Biblical inerrancy has always been rejected by mainline Christian denominations, including the oldest of them all: the Roman Catholic Church. Tradition, history and science have always served as filters that moderate Biblical claims, while providing insight into the underlying circumstances and intent of Biblical authors as they struggled to use imperfect and since-forgotten languages to express what they understood to be God’s concerns. The Church’s faith in these filters has — ever since the Reformation — placed the Church at odds with conservative Protestants.

In a teaching document called The Gift of Scripture, the Catholic bishops of England, Scotland and Wales remind the faithful that fundamentalisms:

  • distort the intended meaning of religious texts by stripping away the history and tradition from which the texts derive their meaning,
  • dangerously encourage the people of some nations to perceive a Biblical mandate for their own superiority over other nations and cultures, and
  • fuel egotistical and sadistic violence by fundamentalist ideologues against other nations and faith perspectives.

More information is available from The Times of London, Google News, and the blogosphere.

Much of the blog commentary seems to be under the mistaken and historically ignorant impression that the Roman Catholic Church was once fundamentalist. However, I believe longtime Catholic Andrew Sullivan gets it right:

Anyone who believes that the world was literally created in six days a few thousand years ago is not expressing his or her “religious beliefs.” Believing something that is demonstrably and empirically untrue is not religion. It is simply superstition or lunacy. It has nothing to do with faith in things we cannot know. The notion that it should actually be taught in public schools as science is beneath even debating.

Ex-Gay Watch welcomes comment from Exodus leaders Alan Chambers (who is a Biblical inerrantist) and Randy Thomas (who is a six-day creationist).

(Hat tip: Regan DuCasse)

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