Friday, January 27, 2012

Christian Liberty, the Roman Communion, and Inerrancy

As Christians, we have a lot of liberty.  We can eat meat or abstain from eating it.  We can drink or abstain from drinking.  Moreover, in things about which Scripture has nothing to say, we have the Christian liberty to have a variety of opinions.

In theory, Rome's communion has a similar policy.  They have more rigid rules about eating (sorry guys, it's Friday, can't have the bacon cheeseburger), but in theory they have a lot of leeway in theology.  If there is no "defined dogma" then those in Rome's communion are (generally speaking) allowed to believe whatever they like.  Moreover, if there is no "official teaching," those in Rome's communion are (again, generally speaking) allowed to express their opinion.

So, it is with some amusement that I have been watching a certain e-pologist for the Roman communion who has been spending his time in an extended blog war with one of Rome's actual apologists over the latter's promotion of some video.  The video speculates about whether the NASA footage of the moon landing is genuine.

Let's be clear about something - Rome has no official teaching or dogmatic definition regarding whether the moon landings happened, or whether the footage of them is real.  So, in theory, members of Rome's communion should be free to hold various opinions about the subject.

I feel a little sorry for the real apologist who finds himself at the receiving end of the abuse from e-apologist over his views on the moon landing.  The only apparent motivation for the abuse from the e-pologist is to make the real apologist look bad for holding views that a lot of people will think are kooky.  Maybe the views are kooky, but he's supposedly allowed to hold those views.

What's amusing is that this same e-pologist claims that it's "not liberal" for people to hold the documentary hypothesis! ("Is it liberal to adopt the documentary hypothesis? Dogmatically, I don't think so, from a Catholic perspective." source)

Whether the documentary hypothesis is correct isn't something that we Christians have liberty about - it touches on and denies inerrancy.  But what is Rome's view on inerrancy?

In summary, the following can be said with certainty: ... with regards to what might be inspired in the many parts of Sacred Scripture, inerrancy applies only to "that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation" (DV 11)

(Nikola Eterovic, General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops, "The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church" in an Instrumentalis Laboris form, 2008)(but note that this portion of the working paper was not ultimately approved, as per this report)

Of course, previously, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had stated without qualification that "the absence of error in the inspired sacred texts" (15 July 1998) was something to be believed De Fide on a par with "the doctrine on the primacy and infallibility of the Roman Pontiff."  Of course, "without qualification" is the way that a traditionalist would view it.  "Without clarification" is how a modernist would view it.

I understand that the CDF has been given the task of further clarifying the Roman position on inerrancy, but whether they adopt the modernist view espoused in the working paper above, or the orthodox view of full inerrancy, it's truly remarkable that Rome's e-pologist(s) (I understand Mark Shea has added to the pile of abuse as well) find it appropriate to bash one more noble than themselves for holding views that are perfectly acceptable within their own communion.

It seems like a classic case straining at the gnat (holding to an unusual view of America), whilst swallowing the camel (the documentary hypothesis).

- TurretinFan


Ron Van Brenk said...

'Do Christians have the liberty to hold to the DH?'

Only if they have the liberty to be inconsistent and irreverent.
But where is the sanctification in that?

turretinfan said...


Ben Douglass said...

No one is free to believe whatever they like. In non-doctrinal matters, heresy is not the relevant sin, but rash judgment is. Someone who demonstrates a consistent tendency to believe slander about and read sinister meaning into the words and actions of a particular people is rightly charged with prejudice.

Sungenis may be more learned and accomplished as an apologist than Armstrong and Shea, but he has disgraced himself by his prejudice and refusal to take correction.

Ben Douglass said...

I back up the charge of prejudice against Sungenis in this article:

turretinfan said...


I would agree that hatred is a sin. Rash judgment can be as well. I don't think either of those is implicated by Sungenis' unusual views about the moon landings. Do you disagree?

I didn't really intend this post to have anything to do with Sungenis' opinions about the Jews.


Ben Douglass said...

Stanley Kubrick was a Jew. Whenever Sungenis endorses a conspiracy, check out the supposed villians, and dollars to doughnuts you'll find a Jew or Jews. Compare his conspiratorial theorizing about 9/11, in which he accuses the Jewish financier Larry Silverstein of ordering the demolition of WTC7 by pre-set explosives, thus rendering it plausible that the Twin Towers were also brought down by pre-set explosives.

turretinfan said...

Kubrick is not portrayed as a villain in the video, is he?

Ben Douglass said...

Well, he's the one who is supposed to have pulled off the scam.

turretinfan said...

I got the sense from what I saw of the background that he was portrayed as something of a victim/hero. He was forced to keep silence, but found ways to work clues into his other films, to provide the key to unlock the secret. Am I way off? (it wouldn't be the first time)

Ben Douglass said...

Oh, for all I know the video may have portrayed Kubrick in a rather sympathetic light. But Bob has a habit of attaching himself very quickly to things which support his worldview, and the bare facts that the video asserts that it was a conspiracy and that a Jew did it would be enough.