Of all the places one would be wise to seek intellectual consistency or at least transparency, what I here call one’s decision making paradigm would seem most important. You’re faced with a dilemma, conundrum, poser – how do you decide? Do you always follow that rule, or are there various rules depending on the nature of the quandry? It seems an honest man with any intellectual pretension at all would first of all be able to explain his position here regarding how he makes decisions. If one were to be honestly skeptical of anything, the purity and reasonableness of the mechanism by which your choices are made would have to be #1 on the list of things to be skeptical about. To do otherwise is slavery or hypocrisy.
I ask today because of the cultivated silence on this issue, a silence in which is hidden how this is supposed to work, by those who don’t like Magisterial authority. OK, so you don’t think the Magisterium can really, truly teach – there are other ways of arriving at truth, or a better understanding, or whatever unstated goal you may have. Got it. Now, tell us how you decide what the issues are that fall outside of Magisterial competence, and how you arrive at your position once you’ve shed the Church’s teaching authority.
It is not an anti-intellectual stance to accept the Magisterium’s teachings even when I don’t understand them or see that they are right. The intellectual stance, the most rational stance of all for a Catholic, is to say: of course I, one tiny, ephemeral man, cannot hope to have as good a perspective as a Church that comprises a couple of billion people living and dead and which has lasted 2,000 years. Her authority is attested to by saints and scholars far more holy and smart and better educated than I. Therefore, I am not abandoning my intellect or my conscience when I choose to follow the teachings of the Church. Rather, my submission to her guidance is the highest exercise of my intellect and will I’m likely to ever make, and my conscience would torment me if I were to place it above the Conscience of the Church.
So, how about it? If you are trying to overturn millennia of church teachings based on something other than simply not liking them or as the price for getting to sit at the cool kids table, spell it out. If you’re cherry-picking – you know, asserting the Apostles didn’t have tape recorders, so we can never know exactly what Jesus said, but only apply this to positions you don’t like – people are going to see that you’re, frankly, lying. If “He who marries a divorced woman commits adultery” got garbled sometime between 30 AD and 60 AD, and Christ really didn’t say or mean it, what about “blessed are the poor” or “turn the other cheek” or that bit about my neighbor maybe being a stinking Samaritan? While we’re at it, all men are brothers in Christ seems a bit of a stretch, and that whole eye of the needle thing is clearly just a gloss by the envious lazy no-accounts. No tape recorder, see?
So, those Catholics disputing the Magisterium’s authority: Give us your method, its limits, and explain how you are consistently applying it to the teaching you love as well as those you don’t. Otherwise, I call brood of vipers, point to the millstones, and otherwise attempt to shame your weak, pitiful and lying behinds.