WHO WILL TEACH IT?
by Father Laney, S.J.
A FAIRLY large number of per sons appear to be of the opinion that all the difficulties about religious education in English Schools could be settled by an agreed syllabus which should merely comprise " Simple Bible Teaching:. Such a programme leaves S3MC very vital problems unsolved. of which the first and chief would be to secure teachers who really believe in the Bible.' If, indeed, all the teachers in a school sincerely accepted the Holy Scriptures as the Word of God, free from all error strictly so called, a Catholicchild would not be likely to take much harm in it, provided that reasonable opportunity were offered for direct religious instruction by a Catholic pi lest or teacher. Boothe child cannot be said to he safe whera for example, the
charming young lady who is teaching science lets her pupils know that she
thinks miracles all nonsense, and even, apart from that, sees no use in prayer. Or is she inoculating them with COMmunisot?
Nor can it lightly he supposed that even the teacher who is prepared to give " Simple Bible Teaching is prepared simply to he taught by it. Perhaps our Catholics, perplexed by Protestant controversy, are rather too quick to be frightened by the appeal to Scripture, and are apt to take up the attitude that " anybody can prove anything from the Bible." Which, of course, is not the case: if we could presuppose a sincere and universal acceptance of the Bible as the true Word of God, we could make short work of most anti-Catholic argument. The early Protestants, it is true, were wont to assume that they could win on that issue, but the Catholic champions were not slow to point out their mistake, which modern (and most of all modernist) Protestants are not likely to repeat.
Scripture, in fact, is flot so Vague, is not such a double-edged weapon as that; nor is it in accord either with divine wisdom or Catholic tradition to regard it as such. Some of the Fathers of the Church with some other Catholk writers are so ready in fact to stake all upon the Scriptures, that Cardinal Franzelin, for instance, hi his classic treatise on Tradition and Scripmre.1 is at some pains to show that they did not mean to exclude altogether the appeal to Tradition. Even of St. Thomas Aquinas Father Hugh Pope writes that " for St. Thomas the euthority of Scripture is absolute... The sole rule of faith, he says, is the Canonic Scriptures.2 Of course, this does not imply any denial of the infallibility of Pope and Church; but still less does it imply any doubt that the Catholic faith could be drawn from Holy Writ.
INFALLIBLE CHURCH ONLY
It is true, and too familiar to need expositiop here, that only the infallible Church can tell us what is Scripture and what is not; but it should be added that the New Testament again andmagain appeals to the Old, and alwlys to the Old, as tieing absolutely and divinely true. "It is written ": that finishes the matter. Our Lord Himself says in John x, 35, "The Scripture cannot be evaded ": as we might put it in a homely phrase, " You can't get out of it:' It would be easy to press borne this argument at length, as indeed is done in our text-books.
Holy Scripture is full of .miracles and prophecies; it is dreadful to find how many outside the Church, even anioag those calling themselves Christ ian ministers, doubt or deny them. Is " Simple Bible Teaching " to include teaching the Virgin Birth of Our Lord and His bodily resurrection? Gap anybody seriously doubt that Holy Scripture asserts them? Is not the Real Presence plain in the words of conse cration and in St. John? Perhaps I may mention that in my edition of the prophet Malachy for the Westminster Version I have shown how dearly he prophesied the Sacrifice of the New Testament. and how from the beginning Christian writers understood him to have done so.
Do not St. John and St. Paul make it clear that Christ was true God? Does not Our Lady prophesy in the Magnificat that all generations are to call her blessed—not the generations of Protestants, one would think I But Catholics fulfil the prophecy every time they.say a Hail Mary.
Of St. Peter I need not speak; Catholics know where to took for the proof of his office. But it may be words while to insist hew strongly St. Paul writes of the visible unity of the Church; to mention but a single passage, " There is to be but one body and one spirit" (Eithes, iv, 4), one body, as we should say, and one soul, not a soul trying to collect together a number of disconnected limbs. The Church, indeed, is the single bride of the single husband, Christ fEphes. v., a2-32). Much more might bc adduced to the same effect.
" Search the Scriptures," sasys Our Lord (John v., 39); and in view of what the Popes have said and done, there is no re,ason to hide the fact that it would he better if Catholics did settler more in the way of searching the Scriptures. Still, as a matter of fact, the imperative seems to be conditipnal. " Destroy this temple," said Our Lord, " and I will raise it up again " (John ii, 19); that is, " If you destroy it, I will raise it up again." And here He seems to mean, " If you search the Scriptures, you will find that they bear witness to Me "; as indeed they du, both to Cbrist and the Church. But one has to believe then first: and is such belief in them to be a part of Simple Bible Teaching?
Thet is a question of tremendous national importance.
1 De Traditione et Scripture, ed. 3, Rome, 1882: thesis 19 on Tradition.
2 St. Thontas Aquinas: being
papers read at the sixth centenary of his canonisation. Oxford. Blackwell, 1925; p. 122.