I am certain that you missed my point: God’s word, the Bible, is complete and unchanging. It is authoritative, as it is expired by God (2 Tim 3:16). Each part is in agreement, and it is subject to and interpreted by itself. The gospels are subject to Paul’s epistles and Paul’s epistles subject to the gospels. On a subjective level, we must interpret the word, to be sure. The objective authority resides in the standard, the deposit of divine revelation, which (unlike the church) has not changed. You want, it seems, to apply the attribute of the divine word to the church. But God’s written word is one thing and God’s church another. God’s word is infallible and inerrant, but the word NEVER predicates that to the church in the way that you so easily do.
I don’t doubt I am not understanding you. You say the bible is complete. That is your belief. I think you are missing a few books. Be that as it may, it makes by question about which section is subordinate nonsensical. The same can be said about scripture and the church. If they are 2 parts of the complete word of God the question becomes nonsense. I am not sure if you are aware but Catholics say the Word of God consists of scripture, tradition, and the magisterium. When you say “the church” I assume you mean tradition and the magisterium. So those are part of “the deposit of divine revelation”. Does it change? It does grow. But many elements of tradition, for example the statements of the councils, cannot change.
Does the bible indicate the church will be in some sense infallible? Mt 18:17 says, “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” Does it sound like Jesus expects the church to get the wrong answer?
As to avoiding other brother by division, it’s simply not so. I disagree with, say, a charismatic brother and choose not to worship at that local body, but I affirm that we are brothers. I have had scores of conversations, meals, beers, whatnot with my charismatic brethren. Protestantism has a wide variety of diversity in it, to be sure. Catholicism has no less of a variety of diversity in it, though. I think we’re more honest about our differences, as we find our unity in Christ, not in a visible hierarchy. Do you, Randy, work closely with the homosexuals in the Roman communion? I doubt it. How about (less offensively) the charismatics in the Roman communion?
Having “conversations, meals, beers, whatnot” with a few members of a community is not unity. It is affinity. We can’t have affinity with every believer in Christ. We are commanded to have unity with them. It is not hard to figure out. It means doctrine. It means sacraments. It means governance. Saying you find unity in Christ sounds nice but it means nothing. I can be the biggest schismatic and still say we have unity in Christ. It turns the command into empty words by simply ignoring what the words mean. This is the problem with using scripture as the final authority. It is too easy to make the word of God your plaything.
Actually I am pretty charismatic. I used to be much more so in my younger years. The charismatic Catholics were the first ones I fellowshipped with long before I dreamed of converting. As far as homosexuals go. I do get those questions in prison ministry. Most homosexual Catholics stay in the closet unless they are planning to leave the church. They just live as singles. We have many of those in my parish. I don’t ask if they experience same-sex attraction. I dealt with it a lot when I was in youth ministry but that was a few years ago.
With the manifest diversity in your communion, I think this applies equally to the RCC:
The other problem with your solution is that nobody arrives at truth. Everybody agrees to disagree and the faithful are basically told their leadership has no clue what the gospel of Christ actually is. They can follow you or they can follow the [magisterium -TP]. But what if they want to follow God? Then they are on their own.
No, the orthodox position is clear even when there is widespread dissent. There is no need to wonder whether contraception is immoral. The number of people committing the sin or condoning the sin does not make it any less a sin. The magisterium makes clear God’s revelation. So if they want to follow God they can. In fact, the solid stand of the bishops and the pope on issues like that is quite remarkable in the face of widespread dissent. So your point about “manifest diversity” is manifestly false.