Roman Catholic Michael Liccione recently provided a comment in the comment box of a Roman Catholic blog that I think highlights two of the problems with Roman Catholic theology: (1) the disparaging of the authority of Scriptures themselves; and (2) the deification of “the Church.”
What’s needed is a concrete, communal, continuous locus of “the sources” that is the divinely authorized subjectum of those sources. In other words, what’s needed is not “a” church but “the” Church that Jesus founded. Apart from such an body, the sources have no authoritative meaning; they are just “data” that we interpret in ways that may seem plausible to us, but which have no divine authority. Thus they leave us no way to distinguish divine revelation from human opinions about the sources.
So if we’re going to see the relevant “evidence” as such, we have to see it in the way such a body sees it over time. Just as we have no access to the Father without the Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, so we have no access to Christ, cognitive or sacramental, without “the” Church that is his Mystical Body.
The authority in God’s Word is inherent authority, because of their authorship. Their meaning is an objective reality that is authoritative, whether or not it is recognized. Ignorance of that meaning does not diminish the authority of the meaning.
I like the way Augustine (A.D. 354-430) put it:
Our volumes are put up for sale in public; the light never needs to blush. Let them buy them, read them, believe them; or else buy them, read them, make fun of them. Those Scriptures know how to hold people guilty who read them and don’t believe.
– Augustine, Sermon 198.20, translation found in John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, Newly Discovered Sermons, Part 3, Vol. 11, trans. Edmund Hill, O.P. (Hyde Park: New City Press, 1997), pp. 195-196.
And Scripture itself teaches:
Psalm 19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Moreover, just as Roman Catholicism’s view of Mary as co-mediatrix deifies Mary by placing her in position as mediator between God and man, so also Liccione’s attempt to insert “the Church” (meaning the Roman Catholic Church) between men and Christ similarly deifies the church: “Just as we have no access to the Father without the Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, so we have no access to Christ, cognitive or sacramental, without “the” Church that is his Mystical Body.”
But Scripture says:
For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, if ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: how that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; that the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.
Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: in whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.
And again, we read:
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
May I call our Roman Catholic friends to this communion with God that is described by Paul in Romans, communion with God through faith alone in Christ alone by grace alone, all to the glory of God alone.