Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A solemn announcement (but, with no thanks to Hays, Kepha, TurretinFan, White, et al.)

As of 2010, after months of in depth research, and sincere prayer, I will no longer be attending worship services in any church with official ties to the Bishop of Rome. Needless to say, this is anything but an ‘easy’ decision for me to make; however I have reached the point wherein I can no longer reconcile certain historic data with a couple of non-negotiable elements in the official teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. The first and foremost component which has led to my decision is that I can no longer affirm Papal infallibility, nor the inherit infallibility of the Ecumenical councils. Back in 2002 when I entered the RCC, I was able to acknowledge both via the assistance of Newman’s theory of doctrinal development; however, in the spring of 2008, certain cracks in Newman’s theory began to appear on my ‘radar’ while engaged in some historical research. This research brought to my attention numerous works that I had not been aware of, which I then began to acquire and read. I proceeded to put out some ‘feelers’ with the hope of enlisting the aid of others in my examination of this new information, beginning with THIS THREAD, but alas, no viable alternatives over the next several months were forthcoming; in fact, the efforts put forward by so many anti-Catholic epologists severely hindered the advancements I had been making in my research; and looking back, I know that some of the dismal apologetic methods employed by these epologists actually delayed my decision; but, in spite of such obstacles, I reached a point in my studies that I could no longer use as an excuse the lack of any solid alternatives to Newman’s DD, and had to admit, and affirm, to myself that I could no longer support certain tenants of official Roman Catholicism. Unfortunately, as I briefly mentioned earlier, the support of these official teachings is not negotiable for a faithful Catholic, hence my decision.

Could this decision be in error? In theory, yes, it could be a wrong choice, for I cannot (and never have) make any claim to infallibility; but with that said, I would be lying not only to myself, but to the whole world, if I continued to attend worship services within the RC communion—that is something I cannot in good conscience do at this juncture of my walk with God.

So, as I now search for where God would have me attend worship services, I will continue this little blog of mine—much of the blog’s emphasis will be the same, combating poor apologetics (from whatever source), raising important questions, and reaching out for informative, charitable dialogue.

Your prayers will be greatly appreciated…


Grace and peace,

David

181 comments:

Matthew Bellisario said...

David, I am sorry to hear of this. How can you reconcile this with Our Lord's Real presence in the Eucharist, which is only taught by the Catholic and Orthodox Churches? Do you acknowledge the historical data that backs up the priesthood as defined by the Fathers of the church regarding the Eucharist? If so, where else can you go, since no form of Protestantism which adheres to this belief? I will pray for you, and I sincerely hope that you will reconsider your decision.

May God bless and keep you,
Matthew.

Chris said...

Hi David,

You have both my sympathies and my congratulations. Decisions like this one can be very painful, I know from experience. But I'm sure that wherever you decide to go from here, you will be stronger and wiser for having had the courage to make the change. You will certainly have my prayers, such as they are.

I'm curious to know where you will go from here. Please do keep us updated on your journey.

Peace,
-Chris

Matt said...

Prayers are with you, indeed. I have appreciated (and will continue to appreciate!) very much what you do here.

I hope that you will help us better understand your reasoning in this matter. My reading of Avery Dulles and others, even Ratzinger himself, on ecclesiology have softened some of the historical difficulties that Vatican I may pose. But I may have read these things superficially. Who knows?

Well, may God bless you and let us pray for Christian unity so that such difficulties will no longer face the thoughtful Christian.

Ken said...

Wow . . . that is big news indeed. What are your specific reasons for realizing that the infallibility of the Pope is not historical nor Biblical? Wouldn't they be the same reasons that the so called "anti-Catholic" epologists (Dave Armstrong includes me in this category) have for rejecting the Papacy as Biblical or historical; and the infallibility dogma as especially untrue.

The whole RC system falls with this.

May the Lord guide you with light ( Psalm 42-43, esp. 43:3-4) and lift up your countenance and bless your heart in your search for a Biblical church near your home!

Reginald de Piperno said...

Hello David,

I'm sorry to hear this. You don't owe me an explanation, and I won't presume to pretend that you are accountable to me as though you have to justify yourself to my satisfaction.

I would only make the following observations for your consideration.

1. You took an oath when you joined the Church, did you not? I personally don't see how your decision can be consistent with that.

2. The Church does not ask nor expect us to be able to explain every little thing (nor even every big thing) that She teaches. She asks us to believe them as true because She proposes them to us as such.

May God bless you.

RdP

David Waltz said...

Hello Matthew,

I sincerely appreciate your concerns about my decision; for the record, it is certainly not irreformable, but given the current state of my mind, heart and soul on this matter, I needed to take this current course of action.

I did not want to address the issue of the real presence in the Eucharist at this time, and was thinking of holding off on any comments at all until later, but upon further reflection, I believe that I owe you at least some partial answers. In my opening post I mentioned “a couple of non-negotiable elements in the official teachings of the Roman Catholic Church” that I have been having personal difficulty with due to historical studies. I mentioned Papal infallibility, and then Ecumenical council(s) infallibility. But, another very important issue that has been weighing heavily upon my mind, heart, and soul which pertains to the doctrine of real presence in the Eucharist. In a nutshell at this time I cannot in good conscience subscribe to the Aristotelian accident/essence (i.e. substance) distinction. According to Aristotle, accidents are the perceptible qualities of an object/thing such as its color, texture, size, shape, smell, taste, etc; attributes that do not change the essence of the object/thing. However, I am fully convinced at this time that DNA is not an accident, but rather pertains to the category of essence—whatever outward form a physical human body (and its blood) may take, for it to remain human the DNA must be human.

As for the historic development of the doctrine of the Eucharist, my studies have revealed a bit more diversity among the early Church Fathers than I had previously thought.

With all that said, please understand it is not my intent to convince you (or anyone else) that my current thoughts on these matters are “the truth”, I am merely attempting to be as open and honest as possible.

Hope you will be able to keep me in your prayers…

God bless,

David

David Waltz said...

Hi Chris,

Thank you so much for your support, you wrote:

>>You have both my sympathies and my congratulations. Decisions like this one can be very painful, I know from experience.>>

Me: As I said, this decision was anything but ‘easy’; and it sounds like you understand the heavy emotional and spiritual “stress” I am going through.

>>But I'm sure that wherever you decide to go from here, you will be stronger and wiser for having had the courage to make the change.>>

Me: Let’s hope, and pray that you are correct.

>>You will certainly have my prayers, such as they are.>>

Me: Thank’s Chris, it means a lot to me.

>>I'm curious to know where you will go from here. Please do keep us updated on your journey.>>

Me: Hopefully others will be interested enough to engage in, and maintain, some charitable dialogue with me on this all-important journey.


God bless,

David

David Waltz said...

Hello Matt,

Thanks for posting, you wrote:

>>Prayers are with you, indeed. I have appreciated (and will continue to appreciate!) very much what you do here.>>

Me: Much appreciated on my end Matt.

>>I hope that you will help us better understand your reasoning in this matter. My reading of Avery Dulles and others, even Ratzinger himself, on ecclesiology have softened some of the historical difficulties that Vatican I may pose.>>

Me: If you get the time could you share some of their thoughts on this? (And/or provide links to pertinent resources.)

>>Well, may God bless you and let us pray for Christian unity so that such difficulties will no longer face the thoughtful Christian.>>

Me: Our Lord’s prayer to the Father in John 17 comes to mind…

God bless,

David

David Waltz said...

Hi Ken,

I am a bit surprised to see you posting here so soon (but it is a pleasant surprise).

You asked: “What are your specific reasons for realizing that the infallibility of the Pope is not historical nor Biblical?”

Later this week, I will type up a post giving a few specifics, and provide a short bibliography of works that I believe deal with some important historical issues in a scholarly fashion.

Hope that I will be in your prayers…


God bless,

David Waltz said...

Hi Reginald,

Thanks much for taking the time to respond to my announcement, you wrote:

>>I'm sorry to hear this.>>

Me: I pretty much knew in advance that my decision would be troublesome for my Catholic brothers in Christ…

>>You don't owe me an explanation, and I won't presume to pretend that you are accountable to me as though you have to justify yourself to my satisfaction.>>

Me: But I sincerely believe that you (and so many others) deserve an explanation…

>>I would only make the following observations for your consideration.

1. You took an oath when you joined the Church, did you not? I personally don't see how your decision can be consistent with that.>>

Me: As I said in my opening post, back in 2002 when I took the oath, I was able to affirm all that the Church demanded—for me to continue to do so at this point in time would make me a hypocrite (I would in essence be lying to myself, and the world at large).

>>2. The Church does not ask nor expect us to be able to explain every little thing (nor even every big thing) that She teaches. She asks us to believe them as true because She proposes them to us as such.>>

Me: Given the depth, and breadth of the teachings and history of the Catholic Church, I doubt if any mortal in our day could/would, “be able to explain every little thing”. But that is not the current issue at stake for me, rather it is that I cannot at this point give my assent to certain irreformable teachings of the RCC; as I mentioned, to continue to do so would amount to hypocrisy. I certainly do not have “all the answers”, but I do know that I must be true to my conscience…

Hope you can understand my position, even if it be so ever slight; and I hope that in good conscience you will be able to pray for me.

God bless,

David

Reginald de Piperno said...

David,

I know of a man who became a Catholic some years ago. Before he did so—before he had given any thought at all to the idea of even investigating the Church's claims—he said he had come to a conclusion (paraphrasing): “if ‘the Church’ (however so defined) says X about some doctrine, but it seems to me that Y is really true, then I must be wrong.” All that was left for him to do was to decide who/what/where the Church really is.

It seems to me that you have already discerned the answer to that question by virtue of the fact that you became Catholic; and prior to the present crisis of faith, I suppose that you would have agreed with my opinion about that.

The Church affirms papal infallibility (as well as affirming other dogmas you are apparently preparing to deny). You now say that apparently you think otherwise than the Church. But you are a Catholic. Consequently you have a duty, in my opinion, to say (with the gentleman I mentioned above) “I must be mistaken—” (of course, I'm not asking you to do so hypocritically: I'm asking you to accept the force of what it means to actually be Catholic: we do not sit in judgment of the dogmas of the Church; yet this is what you are apparently doing).

Now I will be frank with you that when I became Catholic I was challenged by some people who love me, who asked what I would do if I ever changed my mind about the Church. And I cannot in good conscience deny the possibility that in my weakness I might do the very thing that you are contemplating: not, you understand, that I am in any way tempted to this course now, but simply because I am not so stupid as to pretend that although I abandoned Protestantism after decades of certainty about it, I'm now somehow “impervious” to leaving the Church. I'm an earthen vessel. I do not say or think in any way that to fulfill that duty to say “I must be mistaken” is an easy one to fulfill.

The point is that I do not offer the exhortation above as though I think that I'm above the sort of troubles that you are currently suffering with regard to your confidence in things the Church teaches. To the contrary: although I feel no inclination that way whatsoever, I know that it's at least possible that I might find myself in your shoes someday. So I, as one who seeks to work out his own salvation in fear and trembling (Php. 2:12), urge you: please reconsider. Your doubts are mistaken. It is impossible for the Church, as the Body of Christ, to err in matters of dogma.

May God preserve us both in the Faith.

RdP

Please forgive me if any infelicities of expression on my part have detracted from what I'm saying; they are unintentional and escape my proofreader’s eye.

Chris said...

Reginald, were you by any chance named "Ignatius of Loyola" in a past life?

Lisamck said...

Hey Dave,

You have caught me unawares. I did not expect it so suddenly, without much warning. I am saddened, but I can not be shocked this day has come. I will tell you in another setting why I say this, if you are interested.

It sounds like you have replaced something with nothing for now? I just can't imagine any other existing community that could be compelling for you. Restorationist-in-waiting?

I am sorry, knowing the turmoil this has caused and will cause you. I am perplexed as to what else I might say publicly. I think very little. But allow me to assure you here that unless you are changed beyond my expectation, as it was from 1995 to 2002 between us, so shall it be again from this day, if you remain amenable. God love you David.

Your Friend Always,

Rory

Pilgrimsarbour said...

David,

I have not much to say at this time other than to thank you for allowing us to peek a bit into your musings regarding your spiritual journey. Hopefully, in future, you'll be able to go into some more detail.

I have always found it a bit distasteful to publicly parade around new converts as a proselytising tool.

Wherever it is you eventually find intellectual and spiritual peace, I pray that those folks will, frankly, leave you alone.

Blessings in Christ,

Tim

Principium Unitatis said...

David,

I'm hoping that you clarify in the near future what are the difficulties or problems that have led up to this post. I was intrigued by one thing you said in the comments. You wrote:

In a nutshell at this time I cannot in good conscience subscribe to the Aristotelian accident/essence (i.e. substance) distinction. According to Aristotle, accidents are the perceptible qualities of an object/thing such as its color, texture, size, shape, smell, taste, etc; attributes that do not change the essence of the object/thing. However, I am fully convinced at this time that DNA is not an accident, but rather pertains to the category of essence—whatever outward form a physical human body (and its blood) may take, for it to remain human the DNA must be human.

First, I don't see anything here that would preclude affirming the substance/accident distinction. Second, you seem to have conflated the biological definition of human and the philosophical definition of human. Undoubtedly the biological definition of human involves DNA of the sort homo sapiens has, e.g. having the genes contained on our 46 chromosomes. But 'human' according to the philosophical definition is not restricted in that way; it is not defined by the arrangements of elements, but by powers.

Philosophers don't study things under the same formal object as do biologists; that would make us superfluous. The word 'human' in philosophy does not have the same sense as it does in biology. A human, from a philosophical point of view is defined as a rational animal. It could, in theory, be shaped like a squid, have 10 legs, 4 eyes, and gills and no lungs, and have *NO* DNA. It would still be human. Philosophically, to be human is to be a rational animal. To be animal is to be a self-moving material being with sensory powers. That is not based on contemporary biology, DNA, etc. Biology (in its contemporary form) and philosophy are distinct sciences. In theory there could be multiple *biological* species that are all the one philosophical species of human, some of them having DNA and others having no DNA. That's because 'rational animal' does not logically entail the presence of DNA.

In addition, the substance of a [substance-accident composite] can have no shape, because shape is a quality, and that would entail a multiplicity of substances, when in actuality the composite is one substance. But DNA has a configuration. Therefore DNA cannot be the substance [or part of the substance] of a substance-accident composite, even if it can be essential to the human species (according to the biological definition). DNA is part of the composite, not part of the substance.

In the peace of Christ,

- Bryan

Alex said...

David,

I too am sorry for your decision, but I trust you are doing so in good faith. Be that as it may, I do agree with RdP 100%, therefore there is no need in my having to repeat what he has already stated.


Tim,

I find your comments a bit premature. How are you certain that David is leaning towards the Reformed position? Secondly, how would you handle it if David decided that he should remain in full communion with the Catholic Church? I'm fairly certain what White, Swan, Turretinfan, et al would say.

Alex said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alex said...

A great book on the subject:

http://www.staugustine.net/themass.html

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Alex said...

Tim,

I find your comments a bit premature. How are you certain that David is leaning towards the Reformed position?


I take it there is another Tim here to whom this is addressed, otherwise I don't understand the comment.

Chris said...

Bryan,

As I understand it, the classical Aristotelian doctrine says that different kinds of things have different kinds of substances. So, for example, a tree is made out of a substance unique to trees, and a person is made out of a substance unique to people. The substance-accident distinction is inseparable from the doctrine of Universals. The substance of a thing contains or instantiates the Universal.

This is why, in classical Trinitarian doctrine, the three persons are said to be one substance and the same God. God is the universal that is contained or instantiated in the substance of the persons.

Modern physics, however, suggests that everything in the physical world is comprised of the same substance, and that the configuration of that substance is what determines what it will be. That is to say that the substance of a tree is not "treeness", anymore than the substance of a person is "personness". The "treeness" of the tree is emergent from its accidents. So also with the "personness" of a person. If you boil them both down to their actual substances, they are the same: atomic forces and particles, just configured in different ways.

You can see why this might create problems for the doctrine of Real Presence, which is predicated on an Aristotelian understanding of subtances, accidents, and universals. For an Aristotelian, what happens in transubstantiation is that the substance changes from "breadness" and "wineness" to "Bodyness" and "Bloodness", while the accidents-- that is the configuration and properties of the substances-- remain the same. According to modern atomic physics, however, "breadness" and "wineness" have nothing to do with substance. In order to change bread into flesh and wine into blood, you have to change not their substance, but the configuration of the particles at a molecular level. In other words, modern physics says that bread cannot become flesh unless its accidents change-- which of course contradicts the dogma of the Church.

So if one wanted to maintain the Church's account of what happens in the Eucharist, while also affirming modern particle physics, one would have to define substance in such a way that it is inclusive of molecular configuration and DNA. But that of course is not an Aristotelian understanding. In fact, it completely flies in the face of the Aristotelian understanding.

This is why I am and always will be a nominalist, rather than a realist.

Hope that helps,

-Chris

John Bugay said...

Hi David -- I'm glad to see that you've worked this through. As ineloquent as I may have been, I've always held firmly to conclusions similar to the ones you have reached.

I think if you trace Christian history from the beginning, you will find that (a) even the early church messed up the good message that was entrusted to them, and (b) the Reformers were asking some of the right questions, and coming to some of the right conclusions.

Principium Unitatis said...

Chris,

You wrote:

Modern physics, however, suggests that everything in the physical world is comprised of the same substance, and that the configuration of that substance is what determines what it will be.

It is a very common misconception that "modern physics" has somehow disproved the substance-accident distinction by showing the existence of atoms, protons, electrons, neutrons, and sub-atomic particles. But Aristotle believed that all material composites were made out of common material elements. So either Aristotle was an idiot who couldn't see that his belief in the substance-accident distinction was incompatible with his belief that material things were composed of common material elements, or the substance-accident distinction is fully compatible with material things being composed of material elements common to all material things.

Again, I can't emphasize this enough to non-philosophers, philosophy is a science *distinct* from the other sciences. Philosophy is not biology and it is not physics. Physics cannot replace philosophy. Reductionism *is* a philosophical claim, not a claim established or demonstrated by physics. No physics experiment has demonstrated that all you are is particles in motion, or that the properties of the particles of which you are constituted entirely determine your behavior, or that the form or essence of a thing is nothing but the configuration of its particles. Those are philosophical claims, going back to Democritus. In addition to his claim (that *could* be verified or falsified by modern physics) that material things have material particles as material constituents, Democritus was also making *philosophical* claims (i.e. reductionism) incapable of verification or falsification by means of scientific instruments. Modern reductionism (which is a philosophical claim, i.e. Democritus warmed over) hides itself under the veil of being supported by modern physics, but it is not supported by modern physics. That is because the reductionist claim goes beyond the in principle limitations of empiriometric science, and experimental verification/falsification.

I was just in Houston two months ago for the annual American Maritain Association meeting, attended mostly by Thomistic philosophers. It would come as news to all the contemporary Thomistic philosophers that they must choose between the substance-accident distinction, and believing that material things have protons, neutrons, and electrons (and subatomic particles, and any other things that contemporary physics includes as fundamental, e.g. fields, energy) as their material elements. Whenever a criticism of a position held by a good number of philosophers would come as news to them, chances are that the objection is not a good one, and that you've set up a straw man by treating the position as though it cannot handle an objection which, in actuality, it is fully capable of handling.

I discussed the independence of the substance-accident distinction and contemporary physics in a bit more detail in the comments of this thread.

In the peace of Christ,

- Bryan

Rhology said...

David,

You'd be welcome at my church any time. I mean that without any snark.

Peace,
Rhology

Alex said...

This is what I find to be so absurd with the Protestants posting here. David hasn't given us any statement of faith other than that he rejects certain Church dogmas; what doctrines he has replaced them with is still unknown, but the Protestants here rejoice quite simply due to David's rejection of the Catholic Church. Unbelievable! --Anyone against Rome is a friend of mine even though I really have no idea what he believes at this point.--

Yet if David were to reverse course, these same folks would turn on him like a rabid animal.

John Bugay said...

Alex, that's not true. He's clearly said he can't in good conscience commune with Rome -- that he is guided by conscience is worth a whole lot in himself. But he's also said that he intends to continue in some worship service -- still devoted to God. "Combating poor apologetics" is another intention of the conscience. And he asks for prayers.

Young one said...

David,

Thank you for being brave and honest about your decision. As a Catholic, I'm saddened, even shaken by your decision.

Since I'm nowhere near your level of erudition, I'm not sure what to think or say when intelligent Catholics like you, Jay dyer (who became Orthodox), or Greg Krehbiel (who became Agnostic) leave based on research/arguments. At the very least, I feel for you; I realize these decisions are difficult and heart wrenching.

I'll say a prayer for both of us, and I wish you well. If you change your mind, you know you have a home in the Catholic Church.

God bless

Frank said...

David, is this real?

louis said...

Bryan said:

"It is a very common misconception that "modern physics" has somehow disproved the substance-accident distinction by showing the existence of...sub-atomic particles. But Aristotle believed that all material composites were made out of common material elements.... you've set up a straw man by treating the position as though it cannot handle an objection which, in actuality, it is fully capable of handling."

But didn't Aristotle teach that a substance cannot be separated from its accidents? Wasn't this one of the early critiques of transubstantiation, that it violated Aristotle's own categories? If so, then Aristotle's theory might be compatible with 'modern physics', but it isn't necessarily thereby compatible with transubstantiation.

Ken said...

David,
Yes, I pray for you; that the Lord will comfort you - (that's why I wrote Psalm 42-43 - "Why are you downcast O my soul? - Hope in God . . . ) and that God would give you light and truth ( Ps. 43:3-4 - "Send out your light and your truth, let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill, and to Your dwelling places. Then I will go to the altar of God, To God my exceeding joy."

I pray that God will speak to you through His word, the Scriptures.

Alex,
No one of us Protestants is gloating, as this is a personal experience and David's journey and we have all communicated love, prayers, and acceptance. Rhology welcomes David to his church. He would be welcome at mine also!

But I for one do rejoice over the truth ( I Cor. 13:6) - I sincerely believe that the Papacy and infallibility doctrines and dogmas are unBiblical and not there at all in early Christian history, so, if true, of course, we would rejoice if a Roman Catholic discovers that and leaves the RCC.

Once that doctrine falls, then the other unbiblical stuff can fall also - Marian dogmas, indulgences, purgatory, transubstantiation, initial justification at baptism, relics, etc.

Actually, I always thought David had some doubts about the Papacy - he expressed some of that in his blog posts on John Nelson Darby and his critique of Newman. It was very faint hints, but it was enough to where this is not a total shock to me.

Principium Unitatis said...

Louis,

If you are the same Louis who participated in the Green Baggins thread, then you already saw my response (comment #96, and earlier in comment #1) to Lane on this very question. A substance cannot naturally be separated from its accidents. But that is not the same thing as saying that such a separation is logically or supernaturally impossible. What takes place at the consecration of the elements, according to the Catholic doctrine, is a supernatural miracle, much as the incarnation was a supernatural miracle. The supernatural is not constrained by the natural limitations, and it is not knock against the Catholic doctrine if a miracle goes beyond nature. Otherwise, it will be a knock against the Protestant belief in the resurrection of Christ (and our own resurrection), since it is beyond the natural power of dead bodies to bring themselves back to life.

In the peace of Christ,

- Bryan

Ken said...

Greg Krehbiel (who became Agnostic)

Wow. I did not know that. Dave Armstrong used to discuss some of his articles at his blog.

Did he become agnostic as to which church(es) are more biblical; or a complete agnostic as to the existence of God?

John Bugay said...

Ken: Regarding Greg: He continues to post here:

http://abettercountry.yuku.com/forums/2/t/The-Settlers-Village.html

You can read more about it here:

http://gregorianrite2007.blogspot.com/2009/08/im-throwin-down.html

louis said...

Bryan,

Thanks. Yes, I was on the Green Baggins thread, but that was some time ago.

Anyway, my question wasn't about accidents adhering or not adhering, but about the idea that a substance can change while its accidents don't (regardless of whether those accidents continue to adhere or dangle out there supernatually upheld). Although I guess the two issues are tied together.

Anyway, the argument in this thread seemed to be that modern physics would not allow it, and now we are saying that Aristotle's categories wouldn't either. So, Aristotle and modern physics are compatible on this point, but neither lends support to transubstantiation, correct?

I don't have a problem with the appeal to miracles, but then why use Aristotelian categories at all? Are they a necessary part of the RC dogma?

Galleddrim said...

David, you don't know me, but I found the link to this blog through a friend. I just felt I had to respond to Reginald's comment that:

“if ‘the Church’ (however so defined) says X about some doctrine, but it seems to me that Y is really true, then I must be wrong.”

This is precisely the attitude that we should adopt toward infallible entities. It is what any good Reformed Protestant would say of the Holy Scriptures.

In regards to the Church, it would be a sufficient answer for any doctrine that is taught by the Church . . . EXCEPT for the infallibility of the Church itself.

For when the infallibility of the Church representatives of Pope and Council are in question, obviously one can no longer fall back on the foundational belief that the Church is infallible.

That is all.

Darlene said...

Dear David,

I have never posted on your blog before, but after reading some of your heart-felt comments, I thought to respond to you.

I fully understand how heart-wrenching it is for you to make such a decision. I was once in a very similar situation. Similar in that I had come to the same conclusion of which you speak. I could not affirm Papal Infallibility, Papal Primacy, Purgatory, or Indulgences. It is not necessary for me at this time to say which writings, or how it was that I became convinced. I am certain that you are far more learned and have read and examined this issue in a more detailed fashion than I.

However, my situation is dissimilar in that I had not yet converted to the RCC. I was in RCIA at the time.

Needless to say, I became very despondent. I had already been convinced that Evangelical Protestantism had veered off in the wrong direction. It seemed I might become agnostic. There were times I thought I might go mad. This is not hyperbole in the least. That was a very dark time for me.

But now I can say that even in those dark moments, Christ was with me. He did not abandon me to dissolution.

For me, the Orthodox faith has been of much consolation. The reasons why and how that came to be are numerous. Suffice it to say that I did not arrive at such a place lightly nor without MANY inward struggles. No one can see the heart of another, and so often we assess and judge abruptly and foolishly.

Only one thing will I advise. Do not abandon your faith in Christ. Do not turn away from the One Who understands the inner turmoil residing in your heart. The Scripture tells us, "A bruised reed He will not break and a dimly burning wick He will not quench." However dejected or troubled you may seem, even to the point of questioning God in all of this, He is able and willing to see you through this. Take comfort and solace in Christ.

Churchmouse said...

David, I will definitely be praying for you.

Ken: Greg's blog entry can be found here: http://crowhill.net/blog/?page_id=5993

He seems pretty firm in his decision.

David Waltz said...

Dear Reginald,

I stayed up way too late last night reading and listening to music—I just could not get to sleep—so forgive my somewhat tardy response to your 7:26 PM post.

I want to thank you for your kind and heartfelt words; I can assure you, they have not fallen on deaf ears. You asked me to “reconsider” my decision; the truth of the matter is that one of the motives behind the sharing of my decision on my blog was to stimulate charitable and objective dialogue. I have, and shall continue to ponder over your thoughts…

In Christ our Lord,

David

David Waltz said...

When I scrolled down to post my response to Reginald, I noticed that two threads at James Swan’s Beggar’s All blog have linked to this thread. Before I read anymore comments here, I am going to head on over to BA…

Shall return later, the Lord willing.

Grace and peace,

David

Ken said...

Thanks John B. and churchmouse for the links about Greg Krehbiel's post on his agnosticism.

Do you know when he wrote this?
He doesn't give a date.

Sounds more like apathy and disillusionment, and longing for perfection (idealism) and disappointment in people (happy vs. being right) than intellectual agnosticism; but I guess apathy and disillusionment and disappointment and longing for perfection are pathways towards agnosticism.

That misguided idealistic longing for the "perfect" church here on earth ( external human authority to tell you what's the right interpretation - where history and final authority come together) seems to be why so many are becoming RC.

David Waltz said...

Hey Roars,

I mulled over for quite some time whether or not I should call you before putting up my announcement; as you now know, I chose not to—I am not exactly clear in my mind why…

In your post you wrote:

>> It sounds like you have replaced something with nothing for now? I just can't imagine any other existing community that could be compelling for you. Restorationist-in-waiting?>>

Me: I suppose I could have followed the example of a Hans Kung (i.e. stay in a communion while rejecting certain teachings that the faithful of the said communion are duty bound to accept), but my character is such that I cannot follow such a course.

I shall end my comments for now with the assurance from my heart that I still consider you a very dear friend, and brother in Christ our Lord; please feel free to call me anytime (preferably before midnight [grin]).


God bless,

David

David Waltz said...

Hi Tim,

Thanks for taking the time to share a few comments, you posted:

>>I have not much to say at this time other than to thank you for allowing us to peek a bit into your musings regarding your spiritual journey. Hopefully, in future, you'll be able to go into some more detail.>>

Me: When things ‘calm down’ a bit, I hope to put up a post that goes into a bit more detail concerning the studies behind my decision.

>>I have always found it a bit distasteful to publicly parade around new converts as a proselytising tool.>>

Me: Agreed. During the past 7 1/2 years, I have turned down a few requests to relate my ‘conversion story’ via much larger media formats.

>>Wherever it is you eventually find intellectual and spiritual peace, I pray that those folks will, frankly, leave you alone.>>

Me: I have very ‘broad shoulders’ and can take the ‘heat’ from our less-than-understanding brothers.


Take care and God bless,

David

David Waltz said...

Dear Alex and Stephen (Young one),

I cannot begin to explain how much I appreciate your concerns about decision to cease attending mass. It is not now, nor has it ever been, my intent to “convert” others (by “others” I mean fellow brothers in Christ) to my views—conversion is, and must always be, between the individual and the Holy Spirit. The primary intent of my blog has been, and will continue to be, the exposure of poor apologetic practices (e.g. double-standards, ad hominem and ‘double-edged sword’ arguments, etc.).

I sincerely hope that you will continue to make contributions here; they are welcomed and always reflected upon by yours truly.

May God bless,

David

Churchmouse said...

Ken: June 25, 2009 to be exact.

Peace.

Dozie said...

The pope and councils may not be infallible, it has been suggested, but there is no doubt that Mr. Waltz has far greater confidence in his own infallibility and his reading of history than he has in popes and councils. So, much is made of "my studies" as the foundation for belief. Be prepared then to remain an atheist or agnostic for a long time because you'll never be able to complete the studies required to overcome all obstacles about the mysteries of God and His Church. But, if you decide to hastily join Rhology and his cohorts, we will be watching for your continuing studies.

Lisamck said...

David!

Exactly as I thought. I am ever hopeful! One who would still be Catholic until 1854? 1870? 1950?

I think you didn't call for the same reason you undoubtedly took a long time to decide to make this announcement. You don't want to impose your own misgivings on someone else who is comfortably and happily rejoicing in their faith. I much appreciate that.

I would add a note to those who have admitted to being a little shaken about this, that I have been close to Dave for over 20 years now, when he stepped into the church I was pastoring at the time. None of us Catholics need be "shaken", because one of our own is stricken with a period of darkness. It is Dave that needs shaken. It is Dave that wants shaken!

But it isn't arguments that Dave needs. He knows those...except that DNA stuff. I don't know where he found that objection to "one way" of explaining the Eucharist. So you're not Aristotelian. If substance and accident doesn't resonate with you, it closed the door on Berengarius' attempts to challenge orthodoxy suring a time when Scholastic philosophy accepted the distinctions.

I am a happy Thomist at least with regard to this question. Vatican II called for seminaries to continue to maintain the pre-eminence of Thomistic thought. I guess this is what happens when we disobey the good mandates of Vatican II? Anyway, it seems certain to me that the Fathers believed, beginning with St. Ignatius in a Eucharist that is more than merely symbolic. I believe Transubstantiation is an excellent way of saying that in every respect, the Eucharist is all of Christ. But there is nothing preventing someone of a different philosophical bent from proposing a formula in keeping with their own way of thought.

Shoot Dave...I didn't mean to make an argument. You don't need those that much. You need to love the Church. I've always known your identification with the Church was pretty coldly intellectual. The intellect needs to create a fire for the will. Constant attention to dry logical details...which is what you excel at...does not necessarily make the heart go pitterpat. The feeding and exercise of the intellect is not an end in itself.

The Church teaches that we will not be saved unless we practice mental prayer. We must use our intellects to meditate on the mysteries of the faith. This is an exercise whereby we invoke the Holy Ghost to help us ponder the implications of the explicit truths the Church gives us to profess. It requires quiet time, set aside exclusively for the purpose. When we begin to be wondrous and astonished, we know that we have meditated seriously, and then we can proceed to offer acts of the will, which is inevitably melted by the mystery which is becoming clearer to us. Are you listening Young One? There is no greater erudition than meditation upon the 15 mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary!

One does not arrive at the Assumption or Immaculate Conception without this exercise. It all centers upon the Incarnation. If the Incarnation is true, what follows? What is implied in this stupendous event? Anyone who is an orthodox Catholic regarding the Incarnation, only needs to ponder it intensely and lovingly and doubts about apologetics arguments will seem millions of miles away. If the Incarnation is true...the Church of the Babe in the Womb of Mary is DEFINITELY INFALLIBLE!

Dave I tried to call this AM. You must have still been resting. On a slightly less serious note, how 'bout the Pac Ten? What a disappointing Bowl season. UCLA beats Temple! Whoopee. I don't really care who wins tonight. I've been reading Fr. Faber's Bethlehem for Advent and Christmas. Really good. In honor of David, I am going to bust out a good Cabernet I got for Christmas, have a glass to warm my feet (they're cold), read a few pages, and have another glass!

God bless

R

Chris said...

Hi Bryan,

Your attempt to make a hard separation between the disciplines of science and philosophy rings hollow to me. Both disciplines make observations about the world and attempt to use reason to explain those observations. I would argue that science is simply a more methodologically rigorous kind of philosophy. The metaphysical questions asked in both disciplines are the same.

I expect of philosophical theories the same that I expect of scientific ones: that they will have explanatory and/or predictive power. You can see, then, why your protestations that I can't absolutely disprove the Aristotelian substance/accident theory don't mean much to me. Aristotle originally proposed the distinction because he believed it explained what he had observed in the natural world. If we have developed more adequate explanations of the things he observed, then it seems pretty silly to cling to the theory on the grounds that it can't be disproven. Aristotle's reasons for proposing the theory in the first place no longer exist.

Anyway, I am very tempted to enter into a lengthy dialogue with you about substances and accidents, but I think I will have to decline at present. I don't have the time or interest. For what it's worth, I read the thread to which you linked, and I think it actually illustrates quite well a number of the problems with the Aristotelian theory. I don't think you give your correspondents there enough credit: they raised great questions to which you gave largely unsatisfactory answers.

Peace,

-Chris

David Waltz said...

Hello Bryan,

I am trying wrap my brain around your posts on Aristotle and the “substance-accident distinction”. Clarity is not coming to me at the moment, so I will need to read through the material (btw, thanks much for the link to the CC thread) again before I attempt to interact with it.

Thanks much for taking an interest, I will be in touch.



Grace and peace,

David

Matt said...

Possibly useful resources on substances, accidents, etc., are Ed Feser and David S. Oderberg:

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/

http://www.reading.ac.uk/AcaDepts/ld/Philos/dso/dso.htm

Lisamck said...

I need to correct something. First...I fear that I was presumptious giving a lecture on prayer. Me? I only persevere as did St. Francis de Sales' cold and apparently lifeless "statue in a niche". God is good and He loves even such a cold soul as me.

Secondly, in saying that "one" does not arrive at the Immaculate Conception or Assumption without mental prayer, I should have said "the Church" did not arrive.

In my opinion, these truths are the result of saints and doctors pondering over the implications of Our Lady being chosen to be Mother of the Word made flesh, to carry in her body the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity.

One is sanctified by a good holy communion in which our Lord dwells in us for 30 minutes or less. so that as St. Chrysostom says, we should arise from that banquet as roaring lions, having become terrible the devil! How much more awesome must not be the fear of the devil at the height of sanctity that would arise from not merely consuming the Body and Blood of Christ, but intermingling it with your own physical substance for nine months so that His Blood and Flesh are yours and yours is His? The truths of Mary are demanded by the knowledge that is was no mere baby she bore at Bethlehem, but the hypostatic Son of God whose divine nature was undiminished by the Incarnation.

But we don't have to approach it as Catholics, believing in the Eucharist. How would any Christian behave if Jesus was merely in the room? Not quite as well as if Jesus was alive inside our body one supposes. The truths about Mary spring not from an unfounded desire to worship a creature, but from our certainty that Jesus became a creature (in His Sacred Humanity) to raise us up, back to innocence and sinlessness. There is not one impediment to believing everything the Church has professed regarding the Mother of God, unless it be a failure to minutely ponder the events that led the Holy Family to Bethlehem.

Okay...time for that book and a glass.

David Waltz said...

Dear Dalene,

Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts to with me. As with you, I know in my heart, mind, and soul that Christ our Lord and Savior has not abandoned “me to dissolution”.

You wrote: “No one can see the heart of another, and so often we assess and judge abruptly and foolishly.”

Amen! I think all of us can benefit by reflecting on this.

You also posted:

>>Only one thing will I advise. Do not abandon your faith in Christ. Do not turn away from the One Who understands the inner turmoil residing in your heart. The Scripture tells us, "A bruised reed He will not break and a dimly burning wick He will not quench." However dejected or troubled you may seem, even to the point of questioning God in all of this, He is able and willing to see you through this. Take comfort and solace in Christ.>>

I have not abandoned my faith in Christ; I do take “comfort and solace” in Him and His Word. The following verse comes to mind at this moment:

“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matt. 18:20 – ASV)

In Christ our Lord,

David

David Waltz said...

To John, Ken, Matt, Rhology, Churchmouse, and anyone I may have missed,

I want to thank you all for taking the time to share your thoughts with me. My eyes are beginning to tire, so after I type up a quick response to James Swan over at BA, I am going to take a break from the computer.


Grace and peace,

David

Frank said...

David,

I know we have a bad relationship with each other, but I would still like to know (in private perhaps?) in a bit more detail your perspective on Newman, since I left Rome over this very issue.

Principium Unitatis said...

Chris,

You wrote:

Your attempt to make a hard separation between the disciplines of science and philosophy rings hollow to me.

Whether it "rings hollow" is not one of the criteria by which philosophers judge claims and arguments. We judge them by their truth and soundness, respectively.

Both disciplines make observations about the world and attempt to use reason to explain those observations.

Correct, but they have a different formal object, otherwise they would be one science, and not two.

I would argue that science is simply a more methodologically rigorous kind of philosophy.

I'd love to see that argument.

The metaphysical questions asked in both disciplines are the same.

That's not true. It can be accidentally true, insofar as a scientist puts on his philosopher's cap when asking philosophical questions, or when Sagan makes his famous "The Cosmos is all there ever was, is, and shall be" comment. And philosophers can put on a different cap when pursuing answers to questions in the special sciences. But the formal object of philosophy is not the formal object of the special sciences. And therefore they are seeking different causes, i.e. one at a level accessible to scientific instruments and measurement, and another inaccessible to scientific instruments and measurement. The formal object of metaphysics is beyond the realm of scientific instruments or quantitative measurement. You can't measure form, being, prime matter, actuality, potency, etc.

I expect of philosophical theories the same that I expect of scientific ones: that they will have explanatory and/or predictive power.

That you expect philosophical theories to be a certain way is no reason to believe that philosophical theories should be this way. It is a statement about yourself. Philosophical truths do not have predictive power, because they are not laws of nature; they explain (among other things) what laws of nature are. They are another level down, ontologically (not reductively).

You can see, then, why your protestations that I can't absolutely disprove the Aristotelian substance/accident theory don't mean much to me.

Because you are evaluating them by whether they "ring hollow" and whether they "mean much to you", and whether they are "satisfactory", rather than whether they are true.

Aristotle originally proposed the distinction because he believed it explained what he had observed in the natural world. If we have developed more adequate explanations of the things he observed, then it seems pretty silly to cling to the theory on the grounds that it can't be disproven.

We have not developed any better explanation for the two types of change (i.e. substantial change and accidental change).

Aristotle's reasons for proposing the theory in the first place no longer exist.

Feel free to defend that assertion.

Anyway, I am very tempted to enter into a lengthy dialogue with you about substances and accidents, but I think I will have to decline at present. I don't have the time or interest.

Ok.

For what it's worth, I read the thread to which you linked, and I think it actually illustrates quite well a number of the problems with the Aristotelian theory.

Which problems does it "illustrate"?

I don't think you give your correspondents there enough credit: they raised great questions to which you gave largely unsatisfactory answers.

In philosophy, answers are not properly evaluated by whether they are "satisfactory" (an entirely subjective criterion), but by whether they are true.

In the peace of peace of Christ,

- Bryan

Chris said...

Don't be a jerk, Bryan. I'm well aware that "rings hollow" is not a philosophical criterion. I never said it was a philosophical criterion. I see my decision not to engage you in discussion was well-advised.

Principium Unitatis said...

Chris,

I meant no offense. You seemed to be evaluating my claims by saying that they "ring hollow". If that was something other than an evaluation, then I misunderstood you.

The point I wanted to make here, especially for David's sake, is that the common notion that modern science has nullified the substance-accident distinction is not true, and without any scientific basis. Science has never shown, for example, that there are no human beings, only atoms-shaped-human-being-wise. For additional reading on this subject I recommend the following:

Michael Augros "Reconciling Science with Natural Philosophy, The Thomist 68 (2004), pp.105-41.

See also Mortimer Adler's "The Questions Science Cannot Answer," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists XIII, April 1957, and his "The Basic Difference Between Science and Philosophy," from The Four Dimensions of Philosophy (Macmillan, 1993).

I've had my students read Leon Kass's "The Permanent Limitations of Biology," from Life, Liberty, and the Defense of Dignity (Encounter Books, 2002).

See also Charles DeKoninck, "The Lifeless World of Biology" in The Hollow Universe (Oxford University Press, 1960).

I also assign "Philosophy and the Special Sciences" from Jacques Maritain's Introduction to Philosophy.

In the peace of Christ,

- Bryan

Chris said...

Bryan,

There is a difference between a criterion and a conclusion. You seem to have confused the two.

Peace,

-Chris

Mark said...

So no one ever comes to the point where he or she says, "If I can be wrong about THIS, then I have no competence whatsoever in identifying the true church to tell me I am wrong. I could be wrong about that too."

The epistemic claims here, to my Protestant mind (no matter what Turretinfan may say), appear almost nihilistic.

Ken said...

David - I posted this at Beggar's All - from what I recall - you talked much more about these issues than that one post you linked above on Newman and John Nelson Darby's critique of Newman.

To David Waltz -
As I mentioned on your blog also - it seemed to me that you had doubts about Newman's DD in some of your other posts, especially the posts on John Nelson Darby and his book critiquing Newman, Analysis of Dr. Newman’s Apologia Pro Vita Sua.

You talked about this issue in many other posts, than the one you linked to; it seemed to me. I cannot find where we got into more in depth.

Let's all pray that God will give light and truth to David as he reads and meditates in the Scriptures to find a more biblical church in his area. Psalm 42-43. esp. 43:3-4

john said...

David I don't post on too many blogs but I do follow a good amny of them and I just want to say that I was where you are now. I was "convinced" by Roman "e-pologists" and their simplistic "apologetics" and returned to the Roman Church. I began to study more and more; Church History, the Bible, the Early Fathers etc. I read a LOT after my "reversion" to Rome so I too could become a "Catholic Apologist". But guess what happened? The more I studied HONEST UNBIASED History and the FACTS, plus studying Scriptures in their lexical, historical, and grammatical context using sound exigesis , the more and deeper I did those things the more I saw Rome's claims as utterly false and without ANY BASIS in the Historical facts and the honest unbiased study of Sacred Scripture. As a result I too AM NO LONGER ROMAN CATHOLIC.


May Our Lord Jesus be with you in your journey and may the Holy Spirit lead you and guide you.

Tim Enloe said...

David, I only found your announcement here by accident, by clicking on a link a friend of mine put up on Facebook, not knowing in advance that the link was to your announcement. And of course I followed other links to other sites, and well, I hope you will not be overly concerned by the comments on BA about your "instability." While I agree with James Swan that way too much is made out of conversion / deconversion stories (I used to call this "autobiographical apologetics" to show its utterly subjectivistic nature), at the same time, you are dead on right to make a considered decision to alter something in your life based upon a great deal of thought (and I assume also prayer). It is simply absurd for this to be called evidence of "instability," as this might be easily turned around on the one making the accusation. Many of those who mouth this line that it is "unstable" to change one's views were themselves not always Reformed, and in fact, changed their views based on the exact same process that you have gone through.

What the "instability" line really means is "I have THE TRUTH, you don't agree with me, I can't handle your disagreement, so I have to rhetorically delegitimize you by claiming that you are unstable, which on the flipside allows me to beg the question about my own possession of truth and make myself feel better than you." It's psychological manipulation, whether the person intends it that way or not, and you are right to stick to your guns against it. Intellectually and spiritually mature people do not think that they have all the answers, that they can't learn from others, and that whenever others disagree with them, it's because the others don't like the Truth, are unstable, perhaps even not saved, etc.

I am loathe to enter Internet apologetics fights because 90% of it is simply narcissistic, self-deluding nonsense. But as one who has himself been the victim of this kind of manipulative rhetoric, I exhort you to stay the course. It is a mark of maturity to say "I was wrong, and I have now changed." It is a possible mark of self-deception to say, on the contrary, "I have arrived, I have THE TRUTH, I must never change my views, and all who disagree with me or come to change their views prove they have deep problems."

Don't believe it.

Chris said...

Well said, Tim.

Matthew Bellisario said...

Hi David. I know that you are probably busy. But if you care to discuss some theological topics via email, let me know. I would be interested in discussing this further, if you have the time, or have the inclination to do so. If not, that is fine, you don't owe me any explanations or anything. I just wanted to learn more about your decision in a little more detail, without having to fight through a combox. Take care and may God bless and keep you.

Steve said...

Rory,

Thank you for your Jan 7, 3:36PM comment. It contains some of the best stuff I've read on a blog in long, long time.

Nick said...

This is obviously a painful event.

Of course, the question that comes to mind now is: What next?
You certainly know that Catholicism offers a superior argument to Protestantism, so that's out. As far as Eastern Orthodoxy goes, you said you reject the infallibility of Ecumenical Councils. So, really, what's left? You're too smart (not to jinx you) to fall for anything like Mormonism or most other false religions.

It seems you're in a sort of agnosticism now, and that hurts us all.

I'm also eager, like most other people here, to hear your major reasoning behind what doctrines you could no longer accept. You are well aware that Catholics like to take on 'challenges' like this. Who knows, maybe what is a difficulty for you was actually solved by someone of the past?

My rule of thumb: don't jump ship until you're sure where you're jumping to has a solid foundation.

TOm said...

David,
I will pray for you.
Charity, TOm

Paul Hoffer said...

Hi Dave,

I will keep you in my prayers that you find the answers you are looking for. I will offer this thought though~sometimes it is ok to stop looking for answers and accept somethings we can not reconcile or understand with child-like faith. May Christ's presence remain real in your heart!

God bless!

David Waltz said...

Hi Ken,

Forgive my somewhat tardy response, but in my defense, yesterday was pretty hectic; I had to go through nearly 300 emails that I had ‘ignored’ over the last couple of days; it was also the day that we head over to Astoria for shopping; add in a much needed workout—I just did not have enough energy left to check in on the blog…

You wrote:

>>As I mentioned on your blog also - it seemed to me that you had doubts about Newman's DD in some of your other posts, especially the posts on John Nelson Darby and his book critiquing Newman, Analysis of Dr. Newman’s Apologia Pro Vita Sua.

You talked about this issue in many other posts, than the one you linked to; it seemed to me. I cannot find where we got into more in depth.>>

You are correct, and you actually participated in some of those threads. I still plan to devote a thread detailing the ‘developments’ that ultimately led to my decision; until then I would like to suggest that you go to THIS THREAD (you were one of the major contributors in the combox), and then go to


THESE THREADS UNDER THE DEVELOPMENT OF DOCTRINE LABEL (I recommend heading to the bottom of the second page and start with the oldest posts).

Thanks much for your prayers; your patience with me through our many discussions was truly appreciated.


God bless,

David

David Waltz said...

Hello John,

Our respective journeys in our walk with God have some common points of contact, but there are also some major differences; the most important being that I was raised a 4th generation Jehovah’s Witness, so my conversion to the RCC in 2002 was not a re-conversion.

I would be interested to hear what your current stance is on the RCC. I have taken the position of Charles Hodge (and others) that the RCC is still Christian church (see THIS THREAD, THIS ONE, and the articles linked in those threads for some important background information).

Will be looking forward to your comments…

Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hello Tim,

I so glad that your “accident” led you to this thread—I was sincerely hoping that it would come to your attention.

I think your thoughts on the stability/instability issue raised by James is spot-on; if stability is defined by one’s sticking to a specific denomination and/or theological system after taking in hundreds of hours of study and prayer, then I guess I should have remained a JW! New (to the individual engaged in studies), objective, scholarly data should be cause for serious reflection; I think one of the major problems for pretty much everyone engaged in apologetics is the tendency to try and fit ‘square pegs into round holes’. I find the following comments by a late 19th century Englishman to be quite refreshing:

“The root of the matter is, that there is no royal road to certainty ; no organon for the summary extinction of doubts. As much in the sphere of religion, as in the social and political domains, infallibility and perfection are mere dreams of the imagination. Conviction of the truth does not become ours at the command of some external authority. It grows by contributions from many sources ; from the testimony of the past, from personal experience, from spiritual intuition, from conscientious following of the light, from the influences exercised on us by our fellow-men who are eminent for goodness. It never ceases to grow so long as we are faithful to what we have attained, and, though in this world it can never attain a logical completeness, the humble and patient will always find it sufficient for their practical need.” (Wilfred Ward, “William George Ward and the Oxford Movement”, The Quarterly Review, Vol. 169 – July & Oct. 1889, p 384.)


God bless,

David

David Waltz said...

Hello Matthew,

You posted:

>>Hi David. I know that you are probably busy.>>

Me: Very much so!

>>But if you care to discuss some theological topics via email, let me know. I would be interested in discussing this further, if you have the time, or have the inclination to do so.>>

Me: Yes Matthew, I would be very interested in doing so, though it will probably be sometime next week before I can devote the time needed for a beneficial and constructive dialogue—please be patient with me.

>>If not, that is fine, you don't owe me any explanations or anything. I just wanted to learn more about your decision in a little more detail, without having to fight through a combox. Take care and may God bless and keep you.>>

Me: Your continued interest, concerns, and support means very much to me Matthew—THANK YOU!!!

I will be in touch…

God bless,

David

David Waltz said...

Hi Nick,

Certainly some very important and cogent thoughts from your pen; as such, it would be folly for me to address the substance of what you have written without some serious, and deep reflection. However, I would like to comment on the following at this time:

>> My rule of thumb: don't jump ship until you're sure where you're jumping to has a solid foundation.>>

Me: I totally agree; but, as I have said earlier, for me to continue to attend Mass and partake of the Eucharist in the RCC would, at this time, be pure hypocrisy on my part—I just cannot in good conscience do that. As for any “agnosticism” on my part at this time, it pertains only to ecclesiastical affiliation and most certainly NOT to my belief in God, Jesus Christ, the Bible and the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit.

I hope that you, along with Matthew (and all others with the interest) will continue to keep me in your prayers, and share any reflections/information that you believe would be beneficial to me.

Take care and God bless,

David

David Waltz said...

Hi Paul,

I am so glad that you have taken the time to share a few of your concerns and thoughts with me—it really means a lot…

You wrote:

>> I will keep you in my prayers that you find the answers you are looking for. I will offer this thought though~sometimes it is ok to stop looking for answers and accept somethings we can not reconcile or understand with child-like faith. May Christ's presence remain real in your heart!>>

Me: Thanks Paul, I will keep your “offer” in mind. If you get a chance, and have the desire, email me, I would like to give you my phone number.

May God bless you and yours,

David

Tim Enloe said...

That was an excellent quote, David. I'm saving that one for future use, to be sure.

The problem with most of apologetics, especially in the democratized, popularized Internet form, is precisely that it is not at all a quest for wisdom, but a quest to preemptively, utterly destroy all the slavering monsters outside of our comfortable "worldview thinking" so that we never have to take any of them seriously. So-called "conservative" Christians, whether Catholics or Protestants, are neck deep in this morass of (potential) self-deception, and most of them lack the tools - and more importantly, the basic patience and humility - to see what is going on in this cottage industry of DEFENDING THE TRUTH.

On the contrary, the fear of the Lord and not an artificially-achieved sense of epistemic certainty is the beginning of wisdom. Wisdom is not found by mastering the technicalities of Greek grammar or compiling an Encyclopedia of Unbeatable Apologetics Arguments Against All Comers, but by first confessing "I am nothing and I know nothing" and from that point seeking the Lord in the quiet places, knowing that the Lord opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

I wish you well, and hope you will stay your course against all these naysayers - both Catholic and Protestant - who foolishly, self-deceptively, talk as if they have arrived. Truth is knowable, but as Calvin points out in his opening remarks in the Institutes about knowledge of self and knowledge of God, finding the truth is not necessarily as easy as we would always like it to be.

Chris said...

Love the Ward quote, David. I especially like the line that says, "It never ceases to grow so long as we are faithful to what we have attained." The principle of faithfulness to what I have learned has been my guiding principle in my own journey. The way I see it, to be untrue to one's conscience and intellect is actually a kind of unfaithfulness, even if it leads one to doubt or apostasy. I know there are plenty of apologists who would disagree with me, but frankly I find the Loyolan "think with the Church" approach more horrifying than compelling.

Of course, we have to know our limitations, and to recognize that we do not and cannot have all the answers, and will not always be right. If I can be criticized, it is probably for having too much confidence in my own reasoning. But one must nevertheless strike a balance. To throw out one's well-reasoned doubts altogether is to be untrue to some of the most wonderful gifts we have been given. I cannot imagine that God would give greater rewards to those who hide their intellect under a bush than to those who exercise it and accept its troubling implications.

Peace,

-Chris

Darlene said...

Thank you for the quote from the late 19th C. Englishman. Now I will give you a quote from an Orthodox elder which speaks to the heart of the matter as regards our Christian faith.

"The goal of reading, is the application in our lives of what we read. Not to learn it by heart, but to take it by heart. Not to practice using our tongues, but to be able to receive the tongues of fire and to live the mysteries of God. If one studies a great deal in order to acquire knowledge and to teach others, without living the things he teaches, he does no more than fill his head with hot air. At most he will manage to ascend to the moon using machines. The goal of the Christian is to rise to God without machines."

As you seek His will for your life at this time, seek to live the Christian faith by practicing those things that you know Christ would have you do. Things which do not compromise your conscience. Even though you cannot attend mass, you can still meet with other sincere, committed Christians, whose love for Christ is undeniable by the manner in which they demonstrate their faith in action. You can still pray to our blessed Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. You can still read and find encouragement from the Holy Scriptures to persevere in your walk with Christ. You can still admire the beauty of God's creation that is all around you. You can love those whom He has put in your life with Christ's love.

There is much that you can do to please your Heavenly Father during this impasse in your life. Surely He will see and reward you for your faithfulness in such a time of serious deliberation. For as I'm sure you know, it is easy to please Him when all is going well, but the real test is during the dark night of the soul. We walk by faith and not by sight.

May Christ's blessings and in particular, His peace, be multiplied to you this day.

john said...

David:

I have read Charle's Hodge's views on the Roman Church and in some ways I agree with him. On the other hand we have Rome's claims which if studied carefully and deeply are contrary to the facts of History.I have some agreement (tho I am still working on it to understand) with R.C. Sproul on the claim that while Rome was THE Church in the West before the Reformation and there were those who truly were regenerate within it I also see that Sproul and others of like mind have a point in saying that the Council of Trent was the "defining moment" for the Roman Church, and in that historical watershed moment Rome anathemised and condemned the authentic Gospel in Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent. I do believe, that on paper, Rome does have some authentic truth; IE the Creeds, the Scriptures and the two Dominical Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion. But Dogmatically in its Catechisms and Dogmas of Trent, Purgatory, etc I say that Rome is also contrary to the Gospel. Unless otherwise convinced I say that if a Roman Catholic is "Saved" they are saved in spite of Rome's official Dogmas rather than because of them. IE If a Roman Catholic is a "Faithful Catholic" and adheres to Roman Dogmas completely then I say that their Salvation is in peril. Again I am studying this matter and have not come to a final decision, but that is where I am at now. Also I now am attending a parish of the Reformed Episcopal Church which is a part of the Anglican Church in North America.

Matt said...

John might be interested in reading some of the other posts on this blog regarding Trent and justification.

Lisamck said...

There have been some generous comments in regard to a quote made by Wilfred Ward.

I have pulled off of my shelf, a 575 page second volume of the biography of Wilfred Ward, by his daughter Maisie. I think we have reason to think that her father would have been appalled if anyone should have interpreted his words as some kind of argument against the infallibility doctrine of the Catholic Church.

You be the judge as to whether Ward should be cited as one who would encourage doubts as to the Catholic doctrine defined at Vatican I. Here is a letter which he wrote in 1916, the year of his death, at a time when he knew his death was imminent:

"The doctors hold out no hope of recovery, though I do not gather that the disease is very rapid in its fatal effects...You say in your letter that you feel that you have found your right place in the Catholic Church. I assure you you will say so even more when you stand where I do. I simply can't conceive how life would be endurable now were I not a Catholic." ---to Bernard Holland, Insurrection Versus Resurrection, by Maisie Ward, Sheed and Ward Publishers, 1937, p. 479

I would suggest that the limitations of individuals in possessing personal infallibility has never been in doubt. I think one would be a heretic according to the Catholic Church if they should declare that they know infallibly that the pope is infallible or that the ecumenical councils are infallible. To acknowledge that our faith needs to be nurtured, and our convictions will grow accordingly is not only the teaching of the Catholic Church, but also may be discerned in the natural order through the faculty of common sense. No Catholic is going to take issue with the words quoted from Wilfred Ward.

If men cannot be led by God to profess inerrantly the truths that He proclaimed while on earth, why should we trust the Apostles? They were men. Why should we trust that the words of the Apostles written under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost are inerrant? They were men's hands that wielded the pens.

The inerrancy doctrines of the Catholic Church stem wholly and entirely from faith in Christ as the Head and the Holy Ghost as the Guard of the Church that Christ visibly founded. I do not proclaim infallibly that I know that the doctrines of the Church are true. I fallibly proclaim my rational and heartfelt conviction that the doctrines of the Catholic Church are infallibly defined. Since I believe that the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us without sin or error, other than faithlessness, what logical hindrance is there to believing that the visible Church that the Holy Ghost vivifies, of which Christ is Head, God likewise preserves, as His Bride, holy, without spot, without wrinkle, and without proclaiming a definitve error? Is it faith that makes anyone think that the God who can give us inspired infallible Scriptures can not also give us inspired infallible interpretations of the Scriptures?

With Wilfred Ward, I am assuredly fallible. But with him, the longer I live, the less possible I can conceive of life as a non-Catholic. It would be unbearable for me. I am certainly biased, and possibly self-deceived. I know this.

I close with a note written by Ward's wife who observed his last Holy Communion:

"His last Communion was of extraordinary joy to him, and his reserve on spiritual matters was wearing thin. [It would seem that unlike me, he was less vociferous about his own joys and consolations]. I don't think he knew hw was showing. His voice was failing, but he kept saying 'Thank God! How wonderful!' and once he added, 'No one knows what it is to be a Catholic.'" ----ibid. p. 487

I am sure I don't know what it is to be a Catholic, but by God's grace I intend to fallibly follow Wilfred Ward's example that I might know and appreciate as much as I may on my side of the Beatific Vision. Yes. Yes. "No one knows what it is to be a Catholic."

Rory

Mike Burgess said...

Amen to Rory, Reginald, Paul, and so many others.

"And a path and a way shall be there, and it shall be called the holy way: the unclean shall not pass over it, and this shall be unto you a straight way, so that fools shall not err therein." Isaias 35:8

Chris said...

>>If men cannot be led by God to profess inerrantly the truths that He proclaimed while on earth, why should we trust the Apostles? They were men. Why should we trust that the words of the Apostles written under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost are inerrant? They were men's hands that wielded the pens.

Why is it that no one ever asks these questions sincerely, rather than merely as a demonstration of the horrors of the slippery slope? :-P

>>'No one knows what it is to be a Catholic'.

Perhaps it means something more like "universal" (dare I add the "ism"?) than what it is normally taken to mean... ;-)

Cheers,

-Chris

Lisamck said...

Hey Chris,

It was a sincere question to those who I knew, presumably Dave too, to be uncompromising with regard to "the slippery slope" of which you speak. They want to stop half way down. You see the connection. You and I are agreed. You and I see there is no stopping. I am gratified.

As for whether W. Ward on his death bed was magnifying the joys he found in being "universalist", I am confident I could show at another time, if necessary, that he meant that he liked, as he died, being affiliated the church identified with the bishop of Rome as the vicar of Christ on earth. Let me know if I need to look for some further evidence. :>

R

Chris said...

lol, Rory. I have no doubt what Ward meant by it. I just wonder if perhaps history unduly biased him against the Alexandrian school and those damnably heretical Cappadocians... *grin*

Martin said...

I can't imagine the answer could be this simple but I will post what I understand your question to be and leave it to you to read the source

Article 7. Whether the articles of faith have increased in course of time?
Objection 1. It would seem that the articles of faith have not increased in course of time. Because, as the Apostle says (Hebrews 11:1), "faith is the substance of things to be hoped for." Now the same things are to be hoped for at all times. Therefore, at all times, the same things are to be believed.

Martin said...

Objection 4. Further, just as the faith of Christ was delivered to us through the apostles, so too, in the Old Testament, the knowledge of faith was delivered by the early fathers to those who came later, according to Deuteronomy 32:7: "Ask thy father, and he will declare to thee." Now the apostles were most fully instructed about the mysteries, for "they received them more fully than others, even as they received them earlier," as a gloss says on Romans 8:23: "Ourselves also who have the first fruits of the Spirit." Therefore it seems that knowledge of matters of faith has not increased as time went on.

Richard Froggatt said...

David,

My heart and prayers are with you.

Iohannes said...

Will be praying. Blessings in Christ our Lord.--JA

Ardi said...

I find the best expression in this thread of Lisamck and especially “You don't need those that much. You need to love the Church. I've always known your identification with the Church was pretty coldly intellectual. The intellect needs to create a fire for the will. Constant attention to dry logical details...which is what you excel at...does not necessarily make the heart go pitterpat. The feeding and exercise of the intellect is not an end in itself… There is no greater erudition than meditation upon the 15 mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary!
I only need to add this:
To much rationalization kills the faith. You need to stay within the one ancient fold while you are in this crisis. Don’t repeat in some way the error of the reformers.
If one believes in some areas of doctrine which are clear as crystal, like baptismal regeneration and Real Presence in Eucharist, how can he not believe all the rest, they are in full package.
I suggest these:
Do the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola, as they would help to clarify the position, giving a clarity of mind, only that the original retreat would take a month, though there are other options like a week, or even on week ends.
Read on the life of such saints as Padre Pio and Saint Francis
Read The Catholic Controversy of Saint Francis De Sales, where he deals with the essential things, and this is what it helps rather then dealing with some insignificant details. Listen to Lawrence Feingold, in this link : http://hebrewcatholic.org/Studies/MysteryofIsraelChurch/mysteryofisraela.html

And as it has been said in the forementioned thread Pray
the Rosary. But because you see these things as catholic, I hope that you don’t shun them just because of feeling that would be hypocrisy, as you feel to attend Mass.

David Waltz said...

Hi all,

Have developed a stinking sore throat and fever—have not been in much of a mood for the internet today, but finally forced myself to take a quick peek at my blog before I head back for more orange juice and bed…

For now, just want to clear up a mistake (probably due to the way I quoted the review article): Wilfred Ward was the author of the book under review, “William George Ward and the Oxford Movement”; he was not the reviewer of his own book.

The entire review (which appears to be anonymous), can be read HERE.

I apologize for any confusion…


Take care all, and God bless!!!

David

P.S. Sure hope I feel better tomorrow…

Seth R. said...

This is going to sound really weird coming from a practicing, believing, lifelong Mormon, but...

I would encourage you to reconsider leaving the Catholic Church.

At least, not until you have found something you consider positively better and worth your allegiance.

Look, as a Mormon, I believe that we're the real deal and Catholicism has problems. But that doesn't mean I like to see someone leaving a life of faith for the wrong reasons.

I consider the quest for infallibility to be one of the BIG "wrong reasons." Maybe I'm misreading you here though.

Secondly, I feel that religious exploration that focuses on the negatives of a particular paradigm, instead of actively seeking for positives, is a dangerous life-path that usually seems to end in disillusioned nihilism laced with bitter remarks about "the flying spaghetti monster."

I guess what I'm basically saying is - have a plan. And don't go ditching an imperfect, but nonetheless useful religious paradigm just to wander aimlessly in the wilderness waiting for an epiphany to kick you in the face.

Just my two cents.

orthocath said...

Seth R,

My spiritual journeys has had some twists and turns over the years. Just a few months ago I was led to return to the Orthodox Christian faith. I think your advice is a good one. Our brother is experiencing, like many of us have in our lives, a spiritual crisis. Let us lift him up in prayer and encourage him to ask for wisdom from God (James 1:5).

GregK said...

For those of you who have expressed curiosity about my recent loss of faith, rather than reading what other people have said about it, please read my own account. Thanks.

Tim Enloe said...

Greg, I stumbled upon three "deconversion" stories last week, and yours and another fellow's who also left the faith entirely were the most shocking. I certainly understand coming to be sick and tired of trying to figure out "the answers" to all the Big Questions, and I will not trivialize your experience by pretending that you don't know the rehearsed answers backwards and forwards.

But from someone who, I think, at least used to be counted a friend to you, I'm very sorry that your experiences turned out this way. Some of the particular sentences you wrote in your piece underscore for me what I am coming to see as severe problems with the whole business of "worldview thinking" so prevalent among conservative Christians. I'm not losing my faith, mind you, but I am beginning to see how the ways that we conservative Christians very often present and defend our faith actually contain the seeds of potential destruction in them. Your words in several key places of your story bring this point home to be very hard.

GregK said...

Tim -- thanks for the kind words. I hope you're well.

I've been told again and again that "my problem" stems from thinking about religious issues a certain way. I shouldn't be so western, or I shouldn't be too rationalistic, or ... you know the drill.

Sounds to me like you're adding one more. I shouldn't engage in "worldview thinking."

Isn't this over-thinking the thinking?

I've concluded over the last few years that all the various ways to slice and dice the thinking is just a place to hide from the basic problem -- which is that there's nothing beyond the thinking.

If God wants me to believe, I need a reason beyond reason, because reason stinks.

Principium Unitatis said...

Greg,

because reason stinks.

What is your standard for something not stinking? I mean, if you don't like reason, then what is the standard that you are comparing reason to, against which it (to you) falls short? (And where are you getting this standard?) Is there something that doesn't stink? If so, what is it?

(I'm not criticizing you -- I'm trying to understand you.)

In the peace of Christ,

- Bryan

GregK said...

Bryan,

What I mean is that reason is an inadequate basis for faith.

You can't reason from questionable historical facts and even more questionable philosophical ideas to "the certainty of faith." It's too heavy a weight to hang on such a weak nail.

Greg

Edward Reiss said...

GregK,

Did you have something like this in mind when you say "reason stinks"?

I said in my heart, "I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me, and my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge." And I applied my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a striving after wind.

For in much wisdom is much vexation,
and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.

(Ecc 1:17-18)

I agree that especially in the things of God, in much wisdom is much vexation. It is, in fact, a rather pessimistic statement of the limits of reason for giving us spiritual solace.

If so, I went through a similar crisis a few years ago. Though I didn't lose my faith, I came very, very close. After a while all the arguments tend to go smooth, which made me question not only the arguments themselves but whether can even refer to anything real.

Do you think we have gone through a similar crisis?

Tim Enloe said...

Greg, I don't think "reason stinks;" I just think it's a limited tool that much of conservative Christianity simultaneously (and in a weirdly paradoxical way) both undervalues and overvalues. It undervalues reason when it claims, as many conservative Protestants do, that all you need to do is figure out "the plain meaning of Scripture" and you will have all the answers you ever need to know about anything. It overvalues reason when it pretends that it is possible for finite human knowers to gain anything approaching a comprehensive view of reality that at least in principle (but usually, stronger than that, in actual fact) has "the answer" to every single question that could ever be asked about anything whatsoever.

The key problem with all of this begins to appear more clearly when one contemplates the liberal arts tradition of education that we in the West have been willfully letting go for about 100 years now. In that tradition of education, people are taught that (1) reality is, in fact, knowable, but (2) I am a finite knower and can't comprehensively know reality, and so (3) I must approach reality with a sense of wonder, not trying to master it, but trying to be receptive to it, to let it teach me.

I do not claim to have ever walked any number of miles in your shoes, but to me, your most heartwrenching remark in Cheshire, Part 2, is this one: "My quest for the Answer That Resolves All Problems seemed to be a fantasy. My faith was like a stack of Jenga blocks as the last piece was removed." All the options you went through in your journey (and I understand this well, having gone through a couple of options myself - Modern Evangelicalism and Reformed Presbyterianism) shared this same basic assumption: that there is, in fact, a knowable and attainable "Answer that Resolves All Problems."

This principle leads, however, to only two destinations: (1) self-deception caused by the foolish belief that one has, with rationally-chilling finality, attained to "clear truth" and must never tolerate any questions suggested from outside the box defined by said "clear truth," or else (2) intractable anxiety caused by the realization that no matter what argument is made, there is ALWAYS a way to make a seemingly equally plausible counter-argument. There is no "Answer that Resolves All Problems," but at the same time, recognizing what kind of creatures we are frees one to simply not be bothered by the nonexistence of "The Answer that Resolves All Problems." That quest is wrong because its fundamental question is wrong.

At any rate, there is also no easy answer for one who has tried and tried and tried, and when he was done trying, tried some more, but at last simply abandoned the whole silly game. From the perspective of a liberally-oriented mind, yes, it is a silly game best consigned to the trash heap so that there's one less obstacle in the place of finding true wisdom. But wisdom isn't found the way we conservative Christians in the grip of Modernity have come to think it is found. It's simultaneously easier than that, and harder than that. A lot harder.

Please don't misunderstand. My purpose is not to argue with you, to try to rekindle your faith, or anything like that. Perhaps you feel like the smoking flax was simply hellaciously intent on being quenched, and now it is quenched for good, but I don't know you and I won't dare claim to speak for God or His mysterious ways in any man's life.

Tim Enloe said...

I forgot to insert the qualifier above that the term "liberal" in my post has absolutely nothing to do with the term "liberal" as it is usually used in theology and apologetics-wonky circles. Rather, in my usage, it comes from the classical tradition's view of "free men" - liber means free - who know who and what they are and possess the tools to humbly seek after wisdom rather than to repeatedly confuse mere appearances with reality.

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi Greg,

If God wants me to believe, I need a reason beyond reason, because reason stinks.

Then I would highly recommend reading folks like Pascal, Kierkegaard, or Muggeridge (insofar as you want to still read "thinkers"), as well as the spiritual masters (St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Therese et al), who approach the faith from a devotional and practical and mystical, rather than intellectual slant (insofar as you retain any curiosity at all in these matters).

Let me just add, too (as a general statement), that any apologist who thinks reason is the sum total of the Catholic faith, or even anywhere near its most important aspect, has no business being an apologist at all, as he is supremely ignorant of what Christianity (of any stripe) is. It is that fallacy that has led to the downfall of some who have tried their hand at apologetics: excessive rationalism, which is extreme and a falsehood.

Apologists deal with the issue of reason and faith, which is an important one. That's what we do. But just because it is our area or field, it doesn't follow that we are or should be reducing the faith to those things. Oftentimes, this is a caricature or stereotype imposed upon apologists, and sometimes a small number of nitwits on the Internet, claiming to do apologetics, unfortunately exhibit it.

Or we get folks caricaturing the enterprise of apologetics, when in fact, usually the critics who say these things have themselves been far more prone to such errors than someone like me or the great majority of my apologist colleagues (online and offline alike) ever have been. So it is often a case of projection.

In my own case (speaking of the place of reason in faith), I converted to both evangelicalism (1977) and Catholicism (1990) primarily because of the impulse of moral issues, that were highly intuitive and subjective and felt in the heart and spirit, and not solely "rationalistic" or "logical" or even primarily so.

Later I defended those things from more objective reason, assuredly, but they themselves at the time they moved my will and spirit, were more intuitive or mystical or experiential in nature.

There is a balance here, and those who perhaps didn't realize that, and got into apologetics anyway, were placing themselves in spiritual danger, I submit. I don't say this is the whole cause of later confusion, but definitely could conceivably be an important factor, and something to ponder.

Dave Armstrong said...

There is no "Answer that Resolves All Problems," but at the same time, recognizing what kind of creatures we are frees one to simply not be bothered by the nonexistence of "The Answer that Resolves All Problems." That quest is wrong because its fundamental question is wrong.

The problem with this is that it is a post-Enlightenment skepticism that is precisely characteristic of atheists and those who lack faith. We can see this clearly by substituting just one word:

***

There is no "God that Resolves All Problems," but at the same time, recognizing what kind of creatures we are frees one to simply not be bothered by the nonexistence of "The God that Resolves All Problems." That quest is wrong because its fundamental question is wrong.

***

The mentality is the same. Theological skepticism is a dead-end just as what we might call "metaphysical skepticism" is. It is the glory of Christianity that it does provide answers. The original Protestants all thought this and were passionate advocates of their own systems.

But because of ongoing sectarianism and increasing theological relativism within Protestantism, that notion has increasingly gone out the window, and now it is quite fashionable to speak the same skeptical, rationalistic language about theology as atheists do about God.

Catholicism and Orthodoxy continue in the same way that all Christians used to: offering answers that can be backed up by reason, experience, and the heart.

It is excessive rationalism that leads to a lack of faith, as we see in historic theological liberals, or a guy like the intellectually brilliant historian Joseph Dollinger in 1870, when he rejected papal infallibility and wound up excommunicated. He couldn't grasp it because he wasn't viewing it with the eye of faith and reason. He looked with reason alone: i.e., a post-Enlightenment over-rationalism.

But that is never an acceptable option for a Christian. We all must exercise faith, and that can never be proven with an airtight certainty. At best we can try to show that our faith is not inconsistent with reason and fact.

Then questions of plausibility and comparative systems come into play and stuff like Cardinal Newman's "Illative Sense" or the positivist-smashing philosophical speculations of Michael Polanyi, or the sorts of warrant for belief that Reformed philosopher Alvin Plantinga discusses with great insight today.

If someone wants to be on the cutting edge of the legitimate relationship of faith and reason, I highly recommend reading folks like these. It will at least be challenging and interesting even if not persuasive in every case.

john said...

Dave Armstrong wrote:

It is excessive rationalism that leads to a lack of faith, as we see in historic theological liberals, or a guy like the intellectually brilliant historian Joseph Dollinger in 1870, when he rejected papal infallibility and wound up excommunicated. He couldn't grasp it because he wasn't viewing it with the eye of faith and reason. He looked with reason alone: i.e., a post-Enlightenment over-rationalism.




Sorry Dave gotta disagree here. Von Dollinger was one of the most knowledgeable and respected Historians of his day and based his conclusion on the facts of History. I wish you Catholic Apologists would "get with it" and read some real History. MOST Historians, INCLUDING your own Roman Catholic Historians contradict what you Catholic Apologists say. I am an ex-Catholic who after he read a lot concluded that the Roman Catholic Church is wrong on so many things,nothing you Apologists will convince me otherwise, I know the truth.

Dave Armstrong said...

What did you read? Kung, and Webster and King?

Of course, it is difficult to have a conversation with a guy who doesn't think he can possibly be convinced otherwise. That goes far beyond my position as a Catholic, where I say that I could quite conceivably be persuaded that another position is true. Not likely at all, and I have faith that this won't happen, but as a theoretical possibility, it is entirely possible, just as my change from evangelical Protestant to Catholic happened (quite unexpectedly and unpredictably).

Your position is the ultra-dogmatic one: "nothing you Apologists will convince me otherwise, I know the truth." That is hubris if there ever was any.

Why did you reply to a comment of mine at all, then? Just so you can preach your contra- or anti-Catholic position and impress folks with your ardent zeal?

Anonymity never impresses me either. It is often (not always) used as a cloak for intellectual cowards and as a way to not be accountable at all. Hit-and-run pseudo-apologetics . . .

Dave Armstrong said...

Newman biographer Ian Ker wrote about what the Cardinal thought about Dollinger's defection:

"As regards the relation between history and theology, Newman is unequivocal in his criticism of Dollinger and his followers . . . 'I think them utterly wrong in what they have done and are doing; and, moreover, I agree as little in their view of history as in their acts.' It is not a matter of questioning the accuracy of their historical knowledge, but 'their use of the facts they report' and 'that special stand-point from which they view the relations existing between the records of History and the communications of Popes and Councils'. Newman sums up the essence of the problem: 'They seem to me to expect from History more than History can furnish.' The opposite was true of the Ultramontanes, who simply found history an embarrassing inconvenience."

(in John Henry Newman: A Biography, Oxford University Press, 1988, 684-685, citing Difficulties of Anglicans, II, 309, 311-312)

Tim Enloe said...

I see that Dave Armstrong is here, so it's time for me to leave. I have to keep up my carefully earned reputation of being afraid of him and running away whenever he shows up, after all.

It's hard to avoid saying, however, that for a man who pretends to be channeling Socrates in his apologetics, Dave rather goofily labels the genuinely Socratic approach to reality that I outlined above, which is not only drawn directly from numerous dialogues of Plato, but also quite compatible with the approach of, say, the Book of Job, as "post-Enlightenment" theological skepticism.

The Socratic project - the real one, that is - understands the difference between the statements "Truth is comprehensive and knowable" and "I personally comprehensively know the Truth." Likewise, a true imitator of Socrates can tell the difference between the statements "God is the Answer to All Questions" and "As a follower of God, I have the ability to attain to the answers to all questions." The first set of statements lead to wisdom; the second are expressions of the mere vanity of Sophistry.

Bye, Dave. For real. I won't come back here now that I know you're reading this thread.

Dave Armstrong said...

Ker continues:

"Towards Dollinger, whose quarrel with the Council had become a quarrel with the Church, Newman was still sympathetic, but critical. Characteristically, he diagnosed Dollinger's crisis as fundamentally a failure of imagination. Dollinger was not a 'philosophical historian', in the sense that 'He does not throw himself into the state of things which he reads about -- he does not enter into the position of Honorius, or of the Council 40 years afterwards. He ties you down like Shylock to the letter of the bond, instead of realizing what took place as a scene.' Newman could not understand how Dollinger could accept the council of Ephesus, for example, which was notorious for intrigue and violence, and not the recent one. Perhaps, he shrewdly guessed, 'by this time the very force of logic, to say nothing of philosophy, has obliged him to give up Councils altogether'."

(p. 665, citing Letters and Diaries, Vol. XXVI, 120)

"But he wondered why 'private judgment' should 'be unlawful in interpreting Scripture against the voice of authority, and yet be lawful in the interpretation of history?' The Church certainly made use of history, as she also used Scripture, tradition, and human reason; but her doctrines could not be 'proved' by any of these 'informants', individually or in combination. No Catholic doctrine could be fully proved (or, for that matter, disproved) by historical evidence -- 'in all cases there is a margin left for the exercise of faith in the word of the Church.' Indeed, anyone 'who believes the dogmas of the Church only because he has reasoned them out of History, is scarcely a Catholic'."

(p. 684, citing Difficulties of Anglicans, II [Letter to the Duke of Norfolk, 1875], 309, 311-312)

Much, MUCH more of Newman's own reasoning over against Dollinger and other opponents of papal infallibility, in my paper:

Dollinger's, Liberal & Old Catholics', and Tim Enloe's "Semi- Historical Positivism" & Rejection of Papal Infallibility / Cardinal Newman's Critique

http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2004/11/dollingers-liberal-old-catholics-and.html

Bottom line: Newman is saying it is a lack of faith and imagination, and an incorrect presupposition of historiography and its relation to the Church, that led to Dollinger's demise.

In other words (assuming Newman was correct, as I do), it is precisely what I have suggested in an earlier comment: over-rationalism and an improper balance of the faith and reason dynamic.

Dave Armstrong said...

Bye, Dave. For real. I won't come back here now that I know you're reading this thread.

Promise? Why don't you keep to your own pseudo-resolution and leave the blogosphere altogether, as you proclaimed you intended to do in your post on your blog of 31 December, since you think virtually all of us who blog are engaged in the most sublime folly and worthless, vain pursuit?

It took me showing up to get you to abide by your own words?
But you would never dream of getting into a real dialogue with opposing positions, even in the days when you still thought the Internet had some value for educational purposes. Heaven forbid!

This is David Waltz's blog, of course, and not yours. If he wants me to leave and requests it, I'll happily abide by his wishes.

At least I have not exploited his personal situation as you have done, as a pretext for hypocritically bashing the apologetics enterprise as a whole, after proclaiming that you had left the worthless blogosphere. The temptation was just too great, huh Tim? But of course, you're not reading this . . .

Dave Armstrong said...

the genuinely Socratic approach to reality that I outlined above, which is not only drawn directly from numerous dialogues of Plato, but also quite compatible with the approach of, say, the Book of Job, as "post-Enlightenment" theological skepticism.

Of course, anyone familiar with that book, knows that "Job's comforters" (along with Job, too, to a lesser extent) were roundly rebuked by God at the end of the book basically for being presumptuous loudmouths. In other words, there was a truth to be ascertained.

It wasn't implying at all that the very pursuit of truth or answers was folly, as Polemicist Tim often says (quite the opposite!), and as is currently fashionable among semi-liberal Protestants these days. Hence God said to Job's long-winded advisors:

Job 42:7-8 (RSV) After the LORD had spoken these words to Job, the LORD said to Eli'phaz the Te'manite: "My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends; for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. [8] Now therefore take seven bulls and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly; for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has."

Chris said...

>>{Enlightenment over-rationalism] is never an acceptable option for a Christian. We all must exercise faith, and that can never be proven with an airtight certainty.

Is that really the problem for most doubters? That they expect the faith to be "proven with an airtight certainty?" It was certainly never the problem for me. I am not so foolish as to expect such a thing. My general impression is that the accusation of "positivism" (i.e. the expectation of airtight proof before belief is warranted) is usually a strawman argument that mischaracterizes the real sources of most doubters' doubts. Doubters doubt because there are problems with faith claims, not because those faith claims cannot be proven.

>>At best we can try to show that our faith is not inconsistent with reason and fact.

And when you fail, then what?

Nick said...

I might be out of line saying this, but I think I should:

David (or anyone else here who left the faith), could your main difficulty be rooted in some sin you're struggling with or some moral teaching of the Church? This isn't meant to be answered publicly, obviously. If yes, we should be praying for you and others to overcome that hurdle.

I bring this up because one of the leading factors that cause people to fall away is the Church's moral teachings and/or struggling with sin (and eventually 'giving up' trying to overcome it).

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi Chris,

ME: "Enlightenment over-rationalism . . . is never an acceptable option for a Christian. We all must exercise faith, and that can never be proven with an airtight certainty."

Is that really the problem for most doubters?

It can be; I suspect it often is, but every case is different, and I don't know the percentages. I was referring specifically to Joseph Dollinger and that sort of thought, that has close ties to a sort of post-"Enlightenment" hyper-rationalism and positivism (Hans Kung exhibits it in our time). It is the lack of faith which is the problem, because now the equation is out of balance. Christianity is not merely a philosophy (hence subject to all the epistemological requirements of same); it is a religion.

That they expect the faith to be "proven with an airtight certainty?"

With Dollinger that was part of the problem, in terms of historical propositions. He didn't
look at the question of infallibility with the eyes of faith. He was in danger of reducing Catholicism to mere historiography at that particular point of his thought. This is what Cardinal Newman severely critiqued.

It was certainly never the problem for me. I am not so foolish as to expect such a thing.

Good for you. But (accepting this) you could still use rationalism in an excessive way in order to (consciously or not) cause some folks to lose faith, as you seem to have brought about to some extent in critiquing Newman's conception of development.

I don't contend that it was an insincere endeavor for you anymore than I would question David Waltz's current struggles. You believe these things, no doubt (that's not at issue), but I think you are mistaken.

On the other hand, I doubt that the contra-Newman arguments are by any means irrefutable. But in any event, I commend you for at least grappling with Newman and his ideas. So many folks want to bash him, while offering no alternative. Looks like (from glancing at your blog) you have done much more than that, and I truly respect that effort (as one whose favorite theological topic is development).

My general impression is that the accusation of "positivism" (i.e. the expectation of airtight proof before belief is warranted) is usually a strawman argument that mischaracterizes the real sources of most doubters' doubts.

That could be, sure. In these matters, there is much subjective speculation. Most of my stated opinions in this thread are generalizations to some extent, by the nature of the case. To the extent that a person expects answers immediately amenable to their own reasoning and satisfaction, to all (or major, or many) theological issues, this factor could quite possibly be an important one.

If one doubts papal infallibility (as David has), then he has likely thought: "it fails because of historical counter-examples a, b, c, and d." The pros and cons of each case could be argued, sticking mostly to historiography (that would be my methodology if it came to that), but the question must be asked, "why is it that one has placed their private judgment and personal doubts above the judgment of the Church in the first place?" That is a question of faith and of the rule of faith.

One has now assumed a Protestant stance of judging the Church (indistinguishable from Luther), rather than being judged by her, and giving assent, without necessarily having every jot and tittle of Catholic doctrine perfectly understood and tied in a neat little package with a shiny purple bow.

Doubters doubt because there are problems with faith claims, not because those faith claims cannot be proven.

The problems can also possibly reside in the doubter, due to false premises, rather than in the alleged thing in the faith that is supposedly worthy of being doubted or disbelieved.

Dave Armstrong said...

[cont.]

Assume for the sake of argument that a thing is true; yet someone doubts it (say, a spherical earth). Obviously, in that case, the problem is in the doubter. not the thing doubted. That could be the case here as well. Since I believe in faith, with reason, that Catholicism is true, and that Newman's theory of development is true, obviously, I think that is the case presently, and I am quite happy and willing to show why I think that.

This (problems in the doubter's thinking) is what I have always found in atheists, for example (many of whom I have debated). Inevitably, their objection to something in Christianity or the Bible comes from misunderstanding it or from false premises. That is what caused the problem. They were fighting a straw man themselves. If I've seen it once, I've seen it a hundred times.

This mentality manifests itself, for example, in atheists or other skeptics who amuse and occupy themselves by finding scores of alleged biblical contradictions. In most cases, there is a glaring fallacy in play. Once identified, the whole thing comes collapsing down. I've done it many times myself (i.e., have identified the false premise in play, and provided the counter-argument from a deeper examination of the Bible). Atheist exegesis is often as dumb and clueless as the most wooden fundamentalism is. But I can solve one "problem" and they will simply come up with another one. It's almost a game to them. It's almost always the case.

That is because the problem is in the person's excessive skepticism from the outset, which in turn came from somewhere else. Until THAT is dealt with, solving every biblical "contradiction" in the world won't cause them to move one inch from their position.

ME: "At best we can try to show that our faith is not inconsistent with reason and fact."

And when you fail, then what?

You have to take the step of examining supposed instances of such failures. Someone has to make that judgment, and that judgment can be argued against by the next person, who remains a faithful Catholic. The person who is judging is certainly not infallible. There is no reason to think he is, whereas Catholicism has a notion of infallibility attached to it which is a supernatural gift, as seen in the Bible, that we believe is inspired on yet other grounds, and by faith.

So both you and David have apparently concluded that Catholicism is unworthy of belief because of some historical problems you believe that you observe? I'm quite willing to take a look at those and spend time on this, if it is agreeable with David: all the more so if you were the guy who was the human conduit of the doubts that now trouble him and make him unable in conscience to continue being a Catholic.

Development is my subject, that I love the most, and I am an avid student of Church history and history of doctrine as well. I was studying Dollinger and Kung and George Salmon and this sort of thought even before I converted (almost 20 years ago now), because I was fighting against infallibility above all other doctrines.

Cardinal Newman was the one, I thought, who defeated all those things, by providing the "key" to Church history. And you two think not. So it has to be argued back and forth, if this is the fundamental problem causing a skepticism toward the Church.

I've discussed the topic in some depth before, with detractors; most notably with Dr. Edwin Tait (Anglican historian). But by his own admission that discussion stopped before it ever really got anywhere (mostly from a simple lack of available time on his part).

I enjoyed it very much, as long as it lasted (which wasn't very long: two rounds, as I recall.

Chris said...

Hi Nick,

It's true that many people who leave Christianity (or other moral religions) behind end up participating in something that their former co-religionists would consider sin. But I would caution against assuming that the causal relationship is from sin to apostasy rather than the other way around. For someone who no longer believes in a religion's moral code, it is only natural to cease living by that code. This sort of disinhibition often occurs even before people officially leave the faith. So I'd suggest that in most cases, apostasy at least partially precedes sin. The claim that "one of the leading factors that cause people to fall away is the Church's moral teachings and/or struggling with sin" not only has no empirical foundation that I know of, but also rather strikes me as a ploy designed to trivialize other people's religious decisions. So perhaps a re-examination of your assertion and of your motivation in making it is in order.

Peace,

-Chris

Dave Armstrong said...

The claim that "one of the leading factors that cause people to fall away is the Church's moral teachings and/or struggling with sin" not only has no empirical foundation that I know of, but also rather strikes me as a ploy designed to trivialize other people's religious decisions.

Hardly so, given the fact that there are many prominent dissidents right within the Catholic Church, who make it clear that they do not accept all of the Church's teachings, and pick and choose.

And by the strangest coincidence, many of the doctrines they dissent on are moral ones (particularly sexual).

This being the case, it could certainly be a fact that many people leave for moral reasons. The most common case is probably that of the "irregular" marriage situation. Folks find Catholic indissolubility and opposition to remarriage too difficult, so they split.

Same thing could hold for contraception, or pro-choice (witness the Kennedys, Pelosi and all pro-abortion Democratic and Republican politicians).

This happens in all (more traditional) denominations, in fact. C. S. Lewis wasn't allowed to get married by his local Anglican vicar because his fiance (Joy Davidman) had been divorced. This was as recently as 1960. So he found another clergyman to do it (though he didn't leave Anglicanism).

I work with people (as a staffer at the Coming Home Network) who want to become Catholics, but don't because a spouse doesn't agree. And often an irregular marriage is the problem. So even when a person is convinced of Catholicism, they won't move into it because of moral issues in their marriage that are unresolved. The spouse doesn't want do go through an annulment, or abstain during same, or to not contracept if they go Catholic, etc. VERY common . . .

Far from being a "ploy," this is rather common and almost self-evidently true.

That said, I have no idea what was the cause in David's case, nor is it any of my business. That may be partly it, but probably not. I think he can be trusted for the report of what the major reasons were for his change of mind.

I'm simply disagreeing with your sweeping disavowal of what Nick observed. I think what he said is quite true, and demonstrably so in lots of actual cases.

GregK said...

Edward -- I am not claiming that I have acquired "much wisdom." To the contrary. I have realized how little I know, and how pitiful are my attempts to understand all these Big Issues.

Tim -- you're exaggerating the significance of my comment about looking for the Answer That Resolves All Problems. What I intended to say was more along these lines -- that I hoped that many of my doubts would melt away in the context of a more comprehensive, correct understanding of Christianity.

Dave -- I have tried to read St. John of the Cross, St. Theresa, St. Therese, etc., and I find them completely unhelpful.

I might put the matter this way. What can you say when the heart *does not* have reasons that reason doesn't know?

Dave Armstrong said...

Speaking of false premises, Chris has stated the following on his blog:

"Ultimately, the claim that the Bible is inerrant is simply indefensible. The errors and contradictions in the biblical text are too numerous to count. The Bible itself recognizes the existence of such errors. It makes no claim of inerrancy for itself. And even if it did, the argument for inerrancy would be circular at best. I think it's clearly time to leave this particular fundamental" behind."

http://chriscarrollsmith.blogspot.com/2009/06/biblical-case-against-biblical.html

Obviously, a person who thinks that about the Bible, which all traditional Christians believe is an inspired document, will believe all the more so that Catholic doctrine has "contradictions . . . too numerous to count" since we claim for Catholic doctrine mere infallibility: a gift lesser than inspiration.

So there is one of the hostile presuppositions that can cause problems, that I referred to above. These effect one's reasoning. They are the backdrop; the context of reasoning and how we approach things coming in.

Dave Armstrong said...

Not only does Chris question biblical inspiration, but also the NT canon:

". . . we evangelical types have been trained all our lives to believe that biblical books are better than all others. So we're not exactly the most unbiased judges.

". . . There's no way that the book of Revelation, a fairly run-of-the-mill apocalyptic pseudepigraphon, is more valuable than the Didache. Nor can I see the value in having forged and chauvinistic epistles like 1 and 2 Timothy or 2 Peter rather than a document whose authorship is known and respected like 1 Clement."

http://chriscarrollsmith.blogspot.com/2009/04/kurt-aland-on-canonization.html

Chris said...

Hi Dave,

I appreciate your thoughtful comments. You are correct that many people leave their faiths because of disagreements with those faiths' moral beliefs. In fact, that's more or less what I argued in my response to Nick: that if people apostasize and then engage in activities the faith would call "sin", it's typically because the apostates no longer believe in the faith's moral standards and thus no longer consider these activities to be sinful.

I did not take that to be Nick's meaning, however. He seemed to be saying that people leave because they want to sin. That is, they still believe in the moral standards of the faith, but just don't care enough or aren't strong enough to abide by them. If that's not what Nick meant, then I apologize to him for the misinterpretation. It is unfortunately a pretty common accusation, and one to which I am emotionally attuned, so I may be inclined to see it where it is not really present.

As to your question, "why is it that one has placed their private judgment and personal doubts above the judgment of the Church in the first place," I'd ask you precisely the opposite question. Why is it that you trust the judgment of the Church in the first place? Is it not because you have "judged" it to be trustworthy? Does not a measure of private judgment necessarily precede the affirmation of infallibility? If so, then isn't it only natural that this initial judgment should remain open to re-evaluation?

I'd suggest that if you really break it down, private judgment (and the other faculties of the person, whether inborn or acquired) is all we've got. We can lament its limitations and untrustworthiness, but there is simply no alternative. Belief in infallibility requires the exercise of private judgment just as much as rationalism does.

I wouldn't mind participating in some kind of discussion on the subject of development at least until I go back to school on the 18th. But maybe this thread isn't the place. Perhaps you or David could post another to get us started? Thanks again for the cordial and eminently reasonable discussion.

Peace,

-Chris

Chris said...

Hi again Dave,

In response to your two most recent comments, yes, I am the epitome of the slippery slope (as Rory suggested in a previous comment). Although I was raised Pentecostal, I presently consider myself a Christian pluralist.

Peace,

-Chris

Edward Reiss said...

GregK,

"I have realized how little I know, and how pitiful are my attempts to understand all these Big Issues. "

I think that is actually the point of the preacher. Like him, you have acquired a lot of knowledge, and it is vanity. Merely adding to the knowledge, i.e. "arguments", won't change much because it is another log on the fire, it doesn't change the fire except to add more fuel.

The issue is not what you know but what you believe. And someone going over the usual "proofs" or "disproofs" for what ever won't make a difference.

I went through a time like that--where I had a lot of knowledge but I could not believe much of anything. I came very close to your state, where I just didn't believe at all. It made me realize I cannot make myself believe anything. I can act like I believe something, but if I do not believe I simply don't believe no matter what I say or what I know. This applies, in my opinion, to things outside religion. One thing that happened was a sort of semi-voluntary prayer to God not to leave me. It was literally "Don't leave me!", but in an anxious way. I prayed that way because I knew a lot but I couldn't believe--I COULD NOT--believe. It was more of a cry of a child who thinks his parent is leaving him than an act of volition with "full consent of the will..." After that my crisis began to pass. It seems to me that faith really is a gift of God, and that the interaction of God with us as people, with our wills and out bodies truly is a mystery.

I offer this as a testimony, BTW, not a critique of you or a suggestion as to what you should do.

Nick said...

My point regarding the sin issue was that many Catholics end up leaving the Church and many non-Catholics stop just short of converting because of the Church's moral teachings.

As Dave pointed out, the marriage rules are one major issue. I've heard many people who acknowledge their current marriage situation was a mistake/sin (e.g. divorced and remarried), and who accept the Catholic Church's teaching on everything else, but cannot go as far as to stop "living with" their current spouse. And others might simply struggle with certain other sins, and they eventually give up trying to stop, leaving the church instead. It doesn't have to be they 'no longer consider that sin to be sinful', but can very well be they stop trying and think them self hypocritical by continuing to remain in communion.

GregK said...

Edward -- I appreciate your thoughts. I am simply leaving things in God's hands. If he wants me to believe, I'm sure he knows what to do to break through.

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi Chris,

As to your question, "why is it that one has placed their private judgment and personal doubts above the judgment of the Church in the first place," I'd ask you precisely the opposite question. Why is it that you trust the judgment of the Church in the first place?

It is a matter of faith supported by reason. Faith is a supernatural thing. It can't be reduced to logic and reason. It transcends those things. I became a Catholic and thus submitted myself to accept all that the Church teaches, through faith: but a faith exercised because I saw a great deal of cumulative evidence that supports this faith: particularly of he kind that is typified by Newman's theory of development, and an overall interpretive framework for the Bible that made eminent sense and was superior to alternatives.

Is it not because you have "judged" it to be trustworthy? Does not a measure of private judgment necessarily precede the affirmation of infallibility? If so, then isn't it only natural that this initial judgment should remain open to re-evaluation?

The answer is yes, but that is not ALL it is. It's an accumulation of all sorts of evidences and factors: some I suspect, perhaps not even on a conscious level. We're back to the same dynamic of faith and reason and how they are related to each other. We g back to the teaching of Jesus; particularly His setting up of His Church with Peter as leader; apostolic succession, patristic teaching, the vicious internal logical problems of all forms of Protestantism, and many other factors.

This question of "using private judgment to reject private judgment" is a frequent argument of contra-Catholic polemics, and I have replied to it several times. For example:

Refutation of the Common Protestant Polemical Charge That Catholics Inconsistently & Arbitrarily Apply Private Judgment in Accepting Catholicism

http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2007/10/refutation-of-common-protestant.html

I'd suggest that if you really break it down, private judgment (and the other faculties of the person, whether inborn or acquired) is all we've got. We can lament its limitations and untrustworthiness, but there is simply no alternative. Belief in infallibility requires the exercise of private judgment just as much as rationalism does.

But it's NOT "all we've got." This is precisely the main problem as I see it. You have entirely neglected supernatural faith: on which alone Christianity ultimately rests. God draws US; we don't figure everything out on our own, with our supposedly independent reason. If that were the cause of salvation and discipleship, then Pelagianism is orthodoxy. But all three major branches of Christianity have roundly rejected that.

Dave Armstrong said...

[cont.]

I would argue (as Alvin Plantinga does) that knowledge of God Himself is innate, or "properly basic," based
on Romans 1 and other passages. The Bible always presupposes that men know there is a God. It doesn't feel compelled to offer theistic proofs. That came later on, with the ascendancy of Greek and philosophical thinking.

You completely overlook faith because that is your presupposition coming into the discussion (the other major point I have been making in the last several posts). You're making my argument for me, when I go to your site and see what you believe.

So on the question of faith (or lack thereof), you write:

"I'd like to suggest that this whole argument is a category confusion. There can be no ranking of Scripture above reason, experience, and feeling because the exercise of these three faculties is logically prior to the acceptance and comprehension of Scripture. We accept Scripture as authoritative because we have had the experience of being told that it is authoritative, and because we have reflected on this and felt or concluded that it is true. We comprehend Scripture only when the experience of reading it gives rise to feeling and reflection on that experience. The same goes for other authorities, whether they be Tradition, the Pope, or the Hare Krishna: their contents can only be accepted by means of the exercise of the three basic faculties through which the world is known: experience, reason, and feeling.

"In other words, experience, reason, and feeling are in a category completely their own: a category that logically precedes the other authorities that are typically proposed. So the argument that Scripture can somehow be ranked above reason or experience can only lead to absurdity. A building cannot destroy its own foundation without destroying itself. The building can be viable only to the extent that its foundation is viable."

http://chriscarrollsmith.blogspot.com/2008/10/reason-and-scripture-arent-even-in-same.html

Faith is never mentioned once. You have no place for it. It is excluded by the supposedly comprehensive categories that you construct. This is hyper-rationalism: an absolutely classic, textbook case.

And this is what I have been contending: this lack of faith and belief that there even is such a thing (by appearances, anyway) leads to things like rejecting biblical inspiration, and the canon, and papal or conciliar infallibility. You've made reason your god, in effect. Without faith, no one will believe those things, because, as the Apostle Paul says, God's wisdom is foolishness to men, and it is only spiritually discerned.

One can support the tenets of faith by reason (I do that all the time, as an apologist), but it is ultimately a matter of faith in what one thinks is true and plausible, for a variety of reasons.

Thanks again for the cordial and eminently reasonable discussion.

Thanks for your kind words and the same back atcha!

I'd be happy to discuss development here or on my blog. If David Waltz would like it to take place here, that's fine; with the understanding that I will be cross-posting the whole thing on my blog as well.

Dave Armstrong said...

I agree 100% with Edward Reiss' statement:

"It seems to me that faith really is a gift of God, and that the interaction of God with us as people, with our wills and out bodies truly is a mystery."

That's exactly right. Take out this gift, and biblical Christianity is impossible, and we can expect all sorts of departures from received orthodoxy (whether in a Catholic or Protestant sense).

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi Chris,

The abundance of heterodox notions on your blog continue to appear. I was wondering if you also denied the fall: without which the entire Christian scheme of salvation and redemption makes little sense. Sure enough, you have done so:

"The reason that the narrative of the Fall has been so popular throughout Jewish and Christian history is precisely that it captures in mythic form our suspicions about the state of the world. So rather than ejecting the narrative altogether, I think it's useful to provide a liberal reading of it. The Fall may not be historical, but it is nevertheless a powerful metaphor.

"I think the advantage of the myth of fallen humanity, even if not literally true, is that it expresses the hope that human beings are capable of ideal behavior. If you believe that there is a fundamental capacity for goodness at the core of all of us, then the failure to realize our potential can be conceived of as a "fall" of sorts. But it's a fall from an ideal standard rather than from one that has ever really been actualized."

http://chriscarrollsmith.blogspot.com/2008/04/liberal-reading-of-fall-of-man.html

What's next: the Trinity; the deity of Christ; the incarnation, resurrection, ascension?

With no fall, sin as we know it and redemption are fundamentally changed, and Christianity becomes scarcely distinct from, say, Buddhism.

If you are right, Brit Hume wouldn't have caught one-hundredth of the flak he has been getting. :-)

Dave Armstrong said...

Sure enough, orthodox Christology has been ditched, too, in Chris's religious "pluralism":

"These apparent problems cease to be problematic when we abandon the conservative evangelical perspective in favor of a more liberal one. I am not opposed to Enns' hypothesis that Scripture incarnates a true, divine message but does so messily. Nor am I opposed to the implication that Jesus incarnated a divine reality but did so messily. Quite to the contrary, these are propositions I enthusiastically embrace. When the traditional "marks" of Christ's and Scripture's divinity are removed (as Enns has done), they begin to look less extraordinary. We can begin to imagine that perhaps other texts also mediate a divine message, albeit in a similarly messy way. We can begin to imagine that perhaps other people can also incarnate a divine reality, albeit in a similarly messy way. Christ and Scripture start to look less like unique and unreplicable examples of incarnation, and more like exemplary instances thereof. When they are so conceived, the way is open for us to affirm the universality of divine revelation and to find comparable instances of incarnation in many different times and cultures throughout history, including our own. The way is open for us to affirm the integrity of non-Christian religious experience rather than a priori repudiating it, and to find the divine perspective in the sum of all human perspectives rather than in a single, narrow, sectarian one. In short, the best way to resolve Enns' dilemma is to embrace a pluralist worldview."

http://chriscarrollsmith.blogspot.com/2008/09/new-testament-hermeneutics-and.html

So it looks at this point as if just about anything is up for grabs in Christianity. You have gutted it at its heart if you go after Jesus' divinity and the fall of man and biblical inspiration.

I begin to wonder what the point would be to discuss development, when the opponent in the debate doesn't accept about fourteen presuppositions that all Christians accept. Without a common standard or ground at some prior point in the discussion at the level of premise, fruitful discussion becomes impossible.

If indeed, your discussions with David have been key in his new agnosticism as to the truth of Catholicism (as I have seen some indications of), I think he has to seriously ponder the sorts of presuppositions you were operating from and how that affected your reasoning and conclusions.

I'm NOT advocating the genetic fallacy: that what you say is untrue simply because you said it and because of these manifold heresies you espouse.

I'm saying that the grounds for your contentions are questionable on many fundamental levels, and that if someone has accepted your conclusions, then by the nature of the case, chances are that they have uncritically taken in some of your false presuppositions as well (judged by basic Nicene Christian standards).

I don't waste too much time going round and round with liberals because I don't see the point, unless and until we have more in common to even start a constructive discussion.

If I have to go to all that trouble, I'd much rather dialogue with an atheist. At least he is not molding Christianity to his own image and possesses a great deal more internal consistency.

Chris said...

Hey Dave,

You wrote,

>>But it's NOT "all we've got." This is precisely the main problem as I see it. You have entirely neglected supernatural faith: on which alone Christianity ultimately rests. God draws US; we don't figure everything out on our own, with our supposedly independent reason.

I don't exclude the possibility that faith could be given supernaturally. But presumably you would agree that some kind of rational activity is involved in recognizing and/or accepting that faith, and in deciding what is its content? And presumably you would agree that supernatural faith is not given in such a straightforward and self-explanatory way that it is easily recognized as such, do you? And surely you don't deny that nearly every Christian sect would claim precisely the sort of faith-infusion you claim, right? So in terms of practical decision-making, we're still only left with our own resources. Those resources may include only the things we were born with, or they may include some kind of acquired supernatural faith deposit, but either way the process of decision-making and private judgment still precedes the church's infallibility. And presumably the person who re-evaluates his/her belief in infallibility is doing so with any faith infusion still in effect, so the re-evaluation is not qualitatively different than the initial evaluation. The same private judgment is employed in both cases.

Which is all to say that your supernatural infusion of faith ultimately doesn't suffice to get you out of the problem at hand: that private judgment necessarily precedes the acceptance of infallibility.

Anyway, I'm sorry (but not surprised) that you think I'm not worth talking to because I'm such a heretic. For what it's worth, David generally ignores me for the same reason. :-) I don't think I played any kind of significant role in sparking the decision he announced in this thread, so exposing me as the reductio ad absurdum of the slippery slope isn't really necessary. (Especially since I already acknowledged myself as such earlier in the thread.)

Peace,

-Chris

Reginald de Piperno said...

so exposing me as the reductio ad absurdum of the slippery slope isn't really necessary.

That's as may be; but it was helpful for me to know, for the sake of putting your "Loyolan" jibes in a proper context. :-)

Peace,

RdP

john said...

Dave said:
This being the case, it could certainly be a fact that many people leave for moral reasons. The most common case is probably that of the "irregular" marriage situation. Folks find Catholic indissolubility and opposition to remarriage too difficult, so they split.


I say: I was waiting for this to come up. You and "Nick" like many Roman "e-pologists" sooner or later bring up the idea that if a person leaves the Roman Church then it is over "moral issues" or "sin in their lives". LOL MOST if not ALL the ex-Catholics I know including myself left for one reason: Roman claims are false and untrue, they can not be proven by History, facts, or the Scriptures. I am not an "anti-Catholic", I merely say that Rome's claims are false and it teaches Heresy on so many Dogmas. Period.

No doubt you will say "you never really understood what the Catholic Church teaches", I assure you I did and do. I wanted to be a Catholic Apologist , I went to Mass every Sunday and weekdays when I could and went to Confession frequently and was an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist. I read your stuff plus all the other Roman Apologists, but I also studied real History, History written by honest peer-reviewed academic scholars, plus I studied the Scriptures using proper exigesis. This took me a long time, a few years, and at the end it was obvious Roman claims are false.

Matt said...

I wonder if John could give us some examples of peer-reviewed "real" historians (who, as he says, are sometimes Catholic themselves) who clearly expose the errors of Roman Catholic dogmas.

Edward Reiss said...

Chris,

"I don't exclude the possibility that faith could be given supernaturally."

OK, but I think that is the explanation of why someone can have knowledge, even give assent to it, and yet still not believe. I agree that we are always left with our "private judgment", but in a Christian context this means choosing among the several traditions--which seems to be where David Walz is--as opposed to just not believing, which is where GregK is.

I GregK's in experience as well as my own, the "apologetic edifice" was found to be insufficient to sustain faith, even damaging to it. In my opinion it is because any tradition which has been around for some time is going to have something going for it, so many of the apologetic arguments "cancel out" and we are left with nothing but logomachy--or vanity in the words of Ecclesiastes. Once that happens it doesn't matter too much that we use our "private judgment", because the smoldering wick is out and only God can ignite it again.

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi John,

Again (since you didn't answer before), I ask you what books you read to lead you to your contra-Catholic conclusions. If they are so wonderful and irrefutable, surely you'll want to share them far and wide, no, so that others here can see the light, too?

As for moral issues and sin leading folks to leave the Church, I specifically stated that I do NOT think these are probably David's reasons, and that I accepted his own report at face value.

Nor do I think it is the probable reason in Greg's case. I believe it is false premises at some point in both cases that is the culprit.

But when Chris tried to deny in a sweeping fashion that moral issues can often be the reason for these departures, I had to disagree because it simply isn't true, and obviously so. Yo failed to distinguish between the two things.

My concern as an apologist is to identify what I believe to be a wrong turn in the reasoning process, to try to persuade a person that he has made such an error, or errors, and that there is a better way, that can be comprehensively defended from the Bible, history, and reason: Catholicism.

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi Chris,

I don't exclude the possibility that faith could be given supernaturally.

Glad to hear it. But you certainly made no indication of that whatever in your article I cited, and it belonged in the overall equation. To exclude it was very telling indeed.

But presumably you would agree that some kind of rational activity is involved in recognizing and/or accepting that faith, and in deciding what is its content?

I've never denied that. I'm an apologist, for Pete's sake: why would I want to deny the importance of rational activity in theological matters? That would be ridiculous. What I denied was 1) this reasoning capacity as the initiator of faith and belief; over against Pelagianism, and 2)the exclusion of supernatural faith as an extremely important supra-rational factor in all (true) theological belief.

My concern was the de-emphasis of faith and the excessive emphasis on reason, in the hyper-rationalistic sense. Reason has to be put in its proper place. It's because it is placed too high in the scheme of things, that folks can sometimes become disenchanted with apologetics: precisely because they didn't keep the proper balance of reason, in league with other factors like experience, intuition, mysticism, faith, conscience, etc.

And presumably you would agree that supernatural faith is not given in such a straightforward and self-explanatory way that it is easily recognized as such, do you?

Supernatural faith, by definition, is a gift of God. Whoever receives it usually does not understand every jot and tittle of its rationale and justification. It is not the equivalent of an airtight conclusion drawn from a syllogism or other straightforward logical processes. Later on, a person may build up an intellectual apparatus by which they can defend the belief that they initially received by this faith, but to say that faith comes as a result of our profound reasoning efforts, is putting the cart before the horse and a fundamentally flawed analysis of the dynamics involved.

And surely you don't deny that nearly every Christian sect would claim precisely the sort of faith-infusion you claim, right?

As I stated: all major branches of Christianity reject Pelagianism. It is only cults like Jehovah's Witnesses (itself shot-through with a sort of naive and curiously inconsistent hyper-rationalism) that teach something akin to it.

So in terms of practical decision-making, we're still only left with our own resources.

I think we can use reason to defend our own positions, yes. That is why I am an apologist. I don't think it is all there is, or nearly the most important consideration.

Those resources may include only the things we were born with, or they may include some kind of acquired supernatural faith deposit, but either way the process of decision-making and private judgment still precedes the church's infallibility.

If something is true, it is so independently of our reasoning by which we espoused it. That's the point. If Catholicism is indeed the fullness of Christian truth, it is so by God's design, and not because some sharp person "figured it all out." We're talking about matters of alleged or actual objective truth.

The Catholic comes to a decision to accept the Church and all that it teaches. He does so (hopefully, and as in my own case) by consideration of competing claims and reasoned analysis. But becoming convinced entails a lot more than mere reason. We believe that the Church is the fullness of the faith because we believe that was what was revealed to and by the apostles. We accept that in faith, passed down from them.

Dave Armstrong said...

[cont.]

And presumably the person who re-evaluates his/her belief in infallibility is doing so with any faith infusion still in effect, so the re-evaluation is not qualitatively different than the initial evaluation. The same private judgment is employed in both cases.

I have explained the essential difference between Protestant private judgment and what a Catholic does in accepting the Catholic faith, in one of my papers I linked to above.

Which is all to say that your supernatural infusion of faith ultimately doesn't suffice to get you out of the problem at hand: that private judgment necessarily precedes the acceptance of infallibility.

This goes round and round. Practically speaking, in terms of comparative theology and competing truth claims, we can all only give the reasons why we think our system is true or more true, defend our claims from critiques, and show how other systems lack proper biblical support, or are inconsistent and illogical at several points, etc. I'm more than happy to defend Catholicism and to discuss the reasons why I think no other Christian system provides the answers to the important questions as Catholicism does.

Anyway, I'm sorry (but not surprised) that you think I'm not worth talking to because I'm such a heretic.

I didn't necessarily rule out all discussion with you, but I wondered what the point would be. I want to talk about what David's specific concerns are: the reasons he has given for leaving Catholicism. If they involve you, and arguments you gave him that he accepted, then I'll debate you on those points. If they don't, then it is better to answer David's "hard questions" and go back and forth with him, since he (presumably) has not ditched central truths of the Christian faith, as you have done.

If you want to discuss facts of Christian doctrinal history, then that can be done pretty much without involving your numerous false presuppositions; though the magnitude of such errors can never be wholly without effect in a reasoning chain.

For what it's worth, David generally ignores me for the same reason. :-) I don't think I played any kind of significant role in sparking the decision he announced in this thread, so exposing me as the reductio ad absurdum of the slippery slope isn't really necessary. (Especially since I already acknowledged myself as such earlier in the thread.)

See my previous paragraph. David has gotten the ideas he has in his head now from somewhere. If they came from you, then you need to be interacted with by a Catholic who is able to do so, to show one and all that your reasoning has gone awry at several points.

David has more or less implied that he had these difficulties and that no one seems to have offered any solutions to them. I'd like to try to do so, if that is agreeable to him.

I'm an optimist in matters of reason and faith both. I believe that right reason can persuade people of the truth and remove falsehoods from their thought processes. I believe that David could be persuaded to return to the Catholic faith and to see the error of the incorrect positions he has accepted.

Because I believe in reason, I don't have to denigrate it by ditching it and saying "faith only" (as Edward Reiss and much of Lutheranism seems to have done), or by going to "reason only" (as you have basically done, and which is the liberal path). Nope: the true state of affairs is faith + reason: both in their proper proportion.

john said...

Dave Armstrong said:
Again (since you didn't answer before), I ask you what books you read to lead you to your contra-Catholic conclusions. If they are so wonderful and irrefutable, surely you'll want to share them far and wide, no, so that others here can see the light, too?



John says:

It would be pointless to name them. I know how Roman apologists "spin" and twist things to force their false Dogma to fit. Unless God by His Grace opens your eyes to see the truth you will not because the god of this world has blinded you. But to amuse myself and see your reaction I will name SOME of the works I have read:

"Origins Of Papal Infallibility 1150-1350: A Study On The Concepts Of Infallibility, Sovereignty, And Tradition In The Middle Ages" Brian Tierny

"How The Pope Became Infallible:Pius IX And The Politics of Persuasion" August Bernhard Hasler

"From Paul To Valentinus:Christians At Rome In The First Two Centuries" Peter Lampe

"Papal Primacy From Its Origins To The Present" Klaus Schatz

"Infallible:An Inquiry" Hans Kung

And of course I have read Von Dollinger and George Salmon, but these are all just SOME of what I have read.

I did not make my decision to leave the Roman Church hastily. I took my time and studied.

Dave Armstrong said...

Thank you. And what Catholic books did you read that would defend a catholic view of the history of doctrine, infallibility, etc.?

Dave Armstrong said...

Having glanced at several of the threads on development that David recommended folks look at it to see what caused his change of mind, I see that the issues are exceedingly involved.

When David starts feeling better, I would like to hear from him what exactly are his most troubling concerns in Newman's theory. Far as I can tell (again, just from glancing so far), it is infallibility, subordinationism and related issues in early trinitarianism, and Darby's critique (whatever that entails).

And if agreeable to him, I would like to defend Newman (and the Catholic Church, as the case may be) against these charges, to the best of my ability (unless and until, of course, I see that I no longer can do so and end up doubting the theory, just as David has done). :-).

Dave Armstrong said...

I found this fascinating exchange from a thread dated 6-4-08:

http://articulifidei.blogspot.com/2008/05/clearly-up-huge-misunderstanding.html?showComment=1212600780000#c1394735063645463094

[Ken Temple]: But I have read White and Webster and David Kings books; along with some J.N.D. Kelly and Salmon and Oberman; -- and they still have provided a valuable rebuttal and balance to the Newman/Dave Armstrong apologetics.

[David Waltz]: Agreed. And for the record, I believe both sides of the modern controversialists have problems. The White, Webster, King camp pretty much ignores the host of Evangelical patristic scholars who take issue with their major premise (that the ECF’s espoused sola scriptura); and the Armstrong, Madrid, Sungenis camp brush aside post-Vatican II patristic scholarship. (Notice I did not include Newman.) . . .

[Ken Temple] I am not sure that coincidence view can be taken beyond those Trinitarian doctrinal formulations. the problem comes when the RCC apologists start claiming other things like indulgences, the treasury of merit, perpetual virginity of Mary, sinlessness of Mary, bodily assumption, papal dogmas, priesthood, ex opere operato sacerdotal powers and trans. as part of the "rule of faith" and "teaching/the faith/the tradition" as part of what Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Athansius included.

To me, to claim that; which is what RCC apologetics does, is anachronistic and mis-leading and just has no evidence for it.

[David Waltz]: If by “what RCC apologetics does” you mean the popular, lay RCC apologists, then I agree.

* * *

I'll reply in the next entry.

Dave Armstrong said...

It is claimed that I "brush aside post-Vatican II patristic scholarship."

That is hardly the case. I constantly appeal to Kelly (revised version of 1978), Oberman, Pelikan, and McGrath: all post-Vatican II. The Jurgens set of excerpts from the fathers is post-Vatican II. Warren Carroll's multi-volume History of Christendom is post-Vatican II.

The problem is not chronology, but liberalism. Many "Catholic" scholars today are liberal and no longer truly Catholic. Take, for instance, Brian Tierney. I have written at length about the deficiencies of his outlook, with documentation. Hans Kung's heterodoxy is well-known. I not only read his book on infallibility back when I fought vehemently against that doctrine, but I have also dared to examine a very extensive devastating rebuttal of his work by Joseph S. Costanzo, S. J., entitled, "The Historical Credibility of Hans Kung,":

http://www.ewtn.com/library/THEOLOGY/KUNGINF.htm

Venerable Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI are post-Vatican II. Last time I checked they were both considered no mean scholars. I agree wholeheartedly with their strong critiques of Catholic academics who don't adequately incorporate dogmatic faith into their studies. Are they to be accused of being "anti-modern scholarship" too, because they insisted (as I do) that Catholic scholarship remains within the purview of orthodox doctrine and the domain of faith?

If that weren't absurd enough of a charge, David agrees with anti-Catholic Ken Temple (with whom I have had many debates, and who remains actively polemical on my blog) in his proposition:

"White and Webster and David Kings books; . . . have provided a valuable rebuttal and balance to the Newman/Dave Armstrong apologetics."

Huh??!! None of these men have the credentials to even be engaged in supposed "patristics" research. White has a fake doctorate. I couldn't even find Webster's educational credentials when I set out to find what they were. King and Webster publish with a "podunk" publisher that no one has ever heard of: whereas my books have been published by three major Catholic publishers: including two that specialize in classics and the largest single one: OSV. King makes ridiculous claims such as that all the fathers believed in sola Scriptura, etc. (a position in absolute stark contrast to the view of someone like Oberman).

I have refuted Webster's ridiculously false historical anachronisms and myths twice, with no response from him whatever:

http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2004/02/refutation-of-william-websters.html

http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2006/08/refutation-of-protestant-polemicist.html

Dave Armstrong said...

[cont.]

I often bring this up to Ken and remind him that since Webster has never refuted these, perhaps he would like to try. But he never does, for some odd reason.

David T. King (the nastiest, rudest person I have ever met online in 13 years, bar none), was so utterly ignorant that he equated (on Eric Svendsen's discussion board) Newman's development with liberal evolution of dogma, and claimed that the Church and Pope St. Pius X thought he was a flaming liberal. That is, until I produced a letter straight from that great pope, that proved otherwise. Then he fled for the hills and Tim Enloe was recruited to spin and defend him against my brash rebuttals. See:

Protestant Contra-Catholic Revisionist History: Pope St. Pius X and Cardinal Newman's Alleged "Modernism"

http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2006/11/protestant-contra-catholic-revisionist.html

And this sort of know-nothing nonsense is supposedly a counter to my work? David knows better than that, certainly.

I won't even get into the idiocies of James White. The thought that he somehow balances out myself and Cardinal Newman (and thank to Ken for the compliment and honor of putting me in the same sentence with the Cardinal) is too laughable to consider for a second. This is a guy whose position (to use just one example of innumerable ones) entails that St. Augustine and Martin Luther and C. S. Lewis would all be classified as non-Christian, as I have demonstrated at least two times, using his own words to hang himself.

David seems to think Jason Engwer has compelling argumentation about the fathers. He is thoughtful and a nice guy, as I recently reiterated. I have debated him several times about development; particularly about the canon. But his arguments, though clever, are not insurmountable at all.

He and I engaged in a much-ballyhooed debate on the large CARM board back in 2002, about the Church Fathers and sola Scriptura. It was going along great, and I analyzed ten Church fathers on the question at great length. But Jason decided he had heard enough and split after I had gotten through only four. And this was in an anti-Catholic environment where all the cards were stacked against me.

It's all posted on my blog if anyone is interested to see that.

There are answers to all these guys, rest assured. George Salmon's shoddy anti-Catholic arguments against Newman (that I read in 1990) were refuted at book length, by B. C. Butler:

http://www.bringyou.to/apologetics/num11.htm

Enough for now . . . perhaps David would like to speak to these quite unfounded claims about anti-Catholic pseudo-scholars supposedly providing "balance" to the likes of me (and Cardinal Newman). I think he knows much better than that.

Dave Armstrong said...

And what is this, putting me in a "camp" with Robert Sungenis? Though we have cordial personal relations (I try to maintain those with everyone, of whatever belief), we have differed profoundly in matters like, e.g., whether God can change His mind (He says yes), anthropomorphism and anthropopathism and God (he denies those), geocentrism and a non-rotating earth (that he espouses), N. T. Wright and the "works of the law" issue (He disagrees, I agree), etc.

He is a "traditionalist" and it is well-known that I am a strong critic of the more radical, quasi-schismatic elements of that movement.

Dave Armstrong said...

I'll "shut up" now until David recovers from his sickness and is active in here again; unless, of course, someone else interacts with my comments.

Nick said...

John, you said: "I say: I was waiting for this to come up. You and "Nick" like many Roman "e-pologists" sooner or later bring up the idea that if a person leaves the Roman Church then it is over "moral issues" or "sin in their lives". LOL MOST if not ALL the ex-Catholics I know including myself left for one reason: Roman claims are false and untrue"

Comments like these are pretty good indications that the ex-Catholic didn't understand what they left. You radically spun the issue into something I never said. I NEVER said it MUST have been moral; I said moral issues COULD BE a/the reason (because they often are). For you to automatically rule-out moral reasons as a POSSIBILITY is simply naivete on your part.

I can let Dave defend himself, but I'm pretty confident that you cannot provide a better apologetics case supporting whatever path you chose to take instead (esp if it's Protestantism).

Chris said...

Hi Dave,

Based on what you wrote above, I'm still not clear on how you think a supernatural infusion of faith gets you out of the logical and temporal priority of private judgment.

Anyway, I don't talk much on my blog about supernatural faith, it's true (mostly because I haven't experienced anything that would obviously fit under that heading). But I am not a strict rationalist. I think that the whole person must be ministered to and that the whole person must be involved in decision-making. One thing I do talk about a lot on my blog is conscience, which as far as I can tell would not be all that phenomenologically distinguishable from your supernatural faith. My conscience is actually one of the factors that drove me down the slippery slope rather than one that anchored me in the faith.

Peace,

-Chris

Edward Reiss said...

Nick,

"I can let Dave defend himself, but I'm pretty confident that you cannot provide a better apologetics case supporting whatever path you chose to take instead (esp if it's Protestantism)."

I don't think the issue is providing a "better apologetics case..." To frame the issue that way is to assume one side has some novel argument which fells the other side. I don't believe that is so. It works more like this: the assent we give to an apologetic case has as much to do with our axioms as it does with the "case" itself. Axioms are stubborn things and they don't change easily, nor are they as subject to rational critique as general apologetic arguments for e.g papal infallibility. As apologetic arguments pile up, there is inevitable tension between what supports one precept and what supports another. In fact, the more complicated the "case" the easier it becomes to reject the whole lot as pure sophistry. This is true of protestant as well as RC or EO apologetics. The problem I see in the apologetics offered by you and Dave A. is that you seek to find just the right formulation, just the right nuance, just the right vocabulary to "refute" your opponent. I think that misses the mark, though. it outs a premium on abstract arguments as opposed to a living witness to Christ. For example, we had a discussion about substance and accidents--one side said that the distinction is bogus because of science, while the other stated the distinction is still valid because philosophy is its own science. OK, but can you see how the arguments pile up? As I said earlier, it all begins to go smooth after a while.

BTW, I am not critiquing your faith as such, I'm just pointing out that a lot of the "apologetics" arguments offered are beside the point, and in fact they can undermine faith.

Lisamck said...

Just a quick suggestion from those of us who are interested in following the latest arguments:

There are now at least three different prominent Daves whose ideas are being discussed in this thread. The context has usually made it clear, but of course blogs are often quoted without that context, and sometimes are subject to being skimmed hastily. For clarity's sake, it might help to be careful to always use an initial to signify King, Waltz, or Armstrong as opposed to Dave.

David Waltz said...

Hi all,

I am still under-the-weather, so forgive my tardy response. I am reading through all the thoughtful comments that have been posted over the last couple of days, many of which need prayer and further reflection. I still plan to type up of a new thread outlining some of the key issues that gave rise to my recent decision, but prefer to wait till my fever is gone so I can think a bit more clearly. However, I would like to comment at this time on the following that Nick posted:

>>David (or anyone else here who left the faith), could your main difficulty be rooted in some sin you're struggling with or some moral teaching of the Church? This isn't meant to be answered publicly, obviously. If yes, we should be praying for you and others to overcome that hurdle.>>

Me: I don’t think so, I cannot think of any sin and/or official moral teaching of the RCC that I have problem/s with. Further, I cannot think of any official moral teaching of the RCC that forced me to alter my Protestant Christian lifestyle when I entered the RCC, apart from sacramental confession to a priest; and this aspect of the Catholic faith had NO bearing on my decision to cease my attendance.

My main difficulties concern certain verifiable historical data, which, as I said earlier, I hope to outline in the near future when I get to feeling a bit better.


Grace and peace,

David

Nick said...

Edward,

I see your point, but in some cases my reasoning does apply. For example if Protestantism came out of Catholicism, which it did, then it must be examined in light of Catholicism. Thus, Protestantism cannot have it's own "axioms" in a way that a wholly non-Christian religion like Buddhism can. Luther fully acknowledged he was dissenting from an already existing Church hierarchy. Further, it doesn't matter what axioms one has if they are contradictory - assuming contradiction is something unacceptable. So, for example, if Sola Scriptura isn't taught in Scripture, it doesn't matter if it's a Protestant Axiom, it's logically false and self-refuting.

Nick said...

And for the non-Christians out there, the fact that David W still believes in the Trinity makes most of your Catholic critiques not a problem.

Chris said...

Hi Nick, isn't it possible for a breakaway religious group to invent or divine new axioms that are not derived from its parent church but are nevertheless true? Or perhaps to borrow true axioms from other, outside sources like science or philosophy or the humanities?

Nick said...

Chris, in Catholicism's eyes there is only one Truth, perfectly held by the Church, so no new divine truths can somehow be stumbled upon.
The breakaway Christians groups have to choose between being a group that claims a continuum from the Apostles or else must settle as a new religion.

In the case of Protestantism, we see this very difficulty manifested, TYPICALLY with the liberal branches becoming more and more pagan and neo-Christian in their outlook, and the 'conservative' branches wanting to hold onto customs/confessions/etc while somehow admitting some mass apostasy (giving them the green light to step up as the 'true religion').

For example, a 'conservative' break off often has factors like history against them, where as a 'liberal' break off doesn't care about history.

Edward Reiss said...

Nick,

You actually make my point.

You wrote " For example if Protestantism came out of Catholicism, which it did, then it must be examined in light of Catholicism. Thus, Protestantism cannot have it's own "axioms" in a way that a wholly non-Christian religion like Buddhism can. Luther fully acknowledged he was dissenting from an already existing Church hierarchy. Further, it doesn't matter what axioms one has if they are contradictory - assuming contradiction is something unacceptable. So, for example, if Sola Scriptura isn't taught in Scripture, it doesn't matter if it's a Protestant Axiom, it's logically false and self-refuting."

Do you really think that by these arguments you have "refuted" the Reformation? Do you think they are some new thunderbolt which an informed protestant has never heard? They are not, and I don't find them at all convincing because I have dealt with them anc considered them so many times already, especially your last.

Getting back to axioms, it is at least possible that the Western Church at the time had some correct conclusions from incorrect axioms, which means new axioms are needed to remove incorrect conclusions while keeping the correct conclusions.

To depend on such arguments to support one's belief system is to place a boulder upon a reed and call it a foundation--really.

Followed by this:

"Chris, in Catholicism's eyes there is only one Truth, perfectly held by the Church, so no new divine truths can somehow be stumbled upon."

The question is not what is in the eyes of catholicism, but what is true. (Different axioms again) It is exactly these kinds of arguments that make a "better apologetics case" beside the point. In this case, unless one is catholic this point of yours is rather lame and obvious--of course if we accept that what is in the eyes of the Catholic Church matters we would have to agree, but we don't accept so we don't agree. You have a different axiom which it is not readily apparent should be accepted at face value.

I don't want to get into the weeds on this, because I have discussed it probably over 100 times. It is just that the arguments go smooth, as I said, and after arguing for a long while it becomes less easy to simply dismiss whole classes of churches based on such thin reasoning and accuse them of "private judgement" or of blindly following tradition. In fact, it is this realization which can cause a crisis in faith.

Chris said...

Edward,

You've made this "smooth" comment several times now, but I'm not sure what you mean by it. What does it mean for an argument to "go smooth"?

Thanks,

-Chris

Edward Reiss said...

Chris,

"Smooth" is a term I use to explain how arguments which at one time seemed powerful and interesting lose their force. Not because we deny their truth necessarily, but because the ability of them to convince us is gone, even if we accept them as true.

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi Chris,

Based on what you wrote above, I'm still not clear on how you think a supernatural infusion of faith gets you out of the logical and temporal priority of private judgment.

Insofar as everyone has to offer rational evidences for their own views (if they hope to persuade anyone else of them: on the human level), we're in the same boat. I defend Catholic positions, and general Christian ones when I am debating atheists.

My main point previously, however, was to say that truth is not determined by our own logical processes. It is what it is. Our task is to find it. And without supernatural faith we can't arrive at the true faith (using "faith" in two different senses there).

Anyway, I don't talk much on my blog about supernatural faith, it's true (mostly because I haven't experienced anything that would obviously fit under that heading). But I am not a strict rationalist. I think that the whole person must be ministered to and that the whole person must be involved in decision-making.

I agree. Good. I get accused of being over-rationalistic, too, as do most apologists, because people confuse what we concentrate on with the notion that it is all there is: as if most apologists are foolish enough to believe such a ludicrous thing.

One thing I do talk about a lot on my blog is conscience, which as far as I can tell would not be all that phenomenologically distinguishable from your supernatural faith.

Yes. When it is truly conscience it is God's voice and that is supernatural. But conscience also has to be informed by apostolic Tradition and the Bible. It can't go off on its own and contradict those, or it is not what it is thought to be.

My conscience is actually one of the factors that drove me down the slippery slope rather than one that anchored me in the faith.

Many have taken that path; but if you are relying on an atomistically individual conscience, or one driven primarily by skeptical forces, at some point (IMHO) it is invalid and one is being led by the Evil One, if it is in the direction of falsehood.

In other words, determination of truth is primary, and if a conscience leads to falsehood or wrong behavior or sanctioning of same, then it is not from God, and is diabolically supernatural, not divinely supernatural. Truth and factuality always constitute the bottom line.

Dave Armstrong said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TOm said...

Dave Armstrong said:
“He [Dollinger] couldn't grasp it [Papal Infallibility] because he wasn't viewing it with the eye of faith and reason.”

TOm:
When I read this I find it easy to make a characterization of it and then dismiss it as unhelpful, but perhaps I do not understand what is being said here.

A number of folks on this thread (David W included) are searching for truth. Some of us have strong commitments to our traditions and others have more neutral stances. It would seem to me that from a neutral stance or from a commitment to another faith tradition, the appeal to look at Papal Infallibility with “the eye of faith” would ring rather hollow. The whole point is that we are trying to know if there is something worth having faith in. Unless Catholicism holds some type of priority for us, it does not seem to me that it deserves this “leg up” any more than any number of paradigms.

1. In my particular faith tradition, I speak of the overwhelmingly strong (to me) position associated with some unique aspects AND from this suggest that the most consistent view of the most difficult issues is one that either breaks the tradition (like being a Cafeteria Catholic) OR looks at the weak positions with a boost from the other strong points. If A being true entails B being true and the case for A being true is overwhelming, then one can infer that B is true even if it is unlikely but slightly plausible that B is true. This is my attempt at a rational argument for my faith tradition in light of difficult aspects.

2. A position that I believe has merit for me, but is of little apologetic value (with the exception of the fact that I believe it is most reasonable to conclude that there is a supernatural being who exists) is my personal witness from God for my faith tradition. If I didn’t think the above rational (attempted rational) argument supported the difficult aspects of my faith tradition, I could still suggest that those things that are plausible but unlikely are still true in light of the experience I have personally had. This of course does little for external dialogue, but IMO it is not an irrational (just and extra rational) position.

So, I quite expect that your would say that #1 is a good reason to accept what is merely plausible about Papal Infallibility, but your “eye of faith” argument looked much more like Catholicism should receive a preferential “eye of faith” where I doubt you would grant such to Mormonism. It sounded like your “eye of faith” was much more of a #2 than a #1 to me.

Anyway, I will be interested to see how you might flesh out “eye of faith.”

Charity, TOm

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi Tom,

ME: “He [Dollinger] couldn't grasp it [Papal Infallibility] because he wasn't viewing it with the eye of faith and reason.”

When I read this I find it easy to make a characterization of it and then dismiss it as unhelpful, but perhaps I do not understand what is being said here.

I'm glad you decided to ask for clarification. That is always better than taking the risk of misunderstanding someone, so thanks!

A number of folks on this thread (David W included) are searching for truth. Some of us have strong commitments to our traditions and others have more neutral stances. It would seem to me that from a neutral stance or from a commitment to another faith tradition, the appeal to look at Papal Infallibility with “the eye of faith” would ring rather hollow.

Of course it would, but everything is written in a context. There are several conversations in this thread going on simultaneously, and the subject matter is quite subtle, complex, and nuanced.

My comment there was in a specifically Catholic paradigm, but also placed within a larger overall point I was making about the necessity of supernatural faith: with which all Christian traditions agree.

I have been arguing (over against self-described "pluralist" Chris) that Christian faith cannot be reduced to mere philosophy or reason. Nor can it be reduced to historiography.

And so the criticism against Dollinger that Cardinal Newman made in 1870 was along these lines: he thought that he couldn't accept papal infallibility because he was thinking merely in historiographical terms and in effect reducing Catholic historical considerations to that. But one must also look at things with the eye of faith.

Dollinger was a Catholic, you see, and was an historian. He rejected papal infallibility on historiographical grounds. Newman responded (see above) that he wasn't quibbling about bare historical facts, but rather, with how to interpret them. And the interpretive framework is what requires faith. This is not Catholic-specific: it applies to any Christian person or group who wants to interpret history "Christianly."

I suspect this may be part of David W's rationale, too, for why he has concluded what he has. He seems to be reading some material that tends toward this over-rationalism and minimizes the place that every Christian reserves for faith: a thing that transcends reason without being contrary to it.

The whole point is that we are trying to know if there is something worth having faith in. Unless Catholicism holds some type of priority for us, it does not seem to me that it deserves this “leg up” any more than any number of paradigms.

That's right. It has to be argued, with those persons who have not yet accepted it. It's what I do as an apologist.

1. In my particular faith tradition,

Which is what? It would help to know where you are coming from, to have a more constructive conversation.

I speak of the overwhelmingly strong (to me) position associated with some unique aspects AND from this suggest that the most consistent view of the most difficult issues is one that either breaks the tradition (like being a Cafeteria Catholic) OR looks at the weak positions with a boost from the other strong points. If A being true entails B being true and the case for A being true is overwhelming, then one can infer that B is true even if it is unlikely but slightly plausible that B is true.

Dave Armstrong said...

[cont.]

Yes, plausibility and belief structures all involve axioms, reasonable assumptions and preferability of one option over another. I feel strongly that Catholicism is true because of an overwhelming number of cumulative evidences all taken together: like the proverbial strands of a rope. Papal infallibility is an example of a belief thus confirmed.

This is my attempt at a rational argument for my faith tradition in light of difficult aspects.

The overall approach is agreeable to me. We would disagree on how it comes down, in conclusions.

2. A position that I believe has merit for me, but is of little apologetic value (with the exception of the fact that I believe it is most reasonable to conclude that there is a supernatural being who exists) is my personal witness from God for my faith tradition. If I didn’t think the above rational (attempted rational) argument supported the difficult aspects of my faith tradition, I could still suggest that those things that are plausible but unlikely are still true in light of the experience I have personally had. This of course does little for external dialogue, but IMO it is not an irrational (just and extra rational) position.

I think there are beliefs that are warranted, that go beyond reason, per Plantinga's arguments for warranted Christian beliefs, properly basic beliefs, etc.

So, I quite expect that your would say that #1 is a good reason to accept what is merely plausible about Papal Infallibility, but your “eye of faith” argument looked much more like Catholicism should receive a preferential “eye of faith” where I doubt you would grant such to Mormonism. It sounded like your “eye of faith” was much more of a #2 than a #1 to me.

I hope I have explained sufficiently. I was describing the critique of one Catholic (Newman), whose development theory is presently being questioned by David W., to another Catholic (Dollinger) who refused to abide by the proclamation of an ecumenical council: a position that is indistinguishable, as far as it goes, with Luther's stance.
I wasn't implying in the slightest that this particular notion would be persuasive to anyone outside of Catholicism, except to note that all Christians have a place for faith. So this faith, within the Catholic paradigm, is applied to the papal infallibility issue as well as all others. It's not reduced to merely historical argumentation. It's not historical positivism. One must interpret, and that is always the more fascinating part of the process.

Anyway, I will be interested to see how you might flesh out “eye of faith.”

I hope I have helped you better understand where I am coming from. Thanks again for the opportunity and the good discussion.

TOm said...

Dave A,
Thank you for your comments. It does make sense to me that an “eye of faith” is important for difficult issues when one is part of a particular faith tradition.

I would suggest that there are many different degrees of conviction however. I know that I once sustained my conviction with an over reliance (close to total reliance) upon reason (as I perceived reason). Evidence against my tradition, especially when it was associated with the reason(s) I believed in the first place could (and did in one instance) shake my conviction considerably.

Today, in my occasional apologetic efforts, I offer reason and for me the case is still compelling. But were I to become convinced that reason did not strongly point me in the direction I have gone, I would then have a conflict between my spiritual witness and my intellectual witness.

I, like Cardinal Newman during Vatican I, am thankful for the faith to see the landscape of my tradition in a way that aligns both my spiritual and intellectual witnesses. I, like Cardinal Newman respect those who struggle and feel bad when others think they must (1)leave the faith, (2)tolerate conflict between their intellectual witness and their spiritual witness, or (3)jettison significant (IMO) portions of the faith.

And since you asked, I am a LDS (a Mormon).
Charity, TOm

Dave Armstrong said...

I have begun what will be a very lengthy critique of the Jason Engwer article that David W. has stated was one prominent cause for his change of mind:

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2008/09/canon-and-church-infallibility.html

Here is my first installment:

Reply to Protestant Apologist Jason Engwer's Post, "The Canon & Church Infallibility" (An Alleged Disproof of Catholic Development of Doctrine), Pt. I

http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2010/01/reply-to-protestant-apologist-jason.html

Chris said...

Hi Dave A,

I still think you're coming very close to question-begging and a double standard. Pointing to supernatural faith is fine, as long as you only mean that people should take their felt conviction into account when making decisions (and as long as this standard is applied consistently to religious people across the board, and not just to Catholics). If the appeal to supernatural faith is used to exclude questioning and/or deconversion, however, then you have gone much too far. Your question to David earlier in the thread-- "why is it that one has placed their private judgment and personal doubts above the judgment of the Church in the first place?"-- leads me to believe that you are using it in this latter way. Newman did the same, and I critiqued his double standard here.

I'd also add that the significance of supernatural faith can only be as strong as the experience of it. When I was a Pentecostal, our extra-rational justification was miracles. The nice thing about that was that it was fairly objective and observable (although many experiences were highly subjective as well, such as speaking in tongues, hearing God's voice, etc.). Ultimately I decided that most of the experiences I had been socialized to view as miraculous were not really all that miraculous, so the extra-rational leg-up was no longer compelling to me. When I investigated Mormonism, I was told that I could obtain an extra-rational "testimony" experience if I prayed about the Book of Mormon. I did so, but obtained only weak and conflicting emotional sensations. So again, the extra-rational component was not deeply compelling to me. In the case of your "supernatural infusion of faith," it seems like it would be difficult even to identify it as such. And again, there is always the possibility that someone just won't feel much in the way of supernatural faith at all, in which case the appeal to said faith won't be a particularly compelling defense. I suspect that if David W really had experienced a powerful and identifiable sensation of supernatural faith in RC infallibility, he wouldn't be making the decision he's making. But I suppose I'll have to let him speak for himself on that count.

Peace,

-Chris

Dave Armstrong said...

If the appeal to supernatural faith is used to exclude questioning and/or deconversion, however, then you have gone much too far.

But I've never done that. You keep implying that I have, and I keep saying it ain't my view.

Your question to David earlier in the thread-- "why is it that one has placed their private judgment and personal doubts above the judgment of the Church in the first place?"-- leads me to believe that you are using it in this latter way.

The question makes perfect sense when asked of a catholic, because a Catholic has already rejected private judgment insofar as it clashes with the Church: in faith. Therefore, it is perfectly relevant to ask by what process a catholic has gone from the Catholic rule of faith (infallible Church authority) to a Protestant one of private judgment.

I'd also add that the significance of supernatural faith can only be as strong as the experience of it.

It's not an experience, but an act of God which is not necessarily consciously felt at all.

In the case of your "supernatural infusion of faith," it seems like it would be difficult even to identify it as such.

That is not the ultimate criterion of proof, but rather, what the Bible says about it. One who believes it is already believing that the Bible is inspired.

And again, there is always the possibility that someone just won't feel much in the way of supernatural faith at all, in which case the appeal to said faith won't be a particularly compelling defense.

Again, you compare mere feeling with God's sovereign actions.

Chris said...

Hi Dave,

I guess I'm still a bit confused as to what exactly your view is. Earlier in the thread you seemed to agree with me that supernatural faith is one of a number of different factors that must be kept in balance during our judgment-process, along with reason, experience, intuition, mysticism, and conscience. Now though, you seem to be denying that it is part of our conscious awareness, and more or less equating it with Providence. And I still can't figure out, given either definition, how any of this solves the problem of the logical and temporal priority of private judgment to the acceptance of infallibility.

And to complicate matters, you went on at some length about how your point was that truth is objective and external to ourselves, which I don't really disagree with and which in any case doesn't seem to have much to do with your points about faith and infallibility.

Perhaps your real point lies in your statement that "a Catholic has already rejected private judgment insofar as it clashes with the Church." Under this view, a Catholic by becoming a Catholic has forfeited his right to question the Church. I can't figure out, though, whether this is a legal argument (i.e. "you made an oath, so your soul is ours") or a sort of logical/developmental argument (i.e. "private judgment was an earlier, childlike state of existence, but now you have passed beyond it to the higher level of robotically accepting infallibility"). (Please forgive my wry and possibly offensive attempt at humor.)

To the legal argument, I'd respond that our obligation to the truth is at least as important as our obligation to keep our oaths, so if we find out that an oath violates this other moral and legal obligation, then I'd view breaking the oath as the lesser evil. To the logical/developmental argument, I'd go back to the issue of the logical and temporal priority of private judgment. By denying the authority of private judgment to judge the tradition, the Catholic denies the very means by which s/he came to accept the tradition in the first place, and thus undermines his/her own position. Realistically, private judgment simply cannot be forfeited, because our reason/intuition/conscience/faith etc. are always with us, no matter how we may try to suppress them. I suspect God designed us that way.

Peace,

-Chris

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi Chris,

You can have the last word on this. I'm involved now in actually trying to make some answer to one of the arguments about development of doctrine that troubled David. The private judgment thing is extraneous to that, and far less important in the circumstances.

Strider said...

Perhaps the following citation from Cardinal Newman might be helpful for the present discussion:

Why should Ecclesiastical History, any more than the text of Scripture, contain in it “the whole counsel of God”? Why should private judgment be unlawful in interpreting Scripture against the voice of authority, and yet be lawful in the interpretation of history? … For myself, I would simply confess that no doctrine of the Church can be rigorously proved by historical evidence: but at the same time that no doctrine can be simply disproved by it. Historical evidence reaches a certain way, more or less, towards a proof of the Catholic doctrines; often nearly the whole way; sometimes it goes only as far as to point in their direction; sometimes there is only an absence of evidence for a conclusion contrary to them; nay, sometimes there is an apparent leaning of the evidence to a contrary conclusion, which has to be explained;—in all cases there is a margin left for the exercise of faith in the word of the Church. He who believes the dogmas of the Church only because he has reasoned them out of History, is scarcely a Catholic. It is the Church’s dogmatic use of History in which the Catholic believes; and she uses other informants also, Scripture, tradition, the ecclesiastical sense or phronema, and a subtle ratiocinative power, which in its origin is a divine gift. There is nothing of bondage or “renunciation of mental freedom” in this view, any more than in the converts of the Apostles believing what the Apostles might preach to them or teach them out of Scripture. (Letter to the Duke of Norfolk)

Dave Armstrong said...

Excellent. I was gonna get to that and many other similar utterances from Cardinal Newman in my reply. Exactly my thoughts as well . . .

Dave Armstrong said...

Part II of my lengthy reply to Jason Engwer on infallibility, the canon, and development (the post that troubled David Waltz so much) is now posted:

http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2010/01/reply-to-protestant-apologist-jason_14.html

Dave Armstrong said...

Part III is now posted as well:

http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2010/01/reply-to-protestant-apologist-jason_5966.html

That completes my reply to Jason's post proper. I also plan a Part IV to take on further arguments of his in the lengthy combox.

If Jason decides to counter-reply, look for this thing to explode into billions of words, maybe trillions, because when he gets going with his obfuscation and relentless bald assertions, one on top of the other, the sky's the limit. :-)

Dave Armstrong said...

Part IV, where I start replying to Jason's combox comments, is now completed:

http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2010/01/reply-to-protestant-apologist-jason_15.html

Still a long way to go. That's how it is when there are errors in practically every sentence that require much time and labor to refute. Someone's gotta do it.

Where the heck is everyone? All of a sudden it's a ghost town in here. Probably the calm before the storm, I predict . . .

David Waltz said...

Hi Dave,

Cannot speak for anyone other than myself, but I have been reading the posts here, as well as the new series you have started over at your blog (now four installments). My fever is finally gone, so my energy to begin posting again has returned; but, I am inclined to wait to until you have finished your series before doing so. I sincerely appreciate the time you are taking to respond, and can assure you, that your efforts (and those of so many others), are not falling on deaf ears. I have much to share, but as I said, shall defer to you at this time.

God bless,

David

Lvka said...

Please post a new installment on your blog, informing the readers on your current stance on various doctrinal or dogmatical issues.

And don't ceise reading history: because there's no point in denying past realities.

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi David,

Well, that motivates me to work harder and faster to get to the end of this thing, cuz I wanna see the replies to it! Looks like it'll be a busy weekend. No rest for the wicked.

If Jason keeps making error after error in his comments (as is his wont), then I'll have all that more work to do. It's extremely time-consuming.

But I'll probably do a marathon tomorrow because we're busy Sunday till the evening, and I should rest anyway . . .

Strider said...

Dear David, a couple of thoughts:

First, belief and disbelief are equally mysterious. How is it that one can begin to believe in Christ and his Church? Surely it is not just a matter of adding up probabilities. If that is what is involved, then our faith would only be as secure as our historical scholarship and philosophical reasoning. Similarly, how is it that one can stop believing after one has surrendered one's heart and mind to Christ and his Church? Surely it is not because someone has pointed out a flaw in our reasoning or because we have found a contradictory piece of historical evidence of which we were previously unaware. I do not know how to explain either faith or disfaith. Both are equally mysterious to me. The truth lies somewhere between rationalism and fideism.

The citation from Newman I quoted above zeroes in on a crucial element. For the Catholic (or for the Eastern Orthodox) the interpretation of historical data is informed by faith. This applies both to our faith in Jesus of Nazareth and to our faith in the Church and her claims.

Historical research will always pose "difficulties" for faith. How does one assess, for example, the probabilitiy of Jesus' resurrection?! When we encounter these difficulties, we do not stop believing until the difficulties are resolved to our intellectual satisfaction; rather, we continue to believe, trusting that if all the facts were available to us, then the ostensible difficulties would disappear.

Of course, sometimes the difficulties mount and mount and one finds one no longer believes. This, too, is a mystery. Lord, have mercy.

See, e.g., George Hunsinger's Barthian take on history and faith. Is believing in the infallibility of the Catholic Church more difficult than believing in the Incarnation or Resurrection? Why is the latter more probable than the former? How does one rationally negotiate the difference? I do not know the answer. It truly is a mystery to me.

Second, perhaps the example of Newman may be helpful. He did not come to believe in the claims of the Catholic Church because of the Pope. He came to believe in the claims of the Catholic Church because he became convinced that the notes of apostolicity, catholicity, unity, and sanctity were fully embodied in the Catholic Church. “To the poor is the Gospel preached,” Newman wrote. “Accordingly the notes of the Church are simple and easy, and obvious to all capacities. Let a poor man look at the Church of Rome, and he will see that it has that which no other Church has.” Newman was insistent that the infallibility of the Pope is not the basis of the Catholic religion. Catholic apologists need to learn from Newman on this point.

Third, regarding the Catholic dogma of transubstantiation, the Tridentine dogma does not commit the Church to any particular metaphysic and certainly does not commit the Church to a specific construal of substance and accidents. The substance/accident distinction is simply a handy and hopefully helpful way to talk about the eucharistic mystery. If you can figure out a better way to talk about the real transformation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood, while respecting the boundaries set by the dogma, then by all means have a go at it.

May God guide you in your journey, David.

Yours in Christ,
Fr Alvin Kimel

Lisamck said...

Hey Dave Waltz,

I am interested in the way you are troubled about "papal infallibility". Do your concerns reach back to 1870 or to 325? You are clear that you conside the Catholic Church to continue to be Christian, albeit minimally, as according to commentators like Hodge who would nevertheloes less fell free to distance himnself from her discipline.

I have always asked myself where my heroes would go to church. For better or worse, I am guided and deliberately aim at believing what the early martyrs believed first. After that, there are guys...and aand several gals (saints, no irreverent familiarity meant)...whose faith I am self-consciously following.

I ask where several saints whose faith I try to emulate would go to Mass/Church if they lived in 1995 when I converted and continuing to 2010. When Dave W., in the 2000 year history of the Catholic Church would you have been forced to leave (if you had been alive). Clearly, by 2010, Christian though it may be, you are compelled to leave the Catholic Church. Is Nicea okay? Chalcedon still good? The Council that defined transubstantiation? Trent? Vatican I? Vatican II?

If I am good at Nicea, I keep on going...all the way. to Vatican II...and beyond. I don't think the Bible so clearly teaches Nicene doctrine that I believe the doctrine because of my private reading of the Bible. I could get to the doctrines of Trent sola scriptura faster than to Nicea. But I admit, the Bible alone is a morass... a formula for being tossed about per Ephesians.

So...to be Protestant, I am saying I would have to review EVERYTHING and would be left without a conclusion on some pretty big stuff. Like St. Irenaeus, I am willing to place my hopes on Rome, the city of Sts. Peter and Paul, because of her "pre-eminent authority". If Christ warned the church of Asia Minor that their lampstands could be taken away if they were unfaithful, one presumes the same deal existed for all the local churches, including the one at Rome. I am Roman Catholic. I think there is clear evidence that I am in safety by affiliating with the doctrines and practices handed down from that local congregation. I am a congregationalist, following the Church of Rome...and Catholic at the same time! Heh.

Rory

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi David,

I'm done with my critique. I kept it at four parts: adding just a few short sections to the end a few minutes ago (originally planned to be part of a Part V).

The combox goes on and on and on tendentiously about mostly Orthodox issues. There is no need for me to spend the next decade barreling through all that.

I'll have enough to do if Jason decides to reply: in which case he will likely write ten times more words than there are atoms in the universe; and I will also presumably be dialoguing with you, if you want to. That is quite sufficient without lengthening my original. My main points are made.

So we can get on to Round Two now, and I can have a far more leisurely weekend.

orthocath said...

"Third, regarding the Catholic dogma of transubstantiation, the Tridentine dogma does not commit the Church to any particular metaphysic and certainly does not commit the Church to a specific construal of substance and accidents. The substance/accident distinction is simply a handy and hopefully helpful way to talk about the eucharistic mystery. If you can figure out a better way to talk about the real transformation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood, while respecting the boundaries set by the dogma, then by all means have a go at it."

Good point, Fr. Kimel. Most Eastern Catholics (in union with Rome) do not subscribe to the "substance and accidents" understanding, while their faith is unquestionably viewed as orthodox by Rome. Orthodox Christians similarly do not accept the Tridentine wording but the faith of Orthodoxy in the Eucharist is unquestioned by Rome as well.

Dave Armstrong said...

On the humorous front:

The peanut gallery is already starting in with it's half-baked rhetoric. The following is from Steve Hays, not Jason Engwer, who admirably refrains from this sort of mudslinging silliness:

-----------------------

Armstrong, acorns, and other mixed nuts

I’m continuing my response to Armstrong. Armstrong’s basic contention is that modern Catholicism is the oak tree which sprang from the apostolic acorn.

No doubt there’s something sufficiently nutty about his reasoning to make that analogy irresistible to squirrels and chipmunks, but whether it commends itself to higher animals is a different question entirely.

Much of Armstrong’s reply consists of nothing more than derogatory denials rather than actual counterarguments. Therefore, much of what he says can simply be ignored.

I’ll try to isolate the few statements which bear a passing resemblance to a rational argument from all his bluff and bluster.

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2010/01/armstrong-acorns-and-other-mixed-nuts.html

-------------------

For my part, I'll stick to serious discussion, if Jason is willing to respond. If he isn't, then David Waltz will, son one way or another, fruitful (rather than nutty) discussion can take place.

Dave Armstrong said...

I suppose I should be thankful for Hays' contention that a few of my remarks here and there (by chance, no doubt) bear a remote resemblance to rational argument, since Bishop James White, the Grand Poobah of Anti-Catholicism: the Unvanquishable One, has publicly opined about me:

"You know, in your heart of hearts, that this fella, uh, bless his soul, has no idea what he's talking about. . . . he's clueless . . . you look at some of his books, and it's just like "wow! there's just no substance here." It's just rattle rattle rattle rattle, and quote John Henry Cardinal Newman and that's the end of the subject. And there's no meaningful argumentation going on at all."

So you have White mocking and never responding, Hays mocking and semi-responding, always in his trademark pompous and intellectually unserious fashion, and Engwer seriously responding: when he does (though not without his own severe internal logical problems).

Jason will have to choose whether to dissent from his illustrious colleagues: follow the "DA Playbook" and offer nothing of substance (since every thinking person knows I'm not to be taken seriously), or concede that some few of my thoughts are actually worthy of more than passing or mocking consideration.

It'll be fun to watch, whatever happens.

In any event, I did this for David Waltz's sake: to try to persuade him to stay in the Catholic Church. We may continue to disagree, but at least with him, I know that serious discussion can be had: with truth, not mere rhetorical victory and humiliation of the opponent, the goal in mind and heart.

David Waltz said...

Dear Dave (and any others who may still may be reading),

I want to thank you for taking the time to address some of the key issues concerning DD and infallibility; my appreciation for this effort of yours runs quite deep, and I sincerely hope that you will not be too disappointed with my response/s (keep in mind I am just a beachbum). I need to read the last installment, and then, since you linked to it, Hays’ ‘nutty’ response.

Some of what I intend to comment on will have certain points of contact with what Jason wrote, but I have moved a bit beyond Jason’s research into this matter. This is not to say that your critique of Jason’s post does not have significant value—it does, especially concerning Newman’s organic theory of DD.

Now, a ‘heads-up’ to all who may still be reading these latter comments in this thread: I will be heading off for a 11-day Mexican cruise this coming Thursday; as such, if a robust round of dialogue follows my upcoming thread, articulate, cogent responses from yours truly may be delayed—but I can assure all, if the Lord allows a safe return, I will diligently read all that has transpired, and then continue to contribute.

Once again, I would like to thank everyone for their interest, concerns, and efforts.


Grace and peace,

David

Alitheia said...

Hi David,

A friend sent me the link to your posting. I've not posted here before, but know a few of the people who have.

I just hope to leave a word of encouragement. As an ex-Catholic I can surely appreciate the anxiety and pain of leaving a faith tradition. On the flip side, when your eyes are opened, acknowledging truth, no matter how much opposition that will raise, is a mark of courage.

Prayers are with you in your journey.

In Him,
Ali