April 19, 2009

Church Infallibility

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The topic of April's meeting was Church Infallibility. We were joined this evening by an elder from the OPC and a member of the PCA. The following are notes from April's meeting on Church infallibility:

What is infallibility? Immunity from error on dogmatic teachings regarding faith or morals.

a)contrast with inerrancy
b)infallibility does not mean…

What are the conditions?

a)Dogma – to be definitely held,
b)Regarding faith or morals

What is the basis for Church infallibility?

a)that Christ established the Church
b)that the Church’s fundamental mission is Christ’s mission extended - to save sinners – to deliver the Word
c)whatever Church Christ established must not be a failure – it will succeed
d)to succeed in its goal means to protect and deliver the Word – to fail would be to destroy or pervert the Word:

Pope Benedict XVI Said - “This doctrine obviously needs to be understood very precisely within its correct limitations, so as not to be misused or misunderstood. It doesn't mean that every word that the ecclesiastical authorities say, or even every word said by a pope, is infallible. It certainly does mean that wherever the Church, in the great spiritual and cultural struggles of history, and after all possible prayer and grappling with the truth, insists that this is the correct interpretation and draws a line there, she has been promised that in this instance she will not lead people in to error. That she will not be turned into an instrument of destruction for the Word of God, but remains the mother, the living agent, within whom the Word is alive and truly expresses Himself and is truly interpreted.”

e)Therefore the Church, as Church must be infallible.
f)What is the “Church”?
g)What can Acts 15 teach us of infallibility?
a.Could the Church have gotten it wrong?
b.Would Jerusalem Council be infallible if it wasn’t recorded in Scripture?
c.Is the Church of Acts 15 still around?
h)What can the OT precedent teach us of infallibility?
a.Moses – Judges – Prophets , speaking infallibly on God’s behalf
b.Signs especially regarding the high priest. Talmud & crimson thread

How is Church infallibility different from Scripture?

a)the Catholic dogma on the such is that Sacred Tradition & Scripture have the same number of errors not that they are equivalent in every way
a.Which tradition is infallible? Only Apostolic Tradition.
b)Scripture has a certain primacy
c)infallibility does not imply impeccability
d)infallibility does not imply infallible arguments nor pure human motives

Were the Apostles Infallible?

We have no reason to suppose that there is so great a distinction of dispensation between ourselves and the first generation of Christians, as that they had a living infallible guidance, and we have not.

what can be more absurd than a probable infallibility, or a certainty resting on doubt?—I believe, because I am sure; and I am sure, because I suppose.
Is Infallibility Necessary?

The advocates of Rome, it has been urged, "insist on the necessity of an infallible guide in religious matters, as an argument that such a guide has really been accorded.
Scripture Prooftexts:

Matthew 28:18-20;
Matthew 16:18;
John 14, 15, and 16;
I Timothy 3:14-15; and
Acts 15:28 sq.