The ‘Splainer: What is an encyclical?

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(RNS) When Al Smith ran for president in 1928, his status as the first Catholic to head a major party ticket was challenged on the basis that he would have to follow papal encyclicals, not the U.S. Constitution. “What the hell is an encyclical?” Smith reportedly replied.

  • TheCountess

    Will this comment be posted?
    Man’s ever involvement with his ‘religion’. Vain imaginations and pompous pride. Adding or taking away from what has already been given as ‘pure’ and undefined. God gave humankind all they need to know in order ‘to become the sons of God’, ‘grow in grace and knowledge’ and ‘make their calling and election sure’. Instead, man listens to man. This is not an accusation, but a plea for understanding, anything man devises is of man and it stays there. Religion is just that. If one wants to know God, they must come by way of the only way; ‘No man cometh before the Throne of Grace, but by Me’ (Jesus).
    Too few are Bible scholars as evidenced by this sinful world. Yet, all is inside scripture and nothing else needs be given. If one wants God in their life, they must go to the source, The Bible. There is no other way. And few there be that find it.

  • JR

    Wrong. The Bible is a foundational source for Christianity, but interpreted privately without knowledge of the time it was written, or the author’s intent, will lead to multiple meanings and chaotic understanding.
    A Papal encyclical properly defines Scripture as it relates to modern problems also. It does not change Scripture, but explains its relevance to a new generation as the world changes. If read unaided by any authoritative teacher, the reader can conclude erroneous thoughts that the Scripture is not saying.

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  • NoWayJose

    Bible was written by men, heavily edited, hundreds of years after the death of Jesu Christo. The best parts were left in a cave in the desert.