Friday, April 19, 2013

Yeah, We Already Knew This!


Javier said...

Because the Sisters are not representative of the average catholic population. They are a self-selected, highly motivated, and highly focused, subset of the catholic population. The average catholic doesn't know the Bible and does not read it, and he is not consistently being encouraged to change.

Timothy said...


Are you suggesting that the bishops and popes are not encouraging Catholics to read their Bibles? I think that is nonsense. Have you read anything of Benedict XVI or Dei Verbum? I teach at a Biblical school designed for the average Catholic and it has full support of our local bishop.

Biblical Catholic said...

"The average catholic doesn't know the Bible and does not read it, and he is not consistently being encouraged to change."

The exact same thing can be said about the average Protestant. What's your point?

Javier said...

I'm suggesting exactly that.
I attend Mass every Sunday, at a cathedral here in Argentina (not the one were Pope Francis was the Archbishop), and yes, say three times a year, the Priest says that reading the Bible is good for you. And that's it.
I have read three books -I think- by Benedict XVI. But again, most catholics haven't.
I haven't read Dei Verbum.
I read my Bible and my Cathecism daily. But I have still to meet another layman here in Argentina who does it.
Of course, the situation in the US might be completely different. But if it is, it could be because of protestant influence. This is a massively catholic country (nominal catholics, that is), were evangelical churches and their bible reading discipline are a very recent phenomenon.


Javier said...

Biblical Catholic,
I thought my point was clearly stated: we catholics don't know the bible, and don't read it.
As for protestants, I don't have any first hand experience. All I can say is, when I see here someone in the subway or bus reading a Bible, 99% of the time it is a Reina Valera (the spanish language equivalent to the KJV).

rolf said...

I agree with biblical catholic, I teach RCIA in my parish and over the last 7 years we have not had any Protestants come through that knew their bible very well! I think this applies to your average Christian in general.

Timothy said...


I would agree with you that there are likely places where the local diocese has not done its job to promote Biblical literacy among the people. Perhaps Argentina is one of those places. But the Church from the highest levels, ie Rome, have been promoting Bible reading for a long while. Again I would point you to the main scripture documents of the last 100 years or so along with the fact that indulgences have been attached to Bible reading as well. I still remember many a Douay- Rheims Bible having that indulgence printed at the beginning of the Bible.

Although I don't want to discount your experiences in Argentina which I take your word for it.

Biblical Catholic said...

If you ever read Christianity Today magazine, at least once a year they run a story about the Biblical illiteracy of the average Evangelical. They ask really obvious questions like what are the Ten Commandments, name the 12 apostles or what is the Sermon on the Mount and get back results that 70-80% or more of self identified Evangelicals can't answer them.

So it's not a problem unique to Catholics.

Biblical illiteracy is a growing problem. It is so bad that traditional Biblical references to things like the Exodus, or Adam and Eve, are no longer recognized by the general public.

If you say something about the apostle Paul people will ask you if he's a cast member on the Jersey Shore or a contestant on American Idol.

Servus Dei said...

I agree with all your points, Biblical literacy seems to be an exceptional talent to many people, not as a common acquaintance.

Here in the Philippines, where the population is also highly Catholics (well, nominal Catholics are also significant), being well-versed in the Bible seem to be unusual.

The sad part here, is that when a common Filipino knew someone who is well-versed with the Bible, the first impression that comes into mind is that you are a Born Again or a Protestant in general.

That's why in my friends, when they knew that I am well-versed in the Bible, they thought that I have a special inclination to priesthood, not as a common trait to be possessed by an average Catholic.


Javier said...


my experience here in Argentina is more or less the same. A catholic who talks a lot about the Bible is perceived as weird. If you talk about the Bible, cite it, or are seen reading it, most people will assume your are either a Jehovah Witness or some sort of evangelical christian.
I'm a craddle catholic, from a family of craddle catholics to the n generation. In my parents home there were several Bibles, some of them very nice editions. It was an object that deserved a lot of respect. But not something you would read. And I think that is the experience for most catholics here. Maybe it is a pre-Vatican II thing, o it is related to former spanish colonies. I don't know.
And I don't see any fundamental change in attitudes. There are here and there some "Bible literacy" courses, that some people learn of, and that very few people attend. Mostly nuns or retired people, as far as I know. But I have no notice of any massive and consistent Bible literacy initiative.

Jim said...

I agree with Javier. I too, love the Bible. As long as our teaching, from primary school to adult has the Catechism dragging the Bible into our learning, it will never be Bible first. When we teach the Bible first and the catechism is used to keep us in the correct pews then Catholics "might" be more Bible oriented.

Biblical Catholic said...

". As long as our teaching, from primary school to adult has the Catechism dragging the Bible into our learning, it will never be Bible first. When we teach the Bible first and the catechism is used to keep us in the correct pews then Catholics "might" be more Bible oriented."

Incorrect...that would be to Protestantize the Catholic Church....Catholics are not Protestants, not everyone should be reading the Bible on their own, and even those who do need to read it under the guidance of the Church. The teaching of the Church is primary, and always must be.

Javier said...


I don't think I agree. It sounds to me like a defensive, "Maginot Line", idea of catholicism. The sort that engendered the Index. Just the other day a friend of mine was suggesting that reading the Bible alone could be dangerous to your Faith. That does not make sense. How ignoring the Word of God could be better that studying it?.
Of course one should use the catechism and every Church document available, and the Fathers, to try to reach the best possible exegesis of a given text. But I don't think avoiding the Bible could be the solution to anything.

Jim said...

Again I agree with Javier. The catechism first approach is the defensive counter reformation approach of the Council of Trent. Let us open the windows let in some fresh air and go out and lead with our (Catholic) way of reading the Bible. Our current failures of keeping Catholics in our pews may be caused by our collective ignorance of scripture. Sadly we can find millions of "ex" Catholics (I don't believe there are any ex's just temporary absentees) in the pews of fundamentalist Bible churches. When are we going to wake up and realize what we are currently doing is not working!

Alessadre said...

I first read the Bible from Genesis through to Revelation when I was five. It was a book & I thought books were for reading. It was a book about God, from God so it was the most important thing I could read. I stuck to reading a chapter or two each day & after a year and a half, made it through. There was much I didn't understand, but that is why questions exist, to learn what we don't understand.

Perhaps that's what we need, the desire to know God so much, we will venture into the Bible & the Catechism, the encyclicals & every other source that teaches us about Whom we love. My understanding has improved & I reread the Bible every few years. My parish is using Jeff Cavins' excellent Great Adventure series and I'm learning more though I've memorized great swathes of the Bible. Perhaps love & hunger to know Him are what we need. If we have have that love and hunger and share them we will be seen as odd but we might also plant some seeds.

Alessandre said...

"Alessandre" (having problems w/ my vision)

Servus Dei said...

Javier and Biblical Catholic, in my understanding, The Catechism entails the Sacred Tradition of the Magisterial understanding of the Catholic faith.

In Catholic education, neither the Bible or the Catechism must take precedence, for the Church give the same and equal value to the Bible and the Tradition, so the Bible and the Catechism must be thought jointly to a student.

That is, if a student is more Bible-oriented, being the Catechism also entails from the Holy Scriptures, joint teaching might boost him to deepen himself into the Catechism.

While those who are more-Catechism oriented, will likewise build an interest to Bible as the Catechism cites to the Holy Scriptures, and being Bible oriented will bring more deepening experience to the Catechism.

Jim said...

I agree sith Servus Dei that both the Bible and the Catechism/Magisterium are needed. Otherwise we would be starting a new Christian denomination every day (Oh I forgot we already have that situation). However, if we lead our educational process with a catechism first approach; the result is the Bible is out of the picture. Yes, we "read" the Bible in our wonderful liturgies. However, these snippets of reading are not the same as studying.

ThisVivian said...

Wasn't partim-partim rejected (or at least reinterpreted) at Vatican II and Tradition reinterpreted more along the (I believe, more correct) lines of "the Church's inspired and authoritative historical interpretation of Scripture as expressed through the Fathers"?

That's one of the more Orthodox ideas; the other common Orthodox idea is that Tradition is ultimate, and that the Scripture is actually just one part of the Tradition (a view much more defensible than p.-p., IMO).

That's a bit oversimplified, but I thought partim-partim (what Biblical Catholic seems to be speaking of) had gone the way of the Dinosaur after the Deluge. I know even Trent refused to make a dogmatic declaration on partim-partim or any of the other theories of the relation of Scripture and Tradition, even when it vastly overstepped its original mandate to "not judge between the variant opinions of the theological schools".

Jason Engel said...

There is a difference, too, in regularly reading the Bible vs. memorizing passages or sets of facts for later recitation (same applies to catechisms, etc etc). Unless you are a speed-reader with an eidetic memory (I envy one of my coworkers), you are better off doing a little of both rather than all of one but none of the other.

losabio said...

I'd wager that anyone who's studying the catechism is almost guaranteed to be studying Scripture to begin with. Can someone help me to imagine a plausible scenario wherein a Catholic person would be reading the CCC but not the Scriptures? CCC vs. the Bible is a imaginary dichotomy. The CCC itself exhorts us to read the Bible:

133 The Church "forcefully and specifically exhorts all the Christian faithful. . . to learn the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ, by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures. Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.

Anonymous said...

Very true losabio...