Sunday, February 21, 2016

Taking the Bible Seriously

I take the Bible, Sacred Scripture, very seriously. As a Catholic I have to, and I'll get back to that.

I also pay attention to what some of the best minds of the last couple thousand years thought about this sort of thing:
"12 I tell you, brothers, the time is running out. From now on, let those having wives act as not having them,

"those weeping as not weeping, those rejoicing as not rejoicing, those buying as not owning,

"those using the world as not using it fully. For the world in its present form is passing away."
(1 Corinthians 7:29-31)
- - - which is why I still think my youthful decision to stay out of the rat race was right. (December 13, 2015; May 3, 2015)

I don't, however, take what folks like Harold Camping say seriously.

More exactly, I take the effect they have seriously; but not the perennial End Times Bible Prophecies. I've talked about doomsday predictions, new and old; Saint Hippolytus of Rome; and getting a grip; before. (July 5, 2015; April 19, 2015; January 25, 2015)

About "... the world ... is passing away...." — I do not think the end of the world is at hand: not any more so than usual, at least.

Last Judgment and Getting a Grip

(From Wily Miller's Non Sequitur, June 14, 2011 and May 3, 2010, used w/o permission.)

I've discussed fizzled doomsday predictions and cartoon characters before. (April 19, 2015)

This post is not about this world's eventual end — but I'd better explain my view of apocalyptic predictions.

I'm a Christian, a Catholic, so I take the Last Judgment and Mark 13:32 seriously.

The universe we live in won't last forever. (August 14, 2015; June 14, 2015)

We don't know how long we have before this world ends. I'm okay with that: and quite willing to let God the Father handle the 'big picture' stuff. (Mark 13:32-33; Catechism, 675-682, 1021-1022, 1038-1041, 1042-1050)

We've been on standby alert for two millennia, and I've been over that before, too. (November 29, 2015; April 19, 2015)

My guess is that we've got a long wait ahead of us, and I'll get back to that, too.

But my tour of duty in this world will end a decade or so from now: maybe less. I'm hoping that it's decades, since I'm dealing with a disturbingly long rap sheet.

More of my take on life, death, and long-term planning:
Bottom line; I'll experience death and my particular judgment, and then I'll live forever — which is good news or bad news, depending on choices I make. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1021-1037)

"The Truths We Need"

Josiah ruled Israel around the time Ashurbanipal set up his library and the Zhou Dynasty went through kings Xiang, Qing, and Kuang. I've mentioned Ashurbanipal, his library, and Gilgamesh, before. (December 20, 2015; November 1, 2015)

Josiah "pleased the LORD and conducted himself unswervingly just as his ancestor David had done." (2 Kings 22:2)

But Josiah had inherited a mess made by Israel's two preceding kings.

Then a long-ignored document turned up during a massive repair and restoration project. Can't say that I blame the scribe Shaphan for starting his report with good news about recycling:
"When the king had heard the contents of the book of the law, he tore his garments

"and issued this command to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, son of Shaphan, Achbor, son of Micaiah, the scribe Shaphan, and the king’s servant Asaiah:

" 'Go, consult the LORD for me, for the people, for all Judah, about the stipulations of this book that has been found, for the anger of the LORD has been set furiously ablaze against us, because our fathers did not obey the stipulations of this book, nor fulfill our written obligations.' "
(2 Kings 22:11-13)
I tend to remember Josiah's words in my own dialect – something along the lines of "we had a written contract!" or "we had a deal!" — with God the Almighty — and violated the terms.

No wonder that King Josiah was upset. He understood the consequences: which is why he paid attention to what the prophetess Huldah said. (November 9, 2014)

I'm not a king of Israel or any other nation, Josiah lived some 2,650 years back, so why should I care about that bit from 2 Kings 22?

For starters, Josiah shows up again in Matthew 1:10, about two thirds of the way through our Lord's genealogy as recorded in Matthew.

He isn't, however in Luke 3:23-38's genealogy. That one traces our Lord's family back to "Adam, the son of God." (Luke 3:38)

I could kvetch about inconsistencies between the two lists, or decide that the Bible doesn't matter — since Matthew and Luke didn't have an American literalist's worldview.

Instead, I read the Old Testament in part because it's our Lord's family history; and the New Testament because it is another part of the story —
"...Know what the Bible is – and what it isn't. The Bible is the story of God's relationship with the people he has called to himself. It is not intended to be read as history text, a science book, or a political manifesto. In the Bible, God teaches us the truths that we need for the sake of our salvation...."
("Understanding the Bible," Mary Elizabeth Sperry, USCCB)
That's from "10 points for fruitful Scripture reading:"
  1. Bible reading is for Catholics
  2. Prayer is the beginning and the end
  3. Get the whole story!
  4. The Bible isn't a book. It's a library
  5. Know what the Bible is – and what it isn't
  6. The sum is greater than the parts
  7. The Old relates to the New
  8. You do not read alone
  9. What is God saying to me?
  10. Reading isn't enough
    (From "Understanding the Bible," Mary Elizabeth Sperry, USCCB)
I put links to "Understanding..." and other resources at the end of this post.1

Love, Freedom, and God's Family

I keep saying this: God loves us, and wants to adopt us. All of us. (John 1:12-14, 3:17; Romans 8:14-17; Peter 1:3-4; Catechism, 1, 27-30, 52, 1825, 1996)

Whether or not we accept the invitation is up to each of us. We have free will. (Catechism, 1021-1037)

I keep saying this, too: I should love God, love my neighbors, see everybody as my neighbor, and treat others as I want to be treated. (Matthew 5:43-44, 7:12, 22:36-40, Mark 12:28-31; Luke 6:31 10:25-27, 29-37)

It's how our Lord acted; and as an adopted child, acting like part of the family makes sense — at least to me. (November 22, 2015)

It's simple, not easy, and that's another topic. (October 12, 2014; September 13, 2014)

Top Priority

My top priority is seeking, knowing, and loving God with all my strength: or should be. (Catechism, 1)

I can, using my senses and reason, notice the order and beauty surrounding us; and realize that God exists. That's a huge over-simplification. (Catechism, 31-35, 282-289)

The process would be a great deal easier if the first of us hadn't made a monumentally bad decision. (Catechism, 386-390, 396-412)

I've talked about our first parents, sin, and getting a grip, fairly often. Basically, God doesn't make junk, Adam and Eve aren't German, and we've been around for a very long time. (August 28, 2015; June 5, 2015; July 11, 2014)

Happily, God stayed in touch with us. About five millennia back, we began developing an information storage and retrieval technology you and I are using now: writing.

Pretty soon folks were using it to record business transactions, poems like the Epic of Gilgamesh, and the compilation of poems, census reports, and correspondence we call the Bible.

Sacred Scripture

By the time Confucius was starting his political career, the Pentateuch had been compiled. The book of Isaiah is a few centuries older. I've mentioned Isaiah, Micah, and the Assyrian menace, before. (December 20, 2015)

Pulu, a governor and general of Kalhu, said he was a son of Adad-nirari III. That may or may not be true, but by that time he'd killed the Assyrian royal family: so I suspect that nobody was eager to debate the point.

He changed his name to Tiglath-Pileser III, helped jump-start what we call the Neo-Assyrian Empire — which fell apart a few centuries later.

Like I keep saying, change happens. (December 20, 2015; August 31, 2014)

Where was I? Order and beauty, cunieform, Confucius, Kalhu — folks started calling it Nimrud recently — Isaiah, and Assyrians. Right.

Our Lord was born about two millennia back.

The Old Testament, 'the law and the prophets' tells the story of what happened up to that point. The New Testament tells us about our Lord, our work, and our goal. We're still discovering what it all means. (Catechism, 54-67)

The Bible, Sacred Scripture, is a vital part of my faith. (Catechism, 101-133)
"...The Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures just as she venerates the body of the Lord, since, especially in the sacred liturgy, she unceasingly receives and offers to the faithful the bread of life from the table both of God's word and of Christ's body....

"...The sacred synod also earnestly and especially urges all the Christian faithful, especially Religious, to learn by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures the 'excellent knowledge of Jesus Christ' (Phil. 3:8). 'For ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.'(5)..."
("Dei Verbum," Pope Blessed Paul VI (November 18, 1965))

"...So convinced indeed was Jerome that familiarity with the Bible was the royal road to the knowledge and love of Christ that he did not hesitate to say: 'Ignorance of the Bible means ignorance of Christ.'[121] And 'what other life can there be without knowledge of the Bible wherein Christ, the life of them that believe, is set before us?'[122]..."
("Spiritus Paraclitus," Benedict XV (September 15, 1915))
I'm expected to act as if what I know and believe matters, too, and that's yet another topic:

1 About the Bible:

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Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

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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.