The problem remains however that the universal church for 15 centuries did not understand the last word on any issue, doctrinal or disciplinary, to be in one’s individual interpretation of Scripture, or even a collective interpretation by a huge community in schism (Presbyterian, Baptist, etc). Obviously, reading the Scripture is very important to Catholics, and many Catholics are willing to go toe to toe with protestants in exegesis; however the solutions that are written down for the problems going on in the NT era are not always applicable since, as time goes on, there arises new problems which are not addressed by the NT.
The Papacy is not an ever-present over-lord on the whole Church, it is a referee there needed for sacerdotal unity. If you read the opening words of certain councils, there are pronouncements that the Bishop of Rome is the occupant of a chair wherein the rock of Church remains. And this went uncontested for a very long time.
But even if you were to show how this was contested, what group, besides your own community of theological thought, even agrees with your positive application of how to do Church and worship, despite their agreement with you on the negative towards the Papacy?
The problem with your comment, Erick, is that “the universal church” did not ever “understand” anything at all with one voice. There never was “a last word” from “the universal church” on anything – not even the Council of Chalcedon [which was “reinterpreted” by later councils].
The quest to find such a thing is a meaningless one. A Quixotic one. There is no “there” there.
To provide just one [fairly big] example: In the fifth century, the Alexandrians (Monophysites) as followers of Cyril, and the Antiochians (Nestorians) as followers of Theodore of Mopsuestia and Nestorius, both, with their “successions of bishops”, both split with the Greeks and Romans [“the Orthdox”] over the issue of whether Mary was Theotokos or Christotokos. This was the heart and soul of the Nestorian heresy, at the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD.
But consider the Common Christological Declaration that JPII signed with the “Assyrian Church of the East” in 1994 – which you may have otherwise known as the “Nestorian” church. This declaration says The controversies of the past led to anathemas, bearing on persons and on formulas. The Lord’s Spirit permits us to understand better today that the divisions brought about in this way were due in large part to misunderstandings.
This is a “misunderstanding” that directly relates to a “doctrinal” issue:
the Assyrian Church of the East is praying the Virgin Mary as “the Mother of Christ our God and Saviour”. In the light of this same faith the Catholic tradition addresses the Virgin Mary as “the Mother of God” and also as “the Mother of Christ”. We both recognize the legitimacy and rightness of these expressions of the same faith and we both respect the preference of each Church in her liturgical life and piety.
This is the Theotokos vs Christotokos issue that was the very reason for “the Council of Ephesus” (431 AD). It was Cyril’s condemnation of Nestorius for this very issue.
Note the following OLTV video in which the Orthodox bishop Timothy “Kallistos” Ware just comes right out and says “Nestorius was not guilty of the Nestorian heresy”. You can see the video here:
http://www.oltv.tv/id553.html (Look at “Plenary 1”, Clip 1, beginning approximately 2:20)…
…and read more about the dispute here:
Your premise that “the universal church” did anything at all for 15 centuries is a false one. The “Nestorian” church never was not part of the universal church. Even though it had “bishops” in “succession”. The universal church had a mixed voice on this issue.
And it was mixed because of misunderstanding. Yes, doctrinal misunderstanding.
…the last word on any issue, doctrinal or disciplinary, to be in one’s individual interpretation of Scripture, or even a collective interpretation by a huge community in schism (Presbyterian, Baptist, etc)….
There never has been a “last word”. So the question “whose interpretation” really provides an answer that is far more convoluted than the answer you will receive at CTC. The very quest for alast word is a Quixotic one. Do you not see this?
Liccione’s “IP” which he finds “preferable” – because it offers a “a principled as opposed to an ad hoc way to distinguish the formal, proximate object of faith from fallible human opinions”, has no correspondence whatsoever with the actual course of church history. The universal church, not anywhere, ever, has identified [except by Roman fiat] this “formal, proximate object of faith” for which you are seeking. Even by his own standard of “papal ratifications of dogmatic canons issued by general councils meant to bind the whole Church”, you have, in the words of JPII, “a misunderstanding” which led to “anathemas” and schism.
This is an issue that is far older than Protestantism.