ARNE: No one that I know of from any serious denomination purports in any way to ” know infallibly ” what is true, or claims any exclusive authority to understand the scriptures except the pope. What people is trying to, is to understand the scriptures. And I think any serious person will never suggest that he or his denomination holds the whole truth exclusively to all others.
BFHU: Jesus promised to be with His Church to the end of time. He gave Peter the Keys to the Kingdom and told him that whatever he bound on earth is/would be bound in Heaven and whatever he loosed on Earth it would be loosed in Heaven. This does not mean that God was bound or loosed by Peter’s decision but that Peter’s decisions were already bound or loosed in Heaven.
We know that Peter made astounding decisions at the dawn of Christianity by doing away with circumcision, the dietary laws, and choosing a successor to Judas. How did Peter know a successor to Judas was to be found? Jesus must have told him and the rest of the apostles about succession. How did Peter know that the ancient practice of circumcision and the dietary laws, which sound like permanent ordinances in the OT, could be abolished? Jesus must have instructed him before His death. The Pope is the final authority but when he acts or teaches in union with the bishops he is also infallible.
In fact, when you or I teach the truths of the Catholic Church, we are teaching infallibly. But we do not have the gift of infallibility. And this does not mean that the Pope is therefore able to just pronounce oracles. No. This is not what infallibility means. I merely means that God will prevent the pope and/or the pope and the bishops, from ever teaching error about faith and morals to the whole Church. You might find this post of interest in order to properly understand infallibility.—->If the Pope Is Infallible…
Look Arne, I know that Protestants would never openly claim to be able to infallibly interpret scripture. But, this is exactly what they do when they act on what they think scripture means and leave a denomination because it doesn’t agree with their interpretation. Or, they start a new Church based on their interpretation of Scripture. Or they condemn other Christians for believing something that does not agree with their ninterpretation of scripture. They are convinced that their interpretation of Scripture is the TRUE one and that everyone else is wrong. If this is not thinking that their interpretation is infallible I don’t know what that would be then. They don’t claim infallibility because they KNOW Jesus did not promise every believer infallibility.
Therefore, they reason, the Holy Spirit is infallible and they just know that the Holy Spirit is leading them and therefore it is safe to act on what they are sure is the Holy Spirit’s infallible interpretation. Now, many stop there and never second guess or wonder more deeply the implication of this belief regarding other seemingly sincere Christians. And these people manifest a pride and arrogance that does not comport with a Christian character. And it is pretty obvious that they deem themselves pretty darn infallible despite the FACT that they would never claim to be infallible. Yet they teach, act, criticize, and condemn as if they KNOW their interpretation is infallible.
But, most Protestants are troubled by the fact that many of the people in the church they left because it didn’t agree with their interpretation, or other Christians who disagree with their interpretation of scripture, or Christians who believe things that they disagree with are very loving and seemingly very sincere Christians. This gives them a lot of cognitive dissonance. Therefore, they will then in humility realize they could be wrong. Some will just try not to think about it and go on as if they were correct anyway. Some, and this is what I did as a Protestant, will conclude thus:
When I read the Scripture I understand it to mean such and such. When Joe reads the very same scripture he reads it to mean something quite different. Joe really seems to love the Lord. I don’t know of any great sin in his life. Why doesn’t the Holy Spirit cause him to understand this scripture to mean such and such, the same as me? I KNOW I love the Lord. I know I am seeking the Truth in sincerity. Yes, I sin but nothing terrible and I am always asking for forgiveness. What is causing Joe to think that the Scripture means something different than what I think it means? Why doesn’t the Holy Spirit lead us to both understand this scripture to mean such and such? I know my heart and it is as it should be. I don’t know Joe’s heart though. It must NOT be as it should be and therefore the Holy Spirit is not REALLY leading Joe’s interpretation of Scripture even though he thinks He is leading him. Therefore Joe’s interpretation is not correct, but mine must be. So, I will trust my interpretation and reject Joe’s interpretation.
This was the only way to understand this problem that made any sense. But it made me uncomfortable so I tried not to think about it. But, when my interpretation caused such a surprising uproar in the church I was in I found it very hard to ignore or find a reasonable explanation. I begged God to show me the Truth, even if I was wrong. I just wanted to KNOW THE TRUTH. And next thing I knew I found the Catholic Church. Do you want to know the Truth no matter where it leads? Do you want to know the Truth, even if it means you are wrong?
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