Forty Answers to “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic”: #19

Thanks for joining me today as we continue our series examining and responding to Catholic apologist and philosopher, Peter Kreeft’s book, “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic” (2018).

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Claim #19: I am a Catholic because of what the Bible tells me

In this chapter, Kreeft argues that the Bible validates the Roman Catholic church and vice versa. Beginning with the presupposition that all “genuine” Christians believe the New Testament is infallible, Kreeft presents three premises:

  1. The RCC was both the efficient cause (the author) and the formal cause (the definer) of the New Testament.
  2. No effect can be greater than its cause.
  3. The RCC is either fallible or infallible.

From these three premises, Kreeft makes the argument that A) because the RCC is the author and definer of the infallible New Testament, then B) the RCC must itself be infallible.

Kreeft then does a U-Turn and qualifies the Bible’s infallibility, saying it’s “infallible in its religious teachings, but not in its grammar or science or math” (p. 67). Likewise, he states, the RCC “is fallible in everything except her authoritative religious dogmas.” Kreeft presents the RCC’s bloody Inquisition and its opposition to Galileo’s theory of heliocentrism as examples of blunders committed outside of the church’s infallible, ex cathedra, dogmatic teaching authority.

Response

Premise #1 of Kreeft’s argument is patently false. The RCC is not the efficient cause (the author) nor the formal cause (the definer) of the New Testament. The writers of the New Testament were not Roman Catholics. After the early Christian church was legalized and adopted as the official state religion, it became increasingly institutionalized, patterning itself after the Roman imperial model, and gradually devolved into Roman Catholicism. Church councils did not canonize Scripture, but merely endorsed what the Holy Spirit had already made evident. The 39 books of the Hebrew Old Testament were Scripture without benefit of any church council, a fact that Catholic apologists avoid.

Kreeft then pulls the rug out from beneath his own argument by parroting the dichotomous, modern RC view that the Bible is both infallible and fallible. Kreeft asserts that the Bible is full of “contradictions and errors” (p. 67), so for him and the RCC to continue to claim that the Bible is “infallible” is itself a glaring contradiction. In the four gospels, Jesus Christ referred to numerous Old Testament events as factual that most of today’s RC theologians and prelates dismiss as pre-scientific fables.

Catholic apologists self-servingly categorize the numerous sinister historical actions of the church (the Crusades, the Inquisition, persecution of Protestants, forced baptisms, selling of indulgences, systematic anti-Semitism, systematic cover-up of priest sexual abuse, the absolute corruption of numerous popes and prelates, the competing factions of the Great Western Schism, etc.) as being outside the boundaries of ex cathedra church dogma. Yet all of these actions involved “faith and morals,” the necessary condition of ex cathedra teaching. The RCC claims divine, infallible teaching authority, yet is forced to disavow much of its history, as Kreeft does here, as the fallible, unauthorized whimsy of popes and prelates.

Next week: Claim #20: I am a Catholic because of my friends and my family – my spiritual family

20 thoughts on “Forty Answers to “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic”: #19

  1. Re: Kreeft asserts that the Bible is full of “contradictions and errors” (p. 67),

    But Pius XII and Leo XIII disagree with Kreeft, Pius XII even calling what Kreeft is doing here “pervert the sense” and “condemned”.

    I guess Kreeft is acting as his own Pope. 🙂

    Pius XII: 22. To return, however, to the new opinions mentioned above, a number of things are proposed or suggested by some even against the divine authorship of Sacred Scripture. For some go so far as to pervert the sense of the Vatican Council’s definition that God is the author of Holy Scripture, and they put forward again the opinion, already often condemned, which asserts that immunity from error extends only to those parts of the Bible that treat of God or of moral and religious matters. They even wrongly speak of a human sense of the Scriptures, beneath which a divine sense, which they say is the only infallible meaning, lies hidden. In interpreting Scripture, they will take no account of the analogy of faith and the Tradition of the Church. Thus they judge the doctrine of the Fathers and of the Teaching Church by the norm of Holy Scripture, interpreted by the purely human reason of exegetes, instead of explaining Holy Scripture according to the mind of the Church which Christ Our Lord has appointed guardian and interpreter of the whole deposit of divinely revealed truth. ENCYCLICAL HUMANI GENERIS, Given at Rome, at St. Peter’s, 12 August 1950, the twelfth year of Our Pontificate.

    Leo XIII: 20. The principles here laid down will apply cognate sciences, and especially to History. It is a lamentable fact that there are many who with great labour carry out and publish investigations on the monuments of antiquity, the manners and institutions of nations and other illustrative subjects, and whose chief purpose in all this is too often to find mistakes in the sacred writings and so to shake and weaken their authority. Some of these writers display not only extreme hostility, but the greatest unfairness; in their eyes a profane book or ancient document is accepted without hesitation, whilst the Scripture, if they only find in it a suspicion of error, is set down with the slightest possible discussion as quite untrustworthy. It is true, no doubt, that copyists have made mistakes in the text of the Bible; this question, when it arises, should be carefully considered on its merits, and the fact not too easily admitted, but only in those passages where the proof is clear. It may also happen that the sense of a passage remains ambiguous, and in this case good hermeneutical methods will greatly assist in clearing up the obscurity. But it is absolutely wrong and forbidden, either to narrow inspiration to certain parts only of Holy Scripture, or to admit that the sacred writer has erred. For the system of those who, in order to rid themselves of these difficulties, do not hesitate to concede that divine inspiration regards the things of faith and morals, and nothing beyond, because (as they wrongly think) in a question of the truth or falsehood of a passage, we should consider not so much what God has said as the reason and purpose which He had in mind in saying it-this system cannot be tolerated. For all the books which the Church receives as sacred and canonical, are written wholly and entirely, with all their parts, at the dictation of the Holy Ghost; and so far is it from being possible that any error can co-exist with inspiration, that inspiration not only is essentially incompatible with error, but excludes and rejects it as absolutely and necessarily as it is impossible that God Himself, the supreme Truth, can utter that which is not true. This is the ancient and unchanging faith of the Church, solemnly defined in the Councils of Florence and of Trent, and finally confirmed and more expressly formulated by the Council of the Vatican. These are the words of the last: “The Books of the Old and New Testament, whole and entire, with all their parts, as enumerated in the decree of the same Council (Trent) and in the ancient Latin Vulgate, are to be received as sacred and canonical. And the Church holds them as sacred and canonical, not because, having been composed by human industry, they were afterwards approved by her authority; nor only because they contain revelation without error; but because, having been written under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, they have God for their author.”(57) Hence, because the Holy Ghost employed men as His instruments, we cannot therefore say that it was these inspired instruments who, perchance, have fallen into error, and not the primary author. For, by supernatural power, He so moved and impelled them to write-He was so present to them-that the things which He ordered, and those only, they, first, rightly understood, then willed faithfully to write down, and finally expressed in apt words and with infallible truth. Otherwise, it could not be said that He was the Author of the entire Scripture. Such has always been the persuasion of the Fathers. “Therefore,” says St. Augustine, “since they wrote the things which He showed and uttered to them, it cannot be pretended that He is not the writer; for His members executed what their Head dictated.”(58) And St. Gregory the Great thus pronounces: “Most superfluous it is to inquire who wrote these things-we loyally believe the Holy Ghost to be the Author of the book. He wrote it Who dictated it for writing; He wrote it Who inspired its execution. “(59) PROVIDENTISSIMUS DEUS, ENCYCLICAL OF POPE LEO XIII, ON THE STUDY OF HOLY SCRIPTURE, Given at St. Peter’s, at Rome, the 18th day of November, 1893, the

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    1. Thanks for the excellent references, SB. It’s very valuable to see how modern popes contradict previous popes regarding the infallibility of Scripture.

      Like

  2. Re: canon

    Cardinal Congar very much disagrees with Kreeft saying he is mistaken and the role of the magisterium is to recognize the truth as established by God’s actions. Of course we know they recognized incorrectly 7 books in the OT. 🙂

    Cardinal Yves Congar: The principle of the canon thus had its origin in Revelation, to which the Scriptures are the witness or monument. Its application has been developed and has sought to express itself; the fluctuations of the canon have followed only the fluctuations of the attribution of an apostolic origin to a given writing. Finally, as for any dogma in the narrow sense of the word, the Magisterium intervened to fix tradition, which is a good example of the role that it was seen to possess in the last chapter. In this way, all the governing principles of the faith cooperate in the constitution of the canon: the Revelation made to the prophets and apostles (of which Scripture is the memorial), tradition, the Church and her Magisterium.

    It is not that the Church and her Magisterium actually create the canon; even less do they endow Scripture with its authority, as mistakenly rather than intentionally certain Catholic apologists have sometimes maintained. With this dogma, as with the others, Church and Magisterium simply recognize the truth established by God’s action, submit to it and, since they are responsible for it, proclaim it with authority, making it into a Church law. . Yves Congar, O.P. ,The Meaning of Tradition, Ignatius Press, 2016, Pg 66

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  3. This is such a typical move of RC apologists: “Kreeft then does a U-Turn and qualifies the Bible’s infallibility,” Good assessment: “Kreeft asserts that the Bible is full of “contradictions and errors” (p. 67), so for him and the RCC to continue to claim that the Bible is “infallible” is itself a glaring contradiction.” Kreeft’s horrible view of the Bible makes me think of how my project answering Bible contradictions is sadly relevant for cults and theological aberrant group like Romanism

    Liked by 1 person

    1. RE: Kreeft’s horrible view of the Bible makes me think of how my project answering Bible contradictions is sadly relevant for cults and theological aberrant group like Romanism

      Very true. Romanism has a very low view of the Bible, seeing half of it as fables meant to teach a moral.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Cathy. Yes, it is difficult to read Kreeft’s fraudulent claims and arguments. I wonder what Rome-friendly evangelical ecumenists would say about this book? Kreeft is presenting the RC view quite accurately and without ecumenical camouflage. It’s blatantly a false gospel.

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  4. Wow more heresy from Kreeft. Linking the infallibility of the New Testament to the Church is ridiculous. The Church is made up of sinful people which is the very definition of fallible! The fact that he puts the Word and the Church on par with each other is just too much. Kreeft is one of the most willfully deluded people on planet earth and I take NO joy in saying this! How can he say the RCC has never accepted Liberal Theology?! The Pope is a massive proponent of Liberation Theology and all of its various offshoots!!!!!!!!

    Are you kidding me?! Now Kreeft is saying the Bible/NT is full of error. Oh wow! Kreeft needs to read the Word for himself, not through the RCC lens. This is by far the worst chapter and it does not get any more damning than this. I am reminded why I can only read many chapters and respond at a time. This is incredulous and I am legitimately angry. This guy is such a stain on the name of Christ it is unreal.

    Good call with RCC apologists not mentioning the infallibility of the OT that existed long before the NT and the RCC! Thank you for summarizing how the RCC is fallible in their moral failings!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Kreeft is an incongruous mess in this chapter and symbolizes the dichotomy of RC-ism. He derides liberal theology and then embraces it by claiming the Bible is full of errors and contradictions. Yup, despite the sophistry, the bloody and scandalous history of RC-ism refutes claims of Holy Spirit-guided papal infallibility.

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