December 8, 2019

Different accounts of Jesus birth and infancy—the Christmas stories found in Matthew 1—2 and Luke 1—2—are irreconcilable and beyond reasonable harmonization. Last time we explored why it was highly unlikely that the two accounts of Jesus’ birth and infancy originated with Mary or Joseph. There we repeated something often claimed in this series of posts, namely that the two Infancy Narratives of “Matthew” and “Luke” are very different. Why do Biblical scholars, such as Raymond E. Brown, regard the Infancy… Read more

December 5, 2019

Memoirs, whether of Mary or Joseph, being used as the sources for Gospel Infancy Narratives is highly unlikely and can’t sufficiently explain them. Memoirs of Mary and Joseph! It has to be! This is what many Catholics and other Christians think when asked for explanation about the origins of the Gospel stories of Jesus’ birth and youth. But does this popular, nonscholarly idea really hold up to scrutiny? The New Testament is a library of 27 documents. Only two of… Read more

December 4, 2019

Manger scene messiness—learn to know from which Gospel the different elements come. As we have been discussing, we American Christians are so obsessed with facts. We regularly fail to distinguish truth and facts. Modern Western culture is unique in that it identifies truth with factuality. How do we check our obsessions when it comes to our Christmas devotions and observances? For example, how does all this affect how we view our Manger Scenes? Last time we explained that Stage Three… Read more

December 3, 2019

Magisterial documents help deepen our appreciation and understanding of the birth accounts in “Matthew” and “Luke.” “Magisterial” means authoritative, namely authoritative in a teaching way. Sound teaching is needed, particularly when much spurious familiarity and false assumptions abound.  It is not magisterial (not official Church teaching) that we Catholics cannot question the historicity of the birth narratives of Matthew 1—2 and Luke 1—2. No magisterial statement is in force demanding Catholics accept these stories as literally historical. We read about… Read more

December 2, 2019

Historical or truthful?—there are reasons for thinking that the biblical stories of Jesus’ birth are not historical in many details. Historical? Or true? Aren’t they one and the same? Alas, 21st century Americans have a hard time making distinctions between truth and facts. We are so science-obsessed, so fact-precise, we mistake truth and facts constantly. The West is the only culture that cannot distinguish truth and facts. All facts are true but not all truths are facts. Thus truth is… Read more

November 30, 2019

Knowing the historical Jesus may be harder than it seems, but there are some things we can presuppose about him with reasonable certitude. Knowing  Jesus—do we? Do we care to? In our last post, we took an uncomfortable look at various congenial Jesuses, constructs invented or perpetuated by contemporary American Catholicism. These beloved fake Jesuses are identity thefts that keep us from knowing the real Jesus. Not only do they distort the Church’s official Christological understandings, but they are also… Read more

November 26, 2019

Fake Jesuses may be popular among U.S. Christians, but we distort and misrepresent the real deal. Fake Jesus is far more preferable to people than the genuine article. By “fake” I mean the ethnocentric identity theft of Jesus’ name given to ideas more congenial to American cultural values. Fake Jesus equals congenial Jesus. This past Sunday was the Solemnity of Christ the King. American Catholics ought to ask: Who is this Jesus we celebrate as king of the universe? In… Read more

November 23, 2019

Omniscience—God knows everything, but our free future actions lack existence. Omniscience is the knowledge attributed to God. But what does omniscience mean? What is the scope of omniscience? Can God know our free future acts? Does God really foresee the future? And if so, how? Wouldn’t doing so thereby destroy our freedom? These are some of the theological and philosophical questions grappled over by the late great Thomist, W. Norris Clarke. In The One and the Many: A Contemporary Thomistic… Read more

November 18, 2019

Answers to ancient Mediterranean problems come varied and contradictory in the library called “Bible.” Answers. People need answers. Desperate for answers, many Christians misrepresent the Bible as a book of answers dropped down from heaven. They act as if it has all the answers to every possible question. But the Bible does not give direct answers to 21st century American problems. Beyond that, the Bible does not provide only one answer for any problem of any culture or time. Please… Read more

November 16, 2019

Revelation is a confusing book made even more so by Western cultural baggage and expectations. Considering that November in Catholic thought reminds us the Last Things, I thought it might be appropriate to post something on the Bible’s last book: Revelation. This post will not come anywhere near to exhaustively covering the wonderful, ancient, and sacred document. I would just like to explore briefly three concepts featured within the book—cities, visions, and the sky. In doing that, we might see the… Read more

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