Thursday, October 07, 2010

The super-duper-uper Magisterial authority (aka Part 3)

First came this post and its combox.
Next came this post and its combox.
Then Paul Hoffer wrote up a lengthy reply, found here.  Unfortunately, as we'll see, he has left most of my argument untouched.  His reply consists mostly of responses of the equivalent strength of "Nuh uh!" and self-repetition in the face of substantive rebuttal.
The way I wrote it is addressed to Paul.

You say:
I disagree with Rhology’s question begging statement that the Catholic Magisterium as an interpreter is useless because magisterial statements in turn need an interpreter in order for one to understand them

It's not question-begging.  It's my contention. 

unlike the Scriptures, one can consult the Magisterial interpreter and seek clarification of the decision or interpretation. 

A point which I addressed clearly in my ROUND 2 post, in at least two ways.  So far you're just ignoring my points, rather than interacting with them.
Namely, 1) the infinite regress (which tries and fails to solve the "problem" of human fallibility) and 2) the fact that the Magisterium virtually never actually does any clearing up of controversies when it easily could do so.

While more questions may have arose about the Church’s understanding of Christ’s nature, the Church was able to respond to them

Now that begs the question, that you can identify "The Church" and that "The Church" that you identify was in the right to do these things.  
Don't go off on a rabbit trail and ask me whether I disagree with those councils' which have been later identified as Big-E Ecumenical Big-C Councils statements w.r.t. Christology; the point is that the later church identifies as "The Church" those people who actually won the struggle.  The winners wrote the history books in a very real sense here.  This is simply pointing to the position with which you agree today and saying "See?  The Magisterium spoke!"  There'd be no way to falsify the statement "The Magisterium spoke."  

one does not have to decide all over again each time they are read what the Scriptures mean as the Church has already done that for them

1) But does one have to decide all over again each time Magisterial proclamations are read what they mean, as the Church has already done that for them?  
2) How can one judge whether the Church spoke correctly in a given case?  
3) How do you know when The Church spoke?  Do you have a list of those infallible proclamations?  If not, doesn't that leave open the very real possibility that you are ascribing authority and infallibility where none exists, and leaves you open to the problem of individual fallibility and error?  And doesn't that mean that "just ask your priest or bishop" would be a completely useless answer?
If so, where is it and does it include itself in the list? 

B/c you have no good answers to these questions, what this means for you is that your house is built on sand. Your Magisterium is a paper tiger, a golden gun that's never fired. 

Disagreements between adherents who hold different views becomes the means by which doctrines are tested and determined leading to a shared understanding of the what the Church holds thereby leading to greater unity in faith. This is an advantage that those who claim to practice sola scriptura could never have.

Such fideist claims fall apart under scrutiny.

If attorneys were bound by some notion of sola scriptura, we would have to start over and decide what constituted the elements of contract

A statement that makes me think you don't even understand Sola Scriptura.  This is a strawman.  I'd've hoped that you, as an attorney, would put more effort into properly representing your opposition. What was it you said earlier? 
“If the facts are against you, argue the law; if the law is against you, argue the facts; if both are against you, abuse opposing counsel.”

we Catholics do not have to re-decide all of the old questions again

How about solving some of the ones that have remained all this time?  I listed quite a few in my ROUND 2 post.  Why don't you go ahead and show us where the Magisterium has cleared all of those up? 

I must say though that the James White allusion ("Give me Romans 8 anytime over the code of Canon Law") you use is a bit vague.

I'm a bit of a fanboy, and he has said that numerous times during his Dividing Line webcast, just FYI.  But he first said it in a debate, yes.

as a Catholic I too would say give me Romans 8 over the Code of Canon Law since Romans 8 is part of the Word of God and the Code of Canon Law

Um, except you just finished telling us we need the Magisterium to understand Romans 8 and clear up disagreements about it, whereas the Code of Canon Law comes from The Church, that body that can clear that stuff up for us!  Why move the goalposts now?

Or are you perhaps working off James White’s reputation to lend your argument an air of Protestant magisterial authority? 

If the facts are against you, argue the law; if the law is against you, argue the facts; if both are against you, abuse opposing counsel.

Why does one need recourse to a super to the nth power authority in order to make a decision IN RESPONSE TO A DISPUTE?

B/c of the problem you've been trying to solve yourself!  I've already dealt with this, like I mentioned above.  When are you going to take the next step and actually deal with my response?

And if the parties to the dispute both come into the dispute with an “obedience in faith,” that is an attitude of assent to the teachings of the Church, the parties to the dispute will submit to the decision by the Magisterium rather than breaking off to form their own Church or advocate disobedience to the teachings of the Church.

A historically ignorant statement.  This is faithful adherence to Sola Ecclesia!  
"Don't listen; it's the Kool-Aid talking."

we need only one Magisterial authority.

And when ppl disagree about the meaning and application of its proclamations, what then?  
I mean, since ppl's disagreement about the Scr's meaning and application means we need an infallible interpreting authority, let's be consistent, shall we?  Which means you haven't dealt with my points at all.  

Rhology’s smug argument suffers from more question begging as to whether the above referenced scripture passages actually need to be “infallibly” interpreted in order to be understood.

Oh, OK.  Then I'll just say the same thing about any passage YOU bring up and claim that it's unclear.  Unless you're less concerned about consistency than about defending Mother Rome. 
For example, you'd said earlier in our interaction the following:
Where the perspecuity of Scriptures falls by the wayside is when there are disputes between Christians as the Scriptures can not arbitrate the dispute. Two people can have sincere differences over the regenerative properties of baptism, paedo-baptism, etc. How does reliance on Scripture help when both parties rely upon them?

Paul Hoffer's smug argument suffers from more question-begging as to whether the above referenced Scripture passages actually need to be “infallibly” interpreted in order to be understood.

No, it is Rhology that introduced the idea that a teaching authority is to be measured by the laity’s response and obedience to it as demonstrated above.

No no no no!  YOU introduced the idea!  You did!  It's in your first comments!  I just quoted you. Here it is again.
Where the perspecuity of Scriptures falls by the wayside is when there are disputes between Christians as the Scriptures can not arbitrate the dispute. Two people can have sincere differences over the regenerative properties of baptism, paedo-baptism, etc. How does reliance on Scripture help when both parties rely upon them?

You still haven't grasped my argument, and it's getting sad.  Do you need to talk over the phone or something, so I can explain it to you?  Maybe this is why you claim (when convenient) the Scriptures aren't perspicuous - you can't even understand my internal critique of your own position, and it's your position.

And since the Church has steadfastly taught since apostolic times that abortion is inherently immoral, evil, and sinful,

And since you can take any two Roman Catholics and ask them about abortion and get 2 different answers... let me virtually-quote Paul again:  
Where the perspicuity of Magisterial proclamations fall by the wayside is when there are disputes between RCs as the Mag proclamations can not arbitrate the dispute. Two people can have sincere differences over the whether it's OK to dismember babies.  How does reliance on the Magisterium help when both parties rely upon them?
If Paul responds, "But it's not true that BOTH are relying on them!", he needs to tell us why that same answer is not available to me as well w.r.t. the Scripture.  I won't hold my breath.

PH had said:
Unlike Protestantism which bolds that each person is his own magisterial authority

I'd responded: How do strawmen help the Roman cause?  Is it Mag teaching that strawmen are the best strategy?  Is that in Lumen Gentium too?

PH never answers but instead quotes some fallible individual who happens to go to his church, saying: When we speak of private judgment, then, let us be quite clear as to what we mean; it has its uses and it has its abuses. Private judgment, in the sense of compiling a creed for yourself out of the Bible, of accepting this doctrine and rejecting that, of judging what should be and what should not be an integral part of the truth revealed by God -- this, of course, is entirely forbidden, for it is directly contrary to the method of arriving at the truth instituted by Our Lord Jesus Christ. 

1) Luke 12:57“And why do you not even on your own initiative judge what is right?"
Matthew 22: 29But Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God."
Mark 12:26“But regarding the fact that the dead rise again, have you not read in the book of Moses"
Luke 6:3And Jesus answering them said, “Have you not even read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him"
Matthew 19:4And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE"

Hmm, isn't that crazy?  Jesus actually pushed people back to the Scripture to correct when 2 people disagreed!  

2) Unless Paul can produce an infallible list of Magisterial proclamations, he exercises private judgment in figuring what things the Church says that are infallible things to be obeyed and what things the Church says that are fallible and non-binding.  Paul seems not to have yet wrestled with this problem, and I've given him several chances now over the course of this interaction.

3) He never apologises for the strawman or withdraws it.  Doesn't encourage me to take his point very seriously, since he seems to be talking to someone else.

When opinion, or private judgment, or to borrow Rhology’s term “logical argumentation,” becomes the measure of truth it is only a matter of time before all doctrinal issues become irrelevant due to the utter subjectivity of one’s own opinion.

How does this address the rebuttal I've already laid out?  It doesn't.

I even read an article where a bi-sexual woman who was promoted to the status of “bishop” in the Protestant Episcopal Church proclaim that abortion is sacramental! Where is Protestant unity on these matters or is redefining what constitutes sin a non-essential matter? 

1) Ah, the tried-and-true method of lumping me in with flaming liberals!  Maybe Paul would like to be held responsible for everything Mel Gibson does.  After all, he's "Catholic".  He says so!  Just ask him!
2) Again, such fideist claims fall apart under scrutiny.

As I stated in the FIRST ROUND above, Jesus Christ is the measure of truth since He is the one Way, the Truth and Life, not logical argumentation. 

Gosh, I wonder if anyone reading this will stop to wonder whether, when I say "logical argumentation", I mean it in the naturalistic materialist sense, or whether I mean it in the presuppositional Reformed sense, wherein one applies logical and contextual hermeneutics to the final standard of truth - God's Word?  Hmmm... I guess I could go back to my blog and delete all the references to "but, believing in Jesus is more probably true than not b/c the Earth's axis is tilted just right!"  
Oh wait, I don't say that kind of thing.  Never mind.  Then maybe Paul could actually do me the service of remembering to whom he's talking.

After all, I can point to some 252 dogmas that have been infallibly defined by my Magisterium.

That sounds like a fallible list to me.  Where is Paul's imprimatur?  
See, that's the thing - to Paul, apparently, the "authority and infallibility of the Magisterium" is a tool to be pulled out of the shed when convenient, say like a screwdriver, but when he needs to cut through a board, he hides his saw behind his back and tries to convince us all he's actually using the screwdriver. Then he shows us the cut board - "See?"  
Buy into the sleight-of-hand at your own peril.

(Please leave any comments at the BeggarsAll post.)

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