The Bible and the Question of Miracles: Towards a Christian Response
My previous post at Strange Notions underscored the often-unacknowledged philosophical premises at work when believers and non-believers sit down to debate about things biblical. In the course of my argument, I pointed to a possible area of common ground for Catholics and agnostics/atheists. A survey of statements by thinkers as different as Benedict XVI and Bart Ehrman reveals an important agreement upon the reality that everyone carries their own philosophical presuppositions and that a purely... Read More
Bart Ehrman, Benedict XVI, and the Bible on the Question of Miracles
“At its core, the debate about modern exegesis is not a dispute among historians: it is rather a philosophical debate.” - Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) My reflection today revolves around this poignant line from Joseph Ratzinger’s 1988 Erasmus Lecture in which he famously called for a “criticism of criticism.” In penning these words, the German cardinal was looking for a self-criticism of the modern, historical-critical method of biblical interpretation. On the part of those involved... Read More
The Gods of Israel: Does the Bible Promote Polytheism?
“What great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is to us, whenever we call upon him?” This passage from the Book of Deuteronomy was recently proclaimed in the Catholic Church’s Lenten liturgy, and it touched right at the heart of something I have been pondering for some time: evidence of polytheism in the Bible and the relationship between ancient Israelite and Canaanite religious traditions. Popular critics of the Judeo-Christian God frequently focus on the... Read More
Is God Pro-Life or Pro-Death?
by Dr. Matthew Ramage
Filed under Christianity and Violence, The Bible, The Problem of Evil
This is the second in a series of posts on the “dark passages” of the Bible. These are texts which understandably raise the eyebrows of both nonbelievers and believers who encounter them and say, “How can that be in the Bible if it is God’s own word?” In my previous post I took up the problem of violent Old Testament passages in light of Pope Benedict XVI’s claim that violence is contrary to God’s nature. My book Dark Passages of the Bible likewise deals with this and various other... Read More
Violence is Contrary to God’s Nature: Common Ground for Catholics and Atheists
by Dr. Matthew Ramage
Filed under Christianity and Violence, The Bible
Today I’d like to consider an issue on which many atheists and Catholics may—perhaps to their surprise—find a point of common ground. “Violence is incompatible with the nature of God.” This line is not from an atheist but rather from Pope Benedict XVI. The context in which he penned it was his famous (in some circles infamous) Regensburg Address from 2006. In this particular case, he was endeavoring to foster a dialogue with Islam over a theology which “might even lead to the image... Read More