Church Authority on Faith and Morals
#1
I had a question on faith and morals and the authority of the bible and catholic church. When and where does it come from that the church or bible is authoritative only in matters of faith and morals. Is this an early teaching? or Is it from Trent?


thanks
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#2
Not sure I understand the question. What else would the church or bible be authoritative on? Or are you referring to the magisteriums infallibility?
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#3
(11-10-2019, 02:43 PM)Tolkien1096 Wrote: I had a question on faith and morals and the authority of the bible and catholic church. When and where does it come from that the church or bible is authoritative only in matters of faith and morals. Is this an early teaching? or Is it from Trent?


thanks

It's a conclusion of reason which is defined in various ways. It can be cited in Trent, Vatican I, and various papal documents, but is not sourced from any of these.

That argument from reason is that God, by giving a social creature like man a supernatural end which end depended on him knowing the Truth and acting rightly, and given Original Sin, and that even were this a merely natural end most would not achieve it (and a fortiori it is a supernatural end so beyond natural means to obtain). Since knowing the Truth requires some certainty in what is True, God must have establish some means to help the faithful know what is infallibly True and therefore what must be believed for salvation. 

Likewise since man is prone to sin, he must also learn how to act well, especially in precepts which are somewhat removed from the highest principles of the Natural Law (since the lower precepts are difficult to discern for most from reason alone), and since his actions will assist him towards his supernatural end or deter or prevent him from getting there, he also must know infallibly what things to do and to avoid.

As a result it is necessary, given man's condition, that God establish some authority which can infallibly tell him what he must believe and what he must do/avoid.

This cannot be the Bible alone, because its authority cannot be established without the authority establish by God ensuring the translation and text passed, and the meanings derived from it (Cf. Acts 8), accord with the Truth. Thus the human authority God established to communicate to men the Truths of what is to be believed and what is to be done/avoided, is the only authority. The Bible has no authority apart from this authority, since one has to establish that the Bible is what people claim it to be, and this is only definitively establish (and definitive interpretations given) by the Catholic Church. For proof of this look at the myriad of Protestant translations and conflict over meanings of passages. If the Bible were its own authority independent of the Church, then it could not produce conflicting interpretations.

It remains to establish then that God gave this power to Moses and his successors in the Old Covenant and in the New Covenant, Christ as God, founded the Catholic Church to which he gave this authority. Ultimately trusting that requires and act of Faith, since while one can historically show the linked origins of a man called Jesus Christ, and the foundation of the Christian (i.e. Catholic Church), connecting the two requires one to accept firstly that Jesus Christ's claim to be God is true, and therefore that the authority of the Church he founded is itself to be believed.

Now, if you are asking why are the Church and Bible limited to Faith and Morals, this is a different question. This comes from the authority that God gave, which only touches on the Church's mission to save souls, and also of the science (Ethics and Theology) over which it has an authority. Thus, unless some topic touches on morals (ethics) or faith (theology), the Church (and hence Scripture) have no authority. This is why Leo XIII in his encyclical on Scripture clearly says that the descriptions of natural phenomena are given in the way commonly understood and that the Bible is no science textbook. This is also why, though Scripture is historical, it is also not a scientific history in the modern sense, and while it tells the truth of the history, it does not attempt in most cases to be a complete point-by-point record. This is why Genesis 1 has a variety of interpretations even by the Church Fathers, all of which insist it is real history, but why take a different take on "day" and what this means, and thus the scope of Creation.

I would be curious to understand the context of your question, if you would not mind explaining? Is this to answer someone who objects to the idea of an authoritative Church? It is quite probable that the context will help better address your question and, if this is an apologetic, provide a much better focus for the answer.
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#4
I would point out that the above reply intentionally avoids quoting Church documents or Scripture as trying to establish the basis for the authority of either, because this would be the same problem Protestants run into in Sola Scriptura—a circular argument.

The argument from reason establishes why such an authority would be necessary, and then the act of Faith make one adhere to the Church as such a thing, and as a consequence Scripture.

When doing apologetics, especially today, many of our arguments have to come from reason and establish the foundation in Natural Religion (which is a consequence of reason alone), then show how Christian doctrines (which are revealed or derived from revealed premises) are reasonable (they do not contradict reason, but cannot be proven since they require Faith to accept them), and then lead the person to the threshold of Faith, in which they see that Catholicism is reasonable, and accords with reason, but then have to make that act themselves of Faith which substitutes for scientific proof an act of the will which says, "I accept this on God's authority".

To try to argue with a non-Christian or especially a non-religious person from Scripture or the Church authority is silly. It is not an authority for him. To argue with a Protestant from Scripture without going through the arguments of reasons first is also silly. You will talk past each other, because the foundation for his "faith" is opinion, which is not objective enough to establish a foundation for Faith.
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