1. Standard memberDoctorScribbles
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    25 May '07 02:21
    A Catholic Professor of Theology writes:


    Infallibility is untenable, it seems to me, on every ground. Intellectually it flies in the face of human finitude and limitations. This means that no human perception of truth can be stated in a manner that lacks error or inadequacy, thus all human ideas, including theology, must be open to revision.

    Second, such an idea is absurd in terms of church history. The list of papal and church institutional errors, declared at the time to be unchangeable, is long. Take only the case of the teaching on slavery, an institution accepted in both testaments of scripture, affirmed by major theologians (Augustine and Thomas Aquinas) and continuously taught in canon law--yet a teaching no one would imagine accepting today.

    The Roman Catholic church has never officially repented of this sorry history of acceptance of slavery but it has allowed this teaching to fade from memory. Its negation of the ordination of women should go the same way.

    This brings us back to infallibility. The greatest theological problem with infallibility is-that it makes it very difficult for the church to admit it was wrong. I have considered making a T-shirt to wear to Catholic meetings with the slogan: "Infallibility means never having to say you,re sorry."

    But being unable to say you,re sorry is to be unable to repent. Not to be able to repent means not being able to be open to divine grace. Thus infallibility is the sin of sins: a sin against the Holy Spirit. All areas where the church's teachings are inadequate, distorted or erroneous are blocked from corrective development by the assumption of infallibility. One cannot change previous mistaken teachings, such as the ban on contraception--even if the worldwide church has come to a consensus that it needs to change--if you can,t admit that you have been wrong.

    It was this recognition of the way in which the idea of infallible teaching authority acted as a barrier to any reform on key teachings, such as that on contraception, that brought Hans King to write his 1970 book questioning infallibility. Although many Catholic theologians, particularly those on the side of Vatican II, don,t believe in infallibility, most, unlike Hans Kung, have chosen to avoid confronting it head on. This I believe is intellectual and moral cowardice.



    Excerpted in the style of Ivanhoe from http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G1-17968570.html
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    25 May '07 02:25
    Originally posted by DoctorScribbles
    A Catholic Professor of Theology writes:

    [quote]
    Infallibility is untenable, it seems to me, on every ground. Intellectually it flies in the face of human finitude and limitations. This means that no human perception of truth can be stated in a manner that lacks error or inadequacy, thus all human ideas, including theology, must be open to revisi ...[text shortened]...


    Excerpted in the style of Ivanhoe from http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G1-17968570.html
    No doubt his conclusions are infallible.
  3. Standard memberDoctorScribbles
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    25 May '07 02:331 edit
    Originally posted by whodey
    No doubt his conclusions are infallible.
    The notion of infallibility is not such that the property can be an attribute of conclusions. Rather, it is an attribute of the manner whence conclusions arise.
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    25 May '07 02:51
    Originally posted by DoctorScribbles
    The notion of infallibility is not such that the property can be an attribute of conclusions. Rather, it is an attribute of the manner whence conclusions arise.
    If you say so.
  5. Standard memberDoctorScribbles
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    25 May '07 03:01
    Originally posted by whodey
    If you say so.
    Well, what would it mean for a proposition to be infallible? Would it mean anything other than that the proposition is true?
  6. Illinois
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    25 May '07 03:061 edit
    Originally posted by DoctorScribbles
    A Catholic Professor of Theology writes:

    [quote]
    Infallibility is untenable, it seems to me, on every ground. Intellectually it flies in the face of human finitude and limitations. This means that no human perception of truth can be stated in a manner that lacks error or inadequacy, thus all human ideas, including theology, must be open to revisi


    Excerpted in the style of Ivanhoe from http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G1-17968570.html
    It seems most of the Catholic church's burdens are self-imposed woes. I applaud the professor's mission to somehow induce change within the church itself instead of simply abandoning it, but at some point you have to wonder if his church is not irreversibly maligned. The point of church biblically speaking is a place for joyful fellowship in the freedom of Christ, and of humble worship of God. To me, it would seem wiser to extricate oneself from any church where the basic functions and purposes of church have been compromised. Bothering oneself with problems engendered long before the time of one's ancestors is just asking for trouble. To each their own, I guess.
  7. Standard memberKellyJay
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    25 May '07 03:06
    Originally posted by DoctorScribbles
    Well, what would it mean for a proposition to be infallible? Would it mean anything other than that the proposition is true?
    The doctrine of knowing absolutely you don't know anything absolutely.🙂
    Kelly
  8. Standard memberNemesio
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    25 May '07 04:05
    Originally posted by whodey
    No doubt his conclusions are infallible.

    Originally posted by epiphinehas
    I applaud the professor's mission to somehow induce change within the church itself instead of simply abandoning it, but at some point you have to wonder if his church is not irreversibly maligned.

    The author is a woman.

    Nemesio
  9. Cape Town
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    25 May '07 06:31
    If someone makes a true statement then while that person is saying it, he/she is infallible.
  10. Donationrwingett
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    25 May '07 13:33
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    If someone makes a true statement then while that person is saying it, he/she is infallible.
    That's an extraordinarily narrow definition of infallibility.
  11. Standard memberblakbuzzrd
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    25 May '07 15:51
    What's the relationship between infallibility and inerrancy?
  12. Standard memberDoctorScribbles
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    28 May '07 17:18
    Originally posted by DoctorScribbles
    A Catholic Professor of Theology writes:

    [quote]
    Infallibility is untenable, it seems to me, on every ground. Intellectually it flies in the face of human finitude and limitations. This means that no human perception of truth can be stated in a manner that lacks error or inadequacy, thus all human ideas, including theology, must be open to revisi ...[text shortened]...


    Excerpted in the style of Ivanhoe from http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G1-17968570.html
    Lucifershammer, is this Catholic Professor of Theology wrong?
  13. London
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    11 Jun '07 17:26
    Originally posted by DoctorScribbles
    Lucifershammer, is this Catholic Professor of Theology wrong?
    Well, there's Catholic and then there's Catholic.

    (Sorry I haven't responded sooner -- I've been out due to illness for a while.)

    At the time of writing this article, Rosemary Radford Ruether was a professor at the Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary. She completed her BA in Philosophy from Scripps College and her MS in classics and Roman history from Claremont Graduate School. Her PhD (also from Claremont) was in classics and patristics, focusing on St. Gregory of Nazianzus. To my knowledge, she has never studied nor taught at a Catholic institution.

    I bring all this up because you seem to make such a big deal of your "Catholic Professor of Theology" tag. In this case, it means little more than 'Catholic Professor of Mathematics'[1]. And, while there is no shortage of heterodox Catholic professors of theology at Catholic institutions, I think it unlikely she will ever receive the mandatum to teach at one.


    Now, on to the arguments. I'll take her second argument first as it's easier to refute:
    The list of papal and church institutional errors, declared at the time to be unchangeable, is long.


    It's such a pity, then, that the example she chooses (viz., slavery) isn't actually on that "long" list.

    First, it's worth pointing out that Ruether is quite disingenuous in her use of the term 'slavery'. Slavery as practised in the pre-Christian Roman Empire was quite different from that practised in mediaeval Christendom which, in turn, was vastly different from racial slavery as practised in modern times (like 18th-19th century USA, for instance). Naturally the term evokes fresher memories of modern racial slavery, but I would've expected someone like Ruether (with a degree in history) to be more specific.

    Second, AFAIK, no exercise of papal or conciliar infallibility has ever condoned slavery (especially not the racial kind).

    Third, (ivanhoe has posted on this subject several times in the past), the Church has a long history of using the Ordinary Magisterium to condemn slavery (particularly the racial variety, but even the milder mediaeval one).

    Fourth, Ruethers is simply dead wrong about Aquinas if she's talking about the kind of slavery seen in 19th century America. A nice quick summary of what Aquinas thought about slavery (servitus) can be found at http://branemrys.blogspot.com/2006/01/heresy-slavery-natural-law.html . I haven't read enough Augustine to judge her statement about him, but I think she'd be dead wrong there too.

    (On a personal note, I know non-Christians with no theological training whatsoever who've come up with better examples than this.)


    Her first argument against infallibility runs:
    Intellectually [infallibility] flies in the face of human finitude and limitations. This means that no human perception of truth can be stated in a manner that lacks error or inadequacy, thus all human ideas, including theology, must be open to revision.


    Trivially, one can refute this argument simply by pointing out that I can quite correctly say "Two plus two equals four". Sure, I might need to translate for those who do not understand English or elaborate to little kids who have no concept of numbers or addition; but that doesn't change the fact that, despite my "human finitude and limitations", I am quite capable of stating my "perception of truth" in a manner that (when understood by my audience) need not be open to revision.

    Her view of human limitations stems from her view of humanity:
    I believe humans are deeply alienated from their true created potential for goodness and truth and prone to self-deception and oppressive relations with others and themselves... Our hope does not lie in any capacity of humans to be impeccable, truthful or inerrant, but in God's gracious mercy and forgiveness that is ever available to us when we admit our errors with an open heart--the ability to do so itself being a gift of grace.


    The teaching on infallibility does not rest on "any capacity of humans to be impeccable, truthful or inerrant". It rests on the capacity of God's grace to be effective in human action. She already accepts the action of grace in a different context in her statement above but provides no reason why it wouldn't be effective in the case of infallibility.

    Once again, by introducing impeccability and inerrancy to a discussion on infallibility, Ruether is being quite disingenous. By conflating the three, she is either making a rudimentary mistake or introducing a red herring.


    So, to answer your question, your "Catholic Professor of Theology" is simply wrong.

    ---
    [1] A much harsher examination of her Christian (let alone Catholic) credentials can be found at http://www.ewtn.com/library/ISSUES/REUTHER.TXT .
  14. Hmmm . . .
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    11 Jun '07 19:27
    Originally posted by lucifershammer
    Well, there's Catholic and then there's Catholic.

    (Sorry I haven't responded sooner -- I've been out due to illness for a while.)

    At the time of writing this article, Rosemary Radford Ruether was a professor at the Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary. She completed her BA in Philosophy from Scripps College and her MS in classics and Roman h ...[text shortened]... be found at http://www.ewtn.com/library/ISSUES/REUTHER.TXT .
    Sorry I haven't responded sooner -- I've been out due to illness for a while.

    I hope you are recovered and well. I had just assumed that you were taking a break, or I would’ve communicated well-wishes earlier.
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    13 Jun '07 01:25
    Originally posted by DoctorScribbles
    A Catholic Professor of Theology writes:

    [quote]
    Infallibility is untenable, it seems to me, on every ground. Intellectually it flies in the face of human finitude and limitations. This means that no human perception of truth can be stated in a manner that lacks error or inadequacy, thus all human ideas, including theology, must be open to revisi ...[text shortened]...


    Excerpted in the style of Ivanhoe from http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G1-17968570.html
    It's mans' "interpretation" that's fallible.
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