15 October 2008

A Dilemma for Protestants

Here’s an interesting dilemma for Protestants. We argue against the infallibility of the Pope on the basis that no man can perfectly hear God and infallibly declare doctrine. There’s also some confusion about the difference between infallibility on matters of doctrine and personal sinlessness but we won’t dig too much into that.

Now, at the same time, we affirm the infallibility of a book…a book written by humans that we know were not sinless, that we believe nevertheless were able to produce infallible teaching as they were guided and enabled by the Holy Spirit.

The difference in these two views is only by a matter of degrees. One accepts infallible teaching and doctrine directly from a man who occupies a specific office and believes that the Holy Spirit enables him to speak infallibly on matters of faith and practice. The other simply accepts the same thing from a variety of men in written form. And on top of that, the one that believes in the infallibility of the Pope when speaking ex cathedra on matters of faith and practice affirms that such teaching still must not contradict anything in the Bible.

So my question is, if you can accept by faith that imperfect men could be infallibly guided by the Holy Spirit to produce an infallible Bible, why is the notion that the Holy Spirit could infallibly guide a Pope in the same manner such a non-starter?


Fr. Ernesto Obregon said...

The very short answer is that infallibility on dogmatic pronouncements is a function of the Church, not of any particular individual.

When we look at passages such as Acts 15, we see St. Peter and St. James submitting themselves to an assembly of church leaders from around the world. That is the pattern that the Church followed in the subsequent Ecumenical Councils.

In other words, the Early Church in both Scripture and history modeled a council (or conciliar) pattern in which the Holy Spirit spoke. As St. James commented, it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us.

Tony said...

Good question. :)

willoh said...

Oi vey ist Mir! This post haS ME SPEAKING YIDDISH! Im mirrim pupick!
The two are in no way similar, and it is Not a dilemma at all!
Ist, What Obregon said. He is as usual correct.
2nd what God has said. No. 2 wins
The bible has proven itself over and over to be a book of truth. Many times, events in the future were predicted by it with absolute accuracy. As in the very Day Jesus rode into Jerusalem, The Day! 200 prophecies fulfilled already, 100 or so to go.
The bible says it is what it is. The very Word of God.
Jesus quoted the bible not the pope.

Now let us look at the record of the pope. Sinful. Any student of European history will attest that the vicarage of Rome was for sale many times, and won by murder and intrigue many other. Have you heard of the Medici's?
3rd Times the world was run by the pope are called dark ages.
4th When the french threw out the monarchy they threw out the church, keeping it only for social reasons, not for matters of faith because the church partnered with the King to keep the people ignorant.
5.The bible never ordered people tortured, inventing horrors unimaginable.
The bible never ordered jews killed.
The bible never ordered the crusades.
The bible never taught false doctrine, and I would love to in loving manner explain the falseness of rome but it is late and I will get all wound up over what they did in the name of my Jesus, couple short ones.
The bible says all men fall short of the glory of god, Pope is said to be infallable.
The bible never invented Purgatory or limbo. they got rid of limbo last year ,they still have purgatory. the bible does not change.
Brother Ernesto is nicer than I am, but he said it, The Holy Spirit lead the writers of the bible. Claiming the Holy Spirit has CONSISTENTLY led the popes is blasphemy. There has been way too much sin there.
The bible is sound doctrine that teaches the way of God thru Christ. Just can't say that about the Pope.
No dilemma not a problem does not even come close.

Tony..call me collect you worry me!
Oy vey!

MamasBoy said...

Fr. Ernesto,

Does Scripture not make dogmatic pronouncements? I'm not a theologian, but me thinks it does. If individuals like Paul or Peter or Matthew or _______ can make a dogmatic statement when writing the Scriptures, why is the Holy Spirit limited nowadays to working through groups?


Much of what you write about the Catholic Church is patently false. Please, read about what Catholics believe from Catholics. You might be surprised to learn that much of what you've been taught about them is false.

"The bible says all men fall short of the glory of god, Pope is said to be infallable."
If Peter is an acknowledged sinner whose correction by Paul is recorded in the Scriptures, does that mean that what he wrote in I and II Peter is not to be relied on as infallible Scripture? Fallible men can produce infallible writings, as Providence has shown.

"the bible does not change."
Then why are there numerous verses in the KJV that aren't in the NIV? The Bible isn't a singular book, but a library. The library took centuries to decide upon (thanks Pope Damasus and Jerome), and there are phrases and verses about which there is still some controversy in certain circles. What we understand as Scripture is only considered to be so by us because of the influence and authority of mortal men who lived centuries after the apostles.