Catholic Church no longer swears by truth of Bible

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by Dr. Dilznick, Oct 6, 2005.

  1. Dr. Dilznick

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    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,13...1811332,00.html

    THE hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church has published a teaching document instructing the faithful that some parts of the Bible are not actually true.

    The Catholic bishops of England, Wales and Scotland are warning their five million worshippers, as well as any others drawn to the study of scripture, that they should not expect “total accuracy” from the Bible.

    “We should not expect to find in Scripture full scientific accuracy or complete historical precision,” they say in The Gift of Scripture.

    The document is timely, coming as it does amid the rise of the religious Right, in particular in the US.

    Some Christians want a literal interpretation of the story of creation, as told in Genesis, taught alongside Darwin’s theory of evolution in schools, believing “intelligent design” to be an equally plausible theory of how the world began.

    But the first 11 chapters of Genesis, in which two different and at times conflicting stories of creation are told, are among those that this country’s Catholic bishops insist cannot be “historical”. At most, they say, they may contain “historical traces”.

    The document shows how far the Catholic Church has come since the 17th century, when Galileo was condemned as a heretic for flouting a near-universal belief in the divine inspiration of the Bible by advocating the Copernican view of the solar system. Only a century ago, Pope Pius X condemned Modernist Catholic scholars who adapted historical-critical methods of analysing ancient literature to the Bible.

    In the document, the bishops acknowledge their debt to biblical scholars. They say the Bible must be approached in the knowledge that it is “God’s word expressed in human language” and that proper acknowledgement should be given both to the word of God and its human dimensions.

    They say the Church must offer the gospel in ways “appropriate to changing times, intelligible and attractive to our contemporaries”.

    The Bible is true in passages relating to human salvation, they say, but continue: “We should not expect total accuracy from the Bible in other, secular matters.”

    They go on to condemn fundamentalism for its “intransigent intolerance” and to warn of “significant dangers” involved in a fundamentalist approach.

    “Such an approach is dangerous, for example, when people of one nation or group see in the Bible a mandate for their own superiority, and even consider themselves permitted by the Bible to use violence against others.”

    Of the notorious anti-Jewish curse in Matthew 27:25, “His blood be on us and on our children”, a passage used to justify centuries of anti-Semitism, the bishops say these and other words must never be used again as a pretext to treat Jewish people with contempt. Describing this passage as an example of dramatic exaggeration, the bishops say they have had “tragic consequences” in encouraging hatred and persecution. “The attitudes and language of first-century quarrels between Jews and Jewish Christians should never again be emulated in relations between Jews and Christians.”

    As examples of passages not to be taken literally, the bishops cite the early chapters of Genesis, comparing them with early creation legends from other cultures, especially from the ancient East. The bishops say it is clear that the primary purpose of these chapters was to provide religious teaching and that they could not be described as historical writing.

    Similarly, they refute the apocalyptic prophecies of Revelation, the last book of the Christian Bible, in which the writer describes the work of the risen Jesus, the death of the Beast and the wedding feast of Christ the Lamb.

    The bishops say: “Such symbolic language must be respected for what it is, and is not to be interpreted literally. We should not expect to discover in this book details about the end of the world, about how many will be saved and about when the end will come.”

    In their foreword to the teaching document, the two most senior Catholics of the land, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop of Westminster, and Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Archbishop of St Andrew’s and Edinburgh, explain its context.

    They say people today are searching for what is worthwhile, what has real value, what can be trusted and what is really true.

    The new teaching has been issued as part of the 40th anniversary celebrations of Dei Verbum, the Second Vatican Council document explaining the place of Scripture in revelation. In the past 40 years, Catholics have learnt more than ever before to cherish the Bible. “We have rediscovered the Bible as a precious treasure, both ancient and ever new.”

    A Christian charity is sending a film about the Christmas story to every primary school in Britain after hearing of a young boy who asked his teacher why Mary and Joseph had named their baby after a swear word. The Breakout Trust raised £200,000 to make the 30-minute animated film, It’s a Boy. Steve Legg, head of the charity, said: “There are over 12 million children in the UK and only 756,000 of them go to church regularly.

    That leaves a staggering number who are probably not receiving basic Christian teaching.”

    BELIEVE IT OR NOT

    UNTRUE

    Genesis ii, 21-22

    So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh; and the rib which the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man

    Genesis iii, 16

    God said to the woman [after she was beguiled by the serpent]: “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”

    Matthew xxvii, 25

    The words of the crowd: “His blood be on us and on our children.”

    Revelation xix,20

    And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had worked the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshipped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with brimstone.”

    TRUE

    Exodus iii, 14

    God reveals himself to Moses as: “I am who I am.”

    Leviticus xxvi,12

    “I will be your God, and you shall be my people.”

    Exodus xx,1-17

    The Ten Commandments

    Matthew v,7

    The Sermon on the Mount

    Mark viii,29

    Peter declares Jesus to be the Christ

    Luke i

    The Virgin Birth

    John xx,28

    Proof of bodily resurrection
     
  2. madame_zora

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    Thank you for posting this, it is an amazing and timely effort on the part of the Catholic church. I hope the Papacy's condemnation of our fundamentalism will have a greater impact than the sniveling of we who are forced to live under it. I would not have expected this attitude from any organised religion, I am both pleased and humbled to learn of this development.
     
  3. DC_DEEP

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    I am also cautiously optimistic with this development. It is good that the church recognizes that not all of the bible is literal. I just hope that it does not give rise to a whole new breed of "pick-n-choose" adherence to scripture. Those are the ones who are actually scarier to me than the literalists.
     
  4. Pecker

    Pecker Retired Moderator
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    You obviously missed the Mormon Church's stance on the Bible (officially, "The Bible is true as far as it is translated correctly.")

    Remember who it was who had exclusive possession of the Bible for all those decades when the Papacy would not allow the common man access. One can be almost assured that scriptures/letters/epistles that caused embarrassment or problems with "accepted" doctrine probably disappeared altogether until we have been left with an altered, watered down version of scripture that only gets us part of the way along the path to God.

    Any wonder why there are so many diverse churches vying for our approval?
     
  5. DC_DEEP

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    So true, Pecker. Then it brings up the issue of "divine inspiration" among the translationists/traditionalists/fundamentalists. Their claim is that a translator, truly inspired by the holy spirit, will NOT make errors in translation. The problem with that theory is that they will search for a translation that meets their needs - condemning the required people and practices, and glossing over the inconvenient parts. If they cannot find one that meets ALL their needs, they will find an acceptable compromise, and interpret (read: translate) from the pulpit. It is always going to be a no-win situation. Even an exceptionally skilled modern translator in either aramaic or ancient greek will not be able to understand all of the vernacular of the time. The phrase, "that's right, you bad" would mean entirely different things to an english speaker 100 years ago than to an english speaker today, and probably something different entirely to an english speaker 100 years hence. Likewise, the phrase "he is gay." It will always be a problem with scriptures and holy books, not just among the christians.
     
  6. Dr Rock

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    who lives in the east 'neath the willow tree? Sex
    what the fuck? this took them 1,500 YEARS, and we're supposed to be IMPRESSED? give me a fucking break already. what difference does it make? it's not the formula or nature of the dogma that's the problem; it's the fact that an organized church exists at all.
     
  7. B_DoubleMeatWhopper

    B_DoubleMeatWhopper New Member

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    I've been saying all along that the Catholic Church of today is not the Catholic Church of the Middle Ages, haven't I? So is someone going to believe me now?
     
  8. madame_zora

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    *rubs DMW's ass*

    You were telling it like it is, it was me who had not done her more recent homework when I first joined. FWIW, I HAVE kept my mind opened the last year or so, largely because of you. As you know from personal conversations, I had family that had been impacted by the Church and it has been a hard thing to separate the behavior of a few individuals from the group as a whole.

    Still I wish more would be DONE when the molestation charges arise rather than just move the offender to another parish, but any progress at all is amazing. Pick-and-choosers can be scary, but in the end, it is what we ALL do! Being more honest about the true nature og what the Bible is and is not has got to be a positive thing for people who are actually trying to figure it all out.



    Pecker, I admit that I know very little about the Mormon faith. I was under the impression that they believed in new life creationism, is that wrong? I believed that they advocated Biblical literalism, but I'd rather hear your perspective as a follower of said faith.
     
  9. Pecker

    Pecker Retired Moderator
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    Thanks, Jana. Mormons believe that God is the Creator of the universe, that Jehovah is the Creator of the Earth and all therein, we just don't know how they did it.

    To teach our children that billions of years ago there was a very fortunate 'big bang' that spread matter helter skelter throughout the universe and that the resultant, random collisions of atoms formed cells which coincidentally became specialized into animal, vegetable and mineral, is selling the kids short.

    Somebody must have figuratively lit the fuse that caused the 'bang.'

    I'm just saying that it's all part of a design.

    An intelligent one.
     
  10. Dr Rock

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    who lives in the east 'neath the willow tree? Sex
    never heard of string theory and dimensional interface, huh. "must" is a human concept, and one in which the universe appears to be profoundly disinterested.
     
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