Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Jenga Problem

Rorate Caeli has an excellent piece by John Zmirak that says better what the Bear has been arguing for some time. It is so basic, how can prelates who would even think to come up with the infamous Relatio not get it?

The Bear calls it the Jenga Problem. As you know, Jenga is a game in which long wooden blocks are stacked into a tower. Play consists of players removing a block each in turns, until a block is pulled that brings the whole thing down.

If you pull the Guardian Angel block, sure, that's an important one, but in the hierarchy of Catholic teachings, it is "only" theologically certain, not dogma. You have every reason to believe you have a guardian angel, but it is not de fide. You can deny your guardian angel and remain a Catholic in good standing. (You may wish you were a little more appreciative when he's standing next to you come Judgment Day.)

But marriage? Holy Matrimony isn't just another block. It's a sacrament. On the face of it, it is what secures future generations of Catholics. That means priests and bishops, provided Catholics start breeding like good Roman rabbits again. (And don't say it can't be done these days; look at the pew-filling, philoprogenitive traddies at your local Latin Mass.) But beyond the obvious, the indissolubility of marriage was defined infallibly by the Council of Trent.

So if the Church were to change its teaching on marriage, there goes the infallibility block. Make no mistake, it would mean the end of all infallibility in principle. This is so because, if the Church got even one infallible teaching wrong, there is no reason to believe any other so-called "infallible" teaching by a council. It is like a bursting bubble. Everything, from the divinity of Christ to Papal Infallibility is up for grabs.

Papal Infallibility? Why yes. It was defined as a dogma by the Vatican I council in 1870. All councils are suspect, remember. So there goes the papal infallibility.

But the disaster is just beginning. The Bible records Jesus Christ as saying if someone gets divorced (for reasons other than sexual immorality) then remarries, that person and their new spouse commit adultery. No more scriptural inerrancy if Jesus never taught that.

But wait, what if the Bible got it right? What is the implication of the Church teaching something directly contrary to what Jesus said? One of two very bad outcomes. Jesus didn't know what he was talking about, OR the Church is deliberately rejecting an important teaching from the lips of Jesus Christ Himself. Either way, by now, there goes the whole Jenga tower of the Church.

Game over, man.

What in Hell's name are these men playing at?


  1. You make a good point. I really don't understand Kasper's proposal because it doesn't sound logical. Having said that, how do the Orthodox justify their practice? Does their oikonomia make sense to you?

  2. They take a wry view of their "three strikes and you're out" rule. Orthodox aren't as big into tightly reasoned logical argumentation as the West has been.

  3. Thanks, Bear. I really appreciate your thinking out loud. I finally squared away my Blogger profile so I could tell you: thanks.


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