The Pope and the Bible

Last week, I ran across a series of articles that caught my eye. The Roman Pontiff has recently restated Catholic Dogma that the Bible can only be understood within the Church. To be honest, I do not disagree with him in principle, but we might argue the constitution of the Church.

The Church is indeed the keeper of the Scriptures, but Rome carries it further in allowing for Tradition to inform Scripture (See Matthew 28.19 in several Catholic bibles). Further, they allow Tradition to stand along side of Scripture in creating doctrine and practice.

Anyway, here are the articles:

On Thursday morning, Pope Benedict addressed representatives of the Pontifical Biblical Commission following their plenary assembly and said that a correct understanding of Scripture does not come from “the individualistic illusion that biblical texts can be better understood outside the community of believers” but rather rises from the Tradition of the Church.

“Inspiration and truth in the Bible,” the theme of the Pontifical Biblical Commission’s plenary assembly, is one that touches on a topic that biblical scholars have vigorously debated during the last century. Much of biblical scholarship, Catholic and non-Catholic, has developed into an academic study separated from the living memory of the Church.

This morning the Pope received thirty representatives of the Pontifical Biblical Commission who just held their full assembly, under the leadership of Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Benedict XVI began by underlining the importance of the chosen theme, which “concerns not only believers, but the Church herself, because the Church’s life and mission necessarily rest upon the Word of God … .”

Recalling that the Constitution ‘Dei Verbum’ (The Word of God) affirmed that God is the author of the Bible, and that in Sacred Scripture God speaks to mankind in a human manner, the Holy Father laid out the three criteria that the Second Vatican Council prescribed for correctly interpreting Scripture.

He then lays out the Vatican II (of which he was a part of) criteria of interpreting Scripture:

  • First, “Sacred Scripture is one by virtue of the unity of God’s plan, of which Jesus Christ is the center and the heart.”
  • Second, “Scripture must be read in the context of the living Tradition of the entire Church. … In her Tradition the Church carries the living memory of the Word of God, and it is the Holy Spirit Who provides her with the interpretation thereof in accordance with its spiritual meaning.
  • “The third criterion concerns the need to pay attention to the analogy of the faith; that is, to the cohesion of the individual truths of faith, both with one another and with the overall plan of Revelation and the fullness of the divine economy enclosed in that plan.”

My contention is that if your Tradition is against Scripture, then change your Tradition. We are reminded that Rome tests negatives in assuming Ecumenical Councilor authority. For Rome and the Orthodox Communions, Ecumenical Councils are tested by the stamp of the Holy Spirit. In other words, if the Church as a whole accepts something, then it must be approved by God. This really helps in the formulation of the words of Christ to Peter in Matthew 16.

Other takes:

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