Intended for Fellow Catholics, but Everybody's Welcome: Inerrancy and Dei Verbum

Pax Christi, everybody!

In my admittedly short time on this Earth, I’ve come to understand that The Bible is inerrant regarding things necessary for our salvation, meaning that certain traditions and blown-up facts or some goofs here and there could be found in a truly Holy Book; after all, The Holy Spirit does not override the consciousness of people and meets them where they are. I was convinced that this is one such teaching understood by The Church.

After reading this article from Catholic.com, it might seem as if that isn’t such the case.
Unless I misunderstand the point trying to be made, they seem to imply that The Bible is 100% accurate on all of its details, seemingly refuting the ideas of the prolific theologian and scholar Father Raymond E. Brown with those of the equally commendable Scott Hahn, claiming that the Dei Verbum’s Section 11 says that because everything The Authors wrote in The Bible was overseen and affirmed by The Holy Spirit, that makes The Text wholly without error. This does not sit right with me.

To my fellow Catholics (and anybody else who wants to throw their hat into the ring), does any of this follow, or am I simply fretting about nothing yet again?

Pax,
Charles

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I am definitely 5 solas Protestant, evangelical even, but I am far from hostile to Catholicism. I prefer the stand of the Eastern Orthodox on a number of doctrinal issues and keep the RC catechism as a reference so I can quickly find their position on the issues. One of the biggest differences is in fact on the issue you have raised. The Protestants consider the Bible to be the sole authority and the Catholics think this is incoherent because they believe the Catholic church is responsible for creating the Bible and giving it such authority. Obviously I do not agree.

Yet I do not agree with this. (And generally it is the Protestant who say this, ie. inerrancy, more than Catholics.) Everything has flaws if you look to closely at unimportant details. So this claim is excessive. What I do believe is that the Bible says exactly what God want it to say for whatever reason, possibly including some effect on history at some point in time… often hard to say.

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Grab Brown’s, The critical meaning of the Bible, for an interesting take on Dei Verbum and VCII and the changes made. Its short but to the point.

All of Brown’s books and the critical Catholic scholars I read have an imprimatur and/or nihil obstat in the front.

“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”

God can teach truth through material falsehood. Accommodation 101.

Vinnie

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Charles,
Technically, I suppose, I’m still a Catholic.

  • I was baptized at the age of 9 or so, fully immersed by Rev. Herschel H. Hobbs.
  • I was confirmed at the age of 14, by my father, a Missouri Synod–Lutheran.
  • I fellowshipped with Catholic Charismatics in the 1970s.
  • I converted (wisely or not) to Catholicism in preparation for a Catholic wedding to my wife, in 1980.
  • Those are my credentials, so to speak.
  • But now I’m pretty sure that I’m what is called “a lapsed Catholic”.

Now, to your OP.
Unfortunately, I do not see where you give the title of the article from Catholic.com, and clicking on the site itself does not take me to the specific article that you’re asking about. What’s the title of the article that you’re referring to?

–Terry

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Woops, I didn’t mean for a link to pop up there.

If you scroll under my pax message, you can find the article I read, titled “Is Everything in the Bible True?”.

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Ahhh, got it. Silly me, I wasn’t looking in the right place.

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The article that you cited merits reading it carefully at least two more times, but my initial reaction–having read it quickly once–is that I agree with you: Dei Verbum’s Section 11 doesn’t sit right with me either. Perhaps, after two more readings or with help from someone else, it will, but at this time it doesn’t.

My reason:

  • I come, recently, from posting reliable information regarding Islam’s Qur’an and the profoundly firm conviction among devout Muslims that that scripture was a revelation to Mohammad from Allah via the angel, Gabriel, and that that revelation was the accurate record of what was given by Allah to Mohammad, and that that record written in Arabic and Arabic alone is a divine gift without error. Period.
  • The Qur’an is to Muslims what Jesus Christ himself is to the Church, with the only difference being that the Qur’an is a book and Jesus Christ is a person. Consequently, it should not come as a surprise to any non-Muslim that Islam views our Jewish and Christian Scripture as corruptions and, therefore, completely–or nearly-completely–unreliable artifacts.
  • In other words, if you could find an error in the Qur’an, it would topple the whole Islamic “house of cards.”
  • Personally, I say there is an error for which there is no explanation other than that the version of Jesus’ nativity in the Qur’an does not agree with any version of his nativity in the New Testament.
  • It is for that reason I dismiss as wishful thinking the claim that Islam and Christianity worship the same God.

So, you may well ask: “What does my beef with the Qur’an have to do with your OP?”
I answer: The Islamic house of cards falls with one little error. So, too, will any house of cards constructed on a claim that the New Testament is the inerrant Dei Verbum. And, I say, there is an error: One which some Jews laugh about and which an Orthodox Jew showed me.

Where? In Hebrews 11:21.

  • By faith Jacob,as he was dying, blessed each one of the sons of Joseph and bowed in worship, leaning on his staff.

If you compare the Septuagint version of Jacob’s blessing of Joseph’s sons and the Hebrew version of the same event, you’ll find that they differ. In Hebrews 11:21, the author clearly followed the Septuagint version when, to faithfully record the Dei Verbum, he should have followed the Hebrew version.

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“for the sake of our salvation” is the key to it all to me.

This is worth the read. if Dei Verbum teaches complete inerrancy its kind of odd that most Bishops don’t seem to know that.

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Wait a minute!

I always helps to put excerpts back in context! (as I now see that Vinnie did above)

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.

This doesn’t say that the Bible contains no errors. It says the Bible conveys the truth God wanted for salvation without error. This can simply mean only that the Bible tells us faithfully that which we need to know for salvation, and not that we cannot find errors in unimportant details.

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This only becomes a problem if the inerrancy goes beyond knowledge about God and faith, which is the subject of Scripture. The devil is in the details, and that includes specifics about science or even historical facts. John, in his gospel, does not worry about precise chronology, he is more concerned about the teachings. Perhaps we should do likewise?
Richard

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Pax Christi, Richard!

That’s what I’m thinking now as well. I’ve been reading some Jesuit stiff Vinnie sent me and talking with fellow Catholics, and they seem to agree; kind of weird how Catholic.com totally rejects this.

Perhaps we should not believe everything we read on the web. Even official sites?

Richard

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