Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Who speaks for Catholicism? Part MDCCXCIV

At 7:41 PM, Ben Douglass said...
Dear Jonathan,

You state: I have no doubt that "pre-philosophical" OT authors might have literally meant what they intended here [i.e., anthropomorphic descriptions of God which are not literally true]

No doubt? You ought to have certain knowledge to the contrary. The sacred authors cannot have intended any meaning in the text which is false, since according to the Catholic dogma of biblical inerrancy, everything the sacred authors affirm, state, or imply must be affirmed, stated, or implied by the Holy Spirit. God is the author of the entire Scripture, not just parts of it, so this leaves no room for obiter dicta.

Also, how can you maintain that "the notion of divine speech as caused human communication" is absurd? I offer two quotes, the first from Leo XIII's Providentissimus Deus, and the second from Benedict XV's Spiritus Paraclitus:

"For, by supernatural power, [God] so moved and impelled them to write-He was so present to them-that the things which He ordered, and those only, they, first, rightly understood, then willed faithfully to write down, and finally expressed in apt words and with infallible truth. Otherwise, it could not be said that He was the Author of the entire Scripture. Such has always been the persuasion of the Fathers. 'Therefore,' says St. Augustine, 'since they wrote the things which He showed and uttered to them, it cannot be pretended that He is not the writer; for His members executed what their Head dictated.' And St. Gregory the Great thus pronounces: 'Most superfluous it is to inquire who wrote these things-we loyally believe the Holy Ghost to be the Author of the book. He wrote it Who dictated it for writing; He wrote it Who inspired its execution.'"

"If we ask how we are to explain this power and action of God, the principal cause, on the sacred writers we shall find that St. Jerome in no wise differs from the common teaching of the Catholic Church. For he holds that God, through His grace, illumines the writer's mind regarding the particular truth which, 'in the person of God,' he is to set before men; he holds, moreover, that God moves the writer's will - nay, even impels it - to write; finally, that God abides with him unceasingly, in unique fashion, until his task is accomplished."


  1. Ben Douglass9/05/2007 10:16 PM

    Dear Mr. Hays,

    As you are aware, Jonathan made some clarifications in response to my comment.

    With respect to his rejection of "the notion of divine speech as caused human communication", I am perfectly satisfied with Jonathan's clarification. Whether he is misrepresenting the Reformed view of biblical inspiration, I will leave to you two to discuss. However, my primary concern was with the Catholic orthodoxy of Jonathan's statement, and now that he has clarified that he is only rejecting a view of biblical inspiration which has God overpowering and compromising the sacred author's free will, I see that his statement is well within the pale.

    With respect to Jonathan's comments on anthropomorphism in Scripture, I still have reservations, even after his clarification. So, I will discuss the matter with him further.

    In any case, finding two Catholic laymen who disagree with each other is a miserable excuse for an argument against Catholicism.

  2. In any case, finding two Catholic laymen who disagree with each other is a miserable excuse for an argument against Catholicism. mean like how finding two Protestant laymen who disagree with each other is a miserable excuse for an argument against sola scriptura?