So you really DO have to read it. One of the gems (sorry, I said “goldmine” didn’t I? I meant “gemstone mine”…) in it is this spectacular one from Past Elder:
There is no difference whatsoever in saying I believe this because I agree with it and in saying I believe this because I believe in the authority which says it.
Okay, can the Logicians reading this please get to work on it? I think he is wrong.
Let’s try an example: I do not think going 10kmh over the speed limit is wrong. Yet I respect the authority of the police. When they pull me up for going 110kmh in a 100km hour zone I am not going to argue the point. I submit. I pay the fine. Do I agree with the authority? No. Do I submit? Yes. Do I, over time, come to see their point about the danger of speeding. Maybe. Let’s say I do, even if it is only because they keep fining me until I realise that at least one thing wrong with speeding is that it costs me a lot of money.
Or try this one. A homosexually active person becomes a Christian and accepts the literal authority of the bible as the word of God. In the bible he reads that homosexuality is wrong. Although it goes against all his inclinations, and involves a deep struggle to change his behaviour, on the basis of his acceptance of the authority of the bible he ceases his homosexual activity.
Sorry, Past Elder. It simply is not true (or at least it is too cynical) to say that we only accept those authorities who command us to do what we already agree is right. Sometimes, it is in accepting valid authority (an objective, rather than a subjective decision, as my example of the police and the speeding ticket should indicate) that we learn, against our natural inclinations, that certain behaviour or beliefs are wrong.
Ergo, accepting the authority of the Catholic Church is not simply a shifting of the Protestant doctrine of private judgement from the issue at hand to the authority in question, but a recognition of the objective reality of that authority and modifying our beliefs and actions accordingly.