Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Derek on the conversation about church infallibility
... if the Church — whether in the person of the Pope or in its councils as with the Eastern churches — is infallible, then all efforts to change its doctrine and/or discipline outside these channels are not only misguided but morally and theologically wrong.
John 10:1-9.

But of course God is unlimitable. He made the church but can work outside its visible bounds.

To be more precise I’d say Rome says the office (chair, cathedra) of the Pope is the means by which the church teaches infallibly. Outside these narrow limits he is as fallible as you or me.
...the way we answer this issue has a great deal to do with current theological dispute and how — or if — they can be settled. If the Church is infallible, current attempts to reinterpret, say, traditional teachings on human sexuality are wrong, full stop. If it is not infallible, then not only are such attempts not wrong but are even helpful. If people holding opposing positions talk they will be able to come to an understanding but not an agreement.
By George you’ve got it.
I’ll add one further thought on the matter which is to say that I think the question of fallibility/infallibility is properly framed at the level of the Church/churches, not at the level of the Scriptures. To proclaim the Scriptures infallible seems to me an easy out because what is being proclaimed infallible is not really the Scriptures but a certain interpretation thereof.
Correct.

My comments/answers on the other issues Derek raises — good points on ‘doctrine or discipline?’ and ‘the wheat and the tares’ — are in the church-infallibility conversation linked above (scroll down in it for more).
  • The larger church trumps everything else. ‘That’s it?’ That’s it.
  • The church like the Incarnation is an example of paradoxical orthodoxy: true God and true man; infallible church made up of fallible and sinful people.
On that note:

St Augustine’s admonition against a hidden church
From Fr John Fenton

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