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A Literate Church: The state of Catholic Bible study today
America - The National Catholic Weekly ^ | DECEMBER 8, 2008 | David Gibson

Posted on 11/30/2008 8:21:58 PM PST by Alex Murphy

For more than 40 years, the Rev. Roger V. Karban of the Diocese of Belleville has loved the Scriptures, studying them deeply, preaching on them weekly and teaching about them in popular Bible study groups. So galvanized was Father Karban by the Second Vatican Council’s encouragement of Scripture study that he even started assigning Bible readings as penances, a practice he continues to this day. Yet for all of that hard work and the efforts by the wider church—continuing with the recent Synod of Bishops on the Word of God (Oct. 5-26)—Father Karban can still come across to Catholics like the fellow in the confessional who balked when Father Karban tried to hand out his usual Scripture-based penance.

“Father,” the man complained, “I used to be a Protestant, and I became a Catholic so I wouldn’t have to read that book!”

Alas, while much has changed since Vatican II, some traditions die hard. Chief among them appears to be the old saw that Catholics “don’t read the Bible”—a hoary Reformation-era aphorism, but one that too many Catholics themselves still accept. “I find a lot of people who are still brainwashed that Scripture is for Protestants—that we Catholics don’t need that at all,” Karban says.

Then again, Catholics can take some solace in two developments, one less praiseworthy than the other.

Biblical Illiteracy

On the downside, surveys show that Catholics are hardly alone in their struggle for biblical literacy. While American Christians proudly cite the Bible as their favorite book (93 percent own one, usually the King James version) and two-thirds see it as the source for answers to “all or most of life’s basic questions,” they actually do not know or understand much of what is written between the covers.

Only half of U.S. adults, for example, could name a single Gospel, and most do not know the name of the first book of the Bible. Even those sola scriptura Protestants who intimidate Catholics with chapter-and-verse recitations are not doing too well. According to a survey conducted in 2000, 60 percent of evangelicals said Jesus was born in Jerusalem, not that “little town of Bethlehem.” And despite all our bitter battles over posting the Ten Commandments, six in 10 Americans cannot name five of them, while half of high school seniors think Sodom and Gomorrah were married. When a USA Today article on Stephen Prothero’s 2007 book, Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know—and Doesn’t, was titled, “Americans Get an ‘F’ in Religion,” the eminent historian of religion, Martin E. Marty, quipped that the newspaper could be guilty of grade inflation.

Moreover, while fewer believers know much about the Bible, one-third of Americans continue to believe that it is literally true, something organizers of the Synod on the Word of God called a dangerous form of fundamentalism that is “winning more and more adherents…even among Catholics.” Such literalism, the synod’s preparatory document said, “demands an unshakable adherence to rigid doctrinal points of view and imposes, as the only source of teaching for Christian life and salvation, a reading of the Bible which rejects all questioning and any kind of critical research.”

Positive Trends in Bible Study

Pointing to the deficiencies of other Christians is not a comfort to Catholic leaders or even a respectable defense in backyard arguments with Protestant neighbors. But on the positive side, Catholics can also point to several promising initiatives and trends.

One is the growing number of reliable and readable books that can provide an introduction to Scripture study and a counter-current in the sea of speculative material available. Works ranging from the widely praised book How Do Catholics Read the Bible? by Daniel J. Harrington, S.J., to Garry Wills’s series of primers (including What the Gospels Meant and What Paul Meant) to the recent Jesus of Nazareth, by Pope Benedict XVI, are just a few examples. Several educators have recommended the introduction to Jesus of Nazareth as a solid starting point for Scripture study. Scholars like Pheme Perkins (her Reading the New Testament: An Introduction remains a standard text) and Dianne Bergant, C.S.A. (People of the Covenant: An Invitation to the Old Testament, for example) bring both a woman’s perspective and deep research.

Moreover, the Internet is a portal to vast amounts of quality material, including lectures by Raymond E. Brown, S.S., one of the most respected and accessible Bible scholars of the past generation.

Yet the heart of good Bible study—defined as close reading that leads to a deeper and more mature spirituality—is the small group, and in that field the Little Rock Scripture Study series remains the leader. The Little Rock series began in 1974 as a modest program for Catholics in central Arkansas as a way, as the co-founder Abbot Jerome Kodell, O.S.B., put it, to help reawaken biblical studies and spirituality in the Catholic Church, “which had been subdued and muted for four hundred years as a result of polemics of the Reformation period.” In fact, equipping the relatively small Catholic community to interact better with the region’s dominant Bible-quoting Protestants was another spur to founding the program.

The response was overwhelming, and a decade later the program had gone national. Today, according to L.R.S.S. director Cackie Upchurch, the program has been used in more than 7,000 parishes in every U.S. diocese and in 55 countries around the world. Ms. Upchurch said there has been an encouraging spike in interest in their programs recently, owing to news of the pope’s book on Jesus along with an unexpectedly strong interest in the ongoing Pauline Year. The Synod on the Word of God may help, too, she added. The growing number of lay ministers is also key in developing programs like Bible study that appeal to parishioners. “Bible study should be at the center of what we do in our parishes,” Ms. Upchurch said.

Paradoxically, the scandal of sexual abuse by members of the Catholic clergy may also have prompted some Catholics to explore the Bible in depth for the first time in their lives, because the crisis revealed not only tragic sins by the clergy, but also a lack of basic religious education among an American laity that thought it should know better. Since 2004, Voice of the Faithful, the lay reform group that sprang up in response to the scandal, has posted resources for Bible study on its Web site, including a guide for a seven-session study of the early church. The goal is not one-stop scholarship, but a first step on the path to developing small groups, said Donna B. Doucette, executive director of V.O.T.F.: “If your ambition is to increase the voice and responsibility of the laity, then your responsibility is to understand the church you are trying to reform. We never approached our religion as something we needed to study. We approached it as something we needed to experience.” Doucette said there has been “no great stampede” for the V.O.T.F. package, “but those who find it, like it.”

Some wonder whether, like Catholic social teaching, Scripture scholarship is becoming one of the church’s best-kept secrets. There is a good argument to be made that modern biblical scholarship, begun as a Protestant enterprise, has in the last half-century seen Catholic thinkers emerge as the most respected and readable Scripture scholars. Catholics who discover this trove respond enthusiastically. Father Karban recalled that he began his first parish Bible study in 1966 as a class on the coming reforms in liturgy; but as often happens, once participants started talking about the biblical roots of the Mass, no one wanted to stop. The liturgy class never started, but Father Karban still leads three Bible classes a week at a parish, a hospital and a high school—some 30 people on Sunday nights, several dozen regulars on Tuesday mornings and another 15 to 20 on Thursday evenings. He also teaches a popular weekly class at a local community college.

Barriers to the Bible

Given such obvious interest, what are the obstacles to a more biblically literate church? Lack of public awareness about good programs and their limited availability at the parish level are two. Another is the time crunch and multiplying distractions that impinge on every aspect of life. For example, Charles McMahon, a retired professor of physics at the University of Pennsylvania, says he has been engrossed in Bible study since he retired in 2001, learning largely through lectures by Father Brown on compact disc. But three years ago, when Mr. McMahon tried to organize a Bible study at the twinned parishes he attends in Philadelphia, just six people showed up, and only three or four—out of hundreds of families on the parish rolls—made it through the seven-week course. “Finding time to sit down and do serious reading is just too difficult,” Mr. McMahon said. “If this is going to be done, we’re going to have to teach kids in high school and college. The level of knowledge about the New Testament, the Old Testament and church history is about a millimeter deep. We’re incredibly ignorant—myself, everyone.”

That lack of expertise can also constrain those able to devote time to Bible study. Ironically, as the church has emphasized Bible study, many Catholics hate to admit that they have been attending church all their lives but do not know much about the Scriptures. Then when they do open the Bible, they often treat it like any other book, and start at the beginning, rather than with, say, the Gospels. Few get beyond the story of the flood early in the Book of Genesis and the tide of “begats” that follows. “When I was growing up as a Catholic we were really told not to read the Bible because we could not understand it, and that it was too complex for us to understand,” Ms. Upchurch said. “And while it’s true that there is a lot of complexity, the same human dimensions are always there. And we have tools to help us bridge the gap between the 21st century and the second century.”

The flip side of this embarrassment is the presumption among many Catholics that they “get” the Bible at Mass, along with everything else they need for their spiritual lives. The postconciliar revolution in liturgy greatly expanded the readings, with a three-year cycle in the vernacular that for the first time included Old Testament passages. Given that exposure, many think they do not need anything else. As Mr. McMahon put it, “The majority still say you go to Mass, you get your ticket punched, and that’s it for the week.”

Certainly, the Mass could be a more effective starting place for Bible study, and Father Karban and others in formation work echo the concern expressed at the Vatican synod that priests need to learn Scripture better so that they can deliver better, more “biblical” homilies. Father Karban cited a recent survey that found seminarians are actually getting less Scripture today than in the 1930s, when modern biblical study was just emerging. Indeed, Father Karban says some of his most devoted students are themselves priests who want to learn more. Many laypeople would likely second Father Karban’s point. “How many times do I need to hear about the mustard seed? I got it. It fell on fallow ground,” Fox television host Bill O’Reilly complains in his essay in a new collection of interviews by Kerry Kennedy, Being Catholic Now. “But every year I’ve got to listen to the guy tell me about the mustard seed. My 3-year-old’s got it. Okay, take it, apply it to what we’re doing, how we’re living.”

On the other hand, better homilies would still be a beginning, not the end of the journey. Deeper study provides the necessary context, and study groups should be led by a good facilitator who uses quality materials. Experts agree that a poorly led Bible study can be worse than none at all—a scavenger hunt for proof texts to support belief or win arguments rather than a search for faith and wisdom.

The Living Word of God

A final paradox is that the prospect of studying the Bible can induce anxiety among both lay believers and the hierarchy over where such exploration could lead. Studying the Bible can raise questions about church history and the tenets of faith. And too many leaders of study groups hesitate to engage or encourage such questions, because they fear either they do not have the answers or they will not be believed. Father Karban says that while he has never in 40 years known anyone whose beliefs have been undermined by Bible study, he still encounters those who think “that I’m going to come up with something that’s going to destroy their faith.”

Bible study may unsettle and even provoke. In a sense, the Bible is a dangerous book that grows more challenging with each reading. As Mark Twain said, “It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.”

Cackie Upchurch likes that quotation. The Bible is a source of comfort, yes, and it should give us courage. But, she added: “It should also disturb us. It should also stir us into action. And if it’s not doing those things, and if it’s just in our heads, then I do not think we’re doing justice to the living Word of God.... If you read this stuff and really believe it, you might have to change how you live.”


TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; Mainline Protestant; Ministry/Outreach
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Only half of U.S. adults, for example, could name a single Gospel, and most do not know the name of the first book of the Bible. Even those sola scriptura Protestants who intimidate Catholics with chapter-and-verse recitations are not doing too well. According to a survey conducted in 2000, 60 percent of evangelicals said Jesus was born in Jerusalem, not that “little town of Bethlehem.” And despite all our bitter battles over posting the Ten Commandments, six in 10 Americans cannot name five of them, while half of high school seniors think Sodom and Gomorrah were married. When a USA Today article on Stephen Prothero’s 2007 book, Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know—and Doesn’t, was titled, “Americans Get an ‘F’ in Religion,” the eminent historian of religion, Martin E. Marty, quipped that the newspaper could be guilty of grade inflation.

Moreover, while fewer believers know much about the Bible, one-third of Americans continue to believe that it is literally true, something organizers of the Synod on the Word of God called a dangerous form of fundamentalism that is “winning more and more adherents…even among Catholics.” Such literalism, the synod’s preparatory document said, “demands an unshakable adherence to rigid doctrinal points of view and imposes, as the only source of teaching for Christian life and salvation, a reading of the Bible which rejects all questioning and any kind of critical research”....

....The flip side of this embarrassment is the presumption among many Catholics that they “get” the Bible at Mass, along with everything else they need for their spiritual lives. The postconciliar revolution in liturgy greatly expanded the readings, with a three-year cycle in the vernacular that for the first time included Old Testament passages. Given that exposure, many think they do not need anything else. As Mr. McMahon put it, “The majority still say you go to Mass, you get your ticket punched, and that’s it for the week.”

1 posted on 11/30/2008 8:21:59 PM PST by Alex Murphy
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To: Alex Murphy
Cackie Upchurch likes that quotation. The Bible is a source of comfort, yes, and it should give us courage. But, she added: “It should also disturb us. It should also stir us into action. And if it’s not doing those things, and if it’s just in our heads, then I do not think we’re doing justice to the living Word of God.... If you read this stuff and really believe it, you might have to change how you live.”

Boy that is sure the truth! Great article! Thank you for posting.

2 posted on 11/30/2008 8:31:42 PM PST by GOP Poet
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To: Alex Murphy
Catholics are not bible literalists. Along with the bible, many contemporary works are studied for a more contextual understanding of the Word of God.
3 posted on 11/30/2008 9:33:23 PM PST by Natural Law
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To: Alex Murphy
<><><>Not true. Not true. The pre-Vatican II mass included the Introit, Offertory and often a Gradual which were all from Psalms. Every mass began with the Psalm 43 (Judica Me) and if you went to daily mass you would've gotten more Old Testament during the course of the year. Catholicism is liturgical in its communal worship.
4 posted on 12/01/2008 5:58:31 AM PST by Oratam
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To: Alex Murphy; GOP Poet; Natural Law; Oratam

I’ve been telling posters for nearly six years that Bible Study is alive and well in Catholic Churches — so to me, this article is old news.

The blessing is that we have a Church to interpret the Scriptures and are not left to YOPIOS as many Protestants are.

YOPIOS = Your Oen Personal Interpretation Of Scripture — LOL!


5 posted on 12/01/2008 8:43:20 AM PST by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation

Oops

YOPIOS = Your Own Personal Interpretation Of Scripture — LOL!


6 posted on 12/01/2008 8:44:23 AM PST by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation; Alex Murphy; GOP Poet; Natural Law; Oratam
The blessing is that we have a Church to interpret the Scriptures and are not left to YOPIOS as many Protestants are.

How do you read: John 14:16 & 26; 15:26; 16:7.
shalom b'SHEM Yah'shua HaMashiach Adonai
7 posted on 12/01/2008 9:27:37 AM PST by Uriel-2012 (Psalm 78:35 And they remembered that God was their ROCK, And the Most High God their Redeemer.)
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To: XeniaSt
How do you read: John 14:16 & 26; 15:26; 16:7.

All these verses are in passages spoken directly to the Apostles, not to all within hearing range. It was to His Apostles that He spoke of the "Counselor" which would remind them of all He had taught them.

8 posted on 12/01/2008 9:52:43 AM PST by Truth Defender (Christ did NOT come to save an immortal sinner, but to give a mortal sinner the offer of immortality)
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To: Truth Defender
XS>How do you read: John 14:16 & 26; 15:26; 16:7.

All these verses are in passages spoken directly to the Apostles, not to all within hearing range. It was to His Apostles that He spoke of the "Counselor" which would remind them of all He had taught them.

Yes; Yah'shua spoke these verses to Messianic Jews
as to who would teach all things.

See Jeremiah 31 for understanding.

shalom b'SHEM Yah'shua HaMashiach Adonai
9 posted on 12/01/2008 10:02:38 AM PST by Uriel-2012 (Psalm 78:35 And they remembered that God was their ROCK, And the Most High God their Redeemer.)
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To: XeniaSt
"How do you read: John 14:16 & 26; 15:26; 16:7."

Another Advocate: Jesus is the first advocate (paraclete); see 1 John 2:1, where Jesus is an advocate in the sense of intercessor in heaven. The Greek term derives from legal terminology for an advocate or defense attorney, and can mean spokesman, mediator, intercessor, comforter, consoler, although no one of these terms encompasses the meaning in John. The Paraclete in John is a teacher, a witness to Jesus, and a prosecutor of the world, who represents the continued presence on earth of the Jesus who has returned to the Father.

As a Catholic I accept the Pope as my current Advocate. Knowing the history of the written Word I accept his better understanding of its origins and meanings than that of the laity who have limited knowledge, understanding, resources and Spiritual assistance.

10 posted on 12/01/2008 10:17:02 AM PST by Natural Law
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To: XeniaSt
Yes; Yah'shua spoke these verses to Messianic Jews as to who would teach all things.

See Jeremiah 31 for understanding.

Please explain why you reference Jer. 31 to explain those New Testament verses spoken to the Apostles.

11 posted on 12/01/2008 11:18:22 AM PST by Truth Defender (Christ did NOT come to save an immortal sinner, but to give a mortal sinner the offer of immortality)
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To: Truth Defender
XS>Yes; Yah'shua spoke these verses to Messianic Jews as to who would teach all things.

See Jeremiah 31 for understanding.

Please explain why you reference Jer. 31 to explain those New Testament verses spoken to the Apostles.

Because Jeremiah 31 describes the New Covenant of YHvH
of which Yah'shua speaks.
shalom b'SHEM Yah'shua HaMashiach Adonai
12 posted on 12/01/2008 11:34:26 AM PST by Uriel-2012 (Psalm 78:35 And they remembered that God was their ROCK, And the Most High God their Redeemer.)
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To: Natural Law
"How do you read: John 14:16 & 26; 15:26; 16:7."

Another Advocate: Jesus is the first advocate (paraclete); see 1 John 2:1, where Jesus is an advocate in the sense of intercessor in heaven. The Greek term derives from legal terminology for an advocate or defense attorney, and can mean spokesman, mediator, intercessor, comforter, consoler, although no one of these terms encompasses the meaning in John. The Paraclete in John is a teacher, a witness to Jesus, and a prosecutor of the world, who represents the continued presence on earth of the Jesus who has returned to the Father.

First of all, I Jn. 2:1 speaks of Jesus as being our "advocate" with the Father. In this Jesus is the one who speaks in our "defense" to the Father - sort of like a defense attorney. You are correct that it is a "legal" term. However, John 14:16, 26, 15:26 and 16:7 speak of it as a "comforter" or "counselor" rather than as an attorney. This "comforter" is the Spirit Jesus promised to them at Pentecost, who is to recall to their mind all things that Jesus taught them, not as a "teacher". This is the "Holy Spirit" spoken of in the Bible. That is my take on those verses, in context.

As a Catholic I accept the Pope as my current Advocate.

Hmmm...What's wrong with having Jesus as your Advocate to the Father that you have to have a mere mortal man as your Advocate?

Knowing the history of the written Word I accept his better understanding of its origins and meanings than that of the laity who have limited knowledge, understanding, resources and Spiritual assistance.

If you know the history of the written Word, why do you say that you have to have someone else to turn to? Or is it that you actually don't really understand the history you say you know? I agree with you that the laity have very limited knowledge and understanding of the Word. But they do have the resources available if they would simply look around and study those resources - and pray a lot for some spiritual assistance, for God has promised that if they have the Spirit of Christ in them they will have the best of assistance. However, again, I find the laity of most churches too lazy to do any study on their own. And as to whose fault that is, well, leadership comes to mind.

13 posted on 12/01/2008 11:50:52 AM PST by Truth Defender (Christ did NOT come to save an immortal sinner, but to give a mortal sinner the offer of immortality)
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To: Salvation
YOPIOS = Your Own Personal Interpretation Of Scripture.

Ridiculous LOL !!! The Scriptures are already interpreted for us in our own language. Our job is to study and understand what it says. This is where the controversy comes in - what is said is understood in so many ways that mass confusion reigns among the churches. And there is a way that this confusion can be overcome. And what, in your mind, do you think that WAY could be?

14 posted on 12/01/2008 11:58:26 AM PST by Truth Defender (Christ did NOT come to save an immortal sinner, but to give a mortal sinner the offer of immortality)
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To: All
How do you read: John 14:16 & 26; 15:26; 16:7.

Instructions to the Apostles, fathers of the Catholic Church.

15 posted on 12/01/2008 11:59:04 AM PST by Petronski (For the next few years, Gethsemane will not be marginal. We will know that garden. -- Cdl. Stafford)
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To: Truth Defender

Translation is not interpretation.

If it were, every lottery winner would be a Christian.


16 posted on 12/01/2008 12:17:49 PM PST by papertyger
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To: papertyger
Translation is not interpretation.

Prove it!

17 posted on 12/01/2008 12:28:23 PM PST by Truth Defender (Christ did NOT come to save an immortal sinner, but to give a mortal sinner the offer of immortality)
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To: papertyger
Translation is not interpretation.

Spoken like an expert. Have you done any?

18 posted on 12/01/2008 12:33:18 PM PST by Revolting cat! (Everytime they open their mouth they shoot themselves in the foot.)
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To: Truth Defender

Judge for yourself:

Is it reasonable to debate a man who upon hearing why I defer to the Pope, asks why I defer to the Pope?


19 posted on 12/01/2008 12:34:25 PM PST by papertyger
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To: Truth Defender

I don’t have to “prove” the difference of those things which are different “by definition.”


20 posted on 12/01/2008 12:37:48 PM PST by papertyger
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To: Revolting cat!

One need not be an “expert” to invoke the law of identity.


21 posted on 12/01/2008 12:41:14 PM PST by papertyger
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To: papertyger
Is it reasonable to debate a man who upon hearing why I defer to the Pope, asks why I defer to the Pope?

I guess I phrased it poorly. If you know the history, and have to depend upon another for his understanding of it, you actually don't really know the history. Simple, isn't it?

22 posted on 12/01/2008 1:09:52 PM PST by Truth Defender (Christ did NOT come to save an immortal sinner, but to give a mortal sinner the offer of immortality)
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To: Truth Defender
"Hmmm...What's wrong with having Jesus as your Advocate to the Father that you have to have a mere mortal man as your Advocate?"

My interpretation is as Jesus spoke. John 14 is a dialog between Jesus and his disciples regarding what happens after He is no longer with them here on earth. Jesus assures them that when needed or asked for by those who believe God will send an Advocate;

The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name--he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you"

23 posted on 12/01/2008 1:15:11 PM PST by Natural Law
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To: papertyger
I don’t have to “prove” the difference of those things which are different “by definition.”

Hmmm...whose definition? Or are you "interpreting" the definitions? LOL.

Actually, both of those terms are used interchangably, and I can show you in verses of the Bible a few cases where it is done. Of course, I suppose you will say I'm "interpreting" those verses. So, after you re-check the definitions maybe you'll get back to me with the differences.

24 posted on 12/01/2008 1:15:39 PM PST by Truth Defender (Christ did NOT come to save an immortal sinner, but to give a mortal sinner the offer of immortality)
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To: Truth Defender

The definition of words in the english language are no more a matter of “interpretation” than mathematical equations.

They are either correct, or they are not.

One has a right to their own opinion; one has no right to their own facts.


25 posted on 12/01/2008 1:35:06 PM PST by papertyger
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To: Natural Law
My interpretation is as Jesus spoke. John 14 is a dialog between Jesus and his disciples regarding what happens after He is no longer with them here on earth. Jesus assures them that when needed or asked for by those who believe God will send an Advocate;

"The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name--he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you"

You are correct...but it is not your "interpretation", it is your understanding of the verse and passage (which is the same as I understand it).

I say this because what Jesus promised was given strictly to the Apostles. In this respect, your explanation (what you call your interpretation?) is a comment on what Jesus said. Can you understand that?

26 posted on 12/01/2008 1:44:05 PM PST by Truth Defender (Christ did NOT come to save an immortal sinner, but to give a mortal sinner the offer of immortality)
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To: papertyger
The definition of words in the english language are no more a matter of “interpretation” than mathematical equations.

They are either correct, or they are not.

There you go again with that long term "interpretation". You should have used the English term "understanding" instead. And yes, they are one or the other.

I go with the definitions found in a first century Greek lexicon. That contains the meanings of the terms found in the Bible and do not contain the added definitions accumulated over the centuries since the Bible was written.

One has a right to their own opinion; one has no right to their own facts.

I would disagree with the last part of your statement. Facts are facts, and they belong to no one individual. If a fact is proven wrong, then it is no longer a fact.

27 posted on 12/01/2008 1:54:24 PM PST by Truth Defender (Christ did NOT come to save an immortal sinner, but to give a mortal sinner the offer of immortality)
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To: Truth Defender
"I say this because what Jesus promised was given strictly to the Apostles."

God did not give special privilege to the Apostles, only special burdens. I know it is contemporarily popular to play theological "gotcha" by citing this disclaimer, but that contradicts what else is said slightly further on in John:

John 14:21 Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him."

28 posted on 12/01/2008 2:01:02 PM PST by Natural Law
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To: Truth Defender

The modern conceit of treating the word “understanding” as a subjective evaluation is just that...a modern conceit.

One either understands, or one does not.

I think you should re-read what I wrote about ones own facts. I wrote the opposite of what you seem to think I wrote.


29 posted on 12/01/2008 2:07:41 PM PST by papertyger
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To: Natural Law
God did not give special privilege to the Apostles, only special burdens. I know it is contemporarily popular to play theological "gotcha" by citing this disclaimer, but that contradicts what else is said slightly further on in John:

John 14:21 Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him."

Why not add John 14:22 to what you are insinuating? Or does that throw a monkey-wrench into it? A verse out of context is a pretext of what's not there.

30 posted on 12/01/2008 2:23:56 PM PST by Truth Defender (Christ did NOT come to save an immortal sinner, but to give a mortal sinner the offer of immortality)
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To: papertyger
The modern conceit of treating the word “understanding” as a subjective evaluation is just that...a modern conceit.

Understanding is subjective. No getting around that. LOL

One either understands, or one does not.

This is the first time you have used the term "understands". Your original says: "One has a right to their own opinion; one has no right to their own facts.

So, how can you say: "I think you should re-read what I wrote about ones own facts. I wrote the opposite of what you seem to think I wrote."? Then perhaps you should re-phrase it, don't you think?

31 posted on 12/01/2008 2:33:18 PM PST by Truth Defender (Christ did NOT come to save an immortal sinner, but to give a mortal sinner the offer of immortality)
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To: Truth Defender
"Why not add John 14:22 to what you are insinuating? Or does that throw a monkey-wrench into it?"

Why stop there? Why not add John 14:23 (unless,of course it, represents a monkey wrench to your point)?

23- Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him".

Its kind of hard to interpret understand the word "anyone" and being limited or restricted to the Apostles, isn't it?

32 posted on 12/01/2008 2:42:53 PM PST by Natural Law
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To: Truth Defender

No, I don’t think rephrasing is necessary. I think more attentive reading will suffice.


33 posted on 12/01/2008 2:46:20 PM PST by papertyger
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To: Natural Law; wideawake; papertyger
Catholics are not bible literalists. Along with the bible, many contemporary works are studied for a more contextual understanding of the Word of God.

I smell the stink of higher criticism.

34 posted on 12/01/2008 3:10:15 PM PST by Zionist Conspirator (Vayachalom vehinneh sullam mutzav 'artzah, vero'sho maggi`a HaShamaymah . . .)
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To: Zionist Conspirator
"I smell the stink of higher criticism."

John 8:15

35 posted on 12/01/2008 3:29:34 PM PST by Natural Law
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To: Natural Law; papertyger; wideawake
"I smell the stink of higher criticism."

John 8:15

I have no idea what that means.

My intention was not to get into an argument with you but to let literalist Catholics papertyger and wideawake answer you instead.

I do not understand this sick need of anti-literalists to claim entire religions when those religions are divided. There may not be many Catholic literalists, but they exist. And you know this. So why the need to make an obviously false claim that "Catholics" (implying all Catholics) are not literalists. Have you ever heard of Living Tradition magazine? The Kolbe Center? The Daylight Origins Society? Bob Sungenis? Gary Metatics(sp?)? While admittedly a distinct minority, they are Catholics and they are literalists.

I know of no literalist who would make the implied claim that all Catholics/Protestants/Jews are literalists. Yet anti-literalists insist on making the opposing claim. And the claim is false on its face.

Are anti-literalists hoping by inflating the numbers to intimidate literalists? Why do that instead of debate the issues?

36 posted on 12/01/2008 3:36:33 PM PST by Zionist Conspirator (Vayachalom vehinneh sullam mutzav 'artzah, vero'sho maggi`a HaShamaymah . . .)
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To: papertyger
No, I don’t think rephrasing is necessary. I think more attentive reading will suffice.

Okay, if you can't put your meanings into words that are understandable, there is not sense communicating with you.

37 posted on 12/01/2008 3:46:57 PM PST by Truth Defender (Christ did NOT come to save an immortal sinner, but to give a mortal sinner the offer of immortality)
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To: Zionist Conspirator
"John 8:15 I have no idea what that means.

John 8:15

You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one.

"I do not understand this sick need of anti-literalists to claim entire religions when those religions are divided."

Your lack of understanding is not limited to the above. You lack an understanding of the hierarchy of the Church. In spite of any private or public dissension or dialog the Church's position is that of the Holy See and the Papal edicts are not entirely literalist. Those that are in agreement are in communion with the body of the Church, those that are not in agreement are not wholly Catholic. If you, as a non-Catholic find comfort an solace in literalism, I will not judge you. It is, however, disingenuous for one to claim to be Catholic and be in open dissension with the Church on issues whether it is literalism or voting for an abortionist.

38 posted on 12/01/2008 4:01:45 PM PST by Natural Law
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To: Natural Law
Why stop there? Why not add John 14:23 (unless,of course it, represents a monkey wrench to your point)?

Nope, no monkey wrench in my understanding :-)

Its kind of hard to interpret understand the word "anyone" and being limited or restricted to the Apostles, isn't it?

If I'm speaking to a group of 12 men, and use the word anyone to them, it could mean anyone of the 12. Anyway, John records Jesus private words to the Apostles starting in Jn. 13:1 all the way through Jn. 16:33. What we have been quoting are just a few of the verses in the greater context of this conversation between Jesus and his Apostles. That should be clear to anyone reading them, unless, of course, one has an axe to grind.

However, it is a given, because of other places in the scriptures, that Jesus also said that "anyone who loves him and obeys his teachings" he will accept. But to take this verse and use it universally when spoken strictly to a select group is to take it out of context. If one wants to use that phrase, there are other verses saying the same thing that can be used in context. Enough said. I think we have milked enough confusion out of Jesus private conversation with his Apostles. :-)

39 posted on 12/01/2008 4:05:01 PM PST by Truth Defender (Christ did NOT come to save an immortal sinner, but to give a mortal sinner the offer of immortality)
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To: Natural Law; wideawake; papertyger
Your lack of understanding is not limited to the above. You lack an understanding of the hierarchy of the Church. In spite of any private or public dissension or dialog the Church's position is that of the Holy See and the Papal edicts are not entirely literalist. Those that are in agreement are in communion with the body of the Church, those that are not in agreement are not wholly Catholic. If you, as a non-Catholic find comfort an solace in literalism, I will not judge you. It is, however, disingenuous for one to claim to be Catholic and be in open dissension with the Church on issues whether it is literalism or voting for an abortionist.

So you're saying that those Catholics who are literalists are CINO's in the same sense as those who support abortion?

Wideawake? Papertyger?

40 posted on 12/01/2008 5:04:47 PM PST by Zionist Conspirator (Vayachalom vehinneh sullam mutzav 'artzah, vero'sho maggi`a HaShamaymah . . .)
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To: Alex Murphy

What? No naked priests?

Glad to see the compulsion is branching out.


41 posted on 12/01/2008 5:07:04 PM PST by big'ol_freeper (Gen. George S. Patton to Michael Moore... American Carol: "I really like slapping you.")
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To: Natural Law

You make a very good point. In my opinion based on my limited experience—LOL—I think you make the best argument I have ever read regarding the Pope as advocate versus the laity.


42 posted on 12/01/2008 5:07:25 PM PST by GOP Poet
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To: Natural Law
Okay eyeballing this thread, I am not even going to participate. Each poster seems to have memorized the bible or atleast have such a great mental recall and access that they can banter back and forth with their strong opinions. My engagement with this thread thus far is to read the lovely passages that have been quoted throughout and this one I thought was just beautiful and quite specific and simple. It is one you posted.

John 14:21 Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him."

Just wanted to take that one in savor it and hopefully try each moment to live it.

Blessings to all.

43 posted on 12/01/2008 5:15:45 PM PST by GOP Poet
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To: Truth Defender

Galatians 6:4 -Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else.


44 posted on 12/01/2008 5:35:08 PM PST by Natural Law
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To: GOP Poet
"Just wanted to take that one in savor it and hopefully try each moment to live it."

Remember that the beauty and perfect genius of Christ's words were in their simplicity. His message was to a poor and uneducated population, not to a cast of priests and lawyers. Those that claim to find special meaning and authority in the words and wordsmanship are deceiving themselves. If you accept and live no more than the Beatitudes you will enter the kingdom of heaven.

45 posted on 12/01/2008 5:41:06 PM PST by Natural Law
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To: Natural Law
Galatians 6:4 -Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else.

??? What's your point???

46 posted on 12/01/2008 5:53:15 PM PST by Truth Defender (Christ did NOT come to save an immortal sinner, but to give a mortal sinner the offer of immortality)
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To: Truth Defender
"??? What's your point???"

Philippians 2:3 - Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

47 posted on 12/01/2008 7:31:47 PM PST by Natural Law
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To: Natural Law
Galatians 6:4 -Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else.

Philippians 2:3 - Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

Wise scriptures! And something I always think about. How about you? I do wonder, though, why you saw fit to bring these two verses up. Was it something I said? That's why I question marked it. You did have a point to make, didn't you?

48 posted on 12/01/2008 8:28:40 PM PST by Truth Defender (Christ did NOT come to save an immortal sinner, but to give a mortal sinner the offer of immortality)
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To: Natural Law
Wisdom and brains is a lovely combination. :-) Thanks you so much for you insightful and wise words.

As mentioned blessings to all on the thread. The fact that one engages so intensely with God's word and fights passionately for their understanding of it tells me God has some wonderful warriors still :-). God bless.

49 posted on 12/01/2008 8:51:50 PM PST by GOP Poet
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To: Truth Defender
"I do wonder, though, why you saw fit to bring these two verses up."

You so quickly challenged my faith and so quickly defended yours. Is it possible to have so little faith that one chooses to not test it for fear it will not stand? Have faith, the Word of God will stand up to the most intense challenges.

James 1:

2- Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,

3- because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.

4- Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

50 posted on 12/02/2008 8:19:14 AM PST by Natural Law
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