"Let unity, the greatest good of all goods, be your preoccupation." - St. Ignatius of Antioch (Letter to St. Polycarp)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The alternative to painting a magisterial target around our interpretive arrow

Recently in the combox of this post, I referred to the inherent individualism and disunity in the practice I described as painting one's magisterial target around one's interpretive arrow. By "painting one's magisterial target around one's interpretive arrow" I mean the practice of choosing and grounding magisterial [i.e. human ecclesial] authority based on their agreement with one's own interpretation of Scripture.

The common rejoinder to this observation is that there is no alternative. The Protestant typically conceives of the Catholic as someone who, like the Protestant, picked a denomination and a magisterium based (at best) on the Catholic's own interpretation of Scripture. (See my posts: "Two Paradigms" and "Ecclesial Consumerism vs. Ecclesial Unity".)

But there is an alternative. We are not limited to choosing a magisterium based on their agreement with our interpretation of Scripture. There is another possibility. That possibility is that there is such a thing as sacramental magisterial authority. (See my post titled "Sacramentally grounded magisterium vs. individualism".) The authority had by sacramental magisterial authorities is not grounded in their agreement with our own interpretation of Scripture. Rather, our interpretation of Scripture is subject to their authority. Sacramental magisterial authority is discovered by its sacramentality, i.e. by its sacramental succession from the Apostles, not (as such) by its agreement with our interpretation of Scripture. (I have discussed sacramental succession here and here and here.)

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Very true, I hadn't thought of the issue of varying Protestant confessions before and why one chooses one over the other...say the Wesminster Confession over the Augsberg Confession.