Sacred Scripture

james-k-a-smith

Christians Who Shill for the Secular Left

Posted outside my office door is an old cartoon. A bearded professor wearing sandals and carrying a backpack leads a group of wide-eyed undergrads into a land labeled “utopia.” As they merrily march along, they pass an exodus of escaping humanity, fleeing an ash-strewn landscape amid scattered bodies and smoldering ruins. “Isn’t this great?” the [...]

Another Progressive Academic Gets Scripture Wrong

Scholarship, like cooking, is as much a function of what one leaves out as much as what one puts in. Luke Timothy Johnson’s recent Commonweal  essay on Scripture and trans-sexual issues is a case-in-point: what he chose to de-emphasize is as important (I would argue even more so) that what he emphasizes. Johnson seeks to [...]

“Mutual Submission” between Husbands and Wives in Ephesians 5?

Since the promulgation of St. John Paul II’s Mulieris Dignitatem in 1988, Catholics often speak of a “mutual submission” between husbands and wives. Proponents of the idea of mutual submission between spouses, including John Paul himself and Pope Francis in Amoris Laetitia, often cite Ephesians chapter 5, and particularly verse 21—“submitting to one another out [...]

Getting Scripture Wrong: A Response to Harriet Murphy

Dr. Harriet Murphy has taken a leap off a cliff of her own making in her broadside against my essay in Crisis on the female deaconate. She concludes that anyone (namely, me) who accepts the "literal" interpretation of 1 Tim 2:12-14—“I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man"—is somehow [...]

Undermining the Bible for Centuries

In parish lectures I am frequently confronted by parents distraught over their children’s experiences in their Bible courses at colleges and universities across the country. It is not only in the religion departments of state and private universities, but also in Catholic colleges and universities where their children encounter doubts and outright skepticism concerning the [...]

Looking to Heaven Brings Blessings to Earth

In Catholic tradition, three senses of Scripture—the allegorical, the moral, and the anagogical—are built upon the foundation of the literal sense. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church 117, in the anagogical sense we “view realities and events in terms of their eternal significance, leading us to our true homeland: thus the Church on [...]

How Not to Interpret Scripture

There is a class that most college students will take at one point in their academic career. It is the course on Western Civilization—“Western Civ” for short. It is a feeble attempt to supplement the modern college curriculum (typically in two freshman-level courses) with what used to be the very backbone of a liberal education. [...]

The Noah Film and Biblical Interpretation

Bible stories were an important part of my childhood. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know that David slew Goliath and that Cain slew Abel. Meditations on Jacob’s deceitful usurping of Esau’s blessing, and on David’s lamentation over the dead Absalom, formed some of my earliest ideas about the nature of justice and [...]

Using Fiction to Vindicate the Gospels

Recently, I reconnected with a friend from long ago, one of those “reunions” made possible, though impersonal, by the Internet. In the course of catching up with each other, one Facebook message at a time, he revealed that he had abandoned his once vibrant Christian faith because he could not overcome doubts provoked by the [...]

The Promise and Fulfillment of Christmas

Some years ago, when I was recently ordained, it fell upon me to celebrate the Vigil Mass of Christmas at my parish. The pastor, as was his prerogative, always celebrated Midnight Mass, so the other parish Masses were divided between myself and the other associate. The gospel for the Christmas Vigil Mass is the beginning [...]

Benedict XVI on the Christmas Readings

If your family regularly attends the evening Christmas vigil mass, on more than one occasion you may have dreaded the proclamation of the Gospel for this particularly liturgy: “Abijah the father of Asaph. Asaph became the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Joram. Joram the father of Uzziah….” The list of names goes on [...]

Friday Free-for-All: November 12

Time for a few Friday morning links: Yesterday the pope released Verbum Domini, an apostolic exhortation on Sacred Scripture. It's a door-stop of a text -- the 208-page PDF can be read here, or you can read excerpts via Zenit here. A Christian woman has been sentenced to death in Pakistan for "blasphemy." Next week [...]

Brokenness and Sin

A clergyman -- an old friend, actually -- remarked to me recently that he is inclined to view sin and hurt as synonymous. Such remarks arise, surely, from the wish to be compassionate. The idea would be that we mortals stagger along under such burdens and pains laid on us by heredity and environment that [...]

Reading the Bible Like a Grown-Up

As we saw last week, antique atheists like Bill Maher still imagine that people who take the Bible seriously must read it literalistically, as he does. However, there is a difference between literalistic interpretation -- which is the habit of all fundamentalists, whether atheist or Christian -- and the literal sense of Scripture. The Catechism [...]

What about the Day of Wrath?

My thoughts today may have particular import during Lent, but they touch on a subject that is much more far-reaching. Indeed, it is a topic that ought to be inscribed along the horizon of one's imagination in some permanent form, if one is at all serious about his mortal (and, let's face it, his eternal) [...]

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