Sunday, December 17, 2006

Having It Both Ways

Don’t ask me why, but I’ve been having a discussion on a message board about how the OT depicts God as a mass-murdering monster. The well-educated Catholic gentleman with whom I’ve been engaging in most of this discussion argues that this is only the OT God and not the NT one. I reply by asking him where the NT and Catholic Church assert that we are not to accept the OT stories in question as historical fact. He replies that this is beside his point that the NT does not portray God this way. I reply that if it and the Church do not refute the murderous acts of the OT God, then the NT and OT God are reasonably seen as one and the same God. He replies that I need to bone up on metaphorical interpretation of scripture. I reply by asking where the NT or Church teach that the OT stories in question should be interpreted only metaphorically rather than literally. I haven’t received an answer.

This points to a beef I have with Roman Catholicism. It seems to want to have things both ways. On the one hand, it counsels people to look for the metaphorical meaning of biblical stories that we find repugnant and reasonably doubt on a literal level. On the other hand, it never, so far as I’m aware, comes right out and claims that any of these stories are literally false. I surmise that this is because, if it did, it would be more difficult for it to maintain that literal biblical passages granting it the power it has over its followers and its authority to interpret biblical passages metaphorically can be taken seriously. So, like I said, the Church tries to have it both ways and hopes that nobody notices.

Most people seem not to notice, but some of us do.

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