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30 • Part I. The Creed: The Faith Professed

authors used within the specific cultural circumstances in which they

were writing.

The Church’s response to Fundamentalism is that Revelation is

transmitted by Apostolic Tradition and Scripture together. The Church

and Apostolic Tradition existed before the written New Testament. Her

Apostles preached the Gospel orally before writing it down. The Apostles

appointed bishops to succeed them with the authority to continue their

teaching. Scripture alone is insufficient. Authoritative teaching is also

needed. That is given to us by the Church’s teaching office. Catholics,

then, accept Scripture and Tradition as one “sacred deposit of the Word

of God” (CCC, no. 97, citing DV, no. 10). Although this sets us apart

from those who believe only in the Bible as their source of revelation,

Catholics accept and honor both Scripture and Tradition “with equal

sentiments of devotion and reverence”

(CCC, no. 82, citing DV, no. 9).

In response to biblical literalism, the Church holds that “the books

of Scripture firmly, faithfully and without error, teach that truth which

God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the sacred

Scriptures” (DV, no. 11). At the same time, the Church recognizes that

the interpreter of Scripture needs to attend to the literary forms—such

as poetry, symbol, parable, history, song, or prayer—in which the Bible

is written. The interpreter “must look for that meaning which the sacred

writer . . . given the circumstance of his time and culture, intended to

express and did in fact express, through the medium of a contemporary

literary form” (DV, no. 12).

Historical Reductionism

Another challenge comes from scholars and others who deny the super-

natural aspects of the Gospels, such as the Incarnation, Virgin Birth, mir-

acles, and the Resurrection. We call this


because it reduces

all Scripture to the natural order and eliminates the reality of divine


The Church’s Pontifical Biblical Commission has dealt with

approaches of this kind in its publications

Instruction on the Historical

Truth of the Gospels


The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church