Sunday, January 4, 2009

Nothing in this life lasts forever

Carrie unfortunately interrupts her unlamented sabbatical from Catholic-bashing.
When I first start interacting with online Catholics a few years ago, I was surprised by their low view of scripture.
Obviously I don't know the people she's talking about, but I seriously doubt that their view of Scripture was "low" in anything but a relative sense - that is, in comparison to her own. Unfortunately, sola scriptura is an extreme that doesn't and can't work (as Catholics have demonstrated many times), and to compare a proper, Catholic view of the Bible to it is like comparing the real world to Candyland.
In fact, some Catholics I have met have an almost hostile stance towards the bible. For people confessing to be Christians, this was a red flag (among many).
This so-called hostility is likely as not directed (if it exists at all) against the excesses of sola scriptura - against unwarranted and invalid claims that cannot be justified. Consequently the "red flag" is no less unwarranted, even if for the sake of argument we suppose that Carrie hasn't gone too far in making rash judgments about the standing of others before God.
I see the issue as a problem of two masters. In this case, Catholics can’t serve both the scriptures and the magisterium.
Personally, I see this as a problem of a poor analogy. Or does Carrie mean to suggest that she "serves" the Bible? In any case, her view of the "problem" is myopic. Catholics don't choose between the Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the Magisterium as though one must "serve" only one of them. They fit together not as adversaries or contradictories, but rather as part of an organic whole by which God's revelation is preserved and communicated to the Church. There is no conflict among these three whatsoever, unless (like Protestants who adhere to sola scriptura) we expect one or another of them to be or to do what is outside its purpose.
Sure, most Catholics will give lip service to the authority of scripture. But that authority is soon subjugated to a secondary role when the topic of sola scriptura comes up.
Catholics by no means pay lip service to Scripture, but neither are we going to stumble into the foolishness of sola scriptura. Carrie frames this remark like the old "So, when did you stop beating your wife?" rhetorical trap, and we must reject the framing of things on her terms because they are invalid. Sola scriptura isn't scriptural, and it doesn't work; it's a broken reed. The Bible can't interpret itself, and it's illegitimate to expect it to do so.

1 comment:

Reginald de Piperno said...

Update: It seems worthwhile to say that Nick and I are not the same person, notwithstanding the striking similarities between this post of mine and his comments.

Well Done, Nick :-)