Drop the Creed?
CHRIST & NEIGHBOR
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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