Scott Carson has written an interesting response to recent discussions on his own blog. It is well presented and thought out. It is friendly and conciliatory, as well as both polite and robust- traits we appreciate at The Continuum. But, it shows me how very differently from us some modern Roman Catholics have come to think. And, also how much they depart from the mind of the ancient Church and the Fathers, at least as far as my several decades of reading have led me to understand.
I quote some here.
One thing that I've noticed about the debate so far is a certain amount of equivocation on certain key terms, such as "authority", "private judgment", "the Church", etc. I don't think that either side disagrees that it is not up to the individual person to pass judgment on the truth of authoritative Church teaching; where they disagree is over what constitutes an authoritative Church teaching and why. For example, Anglicans as well as Catholics will assert that a Christian must believe in the Trinity, and both will agree that the reason why a Christian must believe in such a thing, in spite of the fact that no such thing is ever mentioned in the Scriptures, is because the doctrine has been taught by the Church. Well, what does that mean? If you had asked me a few years ago, I would have said that it means that it was taught by an Ecumenical Council. Some Catholics perhaps still think that is what it means; but to some Anglicans what it means is that the doctrine of the Trinity meets a certain standard, namely, the Vincentian Canon (a subject of much comment both here and at Mike Liccione's Sacramentum Vitae). That which has been believed by all Christians at all times and places, these Anglican say, is what must still be believed by anyone professing to be a Christian.
As it happens, not everyone agrees that the doctrine of the Trinity actually meets this criterion. It is an empirical question, and as far as I can see most, if not all, of the evidence points towards the doctrine being one that evolved over time. This does not preclude the possibility, of course, that it was at least secretly believed right from Day One, but unfortunately there is no evidence to that effect, and the very fact that it was necessary for an Ecumenical Council to define the doctrine, and to anathematize anyone who rejected it, suggests that there were plenty of folks who did not accept it.
The problem is Cardinal Newman's theory of Doctrinal Development. His idea was rejected by the Roman Magisterium, but has come to be respected more and more over the last century. If you want to understand that theory, you have no better brief example than what Scott Carson wrote in the above quotation.
The problem is, it is factually wrong.
About us: We do not believe the doctrine of the Trinity simply because it meets the criterion of the Vincentian Canon. Christianity is the Revealed Religion. In fact, nothing meets the criterion of the Vincentian Canon that cannot also be demonstrated from scripture. The first authority is scripture, and only scripture contains revelation. The teaching voice of the Apostles once contained it, but within one generation the New Testament was left behind containing their teaching, along with all things necessary for salvation. Writers, including some as early as, for example, St. Justin Martyr, reveal that the Church received the same twenty seven books, if only vox populi, as authoritative. In some regions questions were raised about II Peter and Jude, and in others The Shepherd of Hermes was received equally. But, in general they had what we have, the same twenty seven books as the last portion of our one Canon in two Testaments. At the Council of Nicea, the bishops merely clarified what had long been established about the New Testament Canon. The Bible is part of the Church's Tradition, for it is both the Word of God and the Book of the Church. The See of Rome was clear on this too back when Newman proposed his theory, and so they rejected that theory.
About the doctrine of the Trinity: It is most certainly in the Bible, taught very clearly and powerfully. I can prove the doctrine with nothing but a Bible in my hand. I am very happy for the Councils of Nicea and Constantinople, but I can prove the doctrine the same way those holy Fathers at the Councils actually proved it: with scripture. I fail to understand how anyone could not. It is, frankly, easy. It is easy because it was not hidden. Try to make sense out of John chapter one, for example, without the Trinity as the only solution, in light of the obvious fact that the scriptures teach Monotheism.
About the first Ecumenical Council of Nicea, it was not called because "there were plenty of folks who did not accept" the doctrine we have come to call the doctrine of the Trinity. It was called because Arius was instantly recognized for the heretic that he was, introducing new and strange doctrine contrary to the teaching that the Church had believed all along, quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est. (Yes, the Arians later inflicted themselves on the Church, but only by the power of an emperor. This drove St. Athanasius into exile several times, making him the first bishop, and logical patron saint, of the Continuing Church.) That is what history shows, that is what the Fathers wrote, and that is why the doctrine of the Trinity meets the test we apply: Scripture, Right Reason and Tradition.
And, again for Fr. Alvin Kimmel's benefit: Scripture, Right Reason and Tradition, that Tradition constituting quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est, is not, and never has been, "private judgment."