One of the impediments to taking the gospel into the age into which we are now entering is fundamentalism. Fundamentalism is the tendency to take the Scriptures and the history of the Church which follows them outside of their own context and to treat them as if they have come straight from God without human intermediaries.
Everything that we have in the Scriptures and in the history of the Church has happened within particular contexts. These contexts often explain the form in which the gospel was expressed and the particular forms of faith expression which belong to that time.
Looking at the Scriptures, we can see a history of the development of the understanding of God and God’s relationship to human beings. His word was always expressed in the words of human beings and so the language and the culture of the time needed to be understood to really get to the bottom of the meaning of the texts. This history enshrined in the Scriptures is very important as it lets us see the gradual refinement of the understanding of God which is presented there. So experts in the study of the Scriptures not only learn the original languages in which the Scriptures were written but also they also learn as much as they can about the background and culture of the various times recorded therein.
Fundamentalism ignores all that human background within which the revelation of God occurs. It ignores the fundamental form of the revelation of God throughout the Scriptures which is described by the word “covenant”. The covenant was a word used to describe the relationship of God and human beings. God did not just speak, but he evoked and sought to evoke further the response of human beings to his self-revealing.
Throughout the Scriptures, we have a dialogue going on between God and human beings and especially between God and those human beings who were significant in his plan, people like Abraham, Moses, the prophets, the psalmists and of course above all Jesus himself who was the word of God become a human being.
What is true of the Scriptures is also true of the significant people in the history of the Church and the writings they have handed down to us – the Ecumenical Councils, the Popes, the Fathers of the Church, the spiritual writers, the great theologians as well as the theologians and spiritual figures of our own day.
By Fr Frank O’Loughlin
Thank you Fr. Frank for another interesting explanation of how some people can get the wrong understanding of our Catholic faith.
Thanks for another short but interesting article to explain how the scriptures are to be considered in our times