Sunday, August 14, 2005

The Pontifications of Patrick

From the comment box of the Cafeteria Catholicism thread, Patrick put up a post. Let's try to give a good response:

It's cruel of you to dig up some of those links, PP. Posting Link 2 was especially heartless. Steve Hays must find it pretty humiliating to see you link to the discussion with me where he made believe that a certain claim made by Archbishop Chaput committed him to open theism. That was a real trainwreck.

I don't have a dog in your dispute with Hays over open theism and Molinism, in part because these are not areas in which I've studied.

If you're correct with your assessment, shouldn't you be thanking me for indirectly trumpeting not only your correctness, but also the incorrectness of your disputant?

Interestingly relevant to the point at hand--that is, the way you and Hays pay attention to the "business end of the Church" is his claim in that same link that "Catholicism has this two-tiered piety, with the laity on the lower tier and a spiritual elite of monks and nuns on the upper tier. Is that how you interpret the Sermon on the Mount? Is the Sermon on the Mount only for some Christians, and not for all Christians?"

Interestingly relevant to the point at hand is that Patrick seems to not grasp the clearly stated reasons for including the links at the bottom of the previous thread, which was to demonstrate what somebody who questions Rome on her own terms can expect when bringing up points that may very well be threatening to various Roman truth claims. As such, if Patrick objects to Hays' statements on a purported two-tiered piety and the Sermon on the Mount, he can take it up with Hays instead of affecting his braggart tone.

I should note not only for Patrick's sake, but for all readers' sake, that Steve Hays and I are separate people. His words and my words cannot necessarily be reduced to some soppy word-wad that applies at all times to both of us. Now he and I agree with each other on some major things, and, if I quote or link to him approvingly or with the claim that he is right, it is quite fair to hold me to those words of Steve that directly impinge on the point I try to make. But it should go without saying that I don't have to defend myself or Steve on incidental points that have no logical bearing to my thesis. Hays' views on the Sermon on the Mount are views that are irrelevant for discussion.

Yes, clearly Steve Hays is getting his interpretation of Catholicism from the business end of the Church. After all, the Second Vatican Council taught that "The Lord Jesus, divine teacher and model of all perfection, preached holiness of life (of which he is the author and maker) to each and every one of his disciples without distinction: 'You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.' (Mt 5:48) ... All Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of love." (Lumen Gentium, section 40.) I can certainly see how Hays could get his "two tiered" approach out of Catholic teachings like this! (Cough cough.)

Yes, clearly Patrick is at the wrong blog, mistaking me for Hays. He must think I'm an alter-ego of Steve Hays. I'm not. It can safely be said that there isn't a single Haysian substance consisting of two personae -- the Steve and the PP -- with coequal glory and eternal majesty, with the Steve being made of none, neither created nor begotten. This fact may disappoint budding theologians, who now have one less mystery --- that of the Haysian Binity --- on which to write papers and monographs.

Patrick, in case you've forgotten, Steve can be reached at the Triablogue link on the right side of this blog. Or, click here.

Or perhaps Lumen Gentium doesn't count as genuine Catholic teaching because it doesn't flow from the pen of Raymond Brown?

Straw man. In the thread I stated
What I've hoped to show in this thread is that, yes, somebody like Brown is to be taken as a voice for Catholicism. He's a liberal voice, and there are conservative voices, but one just can't throw out the liberal voices and put in place a self-selecting a posteriori list of conservatives.

Whether you agree with the argument, and I think I can safely guess your position on it, I didn't claim in any way that Brownian authorship was a necessary condition for representing Catholicism.

I must say, in response to your own words, PP--leaving behind your friend Mr. Hays for the moment--that it's very surprising to see you raise points "delta" and "epsilon" in relation to Brown's appointment to the PBC, since as you yourself seem to recognize, neither delta nor epsilon applied to the PBC at the time of Brown's appointment.

To refresh readers, I had argued that Brown is a papally-appointed scholar who is, by virtue of this papal appointing, a member of a commission that has, among other things,

(delta) The property that [says Pius X] those who contradict the decisions of the body are responsible before God, and they just might not be able to escape the consequences of grave sin, and

(epsilon) The property that [again says Pius X] the importance and normative force of this commission holds now and in the future.

I quoted a very large portion of Pius X's Praestantia Scripturae, providing the link so that all could see the document for themsevles. There, Pius X's words didn't contain any proviso that the penalty of the possibility of grave sin [as well as the importance of the commission] was to be tossed out at a future time.

Yet the Roman Church did away with Pius X's wording there and downgraded the status of the PBC, so that in a formal sense the PBC wasn't [to put it roughly] as big a deal as before. This brings up a set of questions that are worthy to be asked at some later time.

But I'll take Patrick's point to heart here. Let's see if (delta) and (epsilon) still functionally apply, despite not formally applying because of the non-magisterial status of the PBC that Patrick correctly credits me with knowing, since I also cited a 1994 PBC document titled The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church containing Ratzinger's seeming clear wording that
The Pontifical Biblical Commission, in its new form after the Second Vatican Council, is not an organ of the teaching office, but rather a commission of scholars who, in their scientific and ecclesial responsibility as believing exegetes, take positions on important problems of Scriptural interpretation and know that for this task they enjoy the confidence of the teaching office.

Regardless of the formal claim by Ratzinger that the PBC is not an organ of the teaching office, note that, relative to important problems of scriptural interpretaion --- matters that should affect the entire Catholic faith --- the text states that the members "enjoy the confidence of the teaching office."

Ray Brown was appointed to the PBC for a second time in 1996, after this document came out.

A group that enjoys the confidence of the teaching office, one would think, would have the authority, certainty, warrant, or whatever leads to confidence to carry out a duty that the formal teaching office assigns to it. Presumably, those in the formal magisterium don't delegate useless or unimportant activities to groups, especially to groups that "enjoy the confidence of the teaching office." The St Alphonso's Pancake Breakfast Committee, say, doesn't enjoy the confidence of the teaching office.

Now if one wants to say that the PBC does nothing important that ultimately affects the Catholic faith, be my guest. In this case, we seem to run aground on Ratzinger's words above expressing the important problems in scripture upon which the committee lends its expertise. Or perhaps the Bible just isn't important to the RC that would take this road.

Or, one could claim that these problems of scripture are esoteric and not essential for the faith of the laity. Certainly, a lay-Catholic who prays her rosary and goes to mass confessing the deity of Christ isn't directly affected by a PBC brief on the punctuation of Rom 9:5, where Paul may or may not be calling Christ "theos" depending on what punctuation option one takes.

But it is a strange thing for Patrick and others to act as if questions about the Bible don't have an impact upon the laity in indirect ways. Has the RCC completely abandoned any pretense that the faith of the laity is logically affected by the text of scripture and knowing what it says, so that questions of interpretation and method are mere theoretical fancies for a group of people unconnected with reality? Does the Vatican, which should concern itself with its flock, waste its time on ivory tower pie-in-the-sky questions? These are hardly unfair counter-questions to ask.

Does incorrectly interpreting the Bible or using the wrong methodology possibly lead to false doctrine, which can lead to grave error? The answer appears to be in the affirmative, no matter what a pope says. This is just the reality given forth in the NT. This would still seem to uphold the force of (delta).

As this committee enjoys the full confidence of the teaching office, whether or not it is formally magisterial, is it practically wise to trangress the bounds of its ruling? The answer appears to be in the negative. This would seem to uphold the force of (epsilon).

So the points (delta) and (epsilon) appear to still stand when the dust settles, where their support comes from Ratzinger's words in 1994 as well as the NT. Patrick can't accuse me of anachronism for the words of the Ratzinger document, though the NT may very well be an anachronistic, irrelevant, and outdated document for some people.

There's more that could be said in rebuttal to your long post, but I think the fact that you tried to make hay out of the quasi-magisterial status of the PBC even though you knew it no longer had that quasi-magisterial status tells us what we need to know about the seriousness with which you approach these discussions.

I think this entire comment of yours tells me what I need to know about the seriousness with which you approach these discussions. Despite yourself, please know that I've tried to give you a good and serious reply.


Blogger Steve Jackson said...

It's curious how some will say that Brown's teaching is contrary to Vatican II. Well, Fitzmyer was appointed to the PBC and his views aren't that much different than Brown's. Donald Senior, a current member of the PBS, is a Brownian. Is there any doubt that if you looked at all the members of the PBC they would be much closer to Brown than, say, the so-called Catholic apologists?

In addition, Brown's books in which he set forth a liberal interpretation of VII were given the impramatuer by JP II appointed-bishops.

Finally, Kasper has very leftist views on biblical inspiration (he doesn't believe Jesus performed any of the "nature miracles") and he was re-appointed by Benedict as a big time Vatican bureacrat. No one can deny that Benedict knows full well what Kasper teaches.

My question to Patrick and Jason is this: Is it Catholic doctrine that Jesus performed all the miracles ascribed to him in the NT? If it is, then obviously Benedict and JP II are not the guardians of orthodoxy that they are potrayed. A catholic might plausibly argue that they are bad administrators. If the Catholic Church has nowhere proscribed precisely what a Catholic has to believe on this issue, then isn't it fair conclude that, based on their appointments, Benedict and JP II accept a more liberal view of Biblical inspiration?

Sunday, August 14, 2005 7:15:00 AM  
Blogger Steve Jackson said...

Sayeth Ray Brown:

"Many of us think that at Vatican II the Catholic Church 'turned the corner' in the inerrancy question . . . . The Council in 1962 rejected the ultra-conservative schema "On the Sources of Revalation" that originally had been submitted, and so it became a matter of face-saving that in the revisions and in the final form of the Constitution the ultraconservatives should have their say."

Brown goes on to say that the documents of Vatican II concerning biblical inspiration may be read in an "open" or a "conservative" way. He opts for a "critical exegisis" of Church documents that results in an "open" view.

Brown: The Critical Meaning of the Bible, p. 18 (Printed with Imprimatur).

Sunday, August 14, 2005 8:58:00 AM  
Blogger Damascene said...


"Is it Catholic doctrine that Jesus performed all the miracles ascribed to him in the NT? ... If the Catholic Church has nowhere proscribed precisely what a Catholic has to believe on this issue, then isn't it fair conclude that, based on their appointments, Benedict and JP II accept a more liberal view of Biblical inspiration?"

Dei Verbum, article 19, does prescribe exactly what a Catholic should believe on the matter, does it not?

"Holy Mother Church has firmly and with absolute constancy held, and continues to hold, that the four Gospels just named, whose historical character the Church unhesitatingly asserts, faithfully hand on what Jesus Christ, while living among men, really did and taught ... The sacred authors wrote the four Gospels ... always in such fashion that they told us the honest truth about Jesus."

Likewise the 1964 Instruction on the Historical Truth of the Gospels issued by the PBC and approved by Pope Paul VI:

"But at all times the interpreter must cherish a spirit of ready obedience to the Church's teaching authority, and must also bear in mind that when the Apostles proclaimed the Good Tidings they were filled with the Holy Spirit, that the Gospels were written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and that it was He Who preserved their authors immune from all error."

From the premises that (1) The Gospels are historical and (2) The evangelists, in writing the Gospels, were immune from all error, we conclude (3) The Gospels are historical and inerrant. Now, if you want to explain how that's compatible with Kasper's views on the miracles of Christ as expressed in Jesus the Christ, I'd be interested in hearing it; as for myself, I can't see how they can be reconciled.

Sunday, August 14, 2005 7:33:00 PM  
Blogger Pedantic Protestant said...

Hello Damascene --- I think I've addressed some points of your original comment in the other thread in my threads for Patrick. I don't know if I've been clear enough so that you'll agree that, agree or not, I've addressed them. Let me know if you think that I've addressed them. This blog is small and unknown enough to where I try to reply to all.

BTW Damascene --- if I ask you a few questions in turn, are you sticking around here?

Sunday, August 14, 2005 10:00:00 PM  

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