Sunday, October 13, 2013

Bind and Loose Argument


The "Bind and Loose" Argument Rebutted


Over at GreenBaggins, Scott tried to make an argument for an infallible rule of faith other than the Bible.  He wrote: "The fact is that Matthew 16:18-19 and Matthew 18:18 teach that man and/or those men can bind or loose, not just sin, but whatsoever they choose."  Let's consider this argument piece by piece:

"that man and/or those men"
Peter and the other apostles are gone.  Francis, like his predecessor Benedict XVI, is not an apostle of Jesus Christ, he did not personally receive revelation from Jesus as they did, It is a leap to say that the apostles could do X, therefore someone who is not an apostle can do X.

"bind and loose"
Of course, "bind and loose" doesn't sound anything like "define dogma."  It sounds more like freeing people from their sins or leaving people in condemnation for their sins.

"not just sin"
That sounds like Scott is saying, "sin and more."  But Rome's teaching of infallibility is that Rome is infallible only in her doctrinal and moral definitions, not in her exercise of discipline.  So, if it is "sin and more" and implies infallibility, then Scott has proved a point that is stronger than what Rome can adopt.  After all, a Roman bishop exonerated Pelagius (and then later condemned), a Roman bishop condemned Athanasius (and then later exonerated), and let's not even get into the trial of Galileo.

"whatsoever they choose"
In Roman Catholic theology, the definition of dogma is (officially) not arbitrary.  For example, CCC 86 states:
“Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it. At the divine command and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it listens to this devotedly, guards it with dedication, and expounds it faithfully. All that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed is drawn from this single deposit of faith.”
Of course, I acknowledge that in practice the power is arbitrarily exercised (contrary to CCC 86), but this is just an internal inconsistency.

Likewise, to be precise the text does not mention choice, it just states that what is bound on earth will be bound in heaven and what is loosed on earth will be loosed in heaven.

- TurretinFan
This post from TF (which I’ve already responded to) is flawed in many ways, not the least of which is the fact that he rips my words from their context and then presents his straw man argumentation. Let us examine his statements one at a time below and the "bolded" text was from my posting on Green Baggins.
"that man and/or those men"Peter and the other apostles are gone.  Francis, like his predecessor Benedict XVI, is not an apostle of Jesus Christ, he did not personally receive revelation from Jesus as they did, It is a leap to say that the apostles could do X, therefore someone who is not an apostle can do X.
Popes Francis and Benedict XVI are successors in the office of the Bishop of Rome - which was initially St. Peter's office.   Jesus explicitly stated in John 20:21 that as He was sent by the Father, so also He sends them (the Apostles).  He sent the Apostles with that authority so it follows that IF they are sent in the same way Jesus was sent, they too must choose others for the apostolic office (bishopric - Acts 1:20).  There is no alleged "leap" here, as TF would have the reader believe, that is if one accepts the Scripture which says the Apostles were sent in the same way the Son was sent.  So yes, even though someone who is not one of "The Twelve" (St. Paul and Barnabas were not of "The Twelve" either, yet both are called "Apostles" Acts 14:14) can do the "X" that an Apostle was given authority to do - IF that authority has been validly passed on to him.
"bind and loose"Of course, "bind and loose" doesn't sound anything like "define dogma."  It sounds more like freeing people from their sins or leaving people in condemnation for their sins.
Frankly, we cannot be overly concerned about what this "sounds like" to TF.  The fact is the authority to bind and loose was given in a specific context of to whom it was given - AND this binding and loosing was not limited to the forgiveness of sin.  How does TF limit the word/phrase "whatsoever?"
"not just sin"That sounds like Scott is saying, "sin and more."  But Rome's teaching of infallibility is that Rome is infallible only in her doctrinal and moral definitions, not in her exercise of discipline.  So, if it is "sin and more" and implies infallibility, then Scott has proved a point that is stronger than what Rome can adopt.  After all, a Roman bishop exonerated Pelagius (and then later condemned), a Roman bishop condemned Athanasius (and then later exonerated), and let's not even get into the trial of Galileo.
Taking these in reverse order...  Distraction point: Yes, let's not get into the trial of Galileo, there was nothing infallible going on there.   Distraction point: The condemnations/exonerations of Pelagius and St. Athanasius were not matters of infallibility.

My point is not "stronger than Rome can adopt."  The problem with attempting to apply infallibility to an "act" is that an "act" alone is amoral, it is neither right nor wrong.  Right or wrong (keep in mind, to be fallible means it has the ability to be "wrong") implies morality.  For example, the "act" of sexual intercourse, alone, is amoral.  If one has consensual sex with his/her spouse - that is moral.  But the same "fundamental act" when it occurs in the case of a rape is immoral.  It is the same "act," fundamentally - but the "actors" and "intent" are changed.   
"whatsoever they choose"In Roman Catholic theology, the definition of dogma is (officially) not arbitrary.  For example, CCC 86 states:
“Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it. At the divine command and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it listens to this devotedly, guards it with dedication, and expounds it faithfully. All that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed is drawn from this single deposit of faith.”
Of course, I acknowledge that in practice the power is arbitrarily exercised (contrary to CCC 86), but this is just an internal inconsistency.
Because the exercise of infallibility is not arbitrary does not mean it is limited in any way, shape or form.  Again I ask TF, what is "whatsoever" limited to?  He gives an answer that in practice it only goes so far, but that does not change the reality that the charism can be applied to "whatsoever" they choose.
Likewise, to be precise the text (Matthew 16:19 and Matthew 18:18) does not mention choice, it just states that what is bound on earth will be bound in heaven and what is loosed on earth will be loosed in heaven.
Perhaps this is about as close to a concession as we will see from TF.  The precise text is imprecise!  It DOES mention "choice" because it does not limit this charism in any way, shape or form - again TF, how is "whatsoever" a limiting word/phrase?

AMDG,
Scott<<<

(the comments on TF's blog thus far follow...)

* John Lollard · 27 weeks ago wrote:
I'm not trying to discount your main argument, but I think there is a slight error in your point about binding and loosing. You say:
"Of course, "bind and loose" doesn't sound anything like "define dogma." It sounds more like freeing people from their sins or leaving people in condemnation for their sins. "
The underlying Greek text (hoping it embeds properly) is
καὶ ὃ ἐὰν δήσῃς ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἔσται δεδεμένον ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς, καὶ ὃ ἐὰν λύσῃς ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἔσται λελυμένον ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς
where the word for "bind" is δήσῃς and for "loose" is λύσῃς, from δἐω and λὐω. I've only had one semester of Greek, and it was Attic Greek and not Koine Greek, but these words are quite often used to mean that a thing is necessary (bound) or permitted (loosed). For instance, just later in verse 21 when Jesus explains how he must go to Jerusalem to be killed, the word for "must" is again δἐω; i.e., Jesus was "bound" to go to Jerusalem.
I wasn't trying to nitpick or anything, but I know you appreciate precision, so I thought I'd point that out.
John Lollard:
We have a similar expression in English. When someone acts negligently and then dire consequences ensue, we say "Well, it was bound to happen."
But my point was, and is, that there is nothing at all in the context to suggest that the text has the least bit to do with identifying certain doctrines as true and others as false.
Instead, in both cases, the binding and loosing seem to have to do with sin and its consequences.
Matthew 16:19  And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Matthew 18:18   Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
In Matthew 16, the binding/loosing is associated with the keys of the kingdom of heaven, which allow people to escape death (the gates of hell) or not. In Matthew 18, the verse comes right on the heels of  Matthew 18:17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
And right before:
Matthew 18:19-20  Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
It's not really a Greek translation issue (although it is helpful to be aware of the Greek), but rather a contextual reading issue.
-TurretinFan
1 reply · active 27 weeks ago
John Lollard· 27 weeks ago wrote:
TF,   I'm afraid that I have to still disagree. The English idiomatic usage of "bound" means that something is inevitable. The Greek idiomatic usage means that something is necessary. To "bind" something is to declare it necessary, while to "loose" something is to declare it permissible.
The Greek words do also occur in the passage in Matt 18 in a discussion of settling disputes with other believers. In Matthew 16 it isn't about sin and its consequences but about the nature of Jesus. In either case, the words used are the words meaning "make necessary" and "make permissible".
Really, I think the meaning of these words as they were used in the Greek language of the time requires an understanding of these two passages as Christ affirming a ministerial power of the Church as it relates to prescribing discipline. To "bind" definitely doesn't mean "define dogma", but it does mean to tell people what they must do. So, if the Apostles say "you must be baptized", or if the Apostles say "you can eat pork if you want".
I dunno, a little Greek is a dangerous thing. As it happens, you are very close friends with a world-renowned biblical Greek scholar; I am fairly certain that if you asked Dr. White the meaning of the words δἐω and λὐω, that he would tell you they most usually have the meaning of something being necessary or permitted. If not, then I'll retract my statement about the Greek words. The issue is, of course, probably way too trivial and Dr. White is way too busy with a million other things, but if you ever get a chance to ask him, it might be helpful.
I'm just trying to point this out as it presents a slight weakness in your rebuttal, and it is easy for people to see a single flaw in an argument and run away with it to total dismissal. A RC might see this, see that point, ignore everything else you said, focus on the meaning of δἐω and λὐω, dismiss you with reference to all kinds of lexicons, and somehow think the issue of papal infallibility even more settled despite the rest of your post being unaddressed. Your rebuttal would be stronger, I think, to point out that the underlying words absolutely have an established meaning in Greek, and the meaning is in reference to certain actions being required or allowed, and nothing at all about dogmas, like the "immaculate conception" of Jesus's mom. That δἐω means "make an action necessary" and not "declare with infallibility some belief to be absolutely true" is unassailable, and might be a more proper route.
Thought I'd point it out, is all, especially before someone else did.
Be blessed.
TurretinFan 61p· 27 weeks ago wrote:
I don't think I have anything new to add to my comments above, but thanks for the feedback!
For my part... thanks John for the Greek arguments. Naturally, since they support the Catholic position and not TF's, he will (and has) dismiss(ed) them. Now, since TF is responding to a discussion which took place on another blog, and took place a couple months before his posting here, AND since I would like to include a bit more formatting in my response than the combox allows, I too have responded (months later) on my blog: http://cathapol.blogspot.com/2013/10/bind-and-loose-argument.html
AMDG,
Scott<<<

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