Ex Cathedra Debate
Phase 4 - Closing Arguments
First off, let me take a moment to thank Mr. Rosenthal for this debate. It has been largely free of personal attacks (ad hominem) and for that I am truly thankful. He has also been quite expeditious in posting his parts of the debate, allowing the debate to flow and not get lost or fizzle out (as a couple other online debates I’ve been part of have done). So again, I am appreciative of Rosenthal’s alacritous responses.
Now I remind the readers the question of this debate, “Are ex cathedra statements from popes contradictory to Scripture?” THAT is the topic of this debate! We’re not here to discuss varying interpretations of Scripture for it’s a given that Catholics and non-Catholics interpret Scripture differently. It would be a whole different debate if we asked the question, “Do Catholics interpret Luke 1:28 properly?” Mr. Rosenthal’s SOLE responsibility is to demonstrate a contradiction to Scripture, and again, not a specific interpretation of Scripture, but to Scripture itself. It is my responsibility to show flaws in Rosenthal’s argumentation and to present how the specific ex cathedra statement(s) which Rosenthal chose to bring up. For my closing arguments it shall be my goal to do two things:
1) Demonstrate how the specific ex cathedra statement is not contradictory to Scripture.
2) Point out flaws in Rosenthal’s argumentation.
The first ex cathedra statement which Rosenthal referenced was from Ineffabilis Deus of Pope Pius IX wherein the dogma of the Immaculate Conception (IC) is defined. The essence of Rosenthal’s argument is summed up in the final statement of his opening argument:
Mary's parents passed on the stain of original sin just as all other parents pass it on to their children. Nothing in scripture states or suggests otherwise. (In contradiction of the encyclical on her sinlessness, Mary stated that she had a savior, which only sinners require. [Luke 1:46,47] And scripture also states that all have sinned and fallen short of God's glory. [Romans 3:23])
First off, he makes an assertion that “Mary’s parents passed on the stain of Original Sin, just as all other parents pass it on...” and “nothing from scripture (sic) states or suggests otherwise.” He makes an invalid argument from silence! Second, it is suggested otherwise in Luke 1:28 wherein Mary is declared “Full of Grace” by the Angel Gabriel. Again, for THIS debate I do not need to prove the Catholic interpretation of Luke 1:28 - which is a point Rosenthal continued to come back to. Repeating an invalid point does not make it valid.
Second, Rosenthal said that Mary stated she had a savior, a point to which I agreed! So again, no contradiction here! Thirdly, bringing up Romans 3:23, which is essentially the same point of non-contradiction again, I repeat - I agree! While the Blessed Virgin Mary was not “stained” by Original Sin, it is my contention that she still inherited the penalty of Original Sin, and thus she too was in need of a Redeemer and Savior
which she finds in Christ Jesus, her Son.
There is no contradiction to Scripture here! Mr. Rosenthal has utterly failed to prove otherwise. Throughout the debate he continued to go back to the interpretation of Luke 1:28 - but again, we’re not here in THIS debate to wrestle over interpretations! I tried to steer him away from his line of argumentation early on - but it seems that was all he had, so he ignored the facts that he was going off on tangents and therefore invalidating his arguments. Such diversions can be taken as implicit concessions in debate and I submit that is what Mr. Rosenthal has done. He does not overtly concede, but through going into red herring (invalid) arguments, and even repeating them after being shown their invalidity to THIS debate - he has truly conceded.
In Rosenthal’s question round, it was almost totally a waste of time as he continued to go down the path of interpretation instead of demonstrating an outright contradiction. I, again, maintain that since there is no contradiction he was left only to repeating the flawed arguments or conceding. Since he (apparently) has no intention of outright conceding, he does so by use of the red herring argumentation.
In Round 2bRosenthal continues down the line of interpretations and even calls attention to a remark I made in passing regarding modern Catholic versions of the Bible and mistakenly applies that comment to the King James Version (KJV). Granted, these modern Catholic versions (some of them, not all) use the same flawed interpretation of kecharitoméne as the KJV used, but again I must stress - interpretation is not the matter of THIS debate!
In question 4 of my question round I introduced the subject of another ex cathedra statement from Munificentissimus Deus - that of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Rosenthal’s responses were:
1) I am not well acquainted with it.
2) Perhaps you would like to make it the topic of the next debate.
Ex cathedra matters are the topic of THIS debate!
3) That being said, I am unaware of anything in scripture that supports the assumption that Mary was assumed body and soul into heaven at the end of her life.
This debate is not about finding “support” but finding “contradictions.” I proved it is not a contradiction for at least two others, Enoch and Elijah, were bodily assumed into Heaven! Clearly, there is no contradiction if it has happened before and was recorded by Scripture!
4) I doubt that it took place.
Mr. Rosenthal’s opinion is not the subject of this debate. I am confident it did take place, but again, my opinion is not the subject of this debate! Is it contradictory to Scripture? No!
5) I expect that there would have been early mention of it from one of the writers of scripture who outlived her.
What Mr. Rosenthal would expect is not the subject of this debate, not to mention this is merely an argument from silence.
In Phase 3b from Rosenthal he continues to attempt to deflect from the topic of the Assumption by making a false comparison to God slaying 185,000 Assyrian soldiers to St. Peter cutting off a soldier’s ear. Let’s see, a comparison to an act of God to an act of a man. I had compared the bodily assumptions of Enoch and Elijah to the bodily assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. My point was to demonstrate premise and the non-contradictory nature of bodily assumptions - Rosenthal’s point, it would seem, was to deflect and/or distract - and it wasn’t even a valid comparison to begin with! The only logical thing for Mr. Rosenthal to do regarding this point is to concede that while he may not believe in it or agree with it - the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is not contradictory to Scripture.
I was critical over Rosenthal’s admitted ignorance over the ex cathedra teaching on the Assumption and stated it was one of THE TWO such teachings which were DEFINITIVELY ex cathedra. I even stressed the word “definitively.” Then Rosenthal attempted to turn the criticism on me naming Hans Klaas, who lists six ex cathedra teachings. What he doesn’t tell us is in the sentence just before Klaas’ list states: “However, theologians disagree about what other documents qualify.” Which is precisely what I was saying! So much for his criticism of me and one has to question if he even read the article he cited - and if he did it would seem rather disingenuous of him to leave out that key fact which actually supported me!
While interpretation is not part of this topic, I will answer one more time to Rosenthal’s attempt to change the meaning of Luke 1:28 to suit his agenda. I’ll start by quoting him:
Windsor stated, "Does Scripture say St. Stephen was "full of grace?" Well, it actually says he was "full of grace and fortitude (power)"- so logically speaking that's 50% grace and 50% power!" However, it is not at all logical to draw that conclusion. Stephen was full of grace and full of power. The capricious wish to contradict the scripture that Mr. Windsor here demonstrates as though it were a joke is more like a disgrace and a mockery.
I was not joking in the least! SCRIPTURE says St. Stephen was “full of grace AND power.” I used the 50/50 number just to evenly balance it, it could be 80/20 or 90/10 or however God decided to fill St. Stephen. The logical fact remains - if it’s BOTH then it can’t be 100% of either. There was nothing capricious or wishful in what I said, I stated facts.
Mr. Rosenthal has not presented even one case of an ex cathedra statement being contradictory to Scripture - not one. The examples he presented were instances of interpretation, and as I stated from the beginning, this debate is not about interpretation! Rosenthal spent much of his time attempting to debunk the Catholic interpretation of Luke 1:28, and that would likely be what we can call the downfall of his debate. The other option we have is the conclusion that Rosenthal really couldn’t find any direct contradictions to Scripture and thus by changing the subject he essentially conceded the debate.
Not counting quotes from Rosenthal: 1344