I'm Sorry, But Religion Reporters Are Stupid

Ninme pricks me to comment on the London Times headline: "Catholic Church No Longer Swears By Truth of Bible."

How do I disagree with thee? Let me count the ways.

  1. Would it kill these people to look something up in the Catechism once in a while? Part One, Article 3, #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."
  2. What the Church does not believe is that all of the books are necessarily literally true. Frankly, few Protestants believe this either. Of the 73 books in the Catholic Bible (66 for the Prots), only 14 are narrative in form --telling us the story of salvation history and capable of literal understanding. Of the remaining books there are books of law, and books of prophesy & poetry that have to be read a little differently ( I promise you, when the author of the the Song of Songs writes, "Your breasts are like young does," no one in the world has ever believed the woman literally had a deer-bosom). This was Bible 101 when I was in an evangelical elementary school, so spare me the "dumb ol' evangelical" spin the story takes. Among Christian churches there are disputes about which portions ought to be read literally, but no one doubts that the books are true.
  3. Furthermore, Catholic doctrine is that the literal meaning of the text provides the entry-way into the deeper levels of meaning, so the literal understanding can never be simply dismissed. This is the 4-fold method of exegesis (see CCC 115, ff.).
  4. Ninme is also correct in saying this is old news. St. Thomas Aquinas in the Summa writes that he doesn't believe the 7-day account of creation is meant to be literal. His reasoning is fascinating, but too much to go into here. The arrogance of these reporters who think that they alone, in the 21st century, are the first to notice that some things in the Bible are hard to understand and require further thought.
  5. As typical of religion reporting, the story is about 30 years behind the times. The cutting edge of Biblical criticism is a return to a more literal reading after the sad dominance of the "historical-critical method" of reading Scripture that has lead to the kind of scholarship that doubts that Jesus actually said anything he's purported to say in the Gospels. Incidentally, Benedict XVI as Cardinal Ratzinger has worked tirelessly to defend the inerrancy of Scripture and to defeat the historical-critical method.
  6. Part of the reason people are taking the Bible more literally is because while "experts" have been telling us for 30 years that it's all poetry, none of it ever happened, archaeology keeps finding stuff like this.

So, pick your Bibles back up, kiddies. In "At the Dawn of the New Millennium," JPG asked Christians to "start afresh from Christ," growing in holiness through: the art of prayer, Sunday Mass, Confession, Reading the Bible & works of evangelization. Benedict has been emphasizing those same things.