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February 22, 2022 12:01 am
To this day, Protestants and Roman Catholics are divided over the Bible's authority. Where do we differ? Today, R.C. Sproul examines the Roman Catholic view of the Bible and shows how the 16th-century Reformation brought needed correction.
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Many Protestants have come to believe a caricature of the Roman Catholic Church, but Protestantism believes the Bible is the final authority and Roman Catholicism believes that the pope or the church is the only final authority as if Rome had a low view of sacred Scripture. I want to put that caricature to rest today as we examine the development of the Roman Catholic view of sacred Scripture is no question that Roman Catholics impose this disagree on the major points of theology, but it's important to represent those differences correctly and fairly. Unfortunately, there are misconceptions on both sides. What are the differences that really divide Roman Catholics and Protestants. Let's find out there's doctors explore in the 16th century we saw the Protestant Reformation and it was called Protestants because there was obviously a protest and the protest of the 16th century is often divided between the so-called material because of reformation or the material protest and the formal protests that we make this distinction between the material cause or protest of the Reformation and the formal costs the material cause being the issue of justification, namely the question how is a person ultimately redeemed by Jesus Christ. The formal issue.
The underlying issue.
The issue that was not at the center of the stage in the controversy, but nevertheless was at the center of the whole dispute and the whole debate was the question of authority and most specifically the question of the authority of Scripture's so we're going to begin today with an examination of the Roman Catholic notion of the authority of Scripture and how it is similar and how it is different from the Protestant view of Scripture historically throughout the course. I want to deal with five major issues of dispute this morning.
The question of Scripture and authority than tomorrow were going to look at the Roman Catholic church is notion of the relationship of the church. The visible church and human redemption.
For example, we know that the ancient creative Roman Catholic development included the notion that outside of the visible church. There was no salvation and that doctrine of ecclesiastical redemption has developed through the years and were going to examine that historical development, particularly noting more recent discussions of the question in Rome in the third topic of discussion will be that of papal infallibility, which of course is also an issue of great concern for Protestants that were going to look at the differences between the Roman Catholic view of sacraments and the Protestant view of sacraments in the fifth lecture we will consider the division of Roman Catholic theology known as Mary elegy or the study of the place. The role in the function of Mary in Roman Catholic theology by Glenda this morning. Let's look then at this question of the formal cause of the Reformation, usually indicated by the Reformation slogans Sola script Torah just as they material battle cry.
The Reformation is Sola vide justification is by faith alone. The formal battle cry of the Reformation was Sola script Torah that the final ultimate authority for the Christian is to be found in the Scriptures alone just a moment of historical background on that point you will remember. I'm sure that the Protestant Reformation received its initial impetus from the controversy centering around indulgences in Germany and there was this Augustinian monk by the name of Martin Luther who attacked his theses to the church door at Wittenberg, asking for disputation concerning some abuses that he saw in this program of indulgences and what mushroomed out of this initial protest by Luther got Luther in all kinds of trouble with the Roman church.
Concerning various facets of his theology and several important debates did take place between Luther and representatives of the Roman Catholic Church. Perhaps the most important initial debate was that debate that Luther had with Cardinal Cage at 10. The representative of the Roman hierarchy that Took Pl. in August board of Germany and in this particular encounter between Cardinal Cage at seven and Martin Luther. Luther in the course of the discussion and in the course of the debate stated that in his opinion, the Pope could make mistakes in his ecclesiastical pronouncements were keep in mind that this is prior to the formal definition of the Roman Catholic Church of the infallibility of the Pope. Nevertheless, the idea of papal authority was already tacitly assumed by the people within the Roman Catholic Church.
Although it had not yet been formally and officially defined by the church, but at this debate in August board. Luther challenged the authority of the Pope and then in later debates, particularly with Martin asked the master theologian of the Roman Catholic Church.
At this time in a debate at Lightsey Luther at this particular occasion denied the infallibility of church councils, but keep in mind that, historically, Roman Catholic theologians were in the vision and dispute among themselves as to where the ultimate authority was to be found in the church council or in papal decisions.
There was a division at that point, and some of them believe the church councils were more authoritative than the popes and some believe that the popes were more authoritative in the church council here comes Martin Luther down the street and he says a pox on both your houses.
I don't believe in the infallibility of either church council or the Pope and this issue came to its crocs. Of course at the famous diet of warm swear, Luther was called to stand and defend his cause before the princes of the church as well as before the princes of the state and as you all know I'm sure when he was called upon to recant his views and of his writings. Luther replied, after much consideration, he said, unless I am convinced by the testimony of holy Scripture or by evident reason I will not I cannot recant my conscience is held captive by the word of God and to act against conscience is neither right nor safe and all that dramatic gesture than whether my Luther said it or not is questionable. But then he goes on from there to say here I stand I can do no other God help me, but the significant dimension of the statement of works is that Luther said unless I am convinced by the testimony of sacred Scripture.
He said I see that holy Scripture is my only ultimate authority, the Pope can the Council, are but for me the Scriptures cannot and so the doctrine of Scripture was immediately elevated as a central point of authority for all of the reform bodies of the 16th century that because of that dispute. It is often misunderstood. In terms of our understanding of Roman Catholic theology and Roman Catholic development and exit of Protestant caricature that says that Protestantism believes the Bible is the final authority and the only authority and Roman Catholicism believes that the Pope or the church is the only final authority as if Rome had a low view of sacred Scripture. I want to put that caricature to rest today as we examine the development of the Roman Catholic view of sacred Scripture.
The most important moments in all of Roman Catholic history is found in the assembling of the Council of Trent. The so-called tried denting counsel that takes place in the middle of the 16th century. The Council of Trent remains to this day, the most formidable console of dispute between Protestantism and the Roman Catholic Church. The Council of Trent was called as a response to the Protestant Reformation and it is Trent that Rome gives official definition to their views of justification to sacraments and to many other of the issues of the Reformation and in the fourth session of the Council of Trent, which occurred in 1546.
Here we see in the tried denting declaration that the Scriptures are said to have come to us either directly from the mouth of pricer from the apostles under the dictation of God the Holy Spirit and God is called the author of both Testaments old and New Testament.
So here a very high view of Scripture is articulated by the Roman Catholic Church and the most significant word here of course is the Latin Dick Aponte, the Holy Spirit dictated this almost universal agreement around Roman Catholic scholars and historians that Ron did not mean to set for us in elaborate notion of dictation but is simply using a figurative form of speech in the conciliar statement that is tried to call attention to the fact that the Scriptures have their origin and their authority in the power and authority of God and namely God the Holy Spirit. If we look through the development of Roman Catholic theology concerning Scripture since the 16th century, we see that Rome develops a very strong view of the inerrancy and the inspiration of sacred Scripture.
This is particularly evident in the 19th century where in both Protestantism and Roman Catholic circles, the question of the integrity of sacred Scripture was a central issue in the world of theology with the rise of the so-called modernist controversy stitched the modernist controversy which set conservative Christians over against those caught up in the movement of 19th century liberal theology which focused much of its effort on an attack of the reliability and integrity of the biblical witnesses was not limited to Protestant circles, but this modernist controversy which is so often seen as simply dispute between so-called American fundamentalism and European and American liberalism had great impact on the Roman Catholic Church and Rome spoke very strongly against the modernist movement in various decrees in papal encyclicals of the 19th and early 20th century at Vatican Council number one which met in 1870 and will be looking at the different dimensions of Vatican one. Throughout this course at Vatican one the following statements were made by the Roman Catholic Church.
It said regarding the Scriptures quote that the Scriptures came under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. They, that is, the biblical writings have God for their author again, repeating the pronouncement of Trent and then finally at Vatican one.
The Council stated quote that the Scriptures contain Revelation without error.
Here's the notion of Revelation without error or the concept of inerrancy bidding stated at least somewhat clearly by first Vatican Council. This notion of inerrancy was affirmed by Pope Pius X in 1907, which was a pivotal year in the so-called modernist controversy in 1907, Pius X gave to encyclicals. One was called lamentably and the other was for Sunday. Domenici, Greg. It's both. In 1907. These two encyclicals by Pius X, affirmed the notion of inerrancy of Scripture and the inspiration of Scripture over against Modernism and gave us scathing criticism of the modernist position with respect to Scripture, Hans Curran, for example, the contemporary Roman Catholic theologian of great fame and controversy within Rome makes the following statement he says from the time of Leo the 13th, and particularly in the modernist confusion. The complete and absolute inerrancy of Scripture was constantly explicitly and systematically defended in papal encyclicals. The last word, not from a conservative scholar within the Roman Catholic Church, but the leading liberal scholar of 20th century Roman Catholic theology. The one who's been in more trouble in the Vatican and you seen it in time magazine or newspaper concerning elf Hans: this evaluation of the development of the doctrine of Scripture is that the church has clearly explicitly constantly and systematically affirmed what he calls the absolute inerrancy of the Scripture not course, Cohen does not permit and believes that the church is made a mistake in the statements but appealing to these 19th century and 20th century encyclicals.
He sees this as being the case, one other important moment is the encyclical co-conspirators parklike to use the spirit of comfort in the spirit of consolation written in 1920 by Benedict the 15th was also one of those encyclicals that reaffirmed the classic view of Rome know when we get into the middle of the 20th century we find an encyclical by the Roman Catholic Church that has been pivotal in recent discussions as to the latitude that scholars have with dealing with the Bible critically and that papal encyclical is entitled Vino of 401(k) spirit serves the Vino a Fonte spirit to came to us in 1943 65, Pius XII. Now this particular encyclical. As I said is of pivotal significance for understanding the current controversy within the Roman Catholic Church with respect to their view of Scripture have the text of that encyclical before me and I'm not going to go over it in detail because it's quite lengthy but just to give you a taste of it. The encyclical begins with the words venerable brothers health and apostolic benediction and then immediately it says inspired by the divine spirit the sacred writers compose those books which God in his paternal charity towards the human race designed to bestow on them for teaching for reproving for correcting for instructing injustice that the man of God may be perfect for every good work goes on to describe the Scriptures as a heaven sent treasure as a most precious source of doctrine then goes through an interesting historical reconnaissance of what had already been defined by the Roman Catholic Church. So the reason I call attention to that is that in this encyclicals the Vino of what they spirit to Pius XII goes back over the previous encyclicals including Leos product is misdiagnosed and condemns as heretical any view of Scripture that tries to restrict the inspiration and the inerrancy of Scripture to some undefined nature of content Scripture that relates only to faith and morals and declares that heretical in this particular encyclical. So in the first page of the encyclical we see Pius XII, coming on very strong affirming everything that is been said before by his predecessors.
Now, in this discussion. He goes on to say that inerrancy does not mean that there is no room in the Bible for the use of figurative language for what we would call an Protestantism phenomenological language that is describing things as they appear to the naked eye like the sun moving across the heaven, so that's not an error. There's room there for phenomenological language. Language of site language of vision. There is room for hyperbole and then he goes on to speak of the necessity of very very careful examination of the Scriptures in terms of textual criticism stretched and all literary analysis of the text that we might understand the proper forms in which the Scripture comes to us, but because he allows in the principles of interpretation and analysis of literary for higher critics within Rome jumped at this point and said all right if we are supposed to analyze the Scripture in terms of their forms. That means we can examine it in terms of the form of myth the form of legend. The form of saiga, etc. and that statement in this encyclical opened the door just a crack to give some room for the higher critical movement to begin to function openly within the Roman Catholic Church and that provoke a crisis all of its own. At the second Vatican Council. There was much agitation on the question of biblical authority and the whole concept of the doctrine of Scripture within the Roman Catholic Church and in the caucuses of the meetings and in the disputes and the speeches. The two sides the conservatives and the liberals one after each other hammer and thought. Finally, Vatican two issued the so-called dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation which said and I quote the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching firmly faithfully and without their that truths which God wanted to put into the sacred writings for the sake of our salvation. This was the final statement by the dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation. Listen to those words carefully. The books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching firmly faithfully and without their there. The conservatives were screaming for the inclusion of the term inerrancy or the phrase without air and at that point they gained the day but listen to the rest of the statement. What is it that the books of Scripture are knowledge is teaching without air that proves which God wanted put into the sacred writings for the sake of our salvation, but is all that the Constitution says here is that there is that least that truth which God wanted in the Scriptures for our salvation. That truth is in there without air, but there is not a blanket statement covering all of Scripture.
However, if we interpret the dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation in light of previous papal encyclicals. What could be the only conclusion you could come to if Rome is unchanging and infallible and systematically coherent. The only conclusion you come to is that that's nothing new. They've already said that the truth of Scripture comes without air and all that it says and that without error is not limited to, truths relevant to salvation, but certainly it includes those truths relevant to sellers. In other words I'm dealing with this conservative Catholic would do that. The Catholic was able course, we believe that the Scriptures have without air that truth which God wanted there for the sake of our salvation. Not only is that truth without their hello the truth of Scripture is without air were not going to limited to matters relating to faith and morals. Because we can't limit the faith and morals. Because those who want a limited merely to faith and morals have already been condemned by the earlier encyclical the liberals will say no. This represents the progress in the living, breathing, vitality of the church and now we have another opening to restrict inerrancy to that truths which is of matters pertaining to salvation but that's the issue for road right now is where is the ultimate authority in the church is it in councils and papal encyclicals.
Is it in Scripture errors it in some of those things and not others or is it in some amorphous, ambiguous, mainstream of collective opinion of the church that that's what's grinding the Roman Catholic Church right now in their own great internal struggle of the in those debates raging within the Roman Catholic Church revealed once again the importance of the five solos of the Reformation this week on Renewing Your Mind were taking a very careful look at what the Roman Catholic Church believes are doing is not to tear down or ridicule, but it is important to know what the Catholic Church teaches it's only then that we can engage your Catholic friends with what the Bible teaches about sin, salvation in heaven as we are doctors pro se today. The reformers returned to Scripture as their sole authority and without foundation in place. Reformation theology was built will provide a digital download of all five messages of this series when you contact us today with the donation of any amount will also send you a copy of Dr. Sproles book are we together in it, he defends the documents that stand in opposition to the errors of the Roman Catholic Church. So request. Both of these resources with your donation of getting about. You can reach us by phone at 800-435-4343 or you can go online to Renewing Your Mind.or we have produced many helpful resources on the Reformation. You'll find articles, videos and podcasts and are free at downloaded to your phone or tablet. When you search for Liggett error in your app store tomorrow. RC will look at the rise of the papacy and its influence and he'll address the question is the Pope infallible. I hope you'll join us tomorrow for Renewing Your Mind