the Rosary, I ask for the intercession of the Blessed Mother of Christ for the protection and well-being of myself and my family and all the world; and my faith is intimately intertwined with Christ because every weekend I receive His very Body and Blood into my own body, and I grow strong from it. In Christ and His Church I am at home, and I will never leave.

It does not seem like there is much else to say at this point, unless there is a question, so I am concluded.

I wish you peace,
Simple and Straight_Forward

louis said...

Once again, Romanists ignore the arguments, dodge the issues, set up straw men, etc. Par for the course.

Fredericka said...

Simple and Straight-Forward, may I ask you a question? Do you think it is possible to deduce anything about the character of the "Blessed Mother of Christ," knowing nothing about her except the bare facts of the nativity story? Incidentally I agree with you that she was a person of stellar character, though I would not carry it so far as some. If some argumentative atheist like Christopher Hitchens were to attack her as he does Mother Theresa, and accused her of this, that and the other, absconding with the funds or whatever, what circumstances would you point to as proving him wrong? Would her fitness as a divine dwelling enter into the equation at all?

Matt said...

Like getting all that sand in your hair down there, Straight_Forward? Oh wait, never mind. Not only do you have your head buried in the sand, but your fingers are plugged in your ears as well.

Sorry, but your pontifications don't impress me. What does impress me is your confirming for me that you lack the ability to defend your beliefs, must resort to merely giving dry links and parsing my words (rather than responding to them in full), and that you're PROUD of that! Wow, you win if you win, and you win if you lose, huh?

I'm no big-time apologist against the Catholic faith- be assured of that. My understanding of Catholicism is still in its infant stages, but I can tell from just this one interaction alone that really, there isn't anything to it. It's like debating atheists. They're just as irrational, but it's just as easy to refute their attempts to undermine the Christian faith. It sure feels good to know that the battlefield is already mine.

Straight_Forward said...

Fredericka,

It certainly is, although, as far as I know, everything that can be known about Mary that is not specifically written in the Bible is in the realm of Catholic Tradition.

The Immaculate Conception is actually one of the few doctrines that has been infallibly taught by the RCC. Therefore, if someone were to accuse Mary of a crime, believing Catholics would disregard this because the notion would be absurd. In as much as the immaculate conception is not in question among Catholics, such an accusation would have no bearing on what we thought of Mary's fitness as a divine dwelling. However, that isn't to say that if such an accusation against Mary was made, that there wouldn't be a defense made by someone in the RCC with that calling.

Straight_Forward said...

Matt,

You are sparring with me. Our discussion is now a little off topic. If you have a question about my beliefs, I would be happy to answer. Otherwise, I don't have much else to say here.

Straight_Forward said...

Fredericka,

It certainly is, although, as far as I know, everything that can be known about Mary that is not specifically written in the Bible is in the realm of Catholic Tradition.

The Immaculate Conception is actually one of the few doctrines that has been infallibly taught by the RCC. Therefore, if someone were to accuse Mary of a crime, believing Catholics would disregard this because the notion would be absurd to them. In as much as the immaculate conception is not in question among Catholics, such an accusation would have no bearing on what we thought of Mary's fitness as a divine dwelling. However, that isn't to say that if such an accusation against Mary was made, that there wouldn't be a defense made by someone in the RCC with that calling.

(I hope I didn't duplicate this response)

Fredericka said...

Hi Simple and Straight-Forward, thank you for answering. If I'm not mistaken I think it actually does have something to do with her fitness as a divine dwelling. If we apply some of the same logic that went into the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception to the expected place of residence of the Holy Spirit, what would be the result? If someone were to say Mary was wicked, you say "the notion would be absurd to them;" if someone were to say a man known to be filled with the Holy Spirit was very wicked, wouldn't that likewise be perplexing at a minimum? The Holy Spirit sanctifies by His very presence, and His work is not "the unfruitful works of darkness" (Ephesians 5:11) but goodness and righteousness. So if history testifies that some of these men were very wicked indeed, wouldn't that compel us to go back and question the starting premise that these men, by virtue of occupying this office, are known to be filled with the Holy Spirit?

All things are possible to God. It is even possible for God to speak through a wicked man. Caiaphas, plotting to kill Jesus, nevertheless spoke through inspiration: "And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation..." (John 11:49-51). And it is even possible for God to speak through an animal like Balaam's Ass. But although God could do this He has not promised that He will do it. It is unwise to set up a system whose only defense is that God could do it that way. Suppose someone set up a donkey on a chair, and said 'if he taps two times with his hoof it means no, if once, yes.' Next it's said he must be speaking 'from the chair' or it doesn't count, because if he falls out of the chair he is speaking only on his personal authority. Though God could speak through a donkey and has done so, He never promised that He would do so; the inventive person who set up this system is not standing on the promises of God; the ground and pillar of his system is human folly.

Isn't expecting a man who is wicked above other men to speak for God a similar system, because the evidences given in scripture for the presence of the Holy Spirit are not consistent with extreme, habitual and unrepentant wickedness? I do not see where it makes no difference to a person's conduct whether the Spirit dwells in him or not. Look at Saul for example, the Spirit of the Lord departed from him: "But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him." (1 Samuel 16:14). Saul disobeyed: "For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king." (1 Samuel 15:23). There is an incompatibility between these two, the Spirit and wickedness. Present company will likely say he disobeyed because the Spirit had departed, but either way the outcome is the same. If you take that process out through thousands of iterations, you are left with two populations: those who were given the Spirit and who still have the Spirit, and those from whom the Spirit has departed, right? Or who never had the Spirit. Now in which group would you expect to find more visible wickedness, and why isn't it helpful to look at the history of the Papacy and even do a little 'fruit inspection' in order to assess whether the claims made about these men are likely to be true? Sounds like a promising approach to me.

natamllc said...

Fredricka,

If only the RCC anointed women to be Pope! :)

To all,

Isa 1:27 Zion shall be redeemed by justice, and those in her who repent, by righteousness.
Isa 1:28 But rebels and sinners shall be broken together, and those who forsake the LORD shall be consumed.

Coram Deo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Coram Deo said...

I keep seeing the Baalam example thrown around as if it sits in contradistinction to Popery when in fact they are quite similar; for you see Romanists fervently believe that God still speaks through ignorant asses, however in their system they refer to them as "Popes".

Sadly for Romanists unlike Baalam's beast, there's no evidence of the Popish beasts speaking truth.

CD

ChaferDTS said...

"The Immaculate Conception is actually one of the few doctrines that has been infallibly taught by the RCC. Therefore, if someone were to accuse Mary of a crime, believing Catholics would disregard this because the notion would be absurd to them."

That is a false doctrine which disregards any honest exegetical treatment on Romans 1 to 5 which teaches the entire sinfulness of the entire human race in Adam. The doctrine of immaculate conception has no basis in the primative church fathers at all. It's a concept held only by Roman Catholicism and rejected by Protestants and Eastern Orthodox. The RCC attempts at using Scripture are very poor indeed and shows them trying to force it in to Scriptue when its not there. It is one of the most easy false doctrines of Roman Catholicism to disprove. The RCC ignores the NT Greek in Lk 1:28 meaning when they fail to follow consistantly when the same word is used of all Christians in Eph 1:6.

"In as much as the immaculate conception is not in question among Catholics, such an accusation would have no bearing on what we thought of Mary's fitness as a divine dwelling."

Eastern Orthodox are eastern catholic who reject the RCC doctrine of immaculate conception. So much for unity amoung " catholics " as you claim. Mary does not need to be immacutaely concieved or be sinless in order to give birth to the Lord Jesus Christ. The act of the Holy Spirit in Christ virgin birth alone prevented any sin nature being transmitted to Him or Him being born a sinner. It's a doctrine dogmatically defined very late in Church history by Roman Catholicism. It is just one of many steps at Rome's attempt to bring Mary forth to the position of deity one day. At the moment the RCC from a funtional stand point has Mary as deity. They want her along side with Jesus Christ on equality it seems.

"However, that isn't to say that if such an accusation against Mary was made, that there wouldn't be a defense made by someone in the RCC with that calling."

No Roman Catholic can overcome the uniform account of Scripture of the entire sinfulness of the human race in Romans 1 to 5 and many other passages in Scripture.

Straight_Forward said...

Sorry for the long post. I have attempted to respond to the main points made in response to my statement about the Immaculate Conception.

The Spirit and sin are at odds, and the presence of sin cannot be divorced from a person's fitness as a divine dwelling. There should be an honest evaluation of the 'fruits' of a particular person.
I agree. It isn't that Catholics think Mary is fit for divine dwelling simply because she is Mary. Rather, Catholics first believe Mary is sinless, and it is because of this that she is understood to be fit for divine dwelling. When I said it would be "absurd to them" this is because the basic principle that Mary was sinless is clear and uncontested, and even uncontestable, in their minds.

Addressing the same issue towards the popes of the past, I think there are a couple of things that, in fairness, should be mentioned. First, to point to 3 or 4 popes who did wicked things and then say that all the rest are just as bad is not a fair evaluation. Second, to point to any given pope and show that he sinned at some point while he was pope is not fair either because the popes are still human beings, and are subject to sin like the rest of us. Last, I invite you to look at the fruits of the popes - and not just the popes but the entire history of the Catholic Church. But you have to look at those fruits from a source that is not biased against the RCC. What you will find is that the amount of good that the Church and her members have contributed to the world far outweighs the evil contributed.

The sinfulness of the entire human race in Adam is clearly stated in Scripture
This is addressed in the URL I provided above about the Immaculate Conception.

The Immaculate Conception was defined very late in the history of the Catholic Church
This also is addressed in the URL I provided above about the Immaculate Conception.

The Catholic Church is attempting to bring Mary to the same level as Jesus in terms of divinity
This is not true, and is addressed in the URL I provided above about the Immaculate Conception.

Fredericka said...
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Fredericka said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fredericka said...

Straight_Forward wrote, "First, to point to 3 or 4 popes who did wicked things and then say that all the rest are just as bad is not a fair evaluation."

Straight_Forward, I wouldn't expect all popes are equally bad, why would they be? I think John Paul II did the best he knew how according to his own lights. He was a forceful witness against the crimes of Communism. He did however lead the church even deeper down the blind alley of Marian devotion, and to the best of my recollection he never said much of anything in public about the sex scandal that blew up during his term of office. A statement of concern might have meant a lot to the victims.

Bear in mind that a critic does not have to show that ALL the popes were wicked for a problem to become apparent. If ALL the popes are supposed to be infallible when they speak ex cathedra on matters of faith and morals because they are filled with the Holy Spirit, and if SOME of the popes are beyond controversy wicked men (look at the Renaissance popes for instance), then SOME wicked men must be filled with the Holy Spirit. Why would the Holy Spirit have no choice but to move into some particularly filthy house on the block, just because somebody has posted a sign in front of it, 'The Holy Spirit lives here'? "The wind bloweth where it listeth. . ." (John 3:8). Your system says He must, as if man can constrain God. So why is there no sign of His entry in the life-stories of these wicked men, who showed no improvement after their election? Have the popes really done more good than harm by anyone's standards when you weigh in the balance crimes against humanity like the Albigensian Crusade?

As best I understand the Immaculate Conception, the doctrine was established by John Duns Scotus who used arguments you never hear today. The argument you hear today runs like this: The Bible never says that Mary is sinless. We can nevertheless know that Mary was conceived without sin, because otherwise she would not have been fit to serve as a divine dwelling. Modern Catholics may not recapitulate that logic in their own minds if they never question the doctrine, but don't they have to go there if they ever do ask, 'How do we know this'? What strikes me about this argument, which is not mine but yours I believe, is that it's headed off 180-degrees in the opposite direction from your defense against the 'wicked popes' objection.

I must admit not having visited your URL. Maybe your URL can visit my URL and learn interesting things about the Immaculate Conception: Immaculate Spam.

Straight_Forward said...

Fredericka,

If the pope speaks infallibly on a subject of faith and morals, he is filled with the Holy Spirit in order to do so. For academic purposes, if we were to say that there was a pope who was a wholly wicked man, then there would be a problem to say that he was capable of being filled with the Holy Spirit in order to speak ex cathedra. But that is not what the doctrine of infallibility says. All that the doctrine of infallibility says is that when a pope speaks ex cathedra on a matter of faith and morals, it is infallible. So, if we have a pope who never spoke ex cathedra, then whether or not he would ever have been used by the Holy Spirit to speak ex cathedra becomes a moot point because it never happened. If you wish to continue this line of reasoning, you would need to point to a pope who did declare something infallibly and who was also, apparently, a wicked man.

But there is another problem with this line of reasoning, and that is that it requires us to be able to judge that a pope was indeed a wholly wicked man. This is shaky ground, especially when we are talking about something that is so intimately personal between a man and God as the sins upon that man's soul.

About the Immaculate Conception, you have to realize that Catholics believe that both the Bible and the Tradition of the Catholic Church are the Word of God. Therefore, if the RCC teaches by its knowledge of Tradition that some doctrine is the truth, Catholics accept it as a matter of faith. They choose to believe. It is the same with the belief about the Eucharist: there is no way for anyone to scientifically prove that the bread and wine has actually changed into flesh and blood...it is simply a matter of belief in the Word of God. If a Catholic questions why Mary was sinless, there are resources he can turn to do find out why, but this Catholic would be coming from the perspective of being a believer, and not from the perspective of one trying to disprove what the RCC teaches.

Turretinfan said...

SF:

You wrote:If the pope speaks infallibly on a subject of faith and morals, he is filled with the Holy Spirit in order to do so. For academic purposes, if we were to say that there was a pope who was a wholly wicked man, then there would be a problem to say that he was capable of being filled with the Holy Spirit in order to speak ex cathedra. But that is not what the doctrine of infallibility says.

The doctrine itself allows for the reality that there are plenty of popes who were unbelievers. But should the doctrines allow for that? Does it make sense that God would hand over his church to a child of the devil?

-TurretinFan

Fredericka said...

Straight_Forward wrote, "So, if we have a pope who never spoke ex cathedra, then whether or not he would ever have been used by the Holy Spirit to speak ex cathedra becomes a moot point because it never happened."

Hi Straight_Forward. Am I to understand that only some popes are infallible, and that this is a faculty which travels with the man rather than with the office? If so, you will also need an infallible rule by which to ascertain whether the given pope who is speaking is one of the infallible ones or one of the fallible ones.

Straight_Forward said...

Fredericka, that is not a correct understanding. The doctrine of infallibility says that when a pope speaks ex cathedra on a matter of faith and morals, then it is an infallible teaching. There is no business with ordinary Catholics ascertaining the condition of a pope's soul or whether is he capable of speaking ex cathedra or not because all of this is by the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

TF, all of the popes have most definitely been believers, and none of them have been a "child of the devil."

Turretinfan said...

All: No more comments until SF answers the following.

SF:

What's the evidence or other basis for your assertion: "all of the popes have most definitely been believers, and none of them have been a 'child of the devil.'"

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

It's clear to me that SF has no answer. Fredericka, if you would like to add some final comments, feel free.

Coram Deo said...

On the one hand SF says we just can't be sure:

But there is another problem with this line of reasoning, and that is that it requires us to be able to judge that a pope was indeed a wholly wicked man. This is shaky ground, especially when we are talking about something that is so intimately personal between a man and God as the sins upon that man's soul.

But on the other hand he says we can be sure:

TF, all of the popes have most definitely been believers, and none of them have been a "child of the devil."

So we see that SF takes away with one hand what he gives with the other.

In Christ,
CD

Straight_Forward said...

Sorry for the delay, folks. The Christmas time of year is always very busy.

TF, here is the answer to your question:

Matthew 16:18. "And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it." Each pope is successor to the previous pope, and the first pope was Peter. That is why all the popes have for sure been believers and why God has never handed his church over to a child of the devil.

If you are looking for evidence, as in some kind of massive evaluation of every pope proving that he was a believer and not a child of the devil, I cannot help you. I do not have the time to do such an in-depth historical dive, nor do I see myself as qualified to judge the condition of anyone else's soul, let alone a pope who may have lived countless years before I was born.

The bottom line, I think, is this: if you are looking for reasons for Catholic teaching, then I have told you pretty much all I know. If you require deeper explanations, you will need to go to a Catholic resource more qualified than myself. If you simply doubt what the Catholic church says, well that is a choice. where I choose to believe, you choose to doubt.

In a spirit apart from the combative nature of this thread (if that is possible), I wish you all a Merry Christmas.

Turretinfan said...

SF:

Thanks for trying to answer.

You wrote: Matthew 16:18. "And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it." Each pope is successor to the previous pope, and the first pope was Peter. That is why all the popes have for sure been believers and why God has never handed his church over to a child of the devil.

There's nothing in the verse about popes, or about successors.

I do tend to agree with your underlying intuitive point, that God would not hand over his church to a child of the devil. But you simply assume that consequently none of the popes were children of the devil. You should instead realize that some were, and consequently the papacy itself is a fraud. God didn't hand over the church to a succession of popes.

You again: "If you are looking for evidence, as in some kind of massive evaluation of every pope proving that he was a believer and not a child of the devil, I cannot help you."

I'm not really looking for that. My point is just that your assertion is an assertion for which you could not possibly have any real evidence.

You again: "I do not have the time to do such an in-depth historical dive, nor do I see myself as qualified to judge the condition of anyone else's soul, let alone a pope who may have lived countless years before I was born."

When you say that they were believers you are rendering a favorable judgment. You have, in fact, judged their souls. What's interesting is that people like Dante Allegheri felt free to assign popes to hell.

And the Bible encourages us to judge teachers by their fruits.

You again: "The bottom line, I think, is this: if you are looking for reasons for Catholic teaching, then I have told you pretty much all I know. If you require deeper explanations, you will need to go to a Catholic resource more qualified than myself. If you simply doubt what the Catholic church says, well that is a choice. where I choose to believe, you choose to doubt."

That's really not the issue. The issue is whether your church's claims are true. The evidence shows that many of the popes were children of the devil. Given our shared intuitive position that God would not hand over his church to such men, we can conclude that your church's claims are false.

- TurretinFan

Straight_Forward said...

TF, you're argument hinges upon this statement, The evidence shows that many of the popes were children of the devil.

We are at an impasse because you say this statement is true, while I say it is false. If you want to provide evidence for why you believe this statement is true, you can, but I doubt I will have the time to investigate it myself.

Catholics believe in the Church teaching because they choose to have that belief. Some people in Jesus' time may have wanted to question whether or not Jesus was really the Son of God - and felt that they needed to have this proven to them before they would believe - but the ones who followed him were the ones who just believed...or came to believe. I am not saying blind faith is good, but faith is not faith unless there is doubt to overcome.

Turretinfan said...

"We are at an impasse because you say this statement is true, while I say it is false. If you want to provide evidence for why you believe this statement is true, you can, but I doubt I will have the time to investigate it myself."

I appreciate your honesty regarding your lack of interest in this matter, but I am simultaneously saddened by it.

Two examples are:

1) Alexander VI, a man who was an open fornicator, with recognized illegitimate children to prove it.

2) Julius III, a sodomite who made his underage lover a cardinal at age 17 (he apparently picked him up off the street several years younger than that).

Many more examples could be given, but perhaps those two are enough.

You wrote: "Catholics believe in the Church teaching because they choose to have that belief."

People believe for lots of reasons, but people don't just "choose to have that belief." You can't just "choose" to believe that 2+2 is five. Some folks choose to hide their heads in the sand lest they discover the truth, some folks choose not to investigate history, and some folks refuse to critically examine their church's teaching in light of Scripture. But no one simply chooses to believe what they believe. And I hope, friend, that God will persuade you to examine your church's teachings in light of Scripture - and that you will see that the Scripture's teachings differ from your church's on numerous points.

You wrote: "Some people in Jesus' time may have wanted to question whether or not Jesus was really the Son of God - and felt that they needed to have this proven to them before they would believe - but the ones who followed him were the ones who just believed...or came to believe."

Jesus exhorted his critics to "Search the Scripture." May I encourage you to do the same!

You wrote: "I am not saying blind faith is good, but faith is not faith unless there is doubt to overcome."

To put what I think you are saying a slight different way, faith and sight are not the same thing. If I rightly understand you on that, then I agree with you. But may I encourage you to see what you can from the Word of God.

-TurretinFan

Straight_Forward said...

"May I encourage you to do the same!"

Your encouragement is well received! I have in the past and I continue to search the Scriptures. In any case, please give me some time to investigate the deeds of these popes, to see what I may say of them.

Turretinfan said...

Thanks for your very gracious response! Take all the time you need.

Straight_Forward said...

This post might be too large, so I have split it. First is what I found in my research, then my response.

Regarding Julius III, my source says the claim of sodomy was only a rumor. He did, apparently, make a 17 year-old boy a cardinal. In general, he did not do very much in his time as pope, which was only five years. Source.

Pope Alexander VI is in many ways the very definition of what a pope should not be. The primary charges brought against him are: that he fathered four children while he was a priest (which is true); that he obtained the office of pope through simony (never proven, but not improbable). There is documentation here of further selfish deeds throughout his life, but there is also listed many good things that he did. Source.

Straight_Forward said...

It may be that there is a difference in our respective understandings of what a "child of the devil" is, but I could not confidently label Alexander VI as a child of the devil. He sounds to me like an ordinary, corrupt king, having a large helping of paternal pride, being a poor father (though his daughter Lucrezia turned out to be very saintlike), but still remaining a strong leader. Maybe it is my understanding, but I would think that a child of the devil would have more of an intent for destruction, whereas Alexander seems to just have had intent for selfishness. In any case, one could certainly hope for more Christ-like qualities in a pope, but of all 266 popes there have been, he is probably the worst of them all. Maybe it is also worth noting that part of the reason he stands out so clearly is because he is compared against a history of other popes who did a much better job.

There is one other point here that I should say. I quote my source on Alexander, "An imperfect setting [...] does not affect the intrinsic worth of the jewel, nor does the golden coin lose its value when it passes through impure hands." The pope does not carry the weight of the Catholic Church - the teachings of the Catholic Church do, the Word of God. The pope holds an office of top human authority for the Catholic Church, but he is not the Word of God, which is the real weight of the Church. Popes like Alexander VI, as also with the pedophile priests of today's scandal, do not have any impact on the Word of God which is the real truth.