On Assumed Transitivity and Proof By Counterexample

January 22, 2009 § 125 Comments

There is a whole way of thinking about the morality of human acts which, while very popular, and certainly seductive to the modern mind, is in my view fundamentally flawed. I alluded to it, citing the Magisterium, in this post; but I hope in the present post to make my objection to this way of thinking at least somewhat more explicit.

Suppose I claim that blowing up an infant-and-terrorist with a bomb is an instance of intrinsically immoral murder, that is, deliberate killing of the innocent. I claim this because of two properties pertaining to the particular chosen behavior: first, that an infant is unquestionably innocent in the morally pertinent sense; second, that deliberately choosing to blow that infant to bits with a bomb is intrinsically a killing behavior. So choosing that kind of behavior always is, in its species, an instance of intentionally killing the innocent. Therefore it is always and without exception morally wrong to choose that specific kind of behavior: to deliberately blow up an innocent with a bomb. It is always immoral independent of who else we are also choosing to blow up with our bomb.

The response I very typically get, in addition to question-begging application of the principle of double-effect, is for folks to start peppering me with different scenarios, where different concrete facts obtain. The view seems to be that if different scenarios are more difficult or puzzling that that somehow casts doubt on the moral species of this scenario; that doubt or confusion about other scenarios, or even a definite conclusion that some other act is licit, constitutes a proof by counterexample against the particular case I am discussing.

But I think this entire method is flawed, because it assumes that human acts are a kind of abstraction to which we can apply the property of transitivity, and in particular it assumes that transitivity applies in precisely the manner in which the critic is attempting to apply it. But there is no reason to think that. Shooting that hostage in that leg when precisely those facts obtain may or may not be intrinsically a killing or maiming behavior; but that in no sense casts any doubt whatsoever upon the fact that blowing an infant to bits with a bomb is intrinsically an innocent-killing behavior, and thus always impermissible. If the behavior is intrinsically an innocent-killing behavior, then choosing it is to choose an act which is intrinsically immoral:

[T]he negative moral precepts, those prohibiting certain concrete actions or kinds of behaviour as intrinsically evil, do not allow for any legitimate exception. They do not leave room, in any morally acceptable way, for the “creativity” of any contrary determination whatsoever. Once the moral species of an action prohibited by a universal rule is concretely recognized, the only morally good act is that of obeying the moral law and of refraining from the action which it forbids.

The shuffling around of scenarios under an assumed abstract transitivity applied to acts where the concrete facts are fundamentally different may have some rhetorical appeal to the modern scientific mindset — after all, the scientific approach is all about making very general abstract laws and repeating experiments consistent with those laws. But I don’t think abstract transitivity applies to moral questions, at least not in the way so many people attempt to apply it. And while I can’t claim that the Magisterium has condemned this particular approach explicitly, there are many strong hints that it misses the point: that a correct understanding of morality involves grasping what is intrinsic to choosing particular concrete actions or behaviors, not applying transitivity to verbal abstractions.

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§ 125 Responses to On Assumed Transitivity and Proof By Counterexample

  • Scott W. says:

    What am I doing?What am I intending to achieve by doing?What happened when I did it?It is certainly strange times when there is confusion over the first question. It’s as if we flipped open the Bible, read Our Lord saying, “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.” and turned it into a doctrine of concrete-act agnosticism. It’s my son holding his finger one centimeter from my sister and saying, “I’m not touching you!” and pretending he’s innocent. Cute in children to a point. Adults not so much. And yes, we’ve actually listened to people doing this–I recall someone talking about shooting someone and breaking down the act to the microscopic level–My thumb cocked the hammer, morally neutral. My finger moved to the trigger, morally neutral, etc. In short, turning an act into a chain of double-effect until all reality was obscured.

  • Rodak says:

    So…is it licit to drop a bomb on a human dwelling in order to kill the terrorist whom our informant has placed within said building, unless we <>know<> that none of the innocent persons sometimes in that building are not now in that building?

  • Rodak says:

    Please excuse the double-negative in my previous comment. I assume that you know what I meant to say.

  • zippy says:

    Rodak:It definitely gets more interesting when we start throwing in epistemic uncertainty: how certain are we that innocents are/are not present? In general I’m not too sympathetic to arguments of the form “it is <>possible<> that no innocents are present, and I don’t know for an <>absolute certainty<> that innocents are present, therefore it is licit to bomb”. I’d say that if we are reasonably certain – through intelligence, through the nature of the place, etc – that no innocents are present, then bombing is (assuming other criteria are met) licit; if not, not. If we reasonably expect no innocents to be present and it turns out that innocents <>are<> present, then it is a tragic accident – like accidentally hitting a baby carriage rolling across the freeway. If on the other hand we do a “decapitation strike” on a public restaurant, where we are virtually certain that innocents are present, that is not licit.But in general the subject becomes much more contentious and difficult when we introduce epistemic uncertainty into it. For that reason in my current discourse I am sticking to cases of epistemic certainty about the facts of the matter. If there is dissent in cases of epistemic certainty, and there definitely seems to be, then there is little point in even trying to discuss more difficult cases of epistemic uncertainty.

  • While it’s fun to play moral analysis, and it can be useful to clarify understandig, I think it misses the point.The Christian calling, and the specifically Christian perspective which the world desperately needs to hear, and won’t hear unless we Christians preach it, isn’t scholastic analysis of human acts.It’s the Sermon on the Mount and Jesus’ radical teaching of a completely different way to confront evil.Non-violence.Maybe we ought to ask ourselves why we prefer scholastic moral analysis to preaching the Gospel ?God Bless

  • Rodak says:

    Yes. It occurs to me that Jesus lived about 400 years after Aristotle. If he had wanted to be a philosopher and–rather than preaching to untutored peasants like me–hold lofty discourses in esoteric jargon with learned scholars from the Greek academies, that route would certainly have been open to him. St. Paul tried that briefly, but it apparently didn’t work that well for him.It seems to me that Chris Sullivan has it right when he suggests that what we need to know to obey Christ can be stated in plain language that even a child can understand.Somehow, the scholasts manage to translate “Resist not evil” into Just War Theory. How so? And why?

  • zippy says:

    The Gospel and the truth about the good are not separate things.

  • Rodak says:

    So you say. But who can tell?

  • AnonymousRUs says:

    <>So you say. But who can tell?<>Ah. The ol’ sentiment of Pilate: What is Truth?

  • Rodak says:

    Yes. What is truth? Is it really, really complicated, do you think? Or is it so simple that the stating of it doesn’t adequately credential the intellectually gifted set, necessitating its embellishment by means of the deployment of a specialized vocabulary and syntax, intelligible only to the self-designated few? The Good will be unleashed upon the world only once the many have become fluent in formal logic. Until such time, Evil reigns, virtually unchallenged.

  • zippy says:

    I think that moral truths such as the liciety of defending (and even at times grave obligation to defend) the innocent from the wicked, and the absolute prohibition against killing the innocent, are actually quite straightforward truths which many people – both hawkish sorts and dovish sorts – work very, very hard to not understand. The meticulous work of reason would not be necessary here were it not for the darkness of the hearts of both hawks and doves, working diligently to obscure the truth.

  • Rodak says:

    And if those dark-hearted hawks and doves are making their arguments in language that the average Joe can relate to…?

  • AnonymousRUs says:

    Right. You can use very complex mathematics to describe problems that are very simple for a non-mathematical person to resolve.We don’t need to know the special language to understand we shouldn’t blow up an innocent, but our tantrums against the knowledge of good and evil often demands it.

  • Rodak says:

    But the ones who need to be convinced either cannot, or will not, follow the special language. It’s preaching to an elite choir.

  • AnonymousRUs says:

    Rodak, you act as everyone were alike and as if the words are there for only one kind of person. There are a range of people, and some won’t know which horse to back without the clarification. Some will listen, some won’t. Some will be swayed by the stiff-necks, while others will be grateful for the clarification that dismantled their arguments.It seems like a very odd thing to me that someone take your position that the rigorous analysis of something is not worthwhile because some people are stubborn.

  • Rodak says:

    My position is more like that of Chris Sullivan on Thursday, January 22, 2009 1:05:00 PMTo the extent that it’s a political issue, one needs to persuade people across the board. If they can’t follow the argument, they won’t be persuaded. This is true of both the anti-abortion and the anti-war positions.

  • zippy says:

    <>To the extent that it’s a political issue, one needs to persuade people across the board. <>To the extent it is a <>moral<> issue, one needs to stand for what is <>true<>, independent of what anyone else thinks of it.

  • Rodak says:

    <>one needs to stand for what is true, independent of what anyone else thinks of it.<>So it’s more a matter of being right oneself than of attempting to change peoples’ behavior?It’s basically a “Don’t Blame Me, I Voted for Buffet” situation?I don’t see it that way. I think that in addition to being right about a situation that I abhor, I am obligated to try to persuade those on the other side to come over to my side. In order to do that, I need to communicate with them effectively.

  • zippy says:

    <>So it’s more a matter of being right oneself than of attempting to change peoples’ behavior?<>What is “it” in your sentence? The truth is a worthy topic of discussion for its own sake. If you want your behavior to be manipulated I am sure there are many blogs you can read for that purpose. Just not this one.

  • AnoymousRUs says:

    In order to communicate effectively, you need to get it right. Objecting to a solid and rigorous articulation of something in order to be a better communicator is a baffling notion to me. Do you propose to sway them with random, unconsidered and incoherent thoughts? You expect to be clearer without rigor?I am honestly baffled at your objections here.

  • Rodak says:

    d<>Do you propose to sway them with random, unconsidered and incoherent thoughts?<>As I stated early-on, we take our marching orders from the Gospels in which Jesus spoke in simple, straight-forward language so that both the educated and the uneducated could receive his message.Simple language is not <>ipso facto<> “random, unconsidered, and incoherent.” It is the case, however, that many people hearing language that they have to strain to follow, and after having heard which are not sure that they understood the meaning, are very apt to be suspicious that something is being “put over on them,” even if they are hearing the truth.

  • AnonymousRUs says:

    Well, Rodak, the Bible shows us quite clearly in Acts 8:30-31 that sometimes a reader needs guidance:<>30 Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.<>

  • AnonymousRUs says:

    And, as you may have noticed, this leads into the problem of <>sola scriptura<>, which is an entirely different thread. There are a whole lot of people that won’t be swayed by your personal claim to infallible interpretation of scripture, so I don’t see how you have solved the problem.

  • Rodak says:

    Yes, it does, indeed.

  • e. says:

    Rodent concluded:“Yes, it does, indeed.”Was there some parcel of communication omitted?Or perhaps, even, excised?What does his above statement actually mean; i.e., “yes” to? and what is the “it” that “does, indeed”?

  • zippy says:

    e:None of that (“Rodent”), please.AnonRUs and e:Rodak is a <>sola scriptura<> Protestant, FYI.

  • Rodak says:

    Rats! You’ve blown my cover!

  • AnonymousRUs says:

    FWIW, I can sympathize with Rodak’s radical pacifism and his sola scriptura, both. The first seems to follow Christs example, though I believe there is error in mapping it to the case of allowing a country to be crucified by its enemies. The second seems to have a dogged faith intending to follow Christ, but with the error of textual apotheosis–worshipping text instead of the Word Made Flesh.However, a sola scriptura approach–even assuming everyone agreed to that approach, does not solve the problem that Rodak seemed to imply it does. IOW, due to the unlikelihood that people interpreting the Bible in good faith would agree with his interpretation, his sola scriptura approach shares the problem he highlights that the deeper analysis doesn’t convince every soul.

  • RUs says:

    Eeech. I like to preview my comments before posting them, and intended to before the previous post.Although I think there may be some truth in some ways about the “worshipping text” statement, I did not intend to post such an aggressive statement, and it wouldn’t have survived the re-edit.It probably comes off as a real cheap shot. (I can sympathize, you idolator.) Eech.

  • Rodak says:

    The phrase “worhipping the text” is judgmental on the face of it. That’s what you wrote, because that’s what you have been coached to believe. Protestants don’t “worship the text” any more than Catholics worship their abundant plaster saints. That said, I will argue that the Gospels are a good deal more important to spend time with.The “text,” as you call it, is the inspired word of God. I have been told by some Catholics that they are not much encouraged to read it themselves, but should rather be content to have it spoon-fed to them in small doses, with a gloss chaser, by the priesthood. If, therefore, you are brought up and taught from childhood to believe that you aren’t competent to <>understand<> (why is it always “interpret?”) the meaning of the Gospels, then understand that you are implying by that that Jesus Christ, even with the aid of the Holy Spirit, is not competent to make Himself <>understood.<> Is that what you mean to imply?

  • Rodak says:

    BYW: Just as I don’t see how the term “Just War” can have any validity in connection with the use of contemporary weaponry, I don’t see how the term <>sola scriptura<> has any meaning since the advent of near universal literacy. If I feel competent of understand the meaning of a Gospel text, it is, in part, because I have read many explications and interpretations of the Gospels. The majority of them over the years have probably been written by Catholics and/or Catholic priests. Church-going Protestants also receive instruction on the Gospels from their preachers, and always have. If, however, an individual does go it alone, he will recieve the Truth that he needs to receive directly from the Gospel, provided only that he opens his heart to the Holy Spirit, in order to receive that Truth in passive humility, like a little child.

  • Rodak says:

    <>his sola scriptura approach shares the problem he highlights that the deeper analysis doesn’t convince every soul.<>Yes, it does. That’s precisely why I propose that the only way to end abortion is to enact a constitutional amendment that will guarantee the right to life of the unborn, based on legal personhood.With war, similar solutions need to be defined and enacted as law, so that those not susceptible to the moral argument, based on philosophy and/or religion, will have their behavior contrained by statute.

  • zippy says:

    <>If, however, an individual does go it alone, he will recieve the Truth that he needs to receive directly from the Gospel, provided only that he opens his heart to the Holy Spirit, in order to receive that Truth in passive humility, like a little child.<>Sola Scriptura protestantism, like Islam, views the reading/recitation of the text in a manner similar to the manner in which Catholics view the Eucharist. In fact it is a hypothesis of mine that the Moslems swiped <>Salat<> from the Catholic Eucharist, and that many centuries later the Lollards swiped their sacramental view of reading a text from the Moslems.

  • Rodak says:

    The paragraph below, although it was admittedly obtained by searching Wikipedia for “Sola Scriptura,” succinctly states my understanding of the generic prostestant doctrine:<>Sola scriptura (Latin ablative, “by scripture alone”) is the assertion that the Bible as God’s written word is self-authenticating, clear (perspicuous) to the rational reader, its own interpreter (“Scripture interprets Scripture”), and sufficient of itself to be the final authority of Christian doctrine.<>If you can, however, point out any text from Luther, Calvin, or any other significant founding figure of the Reformation, in which handling and reading the Bible is equated with handling and consuming the consecrated Eucharist, I am willing to be enlightened.

  • RUs says:

    <>That’s what you wrote, because that’s what you have been coached to believe.<>Why would you say this?No one in my entire life has ever coached me to believe that. I am largely self-taught on the sola scriptura debate, and I came to the conclusion that the sola scriptura Christians have placed the text on a godlike stature. Whether or not that means “worshipping” it is an interesting question, but I already told you I didn’t intend to post that. That was a rough cut dump of my thoughts.The ss discussion is always a long one, and it wasn’t the topic of this thread. You are begging the question when you say scripture convinces every soul because I know for a fact (and find it hard to believe that you don’t) that many ss Bible believing Christians have interpreted and <>understood<> the texts in a variety of contradictory ways. Ignoring that reality is not going to solve the problem for you that you presented about not convincing every soul.Your objection (that rigorous analysis prevents persuasion) is still bizarre to me.

  • RUs says:

    <> …then understand that you are implying by that that Jesus Christ, even with the aid of the Holy Spirit, is not competent to make Himself understood. Is that what you mean to imply?<>No. What I believe is that you cannot claim to command the Holy Spirit to assure your personal infallible knowledge.It’s a transparent cheap shot to try to make the argument: “Since God can do something, you are claiming he is incompetent by saying he doesn’t to it.”

  • zippy says:

    Rodak:Study up on Wyclif and the Lollards, which is where Hus and later Luther got the bulk of their ideas. Study Islam and you will see the same idea employed centuries earlier w.r.t. the Alcoran. (Heck, even Karen Armstrong sees the parallel between <>Salat<> and the Eucharist).

  • Rodak says:

    I see the parallel between Salat and the Eucharist. I don’t see the parallel between <>sola scriptura<> and either Salat or the Eucharist. Reading the Scriptures is not exclusively, or even predominately, a ritual in Prostestant practice.

  • zippy says:

    <>I don’t see the parallel between sola scriptura and either Salat or the Eucharist.<>Like I said, read up on the Lollards. (And the issue isn’t ritual; the issue is the Real Presence).

  • Rodak says:

    Rather than reading up on the Lollards, I’ll think that I’ll wait until I run into one on the street and question him directly.

  • Rodak says:

    Matthew 18:20For where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Is this a Real Presence? Or is this somehow just a metaphor?

  • Rodak says:

    I’m happy to go back as far as the Lollards (I do have a British surname). As near as I can tell, they held that immersion in the Scriptures puts one in touch with the Holy Spirit (which I have already said is my belief). If that is to be considered the same thing as what Catholics mean by the Real Presence, so much the better.

  • RUs says:

    I think the question you are asking Rodak is: Does it really make any difference that Christ Jesus was incarnated? It sounds like you don’t think it was really necessary–he might as well have phoned it in. I’m quite serious–if there is no greater presence than prayer, what was the point of it?Touching the hem on His garment was apparently not necessary? That didn’t get his attention as it says in the Bible? That physical act had no efficacy? The man should have ignored Christ’s presence because it was no different than talking to him in prayer with a couple buddies later?It’s one thing for you to say you think you have what is sufficient, and to appreciate your prayerful communion with Christ. It’s quite another to claim that Christ could not have even greater plans than that in an even greater and different kind of presence.There is a greater presence in the Eucharist, and we who don’t use words in the constricted and stilted way you do call this great mystery the Real Presence. Christ commanded us to partake in it–John 6 shows us this quite dramatically. Who are we to shun the command of Jesus Christ or question the miracle of His Real Presence just because you use word games to try to imply that our beliefs make your prayer somehow “less real”?

  • Rodak says:

    That’s a strange take on what I wrote.The concept of <>sola scriptura<> in no way replaces any other form of communion with Christ, no does it displace Christ in any way. It does, however, replace the priest with the Holy Spirit.

  • RUs says:

    Then I have no clue what your point was in your Monday, January 26, 2009 4:37:00 AM post. So we now have a non-biblical doctrine (sola scriptura*) that claims the replacement of all priests (thus making them obsolete and abolishing them) according to your claims as personal representative of the Holy Spirit.And this improves our situation for clarity and convincing the masses how?*Sola scriptura is actually contra-biblical because the Bible says the Church is the pillar and bulwark of truth and it also tells us to hold fast to our traditions. But I’m only mentioning this as a counter to your continued question-begging that the sola scriptura argument is settled.

  • RUs says:

    By the way, where in scripture does it say that “[sola scriptura] does, however, replace the priest with the Holy Spirit.”

  • Rodak says:

    <>By the way, where in scripture does it say that “[sola scriptura] does, however, replace the priest with the Holy Spirit.”<>That would quite clearly be to put the cart before the horse.

  • zippy says:

    RU:Don’t you get it? <>Sola scriptura<> for thy doctrines, but not for my doctrines.

  • RUs says:

    There you go, Zippy. Consider me educated.Am I the only one to note Rodak’s ironic choice of aphorism?

  • Rodak says:

    <>2nd Corinthians<> Even if our Good News is veiled, it is veiled in those who perish; 4:4 in whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that the light of the Good News of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not dawn on them. 4:5 For we don’t preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake; 4:6 seeing it is God who said, “Light will shine out of darkness,”* who has shone in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

  • RUs says:

    And have you commanded the Holy Spirit to assure you that you are not the one who is blinded? Have you commanded the Holy Spirit to apply these words to Orthodox Christians?What exactly do you mean by quoting those verses. (Hint: The fact that I have to ask should be telling.)

  • Rodak says:

    The fact that you ask suggests that the text is appropriately chosen, yes.I was led to 2nd Corinthians 3:6 by googling “spirit” and “letter” as these elements seemed to be at issue.One does not, of course, “command the Spirit” (what a strange notion to harbor). One waits quietly and listens. But now I repeat myself.

  • Rodak says:

    My purpose in quoting 2nd Corinthians was to answer your request that I provide biblical authority for the doctrine of <>sola scriptura.<>Having done so, I note (not without considerable concern) that you have applied the meaning of the text to yourself–rather than to the topic at hand–and that, having done so, you seem to have taken offense. Perhaps I should not be surprised at this, since your project in this discussion has been largely ad hominem, and your subsequent defensive posture merely the obverse of your own coin.All said and done, your response seem to supply evidence to the <>sola scriptura<> notion that Scripture interprets itself to the reader according to what he bears in his own heart.

  • zippy says:

    And thus <>sola<> scriptura degenerates into <>solipsist<> scriptura. No longer a public revelation bringing the Gospel message to all the world, Scripture now is merely a Holy Spirit enhanced reflection of a person back on himself: the hermeneutical version of the postmodern catastrophe.

  • Rodak says:

    I would say more that it’s a Holy Spirit enhanced understanding of himself in relation to his God and in the context of his faith; and, thus, a great gift.No need, Zippy, to put such a negative spin on the thing.

  • e. says:

    “the sola scriptura notion that Scripture interprets itself to the reader according to what he bears in his own heart.”It's amazing that the Christians should have even need of St. Paul's preaching and even a church, for that matter, since all they would've needed according to this gloss is Scripture itself.The Christian in early days need only follow “what he bears in his own heart” with respect to strictly the written word (which, in those days, would've meant solely the Old Testament Scripture) and would have no need for such fluff as would include even the preaching and epistles of Paul or other similarly extraneous ravings written or otherwise by any one of his comrades in the matter.Therefore, I humbly submit, that the man-made councils of Rome, Hippo and Carthage erred in having declared specific books as would henceforth be formally known as the “New Testament”, as arrogantly having elevated these to the status of Scripture; for what need have we of these especially in light of the Word & the Holy Spirit, which is all but the two a Christian should need?

  • RUs says:

    <>The fact that you ask suggests that the text is appropriately chosen, yes.<>The fact that your intentions are incomprehensible suggests that the text is appropriately chosen? The fact that you twist the randomly googled text to mean what you want it to mean (whatever that is) shows that it’s appropriately chosen?The text you quoted from 2 Corinthians doesn’t say anything about interpreting/understanding texts or sola scriptura–it speaks of *preaching*. You know–the thing that *priests* do. How on earth do you get from the text posted to support for sola scriptura? Did you even read the text you pasted?The text in 2 Corinthians is completely in line with the Catholic teaching, and does nothing to state your case.
<>One does not, of course, “command the Spirit” (what a strange notion to harbor). One waits quietly and listens.<>Do you or do you not make the claim that the Holy Spirit assures you have interpreted scripture correctly. If you do–1) where in scripture does it say that the Holy Spirit will assure that you interpret (or understand) scripture correctly? and 2) How is this not making demands upon (commanding His service) the Holy Spirit? Where do you get the claim that you speak for God, and therefore your interpretation cannot be questioned?Contrast that with me. I read the Bible almost every day and I pray the mysteries of the Gospel every day. I continuously ask the Holy Spirit for guidance in understanding it. Now – bearing in mind that I do not <><>hold the Holy Spirit bound<><> in assuring the correct understanding of everything like you do – how does your completely contradictory understanding of scripture override mine? Why does your interpretation claim superiority over mine?<>Having done so, I note (not without considerable concern) that you have applied the meaning of the text to yourself–<>I didn’t apply it to myself, I asked if that was your purpose. It *obviously* didn’t make a case for sola scriptura, so I could only guess at your intention. It was not an unreasonable question.<>…rather than to the topic at hand–and that, having done so, you seem to have taken offense.<>Where did I take offense? I challenged you to follow up on your posted verses. Standing alone, they merely represented the scriptural wisdom of the Catholic Church, and I was pretty sure that wasn’t what you intended. How is challenging what you post “taking offense?”<>Perhaps I should not be surprised at this, since your project in this discussion has been largely ad hominem,<>What ad hominem? I have not characterized you in the slightest. I have addressed your statements and examined the implications of your statements. Please–quote the ad hominem.<>…and your subsequent defensive posture merely the obverse of your own coin.<>I have no idea what you mean by that. It sounds like you are trying to simply say my argument works against my view rather than show it. Please elaborate. Go ahead. Show me how my arguments work against me.
<>All said and done, your response seem to supply evidence to the sola scriptura notion that Scripture interprets itself to the reader according to what he bears in his own heart.<>What evidence? You keep saying things about my argument without engaging specifics. It’s as if (shudder to think) you want to beg the question without actually facing the arguments.All this exercise is doing, though, is proving the point that started it. There’s nothing you are offering that will improve on the rigorous analysis of morality that started the thread or it’s usefulness in persuading people to moral choices. The sola scriptura approach just complicates it.-People have no reason to accept Rodak’s claim to speak for the Holy Spirit and end all further discussion.

  • Rodak says:

    <>What ad hominem? I have not characterized you in the slightest.<> “And have you commanded the Holy Spirit to assure you…”There is certainly ad hominem implicit in that kind of thing. It is virtually a charge of blasphemy. But, I’m not interested in a food fight. You win. Okay?

  • RUs says:

    That was honestly not intended to attack your character or give anyone else reading any kind of impression. It was intended to (hopefully) unsettle you because I believe that it is <>in fact<> what you are doing when you make the claims you do.I’ve tried a number of ways of wording it, but I think the best one is that you in fact <><>hold the Spirit bound<><> for the validity of your interpretations.If you do hold the Spirit bound for your interpretations, then you are way overstepping, and I fear that it puts you into blasphemous behavior. Something I don’t want to taunt you for if you do so unintentionally, but I would definitely want you to become aware of it.On the other hand, if you don’t hold the Spirit bound, there isn’t any reason to assume your interpretation/understanding is correct.You see at all where I’m coming from?Peace.

  • e. says:

    Just who is this mysterious “RU”, from whose lips such seemingly compelling <>Responsio<> has hitherto issued?Such wise and good counsel would seem fitting company for the one prominently known as “Zippy”.

  • Rodak says:

    Uh-huh. And from what source does the priestly authority from whom you take guidance on Scriptual interpretation receive his assurance that he has it right?

  • zippy says:

    <>And from what source does the priestly authority from whom you take guidance on Scriptual interpretation receive his assurance that he has it right?<>The Apostles, from whom his ordination is directly descended. And them directly from Christ.

  • RUs says:

    Well, in the process of examining your own descent into blasphemy, the first thing you ask shouldn’t be “Oh, yeah–well what about them?” The validity of another situation is a different question from the one that concerns you most *right now*.It might cause you some distraction, but the validity of the Catholic Church is not relevant to whether or not you have fallen into blasphemy and hold God bound to your interpretations. If you have fallen into error, the possibility is that 1) you are wrong and the Catholic Church is right or 2) both you and the Catholic Church are in error.In both cases, your primary concern is *your* error, not that of the Church.Once you have gotten a grip of your own error, you can examine the validity of the claims of the Catholic Church. What you will find is that the situation with the Catholic Church is completely different.That leaves you in a bit of a fix. Do you hold the Spirit bound to assure your interpretations and understandings of scripture, or do you concede that your interpretations have no assurance of being correct?You don’t have to answer me. It’s a question you should very seriously consider for yourself.Things to take into consideration regarding the Church:1) Although Zippy is correct in pointing out the direct passing of authority and duty to the Catholic hierarchy, the priest you mention does not have assurance from the Holy Spirit that any given interpretation of scripture is correct. The priest is a teacher with access to the Deposit of Faith handed down from Christ and the Apostles, and he is a subordinate of bishops with duties and Sacraments to administer. But none of the priests (unless they are making erroneous claims regarding the matter – and I’ve never heard one do so) ever make the kinds of claims about personal infallibility in interpreting scripture the way you do.2) The same (almost) goes for the Pope! I am personally not aware of any pope, bishop, or priest ever making an infallible interpretation of any given verse of scripture. (I am open to education on this, but it certainly isn’t common if it ever has happened. I don’t believe it has ever happened.) What they do – as scripture tells them – is use scripture in an edifying and instructional tool to support the doctrinal claims that are being made.So, if I’m not mistaken, not even the Pope makes the same claims about interpreting scripture as you do – in spite of their direct reception of the Deposit of Faith through Christ and the Apostles.That’s not, of course, to say that they don’t teach about what scripture tells us in the context of the Deposit of Faith. They just don’t make the kinds of claim of power and dominion over the Spirit that you do.3) What the Pope does, is make infallible statements about doctrine – all of which is in full agreement with scripture. But even then, does the Pope “hold the Spirit bound?” The answer is an emphatic “no.” The Pope and the Magisterium have two primary factors that concern our present discussion. (All of this is a mere summary of things, there is actually great depth that can be plumbed here.) The first is that they have been charged with a <>duty<> to protect the Deposit of Faith that they have received. By accepting that duty, Christ and the Holy Spirit and the Father hold <>them<> bound to honor and stay true to that Deposit of Faith. Every infallible statement is in the context of honoring and protecting it. The second is that the Holy Spirit in very circumscribed incidences has given the Seat of Peter special protection from error. That doesn’t mean that the Pope can say just anything he thinks and claim that he speaks for God. It means that he must speak truly and faithfully to the Deposit of Faith, or the Holy Spirit will stop him. I used to know of several true stories where it seemed inevitable that a Pope was going to make infallible proclamations that were obviously counter to Catholic doctrine. IIRC, one of them died before he could make the proclamation, and I recall another case where a bishop colluded with a powerful queen to place him in the Seat of Peter for the very purpose of changing doctrine. But when he successfully got there he didn’t follow through. I’ll see if I can dig the accounts up.This just scratches the surface, but when you explore the actual nature of the Catholic Church, you will find that the situation of the Church is worlds away from your situation. This is just a cursory brain dump, but if you give it an honest study, you will find out the more you know about it, the more it’s true.Of course, all of this is mostly to help you understand. It’s really all trumped by the fact Zippy indicated that the bishops of the Catholic Church and the Seat of Peter have received their authority and duty directly from the Apostles and Jesus Christ.

  • William Luse says:

    <>It does, however, replace the priest with the Holy Spirit.<>Christ could as well have replaced the Apostles, the Twelve, with the Holy Spirit, but he ordained them anyway. Mortal and fallible men that they were, they must have been necessary to some purpose.

  • Rodak says:

    Look, I don’t hold that the Holy Spirit is obligated to affirm my interpretation of Scripture; I hold that I am dependent upon the Holy Spirit to lead me to the correct interpretation of Scripture. This use of “bound” is really untoward.And I guess that the Pentacost was just a superfluous bit of table-rapping nonsense, by your estimation, since the Apostles already had it all directly from Jesus?

  • Rodak says:

    <>I am personally not aware of any pope, bishop, or priest ever making an infallible interpretation of any given verse of scripture.<>Nor have I. Like the pope, the bishop, and the priest, I take what meaning I am given from contemplation of the words.

  • Rodak says:

    I never fail to be amazed by the seething hate that is exhibited in some of these threads by so many soi-disant “Christians.”The level of defensiveness is quite disturbing. As is the fragility of faith that it exposes. <>but when you explore the actual nature of the Catholic Church, you will find that the situation of the Church is worlds away from your situation.<>Aye. And that’s why we’re Protestants, laddy.

  • RUs says:

    <>I never fail to be amazed by the seething hate that is exhibited in some of these threads by so many soi-disant “Christians.”<>Who told you that any of us were seething with hate? Seriously, ask yourself where that comes from, because it doesn’t come from anything anyone has written here.I personally have engaged you in good faith. In fact, the majority of the time I pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit before I post, and I specifically ask him to breathe his love into me as I write.I used to have a sort of blogger’s prayer, although it’s more implicit now when I call upon him. It went something like: “Holy Spirit breathe your light, love, and wisdom into my heart, mind, and soul, and let your Spirit work through me as I compose this post. And breathe your light, love, and wisdom into the hearts, minds, and souls of those who receive it, so that they may recognize the truth and love, but also that they may recognize any error without prejudicing the truth and love. Thy will be done.”I may be hitting you where it hurts, so you and the devil who tempts you choose to call it “hate” so you can reject it. But this perception of hate is a deception that you should squelch for your own sake. I’ll pray for you Rodak. (Already have, in fact.)Peace.

  • RUs says:

    <>Look, I don’t hold that the Holy Spirit is obligated to affirm my interpretation of Scripture; I hold that I am dependent upon the Holy Spirit to lead me to the correct interpretation of Scripture. This use of “bound” is really untoward.<>It’s either true, or it’s not. If you recognize the need for the Holy Spirit in order to understand scripture, that’s great. The same holds for me. But if you say that He *necessarily* leads you to the correct interpretation, you are insisting upon his service, and using him to give yourself unquestionable superiority in every matter derived from scripture. You are, in fact, claiming to speak for God.If calling upon the Holy Spirit guarantees correctness, then how can you say I, who call upon the Holy Spirit to lead me to correct understanding, am wrong about the command of the Eucharist that is utterly clear to me in John 6?<>And I guess that the Pentacost was just a superfluous bit of table-rapping nonsense, by your estimation, since the Apostles already had it all directly from Jesus?<>Is it the Holy Spirit that guides you to attribute uncharitable interpretations instead of trying to understand? Jesus chose the men and instructed them *and* Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to be with them as he promised. These very same Apostles and disciples went out and ordained bishops and established Churches carrying with them both the instruction of Christ, and the power instilled in them by the Spirit.Reading the Bible does not make us like God, in that we are suddenly all knowing about a particular meaning intended in the scriptures. Reading the Bible instructs us in God’s ways in a manner that, with humble heart, we can grow to understand his meaning and live our lives as He intended in spite of our lasting and inevitable imperfect knowledge. The Bible is not the apple off of the tree in the garden. It’s a testament to the Logos – the Word made Flesh.

  • zippy says:

    <>This use of “bound” is really untoward.<>“And Jesus answering, said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven. And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.”

  • e. says:

    William Luse states:“Christ could as well have replaced the Apostles, the Twelve, with the Holy Spirit, but he ordained them anyway. Mortal and fallible men that they were, they must have been necessary to some purpose.”That puts the matter more succintly, in my opinion.I scarcely see any valid and compelling reason for the Apostles to having continued their preaching following the subsequent conversion of the early Christians when they, the Apostles, could’ve simply bade them farewell thereafter and simply told them to go their merry way for the Holy Spirit would’ve assuredly been the better guide in comparison to the preaching of these weak and fallible men.

  • Rodak says:

    <>Who told you that any of us were seething with hate?<>There’s something about being called “Rodent” that plants that impression in my mind.

  • RUs says:

    That was one comment that was immediately reprimanded by Zippy. It was 5 days ago. It wasn’t me. As obnoxious as it was “seething hate” is a bit extreme of a description.Why, five days later, and in the middle of a discussion with me are you suddenly making unqualified and unspecified accusations of seething hate?Are you referring to me?Are you referring to Zippy?Again, I think you should search yourself for where this is coming from. (And why.)

  • Rodak says:

    Well, I guess I need to ask who you meant by “us” when you said “any of us.”I think that who “us” is was quite clear. It’s true that Zippy (whom I have known for years, btw) spoke up to protect the decorum of his site, but the rest of y’all seemed fine with it.And repeatedly misrepresenting my position on the role of the Holy Spirit in <>sola scriptura<> after having been corrected on it certainly smacks of contempt, imo. If you prefer that word to “hate,” I will make no objection to that subsitution.

  • RUs says:

    Well, I just think you are being obviously evasive now. I didn’t misrepresent your position, I pointed out real and consequential implications of your position, and you haven’t done anything to address them.Do you insist that the Holy Spirit guarantees your correctness, or don’t you? If you insist he does, then you insist on having that dominion over him.Do you or do you not accept my understanding of the Eucharist being the real body and blood of Christ and of Christ commanding us to participate in the Eucharist in John 6? If not – why does the Spirit serve you, and not me? Why, after prayerful supplication to the Holy Spirit, does my understanding count for nothing while you claim to speak for God?You have several unanswered questions regarding your position that are just hanging there.(And, of course, if you don’t claim that you have a guarantee of correctness, and you don’t claim to speak for God – then you really have no basis to claim that my understanding is incorrect, do you?)I’m just following the real consequences of what you believe. There’s nothing contemptuous about doing that. If you think it’s contemptuous or hateful, it’s only because you think a truthful study done in good faith of the ramifications of your own beliefs are contemptuous and hateful.In case you need it stated overtly and clearly to put you at ease, I’ll state it here: None of my words in this entire thread had any contempt in them. To understand <>me<> you must read everything I have said without contempt.But if it makes you feel better to say we are contemptuous and hateful instead of to face the real implications of what you believe – there’s not much hope for reason to prevail with you. (It also requires a certain amount of contempt on your part to make these accusations.)Again I appeal to you to seek the source of these accusations. Do they come from the Holy Spirit? Please ask yourself that, and pray to the Holy Spirit about it.

  • RUs says:

    By the way, this:<>but the rest of y’all seemed fine with it.<>…is just silly. To say I was “fine” with something because I didn’t reprimand someone who had already been reprimanded is just silly. My disapproval is now on record above as saying it was obnoxious. And, seriously Rodak, it was five days ago. Why now?You really seem to be trying to make something out of nothing with this “contempt” card. It’s really just ad hominem used as a way to avoid the challenges you’ve been presented.

  • Rodak says:

    <>Do you insist that the Holy Spirit guarantees your correctness, or don’t you?<>No. Of course not. I do insist, however, that with the aid of the Holy Spirit it is <>possible<> for me to arrive at an interpretation for any given verse that is the proper interpretation for me–i.e. the one that the Holy Spirit deems appropriate–given the state of my soul, at any given time. In order to receive this gift, however, I must be able to put my ego aside and receive it passively.This is 180-degrees from “binding” or “commanding” the Holy Spirit, as you have repeatedly accused me of trying to do.So far as I know the only persons who claim to be able to make God do their will are Catholic priests, in connection with consecrating the Eucharist, forgiving sins, etc.Protestants don’t even claim to be able to justify their salvation through works or penitence. We are, at all times, completely at the mercy of God, and hopeful only that He will accept us despite our perpetual unworthiness.

  • RUs says:

    <>Of course not.<>Excellent. I would have been far less annoying if we could have clarified that early.<>I do insist, however, that with the aid of the Holy Spirit it is possible for me to arrive at an interpretation for any given verse that is the proper interpretation for me–i.e. the one that the Holy Spirit deems appropriate–given the state of my soul, at any given time.<>Sure. Of course it is possible at any given time that we understand one passage or another correctly. But since there is no guarantee, you really don’t know when that is. Without the guarantee – you can’t know.You can’t know, for example, that my interpretation of John 6 is false.<>In order to receive this gift, however, I must be able to put my ego aside and receive it passively.<>Well, I don’t like putting stipulations on when the Spirit will or will not assist you with understanding, but it’s definitely good advice to squelch the ego.
<>This is 180-degrees from “binding” or “commanding” the Holy Spirit, as you have repeatedly accused me of trying to do.<>Be fair, Rodak. I was digging for the clarification you just gave. If you examine what I wrote in previous posts, I follow just about every case of examining the implications to “binding” and “commanding” with the alternative. I left that opening for you, so it wasn’t an accusation.
<>So far as I know the only persons who claim to be able to make God do their will are Catholic priests, in connection with consecrating the Eucharist, forgiving sins, etc.<>“That’s what you are, what am I” is not a good way to examine your personal situation and the merits/demerits of sola scriptura. It’s really just a distraction to the issues at hand. However, the situations are vastly different. The priests are commanded by Jesus Christ to administer the Sacraments. (Again – John 6) They don’t command the Holy Spirit to do anything, but a deep investigation of the Sacraments requires a lot more discussion.
<>Protestants don’t even claim to be able to justify their salvation through works or penitence. We are, at all times, completely at the mercy of God, and hopeful only that He will accept us despite our perpetual unworthiness.<>Justification is another big topic, and it is secondary to the validity of your approach to scripture. However, the vast majority of the Protestants I know insist that they are saved only by their belief in Jesus Christ. As far as being at the complete mercy of God with the hope that he will accept us despite our unworthiness – that sounds just like a Catholic, so no objections here.

  • Rodak says:

    <>They don’t command the Holy Spirit to do anything<>How does an invocation that is never ignored or denied differ from a command? If there is no causal relationship between a priest doing what he does to consecrate the bread and wine for the Eucharist, then how can you know that the transubstantiation has actually occurred and that the Real Presence is…present, since there is no way to determine this by examination of the <>accidents<> of the bread and wine?Moreover, since only an ordained Catholic priest can do these things, then a priest is not a sufficient, but a necessary, condition for them to take place. And, apparently, if he performs these things properly, they <>must<> take place, regardless of the state of that priest’s soul, or else, as said above, we couldn’t know that they had taken place.

  • RUs says:

    At least your asking some better questions right now. The problem is, you aren’t thinking about what is possible, your just seeking technical ways to disqualify it. They are clearly insufficient here.I already explained that the priests are commanded by Jesus Christ to administer the Sacraments, so the priest is only obeying Christ when he consecrates the bread and wine. If God were to command us to sweep the floor every day with the promise that he would disinfect it for the baby each time it was done – then we obey, sweep the floor, and accept the gift of its germ-free status. No commanding involved.Likewise, when Jesus commands us to celebrate the Eucharist as he did (This is my body, this is my blood…Do this in memory of me) and makes it clear that it is indeed his body and blood (John 6, again, gives us Biblical validation of that) – then we obey Him and accept the gift without question.It is completely different than holding the Spirit bound as would be required if you insisted the Holy Spirit serve you with your interpretations.Still, I thought you were more concerned about Biblical issues, and the Bible clearly instructs us to celebrate the Eucharist as the body and blood of Jesus Christ. By what you’ve said in the previous post, can we state as *resolved* that you have no basis for claiming that is incorrect?

  • William Luse says:

    <>And, apparently, if he performs these things properly, they must take place…<>The only reason for which is that God keeps his promises, not that the priest has some kind of hold on Him.

  • Rodak says:

    <>The only reason for which is that God keeps his promises, not that the priest has some kind of hold on Him.<>Which is an interpretation necessary only to an interpreter who approaches the issue with his interpretation already in hand.Why would a God who loves all of his children limit access to something so important to such a tiny little percentage of humanity? Where in the Gospels does Jesus Christ ever utter the word “priest” with reference to any of his followers? It was a priest who told you that Jesus made Peter a “priest”; and he told you that in order to make himself indispensable to you; to situate himself immovably between you and your God. The Gospels tell us that whenever two or three believers come together in the name of Christ, He is with them. Being with Him is all that we we want and need. Since He is with us, it is impossible to serve communion without His presence; that was His promise.

  • Rodak says:

    The book of Acts, btw, also makes it quite clear that Peter was a) subordinate to James, and b) disrespected by Paul.

  • zippy says:

    Bill:<>The only reason for which is that God keeps his promises, not that the priest has some kind of hold on Him.<>In fairness to Rodak, he seems to be saying a similar thing about a Christian with a sincere heart reading the Bible. It is no accident that we Catholics tend to see this as a kind of idolatry; my hypothesis is that Bible-as-substitute-Eucharist is not merely theologically true but also historically true, through the historical mediation of Islam, since Islam invented <>sola scriptura<> w.r.t. the Alcoran centuries before Wyclif/Gaunt/Chaucer proposed it, for political reasons, w.r.t the Christian Scriptures.Rodak:<>Why would a God who loves all of his children limit access to something so important to such a tiny little percentage of humanity?<>The Eucharist is <>not<> limited. It is offered to everyone, including you. Of course you (and I) have to accept it as what it truly is before you can receive it. But then, I expect you would say the same thing about the Bible: that an unbeliever reading the text in a self-serving way will not enter the real presence of God and receive the truth and grace he needs.

  • RUs says:

    <>Which is an interpretation necessary only to an interpreter who approaches the issue with his interpretation already in hand.<>An interpretation “necessary?” Think about what that means, Rodak. A number of interpretations can reasonably be made. But, as you have agreed, we have no personal guarantee that any of them are correct. The only reasonable approach then is to learn what was intended, and that requires some foreknowledge. All of your personal interpretations require some preconceptions about the text – your interpretation is only “necessary” according to those personal biases.It is far superior to have previous knowledge in order to know what was intended, and it is far superior to that to have <>apostolic<> knowledge handed down through the Church.And it is far superior to have a “necessary” interpretation than to have yours – <><>which isn’t necessary at all.<><>

<>The book of Acts, btw, also makes it quite clear that Peter was a) subordinate to James, and b) disrespected by Paul.<>That is according to your interpretation, and it is certainly not a <><>necessary<><> interpretation.

  • Rodak says:

    <>The Eucharist is not limited. It is offered to everyone, including you.<>Zippy–That’s not what I meant. I meant that the Eucharist is only available to <>anyone<> given the availability of a priest, according the Catholicism. And, again, I deny that Protestants replace the Eucharist with Bible-reading. (I don’t think that Mulim ritual prayer is the same as Protestant Bible-reading, either; although it may hold a place similar to Catholic Eucharist in the faith life of Muslims.) So far as I know, all Protestants celebrate communion, although with differing doctrines concerning the nature of the ceremony that Jesus established. The fact that you recognize none of them as valid does not mean that they don’t exist, or that Bible-reading is understood to be a closer interaction with God than the taking of communion. I was certainly never taught that. Nor have I ever conjured up such a notion unilaterally.

  • Rodak says:

    <>Think about what that means, Rodak.<>What that means is that it is an interpretation upon which doctrine is founded. Such as “this is my true blood” and “this is my true body.” That is, as I understand it, an interpretation that supports both transubstantiation and the Real Presence in Catholic doctrine. Many Protestants interpret it differently, based on differing accounts in other Gospels.As such, accepting that interpretation is a necessary condition of becoming a Catholic.

  • Rodak says:

    <>That is according to your interpretation, and it is certainly not a necessary interpretation.<>It may not be “necessary,” in your opinion, but it’s pretty much unavoidable without completely ignoring the meaning of the words of the text.

  • zippy says:

    <>That’s not what I meant. I meant that the Eucharist is only available to anyone given the availability of a priest, according the Catholicism.<>Well, and the Scriptures are only available to anyone given the availability of a Bible. If that is all you meant, then we might as well ask why God didn’t make the Bible (if you are a sola scriptura Protestant) or the Eucharist (if you are Catholic) grow on trees. And even that would leave out the Eskimos.

  • Rodak says:

    Many, perhaps most, Protestant congregations celebrate open communion, in which any baptized Christian can take part. I don’t doubt that laity serve communion is some congregations. At any rate, it is not believed that only a priest–one category of priest–can perform a valid ceremony.And again, there is no analogy here (in my mind) to sola scriptura.

  • zippy says:

    Rodak is apparently unfamiliar with St. Athanasius and St. Catherine, among others.

  • zippy says:

    <>…celebrate open communion, in which any baptized Christian can take part. <>Well, yes, but their “open communions” are not the Eucharist, any more than some arbitrary person’s commentary or sermon is the Scriptures.And I’m not making an analogy. I am pointing out that your claim that the Eucharist is not made universally available to everyone is <>false<>: not analogous to anything, but <>just plain false<>.Perhaps what you mean is that the Eucharist is not available to you on strictly your own dictated terms. I agree. As with most things in life and death, He is not available to you strictly on your own dictated terms in exactly the manner you demand Him to be. But that is obviously a different matter entirely.

  • Rodak says:

    <>Well, yes, but their “open communions” are not the Eucharist, any more than some arbitrary person’s commentary or sermon is the Scriptures.<>According to doctrine based on the interpretation of the meaning of one word in one of four Gospels.

  • RUs says:

    <>According to doctrine based on the interpretation of the meaning of one word in one of four Gospels.<>There’s clearly more than one word on the matter. John 6 has a whole narrative where many of his disciples left him because Jesus would not back down from saying they would have to eat his flesh and drink his blood. He certainly wouldn’t let them walk away for a misunderstanding.But what difference does it make, Rodak? How can you say our interpretation is wrong since you know and have admitted that you cannot say for sure that any given interpretation is wrong. What difference does it make that the true meaning was actually taught to us?That’s really what your complaint is – you cast aspersions upon the teaching of meaning, and seem to think that the only possible reliable interpretation is one that is not taught at all. This is completely irrational. In no way should an interpretation be cast into doubt simply because it’s taught.Did no one ever teach you anything about scripture?

  • e. says:

    Zippy states: “Rodak is apparently unfamiliar with St. Athanasius and St. Catherine, among others.”Rodak later states: “According to doctrine based on the interpretation of the meaning of one word in one of four Gospels.”It appears what Zippy had surmised based on the ongoing discussion would seem to be the case as regards Rodak.This is where the Oral Tradition going back to the Early Fathers, which can be traced to the actual preaching and mentoring by the Apostles themselves with respect to their Successors, become egregiously (and conspicuously) lost on the Protestant and most frequently results in their misunderstanding of genuine Christian Teaching (when relying solely on subjective and private interpretations of Scripture alone), the patrimony left to us by our Christian ancestors, and the core elements which comprise Christianity itself.In which case, would it even be practical (or even possible) to engage in such discussion concerning thus when these are of monumental importance in order to arrive at just what early Christianity was and what Christianity itself actually is and continues to be?

  • RUs says:

    <>Many Protestants interpret it differently, based on differing accounts in other Gospels.<>But you have admitted that you can’t really say who is right. So why do you believe the Protestants, but not the Catholics?Whether you want to admit it or not, we pretty much have it *resolved* that you have no basis for claiming Catholic interpretations are incorrect.<>As such, accepting that interpretation is a necessary condition of becoming a Catholic.<>And accepting an interpretation that recognizes the Trinity is a necessary condition of being a Christian. So what? Is your Christianity somehow wrong because there is a necessary way to interpret scripture to be one? This is a completely irrational approach you are taking here.

  • RUs says:

    <>It may not be “necessary,” in your opinion, but it’s pretty much unavoidable without completely ignoring the meaning of the words of the text.<>You’re just making convenient assumptions according to what is necessary for your doctrinal beliefs.It’s well known that Paul rebukes Peter. But it has never been said anywhere that the Pope cannot be rebuked by his peers.You also have to assume that there was no other possible officiating role for the apostles other than the papal one in order to assume James ruled over Peter. There’s nothing that says Peter was subordinate to James.Your interpretations are neither necessary, nor are they any better than others. Add that to the fact that you have no basis to claim Catholic interpretation (or even that of just little ol’ me) is incorrect, and you’re fencing with the wind.

  • Rodak says:

    <>He certainly wouldn’t let them walk away for a misunderstanding.<>Wouldn’t he? Doesn’t he say in Mark that he speaks in parables so that some would not understand and be converted? It seems clear that Jesus used more than one method to separate the sheep from the goats. It is plausible that, given the prohibition of ingesting blood–even animal blood–among pious Jews, that just the image–the metaphor–was disgusting enough (a hard enough saying) to turn them away.John is, as you point out, the Gospel that includes that “one word.” But, then again, John is also the Gospel that omits the whole Last Supper scenario at which the crucial sacrament is instituted in the Synoptics. And it is the Gospel in which the Last Supper is accompanied by foot washing, rather than bread and wine, and in which the meal is not eaten on the Passover, with its all of its incumbent symbolism. The “hard saying” comes several chapters before the Last Supper in John’s Gospel.Jesus, in John, says–pointedly to “the Jews”:[47]”Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.[48] I am that bread of life.[49] Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.[50] This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.[51] I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”The whole thing is rife with metaphor, and the audience not comprised of many who would be expected to believe the message:“61] When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?[62] What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?[63] It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.[64] But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.”

  • Rodak says:

    So: to <>sola scriptura<> we can add <>sola fides.<>

  • RUs says:

    <>Wouldn’t he? Doesn’t he say in Mark that he speaks in parables so that some would not understand and be converted?<>This is insane.First off – John 6 isn’t parable.Second – Jesus wasn’t just saying something that they wouldn’t understand, he was intentionally saying it so that they would understand it in terms of eating his real flesh.If you can convince yourself that Jesus Christ intentionally misled his disciples in order to support your personal doctrine, you can convince yourself of anything. Which just makes your interpretations all that more unbelievable.You just dumped another interpretation on us. Your just flailing and looking for things to pound on now, which has gone way off the issue of your sola scriptura. But since you and I both know your interpretation is not reliable and that you have no basis to claim Catholic interpretation is incorrect, there’s really no reason to pursue that with you.

  • Rodak says:

    When you see the word “disciples,” don’t imagine that it always refers only to the twelve. It also refers to any person who was “following” him and listening to him preach. Here are the verses from Mark to which I referred above:“9] And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.[10] And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable.[11] And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables:[12] That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.”As you see, Jesus did deliberately say things that would baffle (not “mislead”) some of his disciples. He says several times, in several different ways, “many are called, but few are chosen.”These are not, btw, my personal interpretations. You might try doing some reading outside your own tradition, and you would see that.This is not, however, irrelevant to a discussion of sola scriptura, since we are still discussing interpretation.

  • Rodak says:

    Think about those “without”–those disciples who just weren’t ever going to “get it”–those who were called (and came) but, in the end, were not chosen–as those who were not able to <>interpret<> the meaning of the parables. They could see only the surface sense of the parables as narrative. So it is. Jesus expects us to interpret his words–on our own.

  • RUs says:

    <>When you see the word “disciples,” don’t imagine that it always refers only to the twelve.<>They were obviously not the apostles. He spoke to some of the apostles after the disciples went away.The rest of what you said is just more interpretation which you have admitted is not assured to be correct, so I have no reason to address it. The Catholic understanding of scripture is perfectly reasonable, and you have no basis for dispute of it. Likewise, none of your alternate interpretations give it any trouble.Keep flailing if it makes you feel better.

  • Rodak says:

    But, don’t you see that those verses raise the issue of interpretation per se? Jesus obviously expected those who were chosen to be able to do it. He spoke the parable; he sometimes explicated it for the apostles; and he left everybody else to either find a workable interpretation–or not.

  • Rodak says:

    I’m not much interested in your affirming “my” interpretations as right. If, however, you assert that any such interpretation is <>wrong<>, then I would want to know specifically on what basis that assertion is made.

  • Rodak says:

    You see, I don’t think of sola scriptura as a “right” or “privilege” based on some kind of quasi-libertarian demand; I think of it as a duty, based on the Reality of what it is that constitutes hope, based on faith and belief.

  • RUs says:

    You are deriving your make-believe quandary based upon your interpretation of the text. Since you admit that there is no assurance that your interpretation is correct, why should I try to disentangle them? I’m not the one insisting that Jesus misled his own disciples, and I find such an entanglement distasteful and blasphemous.Sift through your own excrement, please.I have achieved my goals in our discussion.1. You admit there is no assurance your interpretations are correct.2. Since there is no assurance that your interpretations are correct, you have no basis for using scripture to argue against Catholicism.Since that was achieved, you haven’t recovered. Instead, you’ve gone off on a barrage of attacks on doctrine. I suppose if I were you, I wouldn’t want to look back, either – but it’s too late. It has been established that your analysis of scripture has no assurances of truth, which means these random attacks are just so much noise. None of them can be trusted, so there is no reason to defend against them.It’s ironic that after beating up us Catholics for learning from priests, in a recent post you are suddenly making indications about the importance of Protestant theologians.It’s also ironic that this started as your objection to the complexity of Zippy’s analysis, but your arguments are getting more and more complex (though entangled is a better word) with each post.All in all, I think my work is done for now.

  • Rodak says:

    <>Sift through your own excrement, please.<>Right. You kind of make my point for me?

  • e. says:

    RU: “Sift through your own excrement, please.”RODAK: “Right. You kind of make my point for me?”Rodak:I believe the point being made is that you have yet to provide adequate refuation of RU’s points as well as provide a compelling argument for your own.I don’t see how your subsequent comment here actually accomplishes either one of these objectives.

  • Rodak says:

    RU has yet to counter with anything more substantive than a “Why would Jesus do that?” here (which I answered), and a “Catholic doctrine is perfectly reasonable” there (which I did not deny, but countered with an equally reasonable account.) All punctuated with the schoolyard scatology of man who has exhausted his scant store of intellectual ammunition.So be it. Maybe we can sum up on RU’s level a bit more poetically with a snatch of interperative paraphrastics: <>Those who write on combox wallsShould roll their sh*t in little ballsAnd those who read those words of witShould eat those little balls of sh*t<>Interpret that. 😉

  • e. says:

    Rodak,“RU has yet to counter with anything more substantive than a “Why would Jesus do that?” here (which I answered), and a “Catholic doctrine is perfectly reasonable” there (which I did not deny, but countered with an equally reasonable account.)”This is the much more welcome and, more importantly, relevant comment.I’m not necessarily agreeing with it; nevertheless, it remains an understandably valid concern that must be raised (should it very well be the case) to which RU must give fair answer.Yet, let’s please cease with all the hostility seething from your subsequent comments, which adds no practical value to your arguments other than perhaps some personal satisfaction on your part.Let’s resolve to conduct ourselves according to definite set of rules like those obtaining from the Cambridge Political Union (or some analogous variant) if at all possible.That’s presuming that the purpose of the current dialogue is actual debate.

  • Rodak says:

    Sure. You called me a rat, and RU referred to Protestant doctrine as “shit,” but I need to cease my seething. Fine. I’m waiting…

  • Rodak says:

    Actually, being in possession of some material on textual analysis the volume of which would exceed the capacity of a commment box, I have put up a post this morning on my blog. I invite any person who has been following, or participating in, this thread over to have a look at it, < HREF="http://rrrrodak.blogspot.com/2009/01/reflections-oh-yeah-sez-you.html" REL="nofollow">here.<>Comments either here, or there.

  • Lydia McGrew says:

    I interrupt this thread, most of which I haven’t read, merely to ask all the non-Protestant participants not to assume that whatever Rodak says is in fact typical of the best that a Protestant could say.End of interruption.

  • RUs says:

    FWIW, Lydia, I have no illusions that Rodak represents anyone other than himself. My “excrement” comment was not a blanket characterization of Protestant doctrine, though Rodak has a penchant for stretching the meaning of everything you say beyond reasonable intent. The fact is, my comment was specifically focused upon his recent entanglements that resulted in characterizing Jesus as a deceiver. That kind of *cough, cough* analysis is indeed at a level with excrement, and I think most Protestants would agree with me.

  • zippy says:

    For that matter, it should be noted that <>no<> commenter in a combox should be reflexively taken as representative of the best that his tradition can say, including me. (A commenter in a combox <>may<> in fact represent the best his tradition can say on some particular point, I suppose, but I expect that the probability of even that actually occurring is rather small).

  • Rodak says:

    <>The fact is, my comment was specifically focused upon his recent entanglements that resulted in characterizing Jesus as a deceiver.<>No, the fact is that you are again misrepresenting what I actually said, which was that Jesus was not “deceiving” but rather “baffling” them. I gave my interpretation of why he did this: to separate the sheep from the goats.You, for your part, have yet to offer any counter interpretation of those verses, preferring instead to attack me personally and scatalogically. Here are the verses in question one more time. What do they mean to you? (Lydia, feel free to give us the best of Protestant interpretation here. Anyone can play):[11] And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables:[12] That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.”

  • RUs says:

    Rodak,I reread your comments at Friday, January 30, 2009 2:42:00 PM, and I think I may have misinterpreted you to some degree.I wrote:<>He certainly wouldn’t let them walk away for a misunderstanding.<>To which you responded:<>Wouldn’t he? Doesn’t he say in Mark that he speaks in parables so that some would not understand and be converted?<>Those are the key lines that I keyed in upon, and everything after that I read as sort of a “besides, what if…?” argument.The “Wouldn’t he?” referred to what I said. My words discussed the fact that Jesus said something very specific, then in the knowledge that the disciples perceived it in the literal sense he reaffirmed his meaning, and let them walk away for it. To intentionally let them walk away with a false understanding of his words after having reinforced that false understanding would be intentionally deceptive. Saying “Wouldn’t he?” would then mean that you thought that he would do that. I took it as you saying that he would, in fact, be deceptive.With a fresh reading, I think it might have been just an unfortunate choice of words on your part, and that your real point had to do with the disciples responding to the “metaphor” as radically as they did.So, okay. If I misunderstood, I apologize. I think you might even have some understanding for my “excrement” response when you consider that I thought you were essentially claiming Jesus was a liar.That being said, I really have no interest in continuing with you. Like I said above, I achieved my goals (actually exceeded them.)1. Your (and any Protestant theologian’s) interpretations have no assurance of truth. (Both of us agree to this.)2. Your interpretations, therefore, have no weight whatsoever against Catholic Doctrine and interpretation. (This is a necessary result of 1, whether you agree or not.)3. The argument at hand has proven that your “simple” approach to moral analysis is not a good alternative to Zippy’s approach.That’s a lot done for one thread. I’m pretty content.Since those things were established, you have gone on a scattershot approach of spurious objections, including bitter accusations of hate, questioning the motives of priests, unsupportable claims about the roles of James, Paul, and Peter, making completely uninformed and false statements about the nature of the Sacraments in the Catholic Church, assuming incorrectly that you understand the relationships of events (the Pentecost) with the Catholic Church, and that silly “necessary” argument.I’ve dealt with each of those with little or no follow up from you. You fire your shotgun, and before the mess is cleaned up you have a new round ready to fire somewhere else. I’ve already indulged that game longer than I should have.Obviously, this can go on forever, and I have no desire to go through that exercise with your extremely undisciplined methods. Your most recent objections relate to your (and I suppose I could say to the objections of those theologians spoon-feeding it to you*) interpretation of scripture against mine. There is no resolution of that. I have already said in arguments against you that there are multiple reasonable interpretations of scripture, but they can’t all be right. (I think your “metaphor” interpretation of John 6 is ridiculous, but that really doesn’t matter if you’ve convinced yourself of it.) We can compare our interpretations until our teeth fall out and it still won’t resolve anything because your interpretation is meaningless to me – and by your admission of it’s lack of assurance, it should be.*I don’t really mean this. It’s stated here as an ironic demonstration of your own spurious tactics.I wouldn’t have even wrote this post if it weren’t that I sensed a need for the mea culpa. On another thread actually intending to discuss the Eucharist and what the Bible has to say about it, I might have interest in following up that discussion in a focused and disciplined manner. But I have no desire to expend energy cleaning up the latest pile of guts knowing that you will ignore the refutation and re-aim your shotgun somewhere else.

  • RUs says:

    <>You, for your part, have yet to offer any counter interpretation of those verses,…<>And by the way, this is just a cheap shot. If you read my posts above, I discuss what I think the verses mean. My interpretation is that Jesus meant what he said, and that it is obviously not metaphor. I think to interpret it otherwise leads to the necessary conclusion that Jesus was deceiving his own disciples. Not “baffling” them by keeping them confused, but directly telling them a lie. I don’t hold you bound to see it that way, but the “metaphor” argument is ridiculous on its face.To say any more would cast doubt on my credibility. That’s all I’m saying on the matter.

  • Rodak says:

    Fine. Apology accepted. I’m only sorry that Lydia has apparently chosen not to discuss any of this, since she is, I believe, also a Protestant. If my Protestant interpretations are in error according to Protestant belief, it would be enlightening to learn how.Clearly, there are doctrinal considerations over which Catholics and Protestants are not going to agree–or the Reformation would be over, and the Church reunited.RU seems to think that I was heavy-handed in some of what I said about the RC priesthood, etc. Please understand that I was, in fact, pulling my punches.

  • Rodak says:

    <>I think it might have been just an unfortunate choice of words on your part<>My words were chosen carefully and I meant them precisely as I stated them.I note that, again, although what I say those lines from Mark mean has been criticized, no one has come forward with a better interpretation that would correct mine.I take that no one has any idea what those words mean. All they know is “Rodak is Protestant, so he must be wrong.”When one “knows” what one thinks one knows only by rote, one does not know WHY what he knows is correct, or even, in fact, what he thinks he “knows” means.Therefore, he cannot enter into meaningful disputation.Of this, we have just had an exemplary demostration.I thank you for your patience.

  • RUs says:

    <>When one “knows” what one thinks one knows only by rote, one does not know WHY what he knows is correct, or even, in fact, what he thinks he “knows” means.<>Uuuuuh. Yeah. Becauthe I’m jutht thtupid.

  • Rodak says:

    Note: To say that you think that Jesus meant what he said: (“My interpretation is that Jesus meant what he said, and that it is obviously not metaphor.”) is not an interpretation of what he <>meant<> by saying it.It is a matter of faith with me that none of the parables, sayings, or teachings of Jesus is merely anecdotal and applicable only in the situation in which they are presented; they all have a wider application; they all have a meaning for each of us. It is that which I have been trying to discuss.

  • Rodak says:

    <>Uuuuuh. Yeah. Becauthe I’m jutht thtupid.<>Take a bow, RU–you’ve outdone yourself.

  • […] of the Canaanites and other mass slaughter in the Old Testament, and concludes that therefore killing the innocent – persons not engaged in attacking behaviors and not being punished for specific deliberate […]

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