CA article: "What's Your Authority?" Discussion

I would like to discuss this article so that we have a better and working idea of what this issue is really about and why it’s so important.

By “authority,” we don’t mean his personal or academic credentials. We mean his authority to claim he can rightly interpret the Bible. The missionary (unless he is a Mormon, of course, in which case his authority is the Book of Mormon) will always claim to fall back on the authority of Scripture. “Scripture says this” or “Scripture proves that,” he will tell you.

So before you turn to the verses he brings up, and thus to the topic he brings up, demand that he demonstrate a few things.

First, ask him to prove from the Bible that the Bible is the only rule of faith (if he’s an Evangelical or Fundamentalist Protestant he holds to the Reformation theory of sola scriptura—the Bible alone).

Second, have him tell you how he knows which books belong in the Bible in the first place.

And third, require that he prove to you both that he has the authority to interpret the Bible for you (remember that his doctrines will almost always be drawn from interpretations of the sacred text rather than the words themselves) and that his interpretations will always be accurate.

I suggest we all read on…"What’s Your Authority?"

First, ask him to prove from the Bible that the Bible is the only rule of faith …

This seems reasonable. Does anyone have a good answer from an n-C?

Well, I can make a pass at some anticipated responses:

First, ask him to prove from the Bible that the Bible is the only rule of faith (if he’s an Evangelical or Fundamentalist Protestant he holds to the Reformation theory of sola scriptura—the Bible alone).

He might throw it right back at you: Prove to me, from the Bible, that the Bible is NOT the sole rule of faith. OK, I’m not sure exactly what the name of this logical fallacy would be - it’s not circular logic. It would be asking you to prove that a source was unreliable using the source that you were proving is unreliable (so your conclusion is inescapably unreliable). I’m sure there’s some Latin name for this fallacy. But, suppose you can convince him that it is illogical.

He might say, “OK, prove to me using ANY source that the Bible is not the sole rule of faith.” He’s asking you to prove a negative (another logical fallacy). But you could make a pretty good stab at it — if you had him in a classroom for nine weeks.

Second, have him tell you how he knows which books belong in the Bible in the first place.

If the protestant knows his Bible history then he will recognize this as the red herring that it really is (at least as far as the OT is concerned). He will know that the Catholic and protestant NT are in agreement, and he will know that the disparity of books in most modern protestant OTs are not the result of Catholics adding books, or protestants removing them, but rather the result of both simply adopting whatever OT was in use by the Synagogue down the street. But, by the Sixteenth Century, Synagogues were no longer using OT books which were originally written in Greek. He will know that the Catholic Church never gave much thought to the Canon of the Old Testament, and this is why there are some minor differences between the Latin Canon and various Eastern Canons (none of which have ever been a source of contention, so there’s no reason why it should be a source of contention between Catholics and protestants).

So he won’t care about the OT, and he will see that his NT is in agreement with our NT and not see why you ask the question. We agree, right? Who cares why we agree?

It’s actually very important why we should care, but it will be difficult to explain — unless you can get him in a classroom for nine weeks.

And third, require that he prove to you both that he has the authority to interpret the Bible for you (remember that his doctrines will almost always be drawn from interpretations of the sacred text rather than the words themselves) and that his interpretations will always be accurate.

He will say that he is guided by the Holy Spirit, without realizing that he is actually claiming for himself personal infallibility. To a protestant, everybody is infallible EXCEPT the Pope.

So, what about all those other protestants who read the same text but arrive at different conclusions? Oh, that’s nuthin’ - we don’t disagree on stuff that really matters (such as, ummm, infant Baptism???) You probably don’t need nine weeks to make that point, but it’s gonna be a tough sell.

Let me give it a shot :):

forums.catholic.com/showpost.php?p=12716641&postcount=12

I guess it’s always hard to predict which threads will take off. I’m as surprised as anyone that this one hasn’t, given that it is a thread on the CA forum about a CA article.

And even more surprised, now that the thread is two weeks old. :slight_smile:

So Taz, where do you get your Authority?

Hi Peter,
It might be because the tract is specific to “evangelicals” and “fundamentalists”. I’m not sure there are all that many of either here, though of course there are some.

The way the article is framed, I think Lutherans and Anglicans, for example, probably feel as if they might end up defending something they don’t exactly agree with. Others, I’m thinking of perhaps Methodists, who do not adhere to sola scriptura will probably just move along.

Jon

David,
This is a well thought out post. :thumbsup:

I would only comment on the bolded, that the idea of sola scriptura, actually, is the premise that NO ONE is infallible.
Jon

Well, if you would have went to the link from CA that I posted, you would have found out that it was Jesus, based on the Word of God, not the “precepts the doctrines of men” (Matthew 15:9).

I think we all agree that Jesus is the ultimate authority, “the truth and the life”, the cornerstone of the “church”. Jesus taught the original twelve Apostles, and Paul who received a revelation directly from Jesus. What is the authority that you look to for proper understanding of Scripture today? You can’t say Jesus, because Jesus didn’t instruct you personally. Who did? And did they have authority that can be trusted to be correct? You see, there must be an authority for us to be absolutely confident that what we believe is indeed what was handed down from the true church of Jesus Christ. This passage of Scripture, Acts 8:26-40 says much about how we are to go about understanding the truth. Specifically, verses 30-31 tells us that someone can “not” know what Scripture is trying to say, and at that point we need an authority (in this case it was one of the twelve Apostles, Phillip) who instructed the Ethiopian to the correct interpretation. It is possible to not get it right when we try to interpret Scripture ourselves. Surely, there are some things in Scripture that are very clear and we can grasp on our own, but not all. 2 Peter 3:15-16. Not interpreting some Scripture correctly can result in one’s destruction, do we want to take that chance?

How To Gain Authority

John Paul Jackson discusses how to gain authority in the Kingdom of God in this supplemental feature to the episode “The Mystery of Power and Authority”.

youtu.be/McJWYctPev4

Thetazlord
Well, if you would have went to the link from CA that I posted, you would have found out that it was Jesus, based on the Word of God, not the “precepts the doctrines of men” (Matthew 15:9).

If that was sincere, and the writer knew what Jesus really taught, He would know that his own speculations and assertions and constructions completely reject Christ’s personal foundation because he is one of the “men” to whom Jesus refers, constructing his own myopic doctrines against Christ’s personal foundation of His own, incomparable Church which cannot be replaced by anyone.

The reality here is concerning the truths of the Catholic Church which Christ established on St Peter as His Supreme Vicar and His Apostles, sending the Holy Spirit as He promised: “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you." (John 14:15-18) “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit that the Father will send in My name, He will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.” (John 14:26) “But when He comes, the Spirit of truth, He will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on His own, but He will speak what He hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify Me, because He will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that He will take from what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:13-15)

The Church is "the pillar and bulwark of the truth” (1 Tim 3:16).

Four promises to St Peter alone:
“You are Peter and on this rock I will build My Church.” (Mt 16:18)
“The gates of hell will not prevail against it.”(Mt 16:18)
I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of heaven.” ( Mt 16:19)
“Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven.” (Mt 16:19) [Later, also to the Twelve Apostles].

**Sole authority: **
“Strengthen your brethren.” (Lk 22:32)
“Feed My sheep.”(Jn 21:17).

Further, having commissioned Peter as His first Vicar, on whom He founded His Church, Jesus instructed the eleven and proclaimed: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations….teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you…” (Mt 28:18-20).

Thus, from the first, the faithful “remained faithful to the teaching of the Apostles, to the brotherhood, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers.” (Acts 2:42).

Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours." (2 Thess 2:15).

“Take as your norm the sound words that you heard from me, with faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Guard this rich trust with the help of the Holy Spirit that dwells within us.” (2 Tim 1:13-14). Again St Paul writes: “And what you heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will have the ability to teach others as well.” (2 Tim 2:2).

In Colossians 2: 4-23, St Paul calls on his flock to follow Christ “as you were taught” and warns against merely “human precepts and teachings.”

1 Cor 1:10: I urge you brothers, in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose.

We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. (1Jn 4:6).

St. Paul says also, “through the Church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places (Eph 3:10).” The Church teaches even the angels! This is with the authority of Christ! We are redeemed by Christ’s Passion and Death (heaven was opened); we are not saved until we co-operate with Him.

St Paul is very clear: “I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of His Body which is the Church.” (Col. 1:24).

That Catholic Church is supreme, as founded by Christ as His sole Church, and affirmed as just that by the Apostles and St Paul.

That was how stuff was recorded then, by witnesses. The ability to read and write were limited and without a printing press, it would have taken a long time to copy even one of Paul’s letters, let alone the entire Bible.

Can you show me where it says in the Bible "And Jesus spoke, ‘I hereby bequeath authority unto Taz, so that what he says may be followed’?

"First, ask him to prove from the Bible that the Bible is the only rule of faith (if he’s an Evangelical or Fundamentalist Protestant he holds to the Reformation theory of sola scriptura—the Bible alone). "

Even if Paul or someone wrote in the NT that we shouldn’t go beyond what is written; it would probably be interpreted differently by Catholics.

“Second, have him tell you how he knows which books belong in the Bible in the first place.”

The same way Catholics know?

“And third, require that he prove to you both that he has the authority to interpret the Bible for you (remember that his doctrines will almost always be drawn from interpretations of the sacred text rather than the words themselves) and that his interpretations will always be accurate.”

This seems like a cop out…

Me: Doesn’t Paul say [X]?

You: Well, doesn’t count cause you’re not Catholic.

Please, tell us how you think we would interpret it?

By a Holy Spirit led Catholic Council conducted in the late 4th century? That’s how we know. Do you use the 73 book canon or the 66?

Not a cop out at all, and we’d probably tell you “Sure, Paul says that.” But then follow it up with “Why should I accept your interpretation?” What makes you the grand pooba of Scripture? That’s what we want to know.

I have a few comments… shocking I know.
First, the article says that the BOM is the authority of the CoJCoLDS. I think this is quite a flawed understanding, but perhaps it derives from the fact that the BOM is used as EVIDENCE of the restoration. I still consider the BOM to be one of the strongest evidences of the restoration, but it is the existence of the BOM that lends credence to the authority claims of the CoJCoLDS not that the BOM is the authority.

The authority of the CoJCoLDS LIKE the authority of the post ascension (of Christ) church is the divinely chosen, revelation guided, men who are called Apostles and who we believe speak for God (ie they are “prophets” or ones who speak for God). That the Catholic Church does not believe there are men who can speak for God via “Public Revelation” for the God’s Church, IMO is a large negative in this debate concerning who has God’s authority on Earth. But, like the CoJCoLDS Catholics look to authoritative interpretation by men called of God to resolve theological points of contention.

Two other comments in the article raised my eyebrow.

“Look to the Fathers.”
As Cardinal Newman said, “This one thing is at least certain; whatever history teaches, whatever it omits, whatever it exaggerates or extenuates, whatever it says and unsays, at least the Christianity of history is not Protestantism. If ever there were a safe truth, it is this…To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant.” I concur with Newman’s assessment, but it is notable that his words are not a positive declaration for the Catholic Church of his day. I have little doubt Newman before or after his conversion to Catholicism would agree with these words from a protestant “Whatever be the Christianity of the New Testament, it is not Romanism. If ever there was a safe truth, it is this, and Romanism has ever felt it.” - William Cunningham, Discussions on Church Principles. Similarly, Newman’s writings before and after his conversion make it clear that the post apostolic church was not like the Catholic Church of his day either. Instead Newman postulates a complex “development theory.” There is merit and flaws in his theory and at the behest of a few Catholic Bishops Orestas Bronson roundly criticized it. It is also IMO evident Catholic Answers in this tract and in general neglects the weight a theory of development must carry, giving implicit support to Bronson and other openly critical anti-Newman critics. So, I say all this to suggest that “looking to the Fathers” is not near so clear as the Catholic Answers crowd seems to imply. I have looked to the Fathers and I see DEVELOPMENT or CHANGE (they are related) and I see this occurring via an authority that claims to not receive revelation.

Lastly, concerning agreeing on the essentials …
One of Bronson’s criticisms of Newman is that according to Newman’s theory folks were excommunicated from the church for beliefs that before they were defined resulted in nary an eyebrow raised. This criticism is a difficult hurtle for a development adherent to navigate and few (no) Catholic apologist attempt it. The neglect of Newman’s theory drives Ultra-Trad groups who IMO are far better informed about the last 400 years of Catholic history than their Catholic brothers and sisters, but sorely lacking in their understanding of just how much controversy followed many of the 21 Councils. My point is that the historic church has not agreed upon the “essentials” and this CA document criticizes Protestants for not doing so.

Ultimately, I think a strong theory of development is REQUIRED to be Catholic and it might be a better apologetic with respect to Protestantism that they (protestants) follow the Catholic developments to a certain point and then depart for no discernable reason (at least that is my opinion). I have serious misgivings about Newman’s theory, especially his mark of “early anticipation,” but as of yet I would not be a “restorationist in waiting” where I ever to decide I could no longer be a LDS, I would be Catholic.
Charity, TOm

While the Book of Mormon may be “the strongest evidences of the restoration” it has been scientifically proven not to be what Joseph Smith claimed it to be. So it is also evidence that Joseph Smith was not who he claimed to be. Therefore there is no Christian authority in either. It does seem that to Mormons there is authority in their leaders but it doesn’t have any historical support.

John Henry Newman said anti-catholics like to believe there was once a pure Christianity which then became corrupt. Then they have to draw a line between what is pure and what is corrupt; and then give a date for the corruption. These anti-catholics use the “dictum of Vincent of Lerins” for that purpose. While this dictum “provides a bulwark against Rome,….it opens an assault upon Protestantism.
As John Newman discovered while investigating the development of Christian doctrine for his essay, the Vincentian Canon supports Catholic belief. Unique Catholic beliefs are there, while unique Protestant beliefs are not. We can say the same for Mormonism; their unique beliefs are not there either.

As the CA article said, “Where in Scripture do we find some doctrines listed as essential, others as ‘secondary’? The answer is: ‘nowhere’.” It seems the idea of a belief being essential or not must be unique to Evangelicals, Mormons, and, Fundamentalists.

Hello Stephen!

SOME of Joseph Smith’s speculations on what the BOM was contradict with likely fact not to mention with others of Joseph Smith’s speculations on what the BOM was. To me this is evidence that the BOM is not the brain-child of Joseph Smith.
That Joseph Smith didn’t know where the remarkably consistent geography existed, how large or small this geography was, or … is evidence that unlike C.S. Lewis he did not create a geography and overlay a story. The BOM came forth with consistent geography detailing a limited geography and Joseph Smith was quite ignorant of what the geography underlying the book looked like or even if the geography comprised 100’s of miles or 1000’s of miles. The text and science strongly condemns some of Joseph Smith’s speculations on the BOM. This is because he was not the brilliant author of a geographically consistent book but rather the prophet-translator of a book whose author knew more about the geography than Joseph could ever hope to know (at least ever hope to know via natural means and it appears there is no supernatural gift of geography for a LDS prophet).
All that being said, what I meant was that the BOM is a book that burst upon the scene in the 1830’s, claiming to be an ancient document. Unlike other scripture like the Bible, the BOM has not come to us from ancient times via human transmission. So the evidence that the BOM is an ancient text (Lehi’s travels on the Frankenscience trail from Jerusalem to Nahom to Bountiful and other evidences) lend support to the idea that there is something more than mere human hands that lead to its “bursting upon the scene.” For those of us who consider such things this lends support to the idea that Joseph Smith is at the head of a restoration of the original apostolic authority that is no-where else evident in modern Christianity (as I mentioned in my first post).

cont…

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