Word of God - Written and Spoken (twofold)


#1

Hi,

Is the WRITTEN AND SPOKEN (twofold) Word of God is error free with regards to faith and morals a correct statement? Or is the Spoken Word also error free with regards to more than faith and morals (science, history, traditions)?

I know the Written Word is not error free with regards to science and history. Also, is the Spoken Word called Tradition with a big T or small T? Probably big T since i think those Traditions are found in the Sacred Scripture.

I think the Word of God is error free, but since it cannot interpret itself, the job of the Church, it is not infallible. Only the interpreter is infallible, the Church, specially the Pope speaking Ex-Cathedra only certain times? So the Sacred Tradition / Sacred Word / Spoken Word is ONLY infallible when the Pope speaks ex-Cathedra, not when an encyclical or other things are written, correct?

Thanks,
Brian


#2

[quote="GodHeals, post:1, topic:311813"]
Hi,

Is the WRITTEN AND SPOKEN (twofold) Word of God is error free with regards to faith and morals a correct statement? Or is the Spoken Word also error free with regards to more than faith and morals (science, history, traditions)?

I know the Written Word is not error free with regards to science and history. Also, is the Spoken Word called Tradition with a big T or small T? Probably big T since i think those Traditions are found in the Sacred Scripture.

I think the Word of God is error free, but since it cannot interpret itself, the job of the Church, it is not infallible. Only the interpreter is infallible, the Church, specially the Pope speaking Ex-Cathedra only certain times? So the Sacred Tradition / Sacred Word / Spoken Word is ONLY infallible when the Pope speaks ex-Cathedra, not when an encyclical or other things are written, correct?

Thanks,
Brian

[/quote]

You cannot say the Bible is inerrant except for History and Science. It is either without error or it isn't.

God Bless


#3

You want to find out more about papal infallibility and about the infallibility of the ordinary and universal magisterium.

Here is one of many articles that speak about this.


#4

[quote="bogeydogg, post:2, topic:311813"]
You cannot say the Bible is inerrant except for History and Science. It is either without error or it isn't.

God Bless

[/quote]

A non-traditional minded Catholic seems to lean towards the Bible having many errors, inaccuracies, and contradictions, while a traditional minded Catholic such as myself will passionately defend against the idea. But as far as translational errors there are certainly no perfect translations, but as we know there are translations (Catholic translations) that are free from doctrinal error.


#5

[quote="COPLAND_3, post:4, topic:311813"]
A non-traditional minded Catholic seems to lean towards the Bible having many errors, inaccuracies, and contradictions, while a traditional minded Catholic such as myself will passionately defend against the idea. But as far as translational errors there are certainly no perfect translations, but as we know there are translations (Catholic translations) that are free from doctrinal error.

[/quote]

I was not defending all translation, merely pointing out the notion that we may call Scripture inerrant and then declare it to be full of scientific errors is a contradiction.

God Bless


#6

[quote="bogeydogg, post:5, topic:311813"]
I was not defending all translation, merely pointing out the notion that we may call Scripture inerrant and then declare it to be full of scientific errors is a contradiction.

God Bless

[/quote]

I wasnt going against anything you were saying at all, I was only expanding on your point because I liked what you said.


#7

[quote="COPLAND_3, post:6, topic:311813"]
I wasnt going against anything you were saying at all, I was only expanding on your point because I liked what you said.

[/quote]

:)

God Bless


#8

Hi, Brian!

…first of all… the Bible is not a science book or a chronicle… as far as error… have you noticed that science continues to hold error… each time it simply moves on to new “insights” while holding hypothesis and theories unproven but just as “factual” as those things that have been proven… if we take say the “atom” we find that theories abound and that at least one is date to about 2400 years ago… there are several constants which were proven false (atom as the smallest particle) and, along with the atom itself, there are exact facts (sub-atomic particles) that existed prior to the actual technology that would prove the existence of the atom… while science can demonstrate, through technology, the existence of the atom, electron, positron and neutrons and other subatomic particles, it cannot explain how it was that prior to their discovery man had been hypothesising about them with some degree of accuracy–since this is an area where science cannot use a tool, it simply chooses to ignore where such thoughts came from!

…here’s another non-Biblical science fact… till recently we did not have much genetic understanding… as of late science has discovered that while holding a pig erect on its hind legs the possition of the internal organs are quite similar to man’s… but not only that but there’s that physilogy and genetic similarity that allows for transpecies organ donation–same similarity that could very well lend itself to intraspecies contagions… no wonder the Hebrew people were forbidden from eating pigs (pigs are notorious as “uncleaned” animals)… way back then there were no doctors or epidemiology to explain why pigs were such a danger!

nationalhogfarmer.com/news/human-to-pig
genomenewsnetwork.org/articles/09_00/Chinese_map_pig.shtml

…as for Papal infallibility, this is applied only in terms of Doctrinal Teaching… the Pope is just as human as the rest of us… able to sin against God and to hold erroneous opinions… but the Pope, not being ignorant, would chose his words carefully even when speaking about mundane things… do you recall the movie “the Passion of the Christ?” …after a private viewing then Pope John Paul II expressed his enthusiasm with it by stating: “…it is as it was…” for weeks this made the news everywhere… anti-Catholics claiming that the Pope had made an antisemitic statement and that he had to command the producer/director of the film to stop the production, distribution and showing of the movie… the Pope spoke the truth (his personal opinion) but he did not pronounce any ex cathedra Teaching!

Maran atha!

Angel


#9

[quote="COPLAND_3, post:4, topic:311813"]
A non-traditional minded Catholic seems to lean towards the Bible having many errors, inaccuracies, and contradictions, while a traditional minded Catholic such as myself will passionately defend against the idea. But as far as translational errors there are certainly no perfect translations, but as we know there are translations (Catholic translations) that are free from doctrinal error.

[/quote]

Hi,
So you believe the bible doesn't have historical or scientific errors?

What about when the Jews wrongly responded to Jesus, since they were in captivity to the Babylonians and the Israelites to the Egyptians? I am not saying God made the error, but man made the error and it was recorded in scripture. I had this argument with a Muslim friend.

Why are against biblical historical and or scientific errors? I am a young earth believer, so i am trying to understand where all of this fits together. The reason being mainly that I believe there was no animal death before the fall and sin had to come into place at sometimes. And i think some of the early church fathers believed in a young earth, and St. Maximilian Kolbe too (at some level). I believe what God said was very good, was very good. The last enemy (sin?) to be destroyed is death. This is a whole different conversation, but some of the reasons why i am trying to understand what is can and cannot be taken literal. And to better be able to evangelize.

The Church says the bible is error free on faith and morals.... officially right? But maybe still allows it to possible be on science and history too? I am not sure what church document would say this.

John 8:33

Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE)

They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham, and have never been in bondage to any one. How is it that you say, ‘You will be made free’?”


#10

[quote="jcrichton, post:8, topic:311813"]
do you recall the movie "the Passion of the Christ?" ...after a private viewing then Pope John Paul II expressed his enthusiasm with it by stating: "...it is as it was..." for weeks this made the news everywhere... anti-Catholics claiming that the Pope had made an antisemitic statement and that he had to command the producer/director of the film to stop the production, distribution and showing of the movie... the Pope spoke the truth (his personal opinion) but he did not pronounce any ex cathedra Teaching!

[/quote]

Thank you for the post, Angel.
What did you mean by this comment above? Why was it seen as anti-semetic and did the Pope really try to stop the production?

God Bless You!
Brian


#11

[quote="bogeydogg, post:2, topic:311813"]
You cannot say the Bible is inerrant except for History and Science. It is either without error or it isn't.

God Bless

[/quote]

If you're going to discuss a grown-up subject as nuanced as inerrancy, you've got to think past simplistic answers.

I would start here with this perfectly orthodox and rigorously argued analysis. I could provide a summary if you like.


#12

Thank you for your help. Here are my direct questions if there are any short answers! It seems the more I learn about Catholicism, the more I learn nothing is simple : )

What Church writing says scriptures are error free on faith & morals ONLY, not science & history?

We often hear scripture is error free based on faith and morals. I am not sure when in history this teaching or theory came into place. Or has it always been in place?

My guess is that in the early Church the scientific aspect of the scripture might have been taken literal by some of the Church Fathers, but not sure history so much.

God Bless You,
Brian


#13

Hi Brian,

My point has been that the church’s understanding of inerrancy is nuanced and if one is going to understand it they must be willing to do the work.

The issue hinges on what one means by (1) “free from error;” (2) “science;” and (3) “history.”

So, for example, if one holds that since the Bible is free from error in matters of science therefore Genesis 1 is giving us a detailed report of the exact cosmological and physical processes at the origin of the universe as a scientific observer on the scene would describe them, they would be mistaken.

Quotes from church writers in post below.

Let me walk in some detail through the issue this way:

Inerrancy
= The Bible is free from error. How is this to be understood?
“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 firmly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of our salvation.” [Vatican II, *Dei verbum, #11]

The basic problem
We maintain that the Bible is inerrant, yet it contains statements that at face value in any other teaching text today would be regarded as erroneous. Why, then, should the Bible considered inerrant?

Examples of statements in the Bible that often cause difficulty with regard to inerrancy.
• Gn 7:17 flood–40 days; Gn 7:24 flood–150 days
• Mk 2:26 - Abiathar is said to be high priest; 1 Sm 21:2 - Ahimelech is high priest
• Mt 23:35 - Zechariah, son of Barachiah; 2 Chr 24:20-22 - son of Jehoida
• Fig tree withers immediately Mt 21:18-22; withers next day Mk 11:12-14, 20-25.
• Inscriptions on the Cross differ - Mt 27:37; Mk 15:26; Lk 23:38; Jn 19:19
• Death of Judas and origin of Field of Blood differ - Mt 27:5-8; AA 1:18-19
• Going from or coming to Jericho? - Mt 20:29-34; Mk 10:46-53; Lk 18:35-43
• Jn 7:38 - no such exact quote in the OT
• Genesis 1, Psalms - The universe wrapped in water held back by a solid dome called the firmament
• Joshua 10:13 - the sun stood still . . . . the sun moves, not the earth???

Toward a solution

  1. Note literary forms - history, legend, creation epic, poetry, law, parable, etc. Along with that, note literal use of language vs. figurative use of language.

  2. The Bible is inerrant in its original text. Certain copying inaccuracies may account for some discrepancies.

  3. Inerrancy applies to the God-given purpose of the Bible to teach salvific truth. Scripture does not set out to teach the full rigors of natural science or convey historical detail for their own sakes as only a modern scholarly treatise on these subjects would. This is not its purpose. So one cannot make inerrancy hinge upon the technical perfection of modern academic research and scholarship.
    “We do not read in the Gospel that the Lord said: ‘I send you the Paraclete, that he may instruct you concerning the course of the sun and moon.’ For it was Christians he wished to make, not mathematicians.” [St. Augustine, *De Actis cum Felice Manicheo I, 10]

  4. Inerrancy applies to what the biblical author intends to teach–“assert” as Dei verbum puts it–not what he materially uses in the process. So Ps 19:5-7 (“the sun runs from one end of the sky to the other”) is a hymn of praise to God for His creation as perceived, not a lesson in modern astrophysics. The biblical author is not asserting—intending to teach–that the sun goes around the earth.
    The Biblical authors describe phenomena and things as they appear to the senses and are not intending to teach a scientific theory. In Joshua 10:13 it is mentioned that the sun stood still. The description of the event is they way Joshua perceived it, not a scientific statement of fact that the sun revolves around the earth.

  5. Inerrancy applies to all of the Bible taken as a whole and in the light of the whole, not isolated passages out of context. For example, a complete reading of the whole Bible leads to the inescapable conclusion that killing innocent civilians in a war is wrong. But at an early stage of the unfolding of revelation the abhorrent ancient practice of killing the whole population was permitted or written about as if normal and willed by God (Dt 20:16-18; Josh 6:21; 1 Sam 15:3). Ditto for killing homosexuals (Lev 20:13).

  6. A Catholic understanding of inspiration (unlike the Muslim view of the Koran) has always rejected the notion that the Bible is verbally dictated by God in a human language.
    “In composing the sacred books, God chose human beings and while employed by him they made use of their powers and abilities, so with Him acting in them and through them, they as true authors, consigned to writing everything and only those things which He wanted.” Dei verbum, #11]

So if one defines “history” as modern critical source history in a technical treatise on a subject, the Bible would have some “errors.” But that is not how the Biblical author understood the presentation of “history.”

Also if one defines “science” as we do today in methods and results of the natural sciences, the Bible would have some “errors.” But the Biblical author is not intending to teach modern scientific findings.

Many fathers used an allegorical interpretation of Scripture at least part of the time.


#14

[quote="GodHeals, post:12, topic:311813"]
Thank you for your help. Here are my direct questions if there are any short answers! It seems the more I learn about Catholicism, the more I learn nothing is simple : )

What Church writing says scriptures are error free on faith & morals ONLY, not science & history?

We often hear scripture is error free based on faith and morals. I am not sure when in history this teaching or theory came into place. Or has it always been in place?

My guess is that in the early Church the scientific aspect of the scripture might have been taken literal by some of the Church Fathers, but not sure history so much.

God Bless You,
Brian

[/quote]

As far as quotes:

Here it will to be out of place to caution the reader against the error about which I warned him in the first book. Let no one think that, because the Psalmist says, He established the earth above the water (Ps 136:6; 24:2), we must use this testimony of Holy Scripture against these people who engage in learned discussion about the weights of the elements. They are not bound by the authority of our Bible, and, ignorant of the sense of these words, they will more readily scorn our sacred books than disavow the knowledge they have acquired by unassailable argument or proved by the evidence of experience.
The statement by the Psalmist can with good reason be understood figuratively.
[St. Augustine of Hippo, *De Genesi ad litteram, 2, 1, 4]

“If it happens that the authority of Sacred Scripture is set in opposition to clear and certain reasoning this must mean that the person who interprets Scripture does not understand it correctly. It is not the meaning of Scripture which is opposed to the truth, but the meaning which he has wanted to give to it. That which is opposed to Scripture is not what is in Scripture but what he has placed there himself, believing that this is what Scripture meant.”
[St. Augustine of Hippo, *Letter 143, 7]

If there were a real proof that the Sun is in the center of the universe, that the Earth is in the third heaven, and that the Sun does not go round the Earth, the Earth round the Sun, then we should have to proceed with great circumspection in explaining passages of Scripture which appear to teach the contrary, and rather admit that we did not understand them than declare an opinion to be false which is proved to be true. But, as for myself, I shall not believe that there are such proofs until they are shown to me. Nor is it a proof that, if the Sun be supposed at the center of the universe and the Earth in the third heaven, everything works out the same as if it were the other way around. In case of doubt we ought not to abandon the interpretation of the sacred text as given by the holy Fathers.
[St. Robert Bellarmine, *Letter from Cardinal Bellarmine to Cardinal Foscarini regarding Galileo's first hearing (1615), 3]

The question of the literary forms of Genesis chs. i-xi is, the Commission declares, a much more obscure and complex one. These literary forms are quite unlike those of classical or modern literature. Hence one cannot deny or affirm the historical character, en bloc, of these chapters, without forcing them into categories to which they not belong. We may concede that they do not contain history in the classical or modern sense, but the state of our knowledge at present is not such as to allow us to give a positive solution to the problems they set. Further study is necessary.
To state simply that these narratives do not contain history as we know it, might easily give the impression that they do not contain history in any sense--whereas they do in fact relate in simple and figurative language adapted to uncultured minds the fundamental truths that underlie the “economy of salvation” and give a popular description of the origins of the human race and the Chosen People.
“Letter of the Pontifical Biblical Commission to Cardinal Suhard, Archbishop of Paris,” 16 January 1948, AAS 40 (1948): 45-47] Denz. 3864

“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 firmly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of our salvation.” [Vatican II, *Dei verbum, #11]

We cannot say: creation or evolution, inasmuch as these two things respond to two different realities. The story of the dust of the earth and the breath of God, which we just heard, does not in fact explain how human persons come to be but rather what they are. It explains their inmost origin and casts light on the project that they are. And, vice versa, the theory of evolution seeks to understand and describe biological developments. But in so doing it cannot explain where the “project” of human persons comes from, nor their inner origin, nor their particular nature. To that extent we are faced here with two complementary--rather than mutually exclusive--realities.
[Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, *In the Beginning: A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1995), p. 50.


#15

Upper case "T" Tradition is revealed truth. It is also called Sacred Tradition.

Lower case "t" tradition are the things we have done for a long time.

Sacred Tradition is that which we would not know had it not been revealed to us by God. Lower case "t" tradition is not revealed truth and it can change.

-Tim-


#16

[quote="TimothyH, post:15, topic:311813"]
Upper case "T" Tradition is revealed truth. It is also called Sacred Tradition.

Lower case "t" tradition are the things we have done for a long time.

Sacred Tradition is that which we would not know had it not been revealed to us by God. Lower case "t" tradition is not revealed truth and it can change.

-Tim-

[/quote]

Hi Tim,
I totally (or is that Totally?) agree.

One qualification, as I'm sure you know:
In the RC view God's word is handed on by the combined and organically-related process of Scripture and Tradition in the Church. Just as the heart exists in the organism and you can't separate one from the other lest they both die, so too with Scripture, Tradition, and Church.


#17

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