I guess I am surprised that anyone is shocked at this. Taking the bible as 100% true from a historical and scientific perspective creates huge problems. Not accepting this creates huge problems if you believe in Sola Scriptora. The question then becomes "Why not reject the resurrection?". For Catholics this issue does not come up. When you have scripture, tradition, and the magisterium you have a logical basis for interpreting some scriptures literally and others not. This document is just one of many out there in the Catholic church. It is not official church teaching. The church gives individuals a lot of freedom when it comes to the how of creation (not with the who and the why). It doesn't when it comes to the resurrection or other core doctrines. The bible is inerrant. It just needs to be interpeted correctly. God gives His church the grace to be able to do that.
# posted by RandyGritter : 10/05/2005 12:32 PM
Excellent post Randy.
And it is true... the Protestant principle of Sola Scriptura, which isolated the Bible from the living Tradition, did indeed cause many Protestants to turn themselves into pretzels in defense of the text against its obvious discrepancies. Once they relegated the divine revelation to words on a page, all that remained for anti-Christians like Thomas Paine was to attempt to use textual evidence to discredit Christianity. Sola Scriptura, which took the biblical texts outside of the religous community from which they were written (so as to make them absoultely independent of it), developed completely outlandish ideas of Scriptural inspiration. Louis Bouyer provided an excellent analysis of this aspect of Protestant belief in his classic book, "The Spirit and Forms of Protestantism".
# posted by Charlie : 10/05/2005 1:19 PM
Matthew, the piece you linked is being intellectually dishonest & *reading into* the text in saying that the Catholic Church now believes sections of the Bible to be "untrue". You're getting into the *literal* v. *literalist* argument for Scripture interpretation. Was the universe actually created in 7 days? Or is a day as 1000 years to God? Can we, with our finite language, put God's creation of everything in a strict, literalist 7-year box? Or can we take it literally & believe that God brought creation into being in whatever way He chose?
I'm sure you've seen artist's renderings of what the early Jews believed to be the structure of the earth (as described in Scripture) that there was a dome over the earth that held back the water in the sky? That verbal description is as close as the ancients could get to accurately writing down what the Holy Spirit breathed through them. Now, because of science, we know better, but it in no way negates Scripture, does it? Of course not. This is an example of what the Church document quoted in the piece you linked is referring to. If one were to stick to a strict 7-day interpretation of the first few chapters of Genesis, one would also have to believe that what science has taught us about the earth as a body in space is untrue. I would have to ask a person who held such a literalist interpretation how they'd square the two.
The Catholic Church does not teach that Scripture is wrong, untrue, etc, in any way, or that it is not the Word of God.
"You recall that one and the same Word of God extends throughout Scripture, that it is one and the same Utterance that resounds in the mouths of all the sacred writers, since he who was in the beginning God with God has no need of separate syllables; for he is not subject to time." St Agustine, as quoted in paragraph 102 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
In order to reveal himself to men, in the condescension of his goodness God speaks to them in human words: "Indeed the words of God, expressed in the words of men, are in every way like human language, just as the Word of the eternal Father, when he took on himself the flesh of human weakness, became like men." CCC, paragraph 101 quoting Dei verbum 13.
Human language is finite & imperfect. Can we hold God, Who is perfect & infinite, to that? Human language, at one time, simply didn't have the words to accurately describe what God had created. That doesen't mean that God's Word is wrong. The words the sacred writers chose to use were the best available at the time to describe what the Holy Spirit was telling them.
I'd refer you, also, to paragraphs 105 through 119 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church for the official Catholic understanding of Scripture, especially:
106 God inspired the human authors of the sacred books. "To compose the sacred books, God chose certain men who, all the while he employed them in this task, mad
Gene Branaman | 10.05.05 - 4:46 pm | #
It turns out that not everything in Scripture is literalistically true. So when a Churchman points out that the creation account in Genesis is told (in St. Jerome's words) "after the manner of a popular poet", a modern reporter naturally hears "Catholic Church no longer swears by the Truth of the Bible".
Oh, and when a grownup tells the reporter that Jesus doesn't really have a sword sticking out of his mouth and lambs don't really have seven eyes, the reporter, like the dumbest kid in class, writes that "they refute the apocalyptic prophecies of Revelation".
The Church of Rome is the world’s largest denomination. It is also the world’s largest liberal denomination.
If you have any doubts, just read Gledhill’s article and the response to it.
Typically, the Catholic response has all the coherence of the Keystone Kops. But, of course, it isn’t about intellectual coherence, but intellectual bondage.
A devout Catholics is a classic company man. Here is a real quick way to tell the difference between Catholics and Evangelicals: Evangelicals defend the Bible while Catholics defend their institution.
When a company is caught illegally dumping toxic waste into the water supply, you always, without fail, have a corporate spokesman come outside to deny the charge.
That’s the initial, invariable reaction. Pious Catholics have the same mentality. Problem? What problem?
Let’s run through these reactions one at a time. Who said we were shocked at this news? I and others have been documenting the Magisterium’s liberal views of Scripture for some time.
It’s true that if you subscribe to the inerrancy of Scripture, that presents certain intellectual challenges. It’s true that if you reject the inerrancy of Scripture, that presents certain intellectual challenges. It’s true that if you’re an outright unbeliever, that presents certain intellectual challenges.
Randy then takes this issue to a logical conclusion by asking, “Why not reject the Resurrection?”
He poses this as a dare to the Evangelical. But why should we back away from that question? Isn’t Scripture a form of historical revelation? Isn’t the Resurrection a historical event?
If he says that taking the Bible as “100% true” from a “historical” (as well a scientific) perspective creates “huge” problems, then, given the (false) premise, that does, indeed, create huge problems for the credibility of the Resurrection.
So what’s his way out? “For Catholics this issue does not come up. When you have scripture, tradition, and the magisterium you have a logical basis for interpreting some scriptures literally and others not.”
This is to beautifully naïve, is it not? It doesn’t occur to Randy’s childish mind that the historical-critical method is a double-edged sword. Not only can it be applied to Scripture, but it can be applied with equal efficiency to tradition and the magisterium.
Many Catholics vainly imagine that they can poke holes in Scripture with impunity on the assurance that if anything worthwhile slips through it will be snagged in the safety-net of the magisterium. But the same skepticism that shreds the Bible will shred the magisterium for good measure.
There is, for example, a reason why Hans Kung has a liberal view of Scripture and tradition alike. For he applies the historical-critical method to both.
But in Randy’s little sandbox, such elementary consistency is beyond his cognitive development.
Moving along, he says that “This document is just one of many out there in the Catholic church. It is not official church teaching.”
Not, it’s not. It’s simply a document issued by the bishops of the UK. But that’s a sizable hunk of the magisterium, is it not?
And if the teaching office of bishops is so easy dispensed with, why bother with a magisterium at all?
Continuing: “The church gives individuals a lot of freedom when it comes to the how of creation (not with the who and the why).”
This is the way Unitarians talk as well. Once again, it never occurs to the Randys of the world that such institutional laxity is culpable rather than exculpatory.
Continuing: “It doesn't when it comes to the resurrection or other core doctrines.”
In other words, the Catholic church draws arbitrary lines between what is true and what is false in Scripture. But because Catholicism cultivates an anti-intellectual, fideistic outlook, the artificiality of this procedure effects no cognitive dissonance in an undisciplined and underdeveloped mind like Randy’s.
Moving along: “The bible is inerrant. It just needs to be interpeted correctly. God gives His church the grace to be able to do that.”
Want final proof of an inability to think straight? Here it is. He begins his paragraph by denying that the Bible is 100% accurate in matters of science and history.
He ends by affirming that the Bible is inerrant. It’s just a matter of interpretation.
Once again, this is flatly contrary to what he originally said.
In addition, the claim that it’s just a matter of interpretation is such a tired old ruse. Only those with an insatiable appetite for self-deception are taken in by such a transparent ploy.
Randy is so dense, not for lack of basic intelligence, but lack of basic incentive. He has no incentive to be consistent because consistency would threaten the security of the sandbox.
BTW, it really wouldn’t hurt Randy to learn how to spell sola Scriptura. But I guess that’s what happens when the Latin Mass is ditched.
But if you think that Randy’s reply is hopeless, wait until you read Charlie’s. He speaks of “obvious discrepancies.”
If so, this is a case of falsity, not false interpretation.
Continuing, he talks about “relegating the divine revelation to words on a page.”
Well, yes. Unless you believe in continuing revelation, which is formally denied by the church of Rome, then we have no more prophets or apostles to communicate God’s word. What we have is a written record.
In some cases, this is a written record of the spoken word, in other cases it consists of words on a page because Jeremiah or Paul were dictating to a scribe.
This may be news to Charlie, but there’s a reason we speak of the Bible writers or authors of Scripture. They were literate. They could read and write. They could compose speeches and letters and gospels and so on. So, yes, you have words on a page.
And I have even more exciting news for Charlie. The teaching of his own church has a textual basis. Papal encyclicals consist of words on a page. So does the Catechism. So does Vatican II.
Notice that Charlie is using medium of words as well to express his thoughts. Amazing what words can do.
Continuing: “all that remained for anti-Christians like Thomas Paine was to attempt to use textual evidence to discredit Christianity.”
Apparently, Charlie has never heard of Celsus or Porphyry or Julian the Apostate. He knows no more of church history than he does of Scripture.
That’s the appeal of Catholicism. It’s a license to be ignorant.
Moving along: “Sola Scriptura, which took the biblical texts outside of the religous community from which they were written (so as to make them absoultely independent of it).”
Where were the Prison Epistles written? Within the religious community? Or in a jail cell?
Where was the Book of Daniel written? Within the religious community? Or by a Jewish exile indentured to a heathen regime?
Where was Revelation written? Within the religious community? Or on a penal colony?
You see, being Catholic means that you don’t have to know anything about the Bible. You simply regurgitate any dumb thing you’ve heard from Mother Church. You don’t study what the Bible says: you study what Mother Church says the Bible says. There’s no attempt to compare the two.
Continuing, “[They] developed completely outlandish ideas of Scriptural inspiration.”
Actually, before many denominations capitulated to modernism, the plenary inspiration of Scripture was common property of nearly all professing Christians, whether Catholic or Protestant. You can still find this completely outlandish theory affirmed by Trent and Vatican I.
Moving along: “Human language is finite & imperfect. Can we hold God, Who is perfect & infinite, to that? Human language, at one time, simply didn't have the words to accurately describe what God had created. That doesen't mean that God's Word is wrong. The words the sacred writers chose to use were the best available at the time to describe what the Holy Spirit was telling them.”
This is yet another thoughtless statement by yet another thoughtless Catholic.
Suppose the big bang theory is true. Suppose historical geology is true. Suppose evolution is true.
Isn’t human language adequate to express those truths? If I read Hawkins or Dawkins or Gould, are they unable to use human words to adequately state and explain evolution and historical geology and the big bang theory? The cosmologist, paleontologist, and evolutionary biologist is using finite language to put the science of origins in a box, is he not?
Gene is comparing Scripture to modern theories of science. But in order to carry out such a comparison and contrast, the language of Scripture and science alike must be adequate to present these differing accounts of the origin of the cosmos and life on earth.
And you can do this without recourse to scientific jargon. There are science books written for children using a child’s vocabulary. Evolutionary fairy tales for kids.
Actually, Scripture does describe the earth as a body in space: “He stretches out the north over the void and hangs the earth on nothing” (Job 26:7).
And let’s finish with Shea’s brilliant comment: “Oh, and when a grownup tells the reporter that Jesus doesn't really have a sword sticking out of his mouth and lambs don't really have seven eyes, the reporter.”
This draws no distinction between the genre of historical narrative (Genesis) and the genre of apocalyptic prophecy (Revelation).