Catholic Church no longer swears by truth of the Bible

zimv20

macrumors 601
Original poster
Jul 18, 2002
4,388
7
toronto
link

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.”
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
 

Blue Velvet

Moderator emeritus
Jul 4, 2004
21,652
123
The sky is falling...

I would never have dreamed that I would agree with anything the Vatican would have said but this is just great. However, I fear that it will fall on many deaf ears.

Still, it opens a huge can of worms because which parts of the Bible are believers now supposed to believe? Just the bits that conform to their prejudices or whims?
 

plinden

macrumors 68040
Apr 8, 2004
3,969
3
skunk said:
Hmmm. Why leave in the Virgin Birth?
Because it's central Catholic dogma.

Strange to see the Catholic hierarchy catching up with religious studies at the Catholic high school I attended more than 20 years ago. There wasn't a big deal over it, but our RE teachers either didn't emphasise the literal truth of the bible, or explicitly said it shouldn't be taken literally.
 

pseudobrit

macrumors 68040
Jul 23, 2002
3,418
4
Jobs' Spare Liver Jar
zimv20 said:
This is very old news. The Vatican's been saying that many, many parts of the Bible are merely historical (or not) fiction and placing emphasis on the Gospel.

From the Catechism of 1994:

The Old Testament

121 The Old Testament is an indispensable part of Sacred Scripture. Its books are divinely inspired and retain a permanent value, for the Old Covenant has never been revoked.

122 Indeed, "the economy of the Old Testament was deliberately so oriented that it should prepare for and declare in prophecy the coming of Christ, redeemer of all men." Even though they contain matters imperfect and provisional, the books of the OldTestament bear witness to the whole divine pedagogy of God's saving love: these writings "are a storehouse of sublime teaching on God and of sound wisdom on human life, as well as a wonderful treasury of prayers; in them, too, the mystery of our salvation is present in a hidden way."

123 Christians venerate the Old Testament as true Word of God. The Church has always vigorously opposed the idea of rejecting the Old Testament under the pretext that the New has rendered it void (Marcionism).
 

xsedrinam

macrumors 601
Oct 21, 2004
4,348
1
plinden said:
Because it's central Catholic dogma.

Strange to see the Catholic hierarchy catching up with religious studies at the Catholic high school I attended more than 20 years ago. There wasn't a big deal over it, but our RE teachers either didn't emphasise the literal truth of the bible, or explicitly said it shouldn't be taken literally.
Immaculate Conception - Ineffabilis Deus Pius IX - 1854
Immaculate Reception - Bradshaw to Harris Steelers - 1972
I'd place more confidence in the historical accuracy of the later.
 

Thanatoast

macrumors 65816
Dec 3, 2002
1,005
134
Denver
skunk said:
Hmmm. Why leave in the Virgin Birth?
It *is* an interesting question. I mean, couldn't God have made Joseph's son his prophet just as well as having Mary give virgin birth? I mean, which would be more credible? Did people listen to Moses any less because he wasn't the "son of God"?
 

Dont Hurt Me

macrumors 603
Dec 21, 2002
6,056
6
Yahooville S.C.
One comment, we know by genetic research that if a rib was taken from Adam a highly advance being or God could clone off that rib and perhaps clone or create a different sex from those cells. This is all being done now by man so lets not be so quick to dismiss. Remember this universe is 13 billion years old.
I think the Bible has lots of stuff in it told in a way of the times and ages. It was a simple version for primitive man to understand.
I like this and God said................... LET there be Light! and yet we know one of the first things that came from the Big Bang was Light........Hello.
I also like the part of Jesus going into a strange craft but the religious freaks dont. Interferes to much with their idea of their reality. I think its very likely that the bible holds many truths only those Primitives couldnt explain them well and hence we end up with descriptions like Ezekiel wheel within a wheel yet we know today its was a advanced spacecraft.
 

xsedrinam

macrumors 601
Oct 21, 2004
4,348
1
skunk said:
Can't stop now, the cat's out of the bag. You can shout yourself horse but it won't make any difference.
S'right. "The mink shall inherit the dearth".
 

igucl

macrumors 6502a
Oct 11, 2003
569
17
Dont Hurt Me said:
One comment, we know by genetic research that if a rib was taken from Adam a highly advance being or God could clone off that rib and perhaps clone or create a different sex from those cells. This is all being done now by man so lets not be so quick to dismiss. Remember this universe is 13 billion years old.
I think the Bible has lots of stuff in it told in a way of the times and ages. It was a simple version for primitive man to understand.
I like this and God said................... LET there be Light! and yet we know one of the first things that came from the Big Bang was Light........Hello.
I also like the part of Jesus going into a strange craft but the religious freaks dont. Interferes to much with their idea of their reality. I think its very likely that the bible holds many truths only those Primitives couldnt explain them well and hence we end up with descriptions like Ezekiel wheel within a wheel yet we know today its was a advanced spacecraft.
We "know" these things you speak of? Who knows this? A spacecraft? Is that the most logical explanation?

Edit: In the end I think we'll all be surprised at how little the whole of humanity's history has actually learned.