I hope you all gave thanks this past week with duly joyful feasting. Jehovah is indeed good to us.
I’ve let a few things fall by the wayside, and I’d like to dredge them up (if dredge is the word I want), and work through them a little bit. I’m boycotting the FV debate, and the only other thing that seems to be going on in my theological neck of the woods are discussions with Papists, so here’s one to get us up and running:
The original post was In Which the Pope is either God or ET, presenting an obviously silly dilemma which I hope illustrated in a semi-accurate fashion a difficulty with what I perceive to be the Roman doctrine of Papal infallibility.
Guido, my Byzantine Buddy, dutifully weighed in with a comment, but now seems to have done his best Brave Sir Robin impression (that or come up with something better to do with his time), leaving the following unanswered:
I have absolutely no problem with the Church creating a system of governance based upon inferences from the Scriptures, whether that is an hierarchical episcopacy, headed up by a single bishop, or a presbyterian form of representational government. And for what it’s worth, I’d be (honestly) interested in hearing your exegetical observations on the supremacy of the Roman bishop.
I don’t personally see it as necessary, but I’m happy to grant that the bishop of Rome could be the temporal leader of the church (I don’t have a theological or moral problem with that sort of government as such). My issue is primarily with claims of infallibility, which is not the same thing as claiming authority.
Indeed, you’ve changed the discussion mid-comment here. At first we are talking about Petrine Supremacy, as handed down from Jesus (an issue of governmental practice). But later on you talk of the Roman bishop as “our guarantee of sound doctrine”, which isn’t the same thing at all, and that claim would seem to require a much higher burden of proof than the former.
Perhaps (probably) my understanding of (and distaste for) the doctrine of Papal infallibility is in part due to propagandistic misconstruals by Protestants, not at all helped by the actions of many of the Popes of the 14th – 16th centuries, and shored up by some aggressive and arrogant neo-conservative Catholics. Nevertheless, any human being who claims infallibility in any way faces the conundrum presented in the original post in some shape or form.
– What are the arguments for the infallibility of the Bishop of Rome? What does this actually mean, and what theological assumptions necessitate such a doctrine?
– How do you personally deal with the historical contradictions (which in a few instances have undeniably bordered on the absurd) between holders of the bishopric of Rome (that meant as an honest question, not a rhetorical challenge)?
– Does a leader with such exceptional responsibility have no accountability? Does anyone get to play Paul’s part in correcting Peter when he falls into grievous error, and if so, who?
I am as wide open as Scott Stapp’s arms to correction and education in this matter, but I don’t think the original difficulty I presented has been addressed yet.