Mr. Cauley responded to my part 2 and 3 responses, and this is my final response to both of those. The full discussion can be seen here.
Kevin Cauley wrote:
While Stephanie has indicated that she does not want to debate, and I am not going to require it of her in this discussion. My desire is to respond to the things that she is saying and so I have done.
I hope you don't mind if I set aside the issue of miracles for now, in consideration of saving time, as I think it's rather a side issue, and I'd like to try to focus on the main point.
Perhaps you could give us some scriptural evidence for this analysis. I would like to know the passages of scripture that teach the "reception of the Holy Spirit" for 1) ordination, and 2) confirmation. Would you supply them?
I will do my best. Keep in mind, because we have Tradition along side Scripture, we don't expect Scripture to be a manual that goes into detail about such things. Rather, we expect Scripture to mention things in passing, as it would be expected that people of the time would know what was being referred to. So, there's not a verse that says "This is confirmation, and this is how you do it," because it was simply not seen as necessary. But there are mentions of it.
Confirmation in the Bible
We read in the Acts of the Apostles (viii, 14-17) that after the Samaritan converts had been baptized by Philip the deacon, the Apostles "sent unto them Peter and John, who, when they were come, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost; for he was not yet come upon any of them, but they were only baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus; then they laid their hands upon them, and they received the Holy Ghost". Again (xix, 1-6): St. Paul "came to Ephesus, and found certain disciples; and he said to them: Have you received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? But they said to him: We have not so much as heard whether there be a Holy Ghost. And he said: In what then were you baptized? Who said: In John's baptism. Then Paul said: John baptized the people with the baptism of penance . . . Having heard these things, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had imposed his hands on them, the Holy Ghost came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied". From these two passages we learn that in the earliest ages of the Church there was a rite, distinct from baptism, in which the Holy Ghost was conferred by the imposition of hands (dia tes epitheseos ton cheiron ton Apostolon), and that the power to perform this ceremony was not implied in the power to baptize... A striking passage, which was made much use of by the Fathers and the Schoolmen, is that of St. Paul: "He that confirmeth [ho de bebaion] us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God, who also hath sealed [sphragisamenos] us, and given us the pledge [arrabona] of the Spirit in our hearts" (2 Corinthians 1:20, 21). No mention is made of any particular words accompanying the imposition of hands on either of the occasions on which the ceremony is described; but as the act of imposing hands was performed for various purposes, some prayer indicating the special purpose may have been used: "Peter and John . . . prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost". Further, such expressions as "signing" and "sealing" may be taken as referring to the character impressed by the sacrament: "You were signed [esphragisthete] with the holy Spirit of promise"; "Grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby you are sealed [esphragisthete] unto the day of redemption" (Ephesians 1:13; 4:30). See also the passage from II Cor. quoted above. Again, in the Epistle to the Hebrews (vi, 1-4) the writer reproaches those whom he addresses for falling back into their primitive imperfect knowledge of Christian truth; "whereas for the time you ought to be masters, you have need to be taught again what are the first elements of the words of God" (Hebrews 5:12). He exhorts them: "leaving the word of the beginning of Christ, let us go on to things more perfect, not laying again the foundation . . . of the doctrine of baptisms, and imposition of hands", and speaks of them as those who have been "once illuminated, have tasted also the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost". It is clear that reference is made here to the ceremony of Christian initiation: baptism and the imposition of hands whereby the Holy Ghost was conferred, just as in Acts, ii, 38. The ceremony is considered to be so well known to the faithful that no further description is necessary.
From the beginning the diaconate, priesthood, and episcopate were conferred with special rites and ceremonies. Though in the course of time there was considerable development and diversity in different parts of the Church, the imposition of hands and prayer were always and universally employed and date from Apostolic times (Acts 6:6; 13:3; 1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6).
Our disagreement isn't whether the apostles taught orally by inspiration. There's no dispute about that. The disagreement is in whether or not there was an apostolic expectation that oral tradition be preserved as authoritative. I teach that the only "tradition" that can be trusted is the written tradition. Catholicism teaches otherwise.
Yes, I understand what you're saying, you're quite right.
Catholicism draws a line between the process of inspiriation and the process of the divine preservation of tradition. See the Catechism on this point. The Catholic church doesn't claim that tradition has been divinely inspired as were the apostles and prophets. Catholicism believes that the preservation of tradition is a work of the Holy Spirit, not so much in inspiring someone to speak or write truth, but by guaranteeing (somehow) that the church never loses truth.
Yes, you are right about that. Let me clarify further...we believe the Church, when officially teaching on a matter of faith or morals, is infallible. This touches on the difference between what this means as opposed to inspiration and revelation:
Infallibility must be carefully distinguished both from Inspiration and from Revelation.
Inspiration signifies a special positive Divine influence and assistance by reason of which the human agent is not merely preserved from liability to error but is so guided and controlled that what he says or writes is truly the word of God, that God Himself is the principal author of the inspired utterance; but infallibility merely implies exemption from liability to error. God is not the author of a merely infallible, as He is of an inspired, utterance; the former remains a merely human document.
Revelation, on the other hand, means the making known by God, supernaturally of some truth hitherto unknown, or at least not vouched for by Divine authority; whereas infallibility is concerned with the interpretation and effective safeguarding of truths already revealed. Hence when we say, for example, that some doctrine defined by the pope or by an ecumenical council is infallible, we mean merely that its inerrancy is Divinely guaranteed according to the terms of Christ's promise to His Church, not that either the pope or the Fathers of the Council are inspired as were the writers of the Bible or that any new revelation is embodied in their teaching.
So, we believe the writers of the texts of the bible were directly inspired. We believe the apostles were given revelation and inspired to write much of it down. We believe that the Church today, in her teaching capacity, is infallible.
When we look at scripture, it's clear that when God wanted to communicate His will, He did so by inspiration (i.e. "Thus saith the Lord"), not tradition (2 Peter 1:20-21).
This verse only discusses prophecy in the Old Testament, and says that it is not for private interpretation, and that it came from God. This does not negate the possibility of there being ways for God to protect His Truth once given, because it is not speaking of that.
This makes the entire process of preservation of oral tradition suspect because it isn't backed by the very breath of God through the process of inspiration. Now, if it isn't by inspiration, then what authority does it have?
We believe the Holy Spirit guides the Church and we believe her teachings are infallible. Not newly inspired, because God has already given us His teachings through revelation and Christ's oral teachings, and they were written down (and inerrant) because of inspiration. Now the job of the Church is not to create new teachings, but to protect those already given from error. It is a different function and a different purpose than what inspiration and revelation were for.
In Galatians 1:8-12, Paul makes it clear that the gospel he preached was received by inspired revelation. It didn't come to him through human teaching of any kind (inspired or otherwise).
This sets directly inspired scripture above any effort that uninspired men make to teach and preach the gospel.
Certainly, however, I believe there's another category you're leaving out. (Infallibility)
Hence, anything less than inspiration is simply originated by man.
And this is where I believe you're missing infallibility. To a point, you must believe in infallibility yourself...otherwise, you would never trust that you knew God's truth better than a Baptist or a Methodist or any flavor of Protestant. (I use Protestantism as they, like you, claim the Bible as their only authority.) How do you know your interpretation is any more correct than theirs? Certainly you earnestly search the word and study it diligently, but so, too, do many Protestants. On some level, you must believe that you have somehow been guided into truth, while they have not...in other words, you must believe your interpretation is correct, inerrant, and infallible.
Again, you seem to have the understanding that because the Catholic Church says men in the Church today are not inspired, then the Holy Spirit must not be involved. But you're forgetting that we believe in a separate and distinct function of the Holy Spirit, and that is the charism of infallibility.
And there is a real sense in which Catholicism acknowledges the necessity of men (uninspired mortal men) to transmit apostolic oral tradition. Now, the question that the above scriptures address is this: do men have within themselves the ability to ratify divine truth? Catholicism says they must. These scriptures, however, teach otherwise. Man does not have it within himself to ratify divine truth.
Here you are mistaken. Catholicism says it is not just them, it is their own words, but words that are kept from error by the Holy...not in the sense of inspiration, not in a positive manner, in a negative manner, keeping them from teaching error.
This is from the above link:
It is well further to explain:
*that infallibility means more than exemption from actual error; it means exemption from the possibility of error;
*that it does not require holiness of life, much less imply impeccability in its organs; sinful and wicked men may be God's agents in defining infallibly;
*and finally that the validity of the Divine guarantee is independent of the fallible arguments upon which a definitive decision may be based, and of the possibly unworthy human motives that in cases of strife may appear to have influenced the result. It is the definitive result itself, and it alone, that is guaranteed to be infallible, not the preliminary stages by which it is reached.
If God bestowed the gift of prophecy on Caiphas who condemned Christ (John 11:49-52; 18:14), surely He may bestow the lesser gift of infallibility even on unworthy human agents. It is, therefore, a mere waste of time for opponents of infallibility to try to create a prejudice against the Catholic claim by pointing out the moral or intellectual shortcomings of popes or councils that have pronounced definitive doctrinal decisions, or to try to show historically that such decisions in certain cases were the seemingly natural and inevitable outcome of existing conditions, moral, intellectual, and political. All that history may be fairly claimed as witnessing to under either of these heads may freely be granted without the substance of the Catholic claim being affected.
Now, let me show you where in scripture we believe Christ promises such a thing to His Church.
Merely remarking for the present that the texts in which Christ promised infallible guidance especially to Peter and his successors in the primacy might be appealed to here as possessing an a fortiori value, it will suffice to consider the classical texts usually employed in the general proof of the Church's infallibility; and of these the principal are:
*John 14, 15, and 16;
*I Timothy 3:14-15; and
*Acts 15:28 sq.
I just want to focus on a couple verses in this post, but there are explanations of all of them and why we believe they support infallibility of the Church here.
In Matthew 28:18-20, we have Christ's solemn commission to the Apostles delivered shortly before His Ascension: "All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world." In Mark 16:15-16, the same commission is given more briefly with the added promise of salvation to believers and the threat of damnation for unbelievers; "Go ye into the whole world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be condemned."
Now it cannot be denied by anyone who admits that Christ established a visible Church at all, and endowed it with any kind of effective teaching authority, that this commission, with all it implies, was given not only to the Apostles personally for their own lifetime, but to their successors to the end of time, "even to the consummation of the world". And assuming that it was the omniscient Son of God Who spoke these words, with a full and clear realization of the import which, in conjunction with His other promises, they were calculated to convey to the Apostles and to all simple and sincere believers to the end of time, the only reasonable interpretation to put upon them is that they contain the promise of infallible guidance in doctrinal teaching made to the Apostolic College in the first instance and then to the hierarchical college that was to succeed it.
In the first place it was not without reason that Christ prefaced His commission by appealing to the fullness of power He Himself had received: "All power is given to me", etc. This is evidently intended to emphasize the extraordinary character and extent of the authority He is communicating to His Church -- an authority, it is implied, which He could not personally communicate were not He Himself omnipotent. Hence the promise that follows cannot reasonably be understood of ordinary natural providential guidance, but must refer to a very special supernatural assistance.
In the next place there is question particularly in this passage of doctrinal authority -- of authority to teach the Gospel to all men -- if Christ's promise to be with the Apostles and their successors to the end of time in carrying out this commission means that those whom they are to teach in His name and according to the plenitude of the power He has given them are bound to receive that teaching as if it were His own; in other words they are bound to accept it as infallible. Otherwise the perennial assistance promised would not really be efficacious for its purpose, and efficacious Divine assistance is what the expression used is clearly intended to signify. Supposing, as we do, that Christ actually delivered a definite body of revealed truth, to be taught to all men in all ages, and to be guarded from change or corruption by the living voice of His visible Church, it is idle to contend that this result could be accomplished effectively -- in other words that His promise could be effectively fulfilled unless that living voice can speak infallibly to every generation on any question that may arise affecting the substance of Christ's teaching.
One may not appeal to the inspired authority of the Scriptures, since for the fact of their inspiration the authority of the Church must be invoked, and unless she be infallible in deciding this one would be free to question the inspiration of any of the New Testament writings.
In Christ's discourse to the Apostles at the Last Supper several passages occur which clearly imply the promise of infallibility: "I will ask the Father, and he shall give you another Paraclete, that he may abide with you forever. The spirit of truth . . . he shall abide with you, and shall be in you" (John 14:16, 17). "But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you" (ibid. 26). "But when he, the spirit of truth, is come, he will teach you all truth (John 16:13). And the same promise is renewed immediately before the Ascension (Acts 1:8). Now what does the promise of this perennial and efficacious presence and assistance of the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of truth, mean in connection with doctrinal authority, except that the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity is made responsible for what the Apostles and their successors may define to be part of Christ's teaching? But insofar as the Holy Ghost is responsible for Church teaching, that teaching is necessarily infallible: what the Spirit of truth guarantees cannot be false.
According to "Fasting and Abstinence in the Roman Catholic Church," fasting was and is Catholic law.
It certainly is! However, it is a law that can change. It does not profess to be unchangeable, it is merely disciplinary.
So the Holy Orders of the Catholic church is not a doctrine, but a discipline? That would be a new one on me. The Catholic Encyclopedia makes it clear that in order to be of the order of the subdiaconate, one must be celibate. Is that no longer the case?
There are two issues here. Holy Orders as a whole, and the disciplines they currently involve. Holy Orders, we believe, are certainly instituted by Christ, and are doctrine. However, there are disciplinary matters concerning Holy Orders that can change...such as the issue of celibacy, how long priests are to stay at one parish, etc. As I mentioned earlier, the Eastern Catholic Church has long allowed married priests, and there's no problem with that.
But then also see"Papal Infallibility: Disagreement with this doctrine."
I didn't see anything that discounted my point.
See Indulgences: History It is a historical fact that indulgences were authorized by the Pope to raise money to build cathedrals. That is what I am referring to when I talk about selling indulgences. If there were abuses, those abuses were authorized by the Pope.
No, you misunderstand. The Church authorized, among many other things, that charitable donations, since they were a charitable act, could receive an indulgence. (That is, it could act as a penance to take away temporal punishment for our sins.) However, some people in the Church abused this idea, and acted as if one could "buy" an indulgence. It has to do with the intention of the act. As it was easy to confuse, the Church decided to stop that to prevent further abuse.
As I have mentioned before, it is convenient to say that these things are not Oral Tradition. If you can define away any teaching that the church has authoritatively set forth as not being part of Oral Tradition because it disagrees with what is being taught by the Catholic church today, then you have eliminated the problems by definition, but not by historical accuracy. As I pointed out, this is the fallacy of begging the question.
I have a feeling, that if I were to point out where Catholic teaching has changed regarding the items that you mentioned, that you would simply find a way to dismiss it as either being "discipline" instead of "doctrine" or as not being part of the Oral Tradition to begin with.
And again I say, you may find this "convenient," but I still assert that it is the truth. There is not one teaching that has been formally defined as infallible which has changed in all of Church History. The fact that not everything is clearly defined as either infallible or not is no argument against those which have been defined as such.
From the same link above:
Catholics as a matter of fact do not feel in any way distressed either by the restrictions, on the one hand, which infallible definitions impose or, on the other hand, by the liberty as to non-defined matters which they enjoy, and they can afford to decline the services of an opponent who is determined at all costs to invent a grievance for them. The objection is based on a mechanical conception of the function of infallible authority, as if this were fairly comparable, for example, to a clock which is supposed to tell us unerringly not only the large divisions of time such as the hours, but also, if it is to be useful as a timekeeper, the minutes and even the seconds. Even if we admit the propriety of the illustration, it is obvious that a clock which records the hours correctly, without indicating the smaller fractions of time, is a very useful instrument, and that it would be foolish to refuse to follow it because it is not provided with a minute or a second hand on the dial. But it is perhaps best to avoid such mechanical illustrations altogether. The Catholic believer who has real faith in the efficiency of Christ's promises will not doubt but that the Holy Ghost Who abides in the Church, and Whose assistance guarantees the infallibility of her definitions, will also provide that any definition that may be necessary or expedient for the safeguarding of Christ's teaching will be given at the opportune moment, and that such definable questions as are left undefined may, for the time being at least, be allowed to remain so without detriment to the faith or morals of the faithful.
Then please set forth the scriptural reasons that prove that Catholic Oral Tradition is not man made. I've already shown how Oral Tradition is not considered to be on par with inspiration per the teachings of the current Cathechism itself. And anything less than inspiration can't be authoritative (Galatians 1:8-12).
I have attempted to do as such, and to show why I disagree that a lack of inspiration means a lack of infallibility, according to Catholic teaching.
From Mr. Cauley's next post:
The implication of this is that individuals are not responsible for properly interpreting and applying God's word to their lives and such cannot be true given the fact that each individual will be judged by God as an individual (2 Corinthians 5:10).
Of course we are judged individually, we all choose whether or not to follow God's word. That has nothing to do with how we receive that word.
If we are to be judged based upon what we do, and if we act based upon what we believe (Matthew 12:35), and if we believe based upon God's word (Romans 10:17),
Notice this verse says faith comes by "hearing," not by "reading."
then it is necessary that we interpret God's word for ourselves as individuals and not allow someone else to tell us what we are supposed to believe about God's word (Acts 17:11).
I agree with all your ifs, it's the "then" I disagree with, and in fact I believe the scriptures directly refute this when they say they are not to be interpreted privately. Certainly I don't believe we should just allow "someone else" to tell us what to believe, that's why I believe God gave us the Church, the pillar and ground of truth, who is authorized to hand down God's Word, both oral and written (as I've tried to show), and that Christ promised He would protect them from error when doing so.
I tried to stick to the most important issues to save time, and I'm afraid that's all I'm going to be able to write today, and probably for a while. Sorry to cut things short, but I just won't be able to keep up without neglecting my home! So I probably won't be able to respond to any posts after this one. Thank you for your time!