Monday, August 25, 2014

You Can't Have An Ecumenical Council Without The Pope

Even if he's not there, it doesn't go down without his say-so. It's always been that way, and it always will. So it just strikes me as mind-games to speculate whether the bishops wanted to be "distant" from the Holy Father or not in any one case.

We have the same 3 choices: 1. Accept all the ecumenical councils as the most solemn invocation of the Church's authority; 2. Reject all of them as an unlawful imposition of human authority; or 3. accept some and reject others.

If you choose (3), then you cause 2 problems: You violate JK's Axiom #1: "One cannot be both the arbiter of divine revelation, and a humble receiver of it at the same time," and 2. You lose the ability to distinguish human opinion from divine revelation. At some point, the convenience of the "true gospel" conforming precisely to what you already believe will test your intellectual honesty, just like it did mine.

You may hold up the Westminster divines or their documents as the moment when the truth was "recovered," but that's just it: they weren't the only ones claiming to speak for Christ at the time. I sensed this right away: Just because I currently inhabited a community descended from them doesn't mean they were right. I'm sure you have as many personal reasons to ignore this challenge as I did, but you've got to push through it. It's the intellectually honest thing to do.

We're looking for the visible Church in history. Because the Church is no less visible than Christ in the Incarnation. Think of it: An invisible "Church" lets us make our own "gospel", Inception-style. Sola Scriptura makes it even worse: I can make my own faith, and look pious and humble, too. Not everyone is willfully doing that, of course. But at the least, we're wasting time by submitting to a community that by its own admission is not the sole Church that Christ founded, and dodging the question of the true ultimate authority in Sola Scriptura. (It's ourselves.)


Timothy Butler said...

It isn't mind games -- just doing good historical analysis. Having worked with the source documents, I don't think there is a good historical case to be made that the first councils operated because of the pope's "say-so." If it is how it happened, it ain't a mind game.

I reject the premise of axiom, which is perhaps the problem here. Notably, the Westminster Divines *expected* that others also "recovered" the truth. Sheesh, they invited many of them to come attend the assembly. So, they had no trouble with the idea that confessions are situational -- bound to the needs of a particular place and time. So, to try to force it to fit into the Catholic paradigm is to try to make it something it never claimed to be.

Jason said...

It doesn't matter who they invited; if they aren't the Church, it doesn't matter what they decided. Sola Scriptura had already done its dual nasty work: it had made agreement between various groups impossible, and it had made any exercise of ecclesiastical authority ultimately fruitless. You don't have to impose a Catholic paradigm at any point; you just have to account for it.