Friday, September 30, 2011

JUST FOR my fellow CATHOLICS - The Canon

Just for Catholics is a website where Dr. Mizzi seeks to convince Catholics to leave the Catholic Church.  I am reviewing his teachings and comparing them to the Word of God in Tradition, Scripture and Magisterium.  We are currently on this article.  His words in blue.

The Canon: Which Books are Inspired?
Question: You believe that the Bible is the sole authority for doctrine. However the Bible itself does not list which books are inspired and which are not. For the first four centuries many books were debated as whether or not they were inspired or not. How then can you know if a book is not missing? Or one is included that shouldn't be? The Bible would not exist without the Catholic Church's authority to say it is inspired. It seems you have no way of knowing it is inspired if you deny the authority of the Catholic Church who decided which was inspired and which was not. The Bible is a Church book.
Another person wrote: The Catholic Church gave us the Bible. You should therefore follow the interpretation of the Bible given by the Catholic Church.

This is a very good question which Dr. Mizzi never really addresses.  Let me give you a picture of the situation at the time of the Reformation.

At the time of Luther, the Church had maintained a 73 book Bible.  27 books of the New Testament.  46 of the Old Testament.

At that time, Luther, because he had discarded the authority of the Catholic Church, decided to follow the Jewish leadership as they had discarded the books which were not written in Hebrew.  These are what Protestants call the Apocrypha and we call the Deuterocanonicals.  They are seven books of the Old Testament and the Protestants took them out of their Bible.

Answer: The canon is the set of inspired books that make up the Holy Scriptures, the written Word of God. 

Correct.  The Canon was determined by the Catholic Church.

They are called ‘canonical’ because they are the rule, the standard of faith. ‘Canon’ is derived from a Greek word, kanon, meaning a measuring-rod. No matter how valuable and useful, other human writings are not canonical because they are not inspired. Human writings are fallible (can be mistaken) and could not be called the Word of God.

That's close enough.  The Canon does mean the standard.  But the standard or canon is the 73 book Bible.  Not the 66 book Bible of the Protestants.

The canon is not ‘determined’ by the church or church leaders. The church did not give us the Bible. 

Yes.  The Church did give us the Bible.

Rather, God gave the Bible to His people, the church, and not the other way around. 

God gave His people the Bible through His Church.  Just as God teaches His people through His Church and God baptizes His people through His Church.  The Church is God's chosen instrument for evangelizing the world.

Every book written by the inspiration of God is, by definition, canonical. 

We know that now.  But no one knew that before the Catholic Church sifted through the hundreds of New Testament books which many considered inspired Scripture in the second century.  The Shepherd of Hermas, the Gospel of Peter, the epistle of Barnabus, etc. etc.  It is the Catholic Church which sifted through those books and said they were apocryphal.

It is canonical because it is the Word of God, not because of any human decision to regard it as such. 

But it took the Catholic Church to sift through all the books and discard those which were not the Word of God while keeping those which are.

Therefore the canon of the Scripture was completed when the last book of the New Testament was written, even though all Christians did not yet possess all the canonical books collected in one book.

But the point is, that no one knew which books those were.  So, although all the books of Scripture were completed, they were mixed in with other books which also existed during that time.  And regular people couldn't tell the difference.  Even some of the clergy couldn't tell the difference.

The New Testament books were given to the churches as sacred Scripture. During the apostolic age, Christians were aware that new books were being added to the Scriptures, which were of equal authority to the Old Testament scriptures. These books and epistles were copied, circulated among the churches, and passed on to succeeding generations. There was a general consensus among Christians on most books of the New Testament, though there were some doubts about a few. By the fourth century, there was a general agreement on all books of the New Testament, both in the eastern and the western church.

Lol!  Dr. Mizzi has just shot himself in the foot on this issue.  Why would the Church have had to go four centuries, building "consensus and general agreement", if the Scriptures were readily evident.

Obviously, he wants to jump right over the Church and ignore the steps the Church took to ascertain the true Scriptures.  

The Eastern Orthodox Church was the first to formally identify the 27 books of the New Testament in A.D. 367. 

Lol! The Eastern Orthodox Church did not exist for another four centuries:

Until 1054 AD Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism were branches of the same body—the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church....

At that time, the Eastern and Western branches of the Church were still one Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

McVey wide skyscraper.jpgThe canonical books were listed in Athanasius' Easter letter from Alexandria. Later on the Western church accepted the same books at the councils of Hippo (A.D. 393) and Carthage (A.D. 397). Having received from the Jews the books of the Old Testament and from our Christian forefathers the books of the New, today we possess the complete Bible.

Exactly!  Why did he go through the exercise of denying that the Church determined the Scripture and now he is explaining how the Church determined the Scripture.

Catholic apologists often argue about the canon, either to discredit Sola Scriptura (the Bible is the sole, infallible rule of faith), or to elevate the authority of the magisterium and tradition. They employ three basic arguments, all of which are fallacious.

How can he say that when he just proved them true?  It is the Magisterium of the Church which met at the councils he produced above and they began the Tradition of the New Testament Scripture at that time.  That Biblical Tradition has continued since then.

1. The canon cannot be ascertained from Scripture alone
No, we cannot, but we don’t have to either. The Bible is not a doctrine to be determined from the Bible itself. Rather, Scripture was given by God to His people as the infallible rule of faith, and as such it has been recognized and handled to succeeding generations. 

Yep.  It was recognized by the Church and handed on by the Church.

There is no inspired table of contents in the Bible, but there is something even better. Our confidence that we possess all the correct books of the Bible rests in the goodness and omnipotence of our God who both gave and preserved His Word for His children. 

I wonder if that is why Luther called the Epistle of St. James an epistle of straw?

In His wise providence, God has so directed His people (fallible and imperfect as they are) to recognize for certain His Holy Word. The Good Shepherd had promised that His sheep would hear His voice, and that they will not be mislead by the voice of a stranger - and that is exactly what happened, and what continues to happen to this day. “My sheep hear my voice!”

It is a very pretty fairy tale, but he has already admitted that it took centuries for the Church to study the situation and gain agreement as to which books are inspired canon.

2 The canon cannot be known apart from church tradition.
In a sense, this is true. Our forefathers cherished and preserved the sacred writings, and the Lord directed the church to a general consensus on all the books. We have received from their hands the 27 books of the New Testament. We may call this ‘tradition’ - a heritage that is passed on from one generation to the next.

No argument from me.

This ‘tradition’ has nothing to do with the concept of ‘Sacred Tradition' of the Roman Catholic Church. 

Yes, it does.  Just as the Church determined which were the inspired books, the Church determines which is authentic Tradition.

The ‘table of contents’ was not passed orally from one bishop to the other, until somebody decided to publish it! Rather, the books that were already regarded as Scripture by the churches were included in the list of canonical books- and passed on to us.

That's not true.  Dr. Mizzi admitted as much above.

3.The canon cannot be known with certainty apart from the infallible magisterium.
We are told that unless we rely on the decision of the infallible Church magisterium, we have no sure basis for knowing the extent of the canon. How can we be sure that the early Christians did not exclude an inspired book, or included a book that is not inspired?

Good question.

It would be nice to have an infallible magisterium to declare infallibly the list of canonical books. Unfortunately, there are two big problems with this fantasy. First, historically it did not happen that way. 

It is precisely how it happened historically as he himself proved when he mentioned the councils above.

Secondly, how can we know that the magisterium is infallible to start with?

Have faith in the Word of God which tells you that the Church is the Pillar of Truth (1 Tim 3:15).

From the Roman Catholic standpoint, it was not until the sixteenth century at the Council of Trent, that a general council declared ‘infallibly’ the books of the Bible. 

That's not true.  The Church at that time closed the canon.  But it was already infallible before the Church did so.  Again, Dr. Mizzi said so himself.  God chose the canon before the Church determined it from amongst the many counterfeits.

(The councils of Hippo and Carthage were local synods, and could not be considered infallible, since the list of Old Testament books was different from that given by Trent. Indeed, if Trent is correct, then Hippo and Carthage were not merely fallible, but actually mistaken). 

The list of books looks the same to me.  I don't know which list he is talking about.

Yet for fifteen hundred years and more, Christians had built their life and hope on the teaching of those books, being fully confident that they are the Word of God, even though there was no declaration by an infallible magisterium. Today, Evangelicals continue to walk in the steps of their forefathers, having full assurance of the authenticity of the books of the Bible, apart from any ‘infallible’ declaration by a group of bishops.

Even today, some evangelicals deny the inspiration of certain texts, like Mark 16:16.  The Catholic Church does not.

Similarly, the Jewish people recognized a corpus of books that they called 'sacred Scriptures' (which we now call the Old Testament). The Lord Jesus and His apostles reasoned with the Jews from the Scriptures, implying of course that there was a canon that was generally recognized by God's people. Yet, it is clear that the same Jews that recognized the canonical books were not themselves 'infallible.' Jesus does not attribute infallibility to the leaders whose forefathers had first acknowledged the books of the sacred Scriptures. As a matter of fact, they were mistaken on many issues of doctrine and morals, to the extent that they crucified the Messiah prophesied in the same Writings.

That is true.  God sent Moses to establish the Jewish Religion.  God sent His Son to establish the Christian religion.  Therefore many doctrines of the Jews were mistaken.  But not the Doctrines of Jesus Christ.

We can be confident that God has providentially worked in history so that we now possess in our hands the inspired writings. Moreover, we would be wise to follow Jesus and His apostles not to attribute infallibility to the church He used to that end.

We agree.  We can be so confident because God, working through His infallible instrument, the Catholic Church, has provided us not only inspired Scripture but an infallible interpreter.

Secondly, the need for an infallible magisterium creates an additional logical problem. If we cannot know for certain the canon of Scripture apart from an infallible authority, how can we know for certain that the Roman claim to infallibility is certainly true? To say that the magisterium teaches that the magisterium is infallible is begging the question. 

Scripture says it also and Tradition also.

Nor is it possible to argue from the Bible that the magisterium is infallible, for that presupposes that the canon of the Bible is known for certain (apart from the infallible declaration by the magisterium).

Circular arguments are not always false.  Remember the old song.  Jesus loves me, the Bible told me so.  Well, the Church is infallible, the Bible tells me so.

We thank God for giving us His Word in written form. Rather than waste our time arguing on the canon of the New Testament, about which Catholics and Protestants agree, we should move on to study these sacred books to learn God's will and to correct false doctrines that have crept into the churches.

Many false doctrines have crept into Protestant Churches.  Not into the doctrines of the True Church of Christ, the Catholic Church.


De Maria

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Perspicuity of Scripture on Sola Scriptura?

McVey wide skyscraper.jpg

On the Beggars all site I'm having this exchange with Mr. James Swan:

The Perspicuity of 2 Maccabees 12 on Purgatory?

 De Maria said...

In this discussion over whether Purgatory is in Scripture, you seem to require an explicit text.

Yet, when asked to provide an explicit text for Sola Scriptura, you and others on this blog, denied that explicit texts were necessary to prove doctrine.

Is there an explanation for this seeming discrepancy?


De Maria
10:35 PM, September 22, 2011

Blogger James Swan said...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

St. Paul is confusing?

Scripture says:

2 Peter 3:15-16

King James Version (KJV)
 15And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;
 16As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

In this article, I would like to explain:

1.  What, in my opinion, is confusing about St. Paul's theology.  
2.  How it is different from the theology of the other NT authors and 
3.  What I believe is Martin Luther's misunderstanding.

McVey wide skyscraper.jpg


In my understanding of Catholic doctrine, there are two types of justification.

1.  By faith and works

Repentance (i.e. conversion), is the acquisition of faith and the virtues by the grace of God.

1989 The first work of the grace of the Holy Spirit is conversion, effecting justification in accordance with Jesus' proclamation at the beginning of the Gospel: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Moved by grace, man turns toward God and away from sin, thus accepting forgiveness and righteousness from on high. "Justification is not only the remission of sins, but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man.

This justification occurs at the beginning of conversion and after and between the justification of the Sacraments.

2.  By faith apart from works

This is justification "sacramental is", wherein God washes away our sins according to our faith:

1992 Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ who offered himself on the cross as a living victim, holy and pleasing to God, and whose blood has become the instrument of atonement for the sins of all men. Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who makes us inwardly just by the power of his mercy. Its purpose is the glory of God and of Christ, and the gift of eternal life:
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies him who has faith in Jesus.

Justification in the Sacraments is a work of God.  We rest from our works and let God wash away our sins with the washing of the Holy Spirit:
1116 Sacraments are "powers that comes forth" from the Body of Christ, which is ever-living and life-giving. They are actions of the Holy Spirit at work in his Body, the Church. They are "the masterworks of God" in the new and everlasting covenant.
1131 The sacraments are efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us. The visible rites by which the sacraments are celebrated signify and make present the graces proper to each sacrament. They bear fruit in those who receive them with the required dispositions.
That disposition is one of faith:
1127 Celebrated worthily in faith, the sacraments confer the grace that they signify. They are efficacious because in them Christ himself is at work: it is he who baptizes, he who acts in his sacraments in order to communicate the grace that each sacrament signifies. The Father always hears the prayer of his Son's Church which, in the epiclesis of each sacrament, expresses her faith in the power of the Spirit. As fire transforms into itself everything it touches, so the Holy Spirit transforms into the divine life whatever is subjected to his power.
This is the beginning of the confusion.  This is why St. Peter said that St. Paul's teachings were sometimes confusing.  And why St. James thought St. Paul was teaching against Moses:

Acts 21:20-22

King James Version (KJV)
 20And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law:  21And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.  22What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come. Why?  Because St. Paul understood the Sacraments.  He preached justification by faith APART from works:

Galatians 2:16

King James Version (KJV)
 16Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. Notice how he repeatedly says here, "faith OF Christ".  He is not speaking about believing in Christ.  He is speaking about the observance of the rituals instituted by Christ in His new way.  He is speaking of the Sacraments.
This, I believe, is the difference between St. Paul and the other Apostles preaching.  Although all parties understood the washing away of sin in the Sacraments and the perfection of faith in works.  The other Apostles did not seem to understand why St. Paul seemed to be denouncing good works in one breath (see above) and commending them to the highest degree in another:

Galatians 5:6

King James Version (KJV)
 6For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. I'm of the opinion that all the New Testament authors understood Gal 5:6, but only St. Paul understood Gal 2:16.
And this, I also believe, is Luther's error.  Except that Luther, lacking the guidance of the Holy Spirit which protected the Apostles from error, did fall because he did not connect the Sacramental teaching of St. Paul. Luther recognized the Sacraments and he recognized the perfection of the sinner.  But he applied St. Paul's teaching wrongly across the board.  He failed to recognize the difference between the justification (i.e. perfection) that occurs as a result of the effort of the man of God:

2 Peter 1:4-10

King James Version (KJV)
 4Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
 5And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
 6And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
7And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.  8For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  9But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.  10Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
I believe it is very important that we should all understand the difference between these two types of justification.  I've spoken to too many Catholics who speak as though the only way to be justified is by faith AND works.  Whereas it is clear, it God who justifies us in the Sacraments, without any effort on our part.

If we don't understand this difference, we will never understand why brother Luther fell away.

Let me know what you think.

De Maria

Thursday, September 22, 2011

JUST FOR my fellow CATHOLICS - Sola Scriptura and the Church Fathers

McVey wide skyscraper.jpg

Just for Catholics is a website where Dr. Mizzi seeks to convince Catholics to leave the Catholic Church.  I am reviewing his teachings and comparing them to the Word of God in Tradition, Scripture and Magisterium.  We are currently on this article.  His words in blue.

Sola Scriptura and the Church Fathers
Question: You strongly hold to the principle of Sola Scriptura. This teaching is relatively new, it cannot be found anywhere in the history of Christendom until the Protestant reformation in the 16thCentury. I would deeply appreciate if you could show me why you would believe such an erroneous teaching.

Excellent question.

Answer: The principle of Sola Scriptura - the Holy Scripture is the only infallible rule of faith for the church - is neither new nor erroneous. On the contrary, the Church Fathers testify that they too upheld the Scriptures as the sufficient and authoritative font of divine revelation.

The Church Fathers, as does the Church today, upheld the Scriptures as sufficient and authoritative.  But not the Scriptures ALONE.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

JUST FOR my fellow CATHOLICS - Disagreement among Protestants

McVey wide skyscraper.jpg
Just for Catholics is a website where Dr. Mizzi seeks to convince Catholics to leave the Catholic Church.  I am reviewing his teachings and comparing them to the Word of God in Tradition, Scripture and Magisterium.  We are currently on this article.  His words in blue.

Disagreement Among Protestants and Sola Scriptura
Question: How can all these denominations claim to follow the bible yet all come to different conclusions? How can I possibly know which one of those above teach the truth when they can't even agree on what the Bible says? Protestants believe a variety of doctrines and all claim to take their doctrines from the Bible. That doesn't really sound like perspicuity to me. 'Bible alone' has created so much havoc in this world.

Those are very good questions:  
First, God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33).  Therefore, the Holy Spirit can't possibly have inspired so many contradicting interpretations of Scripture.

Second, the Holy Scriptures themselves say:

Romans 16:17

King James Version (KJV)

 17Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.

Yet Protestants, because of the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, constantly cause divisions, in contradiction to the Word of God.  

Indeed, Sola Scriptura has wreaked havoc on Christ's Church:

Matthew 7:16

King James Version (KJV)

 16Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

The fruit of Sola Scriptura is continual division and confusion.

Answer: You rashly attribute the differences of opinions among Christians to 'Sola Sciptura' - namely, the Protestant belief that the Holy Scripture is the only infallible rule of Christian doctrine.  The fault is not in the Scripture but in the human heart. 

No one said the fault was in Scripture.  The main fault is in the false doctrine which contradicts the Word of God.  Sola Scriptura, which bolsters man's sinful pride and gives him license to disobey the Authority which God placed over him in this world.

Hebrews 13:17

King James Version (KJV)
 17Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. 

We need to distinguish between two basic facts. Firstly, the Bible is perspicuous (clear, understandable) - it is not some mysterious book that cannot be understood by common ordinary Christians. 

The Bible ITSELF, says that there are some things within it which are hard to understand:

2 Peter 3:16

King James Version (KJV)

 16As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

Otherwise why would the apostles address their epistles to them rather than the magisterium? 

The Apostles were the Magisterium of their day.  Their epistles were merely teaching tools, reiterating what they had previously passed down by word:

1 Thessalonians 2:13

King James Version (KJV)

 13For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.
Building a Catholic Biblical Worldview - 6-CD Set
Secondly, the human nature is such that people can misunderstand even the simplest of matters. 

Precisely!  Which confirms the necessity of a Magisterium.  And explains why Jesus established a Church and commanded it to teach His Traditions:

Matthew 28:19-20

King James Version (KJV)

 19Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
 20Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

And neither commanded He any writing, nor Himself wrote anything.

This is true of Christians -- even the apostles were hard to understand! -- and it is even more so in the case of unregenerate people whose hearts are darkened.

You're not helping your case.  This is precisely the reason why God established a system whereby doctrines are confirmed by Tradition, Scripture and Magisterium.

So, it is unfair to say that since Christians have disagreements between themselves, and since they study the same Bible, the Bible is not clear. The problem is not with the Bible but with us.

The problem is with the doctrine that gives people license to interpret Scripture against the authoritative Teaching of the Church.

Matthew 18:17

King James Version (KJV)

 17And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

The apparent unity of the Roman Catholic Church is illusory, as any informed Catholic would know. The unity is structural and organizational, 

That is more than we can say for Protestants.  But the Catholic Church has much more unity than that.  We all partake of one Loaf, because we are one Body in Christ.

but there are serious divisions at all levels, especially between the more liberal and conservative Catholics. Take the charismatic movement for an example. In Protestant circles, Charismatics form separate denominations (and so the distinction from other denominations is obvious). Whereas in the Catholic church, the charismatic groups remain under the Roman umbrella. Their differences from non-charismatic Catholics are hidden though they are just as real as in Protestant churches.

Conservatives and Charismatics are different in their style of worship. But they submit to and obey the Pope and the Bishops of the Catholic Church united with him.

And the Catholic umbrella is big enough to accept their differences.

So, what is the cause of the differences among Christians?

Amongst Protestants?  It is doctrine.  That which they interpret separately from the Scriptures alone.

First of all, Christians are disciples (students); we are still learning and we have not yet arrived to a full and mature understanding of the Scriptures (see Ephesians 4:13). Therefore one expects to find differences among God's children. 

Interesting.  Is Dr. Mizzi admitting that Protestants don't understand their faith?  Lets look at Ephesians 4:13 and see if it suggests that we all attend separate denominations which contradict each other.  I'll get a bit more of the ontext though:

Ephesians 4

 1I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,

St. Paul says that we should walk in holiness, because that is our vocation.

 2With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
 3Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Hm?  Keep the unity of the Spirit?  Sounds as though St. Paul doesn't want disunity.  And disunity is the emblem of the Protestants.

4There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 
5One Lord, one faith, one baptism,

One Body!  One Spirit!  One hope!  One Lord!  One FAITH! One Baptism!

Sorry folks.  But is Dr. Mizzi trying to hoodwink us?  This entire chapter seems to be about the unity of faith.  Not about excuses for being disloyal.

 6One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

 7But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
 8Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
 9(Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?
 10He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
 11And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
 12For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
 13Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

Ephesians 4:13 is not about excusing new Christians which want to follow other denominations.  But about perfecting the new Christian in the unity of faith.  

But don't stop at that verse.  Read on:

14That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

This verse, above all, describes Protestants.  They are tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine.  But the Catholic Church learned long ago the wisdom of Christ.  

Discovering the Biblical Significance of Mary Matthew 13:45-46

King James Version (KJV)

 45Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:
 46Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.

We hold on to that Pearl.

Secondly, Christians are not immune to error or the the deceptions introduced by false teachers. The apostle Paul had to correct the believers in Corinth, Galatia and Colosse for various errors. It is not any different today.

Precisely why we need an infallible Teacher.  In this case, the Apostle Paul, representing the Church, was that infallible Teacher.

Thirdly, and most importantly, the sin remaining in the Christian heart opposes the plain teaching of God's Word. Sometimes we find it hard to accept the teaching of the Bible because of practical implications we don't like or simply because it humiliates our natural pride. Many people did not receive the words of Jesus because of fear of the Jewish leaders and social isolation. Sometimes we do not receive the teaching of the Bible, not because we don't understand it, but because we are not willing to do so. There are differences because our beliefs and practices are not always consistent with our basic presupposition, namely, Sola Scriptura. We assert that the Bible is our only infallible rule of faith, and yet we sometimes misunderstand the Bible, or add, or take away, from the teaching of Scripture.

Exactly why God provided an infallible Teacher with the authority to teach all that He commanded throughout the world.

There is an analogous problem in the Roman Catholic Church. We find a similar constellation of opinions on any subject among the Catholic faithful, despite their 'infallible' magisterium and their rejection of sola Scriptura. For example, in a nationwide survey of fifteen hundred American Catholics,
The survey found significant gaps between individual values and the Roman Catholic Church's structure and teachings. When asked to make a moral decision on several issues, 50% said in vitro fertilization procedures are not wrong, and 61% would not condemn artificial birth control. The church opposes both.
I broke in here merely to highlight those last four words.  THE CHURCH OPPOSES BOTH.  In other words, all who hold sinful opinions and beliefs, do so in spite of Catholic Teaching.  Lets continue.
Although the church also opposes the death penalty, Catholics were evenly split on the issue. However, 61% agreed with their church's stand against stem-cell research that 'entails destruction of human embryos'; 68% agreed, 'that abortion is morally wrong under virtually all circumstances';
Note how the Church always opposes sin.
and 61% said 'homosexual behavior' is wrong.
In agreement with the Church.  Homosexual behavior is a sin.
Nonetheless, 83% said it is wrong 'to discriminate against homosexuals.
What does that mean exactly?  The Church teaches us to treat everyone with respect.  Including sinners of all types.
Most would let priests marry (54%), allow women to be ordained (53%), give the laity more leadership roles (72%) and make the church more democratic in its decision-making (62%) (Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA TODAY 11/16/2001).
Certainly, there are many different opinions amongst Catholics.  But the Pope and the Bishops united with him, the Magisterium, is guided by the Holy Spirit.  Not by popular vote.

The problem is not limited to the laity. 

I'm glad that he calls it a problem.  Because it is.  Protestants like to say that they have the freedom to believe what they want.  But as you can see, Dr. Mizzi classifies that, as a problem.

There are serious differences of opinion among priests and theologians. For example, a Catholic lady wrote to me saying, 'I just visited your website, and couldn't believe that you would quote Richard McBrien as your source for a Catholic theologian. He is well known to be a dissenter.' When I asked whether he is censored or excommunicated, she replied, 'As far as him being excommunicated, right now, if every priest who dissented from Church teaching was ex-communicated, I guess it would be the majority, especially the older ones.' Another Catholic lady was frank enough to admit: 'Among Catholic theologians right now they are trying to interpret the meaning of the Vatican II documents. People who were there have disagreements on what Vatican II said!'

This is really funny.  Dr. Mizzi wants us to take the word of two, anonymous, purportedly Catholic women?  And of course, they KNOW what is going on in the Vatican and throughout the world.  

As for disagreements amongst people who were at the Vatican II conference.  Yes, its true.  But they were resolved.  The Catholic motto is, "Rome has spoken, it is done".

Evangelicals consider the Bible as their highest authority while Catholics submit to the magisterium. 

Not really.  Yes, Catholics submit to the Magisterium.  But Evangelicals, although they claim that the Bible is their highest authority, that is really a sleight of hand.

The Bible doesn't interpret Itself.  People interpret It.  As Dr. Mizzi noted above, people are not perfect.  They "oppose... the plain teaching of God's Word. Sometimes ... find it hard to accept the teaching of the Bible because of practical implications we don't like or simply because it humiliates our natural pride.

What happens then?  When imperfect people interpret the Scriptures?  Dr. Mizzi has said it.  They follow their own contradictory predispositions.

This is why infallible Tradition and an infallible Magisterium are necessary.  So that the interpretations of sinful and imperfect humans can be tested against the Traditions of the Apostles and the Teachings of the Church from the beginning.  And we can distinguish truth from error.

In theory there is a unifying principle in both camps. In practice, we find an assortment of opinions and beliefs within both groups.

Nope.  You find an assortment of opinions.  But not of beliefs.  
1.  Every time they attend Mass, Catholics proclaim their faith.  It is called the Nicene Creed.
2.  Catholics submit to and obey the Pope and the Magisterium.
3.  The Pope and the Magisterium are united today and have been from the beginning.

Protestants on the other hand, don't need to believe any human.  If they disagree with their leaders, they simply take their Bible to another church.  The leaders of one Protestant denomination believe one thing, while others believe another.  There is no unity in Protestantism.

You might respond that the disagreements and discord among Catholics is not the fault of the Catholic authority 

You read my mind.

since the teaching of the magisterium is plain enough. 


You might add that there is a need to teach Catholics more clearly to correct their misunderstanding of Catholic doctrine. 

Not me.  I'm of the opinion that some Catholics need to seek to learn Catholic doctrine.  While others merely need to learn to submit to and obey the Magisterium.  I am quite satisfied with the amount of learning offered to Catholics.  Most Parishes offer many programs from the most basic to college and seminary level.

You might also say that some Catholics are willingly disobedient to the teaching of the Church. 

It is evident in their words and actions.

In principle, the same is true for evangelical Christians. The doctrinal differences among Christians are not due to our authority (the Bible) but due to the limitations and sinfulness of the human heart.

With one major difference.  Because of Original Sin and concupiscence, Protestants will continue to seek to justify their beliefs which contradict the Word of God.

But Catholics have an infallible Teacher.  With infallible Doctrines.  Those Catholics who seek to justify their beliefs which contradict the Word of God, will come up against the wall of Truth, erected by Christ in His Church.  Because the Church doesn't change the Word of God.  You either believe God, who now speaks through His Church or you face the consequences.

Luke 10:16

King James Version (KJV)

 16He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.


De Maria