Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The worst of all possible worlds

The Roman Catholic Bishops of England and Wales recently published a document entitled The Gift of Scripture. They warn against the dangers of a "fundamentalist" approach to the Bible and warn that, "We should not expect to find in Scripture full scientific accuracy or complete historical precision". The Bishops reject the creation account of Genesis 1 & 2 in favour of evolutionary science.
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Historically Rome has placed Church tradition on a par with Scripture. Doctrines like purgatory and the immaculate conception of Mary are not found in the Bible. But they are accepted at Catholic doctrine on the basis of tradition. In practice, Rome places its traditions above Scripture and the Bible is relegated to a second-rate Theological authority.
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With the Gift of Scripture, scientific theories are given greater authority than the Bible. This stance is not new to Catholicism. Galileo was persecuted by Rome, not because he denied the teaching of Scripture. What he rejected was the cosmology of Aristotle. Catholic scholastic theology elevated the Greek Philosopher to a place of almost unquestionable authority. The Bible was interpreted to fit in with Aristotle's view of the Universe. The Bishops are now making the same mistake as they reject the plain teaching of Scripture for the theory of evolution. At a time when evolution is being questioned by many scientists, this is no time to be deconstructing the Bible to fit in with Darwinism.
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Rome has smothered the Bible with its unbiblical traditions. She has also caved in to the Enlightenment by rejecting the historical and scientific accuracy of Scripture. This, surely is the worst of all possible worlds.
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While on the subject of a wooden, fundamentalist approach to Scripture, let us remember that the most crass Theological literalism lies at the very heart of Catholic teaching. When Jesus said "This is my body" and "this is my blood" (Matthew 26:26 & 28), did he really mean that the bread and wine of the Lord's Supper literally became his body and blood? Even the most wooden-headed of Fundamentalists can see that Jesus was speaking symbolically at that point! Evangelical and Reformed expositors of Scripture have always insisted that Biblical metaphors be taken as metaphors, parables as parables, historical narratives as reliable historical narratives and doctrinal propisitions as doctrinal propositions. I plead "not guilty" to the charge of of an unthinkingly literalistic understanding of the Bible.
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What we need to do is accept the gift of Scripture as God's infallible word and live in the light of its teaching. Now that would be the best of all possible worlds!

1 comment:

Stephen said...

Welcome to blogland! Looking forward to reading.

Stephen (lurker on Genevanet and fellow-blogger)

PS I see that you have a spam comment already. There is a setting at blogger.com which offers real commenters a code to type in which filters out the spammer.