Skip to comments.WHY THE MAGISTERIUM MAKES SENSE TO ME
Posted on 02/03/2012 6:31:03 AM PST by NYer
I am married to a Korean national. I mention this not just because it is cool (and it is cool) but I’ve learned quite a few things about my Faith from being close to someone of a very different culture.
Because of my wife’s nationality I know quite a few Koreans by association. They come from education backgrounds that make your humble scribe feel quite inferior, or at least I’d feel that way if they weren’t so humble about it. And one of the core components of this education is learning the English language.
To me they do indeed speak English well. Some can even speak without the hint of a Korean accent. I know firsthand how difficult this is given my own extremely difficult time learning Korean.
(What does this have to do with the Magisterium? Please bear with me).
However despite their best efforts I have come to notice that no matter how fluent they were certain ways they would speak seemed…well..awkward. For example, almost to a man, when one of my wife’s friends say something like they were sick yesterday they would say “My condition was not good.” This was true regardless of how well any of them spoke English. I pointed it out to my wife and she noted that it was more or less a direct translation of the Korean expression for having been sick in the past. Despite the quality of their English, they were still speaking Korean using English words.
Another time my wife was telling me about her college days and describing a particular student and his relationship to the students in her freshman group. There literally is no English word for the particular position that this person held. It is something of a cross between a mentor, a Resident Assistant, and a full blown teacher. The attempt of my wife to explain this concept actually took a bit of time, and my above description is my best attempt to explain this position.
What I’m trying to say is that one’s culture has a powerful effect on one’s exposure to concepts as well as how one is going to express themselves. The ability to communicate with one another is heavily dependent on the concepts being discussed and the modes of expression that the communicants share. The greater the disparity in either, the more communication it takes to attempt to bridge the gap.
At one point this started me thinking about the Bible. The books are written a long time ago by a culture with wildly different concepts and modes of expression than we have in modern English. And the New Testament was a translation of one culture into another, from the Jewish culture and language (Aramaic) to the Common Greek. Not only are these cultures different from ours (the Jewish and the Greek) but both cultures have grown and developed over time.
Just to give one example is the notion of “brother” in Jewish culture. The original Aramaic that Jesus and His followers spoke had no concept of “cousin.” To describe the relationship of one cousin to another they would say something like, “He is the son of my father’s brother.” Given how wordy this is they would simplify it to “he is my brother.”
Now someone might object to this by pointing out that the Common Greek had a word for cousin and if the authors wanted to say “cousin” they would have. But to me this doesn’t fly for two reasons. First, that knowledge of a language does not bestow the modes of expression the language uses. As in my first example, the Korean expressing that they were sick still use the Korean wording of the concept rendered into English. Second, given that Jesus and his people used Aramaic to communicate, it is actually more accurate to have a word for word translation, complete with ambiguity, rather than to impose a meaning on the words by trying to translate the wording into something more friendly to the new language.
These things led me to realize that if the Body of Christ has to go at Faith with a Bible Alone approach we are doomed. The time, culture and language separations are a huge obstacle to getting at the actual meaning of the texts, with all the nuance and subtlety that comes with theological understanding and the development of those concepts. This is readily apparent with our Protestant brethren, who continue to split into numerous sects and sects within sects.
The Bible is a product of the times and cultures that produced it. Despite the fact that it is the inerrant Word of God it still uses human culture and language to communicate to us. And because of the limits of both human language and cultural concepts, the existence of the Magisterium and Sacred Tradition simply make sense.
Our Lord provided us with an authoritative body that can express the Truths of Revelation over time and cultures without error. A body that has the authority to interpret the Sacred Texts and present them to all cultures and times. A body that lives and breathes with the cultures in time but stands above them. That such a body, the Magisterim, exists is not only to my mind beneficial, but necessary for preserving the Word of God and revealing the Word to us using the concepts and modes of communication we use.
My exposure to a foreign culture as different as the Korean one only illustrates the need for the Sacred Tradition, and the need for the authority of the Magisterium to guarantee the transmission of that Tradition. There is more to the Truth of the Word than our cultures and languages can transmit. The Magisterium exists to teach us in the ways we communicate today, and will exist to teach the cultures of the future. Through the Magisterium we overcome the Tower of Babel now and in the future.
“Our Lord provided us with an authoritative body that can express the Truths of Revelation over time and cultures without error. A body that has the authority to interpret the Sacred Texts and present them to all cultures and times. “
You are merely pushing back your supposed problem by one level.
The Magesterium is ALSO subject to the limitations of time and culture. It’s pronouncements ALSO need to be interpreted.
If God was, according to your way of thinking, unable to clearly and adequately express Himself in the Bible, what makes you think He is capable of doing so through the Magesterium?
Catholic tradition is real.
Sometimes Protestants FORGET that the Bible was collated by the Catholics and not until (finally) in 420 A.D. Before that there were just random copies of the words of Jesus and his Apostles floating around. With all that were forgeries and lies.
It was the task of the Catholic bishops to sort out all the documents and decide on which of them were real and which were false.
Thus the 27 documents which form the New Testament were the fruit of the Council called by the Pope, the direct descendant of Peter, in 420 A.D. That was the "birthday" of the Bible. Before that there was APOSTOLIC TRADITION, oral history, from the mouths of the Apostles to their diciples...THEN the finally-collated BIBLE.
History, you can't beat it. The early Christians took after their Jewish ancestors and kept records, wrote it all down, appreciated the efficacy of the written word.
I wonder why so many Protestants fight it?
The Magisterium is the fourth leg of the Trinity. When you add a "Mother" of God, you come up with a five sided representation.
Pardon my interprtation, I don't THINK that the poster was saying that God was unable to clearly and adequately express Himself in the Bible.
God spoke through his chosen spokespeople. FIRST came the Magesterium, that is, the twelve Apostles, THEN came the Bible, 400 years later.
Also, there HAD to be a "final" source, an unimpeachable source. According to the Catholics, the Pope is that infallible source. They also believe that the Holy Spirit CONTINUES to inspire the Church and give the Pope that inspiration to be a final authority, as the Pope says He speaks through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Protestantism didn't surface until 1500 years later, thanks to the anger of a Catholic priest. Meanwhile, the years from 33-1500 WERE fruitful years which spread Christ's Word throughout the world.
Seems to me, God got it right on the money with His path of Apostolic Tradition, the Catholic Church, and THEN the Bible 400 years later.
“the Bible was collated by the Catholics and not until (finally) in 420 A.D. “
2/3 of the “Bible” was in place before the founding of the Church.
The collation was in response to the abundance of false books that circulated.
It is debatable as to “Catholics” doing this. Orthodox Christians may have some thoughts for you there.
“Pardon my interprtation, I don’t THINK that the poster was saying that God was unable to clearly and adequately express Himself in the Bible. “
Let me quote...
“These things led me to realize that if the Body of Christ has to go at Faith with a Bible Alone approach we are doomed. The time, culture and language separations are a huge obstacle to getting at the actual meaning of the texts, with all the nuance and subtlety that comes with theological understanding and the development of those concepts.”
“’God spoke through his chosen spokespeople. FIRST came the Magesterium, that is, the twelve Apostles, THEN came the Bible, 400 years later. “
No. The Canon closed around 400 years later.
The vast bulk of the Bible was around even before Jesus was born. As it was ALREADY Scripture.
All of the New Testament was written within 40 years of Jesus’ death, (before the fall of Jerusalem).
The Bible did not suddenly appear 400 years after the fact.
-—You are merely pushing back your supposed problem by one level.
The Magesterium is ALSO subject to the limitations of time and culture. Its pronouncements ALSO need to be interpreted.-—
It’s the difference between a living authority and a dead letter.
Regardless, the teaching authority of the Church is real and true, while the doctrine of “the Bible ALONE” is man-made, incoherent and false.
Why? See below.
The Catholic method of proving the Bible to be inspired is this: The Bible is initially approached as any other ancient work. It is not, at first, presumed to be inspired. From textual criticism we are able to conclude that we have a text the accuracy of which is more certain than the accuracy of any other ancient work.
An Accurate Text
Sir Frederic Kenyon, in The Story of the Bible, notes that “For all the works of classical antiquity we have to depend on manuscripts written long after their original composition. The author who is the best case in this respect is Virgil, yet the earliest manuscript of Virgil that we now possess was written some 350 years after his death. For all other classical writers, the interval between the date of the author and the earliest extant manuscript of his works is much greater. For Livy it is about 500 years, for Horace 900, for most of Plato 1,300, for Euripides 1,600.” Yet no one seriously disputes that we have accurate copies of the works of these writers. However, in the case of the New Testament we have parts of manuscripts dating from the first and early second centuries, only a few decades after the works were penned.
Not only are the biblical manuscripts that we have older than those for classical authors, we have in sheer numbers far more manuscripts from which to work. Some are whole books of the Bible, others fragments of just a few words, but there are literally thousands of manuscripts in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Coptic, Syriac, and other languages. This means that we can be sure we have an authentic text, and we can work from it with confidence.
The Bible as Historical Truth
Next we take a look at what the Bible, considered merely as a history, tells us, focusing particularly on the New Testament, and more specifically the Gospels. We examine the account contained therein of Jesus life, death, and resurrection.
Using what is in the Gospels themselves and what we find in extra-biblical writings from the early centuries, together with what we know of human nature (and what we can otherwise, from natural reason alone, know of divine nature), we conclude that either Jesus was just what he claimed to beGodor he was crazy. (The one thing we know he could not have been was merely a good man who was not God, since no merely good man would make the claims he made.)
We are able to eliminate the possibility of his being a madman not just from what he said but from what his followers did after his death. Many critics of the Gospel accounts of the resurrection claim that Christ did not truly rise, that his followers took his body from the tomb and then proclaimed him risen from the dead. According to these critics, the resurrection was nothing more than a hoax. Devising a hoax to glorify a friend and mentor is one thing, but you do not find people dying for a hoax, at least not one from which they derive no benefit. Certainly if Christ had not risen his disciples would not have died horrible deaths affirming the reality and truth of the resurrection. The result of this line of reasoning is that we must conclude that Jesus indeed rose from the dead. Consequently, his claims concerning himselfincluding his claim to be Godhave credibility. He meant what he said and did what he said he would do.
Further, Christ said he would found a Church. Both the Bible (still taken as merely a historical book, not yet as an inspired one) and other ancient works attest to the fact that Christ established a Church with the rudiments of what we see in the Catholic Church todaypapacy, hierarchy, priesthood, sacraments, and teaching authority.
We have thus taken the material and purely historically concluded that Jesus founded the Catholic Church. Because of his Resurrection we have reason to take seriously his claims concerning the Church, including its authority to teach in his name.
This Catholic Church tells us the Bible is inspired, and we can take the Churchs word for it precisely because the Church is infallible. Only after having been told by a properly constituted authoritythat is, one established by God to assure us of the truth concerning matters of faiththat the Bible is inspired can we reasonably begin to use it as an inspired book.
Don’t forget to quote your sources...
“while the doctrine of the Bible ALONE is man-made, incoherent and false.”
The teaching that the Bible contains in it all that a person need to find salvation and live a life pleasing to God is EXACTLY what St. Paul taught the early Christians.
You are free to choose not to believe St. Paul if you wish.
Except for Revelation ... 95 AD.
“The Magisterium”, if I understand correctly, is an extension of Oral Torah from the Jews.
Moses received extensive revelation on Mount Sinai (for several months), then taught orally for 40 years until he wrote a Torah Scroll just before his death. So not only was there a text that must be transmitted, but also explanations for its meanings and applications, as well as other conventional history.
At the time the Canon was established, we were one church.
And then after Christ's resurrection they took out 7 books and parts of two more.
And then after Christ's resurrection they took out 7 books and parts of two more.
May want to check your Greek and your history. The term "Church" is a word made up in later years from "kirk", a Scottish term. The word in the Scriptures is "assembly" and it is used to describe even the mob gathered in Ephesus. There is no papacy described in the Bible, no sacerdotalism, no sacraments, and none of the other errant traditions held by Rome.
Please do not sully this thread with truth. :)
-—The teaching that the Bible contains in it all that a person need to find salvation and live a life pleasing to God is EXACTLY what St. Paul taught the early Christians.-—
Was St. Paul speaking of the entire NT, including the books that had not yet been written?
—You are free to choose not to believe St. Paul if you wish.——
More fundamentally, How do you know that these are the words of St. Paul, if the Church that wrote, preserved and canonized these Scriptures is fallible?
Am i free to reject your fallible interpretation of St. Paul?
16All Scripture is God-breathed...
Yes, but this begs the question of What constitutes Scripture? Catholics offer a coherent answer: The Church that Christ founded tells us.
...and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
“Is useful for” does not mean “all that is necessary for.”
17so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Who is “the man of God”? Some believe that this is a reference to priests. Is it possible to be thoroughly equipped, but not sufficiently equipped to do a good work? For example, a soldier may be thoroughly equipped for combat, yet still lack the will to fight.
Are good works alone sufficient for salvation?
Because this passage does not refer to faith, which is also necessary for salvation, this passage does not prove that scripture alone can supply us with everything that is necessary for salvation.
Finally, this passage again begs the question, What constitutes Scripture? The answer to this question requires an extra-biblical authority.
OTOH, I am puzzled by the fact that Protestants ignore the following words of Jesus: “If he refuses to listen to the Church, treat him as a pagan or tax collector.”
Additionally, the Church is referred to in Scripture as the, “the pillar and foundation of truth.”
“2/3 of the Bible was in place before the founding of the Church.”
You are of course referring to the Septuagint. How many protestant Bibles use that?
“It is debatable as to Catholics doing this. Orthodox Christians may have some thoughts for you there.”
There was ONE Catholic Church in 420. The Great Schism came later.
Well written, however the Holy Spirit is my tutor.