Monday, May 26, 2008

That combox is a real gold mine...

So you really DO have to read it. One of the gems (sorry, I said "goldmine" didn't I? I meant "gemstone mine"...) in it is this spectacular one from Past Elder:
There is no difference whatsoever in saying I believe this because I agree with it and in saying I believe this because I believe in the authority which says it.
Okay, can the Logicians reading this please get to work on it? I think he is wrong.

Let's try an example: I do not think going 10kmh over the speed limit is wrong. Yet I respect the authority of the police. When they pull me up for going 110kmh in a 100km hour zone I am not going to argue the point. I submit. I pay the fine. Do I agree with the authority? No. Do I submit? Yes. Do I, over time, come to see their point about the danger of speeding. Maybe. Let's say I do, even if it is only because they keep fining me until I realise that at least one thing wrong with speeding is that it costs me a lot of money.

Or try this one. A homosexually active person becomes a Christian and accepts the literal authority of the bible as the word of God. In the bible he reads that homosexuality is wrong. Although it goes against all his inclinations, and involves a deep struggle to change his behaviour, on the basis of his acceptance of the authority of the bible he ceases his homosexual activity.

Sorry, Past Elder. It simply is not true (or at least it is too cynical) to say that we only accept those authorities who command us to do what we already agree is right. Sometimes, it is in accepting valid authority (an objective, rather than a subjective decision, as my example of the police and the speeding ticket should indicate) that we learn, against our natural inclinations, that certain behaviour or beliefs are wrong.

Ergo, accepting the authority of the Catholic Church is not simply a shifting of the Protestant doctrine of private judgement from the issue at hand to the authority in question, but a recognition of the objective reality of that authority and modifying our beliefs and actions accordingly.

20 Comments:

At Tuesday, May 27, 2008 1:46:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

Guess what, Dave? The police -- at least in your country and mine, most of the time -- don't make up the laws they enforce and neither do the courts. The argument is typically Catholic -- quite logical and divorced from anything but that, like reality or Scripture.

And worse, it tries to make its point as if the church were yet another of earthly authorities, or the kingdom of God is indeed of this world, with the usual boundaries, officials, uniforms, etc to define them and make them recognisable.

So if you must understand this matter by recourse to man-made authorities, try this then: it is like a disagreement about pretenders to the throne. You think this one should be king/queen and therefore is, and act accordingly, and the other pretenders and those who accept them are wrong.

I stand by what I said, then. YOU made a decision, in this case to an accept an authoritarian claimant that will decide for you.

As you encourage Pastor and myself to do the Newman thing and start thinking that Roman Catholicism and agnosticism are the only two real positions (what an utterly pathetic chap, Newman) and think it through and be one or the other, in the same spirit I encourage you to look at this pre-occupation about church, church, church, and understand it not to be pre-occupation about Christ but making church its own god.

Or as a much better theologian than I am seems to have put it, they're just men, David.

Ironically, it's Memorial Day here in the US. That began as a day to decorate the graves of Union soldiers who died in battle in the Civil War, fought over who had legitimate authority and to do what. It was called Decoration Day for just that reason and is now extended to those who died wearing the uniform in later wars. And popularly but wrongly extended to include veterans generally, and from there to include the dead generally, sort of a secular All Saints Day, and for a good many just a three-day week-end and they're having a parade somewhere but who cares.

So we need to be careful. Scripture likens the church not to this or that of Man's making such as monarchy or democracy or secular authority generally.

 
At Tuesday, May 27, 2008 6:10:00 am , Blogger Schütz said...

You choose to use my "police example", PE. What about my example of the convert's regard for the authority of scripture?

Is that a "human authority"? Is that a case of an individual making "a decision...to accept an authoritarian claimant that will decide for you"? Or is that simply recognising the manifest and objective authority of the scriptures over the individual believer?

In other words, how come your dictum applies to my acceptance of the authority of the church but not to your dictum of the authority of scripture?

I cling to the Church because of the saying of Ignatius: "Where Jesus Christ is, there is the Church" (Smyrna 8:2) and of what St Ireneaus said about the third person of the Holy Trinity: "Indeed, it is to the Church herself that the "Gift of God" has been entrusted.... In it is in her that communion with Christ has been deposited, that is to say: the Holy Spirit, the pledge of incorruptibility, the strengthening of our faith and the ladder of our ascent to God.... For where the Church is, there also is God's Spirit; where God's Spirit is, there is the Church and every grace" [St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 3, 24, 1].

Both statements were written in time when heresy abounded, a time before the New Testament was available to all in completed form, a time when the true Church was recognised by the authentic authority of the bishop and elders.

Aye, they're just men and the people whom they shepherd are simply human. But one could also say of the Blessed Eucharist "It's just bread, its just wine". But Christ takes that bread and makes it his body, and takes that wine and makes it his blood. Just so, "Christ the head pours out [the Holy Spirit] on his members, builds, animates, and sanctifies the Church" so that she becomes "the sacrament of the Holy Trinity's communion with men." CCC p. 747.

And don't you have "Church Police" in the US? :-)

 
At Tuesday, May 27, 2008 6:49:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

I didn't use your example of the authority of Scripture because I didn't think that was in question. Is it?

No-one is disputing what you say about church. The dispute is over whether the Roman Catholic Church is that church, or in the more recent newspeak version, the church in which it fully subsists.

And no-one, at least not in your or my circles, says it's just bread or the fruit of the vine. So that doesn't apply either.

 
At Tuesday, May 27, 2008 4:31:00 pm , Anonymous M. M. Regan said...

Past Elder is certainly right to say that whether by private judgement exercised on Scripture directly or by private judgement exercised on the Church's authority to exercise Her judgement on Scripture, private judgement is still the terminal point.

So then the question becomes one of which method provides best for the handing on and safeguarding of the contents of the Deposit of Faith. That's where your legal analogy is quite apt, David. What kind of State would have a legislature without a judiciary for the authentic interpretation of the laws that the legislature enacts? The result of leaving the interpretation of law completely to individuals would be anarchy.

And as for "what an utterly pathetic chap, Newman", that's charming Past Elder, but wasn't 'Newman's way' as you called it really also St. Augustine's way? 'I should not believe the Gospel except as moved by the Catholic Church'.

 
At Tuesday, May 27, 2008 9:43:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Private judgement is still the terminal point? I don't think so. The operative word is "private", the opposite of which is "public". the police, the bible and the Church have public authority, not private authority. Their authority is established by the community to which I belong. The Victoria Police only have authority in Victoria. The bible only has authority for Christians. The Catholic Magisterium only has authority for the Catholic Church. I do indeed exercise personal freedom by choosing to belong to any of these communities, and thus become bound by the respective authorities--bound to obey all that they command whether I personally agree with those laws or not.

"Private Interpretation" properly speaking can really only apply to how one reads a text, not to whether one accepts an authority or not (which, as I said, is more accurately a personal choice). If one has chosen to belong to a community which has an authority to determine how a text may or may not be read, private judgement is excluded.

Perhaps it is inaccuarte to say "I believe this because I believe in the authority which says it". Rather it is more true to say that I submit to this or that law or doctrine because it is decreed by the lawful authority of the community to which I have freely chosen to belong.

"No one is disputing what you say about church. The dispute is over where the Roman Catholic church is that church, or ... the church i which it fully subsists".

Well, PE, I am open to other suggestions. If the Catholic Church is NOT the community in which the Church of Jesus Christ fully subsists, I would be grateful if you would point me the one in which the Church of Jesus Christ DOES fully subsist. Truly. If you have a better suggestion, go for it. I'm all ears.

 
At Wednesday, May 28, 2008 1:07:00 pm , Blogger LYL said...

I would be grateful if you would point me the one in which the Church of Jesus Christ DOES fully subsist. Truly. If you have a better suggestion, go for it. I'm all ears.

Indeed, David, this is the crux of the matter.

 
At Wednesday, May 28, 2008 2:32:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

Interesting that you keep trying to justify Romanism by analogy to man-made governance -- which though Scripture does not do it, makes sense since one man-made governance, the Roman church, explains itself by analogy to another, the state.

Even in the realm of the secular, the analogy falls completely apart. Higher courts reverse lower courts decisions all the time. Legislatures pass laws making legal what was formerly illegal and illegal what was formerly legal. Authentic in this context speaks nothing of true, only of legal and binding.

And so you must find, as an answer to where the church fully subsists, an earthly one with the earthly features of an institution. Your question has determined your answer. You seek a visible earthly institution only, then determine which of them.

Suppose the church no more than the kingdom of God can be determined by these earthly features?

 
At Wednesday, May 28, 2008 3:05:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Very interesting that you raise the question of the relationship between the Kingdom of God and the Church. This is not a topic that has been ignored either by Catholic Theologians or by the Catholic Magisterium. For the magisterium, I need only refer you to the infamous Dominus Iesus, which, while distinguishing the Church and the Kingdom, nonetheless insists on a proper connection being maintained between the two (I think you would agree with most of what is said there, Terry). There are not a few theologians on the other hand who wish to cut the connection between the Church and the Kingdom entirely. And you know what? The result is a concept of the Kingdom that is divorced from the person of Jesus Christ. Surprise, surprise...

Which brings me back as always to why we are seeking a visible society of human beings which we might call "The Church": Because the Body of Christ (as Christine put it so well some time ago) NEEDS FLESH.

 
At Wednesday, May 28, 2008 4:08:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

et homo factus est relates to the Incarnation in the Creed, not the church. The Incarnation is just that, the Incarnation, not an incarnational principle upon which to reflect and refine and develop all sorts if things into existence.

 
At Wednesday, May 28, 2008 5:05:00 pm , Anonymous M. M. Regan said...

David:
"If one has chosen to belong to a community which has an authority to determine how a text may or may not be read, private judgement is excluded."
Agreed.

Past Elder: I disagree; I think that the analogy still holds. Higher courts overturning the decisions of lower courts would correspond to something like Rome overruling a regional Episcopal Conference's interpretations, e.g. Leo XIII condemning Americanism. And the legislator here is not the Church, but God.

 
At Wednesday, May 28, 2008 6:43:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Funny how easy it is to forget that in all our creeds, the Catholic Church is there at the end...

Incarnation is not a "principle", but an historical fact. The Second Person of the Holy Trinity took flesh as Jesus Christ. St Paul does not say that the Church is "the Spirit of Christ", but that the Church is "the Body of Christ". Which "body of Christ" was he talking about if that same body which lay in the manger, hung on the cross, lay in the tomb, rose from the dead?

As if to rub the point in, the Creeds--having spoken of the Incarnation and the Church--then go on to speak of the "Resurrection of the Flesh/Body".

Not only does the Body of Christ need flesh, PE, but it seems that the Holy Spirit (the focuse of the third Article of the Creed) is also somehow attached to flesh...

 
At Thursday, May 29, 2008 12:58:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

If one is unable or unwilling to distinguish proper adjectives and nouns from regular ones, there may well be a level of confusion impossible to overcome.

"Catholic Church" is not a proper name. You sound like a school kid -- the Creed says the catholic church and we're Catholic and they're not.

The Catholic Church is not the catholic church. The creed proclaims the catholic church. The equation of that with the denomination Catholic Church is an abomination.

Who said the Incarnation wasn't an historical fact. What was said is proof-texting that into how the Catholic Church is the catholic church is theological fantasy.

The "church" is your god, which you do not recognise because you identify it with Christ himself. Maybe you could ponder that the church is also described as the bride of Christ. Body of Christ, Bride of Christ, this language expresses a mystery, not a basis for denominational pedigree. Do you suppose the resurrection of the dead means the resurrection of the church?

Certainly the church needs flesh. The dispute is, is that flesh that of creaky celibates in period costume, a geriatric grid that could not pass the test of Timothy for the office they claim to hold?

 
At Friday, May 30, 2008 2:18:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

I am afraid you are the one who is at "school kid" level on this one, PE. When the Catholic Church confesses the creed, it understands itself to be the "Catholic Church" which the creed confesses.

Unfortunately there is this "terminal vagueness" (as Sue from Eulogos put it in another combox) among folk that makes them THINK that when we speak of the Catholic Church we are talking about a denomination. NO, NO, NO, NO. NO.

This is why people are so surprised when the Catholic Church comes out with statements like "The Catholic Church is the One Church of Jesus Christ". Once you realise that for Catholics, the Catholic Church of the Creed and the Catholic Church which is "governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him" are one and the same, you do get a rather different perspective on things. Go read the Catechism in this light, and you will show that this is the only consisten meaning that can be given to the phrase "Catholic Church".

"Catholic Church" is thus both a "proper name" and a "regular noun". A bit like "God". When the Muslims say "There is no God but Allah", they are, of course simply saying "There is no God but God" or "Ther is no Allah but Allah". This is exactly what we mean by "Catholic Church". There is no "Catholic Church" but the "Catholic Church". That is why, to our ears, your continual insistence that "the Catholic Church is not the Catholic Church" makes no sense.

In case you doubt my point, ask yourself what the bishops who first formulated the creed meant when they were speaking of "the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church". Did they have any notion of "denomination"? Hardly. They were confessing that flock of which they were bishops. And they were specifically confessing that any other group of characters who wanted to claim the title "Catholic Church" were not entitled to do so.

 
At Friday, May 30, 2008 7:21:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

If I ever needed more evidence that the "Catholic Church" to which you belong and the "Catholic Church" in which I was raised are not the same church, I only need come here.

The last thing in the world I would read to find the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church is "The Catechism of the Catholic Church". But as a source of some phenomenology with a churchy spin, it's great!

One, holy, catholic and apostolic church, the Roman Catholic Church taught me, is a description. The church has no name, actually. What is confessed here are the four marks of the church, that by which it is recognised, and the only church which can be recognised by these marks is the one often referred to by the denonlinational name Roman Catholic Church.

So of course, for a Catholic, when they say they believe in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church they are saying they believe in the Roman Catholic Church as the one church instituted by Jesus Christ.

So you identify a denomination in the world with a church confessed by its marks in the Creed. What else did I say? Nothing. What else did you say? Nothing, either, apparently. Which is my point.

Once again, this both/and mentality obscures the most basic points and overrides the simplest of points.

Which works very well to maintain this belief in an institution.

So, when I say the Catholic Church is not the Catholic Church, this has no reference to the Creed at all. It is to say that the Catholic Church taught me a faith and practice that is quite at odds with the faith and practice coming from the Catholic Church now, and that the same institution should morph so radically showed me it is no longer the Catholic Church though it uses the same name and cannot be the church confessed in the Creed.

Which for years I thought also meant, this church being the only one that could make such a claim, that the person who founded this church could not have been the Christ either to have founded something ending up in a bald faced sham and lie, unless one assign it the role of God Himself and proclaim it beyond all question of whatever it says and does.

Which only ended when I realised that the Catholic Church is not the catholic church. That is, that the catholic church spoken of in the Creed is not the Catholic Church as an institution.

And then it made sense. The reason the Catholic Church now is apostate to the Catholic Church though institutionally the same is because the Catholic Church at any point has been apostate to the catholic church of the Creed. It isn't that the Catholic Church is "it" so Jesus wasn't the Christ since his church imploded, it's that Jesus is the Christ and the Catholic Church, the institution, is not now and has never been the catholic church referred to in the Creed, though it can be found within it (rarely, in my experience).

It is as hard to talk to a Catholic as to a raging drunk sometimes, especially when it comes to their god, the Roman Catholic Church. But let's try to sum up anyway.

Of course the Catholic Church is the Catholic Church. Judas H Priest. That's the point! This one institution rejects its former faith and practice and accepts something inadmissable by its former faith and practice, so we say the Catholic Church is not, as in is no longer, the Catholic Church, though the same institution endures known by the same name. This will not happen in the true church of Christ, so either this did not happen, or this is not the true church of Christ, and since only an a priori bowing down to this institution as to a god would blind one to the fact that this did happen, if one believed its former faith and practice, then if this institution now is not the true church of Christ it could never have been, and its former faith and practice was wrong too. If the Catholic Church is not still the Catholic Church, has morphed into something else, then Jesus was not the Christ. But happily, these are not the choices! The former faith and practice was wrong, but not because Jesus is not the Christ, but because the Catholic Church, the institution, is not now and has never been the catholic church founded by Christ, which endures quite well in what is referred to among men as the evangelical Lutheran church, itself not a denominational designation but a descriptive phrase.

 
At Friday, May 30, 2008 11:01:00 pm , Anonymous Christine said...

So of course, for a Catholic, when they say they believe in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church they are saying they believe in the Roman Catholic Church as the one church instituted by Jesus Christ.

Wrong.

In the first place, the Catholic Church includes those Eastern communities that do not celebrate the Western liturgy used in the Roman Rite. Roman, of course, being a nomenclature that was used in derision after the Reformation just as the name "Lutheran" came to be attached to the churches of the Augsburg Confession. Luther did not want his name attached to the churches that formed after the Reformation, but there you have it. It happened anyway.

I certainly have no problem calling myself a Roman Catholic. But the Catholic Church is more than the "Roman" Church.

And if you don't think that the name "Lutheran" is viewed as denominational in this country, better look around. There's definitely more than one "Lutheran" church in the U.S. with competing teachings.

Other than that, you are repeating the same old stuff you usually do in your posts, the Catholic Church is not the catholic Church, it is apostate, it is rooted in phenomenology, yadda yadda yadda. So very typical of those former Catholics who became turned upside down after Vatican II.

Can't cha come up with SOMETHING new? Pretty please? :)

Finally, any Lutheran or non-Catholic who thinks that my salvation is rooted in the "institution" of the Catholic Church is really off the mark.

My salvation is rooted in Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church.

Period.

 
At Saturday, May 31, 2008 3:23:00 am , Anonymous M. M. Regan said...

"This one institution rejects its former faith and practice and accepts something inadmissable by its former faith and practice"

I'm gritting my teeth, Past Elder.

 
At Saturday, May 31, 2008 12:52:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

There really must be something in the Roman hallucinogens quite long lasting.

Once again, did I say the name Lutheran was not denominational, or that there are not several things travelling under the name Lutheran? No. It is, and there are. So much for your refutation of yet another thing I did not say, and here in fact agree with.

Did I say that what is generally called the Roman Catholic Church includes only the Latin rite? No. Did I say Roman Catholic Church is its actual name? No. Geez, two more things successfully refuted I did not say.

Really, the tenor of this blog is so utterly foreign to anything recognisably Catholic, except conciliar Catholicism. You say come home, and sound like a stranger saying get in the car kid, it's ok, your mom (mum) said so, really.

Finally, from a camp that has nothing to say but to repeat over and over that whatever appearances may present themselves, it's not what the church really teaches, it's the same church because it's the same church and it said it's the same church so it's the same church to ask for something new to be said is enough to make one shake one's head as if leaving free time in the sun room of an asylum.

You really can't see that when you profess the catholic church in the Creed you take that to mean the Catholic Church as an entity here in time and space? You really can't see that when someone else professes the catholic church in the creed they do not take that to mean the entity in time and space known generally as the Catholic Church?

 
At Sunday, June 01, 2008 10:40:00 am , Blogger Schütz said...

You really can't see that when you profess the catholic church in the Creed you take that to mean the Catholic Church as an entity here in time and space? You really can't see that when someone else professes the catholic church in the creed they do not take that to mean the entity in time and space known generally as the Catholic Church?

OF COURSE I see that when I confess the Catholic Church in the Creed I "take that to mean the Catholic Church as an entity here in time and space". That has been my point all along. The Church has FLESH. It IS a real entity in time and space and if it isn't it isn't the Church.

And while I can see that "see that when someone else professes the catholic church in the creed they do not take that to mean the entity in time and space known generally as the Catholic Church", I do expect them to point me to the real time and space entity with which they DO identify the term "catholic Church" in the Creed. At least the Orthodox can do this. Protestants are left fumbling about claiming some sort of "invisible Church" or "hidden Church". That most definitely was not what the original formulators of the creed meant.

 
At Sunday, June 01, 2008 11:02:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

Well hell, Dave. There's a storefront church a couple blocks down with the words holy and apostolic in its name. That's two, your church only has one mark in its name and mine has none. Maybe that storefront church is the true church!

The church has flesh. Still haven't found that in the Creed, just the thing about one, holy, catholic and apostolic. Unless of course that was something to be doctrinally developed. And you thought the Da Vinci code was esoteric!

 
At Sunday, June 01, 2008 7:09:00 pm , Blogger LYL said...

There's a storefront church a couple blocks down with the words holy and apostolic in its name. That's two, your church only has one mark in its name and mine has none. Maybe that storefront church is the true church!

Well, let's see now... which has the most marks?

The Catholic Church is:

One: check.
Holy: check.
Catholic: check.
Apostolic: check.

So, that's 4 out of 4.

 

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