Sunday, May 01, 2011

Dei Verbum Strikes Again

Dei Verbum states:

107. The inspired books teach the truth. "Since therefore ALL that the inspired authors or sacred writers affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully, and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures." [Vatican II DV 11]

This statement itself is prone to multiple interpretations with the Roman community. Conservative Roman Catholic apologists see this as a clear statement that the entirety of Scripture is without error. Some Roman Catholic scholars though (like R.A.F. MacKenzie and Raymond Brown) see the phrase “for the sake of our salvation” as limiting inerrency to only those sections of Scripture that teach about salvation.

Eric Svendsen notes, “No one can tell us what the ‘official’ Roman Catholic teaching is on this issue, and Rome’s ‘infallible interpreter’ is of absolutely no advantage to the Roman Catholic apologist, for he has remained silent on the matter. [Source: Eric Svendsen, Upon This Slippery Rock, 24]. Thus, the actual teachings of the Roman Catholic Church are prone to interpretation. The Catholic apologist must use his own private interpretation to determine what the meaning of Roman Catholic teaching is. The conservative and liberal Roman Catholic can read the same document and come to two differing opinions.

So on a fundamental issue- what are, or are not, the very Words of God, Catholics are not unified.

Jimmy Akin has an update here: Biblical Inerrancy Under Discussion! Your Prayers Needed! On the statement from Dei Verbum, Akin states, "the bottom line is that it is not as clear as it should be and is basically a compromise text worked out at the council between parties on different sides of the debate."

-snip-

"When the 2008 synod of bishops came around, I was quite concerned how this topic would be handled, because while the synod is a function of the magisterium and thus is guided by the Holy Spirit, we do not have a guarantee of its infallibility. Consequently, though human weakness, the synod could conceivably have muddled the waters on this question even further or, God forbid, said something false regarding biblical inerrancy."

But Akin says things look good that the Bible may actually be finally clearly declared inerrant. According to Akin, another chunk of the big showdown on this topic will be May 2-6. He covets your prayers for Rome as they try to continue to determine if the Bible is inerrant. Akin states,

"It may be some time—years even—before we see what the PBC comes up with (if we ever see it), but the issue of biblical inerrancy is an important one."

Yeah, it's much easier to declare John Paul II a saint than to figure out if the Bible is inerrant.

8 comments:

CathApol said...

Hello James,
For clarity sake, Pope John Paul II has not been declared a Saint, nor will this be happening tomorrow. Yes, beatification is part of the process - but he's not officially a Saint, yet. Others who have been beatified (including 2 by JPII himself) are still awaiting canonization.

Scott<<<

EA said...

I'm still waiting for the the Magisterium to rule on whether man was created on the sixth day in more or less the physical condition we see him in today or if he "evolved" to this state.

Viisaus said...

The fact that the Vatican has never summoned an ecumenical council to rule over the question of evolution - just to get this perplexing issue straightened out - shows how little faith the Magisterial pretenders really have in their own infallible wisdom.

George Salmon long ago drew attention to this phenomenon of how Rome "chickens out" on difficult issues:

"Does the Chuch of Rome believe in her own infallibility?"

http://www.archive.org/stream/infallibilitych02salmgoog#page/n204/mode/2up

James Swan said...

he's not officially a Saint, yet.

For clarity sake, I never said this.

I'm commenting on the process as compared to how long it takes for your church to figure out biblical issues. And even with that, one could argue well, the Bible is so complex, the church takes her times to be careful. But, I think we both know, your church popularly cares far more about getting a new saint than getting clarity on the Bible.

James Swan said...

The fact that the Vatican has never summoned an ecumenical council to rule over the question of evolution

Keep Jimmy Akin's comment in mind:

When the 2008 synod of bishops came around, I was quite concerned how this topic would be handled, because while the synod is a function of the magisterium and thus is guided by the Holy Spirit, we do not have a guarantee of its infallibility. Consequently, though human weakness, the synod could conceivably have muddled the waters on this question even further or, God forbid, said something false

Once they figure out if the bible is inerrant or not, they can start the same fallible process on evolution.

Frank said...

We discussed this topic the first day of class for the Understanding the Bible course that the University of Dallas requires all of its students to take. The professor was very clear, and took up most of the class stressing, that Dei Verbum taught a "theological inerrancy." This was reiterated to me a couple of years later when I took a course on the Gospel of John. The professor, using Fr. Francis Moloney, S.J.'s commentary as our textbook, stressted that the Apostle John "wrote these things so you might believe in Jesus." In other words, theological inerrancy.

Coming from a conservative parish, I was suspicious about these things, so I wrote a letter to a well-known conservative Roman Catholic theologian asking him for advice. His assistance sent me a packet in the mail which included a copy of an essay from a Fr. Brian Harrison, which directly and explicity contradicted what I had been taught by my two professors.

I guess infallibility doesn't guarantee perspicuity? The infallible answer is in there . . . . somwhere.

James Swan said...

If this is the Frank I think it is, thanks for your new blog. I follow your "doings" from time to time.

EA said...

"When the 2008 synod of bishops came around, I was quite concerned how this topic would be handled, because while the synod is a function of the magisterium and thus is guided by the Holy Spirit, we do not have a guarantee of its infallibility."

So the HS in the RCC may or may not lead infallibly. And if He leads infallibly, may or may not ensure that the teaching is communicated infallibly. And if He ensures infallible instruction and communication, then He may or may not ensure infallible reception on the part of the laity.

This is supposed to be the same Holy Spirit that we see on the Day of Pentecost in Scripture blowing as a mighty unstoppable wind?

Do any of these Catholic e-pologists have the courage of their own convictions? They're supposed to defer to the teachings of their ecclesial betters and here we see a lack of confidence in a gathering of bishops that they might not get it right.

This is supposed to be the improvement over the Protestant rule of faith?

Where's that certainty when you need it?