2.22.2009

The B-I-B-L-E, yes that's the book for me!

A Blast from the past: While I'm on vacation I am reposting some of my old posts. This post about the Bible had a comment that was very interesting and I responded in another comment. Enjoy!

I love the Bible (I also like to call it Scripture). It is the inspired word of God. The truths of my faith are reinforced by it. The Bible began as a collection of ancient texts that our Jewish brothers and sisters used in their prayer, study and worship. In the beginning of the Christian church, the same texts were used (the Old Testament) and then the New Testament came along: letters from Paul and others, the Gospel accounts (according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). In fact, at some point, the leaders of the church got together and, based on the faith being practiced (Tradition), decided which books should even be in the Bible and in what order. It did not just fall out of thin air. The writings come from many different authors in many different time periods. These are the ancient texts and teachings of my faith, but they are not the only source of God’s word and revelation.

As a Catholic, I have three sources that outline my beliefs. These sources never contradict each other but they do help to explain each other: 1. Scripture (the earliest writings at the beginnings of Christianity), 2. Tradition (the practice of faith that is passed down but not necessarily written), 3. Teaching Authority (the teachers of the church such as cardinals and bishops).

The Bible is written by humans in a specific time and place. There are truths in the Bible because it is the inspired word of God. However, I don’t believe it was dictated by God and so every word is not necessarily the absolute TRUTH. It is important to understand the historical and cultural context of the words written in order to better understand their meaning. A friend of mine described it as looking through muddled glass. God, as pure light, shines through the muddled glass of the human writing. Sometimes the words can be shaded a little bit, other times God shines right through.

How can I decide what is Truth and what may be muddled by human interpretation when I read or hear Scripture?

That’s the job of Tradition and the Teaching Authority. The teachers of the church study Scripture and Tradition to make sure everything lines up and makes sense according to God’s final, and full revelation (what Jesus taught on earth).

With this understanding of the Bible, I can still read and interpret Scripture for myself in a personal and prayerful way, and I do. I just don’t base all my beliefs on that one source.

2 comments:

  1. Holly,
    I have enjoyed coming across your blog today, and have spent wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy too much time reading it! I should be doing laundry, or knitting, or cleaning, or knitting….
    I am so glad you talked about my FAVORITE book, the Bible! You talked about how you have three sources for truth—and I just came out of a system that also believed that….inspired truth through scripture (both the Bible, as well as more “modern” revelation), long-standing traditions, and teaching authority, prophets, apostles, bishops, etc…) Here’s my issue with that, and this is just a friendly discussion, so please don’t take offense. I really am just trying to understand…. I am certainly NOT trying to talk you out of Catholicism or anything like that, but You asked a couple of interesting questions, and I’m going to do that famous thing where I answer questions with questions…. How can I decide what is Truth and what may be muddled by human interpretation when I read or hear Scripture?
    *What happens when the teaching authority sins? They will, after all, and at that point, does your confession to them, and their subsequent “intercession” to God for you, become null and void? The book of Hebrews says that Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. For every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God, in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins; he can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided, since he himself also is beset with weakness; and because of it he is obligated to offer sacrifices for sins, as for the people, so also for himself. We can go to Jesus anytime, all the time, because He is sinless—without blemish, and HE can intercede for us—but we can’t ever say that about our human leaders… We need to STOP putting our trust in men who are sin-ful, and start trusting the One who is sin-less.

    *What happens when your teaching authority has a bad day? Is angry? Mad at his kids or his wife or his neighbor or his dog or the weather, or the price of gasoline? His interpretation and subsequent teaching of that interpretation is going to be skewed. The apostle Peter said “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. “ Men cannot INTERPRET scripture. They can read it plainly, for what it says and take from it teachings to direct their lives. But it is the HOLY SPIRIT’s job to interpret and use scripture, and for men (and women) to be under the authority of scripture! For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12) AND But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. "And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. (John 16:7-11)
    My last question is this, and it pertains to God’s completeness…it all comes down to what you believe about God---if He is able to create something out of nothing AND if in that creation, He would EVER leave anything undone, not finished, or incomplete. I guess if that is your perspective, then evolution is right up there with modern revelation through high church authorities, and I completely understand how the two could mesh. But if you believe God to be Holy, Sovereign, Just, and the Great I Am, then how on earth could He, and WHY WOULD HE, ever leave His Word incomplete, and up to sinful, unrighteous, fallen people to interpret and fill in?
    I really am curious to see your perspective on this….Have a fantastic Sunny Day!
    DOTK
    If you prefer not to write on your blog your answer, could you at least email it to me? I think this is fascinating and I really am interested in your answer. Mtad29 {at) yahoo{dot}com

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am going to answer your questions the best I can. However, I also added some links, all from the same site, if you'd like to study further. I'd also reccomend that you find someone where you live that can answer your questions too.

    Your first question was, "what happens when the teaching authority sins?"

    That is like askiing me what happens if Paul sinned while he was writing his letters to the early church communities (which he probably did). Does that make all his writings null and void? No! The Holy Spirit continued to inspire him which is quite evident in the power of his words. I'm not unrealistic and know that some of our priests, bishops, popes have been very sinful and not acted out of love or out of truth. It's the nature of humanity to sin. That's why we need the salvation of Christ. However, a friend of mine put it this way: Jesus gave us the initial deposit of faith when he was with us. We might call this deposit the Crown Jewel. He then sent us his Spirit to help the church and to inspire us. Our hope is that everyone will follow that same Spirit of Truth, but some people are misguided for various reasons. So, back to the jewel. Our teachinig authority (which I'm not so sure include priests, although they are teachers they are called to minister to people in the pews it different from bishops and cardinals who do much more in depth study of scripture and tradition) is like the museum curator. The Crown Jewel was given many years ago and has been passed from curator to curator. Each curator has the job of displaying the jewel. The technology and popular colors may determine what it looks like, but the jewel never changes. That's why the church can take a good look at itself, like it did in the 60s, and makes, what seems like, big changes. However, the initial deposit has never changed.

    Your first question was tied up in asking about confession. If I confess to a priest who is sinful does that make my confessin invalid. NO! You are right, we can always go to Jesus to confess our sins. In fact, most Catholics spend time every evening in personal prayer confessing our sins to Jesus. The thing about confession is that we believe that the priest is sitting in for Christ or acting as the person of Christ. So, when I confess to a priest, I'm really confessing to Jesus. I've made my confessions to some pretty old priests who may not have even heard what I said (or cared for that matter) but Jesus still did. Jesus gave his apostles the power to forgive and that has been passed down through the ages. See John 20:23.

    You also said, "Men cannot INTERPRET scripture. They can read it plainly, for what it says and take from it teachings to direct their lives. But it is the HOLY SPIRIT's job to interpret and use scripture, and for men (and women) to be under the authority of scripture"

    I agree with you completely when it comes to my personal prayer. However, without the church's guidence, we would all be starting new churches if we tried to interpret our theology with the bible alone. Thus we need the "crown jewel" scripture + tradition + teaching authority. I disagree on one point, scripture is not the authority Jesus is and the word of God IS JESUS. Just read the Gospel of John. "In the beginning was the word....and the word became flesh..." Also, I might add...and I just learned this...the church has only defined 7 passages in the bible, that's it. (John 3:5, Luke 22:19, 1 Corinthians 11:24, John 20:23, John 20:22, Romans 5:12, James 5:14) These all basically explain the basis of the 7 sacraments.

    Your last question is basically about evolution. I personally think it's a okay theory. I have a friend (about to become a priest) who does not. If we are not taking the scripture literally, it doesn't really matter. The deposit of faith does not change depending on science and modern discovery. If today evolution were proved wrong, I'd say "hmmm, that's interesting". If creationism were proved right I'd say, "hmmm, that's interesting". My faith does not change. I, and the church, believe that we came from Adam and Eve and not multiple parents and that we can never take God out of the picture. However, true science and research is encouraged. ~faith seeking understanding~

    Okay, with that all being said, I'd like to add that I'm not sure I can keep up this discussion and keep up my blog! So, I encourage you to find other people or places to discuss. In fact, most parishes have programs for people who are interested to come and discuss. (RCIA) I hope this helps your understanding.

    More on confession:

    http://www.scripturecatholic.com/confession.html

    More on Interpretation of Scripture:

    http://www.scripturecatholic.com/scripture_alone.html

    More on Evolution:

    http://www.scripturecatholic.com/evolution.html

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for the comment. I really appreciate it!