Scriptural infallibility

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by Thomas, Nov 2, 2021.

  1. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    The Catholic Church says:
    "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 for the sake of salvation." (Dei Verbum)

    This is a conditional statement. The gist of the argument is Scripture is infallible when it comes to its object – the Revelation of God and the salvation of humanity – but not inerrant in everything that is written is necessarily true.

    Can I ask how other traditions view their Sacred Scriptures in light of the following:

    1: The (divine) transmission of a Revelation is infallible.
    2: The (human) reception of a it might well not be.

    Thoughts ...
     
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  2. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens Admin

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    Scripture is the shell of the nut, imo.
    Thanks for the thread @Thomas
    I feel the need to keep my head down around here for a bit, lol
     
  3. Ella S.

    Ella S. Gnostic Christian

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    Are you asking how other traditions view their own scriptures, how these two premises would change the way they view their own scriptures, or how they view Catholic scriptures in light of this doctrine?
     
  4. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    I dont accept it literally but do accept it (the bible) with allegory, parable, worthwhile mythology and tradition which can lead to understanding of the human experience and a historical track record of our understanding levels our oneness 2-5k years ago in the middle east.

    I see other religions containing parts of similar thought for their time period and socio/geographic area.
     
  5. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens Admin

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    Genghis Khan believed one God was expressed and interpreted in different ways by all the five major religions of his area: Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Judaism and Nestorian Christianity. He said they were like five fingers of God's hand. For practical and economic reasons he allowed them all freedom to function, as long as no-one went against his Mongol laws.

    I know this doesn't properly address the thread question, though
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2021
  6. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic) Admin

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    I think all traditions and religions share this problem.

    Buddhism
    does not really have a concept of "revealed" scripture. Instead, the old texts are understood as a precious tradition to be preserved so as to benefit as many generations as possible. As with everything else that is "conditioned", i.e. depends on other circumstances, the tradition is expected to change and eventually disappear.

    As the texts cannot be expected to be verbatim or infallible, criteria are needed to assess whether a received teaching is "skillful". One of the texts, the "Discourse to the Kalamas", contains such a list (I admire the defiant gesture of embedding such a teaching about testing all scripture within a body of scripture to be tested):
    • Don’t go by reports
    • by legends
    • by traditions
    • by scripture,
    • by logical conjecture
    • by inference
    • by analogies
    • by agreement through pondering views
    • by probability
    • or by the thought, “This contemplative is our teacher.”
    • When you know for yourselves that, “These qualities are skillful
    • these qualities are blameless
    • these qualities are praised by the observant
    • these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness” - then you should enter & remain in them.
     
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  7. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Yes, in light of the fallibility/infallibility debate.

    I Jews and Christians think Scripture is not inerrant, as I understand it Muslims think the Quran is, and as Cino said, in some traditions the question doesn't really apply.

    How is the Tao perceived and regarded? The Vedas, the Upanishads ... Just wonderin' ...
     
  8. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic) Admin

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    As far as I know, i.e. not very far, the Torah (Pentateuch) is considered God's word as received at Sinai. I think at least the Orthodox view would be comparable to the infallibility discussed here, but am way out of my depth really. Would @RabbiO explain?
     
  9. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens Admin

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    The first chapter of the Tao te Ching:

    The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.
    The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
    The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth.
    The named is the mother of ten thousand things.
    Ever desireless, one can see the mystery.
    Ever desiring, one can see the manifestations.
    These two spring from the same source but differ in name;
    this appears as darkness.
    Darkness within darkness.
    The gate to all mystery.

    https://www.wussu.com/laotzu/laotzu01.html
    Lol ...
     
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  10. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    What I like about this is:
    The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.

    And then that is followed by 80-odd chapters, but that first verse still stands.
     
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  11. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    No issue with that, and like yourself I wait on @RabbiO for clarification.

    There is a distinction between inerrancy and infallibility – at least in traditional Christianity.
     
  12. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    Oh to live in such an area where this is true...

    First sign of a heretic round these parts.

    Here in 'merica 75% if believers believe it to be the word of god....but we are down to the lowest ever that believe it to be the inerrant infallible word of god.

    Here stateside in the 50's 3/4 believed in a literal creation, flood, short earth still...hence the scopes trial. By the turn of the millennia we were down to 60% just before the pandemic the polls said around 40% with the "doom and gloom", "but the signs. The signs!" Crowd and the anti science folk raising their heads in unison who knows what the percentages are today.

    But most lay Catholics and Protestants around here have distinctly different views from what I hear from the learned devoted here.
     
  13. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens Admin

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    I believe the Tao te Ching is really a collection of ancient Taoist sayings, grouped into sections where often the same thing is repeated in slightly different words. It is not a book written by a sage named Lao Tzu whose existence as an actual person is doubtful.

    As you know I mostly value the I Ching (Book of Changes) but which again cannot be called a Taoist scripture, imo
     
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  14. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    I think its generally Christian doctrine. It is (or should be) in Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican circles. I think some read 'sola scriptura' to mean 'Scripture in inerrant' but I don't think that's the case.

    What denomination?

    Well we believe in Divine Revelation contained in Scripture, but not that the text itself is inerrant.

    You guys make such a song-and-dance about it! My dad believed a literal creation, and flood, but 'short earth'? Not so sure.

    Round here most Catholics and Protestants keep themselves to themselves ...
     
  15. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    And therein lies the difference. Around here they are a vocal minority claiming to be a silent majority.

    Folks hate it when they lose power.
     
  16. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    To be honest, and no offence, but it strikes me that's more to do with being American, than Catholic or Protestant ... ?
     
  17. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic) Admin

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    America has something of a civic religion going on, maybe? The public recital of the pledge of allegiance, the treatment of the flag as a quasi sacred symbol, the capitol, the little prayer printed on bank notes...
     
  18. Ella S.

    Ella S. Gnostic Christian

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    I don't see, and I don't believe the ancients saw, Gnostic scriptures as infallible. The authors are divinely inspired, but not everything they wrote was literal truth. They wrote from their experience and understanding of the divine. Their allegories are supposed to help those who approach the texts properly to achieve gnosis, but obscure the underlying mysticism from the uninitiated. They work as instructional manuals for meditation, mostly.

    The goal of meditation, which is to return to the Pleroma after death instead of reincarnating, might be the only supernatural belief that was meant literally. Much of the texts have clear personifications of concepts like Wisdom, Error, Understanding, and Reason; they are obviously not meant to be taken as describing literal events or beings. Even the Monad and the Demiurge could be seen as personifications of the inner world of contemplation and the outer world of sense perception.

    This sort of allegory was actually common in Mystery Schools and in Platonism, both of which had a heavy influence on Gnosticism, so this isn't me copping out and deciding to take the texts as more metaphorical in light of modern scientific findings or anything. Gnosticism is well-known to be more of an orthopraxy than an orthodoxy.
     
  19. muhammad_isa

    muhammad_isa Save Our Souls

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    Indeed. Gnostic is a label that tars everybody with the same brush.
    Those Christians with a political agenda outlawed belief that didn't conform .. simple.

    They made writings other than their own illegal, and destroyed them.
    ..not the behaviour of humble believers, imo.
     
  20. Ella S.

    Ella S. Gnostic Christian

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    We don't really know if Gnostic is a label that "tars everybody with the same brush" or not. We do know that it was only used to label certain sects of heretics. It's hard to say whether this was polemical or for a good reason, because we only really have one side of that story.

    Early literature that was written contemporary with the Gnostics was probably more like argumentation that happened within the same church spaces. They were arguing over the proper way to regard scripture. The persecution didn't happen until a bit later. "Heresy" at this point just referred to a school of thought, and didn't have the connotations that it does today.
     
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