You give your answers in a canonical view; basically, using the Bible as a whole in its entirety to answer the questions. Yet, the core of what the the questions address is why did the authors write the apparent contradictions if it was "inspired by God"? There was a time before a Bible, and that was any time period before 200 A.D. Who had authority then?
The Bible came to be formed and collected in a series of hundreds of years. The Scriptures that Paul refers to is not the New Testament but the Septuagint / Hebrew Bible.
Have you studied the Bible from an academic point of view as a historical document of several communities making sense of God in their time of crisis?
Also, having studied the history of the church in an academic background, your view of Christianity is not the view of the real early church of Paul and the apostles.
Realistically, times change and the church adapts to answer the questions if the community. It was also the Church who put together what we call the Christian Bible, and not by mere "inspiration" but through arguments and debate.
And also, all Christian movements attempt to be biblically sound, but, like any literature, its the interpreter not the scripture that dictates the doctrine. If it is divinely inspired, would not have God left an Inspired Interpreter?
Regardless of the mistakes that several members of the flock have made in the Church, the message of the historical Jesus has been practice more so in the Catholic Church (taking care of the poor, equality of persons, charity, etc.) than any other church in the history of Christianity.
I feel by using the Bible as the ONLY authority causes the many differentiating factions. And by using the Bible that the Catholic Church authorized as sacred scripture indirectly makes the believer in the book believe in the authority granted by God on the Church that he "inspired" to be academically and theologically be fused into one whole book in a process that took more than 1500 hundred years. I'm interested in your remarks.
As I read through your note, my immediate thought was "Ah! A Jesuit trained Roman Catholic apologist." They are the only group I know among the Roman Catholics who can deny the inspiration of the Bible, doubt its authenticity, and yet claim that their organization should control both the contents and the understanding of that same document.
You claim there are apparent contradictions in the Bible, yet offer none for analysis. Claims of contradictions have existed for years. None of those claims have withstood the test of time. You are correct that if the Bible was self-contradictory, then it could not be inspired (coming from the breath) of God since one characteristic of divinity is all-knowing. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (II Timothy 3:16-17). The flaw in your thoughts is that you are dealing with theory and not reality. Contradictions would first have to be proven.
You claim that the Bible did not exist before 200 A.D. Such is laughable since the Dead Sea Scrolls, which contain copies of existing Scriptures, existed 400 years prior. What I believe you meant to argue is that the completed Bible didn't exist prior to 200 A.D., but even that is provably false. See "How did your Bible come into existence?" and "Is the Bible the only source of authority?"
Yes, Paul (and Jesus) appear to quote from the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament -- almost. What is interesting is that some of their quotes have small alterations in the wording; alterations which make the translation more accurate. Yet the fact that they quote from the Septuagint translation only proves that use of an accurate translation is just authoritative as using a copy written in the original language.
However, you are incorrect that Paul only referred to the Old Testament as Scripture (the writings of God). "Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith -- to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen" (Romans 16:25-27). Paul states that his gospel revealed a mystery that had long be kept secret. A secret that has now been revealed by prophetic Scriptures -- that is a reference to the New Testament, which includes Paul's writings. "For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles-- if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power" (Ephesians 3:1-7).
Peter stated, "And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (II Peter 1:19-21). This answers your later contention that there needs to be an interpreter of the Scriptures. Peter says no Scripture needs a private interpretation (that is belonging to one individual or group). God wrote what He meant to say. But for now, did Peter only have the Old Testament in mind? The answer is "no" because just a little later in the same letter Peter said, "and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation--as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures" (II Peter 3:15-16). Peter states that Paul's writings are among the documents known as the Scriptures.
It is interesting that you claim an "academic" view is different from accepting the Bible as God's written word. In answer to that question, I have taken a class in college, the title was "Introduction to New Testament Christianity." It was taught from a skeptic's point of view. I recall irritating the professor, a Methodist pastor, repeatedly by pointing numerous flaws in both her reasoning and her historical "evidence."
You claim my understanding of the early church is flawed, but again you offer no evidence. Claims are empty wind.
Now we get into the heart of the matter. Since you have convinced yourself that the Bible is the product of man, you feel justified in altering the document as you see fit to adapt to modern situations. You should really consult with your fellow apologists who have written claiming that the teachings of the Catholic church never changes (see "Further objections to the idea that Catholics worship Mary"). Your statement is an accurate representation of the Roman Catholic church, see: "What is wrong with Catholicism?" but it is not an admirable trait as it contradicts God's teachings. "But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed" (Galatians 1:8-9).
Finally, I'm glad to document a Roman Catholic's position that it is God's fault that there are divisions in Christianity because He gave a book which if followed by itself will cause division. I'm sure others will find it equally useful in future debates. "Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3).
I guess I did not make myself as clear. I did not want to write so much since there is much to write about.
I do believe that Scripture is "God Breathed" and that it is profitable, but not the sole authority, just profitable. What I was trying to say that even some of the letters were not probably written by Paul or Peter. Does it matter? No.
I read your discussion on Genesis one and two. Clearly there are two creations stories. The Deutoronomist, whoever he may be, sewed these stories together. Both give accounts of the creation in different orders. Is it to me a contradiction. Yes. Does it matter, no. Why? Because they are both God Breathed in that they are not literal accounts of the creation but portray the power of God in the creation and the symbolism used by the primitive story tellers about God is more powerful than seeing the story as mere "the creation story."
To try and explain them together in a canonical way is fine. But to later educate how God used each individual story teller to say something about his nature is even more beautiful than the mere "literal story" because all the juice is left out.
I did become Catholic because it was more academic in perspective to the other views. It was not afraid to embrace the human influence on the Bible. The hebrew bible was the only scripture at the time of christ that was compiled together after various ages and communities. Paul refers to them as scripture. However, it was the community, the Church, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (after many arguments), decided that only 27 books were to be regarded as the New Testament Scripture. The authority lies with the community.
The Declaration of Independence is a Sacred document because the community makes it sacred.
Peter stated, "And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (II Peter 1:19-21).
Here is where I disagree. If God wrote what he meant to say, why wait 1,500 years to start a reformation that caused death on both sides of his now divided Church? Is God not a God of divisions or of unity. Whoever wrote the letter above intended that the scriptures not have private interpreters to maintain a "universal" dogma. Paul did write that we are under one Lord, baptism, and faith. With the Protestant reformation, we as Christians, are sadly divided because we all think our private interpretation is the correct one.
I will follow the teachings that were passed down by the apostles since the time of Jesus, as he promised that his Church will not be defeated by the gates of Hell, and that Church is his One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Whatever it binds on Earth it will be bound in Heaven.
However, sadly we will never agree on the authority that was granted on the completed Bible. But you must agree that the core of the message of Jesus was equality for all to sit at the same table regardless of our social status and to protect the children, the widows, and the poor, in order to save our selves from damnation, whatever that may be.
Does that make sense? The early church did not have the benefit of having the completed Bible, but the community was saved through the Church and her teachings. We are the fortunate ones to have what the early church granted as dogma.
You are quite correct, with your position on the Bible we will not reach an agreement. You see the Bible as the product of man somewhat loosely inspired by God as a sunset inspires a painter. I accept that very words came from God. "But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ" (Galatians 1:11-12). Your position contradicts Paul when he said, "But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual" (I Corinthians 2:10-13).
Even though Romans through Philemon state that they are written by Paul and I and II Peter state that they are written by Peter, you take the contradictory position that some were not written by these two apostles. Yet you claim them as being breathed of God. Thus your view allows letters which your view claims to contain lies (at least in regards to authorship) coming from God whom we are told cannot lie (Titus 1:2).
You claim that Genesis just contains a collection of myths. You claim that they have contradictions within the stories, but that doesn't matter because you see them as God breathed. Such cannot be unless the God of your imagination tells lies. Your position is at odds with Jesus who never treated the statements in Genesis as myths, but as facts. For example, "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female" (Matthew 19:4).
To you the Bible is no more authoritative than a document created by man, the Declaration of Independence. A document which, unlike the Bible, does not claim to be from God.
You claim to follow what was passed down from the apostles, but you reject that very document as being a fraud. "For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth. Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you, knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me. Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease. For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (II Peter 1:12-21). The apostles did not leave us to follow the whims of fraudulent men who claim to hold the authority of Christ and who make up rules as they see fit. They proved their authority by the power of God (Hebrews 2:3-4) and then wrote the proven words down so that all who follow can know the things they taught.
The reason you feel the need to cast doubt upon the Bible is because you know it contradicts many of the current positions of the Roman Catholic church. Since you are too proud and stubborn to mold your way to conform to God's will, you have declared the work of the Holy Spirit to be the work of man and thus modifiable by man. The very idea that men can think that God will go along with whatever men decide is abominable! As Peter stated, "We ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29). But that appears to not bother you because you can't even believe there truly is a Hell as Jesus taught.
No, we won't come to an agreement. "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever" (II Corinthians 6:14-15).