Did Ratzinger/Benedict XVI deny “material sufficiency”?


#1

In a 09-02-07 post at the AOMIN blog FONT=‘Georgia Serif’, James Swan makes the claim that Ratzinger/Benedict XVI denied the “material sufficiency” of Sacred Scripture. Though Ratzinger/Benedict XVI certainly denied the “formal sufficiency” of Sacred Scripture, he did not (IMHO) deny it’s “material sufficiency”.[/FONT]

Due to posting limitations here at CA, I have made a detailed response to James’ assertion at:

[/FONT]http://articulifidei.blogspot.com/2007/09/james-swan-ratzingerbenedict-xvi-and.html

[To all those who may take an interest in this subject, I would be interested if any of you know of sources (other than the ones I provide in my above post), in which Ratzinger/Benedict XVI discusses his views on Sacred Scripture.]

Grace and peace,

David


#2

I have been doing a little bit of internet “reseach”, and just now came across the following from the pen of James Swan:

For some, it might be strange to hear a Roman Catholic affirm the material sufficiency of Scripture. The idea that the Scriptures are “materially sufficient” simply means the entire content of revelation is in the Scriptures, or that divine revelation is contained entirely in Scripture. That is, all the doctrines Christians are to believe are found in the Bible. Catholic advocates of this view would include John Henry Newman and Joseph Ratzinger, and Yves Congar.

(http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2006/10/catholic-view-of-material-_116215528923090773.html .)>>

With James’ 09/02/07 AOMIN post fresh on my mind, I can truly say that I am at a complete loss for words…

Grace and peace,

David


#3

Goes to show that Swan is pretty good at finding contradictions in Pope Benedict’s teaching. :smiley: On Tues and Thurs he rejects material sufficiency, on Mon Wed Fri he affirms, and other days he’s just not sure.

It can be argued that Karl Keating changed his mind too. In Catholicism and Fundamentalism Keating taught against material sufficiency, but in his 1993 debate at World Youth Day he affirmed material sufficiency while teamed with Pat Madrid vs. Bill Jackson/Ron Nemec.

Keating in his first book: “This oral teaching [citing Jn 21:25; 2 Tim 2:2; 2 Thess 2:15; Acts 2:42] must be accepted by Christians as they accepted the written teaching that at length came to them…It is a mistake to limit Christ’s word to the written word only or to suggest that all his teachings were reduced to writing. The Bible nowhere supports either notion…The oral teaching would last until the end of time [supported by 1 Peter 1:25]…Note that the word has been ‘preached’ – that is, it was oral. This would endure. It would not be supplanted by a written record like the Bible (supplemented, yes, but not supplanted), but would continue to have its own authority.” (Catholicism and Fundamentalism, page 136-137)

Also: “The fullness of Christian teaching was found, right from the first, in the Church as the living embodiment of Christ, not in a book. The teaching Church, with its oral traditions, was authoritative.” (ibid, page 138, emphasis added)

Sounds like the two-source, non-material-sufficiency idea. But Keating also cites Vatican II which seems to have a one-source view. Dei Verbum, 21: “[The Scriptures] since they are inspired by God and committed to writing once and for all time, they present God’s own Word in an unalterable form, and they make the voice of the Holy Spirit sound again and again in the words of the prophets and apostles. It follows that all the preaching of the Church, as indeed the entire Christian religion, should be nourished and ruled by sacred Scripture.

The differences between the two views are slight. In one sense, all Christians were non-material sufficiency before the NT was written, since they relied exclusively on the oral (Acts 2:42; 1 Thess 2:13). It was sometime later when the NT was completed that some of the Fathers could hold a “material sufficiency” view as Congar believes they did. Although those same Fathers did refer to traditions or customs or practices such as prayers for the dead or infant baptism (and cited verses on “tradition” for them like 1 Cor 11:2; 2 Thess 2:15; etc).

Phil P


#4

Hi Phil,

Thanks for responding. You wrote:

Goes to show that Swan is pretty good at finding contradictions in Pope Benedict’s teaching. On Tues and Thurs he rejects material sufficiency, on Mon Wed Fri he affirms, and other days he’s just not sure.>>

Me: OK, forgive in advance, for I am not quite sure it you are being a little bit sarcastic, playing devil’s advocate, or agreeing with James. With that said, I can say with a very high degree of confidence that Pope Benedict XVI (the then Joseph Ratzinger) was not contradicting himself; and as I said in my blog post (utilizing a considerable amount of data from Ratzinger’s own writings), I sincerely believe that he was quite clear on his position.

You also posted:

The differences between the two views are slight. In one sense, all Christians were non-material sufficiency before the NT was written, since they relied exclusively on the oral (Acts 2:42; 1 Thess 2:13). It was sometime later when the NT was completed that some of the Fathers could hold a “material sufficiency” view as Congar believes they did. Although those same Fathers did refer to traditions or customs or practices such as prayers for the dead or infant baptism (and cited verses on “tradition” for them like 1 Cor 11:2; 2 Thess 2:15; etc).>>

Me: And not just Congar (as I am quite sure that you already know); professor Guarino states:

[FONT=Times New Roman]>>Evangelicals, of course, have generally followed the Reformation dictum of sola scriptura. The essence of this phrase has a long and interesting theological history and is, with nuances, accepted by many, if not most, contemporary Catholic theologians. (Thomas G. Guarino, “Catholic Reflections on Discerning the Truth of Sacred Scripture” in Your Word Is Truth, edited by Charles Colson and Richard John Neuhaus, 2002, p. 79.)>>[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman] [/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman]Anyway, thanks once again for weighing in; I always appreciate your comments.[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman] [/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman] [/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman]Grace and peace,[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman] [/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman]David[/FONT]


#5

<< Me: OK, forgive in advance, for I am not quite sure it you are being a little bit sarcastic, playing devil’s advocate, or agreeing with James. >>

Oh no, Swan is just a brilliant analyst of Catholic teaching. Ratzinger changed his mind, contradicted himself, one day was Protestant, another Catholic, on some odd days he tried other religions. :hypno:

Sorry I forgot to click on the link on your blog to get the response!

Phil P


#6

The Church has never taught the material sufficiency of scripture. Neither does the bible teach such a thing.
Some Church fathers believed it, but NONE said this was a Tradition handed down from the apostles.

The Church has not specifically denied it.
But, the Church DOES teach that all she believes is contained in Tradition.

78 "Through Tradition, “the Church, in her doctrine, life and worship, perpetuates and transmits to every generation all that she herself is, all that she believes.”

No where does the Church teach that all she believes is even implicit in scripture.

When Dei Verbum says**
It follows that all the preaching of the Church, as indeed the entire Christian religion, should be nourished and ruled by sacred Scripture.**"

That does NOT mean the all the preaching of the Church should use scripture as it’s source. What it addresses is the constant tendancy in past and even today to ignore scripture as an example and witness to the teaching when teaching doctrine.
For example. In my entire life I have been taught about mortal sin. But I never in my life heard a priest give an example of mortal sin in the bible. Never. I even asked a priest once for some examples. He couldn’t think of any. It wasn’t until I read the Council of Trent that I finally saw examples of mortal sin in scripture. Then later I read some more in the Roman Catechism and in the New Catechism.

  I believe this constant tendancy to ignore scripture, especially in sexual moral teachings, when giving teachings is the reason Catholics have such a high divorce rate today.   Most divorce is cause by fornication before marriage and contraception after marriage.  The bible is stocked full of examples of how fornication is a mortal sin, how in Corinthians and Galatians Saint Paul says Christian fornicators will NOT go to heaven, how Revelation describes fornicators in hell.  I never in my life heard any of these examples from Scripture from the pulpit.    Never.   Not once was scripture ever used to noursh the teaching.  Not even in 4 years of Catholic high school.   And we wonder why Catholics fornicate and think there is nothing wrong with doing so.
Same with contraception.  We can't all spend hours with JPII theology of the body which can explain the sinfulness of contraception using scripture.  But the scriptures of how Onan was killed for using a form of contraception is very clear and Kipply in his Sex and the Marriage Covenant makes it clear that it was because it was because of what Onan DID and not because he broke the Leverite law. 

None of these scriptures were ever used to “nourish and rule” the preaching I have heard. Never ever. Vatican II simply repeated what the Popes have always been teaching, that scripture should be used to nourish the teaching and be a witness to the teaching. NOT that every teaching should be proved by scripture and NOT that scripture is the original source of the teaching. The Church no where says that. The Church rarely says scripture is a proof, and even then only says “the witness of scripture” proves some teaching, implying that the teaching was already known through Tradition.

Pope Piux X in his encyclical “On Christian Doctrine” [size=3]“ACERBO NIMIS” written in 1905 writes how Christian doctrine should be taught.

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#7
  1. “The task of the catechist is to take up one or other of the truths of faith or of Christian morality and then explain it in all its parts; and since amendment of life is the chief aim of his instruction, the catechist must needs make a comparison between what God commands us to do and what is our actual conduct. After this, he will use examples appropriately taken from the Holy Scriptures, Church history, and the lives of the saints - thus moving his hearers and clearly pointing out to them how they are to regulate their own conduct. He should, in conclusion, earnestly exhort all present to dread and avoid vice and to practice virtue.”

In my life this clear command of the Pope on how to teach Christian doctrine has been constantly disobeyed. Thus Vatican II had to repeat it over and over that scripture should nourish and rule the preaching. This does NOT mean that scripture is the source of preaching. The original source of all doctrine is Tradition, which the apostles taught in the form of the Creed, sacraments, commandments and prayer. Thus the Church teaches that the Catechisms present the living Gospel, that is the same Gospel the apostles taught and handed down to their successors.

Again Dei Verbum says**
It follows that all the preaching of the Church, as indeed the entire Christian religion, should be nourished and ruled by sacred Scripture.**"

This statement and similar statements by the Church have been entirely misunderstood. It seems everyone has falsely been led to believe that all preaching should take it’s source from the scripture readings at mass. This is entirely false. The Church means that either scripture or the prayers of the mass should be a launching point for a topic, but the topic itself must be based on the Catechism, which the Church calls "a sure norm for teaching the faith."
Scripture is NOT a sure norm for teaching the faith.
It is a sure norm for nourshing the faith, for being a witness to the faith, and for ruling the preaching. Scripture is NOT and does NOT claim to be the Gospel the apostles taught and preached and handed down to their successors. Not a single chapter or book of scripture claims to be the Gospel or the summary of the Gospel the apostles taught and preached. The four written Gospels claim to be a narrative of the life of Jesus. The do not claim to be a summary of the Gospel the apostles taught and preached. The Church teaches the Catechisms present this living Gospel. Not scripture.

Scripture is primarily salvation history. The Catechism presents the living Gospel, the same Gospel the apostles taught. The apostles did NOT teach by reading scripture then by giving an explanation of scripture. They taught doctrine, ( Catechized) then used scripture, as they had it, to nourish their teaching. In the same way today, the preacher is to go through the entire Catechism and cover all the basic teachings over a period of time. And at the same time use scripture to nourish the teaching and rule the teaching. There are lots of examples in the New Catechism and the old Roman Catechism of examples of scripture that can be used to nourish the teaching. Scott Hahns books have even more examples.

It is amazing to me how all this gets mixed up. No one studies the Church teachings on the homily from the Council of Trent, from the Roman Catechism itself, from Pope Pius X on how to catechize, from Pope Paul VI in his “Evangelization in the Modern World,” which clearly teaches what the content of the Gospel is, from Pope John Paul II on the content of the homily, from the new General Directory for Catechesis, which clearly teaches the content of the Gospel, which makes it clear that Catechesis using the Catechism as a sure norm for teaching the faith, is essential to proclaiming the Gospel.
Because no one studies these, today even the most orthodox Catholics think the homily should take the readings as the only guide and outline of the content of the homily. They think this is proclaiming the Gospel.
Wrong. It is only commenting on the Gospels, the four narratives of the life of Jesus. That is only a small part of the homily. The GOSPEL is the entire message of salvation the APOSTLES handed down to the Church. In other words, it is the entire Catholic faith, centered on the doctrine of salvation. So instead of teaching doctine in Church, from the Catechism, and using scripture from the entire bible, and not just the readings, to “nourish and rule” the preaching, we get the opposite, which is using scripture as a guide for catechesis, and what little catechesis we get is only nourished by the scriptures found in the readings instead of from the whole bible.
Thus Catholics are ignorant of their faith.


#8

James Swan said:

For some, it might be strange to hear a Roman Catholic affirm the material sufficiency of Scripture. The idea that the Scriptures are “materially sufficient” simply means the entire content of revelation is in the Scriptures, or that divine revelation is contained entirely in Scripture. That is, all the doctrines Christians are to believe are found in the Bible.

In a sense everything is contained in Scripture because Scripture tells us not everything is in there, and that the Church would carry the truth. So in that sense, when the Church makes infallible definitions like the Assumption, it really is Scripture backing up that claim. Follow me?

I’m sure Swan didn’t make that connection, but he gets a “C” for effort. :smiley:


#9

Hi Phil, sounds like he would make a good rabbi.


#10

dc << Some Church fathers believed it, but NONE said this was a Tradition handed down from the apostles. >>

Of course there might be a contradiction here. Material sufficiency means all teachings or doctrines or traditions are found, implicit or explicit, in the Scriptures. Material sufficiency therefore would also have to be a teaching found, implicit or explicit, in the Scriptures. And for “material sufficiency” in the Scriptures one might appeal to 2 Tim 3:15-17 as Protestants do for “formal sufficiency.” Of course there are problems appealing to this text: it refers to the O.T. only, and Scripture is “profitable” not “sufficient” for teaching doctrine, etc.

Also, material sufficiency couldn’t have been true while the apostles were alive, since Scripture was still being written. Both oral and written were equally authoritative, and there was more content in the oral (2 Thess 2:15; 1 Thess 2:13). James White has admitted this regarding sola scriptura (that it wasn’t working until sometime after the apostles died).

Congar (chapter 2 Tradition and Traditions) insists however, that while the Fathers did teach material sufficiency, they still had examples of practices or customs they believed were found in the tradition handed on, not in Scripture. I’ve listed those in another thread:

St. Irenaeus – the paschal fast (Frag 3, Eusebius HE V:24;12-17, PG 7:1229ff), also in a footnote the custom of praying standing on Sundays and from Easter to Pentecost (PG 6:1364).

Tertullian – rule against soldiers wearing the military wreath, by an ancient tradition (De Corona 3-4, PL 3:78); then he widens the question and gives further examples of unwritten traditions: the customs involved with baptism, eucharist, prayers/sacrifice for the dead, practices of fasting/kneeling, and the Sign: “Whatever we do, whether on a journey or just making a visit, coming in or going out, putting on our shoes, washing, sitting down to a meal, attending to the lights, lying down, sitting down, or anything we do: we mark our foreheads with the Sign of the Cross.” (ibid)

Origen – infant baptism (In Levit Hom VIII:3, PG 12:496 and In Epis ad Rom V:8-9, PG 14:1038,1047B); praying on the knees and facing towards the east, and eucharistic and baptismal rites (In Num Hom V:1; PG 12:603C)

St. Clement of Alexandria – he assumes doctrines can constitute the object of a completely oral tradition, etc.

St. Dionysius of Alexandria – the keeping of Sunday (Ad Basilidem).

Pope Stephen – the validity of baptism conferred by heretics (in St. Cyprian, Ep 75:6, 85:5).

St. Cyprian of Carthage – connects usage followed by our Lord of the offering of a chalice of wine mixed with water (Ep 63:9-13, PL 4:380-3), and backs it up with scriptural allusions; he considers a rule according to which a bishop must be elected in the presence of people in the assembly of the bishops of the province as “de traditione divina et apostolica observatione” (Ep 67:5, PL 3:1027).

St. Basil the Great – dealing with the theology of the Holy Spirit, says he is collecting the ideas of Scripture and of the unwritten tradition of the Fathers (De Spiritu Sancto 9:22; PG 32:105A); in the phrase “WITH the Holy Spirit” he appeals to an unwritten part of the apostolic witness and justifies this appeal as legitimate by invoking the existence of unwritten customs of unquestioned authority (ibid 27:66, PG 32:188).

St. Epiphanius of Salamis – prohibition of marriage after a vow of virginity; fasting on Wed and Fri (Panarion Haer 66:6, PG 41:1047; and ibid 75:7, PG 42:542-3).

St. John Chrysostom – prayer for the dead (In Epis ad Phil Hom 3:4, PG 62:203-4)

St. Jerome – invokes an apostolic origin not only for the imposition of hands, together with the invocation of the Holy Spirit, after baptism (one could appeal to Acts), but also for the triple baptismal immersion, the giving of milk and honey to the newly baptized, and the practice of kneeling or fasting during Paschaltide (Dial adv Luc 8, PL 23:172).

Pope Innocent I – in his letter to Decentius, bishop of Gubbio, invites Churches of the West, supposed to have been founded by the apostle Peter or his successors, to align themselves with the usages transmitted (tradition) to the Roman Church by the prince of the apostles (Ep 25, PL 20:551).

St. Augustine – at a very early date, infant baptism as an apostolic tradition, but also with a biblical argument using the examples of the Holy Innocents or circumcision (De Genesi ad Litt 10:23:39, PL 34:426; De Bapt c. Don 4:24:31, PL 43:174; ibid 5:23:31); an apostolic tradition of not rebaptizing heretics on their reconciliation with the Church (De Bapt c. Don 2:7:12, PL 43:133); and a number of liturgical customs which he believed to be universal: rites at baptism (aspersion, exorcisms, insufflation), etc. “His criterion for determining an apostolic tradition is, at least after the Donatist controversy, the evidence of the spread and universal acceptance of matters not found or expressed in Scripture or determined by plenary councils.” (Congar, see Augustine, De Bapt, and Ep 54)

Phil P


#11

dc << But I never in my life heard a priest give an example of mortal sin in the bible. Never. I even asked a priest once for some examples. He couldn’t think of any. >>

That seems pretty clear in St. Paul here. Don’t know why they didn’t bring these up:

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Cor 6:9-10)

“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Gal 5:19-21)

“Will not not inherit the kingdom of God” seems to indicate mortal sin, if continued and unconfessed. A list is provided.

St. John also refers to that sin which “leads to death” (1 John 5:16-17) which some have interpreted as spiritual death (i.e. mortal sin), others as physical death (e.g. 1 Cor 11:29ff; Eucharist and judgment, “That is why many among you are ill and infirm, and a considerable number are dying.”)

Oops sorry, I went back over your post, you noticed this too:

dc << The bible is stocked full of examples of how fornication is a mortal sin, how in Corinthians and Galatians Saint Paul says Christian fornicators will NOT go to heaven, how Revelation describes fornicators in hell. I never in my life heard any of these examples from Scripture from the pulpit. >>

Phil P


#12

A concise treatment on material sufficiency is given in the following *This Rock *article by James Akin:

MATERIAL AND FORMAL SUFFICIENCY

by James Akin

MANY Protestants, including James White, have difficulty understanding the Catholic distinction between the material and the formal sufficiency of Scripture. For Scripture to be materially sufficient, it would have to contain or imply all that is needed for salvation. For it to be formally sufficient, it would not only have to contain all of this data, but it would have to be so clear that it does not need any outside information to interpret it.

Protestants call the idea that Scripture is clear the perspicuity of Scripture. Their doctrine of sola scriptura combines the perspicuity of Scripture with the claim that Scripture contains all the theological data we need.

It is important to make these distinctions because, while a Catholic cannot assert the formal sufficiency (perspicuity) of Scripture, he can assert its material sufficiency, as has been done by such well-known Catholic theologians as John Henry Newman, Walter Kaspar, George Tarvard, Henri de Lubac, Matthias Scheeben, Michael Schmaus, and Joseph Ratzinger.

French theologian Yves Congar states, “[W]e can admit sola scriptura in the sense of a material sufficiency of canonical Scripture. This means that Scripture contains, in one way or another, all truths necessary for salvation. This position can claim the support of many Fathers and early theologians. It has been, and still is, held by many modern theologians.” . . . [At Trent] it was widely . . . admitted that all the truths necessary to salvation are at least outlined in Scripture. . . . [W]e find fully verified the formula of men like Newman and Kuhn: Totum in Scriptura, totum in Traditione, All is in Scripture, all is in Tradition.' ..Written’ and `unwritten’ indicate not so much two material domains as two modes or states of knowledge" (Tradition and Traditions [New York: Macmillian, 1967], 410-414).

This is important for a discussion of sola scriptura because many Protestants attempt to prove their doctrine by asserting the material sufficiency of Scripture. That is a move which does no good because a Catholic can agree with material sufficiency. In order to prove sola scriptura a Protestant must prove the different and much stronger claim that Scripture is so clear that no outside information or authority is needed in order to interpret it. In the debate James White apparently failed to grasp this point and was unable to come up with answers to the charge that his arguments were geared only toward proving material sufficiency.

(catholic.com/thisrock/1993/9310fea2sb2.asp .)>>


#13

To me that is so vague.
If the bible contained only one sentance, "Love God"
couldn’t we say that is all that is needed for salvation?
Because to love God we must love our neighbor, we must reject sin, etc, etc.

Thus a bible with the sentance “Love God” would be materially sufficient.

And notice that James Swan has a different definition of matierially sufficient.

For some, it might be strange to hear a Roman Catholic affirm the material sufficiency of Scripture. The idea that the Scriptures are “materially sufficient” simply means the entire content of revelation is in the Scriptures, or that divine revelation is contained entirely in Scripture. That is, all the doctrines Christians are to believe are found in the Bible. Catholic advocates of this view would include John Henry Newman and Joseph Ratzinger, and Yves Congar.<<

Notice he expands “materially sufficient” to the entire content of revelation.
Phil Vaz uses the same definition.

I think this is the more useful definition.

Akin on the other handed reduces it to all that is needed or necessary for salvation.

That is a lot of reducing. After all, pagans who never heard of God or of the bible can be saved. Thus an empty book could be materially sufficient with that definition.

Using the definition of the entire content of revelation, no Church father ever said the material sufficiency of scripture was an apostlic tradition or was handed down from the apostles, or in any way implied that Jesus taught it. They may have believed in it, but that means nothing, the Church fathers believed lots of errors.

The Church has never taught it. Thus, how can we believe it is part of Divine Revelation?

And there are clear doctrines that the Church hands down in Tradition, such as that the bread becomes Jesus at the consecration by the power of the Holy Spirit, that are no where found or implied in scripture.

And scripture does not list the Canon. That is certainly part of revelation which can no way be found implicit in scripture.


#14

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