A blogging catechist takes a shot:
Historical-Critical methodology has been adopted as the sole prism through which to explain and teach Scripture – the Church, as usual, about 100 years behind the Protestants.
Well … I think–I hope–this isn’t specifically about one study method. The so-called “Historical-Critical methodology” is actually a catch-all term for much of modern Scripture scholarship. If anyone has invented a rational approach to studying the Bible over the past century or two, it will get lumped in under the heading of historical (sometimes “higher”) criticism.
If you want to know what I mean by this critique – and we have talked about this quite a bit on this blog – just consider how the Scriptures are often preached in your parish. If a homily on the Sermon on the Mount is centered on explaining how different Matthew and Luke’s settings of the beatitudes are, and then ends with a general exhortation to have hope when you are sad…there you go. If your kids come out of high school religion class knowing their letters: J,P,D and Q – and unable to talk about the scope of salvation history and what it has to do with them, today…there you go. For once it all just literary business, who cares?
My understanding is that these are examples of source-criticism, one of several techniques used in advanced Scripture study. Others would be form criticism (analysis by genre or writing idiom), or redaction criticism (attempts to reconstruct the author’s theology, tradition, or other data), or something like word study (examining a larger work for particular themes, for example the Holy Spirit in Luke and Acts).
If one wants to make an argument that many preachers don’t know how to handle Biblical criticism as a homiletic tool, I’m all ears. Religion catechists, too? I’m a believer. But I think the modern criticism2 movement has it aimed all wrong. It’s like watching people trying to saw wood with a screwdriver, then saying we should outlaw screwdrivers because a few people are misusing them.
Meanwhile, the bishops continue their synod in Rome. Don’t forget to catch the daily posts on the “Bible Blog” at CNS. Check out ideas on homiletics from some of the attending bishops.