Who is the Real Author of the Bible? How Did God Inspire the Human Writers?

bible GIF

Introduction

There seems to be a confusion among Christians and Catholics regarding the true author of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. Some believe that these books are written by human authors and thus may contain errors. Other believe that the writers of the Bible were dictated by God what to write in the Sacred Scriptures. The human writers were mere instruments of God’s hand in describing the divine message to humanity.

So, who is the real author of the Bible? How did God inspire the human writers to jot down His message to humankind if He is the real author?

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The following passages from the Catechism for Filipino Catholics (CFC, #85-87) constitute the Catholic Church’s teaching on divine inspiration. They explain how writers of the Old and New Testaments  were inspired by God to write the Sacred Scriptures:

The Church’s Teaching on Divine Inspiration

“The Sacred Scriptures are said to be “inspired” in a special sense — not just as some artist or author may be “inspired” to paint or compose.

ever after artist GIF

Rather, biblical inspiration means that the sacred and canonical books of the Old and New Testaments, whole and entire, were written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, so that we can call God their “author” and the Bible “the Word of God” (cf. DV 11; CCC 105-6).

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God chose certain human authors, who as true authors made full use of their human powers and faculties, yet was so guided by the Holy Spirit who so enlightened their minds and moved their wills, that they put down in writing what God wanted to be written” (CFC #85).

worship love GIF by ladypat

Biblical inspiration, then, is a charism referring to the special divine activity, communicated to individual authors, editors, and compilers belonging to the community, for the sake of the community. It produced the sacred texts both of the Old Testament and the New. These texts ground the apostolic Church which remains uniquely authoritative for us and for all generations of Christians” (CFC, #86).

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But the Holy Spirit’s work in Scripture touches more than its human authors: in some fashion, it also touches both the proclaimers and the hearers of the word. “In the sacred books the Father who is in heaven comes lovingly to meet His children, and talks with them” (DV 21). Scripture thus supports and invigorates the Church (cf. CCC 131-33). It strengthens our faith, offers food for our souls, and remains a pure and lasting fount for our spiritual lives.

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Through the Spirit “God’s word is living and effective” (Heb 4:12). But we realize that what was written in the Spirit must be proclaimed and heard in the Spirit” (CFC #87).

GIF Credits: Giphy.com

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Remembering a Great Jesuit: Fr. Romeo “Archie” Intengan, S.J.

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Last week, I had a dream with Fr. Romeo “Archie” Intengan, my former professor in Special Moral Theology and local superior while I was still a Jesuit scholastic in 1991. In that dream, we had a warm and serious talk. He listened to all my personal problems and frustrations in life and gave me some consoling advice on how to face them and follow Christ.

Life as a layperson after leaving a religious order can be very challenging and frustrating. I felt being suddenly deprived of all benefits and institutional security when I left the Jesuit and religious life. I felt alone in the world after I left the religious order in 1991.

During this lowest moment of my life, two Jesuits often entered into my mind–Fr. Thomas Green, S.J., my former spiritual director at San Jose Seminary, and Fr. Archie Intengan, S.J., my former Jesuit superior at the Loyola House of Studies. I really wanted to see them and share with them all my struggles in life after I left the congregation.

I did see Fr. Green for a spiritual direction two years after I left the religious order. But unfortunately, I wasn’t able to talk with Fr. Archie before his death. I later knew that he was appointed the overall head or the Provincial of the Jesuits in the Philippines. Knowing the workload of a provincial, I didn’t pursue my plan to have an appointment with him, just to talk to him about my new life as a layman. I knew that he would always be there to listen and to provide me with some advice.

Yes, I was able to see him again with my own family, this time not to talk to him on how I found my vocation outside the religious order but to see him for the last time at the Loyola House of Studies chapel during his wake! Although we may not have met again in person, I always felt he was there, happy for what I have done for my family and for the Church as a layman.

Who is Father Archie?

Father Romeo “Archie” Intengan is a former Surgery Professor of University of the Philippines-General Hospital (UP-PGH), Moral Theologian and Professor of the Loyola School of Theology, Ateneo de Manila University, Provincial or national leader of the Jesuit Order in the Philippines, chief ideologue of the Partido Demokratikong Sosyalista ng Pilipinas (PDSP), and a spiritual father and friend to the many people who knew him.

It’s difficult to put Father Archie in one category as he is a person with many talents and abilities, performing various social roles while he was still alive. But to me, Fr. Archie is my spiritual father and true friend. He is also my former professor in Special Moral Theology and Juniorate superior at the Loyola House of Studies, Ateneo de Manila University, while I was still a Jesuit scholastic in 1990. Above all, he is my role model for scholarship, nationalism, and love for Christ.

As an Academic Scholar

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Fr. Archie managed to receive his licentiate in Moral Theology in Spain when he slipped out of the country to avoid an arrest that is ordered by the former President Ferdinand Marcos. After the EDSA Revolution in 1986 that ousted Pres. Marcos, Fr. Archie returned to the Philippines and started teaching Special Moral Theology II at the Loyola School of Theology (LST). I was fortunate to belong to the first batch of students he taught at the LST.

I could not have loved knowledge, research, and scholarship without the inspiration of some top Jesuit scholars led by Fr. Archie. Together with Fr. John Schumacher, S.J., and Fr. Joseph Smith, S.J., Fr. Archie is at the top of my list of role models for research and scholarship. I was always impressed by the degree of preparation, depth and high quality of his class notes and readings in our Special Moral Theology course. His conversational style of teaching was easy to understand. His lectures and class notes were very organized and comprehensive. These notes which were worthy of publication were all well-researched and complete with updated references despite his being a busy person. I knew that he always stayed late at night, doing his work as a scholar and teacher, aside from performing his duty as a local superior, medical doctor, and chief political strategist of his political party—the PDSP.

As a Nationalist

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The nationalism of Fr. Archie is par excellence. To me, he is the reincarnated Jose Rizal and Ninoy Aquino. He endangered his life by fighting the Marcos dictatorship and by trying to reform the country and serve the Catholic Church.

In his Special Moral Theology class, I learned that loving one’s country or patriotism is a sublime expression of loving one’s neighbor as commanded by Christ in the Bible.

 

As a Friend

Fr. Archie may be strong and firm in his beliefs and actions against political malaise and any form of abuse of power in the government, but he remained a gentle friend. He reached out to people and made them comfortable. If you’re sick, you can always knock on his door for a free medical check-up. He would never reject anyone who needs his help.

As a Man on a Mission

Fr. Archie is a man on a mission, a true Jesuit, and soldier of Christ. He knew that all his battles are all meant for the greater glory of God. And He knew that his life would end soon. I was informed that Fr. Archie went to his barber after sensing that his life is about to end.  Knowing him as a very systematic and meticulous person, he probably thought that he should face his relatives, friends, and the public in his wake with a good haircut and grooming. He may be a very busy person but he cares for others, making sure that his presence is always pleasant and loving to them.

Living saints and great followers of Christ live their life with a sole purpose of serving God and His Church through their chosen vocation. And Fr. Archie is one of them. I’m truly grateful to God for giving me the grace and the chance to see a living saint in Fr. Archie!

 

Photo Credits: Reverts to the owner/publisher of Fr. Archie’s photos.

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Who is the Real Author of the Bible? How Did God Inspire the Human Writers?

bible GIF

Introduction

There seems to be a confusion among Christians and Catholics regarding the true author of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. Some believe that these books are written by human authors and thus may contain errors. Other believe that the writers of the Bible were dictated by God what to write in the Sacred Scriptures. The human writers were mere instruments of God’s hand in describing the divine message to humanity.

So, who is the real author of the Bible? How did God inspire the human writers to jot down His message to humankind if He is the real author?

time oc GIF

The following  passages from the the Catechism for Filipino Catholics (CFC, #85-87) constitute the Catholic Church’s teaching on divine inspiration. They explain how writers of the Old and New Testaments  were inspired by God to write the Sacred Scriptures:

The Church’s Teaching on Divine Inspiration

“The Sacred Scriptures are said to be “inspired” in a special sense — not just as some artist or author may be “inspired” to paint or compose.

ever after artist GIF

Rather, biblical inspiration means that the sacred and canonical books of the Old and New Testaments, whole and entire, were written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, so that we can call God their “author” and the Bible “the Word of God” (cf. DV 11; CCC 105-6).

doc sacred geometry GIF

God chose certain human authors, who as true authors made full use of their human powers and faculties, yet were so guided by the Holy Spirit who so enlightened their minds and moved their wills, that they put down in writing what God wanted written” (CFC #85).

worship love GIF by ladypat

Biblical inspiration, then, is a charism referring to the special divine activity, communicated to individual authors, editors, and compilers belonging to the community, for the sake of the community. It produced the sacred texts both of the Old Testament and the New. These texts ground the apostolic Church which remains uniquely authoritative for us and for all generations of Christians” (CFC, #86).

bible GIF

But the Holy Spirit’s work in Scripture touches more than its human authors: in some fashion it also touches both the proclaimers and the hearers of the word. “In the sacred books the Father who is in heaven comes lovingly to meet His children, and talks with them” (DV 21). Scripture thus supports and invigorates the Church (cf. CCC 131-33). It strengthens our faith, offers food for our souls, and remains a pure and lasting fount for our spiritual lives.

my s GIF

Through the Spirit “God’s word is living and effective” (Heb 4:12). But we realize that what was written in the Spirit must be proclaimed and heard in the Spirit” (CFC #87).

GIF Credits: Giphy.com

Thank you for reading this post. Subscribe or follow this website for more updates.

 

 

 

Some Factors Why Clerical Abuse Persists in the Catholic Church

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1. Introduction

Why many cases of clerical abuse in the Catholic Church remained unresolved  is often attributed to the conspiracy of bishops, supervisory priests, and erring clerics. With this collusion, the reporting and prosecution of cases become difficult and tedious. Cover-up as well as mere transferring of assignment, instead of bringing the accused to justice, seem to be the common response of bishops in dealing with criminal abuse of secular priests such as sexual abuse. Cardinal Law who resigned as Archbishop of Boston on 11 April 2002, for instance, admitted that he just transferred pedophile priests to new parishes despite knowing that they are guilty [1]. Clerical abuse has caused scandals and severe damage to the Church not only spiritually but also financially. Dioceses in the United States, for example, have paid out more than US$2 billion in compensation claims. In July 2007 alone, the Los Angeles diocese paid out US$660 million to 500 victims. In Canada 81 victims at the Mount Cashel Orphanage were paid US$16 million in 2003[2]. Thus, one may ask: Why is clerical abuse persisting in the Catholic Church?

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2. Canonical Standards

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The main legal normative standard in the Catholic Church is the Code of Canon Law. Canon law is the name for the law of the Catholic Church that includes the Code of Canon Law (CCL) and many other canonical documents issued by Popes, Roman Congregations, Bishops’ Conferences and Bishops. “Whereas moral, sacramental and even pastoral theology can only indicate what is fitting and proper conduct, leaving it to each faithful to make responsible use of his freedom to act accordingly” (Achacoso, 2010, p.188). But Canon Law is said to stipulate what is juridically binding and hence owed if not outright enforceable” (Ibid). However, most of the canonical provisions, unlike the state’s penal code, deal with church administration, general norms, hierarchical structure, institutes of consecrated life, and only a few concerning criminal offenses of the clergy such as sexual abuse of minors that require penal punishments.[3]

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One of these provisions include canon 1395 of the 1983 CCL explicitly provides that sexual contact with a minor qualifies as one of four classifications of sexual offenses for which a priest may be permanently removed from the clerical state. The other three grounds include any form of coerced sex, a public offense against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue, and continued open concubinage with a woman after an official warning. Permanent removal from the clerical state constitutes one of the most serious penalties contemplated by canon law. Canon 1389 of the 1983 Code also imposes a penalty including deprivation of ecclesiastical office, for bishops or officials who abuse church power or omit through culpable negligence to perform an act of ecclesiastical governance. “A bishop who fails to employ the appropriate provisions of canon law in a case of sexual abuse of a minor is liable to penal sanctions imposed by the Holy See” (Coughlin, 2003, p.980).

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The penalties under CCL against clerical abuse are of two types: expiatory and medicinal. On the one hand, the expiatory penalties aim to deter offenders, to restore right order and to repair the harm caused to the community. They include removing a parish priest because of sexual abuse. Medicinal penalties, on the other hand, are aimed at reforming the offender. They include penalties such as excommunication, interdict, and suspension. Unless they are automatic penalties, the offender must be warned first and told if he carries out this action then he will be suspended (c. 1347) (Daly, 2009, p.34). An excommunication (c. 1331) is the harshest penalty in the Catholic Church. This means that the priest is cut off or expelled from the Church. This sanction is usually reserved for serious cases such as a priest marrying a woman in civil court without authority. An interdict (c.1332) is a medicinal censure that “prohibits a person from ministerial participation in and reception of the sacraments and sacramentals.” A suspension (c.1333) prohibits the clergy from “some or all acts of the power of orders” and the “power of governance,” (such as performing the sacraments or administering Church property), or from “some or all rights or functions attached to their offices” (such as witnessing marriage [4].

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Despite the strict provisions of some canons of CCL against clerical abuse, canonical penalties are only seen by the Church as a last resort when all other pastoral efforts to help the erring individual by warnings, instruction etc. have been exhausted and have failed (c. 1341). Pope Francis’ address to the Roman Rota, the Church ecclesiastical court, for instance, exhorted canon lawyers to consider, above all, mercy and compassion, when applying canonical sanctions to specific cases in the Church (Mckenna, 2015, p.19). This ecclesial attitude towards mercy rather than strict legality implies that the legal standard is not the absolute normative standard in the Church. It is then only one of the many normative criteria to consider when judging misbehavior of priests. Other non-canonical and informal ecclesial norms that do not prescribe penal sanctions must first be explored by bishop-judges or supervisory priests who are handling abuse cases before turning over abusive priests to the civil authority.

2. Non-Canonical Normative Standards

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The Catholic Church as a complex religious institution in society does not only have a legal code but also a myriad of doctrinal, ethical, sacramental, and moral normative standards to judge orthodoxy of human acts and beliefs of church members and priests. It is also surrounded by a variety of the social and cultural norms of society which can influence ecclesiastical decision-making.

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In the absence of a professional judicial system, the varied and conflicting use and applications of the Church’s normative standards by bishops or church officials may not be always subject to judicial review. The CCL has given the bishops or local ordinaries vast discretionary powers in their dioceses to decide cases in their own jurisdictions. The Vatican seldom interferes in local cases unless these erupted into public scandals such as the sexual abuse of priests in the United States that attracted the attention of the Pope and Roman Curia.

Under this environment of normative pluralism, ecclesial investigators then encounter a multiplicity of normative considerations aside from the legal provisions of Code of the Canon Law (CCL), the legal code of the Church, in deciding canonical cases.[5] Legality is not the only criteria for the Church hierarchy in deciding cases, but also morality and, ultimately, the unity of the Church as one Body of Christ. “The Church’s response to clerical abuse undergirds the belief that criminal abuse by clergy should be sanctioned by the Church internally—if at all—in accordance with canonical commands of contrition and forgiveness, and not by civil authorities” (Logan, p. 321-321). The State’s version of legality is not the only standard for Church to judge clerical abuse.

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Aside from the institutional concern of applying appropriate norms and sanctions to specific cases of clerical abuse, the Church also complies with society’s cultural norms and expectations concerning religious institutions. Thus, bishops face with a variety of normative criteria in deciding complex cases of clerical misbehavior. Although the CCL provisions are clear against clerical abuse, such as sexual abuse against minors, the bishops can choose from other religious and cultural normative standards to judge clerical abuse with the view of protecting the image of the Church in society, avoiding public scandals that undermine the moral authority of the Church in society.

GIF Credits: Giphy.com

References

[1] The Guardian.2010. “How the Boston Globe exposed the abuse scandal that rocked the Catholic Church”. Retrieved 3 May 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/apr/21/boston-globe-abuse-scandal-catholic.

[2] Brendan Daly, “Sexual Abuse and Canon Law”, Compass Review 23, (4) (2009), 33. Retrieved 3May 2017, http://compassreview.org/summer09/5.pdf.

[3] Canon law is the of the Catholic Church. It includes the Code of Canon Law and many other canonical documents issued by Popes, Roman Congregations, Bishops’ Conferences and Bishops. The current ecclesiastical code in the Catholic Church is the Code of Canon Law for the Latin Church was promulgated on January 25,1983, and went into effect on the First Sunday of Advent that same year (Daly, 2009, p.33). In the Catholic Church, very few rules carry a penalty. Only those few actions that injure the life of the Church or seriously imperil the soul of the offender carry a penalty (King, 2011, p.13).

[4]“Canon 1395 of the 1983 of the 1983 CCL explicitly provide that sexual contact with a minor qualifies as one of four classifications of sexual offenses (the other three include any form of coerced sex, a public offense against the 6th commandment, continued open concubinage with a woman after an official warning) for which a priest may be permanently removed the clerical state (Coughlin, 2003, p.980).

[5] See Code of Canon Law. Available at http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/_INDEX.HTM.

[6] Canon Law, Crimes, and Fitting Punishments. Retrieved from http://www.ewtn.com/library/CANONLAW/zfitpunish.HTM.