Truth is not really what I’m talking about. I’m talking about authority. Here is a quotation from Lumen Gentium that argues precisely what I said the RCC is arguing for:
And therefore his definitions, of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church, are justly styled irreformable, since they are pronounced with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, promised to him in blessed Peter, and therefore they need no approval of others, nor do they allow an appeal to any other judgment. For then the Roman Pontiff is not pronouncing judgment as a private person, but as the supreme teacher of the universal Church, in whom the charism of infallibility of the Church itself is individually present, he is expounding or defending a doctrine of Catholic faith. The infallibility promised to the Church resides also in the body of Bishops, when that body exercises the supreme magisterium with the successor of Peter. To these definitions the assent of the Church can never be wanting, on account of the activity of that same Holy Spirit, by which the whole flock of Christ is preserved and progresses in unity of faith. (I have removed the footnotes; the passage comes from paragraph 25).
This is saying that even the Bible cannot be a final court of appeal against an official ex cathedra statement from the Pope or from the supreme magisterium. They have infallibility. This is claiming infallibility for the words of mere men, and putting their words on a par with Scripture. It doesn’t matter if that isn’t what they think they are doing, that is what they are doing. On an ex cathedra matter, there is no court of appeal beyond the Pope, not even Scripture. To say that this paragraph says otherwise is to deny the plain meaning of the text. And this paragraph is cited in section 891 of the Catechism, which says the same thing. In fact, the Catechism even claims that “this infallibility extends as far as the deposit of divine Revelation itself” (then it references Lumen Gentium 25). That phrase is explained by another section of paragraph 25 of LG:
And this infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed His Church to be endowed in defining doctrine of faith and morals, extends as far as the deposit of Revelation extends, which must be religiously guarded and faithfully expounded.
As to the intercession from dead saints, I agree that it depends on the prior question of the canon. A subject for a different post.
As to transubstantiation, the Catechism clearly states that the substance of the bread and wine change into the substance of Christ’s body and blood (see paragraphs 1374-1377). The substance of the bread and wine are therefore transformed. But the form of bread and wine remain. How is this not saying that the substance has changed, but the accidents of bread and wine (the outer form) remain? In which you have the substance of Christ taking the place of bread and wine, and yet the accidents of bread and wine remaining. As I have said, this is a misappropriation of Aristotle’s categories. And Aquinas, in question 75, most certainly does assert that the substance changes into Christ’s body and blood, while the accidents of bread and wine remain (see especially article 6, where he responds to the objections levelled against that doctrine: it should be noted that the objections come first, and then follow his response to those objections). Therefore, my original comment stands.
As to the death of Christians, I do not believe that a non-believer would be freed from sin at death, because his soul is not raised from death to life. Only those whose souls have been raised from death to life (see this progression in Ephesians 2 especially) will have the guarantee that their sin nature will die at their death. So, Bryan’s comment does not follow, because he is forgetting the requirement of the prior resurrection of the soul.
Now, on to Taylor’s comments. First of all, the difference between the words “inspired” and “infallible” is not relevant to my argument in the slightest. If they claim infallibility, then they are setting up the words of men as on a par with Scripture, regardless of whether or not they regard the human words as inspired or not. Secondly, the three verses have everything to do with “Scripture alone,” because they claim that the words of Scripture are sufficient for the Christian to be well-equipped. This is the doctrine that Taylor does not understand. Is the church helpful? Sure. Is the church necessary for the Christian to be a member of it? Sure. Does this necessity mean that Scripture is not sufficient? No. Scripture alone is the infallible rule of faith and practice. 1 Thessalonians 2:13 draws a contrast between the words of men and the words of God. This means that the words of men do not effective work in a person to believe, as the end of the verse says. Only the Word of God does that. One is reminded of the words of Isaiah: “they teach as doctrines and commandments the words of men.” This is a stinging rebuke. No word of man has the authority that the word of God has. 1 John 5:9 indicates that the word of God is greater than the word of men. Period. There can be no parity. There can be no claim of infallibility on the part of any man, acting in any capacity whatsoever.
On the issue of Mary as Mediatrix, Lumen Gentium (paragraphs 60, 62, quoted in Catechism 970) does say what Taylor says about the position of Mary: it’s still wrong. Those who are dead cannot intercede on behalf of the living. That is why it is so important for us to see that Christ is alive. He can intercede for us, because He’s alive. As Hebrews says (I’m sure he had a smile on his face when he wrote this), the Old Testament priests were many, because death prevented them from continuing in office, Heb. 7:23. Yes, death would be a substantial disqualification from ministry. But if they could still intercede on our behalf, then they could still be priests.
On justification, of course the Roman Catholic church teaches a repeatable justification: this is because it is conflated with sanctification. But justification does occur at baptism. My words did not imply that that was the only time it happened in Catholic teaching. One cannot say everything every time one issues a summary. But Catholics do teach that one is justified at baptism, and so my words were not a lie of any sort.
On 1 Corinthians 6:11, of course justification is associated with washing: the blood of Christ cleanses us from the guilt of our sin, and that happens in justification. The verb, however, does not mean baptism in and of itself. Paul could have said “you were baptized.” Instead, he says “you were washed.” There is nothing in the context to indicate baptism. And the use of three terms does not mean that they should be conflated. The aorist use of these verbs does not help Taylor’s position, since they do NOT indicate a process. Paul is emphatically contrasting the previous state of his readers with the subsequent state. That change was marked by three verbs that describe different aspects of that change. So Paul is NOT talking about progressive sanctification here. By the way, Calvin can treat sanctification before justification too, as he in fact does in the Institutes. What’s the point? The beginning of sanctification occurs at the same point in time as justification. But they are distinct, because works play no part in justification, and yet are the distinctive fruit of sanctification. I do not think that Taylor has done justice to the careful exegesis of this passage. I will treat the remaining questions in another post.