Dear brothers and sisters,
this is my first post in the CAF. I’m 19, I live in Finland (a nominally Lutheran country, probably one of the most secularized and agnostic and depressed countries in the world and blind to the causes of its problems - that was just to give you the religious/moral situation, as a country it’s very beautiful and peaceful and lovable) and for the last few years I’ve been active in the Catholic faith and one day I hope to do apologetics big-time here. Anyway I have a few questions to which I’d like to get sound Catholic answers.
Scripture. It’s funny how Christianity in America is almost like a thing in itself, something apart from “ordinary” Christianity, it seems like there’s a war of apologetics going on with all those denominations and everything there. One difference is the general acceptance of Scripture as wholly true and inspired in a very strict sense, I would say. The Bible is a presupposed authority, quite widely accepted (and thus most arguments use Scripture verses as evidence), and in a way that usually insists on quite a literal/historical truth interpretation. I read an article about a document by the Bishops of England that stated that the Bible is infallible when it comes to religious truth, salvation etc. but not in other areas. This article was written by an American Catholic apologist and it said that the document in question was contrary to the official Catholic teaching that there is no error in the Bible. Also on the Scripture sub-forums there have been discussions about how much is literally/historically true and what can be regarded as literal liberties or embellishments. My problem is answering this dilemma. How can we know if a particular detail or story in the Bible is definitely historically true or not? Ok, one would respond, if the writer intended to write historical truth, then it was, if he intended to convey the message in some more symbolical/abstract way, then that’s how we should see it. But how can we know the intentions of the writers? That’s sometimes not that simple. As far as I know there is no Church-authorized book or anything that gives the correct interpretations for every single thing the Bible says. How are we to decide then? Today I saw a book that claimed that most of the Old Testament was made up. It listed many examples of stories in the Bible that contradicted history (examples of cities that didn’t exist when the Bible says that someone came from there or nations that were not in a place the Bible says they were at a certain time in history, about Egyptian history not mentioning a word about any Jews held captive there etc etc). Can all such arguments be refuted by some other means than proving Jesus’s divinity and then the fact that he accepted the Scriptures so they must be true/proving the Church’s infallibility and then because the Church teaches the Bible is true, it’s true? Are we to believe as historical fact everything the Bible tells us about how long people lived in the times of the Old Testament and the genealogy from Adam to Jesus etc; when the Church teaches that it’s not necessarily 6000 years since the beginning of the world etc.? To make it clear, I believe the Bible is inspired and infallible, I’m just looking for an answer to the dilemma.
The Body of Christ. We hold that the Church is the Body of Christ. We hold that Christ established a visible Church. We hold that that Church is the Catholic Church. We are baptised into the Church of Christ, to the Body of Christ. Now we also believe that Protestants and Orthodox Christians can be “in Christ”, in the state of grace, and they are baptised to the One Church Christ founded, just that they are exteriorly in schism with it, most of the time not of their own fault. And there are many Catholics who deny the faith, who are not in the state of grace, not in Christ, thus, not really Christians in their hearts even if they are Catholic on paper. Thus it seems to me that it follows that the Body of Christ is actually invisible, because being “in Christ” is not determined by the denomination but by having received the supernatural life of Christ. And this conclusion kind of contradicts the central apologetical/dogmatical point that the Church/the Body of Christ is visible. Again this is not an argument that would make me think it’s not that necessary to be Catholic, I’m just looking for clarification to the dilemma. I’ve heard that all baptised are the Body of Christ, that the Catholic Church is the Body of Christ, AND that the Churches that have apostolic succession are the Body/Church of Christ because of the apostolic faith&sacraments, especially the validity of the Eucharist we share. I think these are all true in a way but I can’t see the whole in a coherent and sensible way.
to be continued…