[quote=Contarini] The Catholic clergy does not have a “direct” mandate either. It has an indirect mandate passed down through apostolic succession. In other words, we can agree that the task of interpreting Scripture is given to the Church as a whole.
We can only agree on on this if we mean the same thing by it (which I don’t think we do). The question of the directness of the mandate of Apostolic succession is a bit tangential, since my hope for this thread was to examine sola scriptura. I do happen to be writing out my meager thoughts on Apostolic Authority, and at some time I’ll probably post it as well (unfortunately it’s longer than this one was).
[quote=Contarini]The more unanimous the Church is about something, and the more important the question is, and the more convincing the Church’s arguments are, the more certain we can be that it is correct.
It’s rather like the current debate about same-sex so-called “marriage”, isn’t it? You can go back to the dawn of history and never find a single instance of a culture having to define marriage as a bond between one man and one woman precisely because no one ever questioned it. Now that (it seems) we have to actually define it as such, does this mean we’re making up something new?
You can also go back for the first 1500 years of the Church and find no one who rejected the teaching that the Apostolic teaching authority is given to the Magesterium, a visible and hierarchical office. What you can find is overwhelming evidence that it was accepted without question.
The Church is both visible and spiritual, a hierarchical society of which the civil and ecclesiastical government of ancient Israel was a type, and the Mystical Body of Christ whose relationship to Him is typified by the spousal union of Man and Woman. The task of interpreting God’s revealed truth is given to the Church, yes; it is given not through the individual believer but rather through the visible hierarchical structure of the Magesterium, which is protected by the Spirit from teaching erroneous doctrine.
As man and woman become one flesh in marital union and yet remain distinct, so Church and Christ, Body and Head, mystically become one flesh and yet remain distinct. As the Bride and Body of Christ, as it were “bone of His Bone and flesh of His Flesh” , sanctified and presented to Him eternally spotless and without blemish, the pillar and foundation of truth, can one believe that Christ would allow his mystical Church to fall into error? As the light of the human race, the light set on a lampstand so that it might light the whole world to bring glory to his name, are we to believe that he would allow his beloved Bride to be hidden under a bushel basket for 1500 years while some grotesque harlot impersonated her in the town square? I think not.
If the Church cannot be relied on to provide true and infallible teaching, if each individual must decide what doctrine is true by relying only on the original untranslated texts and his belief that the Spirit is guiding him, then the Church has no such task at all: the individual has the task.
[quote=Contarini] Furthermore, your dichotomy between our own judgment and Scripture does not make any sense. Ultimately we have to use our own judgment at some point. You have used your own judgment in deciding that Catholicism is more convincing than Orthodoxy, for instance. God works through our judgment as through other things. Rejecting all human judgment is the sort of thing fundamentalists do
But I’ve not rejected reliance on all human judgement, only reliance on judgement pertaining to revealed truth.
It is within the purview of human judgement to determine rational laws by which to evaluate the evidence of history. It is by those laws that we conclude that Jesus of Nazareth really exiested and is truly God Incarnate. By those laws I find that the texts show it to be reasonable to conclude that Jesus set up a visible teaching authority which would be forever protected from teaching erroneous doctrine and which would teach the true faith every day forever, with St. Peter as the Chief Steward of the Kingdom. And by those laws I find that the extrabiblical evidence shows that ALL of the early Church teaching agrees with Catholic doctrine on this point.
So when I come to matters of revealed truth that I don’t understand, on the authority of Christ himself I can rest assured that the Magesterium of the Catholic Church has it right.