Thursday, December 17, 2009

Defining the Terms

I wrote this and posted it before, in March. It seems right to post it once more both for the benefit of new readers, and for its relevance to current items of great interest, and in light of recent comments on other threads.- Fr. Hart

It may be apparent by now that one of the great hindrances to clear thinking and teaching is a combination of simplistic and reactionary thought mixed with nominalism. In all of the recent posts on this blog about the sacrament of Christ's Body and Blood, drawing on Hooker who drew on Cranmer, I hope that I have demonstrated that true Catholic teaching on sacramental grace is far more flexible and mysterious than modern interlocutors, mainly Roman Catholics on one hand and modern nouveau "Anglican" Evangelicals on the other, are wont to admit. They have, in their simplistic approach, created false contrasts. One of these is a false contrast between Catholic belief concerning the charismatic reality of Christ's Body and Blood in the sacrament and what they loosely, indeed inaccurately, term "Receptionism." We have demonstrated that the Anglican emphasis on Receiving the sacrament was due to a very real faith that this is a sign and more than a sign, an effectual sign and means of grace. They strongly rejected any concept of a "bare sign empty of Christ," or as Hooker spelled it out:

For we take not baptism nor the eucharist for bare resemblances or memorials of things absent, neither for naked signs and testimonies assuring us of grace received before, but (as they are indeed and in verity) for means effectual whereby God when we take the sacraments delivereth into our hands that grace available unto eternal life, which grace the sacraments represent or signify. V.57.5

False contrasts create a Babel where before we could engage in thoughtful communication, learning from one another and establishing, we may hope, unity in the Church. For, this false gulf stands between us and Rome in its official error concerning the validity of Anglican Orders, charging that our fathers rejected Eucharistic sacrifice, and truly Catholic faith concerning the sacrament (as if that alone could have canceled out validity). Having been forced by better history and scholarship to abandon all arguments for their position but one (rather, they yet claim to have one) they must continually misinform themselves and their own people about Anglican sacramental theology, while their boldest and most daring polemicists attempt to misinform our people too. Meanwhile, the nouveau Evangelicals echo Rome's factual errors, but try to say that it really does not matter.

Of course, real theologians cannot live with the simplistic and reactionary nominalism that eradicates honest inquiry and thought. For this reason, my brothers and I (one a Roman Catholic priest, the other an Orthodox theologian well-known) never manage to argue or debate each other about theology, but rather have very enjoyable discussions. We talk about the explosive subject of religion because God himself is at the center of our lives; we are all Christians, and respect each other. Our discussions avoid the traps others fall into when keywords become red flags, behind which stand misinformation, simplistic reactions and nominalism.

Also, for the sake of genuine thought and discussion we have, on this blog, looked at how the current pope himself has redefined "Transubstantiation" in a manner acceptable to Anglicans. Though I cannot retroactively credit the Church of Rome with his wholesome point of view, his teaching on the subject bridges a gap because Joseph Ratzinger himself (even had he never been elevated) approached the subject with respect for the Patristic period, the antiquity of the Tradition, and the need that every doctrine be built on the foundation of revelation from Scripture.

Nonetheless, many Anglicans these days have suffered a blow because they have never been grounded in the writings of their own fathers, and have never realized how thoroughly those English Reformers believed and taught the true Catholic Faith of antiquity, understanding the Scriptures in a way that could not be corrupted by innovations from any contemporary source. They held their ground to find the middle way of truth between many opposing extremes: They were not Calvinists, Lutherans, Papists, Anabaptists, etc. Their language overlapped some of these because they kept alive the kind of thinking and writing that had been acceptable in the Holy Catholic Church since the beginning, that allowed for honest questions, and that limited the source of final determination in every question to what could be shown to come from Scripture as understood by the Church Quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est.

The unfortunate remark of an Anglican bishop who called his own patrimony a failed 450-year old experiment, demonstrates that knee-jerk nominalism has created a new kind of "Anglo-Papalism." This is not the original kind that sought for the reunification of the Church, and saw the pope as the logical choice for Western Patriarch, seeing even the doctrine of papal infallibility as potentially acceptable if Rome would define it as the last stage of the conciliar process. Indeed, the key to understanding the old Anglo-Papalism well enough to distinguish it from the new kind, is seeing that the old kind required an orthodox definition from Rome on this and other related matters as necessary to organic unity. Instead, the nouveau Anglo-Papalist lets others define all the terms, allows others to teach him the theology of his own patrimony, and so gives ground to all interlocutors and polemicists, waving the white flag of an inferiority complex. And, if only they knew better, they would see that their inferiority complex is undeserved, and that it misrepresents the rest of us. (This is very sad, because when they leap into the Tiber due to false contrasts and simplistic definitions, they throw away the baby with the bathwater, generally becoming miserable, that is, over time quite unhappy with their decision.)

So, in those recent posts, I hope that I have demonstrated, to those most in need of the lesson, that the mysteries are deep. True theology is both complex and flexible enough to allow us to abide by the terms established in antiquity, rather than feeling the pressure to swallow late, modern and very modern, philosophically dubious, legalistic definitions that shake the conscience for no good reason. For example, on this one matter of Eucharistic theology, we ought to set the terms of any debate ourselves, seeing our own patrimony in light of the Scriptures and the Tradition in which we have received them. If our own people will learn this, they will bring forth from their treasures things both old and new.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

Father Hart wrote:

"...seeing even the doctrine of papal infallibility as potentially acceptable if Rome would define it as the last stage of the conciliar process. ..."


Just out of curiosity, could you flesh your thoughts out here a bit more about what you mean?


Sean W. Reed

Canon Jerome Lloyd OSJV said...

I think Fr Hart might mean, if the Holy Father's "infallibility" was dependent on his pronouncing as dogma that which an Ecumenical Council agreed as doctrine i.e. as spokesman for the infallibility of the Magisterium of The Church and not of a single Office i.e. Pope.

That is a position I think most would be happy with - the Orthodox, Old Catholics and Classical Anglicans.

[Needs only one "infallible statement" from the Pope under the present definition of Pastor Aeternus to make it happen too... Now wouldn't that be coup?!]

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Yes, and a truly Ecumenical Council would have to be really universal, not merely Roman. This is all theoretical at this point.

Anonymous said...

Just for my further edification on trying to understand where you are coming from, if you consider what I am pasting below from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, would you have issue with what it teaches about infallibility, if the phrase concerning the College of Bishops (No. 891) was eccumenical according to your understanding of that term?

When we consider the Infallible proclamation concerning the Assumption of the BVM, that was made, as the document makes clear, after consulting, and responding to the wish, of the Roman Bishops.

If, hypothetically, that consultation included the Orthodox, the ACC, and others, and all were in support - what then?

Do you think that infallibility exists in any form in the Church, and if so, under what conditions? Solely in an Ecumenical Council?


Sean W. Reed


888 Bishops, with priests as co-workers, have as their first task "to preach the Gospel of God to all men," in keeping with the Lord's command.415 They are "heralds of faith, who draw new disciples to Christ; they are authentic teachers" of the apostolic faith "endowed with the authority of Christ."416

889 In order to preserve the Church in the purity of the faith handed on by the apostles, Christ who is the Truth willed to confer on her a share in his own infallibility. By a "supernatural sense of faith" the People of God, under the guidance of the Church's living Magisterium, "unfailingly adheres to this faith."417

890 The mission of the Magisterium is linked to the definitive nature of the covenant established by God with his people in Christ. It is this Magisterium's task to preserve God's people from deviations and defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error. Thus, the pastoral duty of the Magisterium is aimed at seeing to it that the People of God abides in the truth that liberates. To fulfill this service, Christ endowed the Church's shepherds with the charism of infallibility in matters of faith and morals. The exercise of this charism takes several forms:

891 "The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful - who confirms his brethren in the faith he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals. . . . The infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter's successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium," above all in an Ecumenical Council.418 When the Church through its supreme Magisterium proposes a doctrine "for belief as being divinely revealed,"419 and as the teaching of Christ, the definitions "must be adhered to with the obedience of faith."420 This infallibility extends as far as the deposit of divine Revelation itself.421

892 Divine assistance is also given to the successors of the apostles, teaching in communion with the successor of Peter, and, in a particular way, to the bishop of Rome, pastor of the whole Church, when, without arriving at an infallible definition and without pronouncing in a "definitive manner," they propose in the exercise of the ordinary Magisterium a teaching that leads to better understanding of Revelation in matters of faith and morals. To this ordinary teaching the faithful "are to adhere to it with religious assent"422 which, though distinct from the assent of faith, is nonetheless an extension of it.

Anonymous said...

Sounds good, but how would you sustain this in terms of the Vincentian Canon?
I do not believe the Fathers at Nicaea I or II even remotely dreampt that the Bishop of Rome was "the last stage of their process." If Holy Scripture is indeed the final authority, then we will just have to bite the bullet and say papal infallibility is a doctrinal falsehood.
LKW

Allen Lewis said...

Brilliantly written, Fr. Hart! I will have to hunt down that book as well!

So many books; so little time to read them in! But a joy to look forward to.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Sean Reed:

Infallibility belongs to the whole Church, not simply to Rome, one Patriarchate among others, one See among many. Consider everything that would have to happen first in order for the Church to have a genuinely Ecumenical Council, one with Universal representation. First of all, I do not see political unity (i.e. one polity for the whole Church with one unified structure) as an eschatological necessity. But, that is not to say I would reject the idea, inasmuch as with God all things are possible. Such outward and visible unity may be His plan.

So we compare and contrast the current situation with the ideal. We have described the ideal, in which the Pope would be acting under the authority of the universal College of Bishops, formalizing the mind of the Church. Theoretically, that would require Rome to drop Newman's theory, and return to the Vincentian Canon. For, in no other way could they represent the whole Church, which includes its past generations

What exists now is the See of Rome still making outrageous claims more they did in 1054, a pope claiming the power as an individual to declare dogma (a historical irony, as Papal Infallibility is supposed to bind each pope to what has come before). In practice (yet, not in theory) they reject the Vincentian Canon, which means that Rome has cut off the branch that they were sitting on, that branch of Christian doctrine.

Furthermore, the Infallibility of the Church must root it firmly in Antiquity and Scripture, which means that every infallible teaching, every dogma, has existed from the beginning. The only purpose of a Council that would be Ecumenical, Universal and therefore infallible, is to defend that which has been declared from the beginning. That is what the Seven Councils did, and the entire exercise of "development" was, in reality, clarification to "earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the Saints."

If ever a Council is needed for this kind of defense again, and we have a unified Church, and the Pope signing off on defense of Antiquity and Universal Consensus is the last step in recognizing infallible doctrine, that would be fine.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

888 Bishops, with priests as co-workers, have as their first task "to preach the Gospel of God to all men," in keeping with the Lord's command.415 They are "heralds of faith, who draw new disciples to Christ; they are authentic teachers" of the apostolic faith "endowed with the authority of Christ."416

By the way, that is one of my favorite passages in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and it is in perfect accord with the Council of Trent. But, when Anglicans say the same thing, we are accused of rejecting some alleged Catholic Consensus that places the Eucharistic Sacrifice as the first duty, almost to the point of making everything else fade into oblivion. At one time, that was a part of the 1896 Bull, and is one example of Rome having to remove the supporting pillars of a conclusion that they insist on, with no supporting arguments remaining.

Fascinating.

palaeologos said...

A case could be made that the Eucharistic Sacrifice is in itself a form of preaching the Gospel. Liturgy precedes theology, after all.

Canon Jerome Lloyd OSJV said...

"Placet" to what Fr Hart has written!

An Anglican Cleric said...

Excellent article.

Cherub said...

When Cranmer wrote his opinion on transubstantiation and the Real Presence he was faced with a proble. First, there were indeeed popular accounts of the Real presence which suggested a physicalist (flesh and blood in a carnal sense) presence of Christ whereby the Sacrament ceased tro be a Sacrament and became another kind of "meat" as Cranmer putit. The Council of Trent defined transubstantiation in terms of Aristotelian metaphysics. Using these philosophical categories Trent defined that Christ is truly present not HOW he is truly present. That presence is metaphysical. As an Anglican I knew, follwoing Newman, that the relevant Article which denies transubstantiation was not a denial ofthe doctrine of Trent since that had not yet happened. Rather it was properly a condemnation of the "Romish" (ie the Romanenses party, which the Article condemned precisely because it overhtrew the nature of a Sacrament. While no Anglican is required to believe what Cranmer believed, or at least accept the way he expressed himself, the BCP of 1662 clearly affirms the doctrine of the Real opresence of Christ in the Eucharist although not using Aristotelian categories with which to do it. I know some Evangelical Anglicans hold views closer to Zwingli than the BCP, but I would still hold that the the BCP of 1662 clearly teaches the Real Rresence. After all Christ cannot be given in the distribution of Holy Communion unless he is really there. Pope BXVI's writings are clearly in conformity with Trent and, as I would have it, the BCP of 1662. We must always remember that the BCP is the standard of doctrine and worship of Anglicans, not the opinions of particular individuals writing during the stormy period of the Reformation.

Cherub said...

I agree with Fr Hart that infallibility belongs to the whole Church. It is a pity (in terms of sheer voting power) that most of the world's Chriustians believe that the Pope also exercises infallibility. If the infallible Church recognises the Pope's infallibility, where does that leave Anglicans.

poetreader said...

Cherub,
Your first and longer comment is excellent, but this second one -- what shall I say? I've seldom heard a more confused statement than that.

Are you equating one particular part of the Church of God as THE infallible Church? It would appear so. You have not demonstrated how you make such a huge logical leap. Are you asserting, as it might appear from what you wrote, that a majority vote determines what is true doctrine and therefore what is infallible? That is false on the face of it. It is indeed a pity (in terms of sheer voting power) that such a large number of Christians are misled in this fashion.

Whether you agree or not, you must be aware, as a reader of this site, that very few of us indeed would define the Roman Church as THE infallible Church, and indeed consider the assertions of papal infallibility to be a strong evidence that this body, taken alone, has shown itself to be quite fallible. It is rather to the whole Church, of which Rome is but the largest single part, and its consensus that we look.

You may not agree with this viewpoint, but at least show us the respect to recognize that we believe your major premise here to be utterly false.

ed

Anonymous said...

What is the point of saying that "the Church" is infallible unless it has some organ for exercising this infallibility?
And is anyone prepared to submit a list of times when this infallibility has been exercised, or a list of doctrines which the Church has articulated in an infallible manner?
LKW

poetreader said...

That's a good question, one that is too often bypassed. I don't really like the word "infallible" as it tends to be taken as indicating that mistakes cannot be made. One of the most obvious things about Church history is that, at any given point in time, the Church is deeply involved in serious mistakes of one kind or another.

One may say that the Church has not failed in its identification of Scripture or in its definition of basic doctrines, and that the 7 Councils are bodies that did define Scriptural truth without failing. Looking to the future, we can confidently assert that the Church will not fail to remain in the truth, nor will it fail to fulfill its preordained mission. In that sense we might say "infallible", but that usage is more as a synonym for "indefectible".

If we do treat an Ecumenical Council as infallible, how do we identify it as such? There were other councils during the same period of time which are recognized as failures. Why these 7? Isn't it so that these 7 and not the others survived the ongoing testing of the whole church, until it became recognized that they had not failed? I contend that there is no central, recognizable organ of infallibility, nor can there be, nor is such a thing even desirable. Well, there is the Scripture, but who is to determine precisely what that says?

Truth does not fail. Truth is eternal, but men do fail, and the ideas of men are temporal and ultimately pass away. The Christian life is the life of fallible and sinful men, struggling for a holiness of life they never quite attain on earth, and struggling for an eternal Truth they never entirely grasp. There is no end point on earth.

Speaking for myself I am generally pretty positive of the truth of what I believe, and can defend it with some heat -- but I believe that I must recognize my own fallibility and realize the certainty that some unidentified part of that of which I am so sure is not so. I shall fail, but, I believe that, by the grace of God, I shall not be found to have fallen away, and will, if not on this earth, in glory, finally attain to both truth and holiness -- through Him who, alone, is the Way and the Truth, and the Life.

ed

Cherub said...

Dear Poetreader
What I said about infallibility was too compressed but it is not confused. On the Anglican account, the Anglican Church is a branch of the one true church, the Catholic Church. Soo too is Rome and so too are the Orthodox. I am just saying that if there were to be a General Council there would be far more Catholic bishops than all the ogthers put together which would result in a vote for the infallibility of the Pope. The organs through which infallibility is expressed are Councils and the Pope. The trouble is that time has moved on since the Reformation and we are in our current parlous state ecumenically speaking. On the Roman account a Council may be called and those who are invited are bishops who are in Communion with the Pope. The Orthodox hold that such a Council is no true Council because they are not there. The Anglicans would hold the same even though they were invited to Trent but QEI stopped the bishops from attending. The Anglican position is precarious because Synods have arrogated to themselves the right to make theological decisions of great importance and which are contrary to the received Apostolic Tradition. If Anglicans (and here I exclude the Continuum from this observation) think that such decisions can be made by majority votes of Synods, a fortiori a Council, however composed, would hold even greater authority. I exclude the continuum from these remarks because its members seem to me at any rate to hold fast to the teachings of the undivided Church in a way in which mainstream Anglicans have not. That is what I was trying to say before old age and tiredness took over and I went for cryptic rather than a proper contribution.

poetreader said...

I'm afraid that doesn't fix it. You've gone and attributed power to establish truth to the majority.

I am just saying that if there were to be a General Council there would be far more Catholic bishops than all the others put together which would result in a vote for the infallibility of the Pope.

If mere superiority in numbers results in establishment of doctrine, then it is the majority judging truth, whereas it is so that the truth judges the majority. There were indeed councils in which a majority voted for heresy and most of the church accepted them for a time, until finally it became evident that they were not true councils, simply because it was not the truth they proclaimed. St. Athanasius was very much in the minority within the organized church in standing against Arianism. He was right. The overwhelming majority was wrong.\, and ultimately truth prevailed over numbers. Yes, humanly speaking the bishops of the Roman Church would outnumber the rest, and could pass whatever they wanted -- but, unless it is the moving of the Spirit, that is meaningless.

With regard to the Continuing Church, the principle is illustrated. The great majority of those called Anglican have in recent decades rejected various critical parts of the truth, and in so doing have rejected real Anglicanism to substitute something else. It is the minority who carry on the real Anglican Tradition. We were outvoted, but it is truth that rules.

ed

poetreader said...

I'm afraid that doesn't fix it. You've gone and attributed power to establish truth to the majority.

I am just saying that if there were to be a General Council there would be far more Catholic bishops than all the others put together which would result in a vote for the infallibility of the Pope.

If mere superiority in numbers results in establishment of doctrine, then it is the majority judging truth, whereas it is so that the truth judges the majority. There were indeed councils in which a majority voted for heresy and most of the church accepted them for a time, until finally it became evident that they were not true councils, simply because it was not the truth they proclaimed. St. Athanasius was very much in the minority within the organized church in standing against Arianism. He was right. The overwhelming majority was wrong.\, and ultimately truth prevailed over numbers. Yes, humanly speaking the bishops of the Roman Church would outnumber the rest, and could pass whatever they wanted -- but, unless it is the moving of the Spirit, that is meaningless.

With regard to the Continuing Church, the principle is illustrated. The great majority of those called Anglican have in recent decades rejected various critical parts of the truth, and in so doing have rejected real Anglicanism to substitute something else. It is the minority who carry on the real Anglican Tradition. We were outvoted, but it is truth that rules.

ed

Cherub said...

Dear Poetreader
You say: "I'm afraid that doesn't fix it. You've gone and attributed power to establish truth to the majority." No I haven't, any more than one can ascribe the choice of an Apostle to replace was done by chance alone. Christ promised the Church the Holy Spirit to guide the Church into all truth. Whether by lots or by voting God governs His Church for His own good purposes. Your formula leaves us in the situation wereby anyone can say they have the truthby which to judge the Church. That leads to the supremacy of private judgement and we can see where this has lead Anglicanism.

Anonymous said...

Ed writes,
"I contend that (1) there is no central, recognizable organ of infallibility, (2) nor can there be, (3) nor is such a thing even desirable."

I am with you 100 percent on all three counts. It could not be said better.

It is necessary to distinguish between infallibility and indefectibility. The latter term means that there will always be a Church on earth which is faithful to the Gospel and in which the Holy Spirit operates savingly for the redemption of sinners, applying to them the merits and benefits of Christ's work. This Church may at times be a remnant, and is never at any time perfect or pure. As I read Article XIX, every manifestation of the Church throughout history "hath erred, not only in their living and manner of Ceremonies, but also in matters of faith."

The term Infallibility, strictly speaking, applies exclusively to the Holy Scripture, because it is God-breathed. To attribute to any temporal or institutional manifestation of the Church (Papacy, Council, Consensus fidelium, whatever) a faculty of teaching inerrantly (1) quickly creates insoluble problems and (2) is simply unnecessary. The Church has a sovereign Lord, who has spoken infallibly in the Scriptures. To claim infallibilty for anything else inevitably dishonors the Word of God.

The RCC cannot produce an authoritative list of infallible teachings. For example, would Humanae Vitae be on it or not on it? Even the Canon of Scripture is still unclear. How about I & II Esdras and the Prayer of Manasses, accepted by us but not by Trent? III Maccabees, accepted by the EO's but by no one else? And what about the period when the Russian Orthodox accepted the 39 book "Protestant" or Jewish canon? And what about the Oriental Church which accept only 2 or 3 Ecumenical Councils, to the dismay of heptolatrous Anglo-Catholics. This notion of infallibility, when applied to the Church, quickly becomes a quagmire that we are better off not stepping into. A sovereign Lord, an inerrant Bible, an indefectible Church is quite enough for me---in that order.
LKW

Anonymous said...

Sean wrote:

"Infallibility belongs to the whole Church,...."

Would you agree with St Augustine and with the tradition deriving from him, that heretics can baptized validly, as long as the proper mater, form and intention are present? As far as I know, the Arians of northern Europe were brought into union with Rome without any further baptism. And certainly Protestant baptisms have been accepted as valid. My point here is that heretics are in some sense and to some degree within the boundaries of the Church. If you allow this, would you need to refine or clarify your statement? Sounds like you are saying we are all infallible but some are more infallible than others.
LKW

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Cherub:

The very phrase "Private judgment" leaves me cold, because the fans of Newman have used it to excess. It is a label, and their use justifies laziness of mind. Every Protestant of any stripe they dismiss with the "Private Judgment" label. And, it is sheer non-sense.

For one thing, Roman Catholics are just as prone to "private judgment" as anybody, and often quick to tell you exactly how their "infallible" Pope is wrong. The Traditionalists are just as prone to do so as the liberals.

For another thing, the only Anglicans who have allowed themselves to be led astray by "private interpretation" are the heretics. Continuers know that the Scripture is primary, and that the Right Reason of the Church with both its traditions and wisdom in matters of doctrine handed down, and in matters of polity, constitute authority to which we submit.

For another thing, anyone who cannot use private judgment will be incapable of believing anything, because he has no share of Right Reason or wisdom. But, submitting his private judgment to the authority I have described, is how he steers clear of rebellion and heresy. He loves God with all his mind, rather than throwing away his mind with its power of judgment.

"But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil." Heb. 5:14

Cherub said...

Father Robert, you say: "For one thing, Roman Catholics are just as prone to "private judgment" as anybody, and often quick to tell you exactly how their "infallible" Pope is wrong. The Traditionalists are just as prone to do so as the liberals."
I agree. It is a perenial problem. But I was talking about institutions. Where Rome is concerned there are matters which are infallibly proposed and not open to be gainsaid. There are not so many of them. But Protestants have always accepted that infallibity when it comes to the defining of the canon of Scripture, the Apostle's Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Athanasius Creed and much more besides. That some Christians go their own way is one thing. But when a whole ecclesial bbody goes its own way as Synods of Anglican Churches have done over doctrinal and moral issues, then that is what I am talking aout. Bad enough that some Christians (Anglican, RCs, Protestants) individually make theior own arrangements about what they will believe and practice. Much, much worse when bishops and synods do wicked things in the name of the whole Church. Rome proposes but does not impose. If one believes what Rome claims as its credentials to so propose then join her. If not, then join some other ecclesial body. But when an ecclesial body goes its own way into heresy it cannot expect to be treated as an "equal". The truth is that much of the Anglican Communion is in serious error even by Continuum standards.
Anonymous says he agrees with the following propositions:
"I contend that (1) there is no central, recognizable organ of infallibility, (2) nor can there be, (3) nor is such a thing even desirable."
You may wish to contend it but assertion is no substitute for argument. Whether or not infallible organs are desirable is a statement of taste not theology. And as far as "nor can there be one" is concerned, we here have an example of infalible teaching, ie that there is no infallible teaching organ.
Matthew 16 has to be taken rather more seriously than that, and on the face of it Rome has very good grounds for what it teaches about the Petrine Ministry.

Anonymous said...

LKW -

The list of infallible pronouncements is short - the Assumption.


SWR

Fr. Robert Hart said...

And, Immaculate Conception of Mary. The total is 2.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Cherub wrote:

Where Rome is concerned there are matters which are infallibly proposed and not open to be gainsaid.

That is true of every serious Christian church. It is true of us, as our formularies show (and for the Continuing Church the Affirmation of St. Louis may as well be a formulary).

Come to think of it, what you have stated about Rome is technically true of the Southern Baptist Convention.

The truth is that much of the Anglican Communion is in serious error even by Continuum standards.

What could you possibly mean by saying, "even by Continuum standards"? Since you were able to write these words, it is clear that you are very seriously misinformed about who we are. It is not "even by" but simply "by." We are the ones who refuse to be in communion with the Canterbury Anglicans. We are the ones who regard them as having left us to venture out into heresy. They do not share our standards at all, having accepted, as a Communion, numerous heresies. Meanwhile, Rome maintains ecumenical dialogue with them on a level we would not. "Even" indeed.

Matthew 16 has to be taken rather more seriously than that, and on the face of it Rome has very good grounds for what it teaches about the Petrine Ministry.

We have been treated to many people repeating the long list of patristic quotations about Matt. 16 and Rome that have been ripped out of their proper context both historically and textually. The Matt. 16 argument is simply a leap of trust with no logic, no reason, and no genuine history. The RC interpretation is wild, and frankly impossible given the Greek words for "Peter" and for "Rock," and given the Jewish context in which Jesus spoke the words. Nothing in the text deals with infallibility, nothing applies the words to successors, and nothing ties the words to Rome. Besides, even as late as the Council of Nicea, the Church would have supposed you meant Antioch if you mentioned the See of Peter. And, it is equally true, if not even more certain, that such a designation properly belongs to Antioch.

Anonymous said...

But I asked for a complete and infallible list. Is that all there is? Are Transsubstantiation, Indulgences, or Purgatory not on the list and open to revision?
LKW

Anonymous said...

"I'm afraid that doesn't fix it. You've gone and attributed power to establish truth to the majority.

I am just saying that if there were to be a General Council there would be far more Catholic bishops than all the others put together which would result in a vote for the infallibility of the Pope".

I have to object. I think that all combined the Anglican alphabet soup has more bishops than all the rest.

We can teke 'em. I'm sure of it.
Alan.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Cherub wrote:

Fr Hart says: "The RC interpretation is wild, and frankly impossible given the Greek words for "Peter" and for "Rock," and given the Jewish context in which Jesus spoke the words." The Greek petros petra argument has been and truly demolished as every Scrpture scholar knows. Christ spoke Aramaic, hence "Cephas", no masuline or feminie versions with which to make what is in any case a misues of Greek syntax and grammar. Oh that the Petrine texts from Scripture could so easily be wished away! The Anglican theologian, John de Satge, debunked all this \nonese years ago in his "Peter and the Single Church".

"Demolished...as every Scripture scholar knows..."? Really? This Scripture scholar remains unimpressed by the argument. Jesus probably spoke these words in Aramaic (and Paul's reference to Cephas in I Cor. indicates this), but it is not certain, inasmuch as Greek was the international language, and especially well known to people in Galilee. However, the undeniable facts is Matthew wrote in Greek, and without grammatical necessity used two distinct words, Πέτρος and πέτρα. Therefore, it is more likely that the writer was making his own comment on what Jesus meant- that Peter was part of that greater Rock of the Church's foundation, not himself the entire rocky cliff.

Even if not, it is still unreasonable to make these words apply to successors of Peter as some distinct group, unreasonable again to apply the meaning a step further to Rome, and completely insane to insist that they would justify the full character of what Rome teaches about the Papacy.

Oh that the Petrine texts from Scripture could so easily be wished away!

There are no Patrine texts in Scripture. Why can you not see that Rome's wild interpretation is pure isogesis? Isogesis is always wrong.

Cherub said...

Fr Hart says: "The RC interpretation is wild, and ... Fr Hart says: "The RC interpretation is wild, and frankly impossible given the Greek words for "Peter" and for "Rock," and given the Jewish context in which Jesus spoke the words." The Greek petros petra argument has been and truly demolished as every Scrpture scholar knows. Christ spoke Aramaic, hence"Cephas", no masuline or feminie versions with which to make what is in any case a misues of Greek syntax and grammar. Oh that the Petrine texts from Scripture could so easily be wished away! The Anglican theologian, John de Satge, debunked all this \nonese years ago in his "Peter and the Single Church".

Oh, and sorry about the word "even". I did not mean what I so obviously conveyed. I have always held in high regard the Churches of the Continuum for their heroic delf-sacrifice in rejecting mainstream Anglican contemporary heresies. So, Father, an unqualified apology is needed, and I give it.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Cherub wrote:

Fr Hart says: "The RC interpretation is wild, and frankly impossible given the Greek words for "Peter" and for "Rock," and given the Jewish context in which Jesus spoke the words." The Greek petros petra argument has been and truly demolished as every Scrpture scholar knows. Christ spoke Aramaic, hence "Cephas", no masuline or feminie versions with which to make what is in any case a misues of Greek syntax and grammar. Oh that the Petrine texts from Scripture could so easily be wished away! The Anglican theologian, John de Satge, debunked all this \nonese years ago in his "Peter and the Single Church".

"Demolished...as every Scripture scholar knows..."? Really? This Scripture scholar remains unimpressed by the argument. Jesus probably spoke these words in Aramaic (and Paul's reference to Cephas in I Cor. indicates this), but it is not certain, inasmuch as Greek was the international language, and especially well known to people in Galilee. However, the undeniable fact is Matthew wrote in Greek, and without grammatical necessity used two distinct words, Πέτρος and πέτρα. Therefore, it is more likely that the writer was making his own comment on what Jesus meant- that Peter was part of that greater Rock of the Church's foundation, not himself the entire rocky cliff.

Even if not, it is still unreasonable to make these words apply to successors of Peter as some distinct group, unreasonable again to apply the meaning a step further to Rome, and completely insane to insist that they would justify the full character of what Rome teaches about the Papacy.

Oh that the Petrine texts from Scripture could so easily be wished away!

There are no Patrine texts in Scripture. Why can you not see that Rome's wild interpretation is pure isogesis? Isogesis is always wrong