Till Christ Be Formed in Every Heart



Posts tagged Interpretation
Biblical Interpretation: Catholic Response

Biblical fundamentalism fails the Catholic Church’s vision of Scripture and exegesis because it is anti-science, anti-authorship and ahistorical. As an ideology, fundamentalism rejects any science as a force undermining the Christian faith. The natural sciences refute the ancient cosmology and Creation stories, while historical criticism demonstrates the development of the inspired text, denying their doctrine of strict verbal inspiration, and consequently, of total inerrancy. And so, despite its ability to bear good exegetical fruit, it is rejected from root to tip as valid tools for the biblical fundamentalist.

The Catholic Church, on the other hand, has never rejected the ability of human reason to know truth, affirming reason and faith, being neither rationalist nor fideist. Within this appreciation of human reason, comes the legitimization of the sciences: natural, social, and literary. Historical criticism was rejected initially by the Church in Pope Leo’s encyclical Providentissimus Deus, because it was attached to a “much too intrusively dogmatic liberalism” that was buttressed by rationalism and modernism (IBC: 28). Through Catholic exegetes making careful use of these critical methods, the Church, in freeing the methods from unacceptable presuppositions, fifty years later allowed her exegetes to make use of this criticism wisely in the papal encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritu. In her cautious approach to ‘higher criticism’, she was able to avoid many of the abuses of liberal Protestant exegetes that the fundamentalists reacted against so strongly.

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Biblical Interpretation: Fundamentalism

Many Christians view the use of scientific methods in the interpretation of Scripture with hesitation or even hostility because they see such criticism undermining the traditional authority of the Bible. Rejecting the scientific methods altogether, some turn to biblical fundamentalism in order to safeguard their understanding of the Bible as inspired and inerrant. This post addresses the claims of biblical fundamentalism, what it is and why is it inconsistent with the Catholic approach to the Bible itself and to biblical interpretation.

This post deals first with a brief treatment of the fundamentalist ideology, followed by their conception of inspiration and inerrancy. The reader will understand how the fundamentalist, operating within their ideological world view, must reject diachronic methods of interpretation. Finally, the next post that I will do will treat the Catholic vision of the Bible and its interpretation in order to show biblical fundamentalism is inconsistent with the Church’s model of exegesis.

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