Monday, August 13, 2007

Scripture & CLT

Prof. Rob Vischer has been hanging with the evangelicals and wonders aloud why Catholic Legal Theory does so little to incorporate Scripture. I wonder in response, why should it? CLT is not a theological discipline but a rarefied hybrid field that works off the distillation of Catholic teaching and practice. To expect Scripture to provide direct guidance or insight into specific aspects of secular law is to demand too much and too little of it -- too much in that Scripture is not primarily a rulebook or answer key to legal/political problems; too little in that Scripture is diminished when it's mined for anything but liturgical formation.

Along with all the apostolic churches, Catholicism requires that Scripture be read and interpreted liturgically. Only out of the Liturgy, that is, prayer of one mind with the Tradition, can the Bible be understood properly. Moral and legal insights can only be gleaned from Scripture through Liturgy. It makes sense that evangelicals, in mostly ignoring this critical principle, would misuse Scripture by presuming it has some direct, practical "application" to the law, which just opens the door to all sorts of ideological invasions and proof-texting flights of fancy.