Authority and Infallibility

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centuri0n

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There is a lot of boldness in asserting that the church has no authority at all if it is not infallible. I’d like to test out that assertion.

Love him or hate him, does George Bush has authority as the President of the Unites States?

Is His authority infallible?

Think about it.
 
I’m not sure I follow the post. In the army we were taught that authority could be delegated but responsibility could not. I’m not sure who is saying that the Church’s authority is predicated on her infallibility. And since her infallibility is reserved, I believe, to matters of faith and morals then it is not without boundaries. I would suggest that the Church’s authority is derived directly from Christ and that it is clearly evidenced in the Bible, most obviously when Christ founded her on his rock, Peter.

Does George Bush have authority? Yes, it was delegated to him by the constitution, the rules under which he was lawfully installed. Is he infallible? No. Does his authority and lack of infallibility have anything to do with the terms as they apply to the Church? … 😉 I don’t think so.
 
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Charles:
I’m not sure I follow the post. In the army we were taught that authority could be delegated but responsibility could not. I’m not sure who is saying that the Church’s authority is predicated on her infallibility. And since her infallibility is reserved, I believe, to matters of faith and morals then it is not without boundaries. I would suggest that the Church’s authority is derived directly from Christ and that it is clearly evidenced in the Bible, most obviously when Christ founded her on his rock, Peter.
I would agree in general terms with your statement – that the authority of the church is “derived” (I think that’s the wrong term, but close enough for guh’ment work) from Christ.

The question is only is that authority must be essentially infallible, and the answer is no.
Does George Bush have authority? Yes, it was delegated to him by the constitution, the rules under which he was lawfully installed. Is he infallible? No. Does his authority and lack of infallibility have anything to do with the terms as they apply to the Church? … 😉 I don’t think so.
You should give a reason for not thinking so. Blank disagreement does not give much ground for further discussion.
 
Confusing authority and infallibility is the first tactic that dissenters use to justify following their own personal magisterium instead of that of the Church. Here are some excerpts from a statement by Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone,Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith decrying this attitude:
  1. first, we must point out the tendency to measure everything on the basis of the distinction between the “infallible Magisterium” and the “fallible Magisterium”.
In this way infallibility becomes the criterion for all authority problems, to the point of actually replacing the concept of authority with that of infallibility. Furthermore, the question of the infallibility of the Magisterium is often confused with the question of the truth of a doctrine, by assuming that infallibility is the pre-qualification for the truth and irreformability of the doctrine, and by making the truth and definitive nature of the doctrine depend on whether or not it has been infallibly defined by the Magisterium.
Moreover, it must also be kept in mind that if the authority of the Magisterium’s teachings admits of varying degrees, this does not mean that the authority of a lesser degree can be considered on the same level as theological opinions or, when it is not a question of infallibility, that only the arguments count and it is impossible for the Church to have a common certitude in a given doctrinal matter.
A second tactic that dissenters use is to claim that “prudential judgments” on the part of the magisterium are not binding on the Church faithful. However, this is contrary to canon law 747 §2.
 
Cent, keep asking these good questions, and keep searching for truth, and we will see you in Mass some day. Don’t despair, be open to Gods direction in your life. 🙂
 
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centuri0n:
You should give a reason for not thinking so. Blank disagreement does not give much ground for further discussion.
Sorry, My reason for feeling this way is that I do not see a connection between the authority and lack of infallibility in a political leader installed in a civil institution and the authority and infallability of a religious leader whose installment is a matter of faith in the teachings and pronouncements of Jesus Christ.

I would love to further our discussion. Hope you didn’t take offense at my inability to see where you were going with it.
 
Hi Centuri0n,

I do in fact subscribe to the perspective that church authority without God’s gift of infallibility is like no authority at all. I don’t hold to this in any absolute fashion … but I have simply never heard a good Protestant theory of authority. As I said in another post that you started
What in fact does the Protestant have in mind by way of authority? How does the Protestant divorce infalliblity from authority and yet still put faith in that authority? I can’t put religious faith in any mere men. My faith is in God. Infallibility is precisely why I can assent to the teachings of the Catholic Church … because they are from God, not in inspiration but in protection from error. But the authority of the Protestant churches … it isn’t derived from divine guidance. So whence does it come?
With that said (again) I am quite fascinated by how you started this thread. Why do you compare civil authority with religious authority? They are to me quite different in kind.

Yes, the president has authority without being infallible. It is given to him by men. It is authority that we give him that he may work toward protecting human lives, political boundaries, economic growth etc.This is in contrast to the sort of authority that religious leaders must have. That is, it is authority exercised toward protecting souls through their teaching of the gospel and of defining morals. In this regard, fallibility is not an option where God says that he will protect his Church from the gates of Hades.

The comparison of the pope to the president strikes me as a bad one.
 
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Charles:
Sorry, My reason for feeling this way is that I do not see a connection between the authority and lack of infallibility in a political leader installed in a civil institution and the authority and infallability of a religious leader whose installment is a matter of faith in the teachings and pronouncements of Jesus Christ.
Charles, you eliminated the reason for my question in your first post. No harm done.
I would love to further our discussion. Hope you didn’t take offense at my inability to see where you were going with it.
Christ never promised the Church it would be infallible: He promised it would be victorious becuase it was won by His effort.
 
Adam –

Is civil authority ordained by God?

There is a clear answer in Scripture.
 
Nowhere in the Constitution (or anywhere else for that matter) does God guarantee that the government of the US would never fall into error. That being said, the constitution assigns authority to the duly elected President, but doesn’t guarantee that he will make infallible statements when it comes to governing our country.
 
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centuri0n:
Christ never promised the Church it would be infallible: He promised it would be victorious becuase it was won by His effort.
Matthew 16:18 “I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this Rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld will not prevail against it.” Jesus Christ does promise that the Church would preach His gospel infallibly. Not because we are so wonderful, but because He will not allow the church to fall into error.
 
While I want to avoid getting bogged down into the semantics concerning the wieght of various documents and levels of teaching, would it be appropriate to say the following:

We have the obligation to both obey an infallible teaching as well as admit certitude of belief in the teaching. (Even if our belief lacks understanding and is merely an intellectual ascent to it’s certitude.)

We have the obligation to obey (to the level of compliance asked) a non-infallible teaching due to it’s authority but we are not obligated to admit certitude of belief.
TK
 
Apologia,
good answer. Centurion, please take his answer as mine.
Keep the tough questions coming. But would you mind making this thread go more two-way? I mean, you are attacking our understanding of authority. That’s a perfectly valid thing to do. I think that nothing shall prevail against our claims … but I really hope that you sketch out for us something of a positive statement for the authority of Protestant churches. For one, it would level the playing field – we can attack your views as you attack ours, while we each try better to build up defenses for our respective views. But for the most part, I am just really really curious.

And also, if you wouldn’t mind answering one other question, what’s up with the ‘O’ in your name? Is it a capital O or the numeral zero? Why is it capitalised or a numeral? just to make one curious about it and so to remember you nickname better (if so it worked here)?
 
Wasn’t it “authority” that allowed the proclamation of infallibility?

jM
 
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Apologia100:
Nowhere in the Constitution (or anywhere else for that matter) does God guarantee that the government of the US would never fall into error. That being said, the constitution assigns authority to the duly elected President, but doesn’t guarantee that he will make infallible statements when it comes to governing our country.
Where does God say the church will be infallible?
 
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Apologia100:
Matthew 16:18 “I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this Rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld will not prevail against it.” Jesus Christ does promise that the Church would preach His gospel infallibly. Not because we are so wonderful, but because He will not allow the church to fall into error.
Where does this say Peter or the church will be infallible? This claim always fascinates me.
 
Two thoughts on your question.

1: This doesn’t belong in the Apologetics forum, but in the Politics forum.

2: The infallibility of the Church and the Pope is based on the One who established them, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We are assured of this infallibility because Chist declared that the Spirit would be sent to lead us to all truth and that Satan would never overcome the Church. Paul declared that the Church is the pillar and foundation of truth. Unless you can find the same authority establishing and attesting to the truth of the President of the United States, you have no assurance of his infallibility.

David W. Cooney
 
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centuri0n:
There is a lot of boldness in asserting that the church has no authority at all if it is not infallible. I’d like to test out that assertion.

Love him or hate him, does George Bush has authority as the President of the Unites States?

Is His authority infallible?

Think about it.
One difference Cent, the us was not founded by Jesus (Much as many here would like to think;) ) the church was…the church was promised the Holy Spirit to guide it into all truth, The U.S was not…
 
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centuri0n:
Where does this say Peter or the church will be infallible? This claim always fascinates me.
If you are looking for one simple verse to PROVE infallibility, I admit that you won’t find one. However, if you look at the combined force of many related verses of the New Testament you will find that this belief is supported by Scripture. To begin with, the next verse states that the gates of Hell (Hades) will never overcome the kingdom of heaven; to which Peter was given the keys. Christ bound us to accept the authority of the Church (if he refuses to listed to the Church, treat him as a Gentile and a tax collector). To tell a first century Jew to treast someone as such was to tell them to regard the person as outside of God’s covenant and even a traitor to it. The scripture declare that the Church is the pillar and foundatation of truth (1 Tim 3:15). How could this be so if it could err in teaching the faith?

There are more verses but I must admit that they could be interpreted differently than I propose. Therefore, I suggest that if you want to understand what meaning the Apostles applied to these teachings, you study the writings of the early Church. These writing were made by those taught by the Apostles and their immediate successors. Their descriptions of the structure and the practice of the Church is very Catholic indeed. You will also find many affirmations of the authority of the bishops, particularly the bishop of Rome. I believe it was either Irenaeus or Ignatius who said that all churches, indeed the faithful of the whole world must agree with the church of Rome.

David W. Cooney
 
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