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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Some thoughts on infallibility

In a recent post about my having been slammed down by a Calvinist for my Romanist ranting, I quipped about him

  What a horribly precarious perch when one can no longer allow the possibility of being wrong.

And then Lito made a worthy point:

  "Is this not applicable to the claims of the Pope and the Magisterium to infallability?"

I would be doing a Rand if I were to dismiss this point, because it's a valid point. Where lies the difference? After all, both Rand and the Church are citing the anointing of the Holy Spirit in making pronouncements with authority. One could cite, of course, that the evidence from Scripture and Tradition are on the side of the Church, but that doesn't quite convince Rand or others who likewise consider themselves infallible when it comes to interpreting Scripture.

I think the difference is that Rand believes he is right simply because he is born again. In other words, having been born again is, for him, his guarantee of certitude. Not that his infallibility comes straight from his state, but the Holy Spirit's anointing which guarantees infallibility does.

For the pope and the bishops, the Magisterium's credibility is not by their state of justification, which is no different from everyone else. It is not by their state of holiness either, which is no different from everyone else. For the pope and the bishops, the Magisterial infallibility has nothing to do with their personal characteristics because infallibility is a gift given by the Holy Spirit *despite* their inadequacy and unworthiness. It is, truly, outside of them. Simon son of John, who was nicknamed Rock by the Lord in Ceasarea Philippi (Matthew 16:13-19) does not cease to put his foot in his mouth consistently, simply because he was given the authority to bind and to loose, the certitude that his authority is ratified from above, and the keys of the kingdom. He is, in fact, the perfect example from among the Apostles (those who did not hang themselves) of how the Lord shepherds his people despite their inadequacies. Why choose such men as our leaders? Because we are earthenware jars, and what overwhelming power and gifts are given become clearly of God, not of men.

I am often confusing in my arguments, so the Historical Christian's posts on the Holy Spirit's guidance and papal infallibility are must reads on this topic.

Lito's point has also made me rethink the problem with Rand's evangelical approach. It is in not allowing the possibility that those who disagree with him have something worth hearing, or that they have something to say. As Lito had told me a few years ago when I first told him about Rand, this approach may win arguments but never hearts.

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