However, if the same authorities declare, say, that Mary is the Mother of God, as in fact happened at the Council of Ephesus in AD 431, then I must give assent, for defining the Faith in such vein is part of their authentic charism, it is protected from error by the Holy Spirit, and is therefore infallible. The individual men who formulated the definition were all sinners, and therefore not infallible at all regarding their personal conduct. But, within the parameters that are needed to be put in place to make sense of Matthew 28:20, John 16:13-15, and the like, these men exercised "infallibility" in authentically interpreting the true doctrine involved. I would, therefore, be required to give my assent of faith to their decision. And I do. So should you. Perhaps you do already, and you can thank the Council of Ephesus for that. Scripture alone done not answer the question very well regarding issues involving "persons," "natures," "essences" and the like, as they pertain to Jesus. Scripture alone is somewhat ambiguous at, at best. As such, it was a legitimate question to figure out: did Mary give birth to God, or only to Jesus' human nature? "Theotokos" is what they came up with to describe how she fit into the equation: she was the "God-bearer." Amen to that!
>> You’re right: humans are inherently fallible, except when they are fulfilling their role as guardians and faithful teachers of the Faith, and doing functioning in those capacities under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This particular type of infallibility, we recognize, is highly restricted in its nature to matters of faith and morals only, and must be employed only with the explicit acknowledgment that the charism is being invoked.
I understand the concept. But, I do not believe any particular divine authority rests in the Catholic heirarchy, and certainly not in the Catholic heirarchy alone. I believe the Baptist church, and my pastor, is just as likely to be given divine guidance as is the Vatican. I believe Christian leaders of many denominations are capable of receiving divine guidance.
So — what do we make of disagreements among those who are “fulfilling their role as guardians and faithful teachers of the Faith”? However well-meaning the parties are, and however divine they think their guidance is — someone is wrong. Someone is fallible. Someone’s guidance is not as divine as they think it is. It seems to me to be more prudent to assume that all are fallible, and check for yourself ... rather than assuming that one body has a monopoly on divine guidance, and taking their word as Holy. I’ve seen no scriptural justification for assuming that God has a singular representative body on Earth which has a monopoly on his guidance.
Fundamentally, this is the point that I have been making. I believe there is a divine truth in scriptures, but that such divine truth cannot be assumed to eminate from one source alone (except the scripture itself, of course). No teacher of the scripture can claim a monopoly on its truth — and no one’s teaching is divinely guided at all times.
I have seen no cause to take the word of the Vatican simply because they are the Vatican. I have seen no reason to believe that the Vatican speaks with the voice of the Almighty. So, I read the scriptures myself, interpret the best I can, and follow the opinion that I think was divinely inspired. I’m quite sure I am wrong in my interpretation somewhere — just as I am sure my pastor is wrong, you are wrong, and the Vatican is wrong somewhere.