Credo in Unum Deum

I Believe in One God

Divine Special Revelation Requires Infallibility of Revealer

It is interesting that many Protestants reject the notion that a “mere human” could be infallible. But they also think that Paul, Peter, Samuel, Isaiah and Moses (and the rest) were inspired writers. Now if we just think about it for a minute, with a mind to truth, then it seems that if a prophet comes to me and says “Thus saith the LORD…” he sure the heck better be right. Now being “right” means at least 2 things. 1) That God has indeed commissioned him to be a mediator of His revelation. 2) That in relaying the revelation he has made ZERO mistakes- that is, he has perfectly related what God spoke to him so we can rightly say that God is speaking through him. Of course, we may be saying more than that by “he’d better be right”, but we are saying at least that and that much is what we are concerned with here.

Now I should note that my use of “revelation” in every instance is referring to divine, special revelation which includes the unattainable by natural reason and mere human reflection; it also includes the facts of history upon which Christianity hinges which may be known by reason alone, but can not be known with certainty only if we are told by God that certain “improbable things” like certain miracles occurred. It may mean more than that (I think it does) but I believe that is sufficient for our purposes.

If our Protestant friends concede 1) and 2), which I believe most of them will with speed, then I think something follows pretty much inescapably. Since men are by nature fallible, we need some sort of guarantee that in delivering the revelation his natural propensity to err will be in some way obviated. Now if in the special instance of delivering revelation, a revelator’s propensity to be fallible would guarantee only that the chances are that he will get some of it wrong. That would means that some of the content of “Thus saith the LORD” would not be from God but from the man “revealing” God. We could not therefore refer to his prophecy as a whole as inspired by God. There would only be portions that were inspired and we could not tell with any degree of certainty which portions were mere words of men and which were in fact the authentic words of God.

This seems pretty evident. Conceding this point, it seems that the Holy Spirit must supervene to preserve His message and keep error from creeping into it. The way the Holy Spirit has done this is to cause his agent to be infallible during the transmission of the message. When a prophet was protected from error in transmission we can rightly say that “He was infallible”, meaning, “While he was speaking God’s word to us, God protected him from error in that transmission.”

I do not believe that there is a single conservative Protestant who would disagree with any of what I have said. Therefore, either they are experiencing cognitive dissonance or they are unaware of what they are saying when they assert the inspiration of Scripture and deny the possibility of mere humans being infallible.

Now how could this apply to the argument for the infallibility of the Catholic Church?

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August 8, 2007 - Posted by | Catholicism, Controversial, Protestantism, Religion

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