Wednesday, February 24, 2010

THE CANON AND “INFALLIBLE CERTAINTY”

One of the arguments that Catholics will use against the Protestant teaching of Sola Scriptura (“Scripture Alone”) is the “canon” argument. The “canon” refers to the list of inspired books that belong in the Bible. The Catholic argument is that Protestants can’t even know which books belong in the Bible without the help of the Catholic Church, since the Catholic Church is the one that “infallibly determined” which books go into it. Without this guarantee, Protestants can’t be sure that they have the correct canon. At least, that’s what Catholics believe.

Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox all have a different canon, but the purpose of this article is not to address the precise books that fall into this list, but rather, whether or not a person can know infallibly (i.e., without the possibility of error) which books make up this list. Many Catholics seem to think that we can have “infallible certainty” on this, and in fact, insist that we must have this level of certainty. One Catholic source says:

"Only the Church, the infallible bearer of tradition, can furnish us invincible certainty as to the number of the Divinely inspired books of both the Old and the New Testament." (Online New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia, under “Scripture”)

Concerning the canon, and how we know which books are inspired, we all realize that no one alive today had anything to do with the formation of the canon, and therefore, we are dependent on others for this information. And, of course, we get this information from the writings of the early church. Now, the church did not “determine” the canon… the canon was “determined” by God. The early church fathers simply “recognized” the inspired books. But it doesn’t mean that recognizing the inspired books made those fathers infallible, nor that they needed to be infallible in order to recognize those books. Catholics just assume that the church is infallible, when there is no biblical evidence for it. (Another topic for another day)

But the truth is, we are all fallible creatures with fallible minds and hearts, and we all make fallible decisions. No matter what we end up choosing, or who we end up trusting, we all start out with fallibility… including the final authority(ies) that we choose to follow.

But we have to ask, how did the Old Testament saints know that Deuteronomy or Isaiah or Malachi were inspired books, when they didn’t have the Catholic Church there to tell them? Just like the fathers who recognized the books of the New Testament, they too, had to use their discernment, evaluate the available evidence, and reason with their fallible minds to come to a conclusion on their canon. But God does give us sufficient certainty on the canon today, just as He did for the Old Testament believers then. Once again, we don’t need to be infallible to recognize “the Infallible,” or else none of us would ever be able to recognize God and His dealings with us.

We so often see Catholics presenting a false dilemma concerning the canon: They say that either,

1) the early church fathers must have INFALLIBLY chosen the right books, or
2) they must have been WRONG in their choices

But these two are not the only options. The truth can be found somewhere in between those two extremes. For example, it is certainly possible to be fallible, yet correct. But I don’t believe that any human can have infallible certainty on the canon (or on anything else, for that matter). Infallible certainty is strictly God’s domain. But again, that doesn’t mean that He won’t give us sufficient certainty about the things of God.

Now, let us pose this important question: Is it mandatory for EVERY believer to have INFALLIBLE certainty on the FULL canon in order to be saved and to live for God?

If the answer is yes, then wouldn’t we have to say that out of the multitudes of godly people who lived before the fourth century, that not one was saved, or not one could live for God, until after the Councils of Carthage and Hippo (which supposedly settled the canon issue)?

If the answer to the above question is no, then why do Catholics put so much emphasis on INFALLIBLE certainty of the canon in the first place?

Actually, according to another Catholic Source, the first time that the canon of Scripture was infallibly declared was at the Council of Trent (1546):

“According to Catholic doctrine, the proximate criterion of the Biblical canon is the infallible decision of the Church. This decision was not given until rather late in the history of the Church (at the Council of Trent). Before that time there was some doubt about the canonicity of certain Biblical books, i.e., about their belonging to the canon.” (The New Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 3, page 29, Copyright 1967; Under “Canon, Biblical”)

The online “New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia” (Under “Canon of the Old Testament”) also confirms the above source:

“The Tridentine [i.e., from the Council of Trent] decrees from which the above list [of books] is extracted was the first infallible and effectually promulgated pronouncement on the Canon, addressed to the Church Universal.”

So, if these Catholic encyclopedias are correct, and if we really do need infallible certainty on the canon of Scripture, we find it strange that the Catholic Church waited for 1500 years before giving an infallible judgment on the canon.

But, Catholics can’t have it both ways. You can’t INSIST that we “really need” infallible certainty on the one hand, and on the other hand, say it’s no big deal that we DIDN’T have it until Trent in 1546. Again, the truth is, “infallible certainty” was not needed then, and is not needed now. If it were, then the Catholic Church has done a very poor job of providing this “certainty” for its members.

Another question is, why does the Catholic insist on the need for infallible certainty on the canon of Scripture for Protestants, when he (the Catholic) can’t have anywhere near this level of certainty on HIS OWN “canon” of Sacred Tradition… since he really doesn’t even know what it is? “Sacred Tradition” is supposedly equal to Scripture and is a critical part of the Catholic’s rule of faith, but can anyone tell us exactly what its contents are? No, they can’t. They always seem to dance around this question, when asked, and seem to purposely use extremely vague definitions for it. What kind of “certainty” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #82) can be derived from such a mysterious and nebulous Tradition? Does the Catholic Church have an official, infallible, and unchanging list of all of its “Sacred Traditions”? No, they don’t. We’re still waiting for a clear and meaningful defintion of “Sacred Tradition” before anyone can ever claim that it is “inspired.”

So, if the Catholic can demand from us an infallible list of the full contents of Scripture, then Protestants can also demand that Catholics provide an infallible list of the full contents of “Sacred Tradition” – so, please show us the list. Otherwise, demanding “infallible certainty” from anyone else, when you, yourself don’t have it, is hypocrisy.

So, the concept of “infallible certainty” on the canon is just another inflated Catholic claim that actually hurts the Catholic Church more than helps it. And furthermore, this canon argument does nothing to disprove “Sola Scriptura.”

27 comments:

  1. R: But the truth is, we are all fallible creatures with fallible minds and hearts, and we all make fallible decisions. No matter what we end up choosing, or who we end up trusting, we all start out with fallibility… including the final authority(ies) that we choose to follow.

    N: True, but that doesn't mean all arguments are equal. Someone presenting the better argument should be accepted over one who does not. How a Protestant determines the canon is no small issue, for they are left with everyone determines the canon on their own.

    R: But we have to ask, how did the Old Testament saints know that Deuteronomy or Isaiah or Malachi were inspired books, when they didn’t have the Catholic Church there to tell them?

    N: Since the OT doesn't give this information, it must have been Jewish tradition that told them.

    R: Just like the fathers who recognized the books of the New Testament, they too, had to use their discernment, evaluate the available evidence, and reason with their fallible minds to come to a conclusion on their canon.

    N: Amen. And they used tradition as a main criteria. Augustine says his canon (which included the Deuterocanonical books) was derived from the canons which major local churches traditionally passed on.

    R: But God does give us sufficient certainty on the canon today, just as He did for the Old Testament believers then.

    N: What makes you think the ancients knew the canon apart from tradition? That's a wild presumption.

    R: We so often see Catholics presenting a false dilemma concerning the canon: They say that either,
    1) the early church fathers must have INFALLIBLY chosen the right books, or
    2) they must have been WRONG in their choices

    N: This is false and fallacious. No informed Catholic argues this.

    R: Infallible certainty is strictly God’s domain.

    N: Then you rule out the possibility of the Apostles (who were mere men and sinners) could preach and write infallibly.

    R: If the answer to the above question is no, then why do Catholics put so much emphasis on INFALLIBLE certainty of the canon in the first place?

    N: It's not so much "infallible certainty" as it is "how do you know and how do you settle disputes?" If Luther doubts the canonicity of James and a Catholic affirms it, **WHO** settles the dispute? Or are Christians FREE to determine their own canon?? Or what if a Christian is humble and/or uneducated and honestly doesn't know if Jude is part of the Bible? Speaking as someone who goes for the most logical approach to things, I know of no way to come up with the canon of Scripture *ON MY OWN*. Further, I don't believe most Christians sit down and personally go through to evaluate each and every book to see if they think it's inspired.

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  2. (2 of 2)

    R: So, if these Catholic encyclopedias are correct, and if we really do need infallible certainty on the canon of Scripture, we find it strange that the Catholic Church waited for 1500 years before giving an infallible judgment on the canon.

    N: You're confusing things. Infallibility usually is only exercised when heresy or error arise. The Time of the reformation saw people going about determining the canon at their own whim (e.g. Luther doubted and devalued various OT and NT books). The point was *NEVER* that without an infallible decree we're all hopelessly lost and unable to determine anything. If a large or dangerous number of people started to deny Matthew wrote Matthew, the Church could very well step in and infallibly state that, as for now, the status quo of keeping the traditional authorship is sufficient.

    R: So, the concept of “infallible certainty” on the canon is just another inflated Catholic claim that actually hurts the Catholic Church more than helps it. And furthermore, this canon argument does nothing to disprove “Sola Scriptura.”

    N: You've basically been attacking a strawman throughout. The issue wasn't really "infallible certainty" as it was the infallible authority to settle disputes on the canon. A Protestant has no authoritative way of stopping another Protestant who doesn't believe Jude is inspired, and the Catholic mind says such anarchy impossible in Christ's true Church. 99% of Protestants accept the canon on the sole grounds that's what they were handed.

    And how the canon argument hurts Sola Scriptura is because without solid and authoritative criteria for what is Scripture, there can be no collection of books that can function as a sufficient rule of faith. If the Bible alone was the intention of the Apostles, then the Protestant needs the Bible to give them such parameters, else it's unworkable.

    The issue never was 'infallible certainty' as if we could prove 100% any part of the Christian faith, else faith wouldn't be necessary.

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  3. Nick,

    Thanks for your response.

    You said:

    “The point was *NEVER* that without an infallible decree we're all hopelessly lost and unable to determine anything.”

    I would agree that without such a decree we are not hopelessly lost. But it seems that anytime a Protestant points out that we can have “sufficient” certainty on the canon, the Catholic will say, “Oh, but that’s not enough, you gotta have infallible certainty!” So, are you agreeing with Protestants that “sufficient” certainty really is good enough?

    Along the same lines, you also said:

    “R: We so often see Catholics presenting a false dilemma concerning the canon: They say that either,
    1) the early church fathers must have INFALLIBLY chosen the right books, or
    2) they must have been WRONG in their choices

    N: This is false and fallacious. No informed Catholic argues this.”

    Nick, then I’m afraid that, according to you, many (if not most) of the major Catholic apologists in America are wrong, and are not “informed Catholics.” Because this false dilemma is the practical and functional result of the Catholic argument on the canon, though they usually won’t admit it.

    Furthermore, in the article above, I quoted the online “New Advent” Catholic Encyclopedia, which was speaking precisely of the certainty of the canon, and it says that only the [Catholic] Church, which is the INFALLIBLE BEARER OF TRADITION, could furnish “INVINCIBLE CERTAINTY” on the issue of the canon.

    So, it seems that “infallible certainty” IS INDEED a big deal to the Catholic Church, and the whole point of the article stands. So, I am not attacking a straw man.

    You said:

    “And how the canon argument hurts Sola Scriptura is because without solid and authoritative criteria for what is Scripture, there can be no collection of books that can function as a sufficient rule of faith. If the Bible alone was the intention of the Apostles, then the Protestant needs the Bible to give them such parameters, else it's unworkable.”

    First, this is another MIS-representation of Sola Scriptura. Sola Scriptura does not mean that every single bit of religious information has to be in the Bible for us to believe it. God chose not to specifically list the canon within the pages of the Bible, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t get some of this important information from other sources. Again, we CAN have sufficient certainty about the canon.

    Second, you say that the absence of “solid and authoritative criteria for what Scripture is” is a problem for the Protestant side. But if we demand “solid and authoritative criteria for what ‘Sacred Tradition’ is” (which is supposed to be infallible), we get nothing but weak, vague and meaningless “definitions” of Tradition. Catholics usually demand from us an infallible list of the contents of Scripture, yet Catholics can’t give us an infallible list of the contents of THEIR OWN Sacred Tradition. This is certainly a double standard.

    You emphasized “tradition” as playing a major part in receiving the canon. I don’t necessarily have a problem with that. The problem is determining what exactly do you MEAN when you say “tradition.” The term seems to carry a lot of “baggage,” and is especially problematic when claiming such a thing is infallible.

    You said:

    “R: Infallible certainty is strictly God’s domain.

    N: Then you rule out the possibility of the Apostles (who were mere men and sinners) could preach and write infallibly.”

    No, absolutely not. I’m not saying that men could NEVER have had this gift. I agree that God gave the gift of infallibility to the Prophets and Apostles (at least at certain times) to write infallibly and receive new revelation, but the burden is on the Catholic to prove that the POST-apostolic church has this gift.

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  4. Hi,

    My position requires that we don't look at things in terms of 'all or nothing'. Without an infallible decree for any given doctrine, we are not without any knowledge or any information whatsoever, yet whenever the Church clarifies, an objective level of certainty is increased/added.

    So, for example, when it comes to the "sufficient certainty" on the canon, we can have "sufficient certainty" to the extent we're taking on the canon passed to us and in so far as those around us share the same canon more or less. But this has it's limits as well, and we need look no further than the Deuterocanonical Books of either the Old or New Testaments. It's a fact of history there has been disputes on the canon, even among the Reformers themselves. The Church exercises infallibility in situations like that when people are messing around with the canon at their own whim. It's the only way to *authoritatively* settle the issue.

    Would you say that someone getting 62 of the 66 books correct is of no value? Not at all, it's a huge step in the right direction...but that's not necessarily sufficient, as the 4 "missing" or "disputed" books are in no way dispensable! See the distinction between what infallible versus non-infallible approaches can do?

    I think that key distinction should address the first half of your post.


    You claimed I misrepresented SS by claiming it needed to list the canon, to which you replied:
    "Sola Scriptura does not mean that every single bit of religious information has to be in the Bible for us to believe it. God chose not to specifically list the canon within the pages of the Bible, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t get some of this important information from other sources. Again, we CAN have sufficient certainty about the canon."

    Sola Scriptura means any binding doctrines on Christians must be found in Scripture, so your first sentence is inaccurate. Building on this, your second sentence doesn't do you any good for you're deriving the canon from non authoritative sources. In the end, you're stuck ultimately guessing and looking everywhere else for this critical information than the Scriptures themselves. Any 'sufficient certainty' you have doesn't get you past my own 'sufficient certainty' which includes 7 more books.

    As for the "Tradition" issue, even if Catholics were employing a double-standard, it doesn't automatically prove the Protestant case for them. If one side is making a bad or unsupported argument, that doesn't give you the green light to make a bad or unsupported argument yourself. So regardless of how "weak, vague, and meaningless" the Catholic claims for Tradition are, it doesn't give one the right to make "weak, vague, and meaningless" claims for the Protestant canon.

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  5. Next, the Protestant misunderstands what the Catholic means by "Tradition." It is the passing on of Apostolic teaching (or development thereof) that acts as a companion to the Scriptures. It is not to be seen as a long list of doctrines, anymore than the Bible is to be seen as a textbook with a long list of doctrines systematically laid out. That 'demand' while popular isn't something Tradition nor Scripture was designed to convey. Asking me for a long list of 'doctrines' is akin to me asking you for a long list of 'official Bible doctrines'. Most of the Bible is primarily historical, with a relatively small amount of it used when establishing doctrine; it wasn't meant to function as a database/textbook that listed off 'all official Christian doctrines'. As an analogy for how Tradition functions: When someone goes to school, some of what they're taught is given orally and some is given in written form. What one hears during the lecture is to be used as a companion for when they write notes or read the textbook. Christianity is not a 'learn-it-yourself' religion, and so whomever your teachers were will greatly influence how you read and approach the Scriptures.


    You said: "You emphasized “tradition” as playing a major part in receiving the canon. I don’t necessarily have a problem with that. The problem is determining what exactly do you MEAN when you say “tradition.”

    One example of little-t-tradition that is not big-T-Tradition are the various patristic lists of the canon of Scripture. I know of not a single list (much less a majority) that support the Protestant canon. On the flip side, I see lists (e.g. Hippo, Carthage, Augustine, etc) that clearly list the Catholic Canon. The little-t-traditions are sufficient for the Catholic and only require authoritative clarifications when the little-t-traditions are attacked or disputed.

    Right now, saying the Apostle Matthew authored the Gospel of Matthew is a little-t-tradition, and is accepted across the board. If sufficient objection or distortion by liberals comes about, the Church can authoritatively clarify that the Apostle Matthew as the real author is a formally binding truth.

    As for fallible men being given the power to exercise infallible authority, you said:
    "I’m not saying that men could NEVER have had this gift. I agree that God gave the gift of infallibility to the Prophets and Apostles (at least at certain times) to write infallibly and receive new revelation, but the burden is on the Catholic to prove that the POST-apostolic church has this gift."

    But you're approaching this assuming it died off with the Apostles, which is something Catholics don't grant anymore than we grant the Apostle's authoritative Oral teaching was confined to Scripture and/or expired at their death. If one believes the Church to be guided by the Holy Spirit, then such gifts are anything but ruled-out.

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  7. Nick,

    Most, if not all, Catholic apologists that I’ve seen, heard or dealt with before, insisted that we need infallible certainty on the canon. The “New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia” shares the same view. If you agree with me that sufficient certainty is enough, then you are the exception to the rule. But this article we posted here was geared toward addressing the former.


    You said:

    “As for the ‘Tradition’ issue, even if Catholics were employing a double-standard, it doesn't automatically prove the Protestant case for them. If one side is making a bad or unsupported argument, that doesn't give you the green light to make a bad or unsupported argument yourself. So regardless of how ‘weak, vague, and meaningless’ the Catholic claims for Tradition are, it doesn't give one the right to make ‘weak, vague, and meaningless’ claims for the Protestant canon.”


    That’s true, but the problem is not that we are making “weak, vague and meaningless” claims for our canon… the problem is that the Catholic Church is making inflated claims about its certainty on the canon… basing these on Tradition. Yet, they are giving horribly “weak, vague and meaningless” definitions for this Tradition… all the while attributing infallibility to it.

    But the whole point of this topic is that the Catholic Church claims to have infallible certainty on the canon, and we’re simply denying that claim.


    You said:

    “Next, the Protestant misunderstands what the Catholic means by ‘Tradition.’ It is the passing on of Apostolic teaching (or development thereof) that acts as a companion to the Scriptures.”


    First of all, we would like to know the full contents of this Tradition. You gave me examples of Catholic tradition (“big T” and “little t”; and “Matthew wrote Matthew,” etc.), but we’re not asking for EXAMPLES of Tradition; we’re asking for the whole thing. Nick, if we Protestants claimed that we had something that was infallible, but we couldn’t show it to you, Catholics would surely be crying “foul”. And rightly so. We can give you the content of ALL of OUR Rule of Faith, so we’re simply asking you (Catholics) for the same… i.e., the full content of this infallible Tradition for all of us to see.

    Second, after you show us that, you need to prove that this was something the apostles taught, if it is, indeed, “apostolic.”

    Third, any “companion to the Scriptures” will not contradict those Scriptures, as some Catholic Traditions do.

    I made the statement that the burden of proof is on the Catholic to show that the POST-apostolic church has the gift of infallibility, and you said:

    “But you're approaching this assuming it died off with the Apostles, which is something Catholics don't grant anymore than we grant the Apostle's authoritative Oral teaching was confined to Scripture and/or expired at their death. If one believes the Church to be guided by the Holy Spirit, then such gifts are anything but ruled-out.”

    But, Nick, I could say that you are just assuming that they imparted this specific gift of infallibility to others, since we see no proof of this in Scripture. So, yes, the burden of proof is still on you.

    I agree that having all the correct books is important in order to have the “whole picture.” But again, it is not necessary to have infallible certainty on the full canon to be saved and to live for God.

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  8. "Then you rule out the possibility of the Apostles (who were mere men and sinners) could preach and write infallibly."

    One simple question: Do you believe ALL of the Apostles taught infallibly, or just a few, or even just one?

    If you believe all of the Apostles taught infallibly, they how is it Paul came against Peter claiming he was teaching wrong doctrine?

    Who do you choose, Peter or Paul?

    No, it's clear that fallible teaching was introduced even early on. The measure of correct teaching is not given to the trust in the teacher, but in the infallible Word of God alone.

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  9. Russell, if you do believe that the BIBLE is INFALLIBLE, then it's source (CATHOLIC CHURCH) must also be INFALLIBLE. The effect cannot be greater than its cause!

    SOLA SCRIPTURA believers has TWO(2) CHOICES:

    ONE: is to believe that their interpretation is the only correct one, in opposition to the thousands of conflicting and competing interpretations of the same Bible passages held to be true by other Protestants;

    OR

    TWO: to believe that other interpretations could be true, and may be true, or are true, and it doesn't make any difference what one believes. This is relativism, the belief that there is no objective TRUTH, and that one interpretation is as good as another. God doesn't care what we believe or how we practice our beliefs, as long as we believe in Jesus. But WHAT we believe about Jesus and what he taught doesn't matter.

    Protestants read the Scriptures to figure out what they should believe. Catholics knew what they should believe before the Bible existed. Their doctrines come from the Apostles through the Church founded by Christ for the salvation of the world. The Bible confirms Catholic doctrine.

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  10. Hello Miles,

    Thank you for your comments. It is true that an effect cannot be greater than its cause. But you are saying that the “cause” of the Bible is the Catholic Church, and this is not true, although it is a common assumption of Catholics. But see this article:

    http://answeringcatholicclaims.blogspot.com/2012/02/did-catholic-church-give-us-bible.html

    You also presented a dilemma, basically saying that either 1) my personal interpretation (among many differing interpretations between Protestants) has to be the only right one… or 2) or all the Protestant interpretations are “right” and we are reduced to moral relativism.

    But this is another false dichotomy. There are many Protestants who arrive at the right interpretation of any given Bible verse, and some who will interpret that same verse wrongly. That’s just the way it is. It is the same way in Catholicism. Some Catholics will come to a correct interpretation and some won’t. I know that the implication here is about divisions among Protestants, but Catholics have divisions also. See here:

    http://answeringcatholicclaims.blogspot.com/2014/02/there-aremany-important-choices-that-we.html

    http://answeringcatholicclaims.blogspot.com/2013/07/quick-notes-on-sola-scriptura-part-6.html

    http://answeringcatholicclaims.blogspot.com/2010/12/sola-scriptura-and-divisions.html

    Your final statement that the Bible confirms Catholic doctrine is interesting, but I certainly disagree with it. An honest look at the articles in this blog, I believe, will demonstrate that this is not the case.

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  11. Russell wrote: "No, absolutely not. I’m not saying that men could NEVER have had this gift. I agree that God gave the gift of infallibility to the Prophets and Apostles (at least at certain times) to write infallibly and receive new revelation, but the burden is on the Catholic to prove that the POST-apostolic church has this gift."

    Russell,

    I don't know why us catholics have to prove that the church continued to function POST-apostolic as it did while the apostles were alive. To me this argument carries a bit of hypocrisy with it. Protestants continually ask us to PROVE our claims from scripture. When we do then we are asked to prove that what we demonstrated from scripture was supposed to continue POST scripture. Does that sound reasonable to you? It doesn't to me.

    It sorta goes along with the way protestants defend sola scriptura by arguing that it was not practiced during times of "inscripturation" but then making the claim that it was true POST-apostolic times.

    So in a nutshell what we have is catholics have to prove that scripture is true while the protestants can hold to the idea that something not true for the apostles is not true.

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  12. Russell wrote: "No, absolutely not. I’m not saying that men could NEVER have had this gift. I agree that God gave the gift of infallibility to the Prophets and Apostles (at least at certain times) to write infallibly and receive new revelation, but the burden is on the Catholic to prove that the POST-apostolic church has this gift."

    Russell,

    I posted this once, but I had left out a few things which made my reply non-sensical.

    I don't know why us catholics have to prove that the church continued to function POST-apostolic as it did while the apostles were alive. To me this argument carries a bit of hypocrisy with it. Protestants continually ask us to PROVE our claims from scripture. When we do then we are asked to prove that what we demonstrated from scripture was supposed to continue POST scripture. Does that sound reasonable to you? It doesn't to me.

    It sorta goes along with the way protestants defend sola scriptura by arguing that it was not practiced during times of "inscripturation" but then making the claim that it was true POST-apostolic times.

    So in a nutshell what we have is catholics have to prove that what was taught in scripture is still true while the protestants can hold to the idea that something not true for the apostles became true at a later date.

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  13. R: So, if these Catholic encyclopedias are correct, and if we really do need infallible certainty on the canon of Scripture, we find it strange that the Catholic Church waited for 1500 years before giving an infallible judgment on the canon.

    N: You're confusing things. Infallibility usually is only exercised when heresy or error arise. The Time of the reformation saw people going about determining the canon at their own whim (e.g. Luther doubted and devalued various OT and NT books). The point was *NEVER* that without an infallible decree we're all hopelessly lost and unable to determine anything. If a large or dangerous number of people started to deny Matthew wrote Matthew, the Church could very well step in and infallibly state that, as for now, the status quo of keeping the traditional authorship is sufficient.

    ========
    Russell, Nick is point on here. Your entire post assumes a flawed understanding of what is infallibility pope/magisterium and what it's purposes are for. In essence you have built up a strawman and are attacking that (not intentionally I think). I could and might spend more time replying to this post, but I am not sure how fruitful that will be since the core problem with your post is an incorrect understanding of infallibility. Your view in a nutshell is that us catholics are teaching we cannot believe anything unless it was infallibly defined by pope or council. If you think that is what the CC teaches then you should demonstrate that. I can't speak for all catholics in general. They may be saying things that sound like what you hear or they may even understood it that way. But what is important is what is it that the CC says that makes you think this is what we believe?

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  14. Hello Hapax,

    Thanks for your comments.

    You said:

    “Your entire post assumes a flawed understanding of what is infallibility pope/magisterium and what it's purposes are for… Your view in a nutshell is that us catholics are teaching we cannot believe anything unless it was infallibly defined by pope or council.”

    My whole article was written in response to those Catholics who think that Protestants could not possibly have the right canon, and that they need infallible certainty on that issue. And its purpose was also to determine whether a person CAN know the canon infallibly in the first place.

    I never said, or implied, that the Catholic Church teaches that “we cannot believe anything unless it was infallibly defined by pope or council.” That is a misrepresentation of the entire article.

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  15. How do Catholics know if the Pope (dope) is infallible?

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  16. is it not important to know with certainty that the books we think are scriptures are actually what we think they are?

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  17. "So, if the Catholic can demand from us an infallible list of the full contents of Scripture, then Protestants can also demand that Catholics provide an infallible list of the full contents of “Sacred Tradition”"

    you are loosing logic here, the question first comes from the Protestant asking us to show them if what we believe are in the bible then we ask them, why should everything be in the bible to be believed.then they reply telling us about Sola Scriptura. thats when we reply them that if they really believe that SS is the only source of Christian Teaching then the belief that there 66 books in the bible should it not be in the bible as well. the onus here is on Protestants and their claims and asking Catholics to provide a full list of the Traditions is somehow trying to even the odds and that does not make scriptural/belief the belief that the 66 books of the protestants are inspired because its not there in the bible.

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  18. hie Russell

    do i have to rely on the Church Fathers to know which books are inspired? is there no room for error? How did they recognize them?

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  19. Dear “Anonymous” / “Thomas” / Mug,

    You’re not fooling anyone but yourself. I know it’s you, Mug.

    And if you really did read the above article, you’d know that your questions have already been answered in the article.

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  21. Using Russel ‘s arguiment one does not have to be infallible to recognise the infallible. This means the Church Fathers did not have to be infallible to pass on or to recognise the infallible traditions.
    And since we do not need infallible certainty according to you, this applies to Traditions as well we do need infallible certainty on Traditions as well.

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  23. Aquinas,

    What infallible traditions? Do those traditions all line up with Scripture, or do they contradict it?

    Or, better yet. Can you even tell us what they are?

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  26. Anonymous,

    Nice try, Sipho / Aquinas / Mug.

    Face it. You have been banned from this blog and I have already explained it to you why. Don’t act innocent. It is true that you don’t know when to stop!

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