What does authority mean within the church and the Bible?
Hope you are having a blessed day in Christ!
Was just wondering what you though[t] of following response article [on the Kolbe website]?
kind regards in Him
The difficulty with responding to the Kolbe Center’s comments on our article [The Gift of Scripture—it’s an issue of authority] is that one can get into a game of web-article-ping-pong. At the outset, we acknowledge that much good work and research is done by the Kolbe Center. Their desire to accept and teach the truth of Genesis is commendable and their articles contain much of benefit to the wider creationist community.
Nevertheless, as an organisation set firmly and unashamedly within the Roman Catholic Church, their criticisms of our article rest, as did our article’s title, on a definition of authority. Hugh Owen rightly underlines the differences that can exist between Protestant and Catholic uses of such words, but, with respect, we would point out that there are also differences between Owen’s theoretical use of the word, and the practical outworking of authority within the Catholic Church, as within any organisation. For example, Owen criticises our article stating that it was incorrect for us to give the impression that The Gift of Scripture ‘contained the official, authoritative teaching of the Catholic Church on Sacred Scripture in general and on the interpretation of Genesis in particular.’ It is not a surprise to us that Owen and his colleagues rightly reject the views of Genesis expressed in The Gift of Scripture, but this does not mean that the views do not carry authority.
Owen takes a lot of space in his response to defend the view that the Pope can be wrong in some of his pronouncements, though not in those made ex cathedra. In this way, he can dismiss the late John Paul II’s comment that ‘evolution is more than a hypothesis’ as not being part of the Magisterium. While this is technically true, John Paul’s words carried a technical authority, on account of his office, as well as a practical authority, as we would venture to state that his views concur with those of the Catholic scientists, to which he was speaking. While, as Protestant Evangelical Christians, we would never have accepted his religious authority over any of our views, we recognise that he would not have supposed that his words would carry no weight or influence, even if he did not intend them to have ex cathedra authority. Indeed, it should be noted that John Paul quoted Pius XII’s support for evolution as being within the Magisterium.
Dear AIG Staff,
We have been so blessed by your ministry! We are charter members of the Creation Museum, and are so happy to be a part of supporting your work in this way. We’ve shared our newsletters, magazines, DVDs, and information about the museum with many others. In fact, we are beginning a series of teachings at our church on creation/evolution referencing many of AIGs information (from DVDs, etc.). We also want to congratulate you on the website award. How awesome! It really is a well-put-together and informative site. God bless you as you continue to do more of the same wonderful work in 2006!!
Lisa & Jon
However, accepting that as a non-Catholic (albeit with many close Catholic friends and family members), we may not understand all the nuances of Catholic theological use of such terms as authority, the practical outworking is obvious. The Gift of Scripture is endorsed and distributed by the UK’s cardinal archbishops. The Gift of Scripture is visibly endorsed by many Catholic dioceses. The Catholic Truth Society has published many study guides to accompany The Gift of Scripture. The Gift of Scripture is now being actively studied in Catholic churches throughout England, Wales and Scotland. These facts all add up to a tremendous practical authority for The Gift of Scripture, even if Mr Owen were technically correct about the supposed legal authority within the Catholic Church. Mr Owen needs to be aware of the tremendous impact The Gift of Scripture has had in the UK, and, in particular, in the Catholic Church in England, Wales and Scotland.
Surely it is undeniable that Mr Owen’s view is not held by a majority of scientists within the Catholic Church. That fact is regrettable, and in some ways he and his colleagues find themselves in a situation analogous to ours. The reason for mentioning this is that Mr Owen’s problem is not really with us, but with the writers of The Gift of Scripture. If Mr Owen feels that the opinions given in The Gift of Scripture are not in line with the way Catholic theology should be, then he needs to take this matter up, not with AiG, but with the writers of The Gift of Scripture, and especially with the Cardinal Archbishops of Westminster and Edinburgh, who have so enthusiastically endorsed its erroneous contents, and recommended it for study throughout their archdiocese.
Finally, we have to point out that we must part company with Mr Owen even on the basis of his acceptance of scriptural truth. He accepts scriptural truth (presumably along with the added, apocryphal books) on the basis of his interpretation of Magisterium. Even allowing for his interpretation to be correct, we have to say that we reject the authority of the Magisterium. We accept the truth of Scripture (the 66 books) because it is God’s Word, because it is, itself, our final authority. This may seem a pedantic distinction to draw between two positions that both accept the truth of Genesis—and we genuinely rejoice in the work that Mr Owen and his colleagues do in underlining the truth of Genesis. However, it is important to state, as we did in our article, that we do not look to our organisation for authority, nor to our denominations, churches, leaders or documents. Instead, we look to the Bible itself.
We conclude by quoting two points from our Statement of Faith that pertain to the issue of authority and Scripture.
The 66 books of the Bible are the written Word of God. The Bible is divinely inspired and inerrant throughout. Its assertions are factually true in all the original autographs. It is the supreme authority, not only in all matters of faith and conduct, but in everything it teaches. Its authority is not limited to spiritual, religious or redemptive themes but includes its assertions in such fields as history and science.
The final guide to the interpretation of Scripture is Scripture itself.
– The speakers at Answers in Genesis–UK/Europe