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  • LT21 - A New Synthesis of Theology / (1972) Declaration of Purpose of the Roman Theological Forum
    of the natural Sacred Scripture must be presented in its full supernatural dimensions the function of grace in the soul must be vindicated the presence of God must be recognized the supernatural finality of human destiny must be declared 7 THE TRADITION OF HOLINESS The importance of the tradition of holiness must be reaffirmed not only in opposition to desacralization in general and to incursions of the profane and the impious but also in opposition to every condescending view of egocentric humanism The teachings of the great mystics retain their perennial validity as expressions of the authentic Catholic outlook and this pure and detached spiritual approach based upon a life of genuine conversion and prayer must not be obscured and buried in certain types of theological pluralism on grounds of ecumenism openness to the world group consensus or updated methodology The deep mystical insight expressed in the great writings of holy tradition is wrongly replaced by the shallow conceptions of current fashion even though appeal is made to the call of the Spirit because the Holy Spirit is infinitely distinct from the spirit of the world The reform of theology cannot be carried out except in humble respect for the Catholic intellectual heritage rooted in the deep understanding of those holy men and women whom God has raised up to teach the truth 8 PERMANENCE AND CHANGE Because Christ came in the fullness of time and established an organically complete Church because also of the immediate relationship with eternity of each individual in the Church in every era the image of progress in the Church should always be subordinated to more fundamental images In fact the current illusion of living automatically at the highest point in history of seeing the present generation as automatically partaking of a higher level of Christian life than was possible to people living in the past is one of the most dangerous tendencies of our era It makes us supremely uncritical of ourselves and of our times It blinds us to the enduring transcendental values of our inheritance During the past few years the doors of the fold of Catholicism have been opened more widely to worldly ideas often steeped in the wisdom of the flesh An eclecticism of word and principle has set in whereby worldly ideas are given voice in the assembly of the faithful This eclecticism has sown the seeds of division in the Church It does not represent the assimilation needed by the Church to maintain its life What is needed rather is a synthesis of the new with the old through the operative grace of the Holy Spirit New raw material could be taken from the ideas and data presented by modern thinkers over the past several centuries while the formality of the synthesis must come from the authentic Catholic approach guided by the Magisterium and facilitated by a precise theological methodology using also the new instrumentality of true historical science The product will be refreshingly new but fundamentally identical with the past 9 THEOLOGY AND CHANGE The rules and principles of sound adaptation are among the urgent theological problems that must be addressed Speculative and pastoral reasons for such a theological labor have now become compelling A theology of change must be measured in terms of its capacity to nourish the orthodox Catholic spirit providing on both the theoretical and practical levels the tools with which Catholics can more easily confront and discern change distinguishing true progress from degeneration the action of the Holy Spirit from counterfeit movements and what of the past is necessary and worthy of preservation from what it is useful or opportune to discard Such theological efforts will of course require a vigorous encounter with recent philosophical and theological currents of thought as well as a deep grasp and mastery of the intellectual and mystical legacy of Catholic writers and thinkers of the past A familiarity with historical method newly refined and re thought with magisterial hermeneutics as well as with the trans cultural and trans historical elements of permanence and continuity in Catholic thought life and faith will have to be mastered and propagated to produce such an important yet difficult contribution 10 ECUMENISM AND SELF PRESERVATION The problem of ecumenism must be thoroughly restudied in the light of the experience of recent years Now more than ever before it is clear that many of the interpretations given to the Decree on Ecumenism of the Second Vatican Council are not correct interpretations of the text or have not sufficiently taken into account the more fundamental law of self defense which is proper to the Catholic conscience and the quasi instinctive missionary drive which pertains essentially to the same Catholic conscience in seeking to fulfil the mandate given by Jesus Christ to His Church What is urgently needed is a theological formula which takes into account the fundamental law of self preservation and growth as well as the paradoxical limiting of this impulse for the sake of prudence or charity This need includes another one namely that of looking at the notion of dialogue in order to find a formula which realistically takes this fundamental law into account and makes possible an exchange of ideas which is something more than a search for occasions to surrender to the opposing view The problem of ecumenism needs to be restated in its fullest dimensions Within the sphere of inter Christian dialogue muddled thinking presents the danger of accepting an Ecumenical Church derived from Protestant tradition in place of the Catholic Church derived from Catholic tradition In the dialogue with the Jews there is an unfortunate tendency to agree on a common idea of the Kingdom of God in place of the Kingdom of Christ and thus to revert unwittingly to Judaism as a basic position while retaining a more superficial adherence to Jesus Christ as the founder of a strain or sub culture The danger has even wider implications Erroneous notions of ecumenism have weakened resistance to every incursion of the world into the realm of knowledge and the realm of discipline or morals Goodness and truth are losing their tendency to diffuse themselves Organized and militant purveyors of evil such as atheistic front organizations and distributors of pornography meet with too little opposition from Catholicism because many Catholics are no longer motivated to fight for what they believe 11 CATHOLIC APOLOGETICS Genuine ecumenism depends upon energetic Catholic self awareness Yet the very notion of Catholic apologetics is often disparaged as proceeding from a siege mentality The fundamental dishonesty of this attack is evident from the fact that those who decry the siege mentality will hasten to defend with utmost vigor their own narrow point of view and the affirmations which proceed from it if criticism is raised from any quarter This fact indicates that contemporary eclectics admit the principle of self defense but have shifted their loyalties from adherence to Catholic tradition to adherence to the biases of their own intellectual group It is the existence of weakness or lack of firm conviction here and there in the community of theologians and among ecclesiastical superiors which makes the task of apologetics so difficult Attacks upon the Catholic consciences of the faithful cannot simply be referred to a committee to be solved in due time These attacks must be repulsed vigorously and immediately by the individual conscience Some of the faithful are being needlessly forced into personal or group catacombs because the policy of their ecclesiastical superiors does not seem to support the spontaneous response of their consciences 12 CONTEMPORARY HISTORY The popular idea of contemporary history is a contradiction in terms as historical science can demonstrate Prescinding from what he may know from Revelation the true historian lives in the present looking into the past Only the pseudo historian thinks that he is living in the present looking into the future The knowledge of history can give a limited predictability but not of the Teilhardian type Teilhardian history is pseudo history But beneath the idea of contemporary history stand waiting to be formulated the true and valid principles of historical science The present state of historical science which is still for the most part prescientific may be called contemporary history and the contemporary task of fitting the principles of the science of history into an intelligible pattern if accomplished will have its effect upon the shape of the future Here too there will be a limited predictability The task of constructing historical science is both metaphysical and cosmological On the metaphysical level the whole question of the universal versus the concrete must be re examined so that the resulting historical philosophy will restore the abstract to its proper place and confound the sophisms of Existentialism It is basically a question of working out more precisely the difference between formal and total abstraction On the cosmological level an adequate cosmology of time as contrasted with the cosmology of space must be developed to replace the inadequate Weltanschauung of the Germanic school Such a cosmology of time is not merely descriptive an attempt to depict the unfolding of history in its fullest proportions It is also theoretical the formulating of abstract cosmological principles of time to complete the abstract cosmological principles of space This work is urgent and it brings one face to face with the adequacy or inadequacy of the Hegelian thesis of development One reason for the consistent error in the conclusions of existentialist theologians and eclectic biblical exegetes on the level of history is their universal lack of a formulated historical science The direct way to refute their errors is first to formulate this science and then to use its principles scientifically 13 THE ROMAN THEOLOGICAL FORUM Existing theological societies may be divided into one of three categories a updated societies which to one degree or another have uncritically admitted into their mental ambient ideas and conclusions which have not been synthesized with Catholic theological tradition and which are not in the process of becoming synthesized b antiquated societies whose members treat of old problems from the point of view of traditional theology or philosophy but who have for the most part not taken formal cognizance of the new problems facing the Catholic conscience and who have few solutions to offer c mixed societies whose members fall in one or the other of the two preceding categories and therefore do not share a common outlook A fresh start is required The proximate task is to determine a fruitful method of individual and communal theological activity Our work must embody a fresh start on the scientific level An effective scientific method can be worked out over a period of time The first step should be the adoption by the Roman Theological Forum of a set of criteria which will constitute the formality of our science It is clear that we are dealing with a secondary formality proper to our research and not with the general formality of all true theology in every era On the basis described above the whole of contemporary theology as such should be placed under investigation and no scientific credence should be accorded to any of it until it has been verified according to the criteria of true historical theology The investigation of the eclectic literature should be paralleled by the collection from past and present works of elements which will serve the formal approach of our science 14 THEOLOGICAL ACTIVITY The Roman Theological Forum is frankly committed to continuity with Catholic theological tradition and to a rejection of that kind of theological pluralism which can produce no ultimate unified pattern of Catholic thought The Roman Theological Forum recognizes that underlying the fruitful activity of the Church in the world there is a clash so great between the spirit of Christ and the spirit of this world that there can be no common formula between them that does not betray the mission of Jesus and of His Church Our theological activity must therefore seek to demonstrate anew how the contemporary profession of Catholic faith is consistent with the message of Jesus and of the New Testament Church as well as with the teaching of the Church over the intervening centuries 15 HISTORICAL THEOLOGY Every theologian is a man of faith immersed in history The theologian of today needs to become well acquainted with the history of thought within the Church over the past ten years not in such manner as to let himself be uncritically absorbed by that thought but rather in such wise that he can survey that development from a transcendent point of view The way to attain such a viewpoint is to reflect deeply upon the conceptions which are motivating the theological thought of our time and of which the thinkers are for the most part unaware Two of the most important of these conceptions are an unscientific notion of history and an uncritical idea of existence By thinking through in a careful and scientific manner these two notions and their implications one becomes prepared to examine all of the productions of contemporary eclectic theology from a higher viewpoint and to isolate and describe with ease their false conclusions For this reason the Roman Theological Forum should concentrate from the beginning upon developing a methodology which includes among its essentials a clear and adequate concept of history and of existence The task is complex A unified point of departure could be taken from true historical science as it is to be worked out by the Roman Theological Forum and others The aim is not to revise the work of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church but rather to construct a complementary work in a new field The raw material for the new science is precisely the literature of the modern era as such especially the literature of theology philosophy and science A beginning could be made by taking a representative number of works and processing them according to rigorous historical methodology Certainly among these works should be numbered those of influential thinkers like Hegel and Kant Bultmann and Heidegger Descartes and Luther The list is long but the number of workers will grow as the fund of the new theological science increases The method of research will require skill It must be a truly historical method using true historical categories and proceeding from the known results painstakingly back into the antecedents Hence the analysis must begin with some of the noteworthy expositions of the latest thinking within the eclectic school of theology and the sources of this thinking must be analyzed in the works of the leading exponents of heterodox ideas The developmental relationship of the latest ideas to their antecedents must itself be described in its historical intelligibility 16 HISTORICAL SCIENCE The term history and its derivatives have been used in Catholic theology from its inception The term is found in the Bible and the Bible itself describes an historical development A notion of history has been given crucial importance in contemporary eclectic Catholic theology This notion of history is not identical with the notion used traditionally in Catholic theology It is rather a notion derived largely from the German Protestant School of theology and is rooted in the philosophies of German thinkers like Kant and Hegel This notion is as false as are the conclusions of the philosophies upon which it is based The concept of history which shapes the attitude of earlier thinkers like St Thomas Aquinas and St Augustine is much more sound but it is intuitional in the sense that these earlier thinkers never analyzed the concept of history to the point of developing an historical philosophy In fact no writer of the past has left us an exact and adequate definition of history which must be the starting point of a true historical philosophy Hence the task remains of working out this definition and applying it systematically and this task is urgent Editor s note An attempt at an exact definition of history is presented at length by John F McCarthy in The Science of Historical Theology Rockford Il Tan Books 1991 The term history historically historical occurs repeatedly in contemporary theological and exegetical writing Some books use the term hundreds of times yet they inevitably betray the fact that they do not know precisely what they are talking about and their hazy notion leads to many equivocations Simply by taking the exact concept of history as a criterion the absolute inadequacy of these books can easily be shown provided that they are in fact infected with the false idea of the Germanic philosophers and do not retain the deeper intuitive notion of the authentic past Part of our task is to take the exact and adequate concept of history with its implied methodology and use it to examine contemporary theological books and articles The separation of the true from the false in these works will suggest ideas and conclusions which will become the substance of a true historical theology neatly circumscribed within its own sphere so as to heighten its own value and at the same time set in relief the value of the other branches of theology 17 HUMAN EXISTENCE The impact of contemporary ideologies and changes in the world has produced a dominant attitude which sets the world in an exclusive context of change and development Man tends to see himself fundamentally as a being living at the height of human progress to date and moving into an improved future This attitude has eclipsed the deeper and more realistic awareness that such changes and developments are secondary and subordinate to the abiding problems of life which each man must face individually and to the spiritual and intellectual health of the community Existentialism subjectivizes historical consciousness It is part of the task of contemporary theology to re objectivize historical consciousness in general and as regards one s own life history to train people once again in the Christian art of

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  • LT69 - THE AIMS OF THE ROMAN THEOLOGICAL FORUM RESTATED
    and it also rejects any philosophical approach that is not based upon realism To foster an historical method based upon clear concepts and aimed at the whole of reality both natural and supernatural The Roman Theological Forum rejects definitions of historical science that limit its purview to natural experience alone The Forum aims to develop a theory of history that is scientific in character and that is based upon clear concepts of reason and true historical method To promote an approach to Divine Revelation which includes both the historical reality of the deeds and words recorded in Sacred Scripture and their transhistorical truth This approach is new in the sense that it uses organized historical concepts dealing with concrete individual things to develop in a traditional way an area of sacred theology that is presently burdened with anti traditional elements It does not seek to replace the great theological works of the past but rather to construct or develop a bridge of theological understanding of the Sacred Scriptures by way of these great works with particular emphasis upon the Patristic tradition and the teachings of the Doctors of the Church The Roman Theological Forum sees the true science of historical theology as a field largely waiting to be developed because of the misuse of historical method in many contemporary theological writings often published in the name of historical method By keeping in focus the whole of reality both natural and supernatural the Forum will undertake to reexamine accepted conclusions of contemporary exegesis in an attempt to correct oversights due to faulty method or narrowness of outlook To promote a neo Patristic approach to Sacred Scripture that is an updated method of interpretation rooted faithfully in the perennial tradition of the Fathers of the Church which takes into account the Four Senses of the Inspired Word of God cf The Catechism of the Catholic Church 115 119 and which upholds its complete inerrancy In the interpretation of Sacred Scripture the Roman Theological Forum takes as its guide an updated technical framework based upon a search for the Four Senses of the Sacred Text Passages of Sacred Scripture are examined systematically with reference to these Four Senses always beginning with the historical sense One objective of this method is to analyze and refute interpretations that are not based upon valid historical method such as the approach known as form criticism and various similar approaches that uncritically follow the presuppositions of higher criticism Following studies of the historical sense which will seek to defend the complete historical truth and inerrancy of the text researchers will go on guided by the writings of the Fathers of the Church to probe the objective pattern of inspired spiritual senses in the Inspired Text To promote in general the method and teachings of St Thomas Aquinas and as regards Sacred Scripture including the metaphysical dimension of his teachings The Roman Theological Forum is aware that some elements of the teachings of St Thomas need to be updated and revised especially where natural science has made proven discoveries that were not known in his day or where the doctrine of the Church has been clarified such as in defining the dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and the bodily Assumption into Heaven of the Blessed Virgin Mary But the Forum promotes the formative value of the writings of St Thomas and adheres to his insights and method as it pursues its own historical work The metaphysical dimension of his teachings is operative in the work of the Forum To analyze for both positive and negative content from a Catholic and Thomist point of view the outlook of modern man by means of thoroughgoing critiques of the philosophical and theological works that have produced it The Roman Theological Forum does not accept as a given the so called outlook of modern man Instead the Forum is aware that this outlook has been largely produced by the impact of influential philosophical and theological writings While distinguishing between technological advance and the solid discoveries of natural science on the one hand and the theories and attitudes that have been devised regarding them on the other the Forum analyzes the content of these theories and attitudes in an effort to build or maintain a world view that is Catholic and Thomist In all Christian charity to restore Catholic apologetics to its pristine vigor Just as every science defends the truth of its conclusions so should Catholic faith always defend the truth of its beliefs and so should Catholic theology assist in this need Following the example of St Thomas and of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church the Roman Theological Forum undertakes to show the credibility of Catholic faith in the present era In the exercise of Christian charity not only will the Forum abstain from apologetic methods that are offensive or disrespectful to persons but it will also treat their sincere beliefs with respect and understanding To update the best Catholic manuals of philosophy and theology A practical way which the Roman Theological Forum uses to promote Catholic theology sub luce fidei and Catholic philosophy e luce fidei is to update the best Catholic manuals of the past including manuals of Catholic apologetics To approach the study of liturgical reform from a viewpoint that is fully in keeping with the latreutic and mystical dimensions of Catholic liturgical tradition The Roman Theological Forum feels the need to study liturgical reform from a viewpoint that includes an awareness of the latreutic and mystical dimensions of the sacred liturgy not excluding a return to this dimension where it has been underplayed in recent liturgical changes This study implies another look at some researches into the history of the liturgy which appear to have been conducted in an overly superficial manner The Opportunity That This Challenge Presents There is no shortage of books and articles pointing out that deceptive systems of psychology are usurping the place of religion in the minds of many 1 How

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  • RTF Study Program - LESSON 1: THE NEO-PATRISTIC APPROACH TO SACRED SCRIPTURE
    Approach and Method This address has been reprinted in Living Tradition nos 75 and 76 and it should soon be available on audio cassette from Keep the Faith Inc In this address I quote from an article of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger in which he calls for a new approach to supplant the historical critical approach now in vogue I responded to this appeal of Cardinal Ratzinger with an article entitled Neo Patristic Exegesis to the Rescue Living Tradition no 41 May 1992 The Patristic approach is recommended if not mandated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraphs 115 119 These paragraphs should be reread and discussed They illustrate the need and the urgency of developing the neo Patristic approach 3 The neo Patristic method The neo Patristic method uses the framework of the four senses of Sacred Scripture as developed initially by St Augustine of Hippo and others and more fully by St Thomas Aquinas especially in his Summa Theologiae part I question 1 article 10 See Thomas Kuffel St Thomas Method of Biblical Exegesis in Living Tradition no 38 November 1991 The four senses involved are the literal sense the allegorical sense the tropological or moral sense and the anagogical or eschatological sense also known as the final sense These four senses will be examined in the course of this study program The neo Patristic method just as the Patristic method always begins with the literal sense of a passage which sense is basic to the three spiritual senses and can be understood to a degree without them but from a neo Patristic viewpoint it cannot be fully understood except in contrast with one or more of the spiritual senses which may be written with the same words into the same passage 4 The value of this study Remarks detrimental to the historical truth and sometimes even to the spiritual truth of the Scriptures attributed rightly or wrongly to the results of historical critical research are now being heard within Catholic circles It is important to be able to respond to such remarks and the neo Patristic method seeks to provide such responses in keeping with the Catholic exegetical tradition In addition the neo Patristic method aims to locate the literal sense of passages of Sacred Scripture in a mental framework which invites the reader to look for deeper spiritual meanings such as those presented by the Fathers of the Church While not all readers may feel called to acquire a technical use of the neo Patristic method they should all desire to acquire at least a general idea of the method so that they can recognize the context of challenges to their faith and be supportive of the work that neo Patristic exegetes are doing to develop a more acceptable approach to the interpretation of Sacred Scripture than that which is most common today In the following lessons aspects of the neo Patristic method as a whole will be examined and examples will be given of Scriptural

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  • RTF Study Program - LESSON 2: THE FOUR SENSES OF SACRED SCRIPTURE
    kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field The other way is The kingdom of heaven is like this There is a treasure hidden in a field The second way is probably more accurate for reasons that will be given The spiritual sense of this simile is taken up in the commentaries of the Fathers of the Church The search for the spiritual meaning begins when we ask ourselves what the treasure stands for in the comparison As compiled by Thomas Aquinas in his Catena aurea and in his own Commentary on the Gospel of St Matthew at Matt 13 44 we find as follows According to St Gregory the Great the treasure is heavenly desire Isa 33 6 hidden in the field of the discipline of zeal for Heaven Prov 24 27 according to St John Chrysostom the treasure is the teaching of the Gospel 2 Cor 4 7 hidden from the eyes of the unclean people of this world Matt 11 15 according to St Jerome the treasure is the divine Word of God Col 2 3 hidden in the field of his Body Col 2 9 or Sacred Scripture hidden in the field of the Church Wisd 7 14 according to St Augustine the treasure is the two Testaments We should note that St Thomas Aquinas when he brings out a spiritual meaning of a word or passage in Sacred Scripture also when he is quoting from the Fathers of the Church as he has done here usually associates it with a literal expression of the same word elsewhere in the Scriptures Such cross references are very useful but they require a vast knowledge of the Scriptures in order to be found consistently The use of a concordance can be very helpful in this regard 9 The anagogical sense of Matt 13 44 The neo Patristic approach tries to make explicit the framework of the four senses which is usually only implicit in the commentaries of the Fathers of the Church The anagogical sense regards the higher allegory of the Most Blessed Trinity and the four last things namely death judgment Heaven and Hell Where Gregory the Great sees the treasure hidden in a field as representing heavenly desire in general the neo Patristic exegete will locate this insight objectively as the anagogy of Heaven itself the place where God in Three Persons dwells and where the blessed abide Subjectively on the anagogical level the treasure may be seen as eternal happiness in Heaven A person finds this treasure now through the supernatural virtue of faith he rejoices through supernatural hope and he goes and buys that field through the exercise of the supernatural virtue of charity 10 The allegorical sense of Matt 13 44 An allegory is a sustained metaphor Allegory is also a technique of creating or interpreting works of literature art and music so that they will convey more than one level of meaning simultaneously Encyclopedia Americana Allegory We speak of

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  • RTF Study Program - LESSON 3: HISTORICAL CRITICISM OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
    teaching Catholic historical critics have often said that this teaching about the absence of all error in the Sacred Scriptures applies only to the absence of religious error but not to the absence of scientific and historical errors Thus Fr Brown says that the stress by those at what he calls the literalist end of the spectrum upon the effects of divine inspiration is often correlated with a sweeping theory of inerrancy whereby biblical data relevant to scientific historical and religious issues are deemed infallible and unquestionable Practically then he continues all biblical literature is looked upon as historical and apparent contrarieties such as those between the infancy narratives of Matt and Luke must be harmonized 5 Fr Brown favors a qualitative solution to the problem of inerrancy whereby all Scripture is inerrant to the extent that it serves the purpose for which God intended it and he claims that recognition of this type of limitation is implicit in the statement made at Vatican Council II DV 11 The books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching firmly faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into the sacred writings for the sake of our salvation 6 17 An examination of this interpretation I find that Brown s limitation of biblical inerrancy is not implicit in the quoted statement from Vatican II for the following reasons 1 The Latin original does not say that truth which but the truth which 2 Fr Brown has omitted the first and qualifying part of the sentence which states in its entirety Since therefore all of that which the inspired writers or hagiographers say must be held as having been spoken by the Holy Spirit consequently the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching firmly faithfully and without error the truth which God for the sake of our salvation wished to be recorded by Sacred Writings 3 The footnote references placed by the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council at the end of this same sentence make explicit that the statement is not placing any such limit on the inerrancy of the Sacred Scriptures a In the reference to the Council of Trent is mentioned the Gospel s very purity from all errors whose saving truth and moral discipline have been handed over to us by the Apostles at the dictation of the Holy Spirit 7 This decree has been understood by the Church as meaning no restriction on the inerrancy of the Scriptures see no 15 above b In the first reference to Providentissimus Deus Pope Leo XIII points out that the Holy Spirit did not intend in the Scriptures things in no way profitable unto salvation but rather described and dealt with things in more or less figurative language or in terms that were commonly used at the time 8 c In the second reference to Providentissimus Deus Pope Leo XIII declares that it is absolutely wrong and forbidden either to narrow inspiration to certain parts only of Holy

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  • RTF Study Program - LESSON 4: THE INSPIRATION OF SACRED SCRIPTURE
    inspiration extends to every phrase and indeed to every single word of Scripture yet by endeavoring to distinguish between what they style the primary or religious and the secondary or profane element in the Bible they claim that the effects of inspiration namely absolute truth and immunity from error are to be restricted to that primary or religious element Their notion is that only what concerns religion is intended and taught by God in Scripture and that all the rest things concerning profane knowledge the garments in which divine truth is presented God merely permits and even leaves to the individual author s greater or less knowledge Small wonder then that in their view a considerable number of things occur in the Bible touching physical science history and the like which cannot be reconciled with modern progress in science Some even maintain that these views do not conflict with what our predecessor Pope Leo XIII laid down since so they claim he said that the sacred writers spoke in accordance with the external and thus deceptive appearance of things in nature But the Pontiff s own words show that this is a rash and false deduction Spiritus Paraclitus EB 454 b There is no valid distinction between absolutely true vs relatively true facts in Sacred Scripture Those too who hold that the historical portions of Scripture do not rest on the absolute truth of the facts but merely upon what they are pleased to term their relative truth namely what people then commonly thought are no less than are the aforementioned critics out of harmony with the Church s teaching which is endorsed by the testimony of Jerome and other Fathers Yet they are not afraid to deduce such views from the words of Leo XIII on the ground that he allowed that the principles he had laid down touching the things of nature could be applied to historical things as well Hence they maintain that precisely as the sacred writers spoke of physical things according to appeaarance so too while ignorant of the facts they narrated them in accordance with general opinion or even on baseless evidence neither do they tell us the sources whence they derived their knowledge nor do they make other people s narrative their own Such views are clearly false and constitute a calumny on our predecessor Spiritus Paraclitus EB 456 457 c Historical truth in the modern sense is observed in the Bible Nor do modern innovators stop here they even try to claim St Jerome as a patron of their views on the ground that he maintained that historical truth and sequence were not observed in the Bible precisely as things actually took place but in accordance with what men thought at that time and that he even held that this was the true norm for history A strange distortion of St Jerome s words He does not say that when giving us an account of events the writer was ignorant of the

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  • RTF Study Program - LESSON 5: THE PATRISTIC APPROACH TO SACRED SCRIPTURE
    by John Chrysostom and Theodoret stressed the literal sense whereas the school of Alexandria molded by Origen and Clement of Alexandria and carried forward by most of the Fathers of the West labored to bring out the spiritual senses 7 Origen saw little value in the literal sense of the Old Testament and thus he saw no need to defend its inerrancy or moral correctness But the Western Fathers built their understanding of the spiritual senses upon the at least assumed truth and inerrancy of the literal sense 30 The school of Alexandria The Apostolic Fathers of the first century and the apologists of the second century made some references to typical and other allegorical meanings of the sacred text but their main interest was in the defense of the literal meaning Around 180 A D Panteus founded the school of Alexandria Soon afterwards Clement of Alexandria d 215 postulated a pervasive spiritual sense behind the literal sense of Sacred Scripture Origen d around 254 produced the first sustained commentary on the Scriptures and in this he followed the rule that every passage has a spiritual or mystical meaning but not every passage especially of the Old Testament is materially and historically true Athanasius d 375 a great defender of the faith stressed the literal and historical meaning of the inspired text in his dogmatic and polemic works and allegorical meanings in his commentaries Cyril of Alexandria d 444 brings out the literal sense in his commentaries on some the inspired books and the allegorical sense in his commentaries on others 31 The school of Antioch The school of Antioch was founded by the priest Lucian who was subsequently martyred in 312 This school stressed the literal and historical meaning of the sacred text and while accepting some figurative meanings in the Old Testament opposed allegorical interpretations on the ground that the Alexandrian commentators were ignoring or denying the historical reality of the events Thus John Chrysostom d 407 rejected in general the search for allegorical meanings but he accepted some typological meanings Nevertheless Theodoret d 458 the most prominent exponent of the later Antiochian school took an intermediate position between the literal and the allegorical interpretation of the inspired word The Cappadocian Fathers Basil the Great d 379 Gregory of Nyssa d 395 and Gregory of Nazianzus d 389 avoided allegorical interpretations for the most part and brought out especially the literal and tropological meanings of the text 32 The Latin Fathers Among the Latin Fathers Hippolytus d 236 the Latin commentators of the fourth century Hilary of Poitiers d 367 and Ambrose d 397 preferred also for dogmatic reasons the allegory centered approach of the Alexandrian school while Tertullian d about 240 and Cyprian d 258 stressed the literal meaning Jerome d 420 in his earlier works preferred the allegorical meaning of Origen whenever the proper literal sense seemed to him to render a text unbecoming or ridiculous but in his later works he insisted more upon the

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  • RTF Study Program - LESSON 6: THE PHILOSOPHICAL ORIGINS OF HISTORICAL-CRITICISM
    method of deduction solely from self evident principles of human reason Descartes actually excluded from his universal methodic doubt the truths of faith and morals 3 and he accepted that man can know with certainty from the light of faith 4 but the series of biblical critics who followed him in the eighteenth century turned his universal methodic doubt against the text of Sacred Scripture and left no place for a real light of faith either in the production of the Bible or in its certified interpretation And they used the physical theory of Isaac Newton 1642 1727 which stated that the universe is a closed system ruled by unbreakable natural laws to exclude from historical reality all of the miracles and supernatural events reported in the biblical accounts Immanuel Kant 1724 1804 modified Cartesian reasoning in a theory of knowledge based on the belief that man cannot know external reality but only his reasoning about what he experiences with his senses Based on Kant s theory of knowledge higher critics would later adopt the belief that the sacred writers could have known only what they managed to figure out from their own limited experience Georg Wilhelm Hegel 1770 1831 modified the static philosophy of Kant with a dynamic philosophy according to which all reality is in constant development Under Hegel s influence David Strauss 1808 1874 and Ferdinand Baur 1792 1860 developed a higher criticism of the Bible in which its supernatural elements were systematically explained away as products of mythology 5 Hegelian thinking also emphasized the belief that the supposedly Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch must actually have been the result of a long process of development as was the text of other books of the Bible Higher critics found encouragement in this belief from the widespread acceptance of Charles Darwin s theory of evolution in the second half of the 19th century 38 A neo Patristic overview The higher critics of the nineteenth century considered their approach to be scientific insofar as it was conducted with rigorous techniques of sifting the sacred text but in accordance also with the presuppositions mentioned in the preceding two paragraphs They thought that they were upholding science against religion but in fact they were only upholding their anti religious beliefs against Christian beliefs Catholic historical critics today admit that the rationalist presuppositions of these eighteenth and nineteenth century biblical critics were untenable but they also feel that the historical critical method having arisen from their approach when used in an objective manner implies no a priori 6 Certainly Catholic scholars using the historical critical method do not consciously intend to use the rationalist presuppositions listed above nos 36 37 but one wonders how successful they have been in eliminating them from the method For instance Catholic historical critics of our time define higher criticism as the analysis of literature in terms of origin as well as of content 7 But this is an ambiguous definition because scholars of other schools analyze

    Original URL path: http://www.rtforum.org/study/lesson6.html (2016-04-25)
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