Volume > Issue > Drop the Creed?

Drop the Creed?


By John C. Cort | October 1984

What are we to make of the National Catholic Reporter? Its July 6th issue really makes one won­der. Under a heading, “Forum,” which implies but does not say that the opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the editors, the NCR devoted a full page, with sympathetic illustration, to the opinion of one Tim Unsworth that the Church should “quietly drop the creed from the Sunday liturgy to make more room for the faithful doubter.”

Tim Unsworth is not a theologian. He is di­rector of development at the dental school of Northwestern University in Chicago. In his piece he leans heavily on a long review of Hans Küng’s new book, Eternal Life?, by Thomas Sheehan that ap­peared in the June 14th New York Review of Books. Sheehan is not a theologian either. He is a professor of philosophy at Loyola University in Chicago who is just plain delighted that, as he sees it, “the dismantling of traditional Roman Catholic theology, by Catholics themselves, is by now a fait accompli.”

Sheehan uses the word “scientific” so often that one feels certain, reading along, that before the piece is done we will see some pretty hard evi­dence that (1) the above statement about “disman­tling” is true and not simply wishful thinking on Sheehan’s part, and (2) that Jesus Christ was not born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary, did not per­form many miracles, did not claim to be the Son of God, and did not rise physically from the dead. All these “nots” are what Sheehan wants us to believe make up the “liberal consensus” of the more so­phisticated theologians. Fortunately for us, unfor­tunately for the faithful doubters, Sheehan has nei­ther hard nor soft evidence to support these claims.

Sheehan, for example, suggests that St. John simply made up the story of “Jesus inviting Doubt­ing Thomas to put his fingers into Jesus’ wounds to verify the physicality of his resurrection.” This de­spite John’s protestations in 21:24 of his Gospel that he had himself witnessed the events he report­ed and that his witness was true. Sheehan’s whole approach is based on the assumption that the New Testament writers were pious liars who took a very casual view of the commandment, “Thou shalt not bear false witness.” Common sense alone demands something more “scientific” than Sheehan has pro­duced to support this kind of exegesis.

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