Monday, October 6, 2008

Question 5 from Negative

Question 5 Fallible and Infallible Interpretations

by Matthew Bellisario

God has always put forth His authority in a living entity. In the Old Covenant He gave the Jews the living Levitical priesthood to interpret the Living Tradition and the Sacred Scriptures put forth by God as Divine Revelation. There was a visible authority for the Jews to follow. Judaism was never a Scripture alone faith. (1995 Ariel)

We see a continuation of this with Jesus, the Word of God coming in the flesh to become the high priest who gave us a Church as "the pillar and foundation of truth" (1 Tim. 3:15). He also gave us a living Sacred Tradition and the Sacred Scriptures within this structure (2 Thess. 2:15, 1 Cor. 11:2). The Church structure is visible ("I will build my Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it" Matt. 16:18), it is passed down through apostolic succession. Christ told the disciples: "He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me" (Luke 10:16), , and the Church maintains a character of authority (Matt. 18:18), just as the Nicene Creed also professes. By this Church entity given to us by Christ we can know the correct interpretations of Sacred Scripture and what the full deposit of Divine Revelation is. The chair of Saint Peter (John 21:15–17 "Feed my sheep . . . ", Luke 22:32 "I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail", and Matthew 16:18 "You are Peter . . . ") was given to us just as the Jews had the chair of Moses (Matt. 23:2) as the uniting visible head of the Church, although Jesus Christ remains the true head of the Church (Hebrews 2:17) , he also gave us the Holy Spirit to guide it infallibly as well (John 16:13).

Saint Ambrose of Milan rightly wrote, "[Christ] made answer: ‘You are Peter, and upon this rock will I build my Church. . . .’ Could he not, then, strengthen the faith of the man to whom, acting on his own authority, he gave the kingdom, whom he called the rock, thereby declaring him to be the foundation of the Church [Matt. 16:18]?" (The Faith 4:5 [A.D. 379]).

Saint Augustine also correctly wrote, "Some things are said which seem to relate especially to the apostle Peter, and yet are not clear in their meaning unless referred to the Church, which he is acknowledged to have represented in a figure on account of the primacy which he bore among the disciples. Such is ‘I will give unto you the keys of the kingdom of heaven,’ and other similar passages. In the same way, Judas represents those Jews who were Christ’s enemies" (Commentary on Psalm 108 1 [A.D. 415]).

Finally the Council of Ephesus in 431 stated, "Philip, the presbyter and legate of the Apostolic See [Rome] said: ‘There is no doubt, and in fact it has been known in all ages, that the holy and most blessed Peter, prince and head of the apostles, pillar of the faith, and foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the human race, and that to him was given the power of loosing and binding sins: who down even to today and forever both lives and judges in his successors’" (ibid., session 3).

You said in your rebuttal, “Our interpretations are fallible, but Scripture is infallible.” If all interpretations of the Sacred Scriptures are fallible as you claim, then how can anyone know for sure what the correct interpretation is without an authority higher than the Scriptures themselves? Should we believe you just because you say so, or some confession says so? Of course one would answer with “the Holy Spirit tells us”, but every one of the 9000 denominations all tell us this as well. My question is, who can interpret the Sacred Scriptures infallibly, and how can we know for sure without a visible God breathed Church entity as the one I have pointed out above?

Ariel, David S. What Do Jews Believe. New York: Schocken Books, 1995

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