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Wednesday, 13 December 2006

Selective bible affirmation

Interesting post from Gerald Augustinus about a Bible version that tailors itself to your name. See The Bible is all about me. You can get the picture from a couple of examples that came up for me:
John 15:15 Fr Tim Finigan is a friend of Christ.
No longer do I call Fr Tim Finigan a servant, for a servant doesn't know what his lord does. But I have called Fr Tim Finigan a friend, for everything that I heard from My Father, I have made known to Fr Tim Finigan.

II Cor. 2:14 Fr Tim Finigan is led triumphantly by Christ.
But thanks be to God, who always leads Fr Tim Finigan in triumph in Christ, and reveals through Fr Tim Finigan the sweet aroma of His knowledge in every place.
I can see the point of encouraging people to understand that the scriptures apply to them personally and this kind of thing could (sparingly) be used as a homiletic device, perhaps. However, the rather self-indulgent feel of overdoing the personalisation is accentuated when you discover that the Personal Promise Bible website also offers print-on-demand Bibles all tailored to your name.

Another question that comes to mind is "Why we should stick only to the nice bits?" How about Psalm 68, for example?
Psalm 68.21-25 Let thy burning anger overtake Fr Tim Finigan.
Fr Tim Finigan gave me poison for food, and for my thirst he gave me vinegar to drink. Let Fr Tim Finigan's own table before him become a snare; let his sacrificial feasts be a trap. Let Fr Tim Finigan's eyes be darkened, so that he cannot see; and make his loins tremble continually. Pour out thy indignation upon Fr Tim Finigan, and let thy burning anger overtake him. May his camp be a desolation, let no one dwell in Fr Tim Finigan's tents.
I think there's an important Catholic/Protestant doctrinal divide here. If our justification is imputed, and we are saved once and for all, then only the nice verses apply to us. But as Catholics, we believe that justification is an interior healing that carries on through life, can be lost through sin, and restored through the sacraments.
For even as no pious person ought to doubt of the mercy of God, of the merit of Christ, and of the virtue and efficacy of the sacraments, even so each one, when he regards himself, and his own weakness and indisposition, may have fear and apprehension touching his own grace; seeing that no one can know with a certainty of faith, which cannot be subject to error, that he has obtained the grace of God. (Council of Trent: Session 6, Decree on Justification. chapter 9)

No one, moreover, so long as he is in this mortal life, ought so far to presume as regards the secret mystery of divine predestination, as to determine for certain that he is assuredly in the number of the predestinate; as if it were true, that he that is justified, either cannot sin any more, or, if he do sin, that he ought to promise himself an assured repentance; for except by special revelation, it cannot be known whom God hath chosen unto Himself. (ibid. chapter 12)
Catholics would do well to become more familiar with Trent's Decree on Justification: regarded as probably the finest statement of the Council of Trent. Ecumenical programmes involving Catholics and evangelical Christians often simply assume a protestant understanding of justification - and the Catholics rarely notice. Here is a link for the text of the 6th Session of the Council of Trent, which contains the Decree on Justification.
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