Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Why I Take the Bible Seriously

If you've lived in America during the last half-century, you may have heard something like these assertions:
  1. It doesn't matter what you believe, as long as you believe
  2. You have your truths, I have mine
  3. Nobody can tell me what I should believe
  4. Only a bigot says that things are either right or wrong
I'm a practicing Catholic, there are some things I have to believe: and those four points aren't on the list. On the other hand, frequent study of the Bible is highly recommended. I'll get back to that.

Intellectually Unfashionable: And Loving It

Briefly, my take on those ideas:

1. ...As Long as You Believe

When Linus talks about the Great Pumpkin, and says that sincerity is what counts, it's funny. That's my reaction to Charles Schultz's running gag in his Peanuts comic strip, anyway. Your experience may vary.

When someone tries living as if intensity of 'spiritual' emotions was what matters, not whatever sparked those feelings: that's trouble. In my opinion.

2. You have your truths...

That sounds 'tolerant,' or 'broad minded.' I think it's also a daft approach to living.

In one way, though, it's true. It really does not matter whether a fork is set on the left or right side of the plate. It doesn't even matter if there's a fork - or a plate. That sort of convention is just that: a convention, something that folks in one culture have decided is the 'right' way to do something.

Looking at the big picture, I can't believe that whether or not I use forks will make a difference in my eternal status. Particularly considering that the things are a relatively recent invention. And that's another topic.

3. Nobody can tell me...

Ah, the virtues of rugged individualism! Sticking up for your rights! Being a mule-headed nincompoop!

I've got a stubborn streak that's wide and deep, but I try not to let the 'nobody can tell ME' feeling get in the way of learning. And, when necessary, correcting my beliefs. I've used the example of me and the clockwork universe. A lot.

4. Only a bigot says...

This is another assertion that sounds 'tolerant.' My experience has been that folks who insist that 'only a bigot says' that some things are objectively wrong - or right - also tend to go ballistic when someone contradicts one of their pet beliefs.

Having done time in American academia when political correctness was all the rage probably helped me form that opinion. Try to imagine some reckless student, ca. 1985, suggesting that women weren't an oppressed minority, and you'll see what I mean. These days, it's more about adherence to the dogma of climate change. tomato, tomahto.

Craziness: An Equal-Opportunity Affliction

Wackadoo liberals don't have a monopoly on confusing personal preference for facts. I've shared my experience with folks who confused their preferences in clothing for the Will of God:
I've also shared why I think we're supposed to love people, not beat them to a pulp:

Sacred Scripture, Tradition, the Magisterium, and Me

I converted to Catholicism after I learned who had been running the Church for the last two millennia. Not immediately after, and that's yet another topic.

I'm a Catholic because I know that after my Lord gave Peter the 'keys of the Kingdom,' Peter passed that authority along to the next Pope - and that the parish church down the street is connected, through the bishops and hundreds of popes, all the way back to the Last Supper, Golgotha, Easter Sunday, and beyond. Matthew 16:13-19 and all that.

As a Catholic, I have to take the Bible very seriously. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 101-130) And read the Bible, Sacred Scripture, myself. (Catechism, 133)

I'm also required to pay attention to what some of the best minds in the world have had to say about the Bible, God, and all the rest. That's where Tradition, our "living transmission, accomplished in the Holy Spirit" (Catechism, 78), comes in. And the Magisterium. (Catechism, 85-88)

I've run into folks who seem to believe that Catholics blindly follow the arbitrary - and anachronistic - orders of crazed cult leaders in Rome. Follow orders, yes. Blindly, no.

Another point that's important: The popes and other bishops aren't 'in charge' of the Church. They're more like 'officers of the day,' than commanding officers:
"...this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it...."
(Catechism, 86)
Finally, what words like "Magisterium" mean:
"BIBLE: Sacred Scripture: the books which contain the truth of God's Revelation and were composed by human authors inspired by the Holy Spirit (105). The Bible contains both the forty-six books of the Old Testament and the twenty-seven books of the New Testament (120). See Old Testament; New Testament."

"MAGISTERIUM: The living, teaching office of the Church, whose task it is to give as authentic interpretation of the word of God, whether in its written form (Sacred Scripture), or in the form of Tradition. The Magisterium ensures the Church's fidelity to the teaching of the Apostles in matters of faith and morals (85, 890, 2033)."

"TRADITION: The living transmission of the message of the Gospel in the Church. The oral preaching of the Apostles, and the written message of salvation under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (Bible), are conserved and handed on as the deposit of faith through the apostolic succession in the Church. Both the living Tradition and the written Scriptures have their common source in the revelation of God in Jesus Christ (75-82). The theological, liturgical, disciplinary, and devotional traditions of the local churches both contain and can be distinguished from this apostolic Tradition (83)."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, Glossary) [with links added]
Vaguely-related posts:
  • Catechism of the Catholic Church, about
    • Sacred Scripture
      81, 101-130
    • Sacred Scripture in the life of the Church
    • Tradition
      77-79, 81, 83
    • The Magisterium
      85-88, 890, 2033
    • Tradition, the Magisterium, and Sacred Scripture
    (not an exhaustive list)
  • "Catechism"
    What We Believe, Beliefs and Teachings, USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops)
  • "Relationship between Magisterium and exegetes"
    Pontifical Biblical Commission, Cardinal Ratzinger, (May 10, 2003)
  • "Informative Dossier"
    Editorial Commission of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (June 25, 1992)

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Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.