Thursday, April 23, 2009

Asia News: Pope: the Bible must be interpreted within the magisterium of the Church (via The Western Confucian)

Benedict XVI recalled that Leo XIII, Pius XII, and Vatican II reiterated in a variety of ways that "Holy mother Church, relying on the belief of the Apostles, holds that the books of both the Old and New Testaments in their entirety, with all their parts, are sacred and canonical because written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author and have been handed on as such to the Church herself" (Dei Verbum, 11).

This correct approach to the concept of the divine inspiration and truth of Holy Scripture leads to norms that directly concern its interpretation. "In this regard," the pope recalled, "Vatican Council II indicates three criteria that are always valid for an interpretation of Sacred Scripture in keeping with the Spirit who inspired it. First of all, one must pay great attention to the content and unity of all the Scripture. In fact, as different as the books making it up may be, Sacred Scripture is one by virtue of the unity of God's plan, of which Jesus Christ is the center and heart (cf. Lk. 24:25-27; Lk. 24:44-46). In the second place, one must read Scripture in the context of the living tradition of the whole Church. According to a saying of the Fathers, "Sacra Scriptura principalius est in corde Ecclesiae quam in materialibus instrumentis scripta," "Sacred Scripture is written in the heart of the Church before it is written on material instruments." In fact, the Church carries within its Tradition the living memory of the Word of God, and it is the Holy Spirit who gives it the interpretation of this, according to its spiritual meaning (cf. Origen, Homiliae in Leviticum, 5,5). As the third criterion, it is necessary to pay attention to the analogy of faith, or to the cohesion of the individual truths of faith among one another and with the overall plan of Revelation and the fullness of the divine economy contained within it."

The task of researchers studying the Sacred Scripture by various means, then,"is that of contributing according to the aforementioned principles to a deeper understanding and exposition of the meaning of Sacred Scripture. Scientific study of the sacred texts is not sufficient by itself. In order to respect the coherence of the faith of the Church, the Catholic exegete must be attentive to viewing the Word of God in these texts from the perspective of the Church's faith. In the absence of this indispensable point of reference, exegetical research remains incomplete, losing sight of its main purpose, with the danger of becoming a sort of mere intellectual exercise. The interpretation of the sacred Scriptures cannot be only an individual scientific effort, but must always be situated, inserted, and authenticated by the living tradition of the Church. This norm is decisive for clarifying the correct and reciprocal relationship between exegesis and the Magisterium of the Church.

"The texts inspired by God have been entrusted to the community of believers, to the Church of Christ, in order to nourish faith and guide the life of charity. Respect for this purpose influences the validity and efficacy of Biblical hermeneutics. The encyclical Providentissimus Deus recalled this fundamental truth, and observed that, far from obstructing Biblical research, respect for this fact fosters its authentic progress."

In conclusion, "only the ecclesial context permits sacred Scripture to be understood as the authentic Word of God, the guide, norm, and rule for the life of the Church and the spiritual growth of believers. This involves the rejection of any interpretation that is subjective for simply limited to analysis alone, which is incapable of containing the overall meaning that over the course of the centuries has guided the Tradition of the entire people of God."
Holy See on Racism
"Without a Change of Heart, Laws Are Not Effective"

In all its manifestations, racism makes the false claim that some human beings have less dignity and value than others; it thus infringes upon their fundamental equality as God's children and it leads to the violation of the human rights of individuals and of entire groups of persons.
This equality is proper to the ratio of charity, not to that of justice--and yet, the prohibition of certain actions falls under the virtue of justice, and not just charity. Where does the evil with regard to racism arise? In the intellect or the will? Is it possible to be a good-willed racist? Can the intellectual error of racism be separated from the moral error? Can someone believe sincerely that some people should be treated differently from others because they are somehow inferior? Or that they should be slaves -- but still be accorded basic protections under justice and the law?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Disputations: Disproportionate infliction of pain

The question is, are we naming by the 'word' torture the external act (which has for its object the infliction of bodily harm or pain) or the composite of the external act and the internal act (the end of which intention is to induce someone else to cooperate, give information, etc.). It seems the latter, because the internal act gives the formality which defines or puts the external act within a particular moral species.

I argue that torture is unjust here. If it (or the external act) is unjust, how can it possibly be proportionate under any circumstances?

My thinking on this needs to be clarified further.
The Guardian Profile: Roger Scruton
Anthony Barnett (wiki)
Town and Country: Anthony Barnett, Roger Scruton

Anthony Barnett on What’s Changed
James Chastek, Proofs for God's Existence

What the theistic proofs have in in common with the other kinds of proofs for existence is they are all necessary because of some weakness of our intellect. No one needs to prove the existence of trees since they’re just there. For the same reason, no on needed to prove the existence of black swans to Australians; and no one would need to prove the existence of black holes to a civilization which (somehow) could just look up and see one in the sky (like the passengers on the Disney movie The Black Hole). The difference is that the standards of what counts as proof are different in the case of natural science and in metaphysics.

And "The difference between scholastic and modern theology":
The main transition from scholastic to modern theology (which took a few centuries) was the shift from speculative philosophy to history as the field in which one encounters God. The scholastic did not need elaborate, critical, and highly advanced systems of historical analysis in order to do what he understood as theology; just as a modern theologian does not need elaborate logical and disputative systems to do what he understands as theology.

What, then, of monastic theology? Was monastic theology primarily a commentary on Sacred Scripture? Or was there more to it? And what about the theology of the Church Fathers? So much more to read and discover...
Gloria Ruth Frost, Thomas Aquinas on Necessary Truths about Contingent Beings

Tuesday, April 21, 2009