Sunday, October 21, 2007

Regarding Doctrine

It amazes me that people gripe about the arrogance of Catholics and our infallible doctrine. They often claim it's a form of intolerance. But it's a necessary teaching of Christianity; it follows inevitably from a number of other doctrines that few mainline Christian denominations will do without. Here they are:

1. God loves us all.
2. God gave us free will.
3. We are separated from God by sin.
4. God devised ONE means by which that separation could be repaired (His plan of salvation), which includes the things we must believe and how we must live.
5. God desires that all of us be saved.
6. God can do all things.

From 2 and 3, we can conclude that God expected some of us to corrupt the One plan of salvation mentioned in 4. But from 1, 5, and 6, we can conclude that God would also ensure that His plan of Salvation in 4 would be preserved from corruption, and furthermore, that it would be widely available and widely recognized. In other words, God would ensure there was an authority on earth that would preserve and promote His one plan of salvation.

Incidentally, that describes the Roman Catholic Church's teaching on doctrine regarding faith and morals, the ones that describe what we must believe and how we must live if we are to be saved: that they are protected from human error or tampering by grace, also known as the power of the Holy Spirit. The technical term for this is infallibility.

To be infalliable, doctrine must be catholic, that is, universal. Both the teaching authority and the application must be universal. Thus, the marks of infallible doctrine are any of these:

1. The Pope, as successor to Peter, teaching the whole world, provides infallible doctrine.

2. Pontifical councils likewise teach infallible doctrine.

3. When all the bishops in Apostolic Succession who are in communion with the Holy See of Rome teach a doctrine, it is infallible.

Also, infallible doctrine always is teaching about salvation, which is why it is always only teaching about faith and morals. Nothing else is important enough for this sort of intervention.

If you look around for Catholic apologetics, you'll find all sorts of Biblical justification explaining how Christ gave authority over the Church here on Earth to Peter, and by extension, his legitimate successors. But if I'm going to post that here, it's going to be later.

edit: I want to thank Shakespeare's Cobbler for his expansion and clarifications.


Shakespeare's Cobbler said...

I think I'll quote this post on my blog, if you don't mind. I've known something to the effect for a long while, but for some odd reason I've never seen it put down the way you did, and I sure like it.

Something that gets me is how whenever the Church makes a statement with practical ramifications she is accused of meddling in political or scientific matters. In reality, she is declaring on moral matters that just so happen to logically have implications for things people rather blindly think are solely matter of science or politics.

Arkanabar Ilarsadin said...

Certainly you may. All of this stuff is completely free for use.

And you're absolutely correct in your assessment of the accusations of "meddling."

Anonymous said...

I won't post on Catholic Exchange anymore because of the personal attacks against a personal opinion. I'm sorry you were vilified too. That was my experience too.

Arkanabar Ilarsadin said...

While I haven't experienced such an attack at CE, I am sorry that such an attack has affected you so severely.

I am not surprised that such attacks happen there. Catholics are no better people than anyone else, and every bit as susceptible to all forms of sin and evil. Recognizing this, it is to be hoped that I would not be so dismayed by such a thing as to forgo all the graces and blessings which have come to me through Catholic Exchange.

Twitchard said...

"God would also ensure that His plan of Salvation in 4 would be preserved from corruption, and furthermore, that it would be widely available and widely recognized."

Matt 7:14 would seem to contradict your 'furthermore'

Because strait [is] the gate, and narrow [is] the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

Arkanabar Ilarsadin said...

Just because God has made His way widely known, doesn't mean that it's widely accepted. Surely you've seen people in your own congregation who are able to ignore truths that are right in front of their faces. Who says the've found a way, when they don't use it?

People worldwide decry the Catholic Church's way for being too straight and narrow, and only 1/5 of the world population has actually recieved the Sacraments of Baptism, the Eucharist, and Confirmation. And there's a significant fraction of those who don't really believe in them, either.