Sam Alito: "Omni Sub Papa!"

Ladies and gentlemen, we got him in.

By a 58-42 vote, has become the 110th Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Alito is also the fifth Catholic judge currently sitting — joining , Clarence Thomas, Anthony Kennedy, and Chief Justice .


We are now one step closer to outlawing Protestantism, forever.


Ia! Ia! Pontifex Benedictus fhtagn!

See more on Blogs for Bush, bRight & Early, Confirm Alito Now, GOP Bloggers, Iowa Voice, Michelle Malkin, Public Rendezvous, Right Wing Nation, Right Wing News, and for extra gloating, Kos.

6 thoughts on “Sam Alito: "Omni Sub Papa!"”

  1. This is one Lutheran who roared when he read this post- and linked to it.

    Would the Supreme Court had three more such Catholics, at least, as Scalia, Thomas and Roberts!

  2. I hadn't thought of connecting Strict Constructivism with Sola Scriptura…

    Hmmm… I'll stick to Original Intent, and not simply Textual Literalism… 😉

  3. Depends on the importance you place on the original documents in establishing original intent, I think.

    Refreshing, though, to disagree on our understanding of that particular principle, rather than on its importance, even as regards theology!

  4. Also, it should be observed that your link to the uncharacteristic writings of Luther on the subject of the Jews written in the closing days of his life, at a time when his sanity was questionable
    ( being representative of his views on the subject throughout the rest of his career) is both lacking in charity, and somewhat akin to linking a reference to Roman Catholicism to, say, the more lurid chapters of Foxe's Book of Martyrs, or to the papacy to an article on the antics of, say, Alexander VI (the Father of his Country in a much more literal sense than was George Washington)>

  5. Bob,

    Agreed. It's nice to have a theology discussion without it becoming a theology argument.

    I guess a way to put the Catholic position on Sola Scriptura would be if Microsoft released a top-quality manual for Windows XP, then wrote something more on it, only to be told “Oh, this isn't as important — it wasn't in the first version.” The Bible was assembled by Catholic/Orthodox Bishops through a parliamentary vote. We did this because the Bible is obviously very important. But we did it nonetheless.

    Accepting Sola Scriptura raises a number of questions. Why are so many other oral (The So Many Tales of Genesis) and written works that are referenced in the Bible, either explicitly (The Chronicles of the Kings of Israel, The Chronicles of the Kings of Judea) or implicitly (the rest of Paul's letters, the Book of Enoch) either missing or not included? Why are space-time geometries taken at face value (the length of time from the Crucifixion to the Resurrection), others disputed (the “days” of Genesis) and others taken to be poetic (the “four corners” of the world)? For that matter, aren't the strange clues we have (compare the “Elohim” in Genesis, the Divine Council of the Book of Job, and the “Elohim” worshiped by King Eglon) arguments for going beyond sola scriptura to understand our santa scriptura?

    Ah, your retort to Luther's book would only give me too much fun. You can't read The Prince without falling in love with the innocent delights of a corrupt papacy… 😉

  6. First, a note of dissent.

    In fact, the Bible was not assembled by Catholic and Orthodox bishops by parliamentary vote. If it had been, you'd have a point.
    However, while various regional synods did indeed compile various
    canons at various points in church history, the first ecumenical council (by the Roman Catholic definition) to do so was Trent.

    The New Testament canon was spontaneously arrived at by the consensus of Christianity by the end of the Third Century, conspicuously without any universally acknowledged ecclesiastical authority leading the way. The canon, as Lutheran historians are apt to put it, imposed itself upon the Church. Or, viewing the matter another way, while it is true that by the Lutheran (though not the Catholic) definition of the universal Church, the Church created the Bible, it is equally true that the content of the Bible- the Word (and here, for reasons of space, I will forebear a discourse on Luther's understanding of the relationship between the two, which might surprise you) called the Church by anybody's definition into being.

    I happen to agree with your logic, btw. Just not with your analogy. That's why the charismatic and Pentacostal movements are off base. Any message from God, regardless of the medium, is by definition equally authoritative. The question is the authenticity of the message.

    Now, that said, I absolutely agree that it is not only nice, but essential, to be able to discuss our differences without arguing about them. C.S. Lewis had a great many problems in his theology, but he also said a great many things which are both profoundly true and very important. One of them was that if the
    Church (by our definition) is ever to regain its unity, it will be as the result of the efforts of those who refuse to pretend that our disagreements don't matter.

    Another way of saying the same thing is a remark that I've made many times: I never feel closer to my Catholic brothers and sisters than when I'm attending, say, the wedding of a Catholic friend or relative, and Mass is celebrated- and I'm not invited to commune. I shouldn't be- just as you wouldn't be welcome to commune at my altar, and for the very same reason. Intercommunion is a declaration of agreement at a level which, tragically, we have not yet reached.

    Nevertheless, integrity unites rather than divides. Our common refusal to commune each other is a testimony to the fact that we both take the matters on which we disagree seriously- and especially in this day and age, that is in itself an agreement nearly as profound as our disagreements.

  7. Oh, and concerning the textual questions which you raise: Catholics, in my experience, generally always misunderstand the concept *sola Scriptura,* probably because a small group of Protestant Fundamentalists use the term pretty much as you understand it.

    As the Reformation used it, however, it was very far from being an assertion that Scripture is ever *sola.* Rather, it was a way of saying, essentially, “Look. Everybody agrees that the prophets and the apostles wrote by divine authority. It would seem reasonable, then, that what the prophets and the apostles wrote should serve as a baseline for testing the validity of anything subsequently said to be written or spoken by divine authority. Moreover, it would seem reasonable that any subsequent claim to authority be tested by its attestation by the prophets and the apostles, and rise or fall on the basis of that attestation or its lack. Furthermore, any source of authority whose definitions conflict with what everyone agrees to be of divine authority should reasonably be considered on that basis to be disqualified.”

    It's about where authority finally lies, not about whether perfectly valid imput on the interpretation of Scripture can't come from all sorts of other places. Further, it is very far from being the same concept as dictation. There's nothing surprising about the fact that inspired authors should use source materials;
    the principle of *sola Scriptura* does not equate inspiration with the notion that God provided the prophets and the apostles with a kind of supernatural Cliff's Notes! Scripture, like Jesus, is both human *and* divine; the personalities of the authors, together with their backgrounds, concerns and circumstances, come through quite clearly. Nor is this even slightly problematic.

    John is a meditiation on the theological meaning of the person of Christ. The Synoptics each have their own specific areas of emphasis and intended audience. No Gospel ever intended to be history in the modern sense- which is, after all, *modern.* Rather, the distinction the Germans maintain between *historie* and *Geschichte* obtains. A blow by blow chronology of the life of Jesus was intended by none of the Evangelists. A corollary of that is that therefore the failure of the Evangelists to present us with one is no fault or imperfection in their accounts.

    In short, the questions you raise simply reflect misunderstandings of the meaning of the term *sola Scriptura* as at least the magisterial Reformation used it. It should be borne in mind, btw, that the above is written from the perspective of one who affirms the inerrancy of Scripture, i.e., the assertion that- given the restrictions discussed above- what God asserts in the Scriptures is utterly true.

    Also- and here's the real kicker- Scripture's *perspicuity.* Catholicism has historically maintained that Scripture is somehow unclear, and needs an authoritative interpreted- as if God were somehow a cosmic George W. Bush, full of good and important things to say, but inept in expressing them. Calvinism, ironically, comes to sort of the same place through its Platonism,
    which also gets it into trouble in its doctrine of the Sacraments and its near Nestorian Christology.

    Lutheranism, on the other hand, maintains that the teaching of Scripture is readily available and perfectly clear to objective reading and analysis. Hence, as a source of authority, it can, indeed, be *sola.*

    One final point: it should be noted that even though we Lutherans were the original Protestants, many of us- myself included- question whether that word can accurately be applied to us today, since its meaning has more or less taken on implications of sacramental symbolism and Platonic rationalism which does not accurately describe us.

  8. The Council of Nicaea did in fact play a major role in deciding what books were considered Biblical and what were to be considered false, heretical, ignorable, or just supplementary. Before the bishops got together the only “bibles” available were codexs which were complied by the locals. There was no one “Bible” and the books used varied.

  9. Sorry, but the Council of Nicea produced no definitive canon. The first council to do that was indeed Trent. That Nicea (as well as numerous regional synods) did indeed perform a valuable function in weeding out various heretical texts doesn't change the fact that the church managed to fix the present canon of the New Testament by common consensus several hundred years before the Catholic church as such ever endorsed a list.

  10. Bob,

    Several years ago, the heads of a major Lutheran Church and the Pope agreed that the whole “justification” argument essentially a confusing, and that a truer formulation was closer justification by faith manifested in works. In other words, a compromise that could be ideologically defended (from the Protestant view) but requires no change of Universal Church doctrine.

    The page you link to seems similar . Lines such as “We do teach “Scripture Alone,” but we likewise acknowledge that Scripture is never “alone” strictly speaking. Our approach to Scripture alone always stands within a context — and this context is found within a long tradition of the Church,” seems in effect the same as “We do not teach Scripture Alone, as Scripture is never alone strictly speaking. Our approach to Scripture alone always stands within a context — and this context is found with in a long Tradition of the Church.”

    Being able to negate such a key portion of such a key sentence with no change of meaning implies a lawyerly obfuscation. Now, the Universal Church is heavily influenced by law, so this isn't a criticism in itself. It does seem to place “Lutheranism” within the Universal Church. But then — why bother to leave, or even try to Reform, if Lutheranism is so identical to what the Universal Church has always taught?

    (Especially when we face such dangerous idolatry as from the Baptists, with their full-blown bibliolatry?)

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