Thursday, December 29, 2016
Saturday, December 24, 2016
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
Saturday, December 17, 2016
This isn’t just a ‘cute suggestion’ or ‘nice idea’ I have about how life should be. The Messiah himself said in Matthew 25: 31-46. 31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
As I mentioned in part 1 of this reflection, the academic world has largely lost sight of the real contribution of scripture to an understanding of who Jesus is and what he accomplished. While acknowledging the historical reality of Jesus' public life nearly 2 millennia ago, there is serious and widespread disagreement about what can truly be known about what he taught and what authority he could legitimately claim in advancing his teaching. Our Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, has written a three volume series on Jesus of Nazareth in which he accepts the challenges laid down by scripture scholars and advances important arguments to support the claims of faith. Thus, Benedict argues, the Jesus of history and the Jesus of faith are one and the same person. Or, to put this another way for the claims of faith, the historical Jesus was who scripture says he was, the Son of God, the Word made flesh, who dwelt among humanity, who was anointed by the Holy Spirit to carry out a mission of salvation and who suffered, died and rose from the dead in fulfillment of the Father's plan.
Papa Benedict (as he prefers to be addressed in informal circumstances, accepting the unofficial Italian title of all popes) wrote that two key arguments needed to be advanced in support of the claims of faith, one positive and one negative.
The positive argument is that scripture as a whole, including both the Old and New Testaments, has an underlying unity of vision involving a demonstrably coherent meaning and purpose. Discovering this unity of vision and the true coherence of scripture requires a starting point. That starting point, Benedict argues, must be the content of faith, itself.
So it is with all developments in the hard sciences. So it must be in the development of a coherent biblically-based theology. (What is theology, after all, but a coherent understanding of faith?) In the case of scientific theories, a new theory must be tested against existing and new scientific observations. In the case of a coherent theology, it must be tested against historical studies, including archaeology, and scientific observations, as well as individual human experience. Above all, it must be tested against scripture as a whole and the traditions that undergird scripture since these bear the weight of recorded divine revelation.
Papa Benedict describes the key to discerning the unity of scripture, founded on faith in Christ, as "a Christological hermeneutic". Here is what he says, in describing the process of discovering/discerning the unity of scripture.
This process is certainly not linear, and it is often dramatic, but when you watch it unfold in light of Jesus Christ, you can see it moving in a single overall direction; you can see that the Old and New Testaments belong together. This Christological hermeneutic, which sees Jesus Christ as the key to the whole and learns from him how to understand the Bible as a unity, presupposes a prior act of faith. It cannot be the conclusion of a purely historical method. But this act of faith is based upon reason—historical reason—and so makes it possible to see the internal unity of Scripture. By the same token, it enables us to understand anew the individual elements that have shaped it, without robbing them of their historical originality.
(Emphasis mine.) I will say more in the next installment.
Monday, December 12, 2016
Thursday, December 8, 2016
Monday, December 5, 2016
The event reminded me of the hoax about finding the grave of James, the brother of Jesus from a couple of years back and the rage over Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code from about a dozen years back. In each case, people got very excited about "new facts" or "new theories". None of that interested me very much, because I had already seen how pathetic most contemporary studies of Jesus were.
It's not that there haven't been serious studies of the historical background of Jesus, or serious efforts to uncover documentary evidence of the life of Jesus apart from the bible, or even interesting and suggestive archaeological discoveries. Finding the really meaty stuff among the contemporary weeds, however, is no easy task. The problem is not that modern and post modern society has not devoted enough attention to who Jesus is, really, the problem is that too many people who have no credible claim to a connection with the subject matter have beclouded the discussion. You can find the wheat, but you have to first clear away the weeds, and the weeds in our contemporary secular world, have overrun the landscape.
It is for this very reason that Pope, Emeritus, Benedict XVI wrote his landmark three volume study, Jesus of Nazareth. In the Forward to his first volume, From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration, he noted in a discussion of historical scholarship beginning in the 1950s,
The gap between the "historical Jesus" and the "Christ of faith" grew wider and the two visibly fell apart. But what can faith in Jesus as the Christ possibly mean, in Jesus as the Son of the living God, if the man Jesus was so completely different from the picture that the Evangelists painted of him and that the Church, on the evidence of the Gospels, takes as the basis of her preaching? [See the first page of the Forward.]As an example of this "falling apart" phenomenon, the efforts of the so-called "Jesus Seminar" of the 1980s and 90s to uncover the "actual sayings of Jesus" (which they termed the ipsissima verba) ran into insuperable methodological difficulties. They could not develop a consensus except on a rather minimalist "lowest common denominator."
Our Pope Emeritus points to two things that can help to put back together what has been rent asunder through the workings of academic ambition. They are (1) the underlying unity of scripture, both Old and New Testament, as revealed in the tradition of interpretation, and (2) exposing the limitations of the historical, critical method, particularly as it has been practiced over the decades. These are deep matters, and I will treat them in the next post.
Your partner in the journey for the truth,
Fr. Larry Gearhart
Saturday, December 3, 2016
but only say the word and my soul shall be healed. (Matthew 8:8) We say these words with great reverence, but today I ask us all-are we living that reality? In word and deed are we the Innkeepers that open our doors to give our Christ, our Savior, the home he so richly deservers and desires with us?