Catholic FAQ


Help support Catholic Answers!

Latest Threads
newest posts



Go Back   Catholic Answers Forums > Forums > Apologetics > Sacred Scripture
 

Welcome to Catholic Answers Forums, the largest Catholic Community on the Web.

Here you can join over 400,000 members from around the world discussing all things Catholic. Membership is open to all, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, who seek the Truth with Charity.

To gain full access, you must register for a FREE account. Registered members are able to:
  • Submit questions about the faith to experts from Catholic Answers
  • Participate in all forum discussions
  • Communicate privately with Catholics from around the world
  • Plus join a prayer group, read with the Book Club, and much more.
Registration is fast, simple and absolutely free. So join our community today!

Have a question about registration or your account log-in? Just contact our Support Hotline.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search Thread Display
  #1  
Old Jun 9, '13, 7:59 pm
raikou raikou is offline
Regular Member
 
Join Date: October 23, 2006
Posts: 930
Religion: Catholic
Default What does the Church mean when she says the Bible is free from error?

Quote:
CCC #107 The inspired books teach the truth. "Since therefore all that the inspired authors or sacred writers affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully, and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures." (emphasis mine)
What does the Church mean when she says the Bible is free from error?

Some people say that the Bible contains apparent factual errors and contradictions. How should I react to these? Should I attempt to figure out how these verses were probably misinterpreted in a way that the original writer (and thus, the Holy Spirit) did not want to convey? Or should I accept that factual errors do exist in the Bible, but that such errors are not relevant to our salvation?

Does inspiration mean that the writer is enabled to teach a truth relevant to our salvation but does not eliminate human limitations or errors in matters not relevant to salvation (for example, inability to remember an event in accurate detail)? Or are such apparent errors not really errors because they were actually intended to serve a purpose other than historical/factual accuracy?

If possible, please support your replies with official Church documents. Thank you.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old Jun 9, '13, 9:45 pm
Suslar Suslar is offline
Regular Member
 
Join Date: January 5, 2007
Posts: 682
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: What does the Church mean when she says the Bible is free from error?

The Bible contains Truth, not necessarily facts.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old Jun 9, '13, 9:51 pm
Suslar Suslar is offline
Regular Member
 
Join Date: January 5, 2007
Posts: 682
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: What does the Church mean when she says the Bible is free from error?

the Catholic Church teaches that ALL of Sacred Scripture is True. (As noted earlier, that is not the same as factual). We Catholics read it with an exegetical approach – knowing the human authors belonged to a different culture, with different ideas of the world and of human behavior. The Truth we seek is in the bigger picture and pertains to the larger questions of life and its meaning. We’d need to ask, “What’s the moral of this story?” and “What would this text have meant to the writer and his contemporaries?” And more importantly, "What does this say about God's plan for Salvation?"

The differentiator between Truth and fact is that facts pertain to the measurable and observable. When the Bible says "there were two hundred thousand foot soldiers . . ." How can we be sure? Who counted? What if there were only 198,562 foot soldiers? Does it change the moral of the story that a HUGE number of men came to fight?
Does that make the story false? No, not to Catholics. Because the deeper message – the Truth of the story – is about God’s plan for Israel in Salvation History. The story is True but we don’t know if it is historically, factually correct. However, an event described in Scripture that reveals the place of God in life is no less dependable because it includes inaccurate scientific or historical elements. Scripture is inerrant – 100% True. We do not read the words of the Bible literally without context – we read exegetically.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old Jun 10, '13, 12:37 am
Lasting faith's Avatar
Lasting faith Lasting faith is offline
Regular Member
 
Join Date: May 7, 2013
Posts: 994
Religion: Roman Catholic
Default Re: What does the Church mean when she says the Bible is free from error?

The Church mean that The Bible is free from errors, as it is. I have read The Bible over and over for a long time, and I can not see anything that would contradict something.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old Jun 10, '13, 1:01 am
Jon S's Avatar
Jon S Jon S is online now
Regular Member
 
Join Date: May 9, 2013
Posts: 2,990
Religion: Catholic Candidate
Default Re: What does the Church mean when she says the Bible is free from error?

Quote:
Originally Posted by raikou View Post
What does the Church mean when she says the Bible is free from error?

Some people say that the Bible contains apparent factual errors and contradictions. How should I react to these? Should I attempt to figure out how these verses were probably misinterpreted in a way that the original writer (and thus, the Holy Spirit) did not want to convey? Or should I accept that factual errors do exist in the Bible, but that such errors are not relevant to our salvation?

Does inspiration mean that the writer is enabled to teach a truth relevant to our salvation but does not eliminate human limitations or errors in matters not relevant to salvation (for example, inability to remember an event in accurate detail)? Or are such apparent errors not really errors because they were actually intended to serve a purpose other than historical/factual accuracy?

If possible, please support your replies with official Church documents. Thank you.
I like the other advice you have already received, but I thought that I should mention the inerrant writings are the original writings in Greek or Hebrew, so a little something is potentially lost in a translation to another language. That is why it is important to look to the Magesterium to guide you when there is apparent discrepancy since the Magesterium looks to the original language texts and is the caretaker of the Truth.
__________________
Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est
Where charity and love are, God is there.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old Jun 10, '13, 4:15 am
VeritasLuxMea VeritasLuxMea is offline
Regular Member
 
Join Date: May 17, 2011
Posts: 4,301
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: What does the Church mean when she says the Bible is free from error?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lasting faith View Post
The Church mean that The Bible is free from errors, as it is. I have read The Bible over and over for a long time, and I can not see anything that would contradict something.
I'm curious as to how you came to this conclusion. Please explain. We might have different definitions of the word "contradiction."

Starting at the very beginning (literally): there are two creation accounts in Genesis.

The gospels also contain numerous contradictions. Whether that's a problem for a faithful Christian is another matter, but they're there. Now, I hate to use such an anti-Christian source, but here is a good list of contradictions in the gospels for you to review. Again, I don't like the source, but the source is irrelevant.

On a more general note: as Catholics, we have the Church to interpret scripture, so maybe that's a leg up. Yet still, there's a reason why there are so many non-Catholic Christian groups and that is, you can find many different traditions expressed in the Bible, sometimes the authors are basically arguing with each other in the text. Haha. We know that Gnosticism is not "true" because the Church tells us, not because it isn't represented in the Bible. It is.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old Jun 10, '13, 5:57 am
peace2u2 peace2u2 is offline
Regular Member
Prayer Warrior
 
Join Date: February 25, 2011
Posts: 1,420
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: What does the Church mean when she says the Bible is free from error?

The Bible is free from errors because God is the primary author and God can neither deceive nor be deceived. Amen!
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old Jun 10, '13, 6:29 am
A G's Avatar
A G A G is offline
Regular Member
 
Join Date: November 1, 2011
Posts: 617
Religion: Roman Catholic
Default Re: What does the Church mean when she says the Bible is free from error?

The Bible is truth. It is the Word of God.
__________________
In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen
Laudetur Iesus Christus
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old Jun 10, '13, 6:54 am
QNDNNDQDCE QNDNNDQDCE is offline
Regular Member
 
Join Date: September 2, 2012
Posts: 995
Religion: Catholic
Post Re: What does the Church mean when she says the Bible is free from error?

This statement from Dei Verbum is admittedly problematic because of its ambiguity. It is even more bothersome because it offers much more room for misinterpretation in the English than the original Latin. The statement can be interpreted to mean that Holy Scripture is innerant in its entirety, which is the orthodox position, or that Scripture is only inerrant when it teaches "that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation," as if to distinguish this from the rest of Scripture which was committed for some other reason than the sake of our salvation. One thing worth noting is that the Latin says "the truth of Scripture teaches" (as if to apply truth to the whole of scripture) instead of "Scripture teaches that truth. For some perspective, a more direct translation from the Latin might read like this:
"Thus, since everything which the inspired authors or holy writers have asserted must be held as asserted by the Holy Spirit, we therefore declare that the truth of the books of Scripture, which for the cause of our salvation God willed to be committed to the Sacred Letters, teaches firmly, faithfully and without error."
This is quite a bit better. Even though it still could come across as weak statement of limited inerrancy, it is still stronger than the English, and if you think it over, limited inerrancy would not be a likely explanation of this passage since it would be tautological statement that the truth of scripture treaches without error, and the falsehoods of scripture don't. Other things to consider are that the word "truth" is not qualified as "that truth" in Latin and that there is an additional comma following the word "truth" present in the Latin but absent from the English. The effect of that comma is that it is clear that it is qualifying the nature of the truth of Scripture (in its entirety) whereas the English seems to be limiting inerrancy to only a certain subset of Scripture.

I suppose this could be an example of why people criticize the Vatican II documents for their ambiguity, but the ambiguity does not so much pertain to the original document, even if it is not as clear as it should be, as to ambiguity that was seemingly deliberately placed in the English text, an official translation no less. I say deliberately because its hard to imagine how this statement more readily admits the heterodox reading than the orthodox reading unintentionally. I know that when I first began reading the CCC that I also interpreted this to be claiming a limited inerrancy of the Bible.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old Jun 10, '13, 7:17 am
QNDNNDQDCE QNDNNDQDCE is offline
Regular Member
 
Join Date: September 2, 2012
Posts: 995
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: What does the Church mean when she says the Bible is free from error?

Quote:
Originally Posted by VeritasLuxMea View Post
I'm curious as to how you came to this conclusion. Please explain. We might have different definitions of the word "contradiction."

Starting at the very beginning (literally): there are two creation accounts in Genesis.

The gospels also contain numerous contradictions. Whether that's a problem for a faithful Christian is another matter, but they're there. Now, I hate to use such an anti-Christian source, but here is a good list of contradictions in the gospels for you to review. Again, I don't like the source, but the source is irrelevant.

On a more general note: as Catholics, we have the Church to interpret scripture, so maybe that's a leg up. Yet still, there's a reason why there are so many non-Catholic Christian groups and that is, you can find many different traditions expressed in the Bible, sometimes the authors are basically arguing with each other in the text. Haha. We know that Gnosticism is not "true" because the Church tells us, not because it isn't represented in the Bible. It is.
There is a difference between there being two accounts of something and two contradictory accounts. There is a also a difference between apparent contradictions and logically necessary contradictions. When we see what appears to be a contradiction, it is our duty as Catholics to acknowledge that we have come to a misunderstanding of the text. Let me ask you a question. Why do you rest your interpretation of Scripture on the judgment of the Church when that same Church has judged Scripture to be free of error and contradiction?
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old Jun 10, '13, 7:50 am
VeritasLuxMea VeritasLuxMea is offline
Regular Member
 
Join Date: May 17, 2011
Posts: 4,301
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: What does the Church mean when she says the Bible is free from error?

Quote:
Originally Posted by QNDNNDQDCE View Post
There is a difference between there being two accounts of something and two contradictory accounts.
Yes, but there are contradictory accounts.

Quote:
There is a also a difference between apparent contradictions and logically necessary contradictions.
Yes, but there are logically necessary contradictions.

Quote:
When we see what appears to be a contradiction, it is our duty as Catholics to acknowledge that we have come to a misunderstanding of the text.
Ironically, the same approach the Biblical redactors took.

OK, since when are Catholics Biblical inerrantists: is this new or have we been doing it all along?

What do we have to gain from playing this game? Besides, does this approach really rescue the Bible? If we have to jam truth down the Bible's throat like pureed squash into a baby, are you really making the Bible any more credible than those who acknowledge obvious mistakes and contradictions?

Quote:
Let me ask you a question. Why do you rest your interpretation of Scripture on the judgment of the Church when that same Church has judged Scripture to be free of error and contradiction?
It depends what you mean by "free of error." On more than one occasion, the Bible says both X and ~X are true. If the Church, likewise, is saying that both X and ~X are true, then the Church is assaulting the laws of logic and the gift of human reason. In which case, no one can acknowledge the credibility of the Church because it would be physically impossible: we would be living in a world devoid of any meaning, heck - even this conversation that we are having about the subject would be meaningless.

Fortunately, I'm pretty sure that the Church doesn't want us to think that way.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old Jun 10, '13, 8:25 am
ProVobis ProVobis is offline
Forum Elder
 
Join Date: January 26, 2008
Posts: 25,377
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: What does the Church mean when she says the Bible is free from error?

Quote:
Originally Posted by raikou View Post
What does the Church mean when she says the Bible is free from error?

Some people say that the Bible contains apparent factual errors and contradictions. How should I react to these? Should I attempt to figure out how these verses were probably misinterpreted in a way that the original writer (and thus, the Holy Spirit) did not want to convey? Or should I accept that factual errors do exist in the Bible, but that such errors are not relevant to our salvation?

Does inspiration mean that the writer is enabled to teach a truth relevant to our salvation but does not eliminate human limitations or errors in matters not relevant to salvation (for example, inability to remember an event in accurate detail)? Or are such apparent errors not really errors because they were actually intended to serve a purpose other than historical/factual accuracy?

If possible, please support your replies with official Church documents. Thank you.
I believe there is only one version of the Bible which the church, via a doctrinal council, has stated that is free from error.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old Jun 10, '13, 9:15 am
COPLAND 3's Avatar
COPLAND 3 COPLAND 3 is offline
Regular Member
 
Join Date: January 13, 2008
Posts: 3,070
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: What does the Church mean when she says the Bible is free from error?

Some people say that the Bible has contradictions as if that is an undebatable fact, which every so-called contradiction has been answered and clarified many times. For example, the 4 Gospels has been shown to be in harmony by many great theologians, and unless a Christian has put some time and effort into listening to what their own defenders of faith have written concerning all the accusations, then I suggest that they not be so eager to write off the Bible as being full of contradictions. As for the so-called inaccuracies, I prefer to give the Scriptures the benefit of the doubt and not so quick to fully trust the accuracy of secular historian documentation and dating, which continually has been revised and change based upon discoveries and study, and usually leads to proving that the Bible was right all along.
__________________
Check out the Aquinas Study Bible in progress! https://sites.google.com/site/aquinasstudybible/home
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old Jun 10, '13, 11:04 am
QNDNNDQDCE QNDNNDQDCE is offline
Regular Member
 
Join Date: September 2, 2012
Posts: 995
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: What does the Church mean when she says the Bible is free from error?

VeritasLuxMea, could you explain how you can reconcile your view of the authority of the Church and the supposed contradictions in Scripture with the teaching of the Church as given in Dei Verbum?

In case you still believe that DV permits a limited view of inerrancy, take into consideration that in the statement preceding that on inerrancy (this is all in paragraph 11), it states that the sacred authors "as true authors, consigned to writing everything and only those things which He wanted." This is reiterated in the statement quoted in the CCC which I will quote again in full.
"Therefore, since everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit, it follows that the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation."
The union of the authorship of the human authorship and divine authorship of Scripture is given as the basis for the inerrancy of Scripture. God is never wrong and he does not lie. However, it is clear from the text that divine authorship is ascribed to every part of Scripture and, therefore, the protection from error.

I would appreciate it if you could explain how you hold to error in Sacred Scripture and the authority of the Church, while at the same time rejecting the authoritative teaching of the Church given in Dei Verbum that Scripture is withour error. I do not think your two positions are reconcilable. If you would like to discuss any particular contradictions you see in the text, I am sure there are people who would be glad to do so.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old Jun 10, '13, 3:20 pm
JamesCaruso JamesCaruso is offline
Regular Member
 
Join Date: February 13, 2013
Posts: 2,807
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: What does the Church mean when she says the Bible is free from error?

It's not complicated. The writings in the Bible are inspired by God. The Church is the authority left by Jesus to be the conserver of the tenets of the faith and teacher of faith and morals. Because of this authority from Christ coupled with his promise to protect the Church, only the Church can have the certain, last word in interpreting scripture. It was the Church that originally designated which books would be included in the Bible, and that discernment is trustworthy because of Christ's promise to protect the Church from error and give it the Holy Spirit to guide it in all truth. There may be errors in the Bible in matters other than faith and morals, for example, history or science. These subjects reflect the writers' understanding in the context of their era's culture and technological advancement, and are not necessarily free from error, although that does not mean that all of it is inaccurate either. When the Bible is used for its historical content, the reader must put everything in the context of the times, as with all writings of ancient and near ancient times.
__________________
To will one thing.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Go Back   Catholic Answers Forums > Forums > Apologetics > Sacred Scripture

Bookmarks

Thread Tools Search Thread
Search Thread:

Advanced Search
Display

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump



Prayer Intentions

Most Active Groups
8020Meet and talk,talk talk
Last by: Butterflylily
4814CAF Prayer Warriors Support Group
Last by: libralion
4283Devotion to the Sorrowful Mother
Last by: Christine85
4027OCD/Scrupulosity Group
Last by: fencersmother
3809SOLITUDE
Last by: Prairie Rose
3357Let's empty Purgatory
Last by: RJB
3181Catholic Vegetarians & Vegans
Last by: libralion
3144Poems and Reflections
Last by: PathWalker
2955For seniors and shut- ins
Last by: KrazyKat
2675Petitions Before the Blessed Sacrament
Last by: Amiciel



All times are GMT -7. The time now is 11:34 am.

Home RSS Feeds - Home - Archive - Top

Copyright © 2004-2013, Catholic Answers.