Monday, October 22, 2007

Has Apologetics Lead to "Biblicism"

Considering the current climate in the Church and the following exceprt from JPII's encyclical FIDES ET RATIO (Faith and Reason):

There are also signs of a resurgence of fideism, which fails to recognize the importance of rational knowledge and philosophical discourse for the understanding of faith, indeed for the very possibility of belief in God. One currently widespread symptom of this fideistic tendency is a "biblicism" which tends to make the reading and exegesis of Sacred Scripture the sole criterion of truth. In consequence, the word of God is identified with Sacred Scripture alone, thus eliminating the doctrine of the Church which the Second Vatican Council stressed quite specifically. Having recalled that the word of God is present in both Scripture and Tradition,(73) the Constitution Dei Verbum continues emphatically:

"Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture comprise a single sacred deposit of the word of God entrusted to the Church. Embracing this deposit and united with their pastors, the People of God remain always faithful to the teaching of the Apostles".

Scripture, therefore, is not the Church's sole point of reference. The "supreme rule of her faith" (75) derives from the unity which the Spirit has created between Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium of the Church in a reciprocity which means that none of the three can survive without the others.(76)

Moreover, one should not underestimate the danger inherent in seeking to derive the truth of Sacred Scripture from the use of one method alone, ignoring the need for a more comprehensive exegesis which enables the exegete, together with the whole Church, to arrive at the full sense of the texts. Those who devote themselves to the study of Sacred Scripture should always remember that the various hermeneutical approaches have their own philosophical underpinnings, which need to be carefully evaluated before they are applied to the sacred texts.


Have we seen the balance between Tradition and Sacred Scripture upset? Excitement over biblical study is wonderful, but has it been accompanied by an equal study of Sacred Tradition? Does it matter?

3 comments:

Joshua 24:15 said...

I don't think this is a problem per se, unless folks begin their own "bible study" without Catholic context. This is obviously part of the problem with some (not all) Protestant theology. Well meaning would-be preachers take a few passages of an English translation and create all sorts of do's and don't's... Like me, they need an authority to interpret and the Sacred Tradition that goes back two thousand years. I welcome the opportunity to learn about the fullness of the Deposit of Faith, from the Magisterium.

It's kind of like a PBJ sandwich-- just not the same with PB, the bread or the jelly missing....

Serviam! said...

"It's kind of like a PBJ sandwich"

Thanks for breaking it waaay down for me buddy, no one can bring out the finer theological points using food quite like you can.

I agree that currently it's not a problem, but I guess I could see it moving in that direction.
How ofter do you see a parish putting on a "Sacred Tradition" study? This is one reason I'm glad our parish decided to follow-up the Great Adventure and Adventures in Matthew with Catholicism 101.

I personally find more danger in what the second paragraph touches on; “comprehensive exegesis” and “various hermeneutical approaches”. All Christian wackiness begins with a wonderfully interesting biblical insight.

Laura The Crazy Mama said...

"Have we seen the balance between Tradition and Sacred Scripture upset? Excitement over biblical study is wonderful, but has it been accompanied by an equal study of Sacred Tradition? Does it matter?"

I don't know. Sometimes it seems like there may be a third category. I don't know quite how to word this without offending anyone, but there is a certain amount of...weirdness going on that I don't understand. It's like there's a group of people (I'm not talking about our parish specifically, it's all over the world) all caught up in the supernatural aspects of things (without the balance of practicality, study, or even based on study of Sacred Tradition) that appear to be church related. If people like me question or doubt them, then I'm branded a "non-believer" and I think they wonder why I care, "it doesn't HURT anyone to believe that that chocolate dripping is really a manifestation of the Virgin Mary!!!!", etc..

Even in the 101 class, it seems like there is still a high emphasis on the "Bible study" aspect (with lots of ooohs and aaaahs when something "new" is revealed).

I don't know what the answer is, I'm just as confused as ever.

I do think that a balance is desirable.