Bro. Peter Dimond
A false doctrine has become somewhat widespread in our day among those who deny the Church’s teaching on salvation and baptism. The error involves elevating the fallible writings of certain ‘approved’ theologians to the status of the Magisterium. This is a grave mistake which denies the true rule of faith (the magisterial proclamations) by substituting another in its place (the fallible teaching of theologians). Having adopted a false rule of faith, these people fall into various errors and heresies, especially on the issue of salvation. This file will be dedicated to historical facts which completely expose the falsity of such a position. This file will be expanded as time permits.
Some adherents of the aforementioned view even believe that it’s generally inappropriate to quote primary sources (i.e. papal encyclicals, councils, ex cathedra pronouncements, etc.) to prove a point! According to them, a Catholic should only cite what theologians wrote about the meaning of those pronouncements, and they often waste their time arguing endlessly about what various fallible or modernist theologians said on this or that issue. This is truly outrageous and heretical nonsense, a disastrous and false man-centered methodology. They are faithless and deceived. Their grave error is a consequence of their failure to believe in Jesus Christ and what He instituted in the Papacy. Since they worship man rather than God, they resist Christ’s true voice and His true rule of faith. The true faithful know that the final word and the true rule of faith rests with the Magisterium and with the proclamations promulgated by the Chair of St. Peter. St. Peter and his successors were endowed with a protection not given to other members of the Church.
Luke 22:31-32- “And the Lord said: Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have all of you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren.”
Pope Pius IX, Vatican Council I, 1870: “… the See of St. Peter always remains unimpaired by any error, according to the divine promise of our Lord the Savior made to the chief of His disciples: ‘I have prayed for thee [Peter], that thy faith fail not …’”
THEY DENY THE VERY PURPOSE OF THE PAPACY
The very purpose of Jesus Christ’s institution of the Papacy upon St. Peter was that popes, endowed with a unique protection of infallibility, could define, once and for all times, the truth of Christ on a matter. By adhering to and utilizing what the popes have defined without deviation, Catholics would be freed of the mere opinions of men. That is the Church’s teaching on the purpose and use of dogmatic pronouncements. Notice that the Council of Trent declares that its dogmatic canons were promulgated so that the faithful, having access to the true rule of faith, could recognize the truth and reject errors.
Pope Pius IV, Council of Trent, Sess. 13, Chap. 4: “These are the matters which in general it seemed well to the sacred Council to teach to the faithful of Christ regarding the sacrament of order. It has, however, resolved to condemn the contrary in definite and appropriate canons in the following manner, so that all, making use of the rule of faith, with the assistance of Christ, may be able to recognize more easily the Catholic truth in the midst of the darkness of so many errors.”
Since the adherents of the false methodology described above reject the true rule of faith (the Papacy), in their bad will they elevate a foreign one in its place. Their false, man-made rule of faith is exposed logically and historically by various facts and arguments. Even though we’ve covered many points on this issue, this file will summarize key historical examples that thoroughly refute their grave mistake.
A CHALLENGE ON ‘BAPTISM OF DESIRE’ AND THEOLOGICAL STATUS REFUTED
This issue is, of course, quite relevant to the controversy about ‘baptism of desire’ (BOD). Since magisterial and dogmatic arguments demonstrate that ‘baptism of desire’ is a false doctrine, defenders of BOD often resort to arguing that it’s impossible for ‘approved theologians’ to have taught ‘baptism of desire’ if previous magisterial or dogmatic statements contradicted it and taught the absolute necessity of water baptism. Believing that ‘approved theologians’ are the rule of faith, they consider it unthinkable that an approved theologian or theologians could contradict something previously declared by the Church. One BOD heretic objected thus:
OBJECTION: “Tell me, besides BoD, give me an historical example where something else was solemnly taught, and then afterward it was publicly called into doubt by approved Catholic books and preaching, and nobody noticed…”
ANSWER: The following facts about the Canon of Scripture completely refute this argument and demonstrate how the objection is rooted in ignorance.
APPROVED THEOLOGIANS TAUGHT ERRORS ON THE CANON OF SCRIPTURE AFTER THE COUNCIL OF FLORENCE’S SOLEMN DECLARATION ON THE MATTER
In the bull Cantate Domino (Decree for the Jacobites – 1441) at the Council of Florence, Pope Eugene IV solemnly declared the “books” which the Holy Roman Church “accepts and venerates” as inspired and having God as their author.
Pope Eugene IV, The Council of Florence, Cantate Domino, 1441: “Most strongly it believes, professes, and declares that the one true God, Father and Son and Holy Spirit, is the creator of all things visible and invisible, who, when He wished, out of His goodness created all creatures, spiritual as well as corporal; good indeed, since they were made by the highest good, but changeable, since they were made from nothing, and it asserts that nature is not evil, since all nature, in so far as it is nature, is good. It professes one and the same God as the author of the Old and New Testament, that is, of the Law and the Prophets and the Gospel, since the saints of both Testaments have spoken with the inspiration in the same Holy Spirit, whose books, which are contained under the following titles it accepts and venerates.”
The list given by the Council of Florence included the deuterocanonical books (Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch, 1 and 2 Maccabees). These are the seven books of the Old Testament that Protestants reject. St. Alphonsus acknowledged that Florence declared the list of inspired books.
St. Alphonsus, On the Council of Trent, Fourth Session (On Scripture And Tradition), Section 1, #3: “… Eugene the Fourth… continued the Council of Florence, in which… with the consent of the Fathers, he received the Armenian heretics and Jacobites, and in the instruction on Faith which was given them, is contained the approbation of the traditions and of the Sacred Scriptures, along with the catalogue of the inspired books.”
Most importantly, in his 1893 encyclical Providentissimus Deus, Pope Leo XIII referred to the Council of Florence’s decree on this matter (in the bull Cantate Domino) as “solemn”.
Pope Leo XIII, Providentissimus Deus (#20), Nov. 18, 1893: “For all the books which the Church receives as sacred and canonical, are written wholly and entirely, with all their parts, at the dictation of the Holy Ghost; and so far is it from being possible that any error can co-exist with inspiration, that inspiration not only is essentially incompatible with error, but excludes and rejects it as absolutely and necessarily as it is impossible that God Himself, the supreme Truth, can utter that which is not true. This is the ancient and unchanging faith of the Church, solemnly defined in the Councils of Florence and of Trent, and finally confirmed and more expressly formulated by the Council of the Vatican.”
Therefore, the bull Cantate Domino, which included a declaration about the list of inspired books, was a “solemn definition” of the Catholic Church.
YET, AFTER FLORENCE, MANY APPROVED THEOLOGIANS CONTRADICTED FLORENCE’S DECLARATION
However, after the Council of Florence (before the Council of Trent) some of the most distinguished and learned theologians in the Church held and published the erroneous view that the seven deuterocanonical books were not part of inspired Scripture! Perhaps the most important example in this regard is Cardinal Francisco Ximenes in his famous Complutensian Polyglot Bible. This celebrated Bible was dedicated to Pope Leo X and published in 1520, shortly after Cardinal Ximenes’ death in 1517. Pope Leo X approved Cardinal Ximenes’ Complutensian Polyglot Bible. In his preface to the Bible, Cardinal Ximenes excluded the deuterocanonical books from the inspired books that can be used to prove ecclesiastical doctrines. Concerning those books, he wrote: “The books which are without the canon, which the Church receives rather for the edification of the people than for the establishment of ecclesiastical doctrines are given only in Greek, but in a double translation”. That means that after the Council of Florence, a famous cleric, in a Bible approved by Pope Leo X (though not in an infallible capacity), denied the inspiration of the deuterocanonical books.
Yet, Ximenes is not the only cleric who made this mistake after the Council of Florence. Cardinal Seripando, a celebrated theologian, a legate of Pope Paul III, and a key figure at the Council of Trent, was also an opponent of the deuterocanonical books. The same is true of St. Antoninus, Cardinal Thomas Cajetan (the pope’s representative to oppose Martin Luther), and others.
The following summary by Fr. Francis E. Gigot (1859-1920) is quite interesting. (Note: Gigot is accused by some of modernism, but that is irrelevant to this issue. In the following passage he is simply summarizing facts.)
Fr. Francis E. Gigot, Collection – 4 Books, Aeterna Press: “It was the same ecclesiastical tradition that was solemnly proclaimed a little later in the Council of Florence, when Eugenius IV, with the approval of the fathers of that assembly, declared all the books found in the Latin Bibles then in use to be inspired by the same Holy Spirit, without distinguishing them into two classes or categories…
In point of fact, during the second part of the fifteenth century, that is, after the close of the Council of Florence, some ecclesiastical writers, such as Alphonse Tostat, Bishop of Avila (1455), St. Antoninus, Archbishop of Florence (1459), and Dionysius the Carthusian (1471), continued to hold the views of St. Jerome against the deutero-canonical books… As in the latter part of the fifteenth century, so in the beginning of the sixteenth century, do we find some Catholic scholars opposed to the books which were not contained in the Hebrew text. The first among these is the illustrious Spaniard, Cardinal Ximenes (1517). In the preface to his magnificent edition of the Bible in several languages called the Polyglot of Ximenes [the Complutensian Polygot], he reproduces the passages of St. Jerome against the deuterocanonical books. ‘The books’, he writes, ‘which are without the canon, which the Church receives rather for the edification of the people than for the establishment of ecclesiastical doctrines are given only in Greek, but in a double translation’… the Dominican Thomas de Vio, better known under the name of Cardinal Cajetan (1534). At the end of his commentary on the book of Esther, the outspoken cardinal writes: ‘In this place we close our commentary on the historical books of the Old Testament, for the remaining books (Judith, Tobias, 1 and 2 Machabees) are reckoned by St. Jerome without the canonical books and placed among the Apocrypha with Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus… Nor must you be disturbed by the strangeness of the fact, if you shall anywhere find these books reckoned among the canonical books, either in the sacred councils or in the holy doctors. For the language of councils and doctors must alike be revised by the judgment of Jerome; and according to his opinion those books and any others there may be like them in the Canon of the Bible, are not canonical in the sense of establishing points of faith; yet they can be called canonical for the edification of the faithful, inasmuch as they are received in the Canon of the Bible for this purpose, and treated with respect. For with this distinction, you will be able to understand the words of Augustine, and what was written in the Florentine council under Eugenius IV, and what was written in the provincial councils of Laodicea and Carthage, and by Popes Innocent and Gregory.’”
These facts prove that a council can solemnly declare something and ‘approved’ theologians can subsequently fail to recognize it or the significance of it. This case completely refutes the aforementioned objection and the false methodology of salvation heretics in our day. It exposes the folly of man-worshippers who confuse the writings of approved theologians with the Magisterium, as if the former are necessarily protected while the latter is to be redefined by them. And this is just one historical example. We have covered others, and we will continue to bring forward examples in this file as time permits.
These facts demonstrate that theologians and popes (in their fallible capacity) can be completely unaware of (or wrong about) what a previous council declared without necessarily becoming heretics. They can be wrong about the theological status of a truth. That’s why we must adhere to and profess what the popes and the Magisterium officially teach, not what theologians say if there is any contradiction.
Pope Benedict XIV, Apostolica (# 6), June 26, 1749: “The Church’s judgment is preferable to that of a Doctor renowned for his holiness and teaching.”
Errors of the Jansenists, #30: “When anyone finds a doctrine clearly established in Augustine, he can absolutely hold it and teach it, disregarding any bull of the pope.”- Condemned by Pope Alexander VIII
Pope Pius XII, Humani generis (# 21), Aug. 12, 1950: “This deposit of faith our Divine Redeemer has given for authentic interpretation not to each of the faithful, not even to theologians, but only to the Teaching Authority of the Church.’”
*Note: this file will be expanded with more examples as time permits.