When Infallible Doctrines Collide


Over the centuries, the Roman Church has addressed accusations of error in but a few ways. Her officially sanctioned pogroms against the Albigenses, Waldenses, Jews, Protestants and other groups are well documented in the history books. The RCC has used confiscation, extreme sentences of 'penance', torture, exile and extermination. In times past, excommunication was one threat which stilled many a rebellious heart for, according to Rome's teachings, there is no road to Heaven that does not pass through the Throne of Peter.

Another favored weapon of enforcement was the declaration of anathema against anyone who failed to accede totally to the doctrines and dogmas of the Roman Church. The canons produced by church councils and other agencies are so numerous, I cannot believe any Roman Catholic, whether religious or laity, can know them all, yet so many carry the penalty of anathema if they are violated.

The Magisterium is infinitely imaginative, however, and has come up with ways to 'cover' those who unknowingly violate the canons. I am not talking here of indulgences. Nope. Here, I am talking about the "ignorance of the law IS a defense" policy. Rome's Code of Canon Law declares -- infallibly, I should imagine – that a person has not violated a law or precept if he didn't know about it:

Can. 1323 No one is liable to a penalty who, when violating a law or precept:

"1° has not completed the sixteenth year of age;

"2° was, without fault, ignorant of violating the law or precept; inadvertence and error are equivalent to ignorance. - Code of Canon Law, Book VI, "Sanctions In The Church"

Subparagraph 1 is interesting. I suppose it means – using a literal/historical/grammatical hermeneutic – that a couple of 15-year-olds who make a baby and then have it aborted will not be sanctioned by the RCC. To take that a step farther, if the kids believed what they were taught in today's culture, that sexual licentiousness is okay and pregnancy is really only a 'disease', then they also would be immune to RCC sanction under the provision of subparagraph 2 above.

The above "get out of jail free" card would appear to invalidate another canon, at least in this case.

Can. 1398 A person who actually procures an abortion incurs a latae sententiae excommunication. - Ibid.


Wonder if God also gives a pass in such cases. I doubt it.

You shall not murder. - Exodus 20:13, NASB

The above issue seems clear to me. Let's turn to something uniquely Roman Catholic. Let's look at the defined dogma of Mary's assumption.

Every Roman Catholic is required, lest he be anathematized, to accept and believe that Mary was assumed, like Elijah and Enoch, bodily into Heaven. Of course, we know from Scripture that the two prophets were taken up while still alive. We have no details of Mary's assumption. In fact, there is no mention of such a fantasy in the Word of God.

Though the Bible does not mention anything concerning Mary's mythical bodily translation, it is a defined dogma of the RCC, proclaimed by Pope Pius XII in 1950. One of the bases for Pius' definition of the dogma of the assumption was the 'wedding music' of Psalm 45, which the fanciful pope reasoned prefigured the assumption.

The princess is decked in her chamber with gold-woven robes; in many-colored robes she is led to the king, - Psalm 45:13b, 14a, RSV

That passage is found in Psalm 44, verses 14 and 15, in the Douay-Rheims Bible:

All the glory of the king's daughter is within in golden borders, clothed round about with varieties.

In the KJV, verse 13 reads:

The king's daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold.

The king's daughter is not Mary, but the true Church, the bride of Christ. In his Expositor, John Gill wrote of this passage:

The King's daughter [is] all glorious within, &c.] The "King's daughter" is the same with the "queen", #Ps 45:9; the church, who is the King's daughter, the daughter of the King of kings, through adopting grace, by marriage to Christ the King's son, and by regeneration, or being born of God: and she is "all glorious within"; within doors, in the inner chamber of the King, where being brought, she enjoys such communion with him as reflects a glory upon her; in his banqueting house, where his banner over her is love, and where her members enjoy fellowship with one another, and this in harmony, unity, and love; which make her look amiable, pleasant, beautiful and glorious: or within the hearts of her members, through the internal graces of the Spirit wrought there; the work of grace is an inward work; it has its seat in the heart or spirit of man, and is a glorious one, in its author, original, and usefulness; it is the workmanship of the Spirit, and a curious piece it is; it is the image of Christ upon the soul, a partaking of the divine nature; it is pure and spotless; it is clear of all sin, there is no sin in it, nor any comes from it; it is the saints' meetness for glory; it is the pledge, earnest, and beginning of it; it is "all glorious", and so are the persons that are the subjects of it, as born of God: there is nothing glorious in the old man, or corrupt nature; but in the new man, or work of grace upon the soul, everything is glorious, and it will issue in eternal glory and happiness: or all glorified within {r}; like any house or building, to which the church is sometimes compared, particularly the tabernacle or temple, which were glorious within side being greatly adorned, and having many glorious things therein; as the church is with the graces of the spirit, and with the word and ordinances, and the presence of God in them;

Here's another commentary on verse 13:

The king's daughter is all glorious withing," etc. When the children of God recollect their glorious and heavenly pedigree, they endeavour to excel others, both in the beautiful disposition of soul, and manner of life. "The king's daughter," that is, the daughter of the heavenly Father, who is also the bride of the king's Son; every believing soul "is all glorious," adorne with a holiness not only glorius to herself, but also to the Father and the Bridegroom, and it is the beginning of a heavenly glory; and that chiefly "within," not only when she appears abroad, and presents herself to the view of men, but also when she sits in the inner bed-chamber in the secret exercises of her religion, in which she in private pleases the Father and the Bridegroom, who having a regard to the inward man, she above all endeavours to keep that pure and chaste… - Hermann Witsius, quoted by C. S. Spurgeon, A Treasury of David, Vol. I, Thomas Nelson Publishers, pp. 333-34

Another passage Rome likes to pretend prefigures Mary's fantastic assumption is Exodus 19:4. Try as I might, I have not been able to relate anything in this verse to the assumption invention.

Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself. - Exodus 19:4, KJV

Some Romish spokesmen will tell you the idea of Mary's bodily assumption can be traced back to the 3rd Century, though they can offer no documentary support for the allegation. The earliest known record of any serious study of the possibility is attributed to Theoteknos, a Bishop of Jericho in the 6th Century. Old Theoteknos really stretched on this one. His process was more fantasy than theology, yet it certainly conforms to practices used in the RCC to this date for defining dogma and doctrine. In what might be described as a "coulda done/shoulda done/actually did" hermeneutic, Theoteknos reasoned that, since Elijah rode up to Heaven in a fiery chariot, and since Jesus promised the Apostles that a place in Heaven had been prepared for them (John 14:2), then surely Mary must also have ascended to a place that had been prepared for her. How's that for sound hermeneutics?

Theoteknos' eisegesis is not the point being examined, however. What is significant to the purposes of this paper is that his "analysis" of the question of Mary's bodily assumption, the first we have evidence of, was not accomplished until the 6th century. By implication, I believe it safe to suggest that the issue had not been raised by many, perhaps not any, of the church fathers prior to that moment. To make my point, given the foregoing, it would appear there was no unanimous consent of the church fathers concerning the dogma of Mary's assumption.


That noise was the sound of two Roman Catholic infallible doctrines colliding.

One infallible doctrine was Pius XII's 'ex cathedra' declaration of the Assumption of Mary in 1950.

The other infallible doctrine, defined by two church councils (Trent and Vatican I), is that no one, not even the Roman Catholic Church itself, is to hold an interpretation of Scripture contrary to the unanimous consent of the Fathers.

We have no evidence the matter was seriously considered prior to the 6th Century and it was not defined until 1950, so it is clear there could be no unanimous consent of the church fathers to the interpretation. Therefore, it would appear the Magisterium has violated its own infallible rules.

I do not doubt that Roman apologists will have ready defenses to explain this apparent conflict. However, the clear wording of the Councils leaves no room for equivocation: The dogma of Mary's assumption fails Rome's own test of the unanimous consent of the fathers.

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. - Colossians 2:8, KJV

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