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Author Topic:   Catholics & Inerrancy
Junior Member (Idle past 4834 days)
Posts: 15
Joined: 04-24-2011

Message 1 of 2 (613884)
04-28-2011 2:34 PM

I found myself recently discussing biblical inerrancy. A good number of conversing Catholic folk ruled out the possibility of error in the Bible on the grounds that divine involvement in the process of composition would protect the human from erring.
Let me put my cards on the table: I view this as nonsense.
May I offer two aids to this discussion, encountered in Aidan Nichols' "The Shape of Catholic Theology":
First, genre or literary form has some relevance in distinguishing between real and supposed error. The Creation narratives, if intended literally, no doubt expose the error of their authors. However, to the extent that authorial intention was spiritual and ethical, rather than factual and descriptive (as you find Ratzinger arguing), then what appears to be error isn't really.
Thus, a consciousness of genre and literary form (not always an easy determination), can promote the Scriptures as free from error in the sense that the meaning intended is free from error.
However, this does not exhaust the types of alleged error, and so such a conclusion is insufficient. Perhaps a second aid compensates. The measure of biblical truth, the Second Vatican Fathers are seen to argue, lies in the economy of salvation. Paragraph 11 of Dei Verbum states: The books of Scripture teach firmly, faithfully and without error that truth which God willed to be put down in the sacred writings for the sake of our salvation.
And so, someone like Raymond Brown challenges a reader to discern beyond simply what authors intend to communicate, and move towards a discernment of what God does communicate for our salvation. Brown's view, and that of a good many, is that the inspiration of the Scriptures has the effect of rendering Scripture inerrant when relevant to human salvation. When relevant to human salvation is also not an easy determination.
Has God protected the human author from every form of error? It seems nonsense to me that he would. To a Catholic person like myself, Jesus Christ is God's Revelation. To the extent that a certain testimony messes up on the geography of one of Jesus' travels, seems to me not what needs safeguarding.
(I do not mean to suggest that only geographical errors exist...).
But what do you think? And why?

Kelly Wilson
Musings @ kellyjwilson

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