Friday, October 30, 2009

I walked in about ten minutes late, just as Jim was announcing, "You must be born again." Maybe it's to my credit that I didn't do an about-face and walk out. Rather, if I'd had my wits about me, I would have taken at least a few steps backwards and teased, "Is this a Catholic Bible study?"

So participants were trying to get at what being born again means. Jim recited a version of the popular sinner's prayer which isn't gospel to alot of Christians. He said that he instructs Catholics bothered by the question whether they are born again to just answer "yes" and move on. I'm not sure that's good advice but I wasn't about to take it up with him then and there.

I was interested in knowing whether he thinks born again is a point in time or a progressive thing. I suppose my own experience is a little of both: I can point to moment(s) - yes, plural - when teachings made more sense but also more gradual awareness of the work of the Spirit. Anyway, I didn't ask because it was clear that he really wanted to talk about the sectarianism in John 3 which is amplified in the Letters. And how until VCII, the Catholic Church was pretty sectarian, too, on who was in and who was out. He said now we aren't so unequivocal that only Christians go to heaven and so Catholicism has departed from the Scripture, at least these verses of the Fourth Gospel. He didn't say how he feels about that, whether he approves or disapproves and I couldn't tell. If I had to guess, I'd say he disapproves which I would find terribly surprising.

Now someone said during the break that if one didn't have to be Christian to go to heaven, she'd just as soon be something else. Something "easier." I suppose that would be the expected reaction to such concessions but that option didn't pop so naturally into my head. I see this religion as my calling and I wouldn't think I ought to abandon it.

After the break, we moved into John 4 and Jim pointed out that the NAB is the only English version that consistently translates ἐπίστευσαν (aorist, indicative, active) "imperfectly" as "began to believe." Someone had an older NAB, presumably without the revised New Testament, which read "believed." So Jim said they had it right in 1970 then and made it wrong in the '86 revision. And, of course, there isn't a variant. The NAB NT doesn't take variants anyway. But I was disappointed because this is a case of the NAB NT not being accurate and I don't know whether there's a theological consideration going on: that belief couldn't be complete until the resurrection or Pentecost or something like that. I think if that were the case, Jim would have told us.

Then almost immediately after, I was distracted - using this tool - by the repetition of my name in the text, towards the end: θερισμός [13 occurrences in the KJV] and θερίζω [ 21 occurrences ]. cf. John 4:35-38 [WHNT]. I do take that name seriously, like a vocation, and so I am not terribly willing to let sleeping Catholics lie.

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