Saturday, June 21, 2008

Welcome to Paradise

Check out where I am right now:

  • 8 bedrooms
  • 5.5 bathrooms
  • Movie room
  • 2 hot tubs
  • 2 steam rooms
  • Heated pool
  • Playground
  • Billiards, Foosball, Pinball, Game room
  • Wireless Internet
  • 2 gourmet kitchens
  • Pool house with full kitchen
  • Mountain top location
That's Maine for ya!

No more blogging for now. Where's my beer....

Pax Christi,

Monday, June 16, 2008


The following is a list of papers that I wrote as a grad-level Theology and Catechetics student at Franciscan University of Steubenville:Pax Christi,

Poll-Release Monday #54

Continuing with the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, from the USCCB's quiz on the Catechism, here is this week's poll question:

True or false. The sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, when administered to a person at the point of death, is called Viaticum.
What do you think? Vote in the poll in my sidebar.

As for last week's poll, here are the results:
  • True or false?: In time of imminent danger of death when no priest is present, any believer may give the Anointing of the Sick.
    • True: 12 (43%)
    • False: 16 (57%)
The correct answer is:
  • False; cf. CCC 1530: Only priests (presbyters and bishops) can give the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, using oil blessed by the bishop, or if necessary by the celebrating presbyter himself.
I can understand why I a lot of you got this one wrong. After all, if, in exceptional circumstances, a lay person can baptize, you would think he would be able to administer the Anointing of the Sick as well. But, it is not so. Off the top of my head, I'm not sure why that is either. I guess I'm not a genius after all. Perhaps the entry on the Anointing of the Sick from the Directory will be of service.

Thanks for voting!

Pax Christi,

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Multiple Senses of Scripture and Its Religious Meaning

In order to provide some content during this down time, here is a paper I wrote for my Biblical Foundations class about two years ago. It was in response to this question:

How do the senses of Scripture serve the aim of interpretation as outlined in Chapter 11 from Peter S. Williamson, Catholic Principles for Interpreting Scripture: A Study of the Pontifical Biblical Commission’s “The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church” (Rome: Editrice Pontificio Istituto Biblico, 2001)?

As a Word document, this paper is 8-pages, double spaced. It kinda ends abruptly, but overall, I'm happy with it. When I handed it in, I was worried that I used too many quotations, but my professor didn't seem to mind. I hope you find it useful and informative.

Pax Christi,
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The Multiple Senses of Scripture and Its Religious Meaning

Exegesis is hard work. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger provides this provocative summary of the historical-critical method:
  • On one hand there is the attempt to unravel the various threads (of the narrative) so that in the end one holds in one’s hands what is the “really historical,” which means the purely human element in events. On the other hand, one has to try to show how it happened that the idea of God became interwoven through it all. So it is that another “real” history is to be fashioned in place of the one given. Underneath the existing sources—that is to say, the biblical books themselves—we are supposed to find more original sources, which in turn become the criteria for interpretation.1
With all of this untangling of Scripture (as if it were a cacophonous mess that needed to be sorted out), it is no surprise that biblical exegesis often becomes “a veritable fence which blocks access to the Bible for all the uninitiated.”2 Is this really the purpose of interpretation, to make the text inaccessible to the every day reader?

We find a response to this question in The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church, a document by the Pontifical Biblical Commission (PBC). Williamson provides a helpful synthesis:
  • The primary aim of Catholic exegesis is to explain the religious message of the Bible, i.e., its meaning as the word which God continues to address to the Church and to the entire world (IV.a, III.C.1.b) The ultimate purpose of Catholic exegesis is to nourish and build up the body of Christ with the word of God.3
First, it is necessary to explain what is meant by “the religious message [or meaning] of the Bible.” Williamson describes several characteristics. The religious meaning:
  • Is the meaning that Scripture has as the word of God, as a divine communication;
  • Is Scripture’s theological meaning, provided that theological meaning is understood broadly enough;
  • Includes everything Scripture says about God’s relationship with the human race:
    • what it reveals about the Trinitarian God and his plan of salvation (doctrine);
    • the guidance it offers for human life (wisdom and morals);
    • the means it provides of encountering God (texts for worship, prayer and meditation).
  • Is concerned with the present religious significance of the text for Christian faith; as distinguished from the original meaning of the text;
  • Is not subjective, or reducible to whatever religious or spiritual or philosophical ideas someone might find in the Bible, or merely “religious” in a generic sense;
  • Is the meaning that corresponds to the religious tradition which produced and preserved the Christian Bible.4
He goes on to cite many reasons why biblical scholarship has often lost sight of the primary aim of interpretation. One such reason is the tendency towards a singular approach to the text as a result of the placement of interpretation within the academy:
  • Academic exegesis sought an archaeological knowledge of the historical and cultural roots of Scripture and was unable to bring the Bible’s meaning into the present. It set narrow limits to the meaning of Scripture, rejecting the plurality of meaning which traditionally enabled believers to apply Scripture to their lives. It functioned as a literary discipline according to the canons of contemporary research, rather than as a service in the Church aiming at leading the faithful to salvation [emphasis added].5
Implicit in this analysis is a key point: proper emphasis on the other senses of Scripture—besides simply the literal sense—can unlock the religious meaning of the text and make it more relevant to the lives of Christians.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us in Article 115 that “according to an ancient tradition, one can distinguish between two senses of Scripture: the literal and the spiritual, the latter being subdivided into the allegorical, moral and anagogical senses.”6 The PBC adds a third sense, the fuller sense (sensus plenior), categorized as a sub-type of the spiritual sense.7 Each sense has its own impact on the religious meaning of Scripture.

The Literal Sense

The literal sense of Scripture is “that which has been expressed directly by the inspired human authors. Since it is the fruit of inspiration, this sense is also intended by God, as principal author.”8 Much can be investigated regarding the literal sense, such as its alternative definitions, the role of authorial intent, the way in which one derives the literal sense of a text, and the difference between a literal and a literalistic interpretation.9 However, we are concerned here with what delivers the religious meaning of the text. While one may perhaps be able to accomplish this via the aspects previously mentioned, it is this author’s view that two other characteristics, the plurality of meanings and the dynamic aspect, are key to bringing theological significance to the literal sense.

Many people mistake the literal sense as carrying with it only one meaning. But, the PBC tells us that there can actually be more than one literal sense of a text.10 This is for two reasons. First, sometimes a human author intends to refer to more than one level of reality at the same time. “This is especially true in poetry, but also in other kinds of writing, especially when symbolism or irony is employed.”11 A few examples of this would be “the meaning of a;nwqen in John 3:3,4,7; of ‘living water’ in 4:10-14; of ‘going up’ in 7:8.”12 Secondly, divine inspiration can cause a human utterance with only one intended meaning to have another meaning. The following, from John’s Gospel, is an “extreme”13 example:
  • When the high priest Caiaphas says in John 11:50 that, “It is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish,” he is advocating Jesus’ execution. But the Evangelist informs us that, at the same time, God was speaking through Caiaphas about his redemptive plan. Both meanings to Caiaphas’ words are literal senses, because they are both made clear by the context, in this case, by the direct explanation of the evangelist.14
To the plural meanings of the literal sense is added a dynamic aspect: “The literal meanings of many texts posses a dynamic aspect that enables them to be re-read later in new circumstances.”15 This is an intriguing, and frequently neglected dimension of the literal sense. “Historical-critical exegesis has too often tended to limit the meaning of texts by tying it too rigidly to precise historical circumstances.”16 The dynamic aspect frees the exegete from this limitation by emphasizing directions of thought (or, as Brown calls them, “lines of development”17) in the text. The PBC provides an example:
  • The meaning of the royal psalms, for example, should not be limited strictly to the historical circumstances of their production. In speaking of the king, the psalmist evokes at one and the same time both the institution as it actually was and an idealized vision of kingship as God intended it to be; in this way the text carries the reader beyond the institution of kingship in its actual historical manifestation.18
But how does all of this help us to identify the religious meaning of Scripture? “This dynamic aspect, this open-endedness, is an extremely important characteristic of the literal sense, because it provides the opening which all re-readings, including the spiritual sense, make use of.”19 Any spiritual sense or deeper meaning of the biblical text must still have some solid connection with the literal sense, with what the human author expressed in the text. As St. Thomas Aquinas tells us, “All other senses of Sacred Scripture are based on the literal.”20 The plurality of the literal sense, and its dynamic aspect, opens the door for legitimate interpretations of the text that bridge the gap between what the text meant to the original author and what it means for us today.

The Spiritual Sense
  • The spiritual sense of Sacred Scripture is the meaning expressed by the biblical texts when read under the influence of the Holy Spirit in the context of the paschal mystery and the new life which flows from it (II.B.2.b).21
As we have already noted from the Catechism, there are three sub-types of the spiritual sense: the allegorical, moral and anagogical senses. To these the PBC adds the sensus plenior. Just as there are multiple literal senses of Scripture, there are multiple spiritual senses as well. Knowing the distinctions between these spiritual senses will help us to unpack the religious meaning of Scripture even further.

Williamson defines the allegorical interpretation of Scripture as:
  • Interpretation in which persons, objects and actions depicted in a text are taken as representing other things not present in the text. The Fathers of the Church were fond of employing allegorical interpretation of the Old Testament to show how the entire Jewish Scriptures pointed to Christ, to explain texts that might otherwise seem scandalous (e.g., questionable actions of Old Testament heroes), and to give a pastoral application to texts that might otherwise seem obsolete. The terms “allegory” or “allegorical interpretation” have also been used more broadly to refer to interpretation of the Old Testament in the light of Jesus Christ.22
If we are concerned here with the religious meaning of Scripture, with “the present religious significance of the text for Christian faith; as distinguished from the original meaning of the text” and “the meaning that corresponds to the religious tradition which produced and preserved the Christian Bible,” then it should be easy to see how the allegorical sense of Scripture achieves this end. Everything in Scripture, and the Old Testament in particular, becomes more relevant to mankind when it is seen in the light of Jesus Christ and the paschal mystery. Moses is more than just a holy man of God. With the allegorical sense, he becomes a type of Christ in his intercessory role for the people. The snake he raised up to heal them becomes an image of Christ crucified. The crossing of the Jordan into the Promised Land prefigures our sanctification through baptism.

From here we move to the moral sense. This is the sense of Scripture that leads us to act justly.23 The PBC gives the following description of Scripture’s moral dimension:
  • The Bible closely links many instructions about proper conduct—commandments, prohibitions, legal prescriptions, prophetic exhortations and accusations, counsels of wisdom, and so forth—to the stories concerning the history of salvation. One of the tasks of exegesis consists in preparing the way for the work of moralists by assessing the significance of this wealth of material.24
One example of Scripture’s own use of the moral sense is its application of God’s dealings with Israel after the Exodus. The account of their wondering in the wilderness is more than just a record of something that happened a long time ago. Paul, recognizing the moral sense of the account, uses it to teach the Corinthians a lesson in acting justly and with faith.25 “Now these things happened to them as a warning, but they were written down for our instruction, upon whom the end of the ages has come.”26

The moral sense is definitely conducive to imparting the religious meaning of Scripture, for it reveals in various ways what is good and proper for man. Christians can turn to the Scriptures to learn how to live rightly, and priests and catechists can use the moral sense of Scripture to convict an audience and to lead them towards conversion.

The anagogical sense reveals the eternal significance of realities and events in Scripture.27 Mark Shea defines the anagogical sense as “the sense of Scripture that has to do with our destiny in Christ and the images in Scripture which prefigure such things as Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory.”28 In acknowledging this sense we are acknowledging the fact that some realities in Scripture have meaning and import far beyond their present context, circumstance, or period in history.

For example, St. John uses the city of Jerusalem as an image of heaven when he speaks of the “new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”29 The author of the letter to the Hebrews sees this same eternal destiny in Mount Zion.30 Perhaps the most popular example is the eschatological discourse in Matthew 24. Here Jesus is at once referring to three different events: the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple there, the end of the world, and His own Second Coming. All of these are examples of Scripture’s own use of the anagogical sense.

This sense is an amazing contribution to the religious meaning of Scripture because it shows the reader that Scripture has an end in sight. It not only speaks of the author’s day and of our own circumstance, but also of that final culmination of history, when Jesus Christ will make all things new.31 The anagogical sense helps us realize that the end foreseen in Scripture is our end, and that “the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”32 In this hope we are saved, and we wait for it with patience.33

The final spiritual sense is the fuller sense. Williamson provides this definition:
  • The fuller sense (sensus plenior) is a deeper meaning of the text, intended by God but not clearly expressed by the human author (II.B.3.a). It has its foundation in the fact that the Holy Spirit, principle author of the Bible, can guide human authors in the choice of expressions in such a way that the latter will express a truth, the fullest depths of which the authors do not perceive (II.B.3.c).34
This sense is best illustrated by example, and the PBC offers three of them:
  • In Mt 1:23, the Gospel writer presents Jesus’ birth as the fuller sense of the Septuagint version of Isa 7:14.
  • The patristic and conciliar teaching about the Trinity expresses the fuller sense of the teaching of the New Testament regarding God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
  • The definition of original sin by the Council of Trent provided the fuller sense of Paul's teaching in Romans 5:12-21 about the consequences of the sin of Adam for humanity.
In each of these cases, a meaning that had “lain hidden in the original context”35 is revealed either by the re-reading of the text by a subsequent biblical author or by “the internal development of revelation”36 in the Tradition of the Church.

This sense adds to the religious meaning of Scripture in that it makes Scripture an actual “living Word” in the lives of Christians. “These words are perfectly applicable to Sacred Scripture: ‘For the word of God is living and active’ (Heb. 4:12).”37 The fuller sense allows for those “lines of development” previously mentioned in the discussion on the literal sense to find their fulfillment. It also allows for the Holy Spirit to guide the Church into an ever deeper and more robust understanding of the truths revealed in Sacred Scripture. In so doing, the sensus plenior provides a fuller theological insight to Scripture, and with the other senses of Scripture, it helps to ensure that the word of God that first rang out so long ago will continue to be heard by mankind until the end of time.

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[1] Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, “Biblical Interpretation in Crisis: On the Question of the Foundations and Approaches of Exegesis Today,” in Biblical Interpretation in Crisis: The Ratzinger Conference on Bible and Church, Gen. Ed. Richard John Neuhaus (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1989), 2.
[2] ibid.
[3] Peter S. Williamson, Catholic Principles for Interpreting Scripture: A Study of the Pontifical Biblical Commission’s “The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church” (Rome: Editrice Pontificio Istituto Biblico, 2001), 148-149.
[4] ibid., 149-151.
[5] ibid., 154-155.
[6] United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catechism of the Catholic Church (New York: Doubleday, 1994), 38.
[7] Pontifical Biblical Commission, The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church (Boston: Pauline Books and Media), 87-88.
[8] ibid., 82.
[9] For a treatment of these aspects of the literal sense, cf. Williamson, Catholic Principles for Interpreting Scripture, 164-168.
[10] PBC, The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church, 82-83.
[11] Williamson, 168.
[12] Joseph A. Fitzmyer, “The Biblical Commission’s Document The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church: Text and Commentary,” in Subsidia Biblica (vol. 18), Gen. Ed. James Swetnam (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1995), 122n. Cited in Williamson, 168.
[13] PBC, 83.
[14] Williamson, 168-169.
[15] ibid., 169.
[16] ibid.
[17] Raymond E. Brown, “The Contribution of Historical Biblical Criticism to Ecumenical Church Discussion,” in Biblical Interpretation in Crisis: The Ratzinger Conference on Bible and Church, Gen. Ed. Richard John Neuhaus (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1989), 28.
[18] PBC, 83.
[19] Williamson, 169.
[20] St. Thomas Aquinas, STh I, 1, 10, ad I. Cited in CCC, 39 (no. 116).
[21] Williamson, 189.
[22] ibid., 391.
[23] CCC, no. 117.
[24] PBC, 113.
[25] cf. 1 Cor 10:1-10; all Scripture citations from the Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.
[26] 1 Cor 10:11.
[27] CCC, no. 117.
[28] Mark Shea, “The Anagogical Sense of Scripture,” in Sheavings (online at, accessed on December 8, 2006.
[29] Rev 21:2, cf. 21:1—22:5.
[30] cf. Heb 12:22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering,
[31] cf. Rev 21:5.
[32] Rom 8:22-23.
[33] Rom 8:24-25.
[34] Williamson, 204.
[35] PBC, 88.
[36] ibid., 87.
[37] Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (November 18, 1965), no. 22. Online at Accessed on December 8, 2006.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Poll-Release Monday #53

Continuing with the section on the Anointing of the Sick from the USCCB's quiz on the Catechism, here is this week's poll question:

True or false?: In time of imminent danger of death when no priest is present, any believer may give the Anointing of the Sick.
What do you think? Vote in the poll in the sidebar.

Here are the results from the previous poll:
  • True or False?: The sacrament of Extreme Unction, or Anointing of the Sick, may be given more than once during the same illness.
    • True: 40 (83%)
    • False: 8 (17%)
Well done! The answer is:
  • True. cf. CCC, no. 1529: Each time a Christian falls seriously ill, he may receive the Anointing of the Sick, and also when, after he has received it, the illness worsens.
In response to this poll, Stephen left the following comment:
What sort of illness qualify? Only those that may lead to death? We know that "the proper time ... has certainly arrived" by that time, but what about before? What about early stages of cancer? Schizophrenia? Depression? I've never seen any regulations about how severe the illness must be. How is "seriously ill" (CCC) defined?
This is a good question. I think that by "seriously ill" (or, as Canon Law says, "dangerously ill") is meant whenever the person begins to be in danger of death by sickness or old age. In other words, it is no longer only at the very point of death that the sacrament is administered.

Here's what the Catechism says:
  • 1514 The Anointing of the Sick "is not a sacrament for those only who are at the point of death. Hence, as soon as anyone of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, the fitting time for him to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrived" (SC 73).

    1515 If a sick person who received this anointing recovers his health, he can in the case of another grave illness receive this sacrament again. If during the same illness the person's condition becomes more serious, the sacrament may be repeated. It is fitting to receive the Anointing of the Sick just prior to a serious operation. The same holds for the elderly whose frailty becomes more pronounced.
Can. 1004 of the Code of Canon Law says, "The anointing of the sick can be administered to any member of the faithful who, having reached the use of reason, begins to be in danger of death by reason of illness or old age." So, I think the early stages of cancer would count, but not schizophrenia or depression. These latter two are serious illnesses, but they aren't (typically) deadly illnesses. I hope that answers your question.

Pax Christi,

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Scripture and the Pope: Part 5

Here is Part 5 in my debate with Amy on papal infallibility as it is found in Scripture. Also see Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4.

Pax Christi,
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I apologize ahead of time that most my comments are not backed with Scripture at this point. I have made most of those already in previous posts. While I put little stock in my own opinions as compared to the authority of Scripture, I am responding to the best of my ability from a biblical worldview rather than by book, chapter and verse. I have prayed extensively about this, as I consider truth claims no light matter that can be made without great accountability. (To whom much has been given, much is required.)
I do think that the lack of Scriptural support is a deficiency in your argumentation. I mean no offense in this at all, but many of your arguments seem to come from your own ideas of what you would like a verse to mean instead of what the context, the original languages, other Scripture passages, and biblical scholarship says that it means. I am often at a loss as to how you arrive at some of your conclusions.

Also, though I seem to say some very direct things, I am feeling no hostility (not sure that always comes through in writing). Sorry for the extensive disclaimer.
No problem! I think that this has been a very congenial debate.

I have been kept from being led astray on these matters of faith and morals by coming to Christ in faith, repenting of my sin, reading the Bible and obeying it. I did that before I ever knew what a Pope was. Or should I say, Christ did that in me. I have submitted myself to church leadership which has explained the scripture to me word for word, verse by verse since I was in 3rd grade. This doesn't make me an authority, only that I have great assurance of this grace in my life. I sin, but I have no trouble knowing what it is.
But, the problem is, I too feel that I have come to Christ in faith, repented of my sin, read/obeyed the Bible, submitted to Church leadership and had the Bible explained to me....and I disagree with you. In other words, it's not enough to come to Christ in faith and to feel good about your position. If that were the case then we would both be right and we could end this debate and go about our merry way. But, the Spirit does not contradict Himself. This means that, despite your litmus test, either one of us is wrong or both of us are.

So, how do we resolve this predicament? Well, luckily, God has not made Truth contingent upon the strength or forcefulness of human argumentation. Instead, he set up an infallible authority to settle such matters, a final rule against which we could judge all things. This authority rests in His Apostles and their successors. These, and no other men, were commissioned by Jesus Christ to teach in His name and with His authority. You will find no other group of individuals given such authority in all of Scripture.

To me, this means that if you want the assurance in doctrine that comes with this God-given authority, you better have a successor of the apostles in your midst. The Catholic Church does. The Protestant denominations do not. Now, this doesn't mean that Protestants don't get some things right. Often times they get quite a few things right. But, without the authority given first to the Apostles and passed on to the men they commissioned to take their place and lead the churches, error creeps in, as you acknowledge later in your post. This is a problem, and it is simply not what Jesus Christ (or the Apostles) wanted for His Church.

I confess my sin to my Heavenly Father, just as Jesus and the Apostles have taught me to do from the pages of Scripture. Christ mediates for me just as He promised. I do not see this passage telling me that someone needs to speak other infallible words outside of scripture.
Well, I'm not really sure what else to say. I have already shown you what the keys signify, based on significant Biblical scholarship from a host of sources. I have shown you how Mt 16:18-19 parallels Isa 22:15-22, in which Eliakim is made steward of the household of the king and given the keys to open and shut. I've explained what it means to "bind" and "loose" and the significance of Jesus binding and loosing in heaven what Peter binds and looses earth. I've explained the significance of Jesus praying specifically for the faith of Peter and calling Peter out from among the twelve to provide spiritual guidance and rule for His sheep. I have noted the promise of the Holy Spirit, which Jesus gave to the apostles to lead them into all Truth. Finally, I have shown you how none of this impinges upon Jesus' unique position as Head and sole Mediator of the Church.

Very little of this has been refuted with Scripture, and much of my arguments have been skipped altogether. I realize that you have a family and you're busy -- and like I said in an earlier post, I don't expect you to have all the answers -- but you also need to know that you have not sufficiently proven your position.

In fact, I see a greater danger in giving that man the power of infallibility based on a passage as vague as this one is, in supporting the idea of a single sinful person, capable of heresy and error wielding the power of words considered infallible.
Well, first of all, the doctrine of papal infallibility does not rest solely on Mt 16. I have brought in various other passages as well. Secondly, in my opinion, what's dangerous is when sinful men do not have the power of infallibility. Without that charism, they are prone to declare, in the name of Christ, a whole host of false and malicious doctrines that lead Christ's sheep astray. I thank God that he has given his Church the charism of infallibility, to guide Her and keep Her in all Truth, despite the sinfulness of her leaders.

Falsehood has indeed crept into the church, Nicholas. The father of lies works hardest not at sending people to the church of Satan and witchcraft, but to plant small seeds of “mis-truth” (though there is no such thing, they are lies) within the church. For a lie to be effective, it must look very much like its opposite with just enough of itself to damn those who believe it. Good lies seem like truth. But I do not believe that the heart of Satan’s affective mischief exists with not having a Pope to combat him, but with those who do not believe on God’s Son and obey the pages of Scripture. And faith in Christ as the Son of God, secures forever, that the gates of hell are shut to me, not by my works, not by Peter, but by Christ who shut them.
Well then, I guess the devil has won. He has succeeded in spreading his false doctrine and no body of Christians has been able to maintain the Apostolic teaching in its purity. Is that what you are telling me? If so, then I'm afraid you've turned Jesus into a liar.

Peter was capable of upholding the truth of the Old Testament and securing the church’s adherence to that already revealed truth. Any leader who would rise up after him, after Paul, or after any other Apostle would be capable of leading the church by staying close to the Scriptures and securing their clear explanation to the future generations. Scripture didn’t need more words than it has. (I know you are not saying the Pope’s words are added to the actual cannon of scripture) Peter did have infallible words given to him by the Holy Spirit, what we now call scripture (the books that he wrote). Beyond that there is no mention of others following after him to bring infallible words. It just isn’t in the text. Give me a different text.
I appreciate this question because it gives me an opportunity to discuss something that we haven't had a chance to get to yet: Apostolic succession. I think we both agree that the Apostles were given authority to teach in the name of Jesus and that their teaching was without error. Your beef seems to be not so much that Peter be considered infallible but that his successors would be as well.

I think it is evident in Scripture that the Apostles passed on their teaching and disciplinary authority to other men as they established churches and fulfilled the Great Commission. "They appointed elders for them in every church," as Acts 14:23 tells us. Peter institutes this succession in Acts 1:15-26 when Mathias is chosen to take the place of Judas.

Acts 1:20,25 For it is written in the book of Psalms, "Let his habitation become desolate, and let there be no one to live in it"; and "His office let another take." 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside, to go to his own place."

Notice that Judas' position is called an "office" (or in the KJV, the "bishoprick,") and he was succeeded in his office by Mathias. Paul too calls his position an "office" (cf. Col 1:24-25), which he passes on to Timothy (cf. 1 Tim 3:1; 4:14; 2 Tim 1:6) and Titus (cf. 1:5). Timothy is in turn instructed by Paul to pass on his teaching authority to other "faithful men who will be able to teach others also" (2 Tim 2:2).

Remember the position of "head steward" in Isaiah 22?

Isa 22:15,19-21 Thus says the Lord GOD of hosts, "Come, go to this steward, to Shebna, who is over the household, and say to him: 19 I will thrust you from your office, and you will be cast down from your station. 20 In that day I will call my servant Eli'akim the son of Hilki'ah, 21 and I will clothe him with your robe, and will bind your girdle on him, and will commit your authority to his hand; and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah."

It too is an office with a succession, and we have already seen how Peter's position in the Church parallels this office. All of this shows that the apostles instituted a succession of bishops so that the Apostolic authority to govern and the ability to teach without error would not die with the last Apostle but would continue on throughout the ages so that the Church would continue in Truth. Only the Catholic Church has maintained this Apostolic succession.

Herein is the heart of our debate. I have been a believer in Jesus Christ, saved by grace through faith in Christ for 26 years and I hadn’t even heard of this charism until I started reading your blog. For me to be saved, based on the clear teaching of Scripture, this charism has not been necessary. Nor do I find its necessity mentioned anywhere in all the teachings in Scripture laying the ground work for church leadership. Unless of course that is exactly what you are saying, that I am not saved. I will not be offended if you believe this about me.
The infallibility of Peter and his successors is Biblical truth. You have not considered it necessary to your salvation to believe it because you have been ignorant of it. But, I have shared this truth with you to the best of my ability, so now you are no longer ignorant of it. Now you are accountable for this teaching. I can't say how much this culpability effects your salvation. Only you and God know how responsible you are for rejecting this.

You said...
"By way of reminder, I've already shown (in Part 3) how, regardless of one's interpretation of that incident, the doctrine of papal infallibility is not refuted."
I say...
On the contrary, if one were to take my interpretation seriously, which I do, the very office of pope was never meant to exist.
You have yet to prove how that follows from the fact that Jesus spoke to "satan" in response to Peter.

Yes, the power of binding and loosing, that is what key Peter has been given, I agree. That power, in my reading, is clearly the Gospel. What else can bind and loose anyone on this fallen planet, but Christ’s act of substitution (I repeat myself). It had to be the perfect God-Man making reconciliation between the Holy One who was offended and His enemy, fallen mankind, (to all who believe).
I suppose you can read it that way if you want, but your understanding of "binding" and "loosing" is simply NOT supported either by the context of the passage, biblical scholarship on binding and loosing, or the Jewish and Rabbinical understanding of their own terms. You seem to be forcing this passage to say what you want it to say and ignoring any evidence to the contrary.

And I will add to these comments one question of vital importance to me. I have attached a quote below and I’d like to know if you believe it. It strikes at the very heart of what I believe. How you answer will also either confirm or relieve my concern for you.The Council of Trent (1500s), but I have heard, is still authoritative in the Catholic church today:
“If anyone says that the sacraments are not necessary for salvation… and that without them… men obtain from God through faith alone the grace of justification… let him be anathema.”
“If anyone says that baptism is optional, that is, not necessary for salvation, let him be anathema.”
We can discuss the efficacy of the sacraments and their relationship to our salvation if you wish, but I'd rather not do it in this debate. I think it would take us too far off topic. I hope that's ok with you.

I thank you for being respectful throughout this debate.

Pax Christi,

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

I Know, It's Been a While....

What can I say, I've been busy! My Comprehensive Exam is on June 14th, which I need to pass in order to finally graduate, so I've been preparing for that. I was also in Michigan over the weekend for the baptism of my goddaughter. I'm not really sure how often I'll be able to post between now and the exam date, but I'll try my best.

I really need to spend every amount of free time preparing for Comps. This thing is a beast: There is an essay question for each of the 14 classes I have taken. The director of the MA Theology program chose 9 of the 14 for me to answer. My answer has to fill at least one blue book. On the day of the exam, I will have to answer 4 of the 9 questions, but I don't know which 4 it will be.

I know the questions ahead of time, so it's really just a matter of answering the questions and then memorizing my answers. Sounds easy, but it's least, it's not for me. The questions themselves are difficult to answer, even with all of my notes, and I am having an extremely hard time just sitting down and working on it. I can't really explain why, it's just an extreme source of anxiety for me.

On a lighter note, I recently received a job offer to be a DRE. It seems to be a done deal, but I don't want to say anything more about it until it is official. Needless to say I am very excited about it, and I think this job will be very good for Amy and I.

Also, I should have mentioned this sooner, but if you are able to catch "Franciscan University Presents" on EWTN, you'll see a short clip of me answering some questions about the Holy Spirit. It airs today at 2pm EST and again on Friday, June 6, at 4am EST. I taped this interview a long time ago, so I had forgotten all about it! Thanks for "Seven77" for the heads up.

Finally, I obviously wasn't able to put up a new poll yesterday. Instead of posting it late I'm just going to let the current poll run for another week.

I think that's all for now. Please pray for me that I can overcome my anxiety and successfully pass my Comps.

Pax Christi,
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