Infallibility

Discussion in 'Catholic Theology' started by Mungo, Apr 23, 2017.

  1. Mungo is a Verified MemberMungo Well-Known Member
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    This tread is a response to a statement by TheWordsmithSmith in another discussion -

    "I am sorry my friend but there is not now nor has there ever been any man “infallible” on this earth. Jesus is the only one who can claim that." - and a promise I made to raise thread ion the topic.

    Let me take TheWordSmith's statement that: "...there is not now nor has there ever been any man “infallible” on this earth. Jesus is the only one who can claim that."

    This is both true and false. True because no-one in their natural state can be infallible. We are not omniscient. But God can gift us infallibility on occasions for his own purposes. We believe that the authors of scripture wrote infallibly. When Peter stated to Jesus: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." (Mt 16:16) that was a profound and infallible statement.

    In a similar way, no-one in their natural state can raise someone from the dead. But God can gift someone the power to raise someone from the dead, as Peter did to Tabitha in Acts 9:40 and Paul did to Eutychus in Acts 20:10.

    When the issue of Infallibility and Catholicism is raised it is usually in the context of the infallibility of the Pope. This is unfortunate because it misses out the basic foundations of the doctrine.

    When we use that word in the context of the Catholic Church we mean that the Church will not teach error on those doctrines it solemnly defines – faith and morals. It says nothing about the holiness or the impeccability of individuals in the Church but that God will prevent the Church from teaching erroneous doctrine.

    Jesus founded a Church (Mt 16:18); he founded it on the Apostles and Prophets (Eph 2:20). It is described as the pillar and foundation of truth (1Tim 3:15)

    He gave that Church one set of doctrines (Jud 3); a unity of belief (Phil. 1:27, 2:2).

    He told the leaders of this Church “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19-20). He promised them that he would be with them "always, to the close of the age." (Mt 28:20). That means that mission of the Church, to make disciples and teach, will continue through time.

    He made promises to this Church, covenant promises, which he guarantees (Heb 7:22)

    He promised his Church would be indefectible. – the gates of hell would not prevail against it (Mt 16:18). Satan would not prevail, which he would do if the Church taught error

    Jesus promised the Church would be preserved from error by the Holy Spirit by reminding the apostles of all that Jesus had taught them (Jn 14:26) and guide them into the truth in the future (Jn 16:13). Since the Holy Spirit is guiding the Church we are guaranteed by the Holy Spirit that the Church will teach the truth.

    He prayed that the Father would consecrate the Apostles in the truth (Jn 17:17), and the Father always hears Jesus (Jn 11:41-42). We are therefore guaranteed by the Father that what Jesus’ Church teaches is the truth in all that it solemnly defines.

    Jesus promised he would not leave them on their own (Jn 14:18) but that he would be with them until the end of the age (Mt 28:20). Since the mission was to continue throughout time, and Jesus would be with them throughout time, those promises must be valid throughout time – not just to the apostles but their legitimate successors who carry on the mission.

    Therefore these promises remain with his Church and it is Jesus’ infallibility that the Church exercises in his name when it makes solemn definitions of true doctrine in matters of faith and morals.

    In doing this the Church draws on what God has taught either that which has been committed to writing (Scriptures) or passed on orally (Tradition).

    That infallibility can be exercised in three ways:
    “God, who is absolutely infallible, thus deigned to bestow upon His new people, which is the Church, a certain shared infallibility, which is restricted to matters of faith and morals, which is present when

    “the whole People of God unhesitatingly holds a point of doctrine pertaining to these matters, and finally which always depends upon the wise providence and anointing of the grace of the Holy Spirit, who leads the Church into all truth until the glorious coming of her Lord…..”

    “….the bishops scattered throughout the world but teaching in communion with the Successor of Peter present a doctrine to be held irrevocably.(27) It occurs even more clearly both when the bishops by a collegial act (as in Ecumenical Councils), together with their visible Head, define a doctrine to be held …..."


    “when the Roman Pontiff speaks ex cathedra, that is, when, exercising the office of Pastor and Teacher of all Christians, through his supreme apostolic authority he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the universal Church.”
    Quotes from Mysterium Ecclesiae.
    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/c...aith_doc_19730705_mysterium-ecclesiae_en.html
     
  2. Illuminator is a Verified MemberIlluminator Moderator
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    Just a few points off the top of my head. I don't usually do this, I normally spend 1/2 - 1 hr. doing research to make an informed post.
    • Infallibility means teaching without error, it does not mean impeccability, living without sinning.
    • The Pope, as a man, is not infallible.
    • His opinions, public statements, books and sermons are not infallible.
    • Infallibility is a special charism God gives to the Church that prevents her from teaching errors on faith and morals.
    • Infallibility does not come from Popes or councils, it comes from God.
    • Not every document produced by the Church is infallible, very few in fact.
    • It does not mean the Pope can pick winning lottery numbers.
     
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    Not one of these verses teach apostolic succession.
     
  5. Mungo is a Verified MemberMungo Well-Known Member
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    If we are going to discuss Apostolic Succession can I suggest we do it in one thread not two, I also suggest I start a separate thread for it.
     
  6. Mungo is a Verified MemberMungo Well-Known Member
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    I've started a thread "Authority" in General Theology. I see this this as a necessary precursor.
     
  7. Illuminator is a Verified MemberIlluminator Moderator
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    It seems to me, after 20 years of forum experience, that sola scripturists are hostile to the term "infallibily", and resistant to any explanation. Maybe it gets confused with inspiration. Infallibility is several steps down from inspiration. In fact, it is not even close to inspiration. Mungo did an excellent job in the OP explaining what it is and how it works.

    The Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15 was an infallible council. Not just because Peter, the apostles and elders were their (this is what we call the Magisterium) but because the Holy Spirit was there. No Holy Spirit to prevent error, no infallibility. It's that simple. The Council of Jerusalem did not arrive at a false decision.

    Acts 15:
    8 And God, who knows the human heart, testified to them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us;

    28 For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to impose on you no further burden than these essentials:


    Notice the "us" and in context, in both instances, it refers to Peter, the apostles and elders, not any individual believer to reach important decisions.

    Either the C of J was a one time historical event, or it is for all time like the rest of Scripture. If one wants to argue it was a historical event, then what criteria is used to determine what in Scripture is historical and what is perpetual???

    We believe in faith that the Church is infallible and indefectible, based on many biblical indications. It is theoretically possible (speaking in terms of philosophy or epistemology) that the Church could stray and have to be rejected, but the Bible rules that out. We believe in faith that it has not and will not.

    Protestants don’t have enough faith to believe that God could preserve an infallible Church, even though they can muster up even more faith than that, which is required to believe in an infallible Bible written by a bunch of sinners and hypocrites.

    We simply have more faith than you guys do. It’s a supernatural gift. We believe that the authoritative Church is also a key part of God’s plan to save the souls of men. We follow the model of the Jerusalem Council, whereas you guys reject that or ignore it, because it doesn’t fit in with the man-made tradition of Protestantism and a supposedly non-infallible Church.


    Read more at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davear...-protestant-tendency.html#cExZSFTq405hw9gY.99
     
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  8. Illuminator is a Verified MemberIlluminator Moderator
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    Where in Scripture does it say there would be no more disputes or controversies in the Church, like the Arian crisis?

    Was the Council of Nicae of 325 AD modeled after the Jerusalem Council in its ecclesia (structure) in refuting the Arian heresy?

    What Scriptures were used and how did Athanasius use them?

    What about the other councils?

    What is an ecumenical council?
    There will be a test :)
    Looks like a good thread title.


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  9. Illuminator is a Verified MemberIlluminator Moderator
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    Those verses, that you didn't read, is about infallibility, not apostolic succession. Before you mindlessly attack either one, you should find out what they are.

    You can't or won't answer the questions in the above post. Pontification is easy, research is hard.
     
  10. Illuminator is a Verified MemberIlluminator Moderator
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    It is said that live oral debates are a better use of time; that things can be said quicker than they can in writing. But I respond that truth takes time to find and communicate. Propaganda, on the other hand (such as the norm of today’s political rhetoric) is very easy to quickly spout. Evangelicalism lends itself far more easily to shallow rhetoric and slogans; Catholicism does not. It is complex, nuanced, and requires much thought and study. And thought takes time, no matter how you slice the cake. Again, truth and the acquisition of knowledge and wisdom requires time.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++
    In a debate about papal infallibility, for instance, it would be necessary to also have debates on
    • apostolic succession,
    • episcopacy,
    • the nature of the Church,
    • indefectibility,
    • the nature of authority,
    • NT teaching on Tradition,
    • development of doctrine,
    • the self-defeating nature of sola Scriptura, etc.
    I don’t think the average Protestant has any hope of understanding papal infallibility (and “problems” like the Honorius case) without some knowledge of these other presuppositional issues.

    In short, then, I think that any number of Catholic apologists could and would win such a debate on content (because our argument is true, and many apologists could convincingly present it), yet “lose” it in terms of impact on the audience, and in terms of the difficulty of persuading even those fair-minded or predisposed to be convinced of our side. We should take before and after surveys of people who attend these “debates” to see whether what I suspect is true or not (and make it a condition of the debate).

    If we must debate these sophists and cynically clever men, at least we need to make sure they have to also defend their position and not just run ours down with the standard, garden-variety anti-Catholic gibberish, bolstered with “quasi-facts” and half-truths presented in a warped, distorted fashion.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++
    It is stated (by anti-Catholics) that Catholics don’t fare well in public oral debates. Under my thesis, I could readily agree with that. It is true that the Catholic faith is not conducive to an environment where sophistical carnival-barker, used-car salesman types try to distort, twist, and misrepresent it at every turn (and this need not be deliberate at all: it matters not — the end result is the same).

    The Catholic position is not well-presented at such “debates” (i.e., public, oratorical ones) because it is complex, highly interrelated, and (in its complexity, spiritual profundity, and inner logic) much more a “thinking man’s religion” than Protestantism is.

    Presenting such an outlook can’t very easily be done in a time-limited debate where our opponent is playing the audience like a carnival barker or a dishonest politician.

    It can be done in a book or a lengthy article, or in a website which deals with all the interrelated topics (or at least links to them),so that the inquirer can learn how they are thoroughly biblical, coherent, and true to history (and development of doctrine is also another huge and crucial, necessary factor not easily summarized or even understood by many).
    Again, it has to do with the complexity and inter-relatedness of the Catholic position, and the difficulty in promulgating it in sound-bytes, as is the case in so many brands of evangelicalism.



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  11. Glark Well-Known Member
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    #12 Glark, Sep 12, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2017
    When attempting to explain papal infallibility to those who question or don't understand it, I like to begin by pointing to the OT prophets (as Mungo alluded to) - although they were imperfect sinners, the Lord used them to infallibly declare his word.

    "For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" - 2Peter 1:21.
    Note that "holy" doesn't necessarily mean impeccible (faultless, without sin). For consider the prophet, King David: He committed some very serious sins, yet God inspired him write down what we accept as infallible Scripture.
    And what about the prophet Jonah? He ran away from the job Yahweh gave him and ended up in the belly of a fish for three days, before finally delivering his infallible message to Nineveh.

    So the OT clearly sets the precedent for God using imperfect, fallible men to proclaim his perfect, infallible words.

    This being so, surely it is not so difficult to accept that God has the power to ensure that Peter and his successors (the Popes) infallibly declare to the faithful whatever God wants them to infallibly declare.
     
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    [​IMG] .
     
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    [​IMG]
    All kidding aside, again, I repeat: the Gates of Hell will not prevail. This much we know for certain. But why would Christ make such a promise at the very foundation of His Church?

    Because He knew that when the time came, it would appear otherwise.
     
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