Catholicism and Infallibility

By Donald P. Ames

It has long been the claim of the Catholic Church that it is “an infallible teaching authority” (The Apostles’ Creed, p. 27-their booklet and their emphasis-DPA). They claim that both Christ and the Holy Spirit are with it and guiding it so that “it could make no error” (Ibid, p. 26) and that such a claim is “not an arrogant assumption of righteousness on the part of the hierarchy, but a gift of God” (Ibid). However, as we see this “infallible” tradition beginning-to crumble on every hand today, one is made to wonder just how much longer people are going to be able to be blindly led to continue such a belief in this “infallibility.”

Perhaps no greater inconsistency disproving their claim to “infallibility” is evident than one that is currently under consideration. According to an article that appeared in the Gary, Indiana Post-Tribune (12-476), the Roman Catholic Church is taking another look at Martin Luther and the Augsburg Confession of 1530-the founding creed of Lutheranism. At that time Martin Luther was excommunicated from the Catholic Church and, with the exception of a brief consideration in 1963, that ban has continued to exist until today. However, according to “The Rev. Dr. Daniel Martensen” of the Lutheran World Federation, who was returning from a visit to the Vatican, “the question of it affirming the Augsburg Confession is under active discussion in the Vatican Christian Unity Secretariat.” The article went on to say that two noted Catholic theologians, “the Rev. Drs.” Hans Kung and Walter Kaspar of Tuebingen University have expressed hope in an international Catholic theological journal Concilium that `Rome may at last pronounce the word of `reconciliation’ by lifting the ban on Luther.”

Now would not that be equal to saying they were wrong in banning Luther in the first place? And if they are wrong in this and can now correct it by lifting the ban, then how can they contend that they are “infallible” and “infallibly guided”? If a man can be excommunicated as a teacher of heresy and 450 years after he is dead-with no change on his part-be placed back within the graces of this great “mother church” then somebody goofed! It ought to be interesting to hear Catholicism explain this one while defending traditionalism.

Truth Magazine XXI: 20, p. 306
May 19, 1977