Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Inerrancy Debate Part Deux

We have been continuing the discussion on inerrancy and the Bible over at Kyle’s blog, Journeys in Alterity, at Vox Nova, and at Evangelical Catholicism. I have some additional thoughts on this subject. Kevin responded to Kyle’s post here, and I commented on Kevin's post as well.

Here are more of my thoughts on the subject of inerrancy and the Bible here:

Over the past 2000 years, the Catholic Church has made it quite clear in these three documents - Providentissimus Deus, Divino Afflante Spiritu, and Dei Verbum- how we are supposed to interpret scripture.

Dei Verbum states:
“Therefore, following in the footsteps of the Council of Trent and of the First Vatican Council, this present council wishes to set forth authentic doctrine on divine revelation and how it is handed on, so that by hearing the message of salvation the whole world may believe, by believing it may hope, and by hoping it may love. ”

But, you are trying to discount or nullify the doctrinal presentations of the previous Councils.

“This supernatural revelation, according to the belief of the universal Church, is contained both in unwritten Tradition, and in written Books, which are therefore called sacred and canonical because, "being written under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, they have God for their author and as such have been delivered to the Church." This belief has been perpetually held and professed by the Church in regard to the Books of both Testaments; and there are well-known documents of the gravest kind, coming down to us from the earliest times, which proclaim that God, Who spoke first by the Prophets, then by His own mouth, and lastly by the Apostles, composed also the Canonical Scriptures, and that these are His own oracles and words - a Letter, written by our heavenly Father, and transmitted by the sacred writers to the human race in its pilgrimage so far from its heavenly country. If, then, such and so great is the excellence and the dignity of the Scriptures, that God Himself has composed them, and that they treat of God's marvellous mysteries, counsels and works, it follows that the branch of sacred Theology which is concerned with the defence and elucidation of these divine Books must be excellent and useful in the highest degree.

“But the task of authentically interpreting the word of God, whether written or handed on, has been entrusted exclusively to the living teaching office of the Church, whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ. This teaching office is not above the word of God, but serves it, teaching only what has been handed on, listening to it devoutly, guarding it scrupulously and explaining it faithfully in accord with a divine commission and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it draws from this one deposit of faith everything which it presents for belief as divinely revealed.”

Those divinely revealed realities which are contained and presented in Sacred Scripture have been committed to writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. For holy mother Church, relying on the belief of the Apostles (see John 20:31; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Peter 1:19-20, 3:15-16), holds that the books of both the Old and New Testaments in their entirety, with all their parts are sacred and canonical because written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author and have been handed on as such to the Church herself. In composing the sacred books, God chose men and while employed by Him they made use of their powers and abilities, so that with Him acting in them and through them, they, as true authors, consigned to writing everything and only those things which He wanted.

Therefore, since everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit, it follows that the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation. Therefore "all Scripture is divinely inspired and has its use for teaching the truth and refuting error, for reformation of manners and discipline in right living, so that the man who belongs to God may be efficient and equipped for good work of every kind" (2 Tim. 3:16-17, Greek text).

Kyle, over at Journeys in Alterity is confusing fundamentalism with the proper interpretation of the to understand certain “fundamentals”.

"In our own time the Vatican Council, with the object of condemning false doctrines regarding inspiration, declared that these same books were to be regarded by the Church as sacred and canonical "not because, having been composed by human industry, they were afterwards approved by her authority, nor merely because they contain revelation without error, but because, having been written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God for their author, and as such were handed down to the Church herself."  When, subsequently, some Catholic writers, in spite of this solemn definition of Catholic doctrine, by which such divine authority is claimed for the "entire books with all their parts" as to secure freedom from any error whatsoever, ventured to restrict the truth of Sacred Scripture solely to matters of faith and morals, and to regard other matters, whether in the domain of physical science or history, as "obiter dicta" and - as they contended - in no wise connected with faith, Our Predecessor of immortal memory, Leo XIII in the Encyclical Letter Providentissimus Deus published on November 18 in the year 1893, justly and rightly condemned these errors and safe-guarded the studies of the Divine Books by most wise precepts and rules."

Henry Karlson, over at Vox Nova is using an early theologian named Origen to defend his and others’ rejection of the true meaning of certain divine scripture passages like Samuel 15: 1-3. Origen interpreted the scripture allegorically and was a Neo-Pythagorean and a Neo-Platonist. The metropolitan convened bishops and presbyters which banished Origen from Alexandria. There was a second synod that declared his ordination invalid.

Eventually, the hetero-orthodox teachings of Origen, were declared anametha in both the council in Constantinople 545, and then the Fifth Ecumenical Council pronounced "15 anathemas" against Origen in 553.

The anathema against him in his person, declaring him (among others) a heretic, reads as follows:

If anyone does not anathematize Arius, Eunomius, Macedonius, Apollinaris, Nestorius, Eutyches and Origen, as well as their impious writings, as also all other heretics already condemned and anathematized by the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, and by the aforesaid four Holy Synods and [if anyone does not equally anathematize] all those who have held and hold or who in their impiety persist in holding to the end the same opinion as those heretics just mentioned: let him be anathema.

To use such a theologian as Origen for justification for a particular scriptural interpretation would be mean you are taking part in a heretical hyper-allegoricism, submitting oneself to an merely allegorical exegesis when it seems to contradict one’s theology.

Henry Karlson at Vox Nova, and by implication, Kyle, over at Journeys in Alterity, in echoing Karlson, claim that some of us have a fundamentalist interpretation of scripture. But, it would seem that they do not understand where fundamentalism arose from and what principles it defends. Do they believe in the inspiration of the Bible by the Holy Spirit and the inerrancy of Scripture as a result of this? The virgin birth of Christ? The belief that Christ's death was the atonement for sin? The bodily resurrection of Christ? The historical reality of Christ's miracles? Fundamentalism arose to affirm orthodox Christianity and to defend it against attacks from liberal theology and other movements that were regarded as harmful to Christianity. So, if anyone affirms that he believes in those five aforementioned fundamentalist principles, then that person accepts the core precepts of what has come to be called “fundamentalism”.

We must approach the Bible with a hermeneutic of charity in order to interpret the God’s Word in a faithful manner. The interpreters who are denying the very act, genocide, that God ordered in I Samuel 15: 1-3 are questioning the means in which God saved Israel, and used this His Order to bring about the eventual Salvation in the New Covenant.

These interpreters are saying that God could have saved us without His divine word, this specific passage of scripture, which is included in divine scripture, according to God’s Word, but yet no other intermediary passage is included in the Bible that would connect up the passages that are before this passage and the passages after it. I don’t see any evidence in the Bible to support your theory that genocide was not necessary for God to bring about His Salvific Graces with the New Covenant. God did not choose to divinely inspire any more or any less than those passages which are in the Bible and for you to say the words are there, are “inerrant” and also say that God did not mean what He authored is not only rejecting the fundamentalist method of interpretation but also rejecting the fundamentals. Through this heremeutic of skepticism individuals are interpreting the Bible in an uncharitable manner questioning the Word of God, saying God is incapable of having committed genocide, when in fact God has revealed that He did. You are questioning these passages in the Bible as if you were testing a theory and a theory that God must live up to your preconceived notions, that God can only to what you perceive to be good and just as it would be in today’s society. Instead of relying on faith, in God’s Word, your are looking for evidence from today’s human world and attributing to that which is Divine and in a different historical context. I choose to approach the divine scripture with a hermeneutic of charity and have faith that our omniscient God knew that this was the best way to bring about Salvation, through His coming in the New Covenant.


Convenor said...

Dear Teresa,

Thanks for visiting (and commenting upon) our blog:

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Teresa said...

I really enjoy your blog and will definitely visit it regularly and comment.

Thank you for visiting and commenting on my blog. I hope you stop by here and comment regularly also.

God Bless!