Monday, August 20, 2007

The Canon: Fallible Certainty

Ellen has written a great post on the biblical canon - please read it.

The fallibility/infallibility argument is the smokescreen of Catholicism. In other words, Catholics cannot know with infallible certainty that the Roman Catholic Church is infallible. In the end, we are all making fallible decisions as fallible humans.


Mike Burgess said...

The link didn't work for me. I'm always interested in this topic, so if you could fix it, I'd like to see it.

Mike Burgess

Carrie said...

The link works for me?

Here is the url:

jswranch said...

I have read the article three times now. I understand how a Protestant can and really must profess 'a fallible collection of infallible books.' (FCIB) Perhaps I am missing something but these are some of my observations of why I do not think FCIB could be true:

-To say that we have to be infallibly certain about something before it can be believed and acted upon is setting the standard so high that only God Himself could attain to it. Outside of mathematics and analytical statements (e.g. a triangle had three sides), there is no absolute certainty, only relative certainty.
I am going to use this argument against those who think they are assured of their own eternal salvation.

-The smoke screen of epistemological certainty that seems to be provided by having a living infallible authority (Magisterium) disappears when we realize that we all start with fallibility...
Why? Just because I am fallible does not mean the HS didn't institue an infallible institution to do its will. Wasnt Moses the infallible teacher annointed by God to instruct His people in truth?

-It serves to make the Christian aware of the fact that she walks by faith, and not by sight... Are we shown doubt in the Bible? One of my favorite verses: [Mk9:23-24]

These throws me. I cannot be certain that the book of Mark belongs in scripture, however I can be certain of my salvation in Christ because the biblical book of Mark tells me so...??!! This seems to conflict. To answer, "Are we shown doubt in the Bible?" I say, no, but we cannot be certain Mark belongs, therefore we can doubt this verse belongs.

-Without doubt, we are sure. With surety, it is not faith....
Hebrews 11:1... Romans 8:24
If there is no room for doubt, it is not hope, and it is not faith.

?? Ok we can be certain of the correct status of our surety, faith, hope, and doubt based on books we cannot be sure are scripture. Heck, we do not even know who wrote Hebrews. Isn't this circular logic?

-I have historical evidence that the Hebrew Jews did not include the parts that my Bible does not include.
Who cares? The Jews are fallible sinners, right? Just because one fallible group uses one fallible canon means little if anything.

-there is room for doubt, but also room for hope and faith that my Bible includes what it needs to include to lead me to eternal life and to a life of Christian faith and conduct.
Based on what infallible source? Hebrews or Romans? Again, I believe this is circular logic. cannot infallibly prove your fallible faith in the magisterium is any less fallible than my faith in God.
So what? Does that mean an infallible authority does not exist? I would claim that I can prove that an infallible authority did exist from scripture alone. We can look at Moses. Moses served as the infallible magisterium to the people of God (aka Church), even though he was a fallen, sinful human, sola ecclesia style.

Final thoughts:

-Can we be infallibly certain an infallible book even exists? We cannot.

-If we deny that God established an institution of fallen, sinful human beings to infallibly teach the Gospel and the scriptures to us because they are fallen, sinful persons, can we believe that the Holy Spirit used fallen sinful human beings to even write infallible, inerrant books? No.

- If the doctrine of Fallible Collection of Infallible Books (FCIB) is true, can we be certain of any one book belongs in scripture? No.

-(See above) Assuming FCIB, does a source we can be dogmatically certain of exist by which we can know that there is such a thing as a bible? No. Assuming FCIB, we cannot be certain there is such a thing as the Bible. If you disagree, site a source we are certain of. A response such as a quote from lets say 2 Tim 3:15, begs us to state that we cannot be infallibly certain 2 Tim belongs in scripture. Can we say with certainty that we know scripture even exists or is inerrant from any source such as Acts 2:42? No. Why? Because we cannot be infallibly/dogmatically certain Acts is scripture.

-Can we be infallibly certain Jesus rose from the dead? No. First, we have already established that we cannot be infallibly certain of anything. Second, we do not infallibly have any source that tells us He did rise from the dead. Some books tell us he rose, but we are not certain those books are acutally scripture, therefore we cannot be certain he rose from the dead if FCIB is true.

Carrie said...


I am having trouble following your logic.

Did you read the original article that Ellen was quoting from because that article covers more points that Ellen may not have covered?

Give me some time and I will try to go through and answer all your questions/doubts in a post or two. I'm just not in the mood to do it tonight.