The Taser's Edge


Benedict on the Bible

In the Anglican world, we say (and believe in entirely different ways even as we say it) that Scripture “containeth all things necessary to salvation.”  That’s the language of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer‘s Article VI (of 39).  The Article itself is really interesting because it uses only negative wording.  It says that nothing can be required of Christians which cannot be proved from Scriptures, but doesn’t reverse those terms (most likely because the reversal was assumed foundationally).

So, that language we use can be totally useless.  I can say, “Yes, you will be saved if you treat others as you want to be treated,” and I will be following this Article, because Jesus indeed said to do that, even though I’m missing a lot from other things Jesus said.  Or I can read the “all things necessary” in the context of the English Reformation and the rest of the prayerbook as also saying, “You cannot be saved without the Scriptures’ truth.”  Yet even at that extreme of possible readings, you can mean multiple things by the words.

Personally, I like this ambiguity, but that’s only because the offered alternative is worse.  I hate it when the Church uses words like “infallible” and “inerrant” when describing Scripture, because even though I really do get what they’re trying to get at, and what they’re trying to describe, and what they’re trying to defend and protect, what I don’t get is how the language itself is not entirely buying into a post-Enlightenment view of the world.

Scientifically verifiable truth is the only truth?  Actually, the Bible itself will not get you anywhere near that conclusion.

(Sidetrack: For instance, the problem with anyone telling you that the Resurrection of Jesus Christ can be proven is that part of something being proven scientifically is that the event can be repeated and the same thing happens again, and part of believing in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is believing it cannot be repeated.  But, before you go there, the Resurrection is not a miracle either.  It may be the most natural thing that has ever happened.

Now does that mean that I believe the Resurrection is “true” but that I don’t feel the need to believe that it happened?  Definitely not.  Rather the Resurrection is THE reality, and it is no problem that there’s not an instrument to measure it by.  The lack of a standard unit for measure Resurrection-of-God-Man-ness makes it no less real.  What’s more, the fact that THE Reality of All Realities is not measurable ought to make me question just how reliable the measurable is at giving me an accurate view of the real. Sidetrack concluded.)

And so I came across a brilliant quote by Benedict XVI (from his Cardinal days, in the Introduction to a 1996 edition of Romano Guardini’s The Lord), that doesn’t do that Modern crap, but really makes it clear what it means to believe that the Scriptures are a means of salvation:

Guardini recognized that the liturgy is the true, living environment for the Bible and that the Bible can be properly understood only in this living context within which it first emerged.  The texts of the Bible, this great Book of Christ, are not to be seen as the literary products of some scribes at their desks but rather of the words of Christ Himself delivered in the celebration of Holy Mass.  The scriptural texts are thoroughly imbued with the awe of divine worship resulting from the believer’s interior attentiveness to the living voice of the present Lord.  In the preface of his book, Guardini himself tells us of the way in which these texts have arisen: “We can only reverently pause before this or that word or act, ready to learn, adore, obey.”

Now I know that when Ratzinger writes “the holy Mass” he means what he says, but I also know that there are many who aren’t quite comfortable with that language who read this blog.  So how about this?  The Scriptures were formed in Christian worship and they can only be understood as we enter into worship.  We can only understand the Scriptures as we worship Jesus Christ in Spirit and in truth.


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