Thursday, October 06, 2005

It shouldn't be that surprising in a way...

I'm referring to a book by The Roman Catholic bishops of England and Wales, and of Scotland, called The Gift of Scripture . It shouldn't be that surprising in a way, because according to Roman Catholic teaching, they have "Tradition" and the Magesterium. I don't know how many Roman Catholics will agree with this assessment, how many will, and how many won't care.

The media seems shocked from what I've seen. Some of the articles certainly reflect a bias against the Bible and religion. This report certainly broadbrushes those who believe in the a literal 6 day creation. I think ministries such as Answers in Genesis would take issue with how creation is presented (or misrepresented.)

The Times Online story mentioned above lists these two passages as being proclaimed as "untrue"-

Matthew 27:25

The words of the crowd: “His blood be on us and on our children.”

Revelation 19:20

And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had worked the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshipped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with brimstone.”

Now these two passages are quite different and each should be interpreted as the type of writing it is. I believe the bishops discounted the Matthew passage due to Anti-Semitism charges. It is presented in Matthew's gospel as narrative, and is not anti-semitic. To toss it aside is to doubt God's Word, and to misunderstand the passage. The passage does not condemn all Jews for all time-it refers to the Jews who were there at that time. If anyone uses it as anti-Semitic they are adding to scripture. This is making the Bible "politically-correct" and is at best misguided.

The Revelation passage is a different type of literature. While some do take it as literal and others as figurative, it sould be noted that all figurative language has a literal meaning. For example, when Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan, He did not mean there was a literal Samaritan who helped a literal Jew, but the parable has a literal meaning as to who is our neighbour, and how are we to treat our neighbours. It was told in a context of a man trying to get away with the least possible effort in serving God.

It is not clear from the article whether the bishops are merely saying Revelation 19:20 is figurative, or if they are denying the meaning behind the passage even if one takes it as figurative. I would take the passage as figurative, but also believe it has a literal meaning about hell and sin. If anybody reads the bishops' book, let me know how they handle that passage. (I may check it out for myself.)

Now neither passage directly affects the gospel, but there is danger in even an apparent down-grading of the Bible. It is the Word of God, and it has been attacked inside and outside of the visible Church for centuries. God has shown Himself faithful, and His Word trustworthy over and over agian. There is no need to doubt it. I will trust the Word of God over the Word of man any day, whether that man (and this really does include women) is a bishop, a reporter, scholar, theologian, or anything else. I believe it is arrogant to set ourselves above God, or even at His level and to dismiss that which we don't understand, or we don't like, or are afraid will offend. It is true that Romans 12:18 says, "If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men." (NASB) But we are not to deny or downgrade the gospel or the Bible to do this. The Gospel will bring offense-and if we offend someone we need to ask-"was it the gospel/Bible that offended them, or was I the cause?" Paul understands this, and it is part of his message in I Corinthians 1.

Hopefully people will get their Bible teaching from godly men and women-whether they are ordained minsters of the Word or laypeople who love the Lord-and not from the media or bishops that cast doubt on God's Word.


Blogger Joel said...

You know, it had never occurred to me that that verse in Matthew could be anti-Semitic until the brouhaha over Gibson's Passion last year; I always figured it referred not just to the Jews but to all of humanity.

Even allowing for the media spin – which likes to portray a belief in inerrant scripture as equivalent to stupidity – if the British bishops are denying the historicity of Genesis, I'm concerned they may be heading into heresy. (Yes, I know you believe they're alreaddy there; I mean by RC standards. :) ) There are a lot of parts of scripture that the Church has not defined an interpretation for, but that's no excuse for compromising inerrancy.

2:59 PM  
Blogger pilgrim said...

On his blog, Breuss Wane has a bit more detail on this-

11:56 AM  

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