Skip to comments.Thank God For the Magisterium
Posted on 06/10/2007 3:02:20 PM PDT by NYer
Many modern people have the notion that the principal mission of the Catholic Church is to impose belief on unbelievers. The reality is that most of its time is spent trying to restrain belief in everything from spoon-bending to the aliens who allegedly speak to us through a cat in Poughkeepsie.
The riptides and cross-currents of religious enthusiasm in American culture are kaleidoscopic and dizzying. Cradle Catholics can be forgiven for just ignoring the whole thing and many of them do. But its still worth taking into account because some religious trends can have decided real-world effects.
Some of the effects of unrestrained belief can be amusing.
For instance, after five centuries of being told by Protestant polemicists that we Romanists do not trust the saving grace of Jesus Christ and ignorantly seek salvation by the works of the law, it is a weird thing for a Catholic to see the spectacle of kooky apocalyptic Protestants eagerly excited about the birth of red heifers because this will (they hope) be the prelude to rebuilding the Temple of Solomon and the re-institution of the Mosaic sacrificial system. Just how that Temple will be rebuilt when the Dome of the Rock is situated on the site of the Temple is not quite as clearly worked out.
Which brings me to something just as kooky, but less amusing.
Recently, James Dobson, a leading Evangelical and a usually sensible man, hosted on his show one Joel Rosenberg, author of something called Epicenter: Why Current Rumblings in the Middle East Will Change Your Future. Rosenberg claims to know what the Bible says about what is happening in the Mideast and is not shy about making predictions regarding the fate of the Middle East regarding issues such as Irans nuclear threats against Israel, the arms race and ultimately ... Armageddon. Heres a snippet:
Dobson: Well, Joel, lets explain to everybody how Ezekiel 38 turns out, because Israel is about to be attacked, and a huge number of troops from Russia and Iran are coming toward Israel to destroy it, and what happens?
Rosenberg: Well, God is going to move. You wont find in the Scriptures that the United States is coming to rescue Israel or the European Union, but God says he is going to supernaturally intervene were talking about fire from heaven, a massive earthquake, diseases spreading through the enemy forces. It is going to be such a clear judgment against the enemies of Israel that Ezekiel 39 says that it will take seven months to bury all the bodies of the slain enemies of Israel.
Such standard-issue Evangelical prophetic cocksureness is an excellent example of why a magisterium is so useful and necessary.
Not only does the magisterium help us know what is essential to the faith, it also helps us remain free of what is unessential. For the various species of Protestantism, in addition to denying real biblical truths such as the Real Presence or infant baptism, also have a tendency to invent biblical truths that do not exist and impose them by means of a sort of cultural pressure via charismatic preachers with pet theories who, in their own sphere, are granted an infallibility the Pope could never dream of.
Now, a Catholic is quite free to have a kooky private reading of Ezekiel 38-39 as a prophecy of the coming resurgent Soviet Union and its alliance with Muslims, communist Chinese or whoever, all in a vast Cecil B. DeMille battle against Israel. The Church has all sorts of room for eccentrics, and everybody needs a hobby.
But a Catholic is not free to go around telling everybody that this is the clear teaching of the Bible and demand it be believed. For the fact is, this kooky theory is emphatically not the clear teaching of the Bible, nor does it have any sanction whatsoever from the Church, the tradition, the Fathers, the councils or the popes. It is a pure novelty we can and should ignore.
What we should not ignore is Rosenbergs claim that, Given the events going on in our world today, people at the Pentagon, people at the CIA, people at the White House are asking to sit down and talk about these issues, to understand the Biblical perspective, because it is uncanny what is happening out there and it deserves some study.
I suspect that Rosenberg is exaggerating his clout with the big cheeses in DC. I doubt that the Pentagons intel meetings are dominated by exegeses of Ezekiel 38.
But I do think it matters if a significant portion of the American polity drinks in such bizarre theories as if they were Gods revealed Truth.
Ideas have consequences, especially crazy ones. Most crazy ideas do no harm.
Crazy ideas about the Middle East, backed by the force of arms, stand a better than average chance of killing millions.
Mark Shea is
senior content editor
Awesome post. Captures the absurdity of protestantism. Every protestant has his or her own private magisterium, which of course means there are many “truths”. But in Jesus Christ there is but one Truth.
What is the exergesis of Ezekiel 38 by the Magisterium ?
I suppose some form of a MAGICSTERICAL to deal with demonized aliens speaking through a cat in Poughkeepsie has SOME merit.
How worth the risk, it is, of all the other idiocies magicstericals tend to get into is another issue entirely.
I still think St Paul’s exhortation to get some humble old codger in the congregation—full of the wisdom and anointing of Holy Spirit to decide troublesome things is a safer route. Of course, these days, there seems to be a dearth, drought of humble old codgers.
But magistericals in any group tend to be known more for the opposite of humility. Pride is never a great route to wisdom and safe theology.
Proverbs 13:10 — By pride comes nothing but strife, But with the well-advised is wisdom.
How to . . . maintain the humble and wise in their humility and wisdom
appointed to lofty positions of religious intellectual pontification with long lists of accouterments?
Seems like most of them . . . seeing as how they work so overtly for God and all
end up with God complexes themselves.
That is a good one. Thanks for posting it. You have a knack for finding great articles.
It didn’t take long.
Great article??? Because some Catholic claims Protestants have to know as little about the bible as the majority of Catholics do???
Like the book of Revelation, Catholics have to throw most of Ezekiel away because they don't have a clue what it's talking about...
in addition to denying real biblical truths such as the Real Presence or infant baptism
There is no infant bapatism in the NT...To call infant baptism biblical is to tell a lie...Anyone that can read can see there is no infant baptism in the bible...But then, you'd have to read the bible to find out...
I don't understand why they want to constantly spew on us unless they are trying to strengthen our faith through the Catholic Church. Whenever they make a new and/or more hysterical claim it sends me back to the Bible and the Cathechism. the internet and the very informed writings of the many intellectual Catholics on FR. I get my faith reaffirmed everyday by the writings and postings of Catholics.
Thanks for the posting.
end up with God complexes themselves.
Come on, dude. You're a better guy that that.
Evidence? Serious evidence, not an anecdote here or there? And are you going to control for claims of Holy Spirit inspiration, the kind that enables people to break promises and commitments they made without regard to the effects on the lives of people who were relying on them and made sacrifices for them,and are seriously harmed by the new liberation the Holy Spirit allegedly bestowed on, say one member of the marriage who has found a new cutie, and the Holy Spirit seems to agree?
Control also for the various apocalypso groups who repeatedly say, whoops, that train was late, lemme take a look at the old timetable here ... oh that's wasn't the end of the world, didn't read the fine print, that was when Jesus enters into judgement. End of the world is NEXT week.
That old god-complex ridden Paul VI: did you hear how he prostrated himself in front of an orthodox bishop and kissed his feet? Sounds proud, doesn't it? You think Ratzinger that was made friends by uncompromisingly saying what he thought the truth and the teaching of the Church is? Sure, he got a white dress out of the deal, but he's widely despised not only in the Main Stream Media -- are you SURE you want to be on their side against us? -- but by liberal RCs. I knew a priest who snapped off a pretty good Nazi salute when he mentioned Ratzinger.
OR my bishop who jokes about his weight problem -- yep, arrogant SOB he is. Or my pastor and the other Dominicans here who when you try to compliment them on a sermon always say,"Praise God." God complexes, every one of them.
I keep forgetting how the addiction to making unsubstantiated mockery of the Catholic Church is hard to shake.
Now that there is a magisterial statement. We all know that work has been done on Peter's use of "and your children" (and the use of τεκνον generally in the NT) as reported in Acts, and ditto on "and his whole household". So an unmagisterial look at the Scriptures would have to say that the evidence tilts this way or that rather than "There is NO" or "There certainly is" unambiguous evidence one way or the other in the NT about infant baptism.
So is this a God complex here ? Just asking for the diagnostic criteria....
It's coz dey just wuv us to death. Dey onwy doin it coz dey wuvs us. An dey wuv Jesus too.
I thought you knew I wasn’t talking about IC oversight groups only. Actually, wasn’t thinking much about them at all as I wrote. Was thinking of the Proty groups I’ve known.
Actually, some of the RC groups within the larger group may well have worked through more of the God complex aspects than some Proty groups.
Yeah, I’ve been impressed by a lot of the humility of some of the recent Pontiffs. Though they still seem to come down quite solidly on the side of presuming some . . . to Proty sensibilities . . . arrogant theological stands on some issues.
But, sure, there’s plenty of pride in one’s own presumed spiritual stature COMPARED TO OTHERS to go around. More than plenty.
Actually, wasn’t mocking the RC’s at all, per se.
Was talking about the human frailty of being placed in a lofty RELIGIOUS GROUP
OVERSEEING LESSER SOULS
and the resulting pride and how damaging that is.
I was talking about a HUMAN problem, not an RC problem per se. And, as I wrote above, I actually wasn’t thinking about RC groups at all as I wrote . . . except maybe slightly initially. I had in mind examples exclusively from my Proty experiences.
I think any time that anyone
presumes, assumes, infers, extrapolates
and then assumes the loftiness to make THAT inference
DOCTRINE, DOGMA to be kowtowed to by one and all
we have entered at least the realms of the God complex.
When, in Scripture, there’s room for reasonable people to differ, I suspect God is not near so adamant about which side of the issues we are on AS MUCH AS HE IS about our attitudes toward those on the OTHER side.
I think that’s especially true the more layers removed we get from the basic doctrines of Salvation by faith; Christ’s substitutionary death; His Resurrection, Ascension etc.
I haven’t read every post. But I’m not aware of anyone spewing on RC’s on the thread yet.
Chips on shoulders and thin skins . . . are . . . problematic on all our parts.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.