My Fallible Decision Led Me Here


#1

When discussing the Bible’s inspiration with protestants, they will often go about “proving” its inspiration through a number of “evidences.” There was a broad consensus in the early church, it is very historically accurate, it is about Jesus, and archaelogical evidence proves the accuracy of the Bible etc…therefore we are *almost *certain it is the inspired, inerrant Word of God. The closest a protestant can come to “knowing” the Bible is inspired is “almost” completely sure, because there is no closure on the subject, there is no Church saying “yes it is.”

The reason I bring that up, is because it seems almost synonomous with a Catholic’s decision and realization that the Church indeed has authority, and was established by Jesus. We can be almost certain because of all the evidence, yet we have no certain closure on the subject. We can not determine the Bible is inspired because it tells us, you need an outside authoritative source to go by. Likewise we can not determine the Church’s legitimacy because it says so, we need an outside authoritative source, but where is it? I am positive the Church is Christ’s true Church, yet it is because my fallible interpretation of all the evidences, and I believe my fallible decision is right this time, yet there will never be the certainty of an infallible pronouncement, like the certainty we have of the Bible’s inspiration because of the Church (that our fallible decision has led us to believing).

I am not saying my decision about the Church is wrong, after all the protestants are right about the inspiration of the Bible, but for wrong and uncertain reasons. Is there any certainty that our fallible decisions are entirely correct? I suppose I will receive a lot of “evidences,” though no matter how many evidences there are, it is still a guesstimate we make, albeit an accurate one, though not certain. With what certainty do we believe the Church?


#2

Yes, an infallible something eventually has to pass to a fallible something. I can not with certainty know that the Catholic Church is the one true Church founded by Christ. BUT because of the public record, the existence of the Church is a bald fact that is “out there” and exists independent of what we think about it. Therefore, I don’t need infallibility, I need faith that that the Church is everything it claims to be. The anti-Catholic polemic tries to pile on the difficulties. Yes, I freely admit there are difficulties with the CC’s position. But as the saying goes, 10,000 difficulties do not equal one doubt. Doubt is an act of the will, not the intellect.

When one examines all the evidence, one can reasonably believe that CC is as advertised. When non-Catholics just throw out hypothetical alternatives, it is special pleading. They instead have to come up with a better case using the same standard they apply to the CC before anyone should consider jumping ship. This I have yet to see.

Scott


#3

Like Scott said, you must have faith. Believing without seeing, without knowing for fact. When your faith is so deep you no longer need question such things you will be able to move to a much greater spiritual level.


#4

Check out John Henry Newman’s observations

Read the section beginning with, “It is very common, doubtless, especially in religious controversy, to confuse infallibility with certitude, and to argue that, since we have not the one, we have not the other . . .”


#5

**What happens after death is a mystery. Every belief is speculation. Some people, based on their confidence in the Bible, believe some will go to heaven and others will go to hell. Others, based on their trust in the teachings of the Church, offer the possibility of purgatory. Still others believe, based on their convictions, that we will be reincarnated, or assimilated, or annihilated. The Mormons, if I understand them correctly, believe we’ll someday be gods of our own planets.

These are all beliefs. They are not scientific facts we can prove in the laboratory. This doesn’t mean we should (or can) abandon speculation. The problem is when we insist our beliefs are the complete truth. This arrogant religion exalts itself and its adherents. As Marcus Borg notes in The Heart of Christianity: “When we think about the claim that Christianity is the only way of salvation, it’s a pretty strange notion. Does it make sense that [God], whom we speak of as creator of the universe, has chosen to be known in only one religious tradition, which just fortunately happens to be our own?”

Gracious religion, in contrast, adopts an attitude of epistemological humilty. It says, “I know, but I could be wrong.” This is the paradox of experiences with God – they are the most real and powerful experiences of life, capable of transforming and changing us. Yet they are also intensely personal, difficult to verify, and therefore subject to human limitations and misinterpretations.

The truth of any experience is whether it changes our hearts. Are we transformed into more gracious people?

If God Is Love: Rediscovering Grace in an Ungracious World, Philip Gulley and James Mulholland, 2004
**


#6

Thanks for the responses, I suppose the Apostles had to fallibly decide that Jesus was the Messiah before anything else. I do believe it is a matter of faith at the very fundamental level of spirituality.


#7

“The Catholic Church is the same community that began in 1st century Judea under Jesus of Nazareth.”

This statement doesn’t rest on the claim that the Catholic Church has any supernatural character. It doesn’t even presuppose that Jesus is divine, as the New Testament documents claim him to be.

It’s merely the conclusion of a historically verifiable argument, like, “Pope Benedict XVI is the same person who was the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from 1981 to 2005.”

In the area of historical claims, the best we can have is “moral” certainity: the kind that’s equivalent to “beyond all reasonable doubt”.

On the other hand, claims like “The Bible is inspired” is of a different class. It’s a statement of divine revelation—you can know it only if a divine authority gives it to you. Resting this claim on historical arguments isn’t sufficient.


#8

Let’s take a look at this quote:

[quote=Ahimsa]What happens after death is a mystery. Every belief is speculation. Some people, based on their confidence in the Bible, believe some will go to heaven and others will go to hell. Others, based on their trust in the teachings of the Church, offer the possibility of purgatory.

Although this is not directly related to the topic, this part implies that the CC teaches that Purgatory is some kind of second-chance. Not so, and the fact that these guys blow it here makes one suspicious of anything that follows, but let’s let it slide for now.

Still others believe, based on their convictions, that we will be reincarnated, or assimilated, or annihilated. The Mormons, if I understand them correctly, believe we’ll someday be gods of our own planets.

As we go further along, we will see that this is implying a fallacy that the mere existence of many worldviews someone disproves any of them being the truth.

These are all beliefs. They are not scientific facts we can prove in the laboratory. This doesn’t mean we should (or can) abandon speculation. The problem is when we insist our beliefs are the complete truth. This arrogant religion exalts itself and its adherents.

Actually, there are beliefs confirmed by experience and evidence and lack of better alternatives. There is no arrogance in asserting that a religion is the truth when it is thoroughly coherent and jives with the facts and can defend every jot and tittle of it. Using science as the great arbiter of truth does not help because science can’t answer basic questions regarding goodness.

As Marcus Borg notes in The Heart of Christianity

: “When we think about the claim that Christianity is the only way of salvation, it’s a pretty strange notion. Does it make sense that [God], whom we speak of as creator of the universe, has chosen to be known in only one religious tradition, which just fortunately happens to be our own?”

Sure it makes sense if there is a Supreme God that has definite ideas about His creation. This does not mean that other faiths cannot have some truth in them, but again, the mere multiplication of worldviews does not automatically debunk any of them.

Gracious religion, in contrast, adopts an attitude of epistemological humilty. It says, “I know, but I could be wrong.” This is the paradox of experiences with God – they are the most real and powerful experiences of life, capable of transforming and changing us. Yet they are also intensely personal, difficult to verify, and therefore subject to human limitations and misinterpretations.

The truth of any experience is whether it changes our hearts. Are we transformed into more gracious people?

I find this part particularly ironic. After ranting about the arrogance of (presumably) Christianity, we get a paragraph loaded with Christian baggage. How do these guys know that we need a “gracious religion”? How do we know that the ultimate question is if “we are transformed into more gracious people?”

Scott
[/quote]


#9

[quote=Scott Waddell]After ranting about the arrogance of (presumably) Christianity, we get a paragraph loaded with Christian baggage. How do these guys know that we need a “gracious religion”? How do we know that the ultimate question is if “we are transformed into more gracious people?”

Scott
[/quote]

The authors are themselves Christian. They’re not saying that Christianity is itself arrogant; instead, they argue that when we mere humans claim that our knowledge is completely immune to being mistaken, that we then become arrogant.


#10

[quote=Ahimsa]The authors are themselves Christian. They’re not saying that Christianity is itself arrogant; instead, they argue that when we mere humans claim that our knowledge is completely immune to being mistaken, that we then become arrogant.
[/quote]

I suspected that. Another Christian suckered by theological relativism.

Scott


#11

On a side note, I have been discussing the Bible’s inspiration with a “Church of Christ” pastor who also hosts a call-in radio program. His latest email presents some topics I am unfamiliar with, so if any of you would like, I will post the link to view his email so you can comment on any of it.

Here is the word file. (59 k)

For background on the subject, here is our discussion thus far:

Here is the pdf file. (4 mb)

Any comments you have would be great.

Mike


#12

My friend, as to your point one above. God swears by Himself, there is no one greater to swear by. You can believe the Bible is inspired based upon its internal claims. (If you would like me to go over them with you, let me know).

As to your point 2: The outside authoritative source to identify the church is the Scripture (remember, God swears by Himself…).

1 Cor 3:11 says: For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Now, the RCC says that Peter is the “rock,” the “foundation.” (If I am misrepresenting that, please let me know.)

So, if God swears by Himself, and God says through Paul, that the foundation for the church is Christ, and the church you belong to says it is Peter, well, you get the picture.

That, Peter as the foundation, is only one problem you need to address.


#13

[quote=laadan]My friend, as to your point one above. God swears by Himself, there is no one greater to swear by. You can believe the Bible is inspired based upon its internal claims. (If you would like me to go over them with you, let me know).
[/quote]

How is going by internal claims sufficient enough to show that it is inspired?

As to your point 2: The outside authoritative source to identify the church is the Scripture (remember, God swears by Himself…).

Among other things, what you’re saying presupposes that you’ve already identified that Scripture is authoritative and divinely inspired. But how do you know that?

1 Cor 3:11 says: For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Now, the RCC says that Peter is the “rock,” the “foundation.” (If I am misrepresenting that, please let me know.)

Jesus gave Simon the name of “Kephas”/“Petros” (Peter), which means “Rock”. In Matthew 16:18-19 Jesus said that he would build his church on this rock, that Jesus would give the keys of the kingdom of heaven to him and that he would have the powers of binding and loosing.

In Ephesians 3:19-20, Paul says that the household of God (the Church, c.f. 1 Timothy 3:15) is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Of the apostles, Peter is the “first” (c.f Matthew 10:2).

Therefore, it’s not unreasonable to see how Peter, who is union with Jesus and is given the gift to confess in the Messiah, is “this rock” on which Jesus builds his Church.


#14

We can not determine through reason that Jesus bar Joseph is the Messiah. “For it is not through men that you know this.” All we can do is make a very, very solid argument based on the Jewish faith, which is itself an act of faith. We know about Jesus from sources outside of Scripture, so we can establish these things without appealing to an “infallible authority” that itself depends on the answer of the question “Is Jesus the Messiah”. We have records of his deeds and actions from various sources, including Jewish historical accounts, the Talmud, and the folks called the Church Fathers, who themselves started writing in the first generation after the Apostles. Based on all this information, we can make a “leap of faith”, saying Jesus was or wasn’t the Messiah, and we can rest with either assertion without having to appeal to any authority that depends on the answer.

Once we’ve decided if Jesus is the Messiah, we need to determine if the Church was started by Jesus. Again we can appeal to these exact same sources, and see that it’s the Catholic Church that was present in the generation just after the Apostles. We can again do this without appealing to the Messiahship of Jesus or the infallibility of the sources. If we’ve decided that Jesus is the Messiah through faith and this study, then it follows that we must logically accept this Church as His Church through the same study, in fact we can accept the Catholic Church as His without even accepting that He is the Messiah.

Only then do we examine Scripture, and find that this Church founded by the Messiah claims it infallible, and that it backs up the previous assertions. Since we’ve already made the leap of faith (or not) about Jesus, we don’t need to rely on Scripture in order to make it, but it fills in the final gap needed for making a solid argument for Jesus, the Church, and therefore Scripture.

The only thing that we have to settle for “almost certain” in a rational sense is the Messiahship of Jesus, and that is fine. There is no objective litmus-test for the Messiah, so it requires a leap of faith once the indicators are present. Scripture and the Church very neatly fall into place once that leap is made, and the leap in no way requires Scripture or the Church in order to make it, as can be seen by the fact that the Apostles made this leap without those things.

Not sure if it addresses your problem at all, but hopefully it helps.

:blessyou:


#15

[quote=Ghosty]in fact we can accept the Catholic Church as His without even accepting that He is the Messiah.
[/quote]

Thanks Ghosty, this is really true. I suppose this focuses the question a bit more; We can determine the Catholic Church is the one that existed through the apostles, however the question of its infallibility rests on our interpretation that can not be readily upheld through an historical approach. Infallibility is of divine nature, and as the reply up top says, it takes a divine authority to determine something of divine nature. Is there any other response besides the protestant’s “going by faith” to prove their beliefs?


#16

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