Friday, April 05, 2002

Great stuff by Dr. Byron

(Dr.) Mark Byron has a couple of great posts from last night and today.

Last night he commented on Libertarianism, a topic which is likely to get some attention at this blog in the future.

This morning's post concerns my comments last night regarding Catholicism and Exclusivism. He makes some excellent remarks vis. being on guard against false teachers, as Paul warned in 1 and 2 Timothy, and he posits that "staying true to church doctrine is a safe bet, given that the church itself is sound, since you're more likely to be wrong than the church is in a doctrinal difference; the church has spent centuries or millennia hacking their theology."

He concludes with the following remark: "That being said, the believer needs to look at what he's being taught and weigh it against scripture with the guidance of the Holy Spirit."

I completely understand what Mark is saying here. At the same time, it seems to me that the vast majority of Christians cannot have metaphysical certitude regarding their own insights, i.e. we can't be sure that our confidence in a particular teaching is from the Holy Spirit or not. Why? Because too many of us have convictions regarding our own particular beliefs which are in contradiction with the views of their equally-convicted brothers and sisters in Christ; e.g. is baptism regenerative or not? is Scripture the only authentic source of doctrine for the Christian or not? Is Jesus really present -- body and blood, soul and divinity -- in the Eucharist or not?

These real disagreements point -- in my mind -- to the need for an objective teaching authority, an authority which is thereby actually a gift to believers, in that it gives us assurance as to what is authentic Christian doctrine and what isn't. That's why I think the document put out by the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission in 1999 is so aptly titled: The Gift of Authority.

That being said, I agree with Mark that the believer must closely look at what's being taught... not so much to verify its veracity, but rather to appropriate it and make it his own.

I hope that these posts read as I intend them, i.e. with a spirit of Christian charity. As others have noted, we (all Christians) agree on many things, and while are differences are real, we cannot allow them to dominate our interaction. I think that Mark is an excellent example of how one can honestly disagree with another Christian yet do so in a spirit of charity. Thanks, Mark.

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