If God could make man the organ of His revealed Word

…is it impossible for Him to make man its infallible guardian and interpreter?

From “The Faith of our Fathers,” Cardinal Gibbons, 1917

"You will tell me that infallibility is too great a prerogative to be conferred on man. I answer: has not God, in former times, clothed his Apostles with power far more exalted? They were endowed with gifts of working miracles,of prophecy, and inspiration; they were the mouthpiece communicating God’s revelation, of which Popes are merely the custodian. If God could make man the organ of his revealed Word, is it impossible for Him to make man its infallible guardian and interpreter? For, surely, greater is the Apostle who gives us the inspired Word than the Pope who preserves it from error.

"Let us see, sir, whether an infallible Bible is sufficient for you. Either you are infallibly certain that your interpretation of the Bible is correct, or you are not.

"If you are infallibly certain, then you assert for yourself, and of course for every reader of Scripture, a personal infallibility which you deny the Pope, and which we claim only for him. You make every man his own Pope.

"If you are not infallbly certain that you understand the true meaning of the whole Bible…, then I ask, of what use to you is the objective infallibility of the Bible without an infallible interpreter?



Well, God used fallible mortal men to write down the Bible to start with, didn’t He?

As St. Paul (and later hymn writers sang), we are but earthen vessels containing this treasure.

I’m not quite sure if I understand exactly what you are saying. I also admit that I am not very familiar with the Ecclesiology of your Ancient and Holy Orthodox Church, but, and please correct me if I am wrong, you do have some form of a Magisterium, do you not?

If you do, your Holy Church does admit that there is Doctrine that is binding on all Orthodox Christians, and in that sense, if in fact your Holy Church does have some form of a Magisterium, Its decisions on exegesis, etc, would have, in effect, an infallibility which Christ granted to all the Apostles in Mt. 18:18.

I grant you that I am swimming here in very unfamiliar waters. I look forward to that day when both our Churches–and all ecclesial communities-- are once again One, as Christ intended.

God, omnipotent, may do whatever He desires to do.

When God wished to make the Jews His chosen people, He elected to do so not by appearing to all, but to Abraham.

When God wished to save a small portion of man and animals from His righteous judgment before the Flood, He elected to do so not by appearing to all, but to Noah.

When God wished to rescue His people from Egyptian bondage, and to make them righteous once again through His Law, He elected to do so not by appearing to all, but to Moses.

God apparently prefers to deal with all of us through one of us. This is why Christ speaks primarily to Peter throughout the Gospel, although clearly he did preach to many (a small minority of the world nonetheless). Christ of course is also the living Word of God, fully human and fully God, so in that sense, God speaks to all of us through Christ, one of us.

When God does elect to speak through man, He invariably provides a sign of authority. Thus Moses and Jesus and Peter perform miracles, Noah and the prophets prophesy true, the High Priest and Peter receive revelations, David achieves an impossible victory, etc.

God’s constant emphasis of bloodline and explicit promises to confer authority on certain bloodlines and offices established by them bears out the importance of apostolic succession.

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