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Should We Take the Bible Literally or Figuratively?
CatholicExchange.com ^ | April 17, 2007 | Mary Harwell Sayler

Posted on 04/18/2007 11:20:10 AM PDT by Salvation

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Another thread to discuss the Bible.

Please remember the rules of the Religion Moderator as this topic is discussed.

1 posted on 04/18/2007 11:20:12 AM PDT by Salvation
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To: nickcarraway; sandyeggo; Lady In Blue; NYer; american colleen; ELS; Pyro7480; livius; ...
Catholic Discussion Ping!

Please notify me via FReepmail if you would like to be added to or taken off the Catholic Discussion Ping List.

2 posted on 04/18/2007 11:22:18 AM PDT by Salvation (" With God all things are possible. ")
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To: Salvation

In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not.


3 posted on 04/18/2007 11:28:08 AM PDT by Mr. K (Some days even my lucky rocketship underpants don't help)
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To: Salvation
John 10:34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods”’ 35 If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken),
4 posted on 04/18/2007 11:31:52 AM PDT by DungeonMaster (Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.)
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To: Salvation

at times literally (Jesus rose from the dead.)

at times figuratively. (Jesus the Lamb of God.)

At times both. (Jesus being the stone the builders rejected.)

IMHO.

Where is speaks on faith and morals, how to live a life the way God wants us to, it’s quite clear.


5 posted on 04/18/2007 11:37:04 AM PDT by Knitting A Conundrum (Act Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly With God Micah 6:8)
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To: Salvation; MarkBsnr
I would like to see you guys discuss:

To What Degree does the Bible Matter to Catholicism?

"I have repeatedly offered $1000 to anyone who can prove to me from the Bible alone that I am bound to keep Sunday holy. There is no such law in the Bible. It is a law of the holy Catholic Church alone. The Bible says, 'Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.' The Catholic Church says: 'No. By my divine power I abolish the Sabbath day and command you to keep holy the first day of the week.' And lo! The entire civilized world bows down in a reverent obedience to the command of the holy Catholic Church. Priest Thomas Enright, CSSR, President of Redemptorist College, Kansas City, Missouri, in a lecture at Hartford, Kansas, and printed in the American Sentinel, June 1883, a New York Roman Catholic journal.

6 posted on 04/18/2007 11:38:40 AM PDT by kerryusama04 (John 19:31)
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To: Knitting A Conundrum

Great reply!


7 posted on 04/18/2007 11:42:02 AM PDT by Between the Lines (I am very cognizant of my fallibility, sinfulness, and other limitations. So should you.)
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To: kerryusama04
"I have repeatedly offered $1000 to anyone who can prove to me from the Bible alone that I am bound to keep Sunday holy.

Is that literally or figuratively?

8 posted on 04/18/2007 11:44:17 AM PDT by Between the Lines (I am very cognizant of my fallibility, sinfulness, and other limitations. So should you.)
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To: Knitting A Conundrum

Excellent examples! Thank you!


9 posted on 04/18/2007 11:45:13 AM PDT by Salvation (" With God all things are possible. ")
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To: Between the Lines

LOL!


10 posted on 04/18/2007 11:46:12 AM PDT by kerryusama04 (John 19:31)
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To: kerryusama04

Don’t be a “one-issue” guy here, please. There are many other things that we can discuss.


11 posted on 04/18/2007 11:47:05 AM PDT by Salvation (" With God all things are possible. ")
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To: All
Catholic and Protestant Bibles: What is the Difference?

Glimpsing Words, Practices, or Beliefs Unique to Catholicism [Bible Trivia]

Should We Take the Bible Literally or Figuratively?

12 posted on 04/18/2007 11:47:31 AM PDT by Salvation (" With God all things are possible. ")
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To: kerryusama04
This issue was discussed at length on the Catholics and Jesus Christ thread.
13 posted on 04/18/2007 11:49:11 AM PDT by Salvation (" With God all things are possible. ")
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To: Salvation
Don’t be a “one-issue” guy here, please. There are many other things that we can discuss.

You see the word Sabbath and you assume I want to discuss that.... again? Address my inquiry, please. Is the Bible important to Catholicism, if at all, and how much? Is the Church bound by the scriptures or are the scriptures bound by the Church?

14 posted on 04/18/2007 11:49:28 AM PDT by kerryusama04 (John 19:31)
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To: Salvation

Nice article. I’ve always thought the answer to this question is “yes,” because so much of the Bible is written in allegory and parable.


15 posted on 04/18/2007 11:50:19 AM PDT by colorado tanker
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To: kerryusama04

Actually that joke has a double meaning. Did you get the part of the joke that implied you are off topic?


16 posted on 04/18/2007 11:51:50 AM PDT by Between the Lines (I am very cognizant of my fallibility, sinfulness, and other limitations. So should you.)
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To: Salvation

Yes.


17 posted on 04/18/2007 11:53:29 AM PDT by labette
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To: Salvation

ping


18 posted on 04/18/2007 11:56:08 AM PDT by pa mom (God bless Tech--and I'm a Wahoo!)
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To: Salvation

“Should we take the Bible literally or figuratively?”

Yes.


19 posted on 04/18/2007 11:59:31 AM PDT by Tax-chick ("There is no such thing as death for a Christian who believes in the Resurrection." ~ Fr. Ho Lung)
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To: kerryusama04

I’ll lay a counter offer...I’ll give you $1000 if you can prove to me that Gentile Christians are either directly told to “keep the Sabbath” or told directly that “breaking the Sabbath” is a sin.

Sincerely

P.S. I’m not a Catholic.


20 posted on 04/18/2007 12:07:53 PM PDT by ScubieNuc
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To: Salvation

We should take the Old Testament in the light of the New Testament, in the sense put in it by the inspired writers and attested to by the Fathers of the early Church. No figurative interpretation should take precedence over the literal interpretation, if the literal interpretation is available and has a patristic origin. Everything else is inserting your own meaning into the Bible.


21 posted on 04/18/2007 12:12:24 PM PDT by annalex
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To: ScubieNuc; Salvation

I’m not going to hijack Salvation’s thread.


22 posted on 04/18/2007 12:14:13 PM PDT by kerryusama04 (John 19:31)
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To: Between the Lines

Did you read the part of my post that indicated my desire for them to have another thread discussing the relevancy of the Bible to a Catholic? My post was not about the Sabbath and was only slightly off topic. If the Catholic Church believes it can rewrite commandments, why bother reading scripture at all?


23 posted on 04/18/2007 12:15:59 PM PDT by kerryusama04 (John 19:31)
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To: Salvation; DungeonMaster; Tax-chick
Father John Corapi in his excellent EWTN series on the Catechism (Sunday nights at 8:00) makes specific reference to 111 (and following) especially for interpretation.

Note too that Jimmy Akin has written an excellent book on the "Senses of Scripture."

The Navarre Bible has outstanding commentary on the Bible verse by verse in such a way as to make it easily accessible to all.

III. THE HOLY SPIRIT, INTERPRETER OF SCRIPTURE

109 In Sacred Scripture, God speaks to man in a human way. To interpret Scripture correctly, the reader must be attentive to what the human authors truly wanted to affirm, and to what God wanted to reveal to us by their words.75

110 In order to discover the sacred authors' intention, the reader must take into account the conditions of their time and culture, the literary genres in use at that time, and the modes of feeling, speaking and narrating then current. "For the fact is that truth is differently presented and expressed in the various types of historical writing, in prophetical and poetical texts, and in other forms of literary expression."76

111 But since Sacred Scripture is inspired, there is another and no less important principle of correct interpretation, without which Scripture would remain a dead letter. "Sacred Scripture must be read and interpreted in the light of the same Spirit by whom it was written."77

The Second Vatican Council indicates three criteria for interpreting Scripture in accordance with the Spirit who inspired it.78

1. Be especially attentive "to the content and unity of the whole Scripture". Different as the books which compose it may be, Scripture is a unity by reason of the unity of God's plan, of which Christ Jesus is the center and heart, open since his Passover.79

The phrase "heart of Christ" can refer to Sacred Scripture, which makes known his heart, closed before the Passion, as the Scripture was obscure. But the Scripture has been opened since the Passion; since those who from then on have understood it, consider and discern in what way the prophecies must be interpreted.80

2. Read the Scripture within "the living Tradition of the whole Church". According to a saying of the Fathers, Sacred Scripture is written principally in the Church's heart rather than in documents and records, for the Church carries in her Tradition the living memorial of God's Word, and it is the Holy Spirit who gives her the spiritual interpretation of the Scripture (". . . according to the spiritual meaning which the Spirit grants to the Church"81).

3. Be attentive to the analogy of faith.82 By "analogy of faith" we mean the coherence of the truths of faith among themselves and within the whole plan of Revelation.

The senses of Scripture

115 According to an ancient tradition, one can distinguish between two senses of Scripture: the literal and the spiritual, the latter being subdivided into the allegorical, moral and anagogical senses. The profound concordance of the four senses guarantees all its richness to the living reading of Scripture in the Church.

The literal sense is the meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture and discovered by exegesis, following the rules of sound interpretation: "All other senses of Sacred Scripture are based on the literal."83

The spiritual sense. Thanks to the unity of God's plan, not only the text of Scripture but also the realities and events about which it speaks can be signs.

1. The allegorical sense. We can acquire a more profound understanding of events by recognizing their significance in Christ; thus the crossing of the Red Sea is a sign or type of Christ's victory and also of Christian Baptism.84

2. The moral sense. The events reported in Scripture ought to lead us to act justly. As St. Paul says, they were written "for our instruction".85

3. The anagogical sense (Greek: anagoge, "leading"). We can view realities and events in terms of their eternal significance, leading us toward our true homeland: thus the Church on earth is a sign of the heavenly Jerusalem.86

118 A medieval couplet summarizes the significance of the four senses:

The Letter speaks of deeds; Allegory to faith;
The Moral how to act; Anagogy our destiny.87
"It is the task of exegetes to work, according to these rules, towards a better understanding and explanation of the meaning of Sacred Scripture in order that their research may help the Church to form a firmer judgement. For, of course, all that has been said about the manner of interpreting Scripture is ultimately subject to the judgement of the Church which exercises the divinely conferred commission and ministry of watching over and interpreting the Word of God."88
But I would not believe in the Gospel, had not the authority of the Catholic Church already moved me.89

24 posted on 04/18/2007 12:20:52 PM PDT by Frank Sheed (Dead Ráibéad)
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To: Frank Sheed

Thank you for that. It’s amazing how clearly the Catechism can cut through to the heart of the matter...


25 posted on 04/18/2007 12:25:38 PM PDT by pgyanke (RUDY GIULIANI 2008 - BECAUSE IF YOU'RE GOING TO COMPROMISE YOUR PRINCIPLES ANYWAY... WHY WAIT?)
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To: kerryusama04
(1) There was once a New York Sentinel newspaper in NYC. It was unaffiliated with the Roman Catholic Church.

(2) There has never been a Catholic journal in NY called "The American Sentinel."

(3) There is nor record of a Redemptorist College in Kansas City in 1883. Redemptorists of that region have been attending the Redemptorist Colllege in Waterford, WI for at least 70 years. There is a St. Louis University in St. Louis, MO that has an association with the Redemptorists, but no Redemptorist College (it's a Jesuit university).

(4) The St. Louis Province of Redemptorists was founded in 1875 - when the first American Redemptorist professed his vows - with jurisdiction over Kansas City and most of the American west. It seems unlikely that the Redemptorists got a whole college up and running while they were still raising funds for parishes, and unlikely that they would start by founding a college anywhere other than where they were headquartered.

It seems even more unlikely that there would be no record of such a college.

(5) The Redemptorist website has no record of any Fr. Thomas Enright. They have records on Redemptorists in America going back to the Revolution.

Your source is a fabrication.

And, even if it were not a fabrication and Thomas Enright was a real Redemptorist, Thomas Enright's personal opinion is not and can never be Church teaching.

Had this fictional Enright existed, he would have conceded that his opinions were entirely his own and subject to correction by anyone more knowledgeable than he.

26 posted on 04/18/2007 12:27:06 PM PDT by wideawake
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To: Frank Sheed

Excellent information. Thanks, Frank!


27 posted on 04/18/2007 12:27:45 PM PDT by Tax-chick ("There is no such thing as death for a Christian who believes in the Resurrection." ~ Fr. Ho Lung)
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To: kerryusama04

http://members.aol.com/johnprh/sab1.html


28 posted on 04/18/2007 12:27:51 PM PDT by Frank Sheed (Dead Ráibéad)
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To: wideawake
"You may read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you will not find a single line authorizing the sanctification of Sunday. The Scriptures enforce the religious observance of Saturday, a day which we never sanctify." Cardinal Gibbons (for many years head of the Catholic Church in America), The Faith of Our Fathers (92d ed., rev.; Baltimore: John Murphy Company), p.89.
29 posted on 04/18/2007 12:29:50 PM PDT by kerryusama04 (John 19:31)
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To: kerryusama04
Is the Bible important to Catholicism, if at all, and how much?

Have you ever been to a Mass? If so ... did you listen? Not trying to be a smartaleck here ... just wondering if you've explored your own querie.

30 posted on 04/18/2007 12:30:40 PM PDT by al_c
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To: kerryusama04
If the Catholic Church believes it can rewrite commandments

Which set of 10 came first ... Catholic or Protestant?

31 posted on 04/18/2007 12:32:59 PM PDT by al_c
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To: kerryusama04
I would like to see you guys discuss: To What Degree does the Bible Matter to Catholicism?

Why?

It seems to me that, if you're truly interested in learning about this subject, you'd simply go to the "Catechism of the Catholic Church" and read what the Catholic Church, officially, says.

After that, if you're deeply interested, you could read the source documents identified by the footnotes in the CCC. After that, if you're exceptionally interested, you could begin reading the sermons of the Greek and Latin Fathers, most of which are reflections on Scripture, in its many senses.

I fail to see how the discussion of a group of laypeople would edify you about "Catholicism" in some way that the official - publically available, in English - teachings and historic understandings of the Catholic Church would not.

32 posted on 04/18/2007 12:33:47 PM PDT by Tax-chick ("There is no such thing as death for a Christian who believes in the Resurrection." ~ Fr. Ho Lung)
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To: Tax-chick; pgyanke

Anything to assist your harried life, Mrs. Tax!

I’ve found that keeping a small, compact version of the Catechism by my reading chair has devolved into the equivalent of a dictionary. I refer to it more and more. And, now with book in hand, Fr. Corapi’s series is even more appreciated for the gem it is. He has estimated that over 2 billion people have watched that series, and Lord only knows how many languages it is translated into! He once said it would still be showing in 25 years!

F


33 posted on 04/18/2007 12:35:14 PM PDT by Frank Sheed (Dead Ráibéad)
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To: al_c
Which set of 10 came first ... Catholic or Protestant?

Jewish. :-)

34 posted on 04/18/2007 12:35:39 PM PDT by Invincibly Ignorant
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To: Frank Sheed

Cool. I’ll have to see if it’s available on DVD.


35 posted on 04/18/2007 12:35:59 PM PDT by Tax-chick ("There is no such thing as death for a Christian who believes in the Resurrection." ~ Fr. Ho Lung)
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To: kerryusama04
If the Catholic Church believes it can rewrite commandments, why bother reading scripture at all?

Sorry, I did not know that you were Catholic. From the tone of your post I just presumed you were not and that you were spoiling for some kind of a fight.

As for me, Catholic beliefs do not change anything as to why I should read the Bible.

36 posted on 04/18/2007 12:39:13 PM PDT by Between the Lines (I am very cognizant of my fallibility, sinfulness, and other limitations. So should you.)
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To: Tax-chick; Salvation

Well said! For someone who is not interested in “hijacking Salvation’s thread,” he is doing a superb job of “hijacking Salvation’s thread!”

F


37 posted on 04/18/2007 12:39:59 PM PDT by Frank Sheed (Dead Ráibéad)
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To: Between the Lines
I was raised Catholic, but left because I don't believe any church has the authority to change the commandments. Why not just take my question at face value and assume I'm not out for a fight?
38 posted on 04/18/2007 12:41:56 PM PDT by kerryusama04 (John 19:31)
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To: Tax-chick

http://www.fathercorapi.com/The-Teaching-of-Jesus-Christ-Catechism-Series-48-talks-on-DVD-—200DVDS-P126C2.aspx

A bit pricey! I decided to just watch as often as possible until I have seen each one 5 times. I should reach that by the year 2022. At least you know where I am on Sundays at 8:00. Of course, I could Tivo the thing!


39 posted on 04/18/2007 12:43:08 PM PDT by Frank Sheed (Dead Ráibéad)
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To: Tax-chick
I fail to see how the discussion of a group of laypeople would edify you about "Catholicism" in some way that the official - publically available, in English - teachings and historic understandings of the Catholic Church would not.

Sooo, are you saying that lay people ought to just defer to the Church and not read scripture on their own?

40 posted on 04/18/2007 12:43:16 PM PDT by kerryusama04 (John 19:31)
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To: kerryusama04
Colossians 2: 16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.

Romans 14:5 Some consider one day more sacred than another; others consider every day alike. Everyone should be fully convinced in their own mind. 6 Those who regard one day as special do so to the Lord. Those who eat meat do so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and those who abstain do so to the Lord and give thanks to God. 7 For we do not live to ourselves alone and we do not die to ourselves alone. 8 If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.

Acts 20:7 On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.

41 posted on 04/18/2007 12:44:56 PM PDT by pgyanke (RUDY GIULIANI 2008 - BECAUSE IF YOU'RE GOING TO COMPROMISE YOUR PRINCIPLES ANYWAY... WHY WAIT?)
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To: kerryusama04

Why not just read post 28 and keep busy, FRiend?


42 posted on 04/18/2007 12:44:58 PM PDT by Frank Sheed (Dead Ráibéad)
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To: Frank Sheed; MarkBsnr
Well said! For someone who is not interested in “hijacking Salvation’s thread,” he is doing a superb job of “hijacking Salvation’s thread!”

Because you guys are pushing the issue. Ping me next time you take a shot at me, eh?

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1795015/posts?page=2177#2177

43 posted on 04/18/2007 12:46:12 PM PDT by kerryusama04 (John 19:31)
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To: Frank Sheed

Why not stop pinging about something you don’t wish discussed, FRiend?


44 posted on 04/18/2007 12:47:42 PM PDT by kerryusama04 (John 19:31)
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To: kerryusama04
Cardinal Gibbons is not "head" of the Catholic Church in America any more than his successor as Cardinal Archbishop of Baltimore Bill Keeler is.

The Pope is the head of the Catholic Church.

Acts 20:7, of course, shows that Christians gathered on the first day of the week for the breaking of the bread and to hear the Word preached.

And, of course, the Resurrection itself is Scriptural ground enough to keep the first day of the week holy.

45 posted on 04/18/2007 12:48:19 PM PDT by wideawake
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To: kerryusama04

For someone not spoiling for a fight, you have a mighty big chip on your shoulder!


46 posted on 04/18/2007 12:49:58 PM PDT by pgyanke (RUDY GIULIANI 2008 - BECAUSE IF YOU'RE GOING TO COMPROMISE YOUR PRINCIPLES ANYWAY... WHY WAIT?)
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To: kerryusama04

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1819452/posts?page=22#22

I didn’t post this, bub. You did.


47 posted on 04/18/2007 12:50:39 PM PDT by Frank Sheed (Dead Ráibéad)
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To: Salvation

People who have serious issues with the Bible taken literally or figuratively most often don’t understand what the Bible is. It was not written exclusively to the 21st century western culture. It is not exclusively a rulebook. It is not exclusively history, prophecy, or moral teachings. It is essentially the most relevant true story to our existence. It is timeless truth for humanity throughout our time here on Earth.

What the Bible says is entirely true, but has to be understood through the cultures which it was given. We must not make the error that we completely understand the Bible. Its core message is clear, but it touches on the deepest concepts in creation. Some concepts the Bible covers are complex to the point of being unknowable. Some things are mysteries now, but will be understood at a later point in human existence.

One thing is clear though: Jesus us the point of the Bible, and the reason for the Bible. The simple message of salvation through His sacrifice is its core message. Whatever else God may reveal to us through the Bible is secondary to Jesus.


48 posted on 04/18/2007 12:51:04 PM PDT by dan1123 (You are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. --Jesus)
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To: kerryusama04; Frank Sheed
Why not just take my question at face value and assume I'm not out for a fight?

(1)Because posting something in supersize font plus bold letters is the online equivalent of shouting at the top of your lungs.

(2) Because you provided a fraudulent quote as your leadoff argument.

At face value your "question" was a provocation.

Had your question been sincere it would probably have been written in words like:

"The Catholic Church holds it worship services on Sundays and calls that day the Lord's Day. What Scriptural reasoning is behind this practice?" And it would probably ahve been written in regular font and unaccompanied by faked quotes.

49 posted on 04/18/2007 12:53:25 PM PDT by wideawake
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To: kerryusama04

Hi Kerry; thanks for the question.

Well, continuing along the lines of what was discussed in other threads, maybe we should step back and see exactly what the Bible is and where it came from.

The Catholic Church produced the Bible. The Bible didn’t produce the Catholic Church. It is a document of and by the Church. The Bible is the most important document that it has produced, obviously, but, again, the Church alone is responsible for its content. And, unlike all other earthly entities, it alone has the authority to interpret it. Now who is it responsible to? To the One who gave it the authority to produce the Bible in the first place.

Now where did the Church get its authority? Jesus Christ. Protestants and all other non Catholics don’t have the authority because it was never given to them. Rather, they had - and have - the ability to join or rejoin the organization that has it. The Church is open to all who would follow Jesus. By His rules, not yours. The Church got its marching orders from Him and Him alone. Predating the Bible and definitely predating the mutilated versions that non Catholics often prefer.

The only reason that we can believe that the Bible is the Word of God is because the Church tells you. Not because of your inner feelings or whims or what a televangist tells you.

And this little article is suspect because of the language used. The Catholic Church does not say things like: The Catholic Church says: ‘No. By my divine power I abolish the Sabbath day and command you to keep holy the first day of the week.’ And lo! The entire civilized world bows down in a reverent obedience to the command of the holy Catholic Church.

Don’t think so.

However, the Church never abolished the Jewish Sabbath Day. It had no authority to do so. The Church, although we acknowledge our Jewish roots and reverence the Jewish people as the first chosen to hear the Word of God, has no authority over Judaism. She DID, however have the authority to create a new Christian Holy Day. The First day of the week, in weekly memory of the Risen Lord. And she did so. I see nothing wrong with it and everything right with it.

And, to neatly wrap up the post so as to comply with the rules concerning topic drift, the Church, over the millennia has delved deeply into which parts of the Bible are to be taken literally and what are to be taken figurately. The Catechism, on line and freely available to all who would access it, can address each of your questions as they arise. The knowledge, of which I am sometimes woefully lacking, is there for anyone to see.


50 posted on 04/18/2007 12:55:40 PM PDT by MarkBsnr (In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen)
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