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Old Testament

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 Contents - Sep 2012AD2000 September 2012 - Buy a copy now
Editorial: 2012 Fighting Fund launched: support Christian values - Peter Westmore
Sainthood: Cardinal Van Thuân: process to beatification 'very advanced' - Michael Gilchrist
News: The Church Around the World
Film: 'For Greater Glory': an inspiring message for today's Christians - Babette Francis
Survey confirms crisis of faith in Ireland - Michael Gilchrist
Noted UK doctor slams BBC program's anti-Catholic bias - Robert Walley
Interview: Egypt after Mubarak: 'Christians feel excluded' - Father Andrzej Halemba
Letters: Archbishop Chaput: how to meet the challenges to religious freedom - Archbishop Charles Chaput OFM
Time for women's "true genius" to reassert itself - Anne Lastman
Australian Catholic Students Association Conference 2012 - Br Barry Coldrey
The Church's mission priority: to search for its 'lost sheep' - Andrew Kania
Letters: Media bias - Anne Lastman
Letters: Achilles' heel - Fr John George
Letters: Appreciation - Frank O'Connor
Letters: Article of faith? - Jean-Leon Shanks
Letters: Power of the Rosary - Gabrielle Gannon
Letters: Old Testament - Fr Brian Harrison OS
Books: A COMPANION TO CATHOLIC EDUCATION, by Leonardo Franchi (Editor) - Gerard O'Shea (reviewer)
Books: THROUGH SHAKESPEARE'S EYES: Seeing the Catholic presence in the plays, Pearce - Michael E. Daniel (reviewer)
Books: FATIMA FOR TODAY: The Urgent Marian Message of Hope, by Fr Andrew Apostoli CFR - Brother Barry Coldrey (reviewer)
Books: Order books from
Reflection: Fatima: Mary's appeal for penance and conversion - Bishop Arthur Serratelli

It is clear that in openly denying the truth of Old Testament assertions that he finds unpalatable (August  AD2000), Frank Mobbs' quarrel is not just with me, but with the Catholic Church. For her unchangeable faith, reaffirmed by Vatican II, is that "everything" asserted by the sacred writers of both Old and New Testaments "is to be held as asserted by the Holy Spirit" (DV 11).

The only figleaf my critic can find in attempting to cover his dissent is the theologically puerile claim that "were all biblical assertions true", the "creed" would become an "unbearable burden on Christians" by virtue of including thousands of minor biblical details.

Now, our ancient creeds are of course mere summaries of central Christian beliefs; and, even as such, they make no claim to cover everything all Catholics should know. Not one of them, for instance, mentions the Eucharist, or any other sacrament except Baptism. So there is no reason why we should now start adding to them any new clause(s) about the Bible. Moreover, no one has ever claimed that Christians need to know in detail all the multitudes of specific propositions that are virtually contained in (i.e., implied by) a doctrinal generalisation such as the above quotation from Vatican II.

Dr Mobbs might just as well argue that, because it has 2,865 articles, no less, the  Catechism of the Catholic Church is an "unbearable burden"; or that if I assert that prisoners should have the right to vote, I am thereby assuming the "unbearable burden" of learning the names of every man and woman behind bars in the country!

According to Dr Mobbs, I have conceded too much to atheist Richard Dawkins. I think he's the one guilty of that fault. For he has conceded the correctness of Dawkins' assumption - just as theologically untenable as the one rebutted above - that whatever is morally wrong for a human being must also be morally wrong for God. But the reason why it is wrong for us to take the initiative in destroying "innocent" human life is that we thereby usurp the rights of God, who alone is the Lord of life and death.

I place "innocent" in quotation marks in this context, because we need to recall that even those who have committed no crime deserving a humanly imposed death sentence are already under the divinely imposed death sentence resulting from original sin (cf. Vatican II,  Gaudium et Spes, no. 18). And if God, in Old Testament times, sometimes authorised the Israelites to be his delegated instruments in carrying out that divine sentence, which will strike every one of us sooner or later, then that was his divine prerogative.

St Louis, Missouri, USA

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Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 25 No 8 (September 2012), p. 16

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