Quick Note: If you ever talk with me or write me, just be aware that it could become an article on this website.
1 Peter 3:15 says "...Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence;"
I have to work hard on gentleness and reverence when someone attacks my beliefs because they are also attacking the Catholic Church as far as I'm concerned: This article was inspired by a Protestant Christian who said some of my content was "out of context" and even used "that ain't Bible" when sharing what scripture does and doesn't say according to this individuals interpretation of scripture.
But what makes my interpretation different? I no longer take a Protestant approach to private interpretation of scripture. I can tell you from experience that it became very confusing at times trying to figure out what I thought vs. other interpretations. Now, I want to know what the Catholic Church says about how a particular verse or verses should be interpreted. ( FYI, read the full article to understand this better. )
A Fun Fact That You Might Not Know: The Catholic Church is actually silent on many verses. For example, Creation and Genesis, was it literally 6 days that lasted 24 hours each? "Catholics are at liberty to believe that creation took a few days or a much longer period, according to how they see the evidence, and subject to any future judgment of the Church (Pius XII’s 1950 encyclical Humani Generis 36–37 - source )." At the end of the day ( pun intended ), does this example really matter what one chooses to believe? It is indeed true that some verses are more important than others.
More On The Protestant View: "Out of Context" - "That ain't Bible"
1) If a protestant looks at the Catholic interpretation through protestant lenses, it's going to likely yield an out of context remark.
The problem with this is ON WHOSE AUTHORITY is the correct interpretation based? I work hard to make sure that I have the accurate Catholic Church ( authority - read the whole article ) position when necessary as it relates to scripture.
2) If a protestant believes ( most do ) in the BIBLE ALONE ( scripture alone - sola scriptura ), then it's likely to yield a "that ain't Bible" or the most popular one "where is that in the Bible?"
The problem with this is that the BIBLE ALONE "ain't Bible." No where in the whole Bible does the Bible say that everything has to be in the Bible. The classic verse protestants like to bring up is that "All scripture is inspired by God..." in 2 Timothy 3:16. I believe that, but it doesn't say that ONLY scripture is inspired by God nor does the Bible tell us what books belong in the Bible. The Bible didn't drop out of the sky with a table of contents. In other words, the BIBLE ALONE is a made up doctrine of the reformers in the 1500's that is NOT supported by the BIBLE.
The reformers started doing their own private interpretation of scripture which quickly lead to them disagreeing with each other and the protestant free for all dance began. The reformers rejected the authority of the Catholic Church, so they ended up starting their own Churches based on their own individual ( Luther, Calvin, Zwingli and more ) interpretation of scripture. And so rampant private interpretation has been alive and well for 500 years now and it's a key reason why there are so many protestant churches.
What the attitude of "that ain't Bible" leads to is keeping professing Christians fighting amongst themselves when all Christians should be doing what Christ commanded in Matthew 28:19-10 "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you;....." That's direct from JESUS CHRIST himself not a man. Interesting, Jesus didn't say, "Go give them this book I'm leaving you and tell them to read it deciding for themselves what to believe." Ever thought about that one? Chew on it for a bit. It may taste bitter depending on your view.
Who decides what's "out of context" and what "ain't Bible?" By whose authority is context and what is and is not proper Bible interpretation to be determined? For many protestants, it's their own personal authority as they feel led by the spirit. But wait, here comes the roller coaster ride: If I don't agree with you and you don't agree with me and the other two people in the room don't agree with each other or the two us who don't agree and we are all being led by the same spirit, what's missing? The answer is AUTHORITY that was passed on from Jesus to the apostle's to their successors. The same spirit is not going to lead everyone different ways. That's ludicrous.
Most people have no issue with the authority of Jesus and the apostle's. As a matter of fact, many people often talk more about what Paul taught than what Jesus himself said. We all know Jesus has the supreme authority. However, Paul was a great man of God and we can see clearly in the New Testament that the great men of God appointed other men of God to lead and GO PREACH. When did Jesus ever command GO WRITE?
The early Church was growing so much that there was far too much to be done for the 11 original apostle's, Matthias who replaced Judas and Paul who was called by Christ on the road to Damascus. There are many names mentioned in the New Testament of men that were ordained by the apostle's. This is why I believe apostolic succession is far more logical and acceptable than the protestant free for all: "It's out of context. That ain't Bible." In case you don't know it, the Catholic Church teaches scripture and tradition.
Sorry, I don't buy into the authority of ME. Been there, done that, and authority is one of the critical areas for me when it comes to the Catholic Church. Either the Catholic Church has authority or it doesn't. That doesn't mean that I worship the Church. Christ is still my Savior, but something greater than ME has to have authority on this earth.
You may not like it, but Christ didn't set up a free for all mess like we have today that is primarily caused by private interpretation of scripture that is most often started by one man ( sometimes a woman ) that founded a denomination, non-denomination or whatever kind of church one wants to call it that leads to endless, senseless bickering among professing Christian's. Remember, The Great Commission is GO TELL not GO YELL amongst your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
A Biblical Example Of Someone Ordained By The Apostle's Interpreting Scripture...
Would you agree that someone directly ordained by the apostle's with the laying on of hands has some authority? Let me here an AMEN! That's an example of apostolic succession whether you agree with it or not.
Philip is one of 7 deacons mentioned in Acts 6:5. In Acts 6:6, Philip is part of the needs of the growing Church "Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them." Did the apostle's have authority? YES - Did the apostle's pass on that authority to other men of God? YES - Were they all one Church during this time of the growing Church in Acts without division of a different denomination on every corner of the block because of private interpretation over doctrinal differences? YES - If not, the apostle's would have straightened it our or cast them out.
Why is it so "freakin" hard for people not to grasp that the authority has been never ending since the time of Jesus and the apostle's? It is because of MANMADE doctrine on private interpretation of scripture and rejecting the authority of the Catholic Church. Again, that's what happened with the reformation. Sadly, much of Catholic Church history is based on a lot of lies of things like the church going into apostasy and other misconceptions.
I've done my homework and it's not that hard to discover the TRUTH if you let the barriers of SELF get out of the way. You cannot see the TRUTH if you don't want to see it especially when it might not match up with what you have believed all your life.
In Acts 8:29-31 "And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go up and join this chariot.” So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless some one guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him." The text goes on with Philip sharing the good news of Jesus and Baptizing the eunuch. Then Philip was caught up by the spirit but found in Azo'tus and "preached the gospel to all the towns till he came to Caesare′a."
Remember, Philip was not just some random man that walked up to this chariot. Philip was ordained by the laying on of hands by the apostle's which has never ended since the time of Christ.
"Apostolic Tradition is the transmission of the message of Christ, brought about from the very beginnings of Christianity by means of preaching, bearing witness, institutions, worship, and inspired writings. The apostles transmitted all they received from Christ and learned from the Holy Spirit to their successors, the bishops, and through them to all generations until the end of the world." ref. CCC 75-79, 83, 96, 98 - Catechism of the Catholic Church
As a protestant, I struggled with many interpretations of scripture. That's because of my own private interpretation or those of other men who could NOT agree with each other which made it even more confusing.
Think about it: Who has more authority? the local congregation Pastor at the Southern Baptist church preaching once saved always saved or the televangelist ( Joel Osteen, Jimmy Swaggart, etc.) or Billy Graham or Martin Luther from the 1500's ? That's the problem. There is no authority in this scenario except the individual. Yeah David, but they are all led by the Holy Spirit. We'll why don't they all agree? Rest assured, if Jesus and the apostle's were here on earth ( physically ) in modern times, it would likely be a house cleaning to beat all house cleanings and there would be only ONE Church teaching the same things which by the way is how it started out in the time of Christ. Stop and think, did Jesus want us all to be one? Does he still want us all to be one?
Galatians 2:20 "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."
When all is said and done, all Christians likely have a lot of agreement on the verse above. Why don't we spend more time living like it? Me included. Sadly, if I personally get attacked or I see others attacking the Catholic faith, I will likely continue to write content like this. However, I want to endure to the end and one day spend eternity in the presence of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I'll close with several things from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. However, if you deny the authority of the Catholic Church and lean on your own private interpretation then what is mentioned below will likely fall on deaf ears. All I can do is share it. It's not my job to force feed anyone.
1 Corinthians 2:9 "But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him,” God may have more in store for you than you know, but are you open to discovering what that is? Don't let self get in the way of discovering the TRUTH.
III. The Holy Spirit, Interpreter of Scripture
109 In Sacred Scripture, God speaks to man in a human way. To interpret Scripture correctly, the reader must be attentive to what the human authors truly wanted to affirm, and to what God wanted to reveal to us by their words.
110 In order to discover the sacred authors' intention, the reader must take into account the conditions of their time and culture, the literary genres in use at that time, and the modes of feeling, speaking and narrating then current. "For the fact is that truth is differently presented and expressed in the various types of historical writing, in prophetical and poetical texts, and in other forms of literary expression."
111 But since Sacred Scripture is inspired, there is another and no less important principle of correct interpretation, without which Scripture would remain a dead letter. "Sacred Scripture must be read and interpreted in the light of the same Spirit by whom it was written."
The Second Vatican Council indicates three criteria for interpreting Scripture in accordance with the Spirit who inspired it.
112 1. Be especially attentive "to the content and unity of the whole Scripture". Different as the books which compose it may be, Scripture is a unity by reason of the unity of God's plan, of which Christ Jesus is the center and heart, open since his Passover.
The phrase "heart of Christ" can refer to Sacred Scripture, which makes known his heart, closed before the Passion, as the Scripture was obscure. But the Scripture has been opened since the Passion; since those who from then on have understood it, consider and discern in what way the prophecies must be interpreted.
113 2. Read the Scripture within "the living Tradition of the whole Church". According to a saying of the Fathers, Sacred Scripture is written principally in the Church's heart rather than in documents and records, for the Church carries in her Tradition the living memorial of God's Word, and it is the Holy Spirit who gives her the spiritual interpretation of the Scripture (". . . according to the spiritual meaning which the Spirit grants to the Church").
114 3. Be attentive to the analogy of faith. By "analogy of faith" we mean the coherence of the truths of faith among themselves and within the whole plan of Revelation.
The senses of Scripture
115 According to an ancient tradition, one can distinguish between two senses of Scripture: the literal and the spiritual, the latter being subdivided into the allegorical, moral and anagogical senses. the profound concordance of the four senses guarantees all its richness to the living reading of Scripture in the Church.
116 The literal sense is the meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture and discovered by exegesis, following the rules of sound interpretation: "All other senses of Sacred Scripture are based on the literal."83
117 The spiritual sense. Thanks to the unity of God's plan, not only the text of Scripture but also the realities and events about which it speaks can be signs.
1. the allegorical sense. We can acquire a more profound understanding of events by recognizing their significance in Christ; thus the crossing of the Red Sea is a sign or type of Christ's victory and also of Christian Baptism.
2. the moral sense. the events reported in Scripture ought to lead us to act justly. As St. Paul says, they were written "for our instruction".
3. the anagogical sense (Greek: anagoge, "leading"). We can view realities and events in terms of their eternal significance, leading us toward our true homeland: thus the Church on earth is a sign of the heavenly Jerusalem.
118 A medieval couplet summarizes the significance of the four senses:
The Letter speaks of deeds; Allegory to faith;
The Moral how to act; Anagogy our destiny.
119 "It is the task of exegetes to work, according to these rules, towards a better understanding and explanation of the meaning of Sacred Scripture in order that their research may help the Church to form a firmer judgement. For, of course, all that has been said about the manner of interpreting Scripture is ultimately subject to the judgement of the Church which exercises the divinely conferred commission and ministry of watching over and interpreting the Word of God."
But I would not believe in the Gospel, had not the authority of the Catholic Church already moved me.
134 All Sacred Scripture is but one book, and this one book is Christ, "because all divine Scripture speaks of Christ, and all divine Scripture is fulfilled in Christ" (Hugh of St. Victor, De arca Noe 2,8:PL 176,642: cf. ibid. 2,9:PL 176,642-643).
135 "The Sacred Scriptures contain the Word of God and, because they are inspired, they are truly the Word of God" (DV 24).
136 God is the author of Sacred Scripture because he inspired its human authors; he acts in them and by means of them. He thus gives assurance that their writings teach without error his saving truth (cf. DV 11).
137 Interpretation of the inspired Scripture must be attentive above all to what God wants to reveal through the sacred authors for our salvation. What comes from the Spirit is not fully "understood except by the Spirit's action' (cf. Origen, Hom. in Ex. 4, 5: PG 12, 320).
138 The Church accepts and venerates as inspired the 46 books of the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New.
139 The four Gospels occupy a central place because Christ Jesus is their center.
140 The unity of the two Testaments proceeds from the unity of God's plan and his Revelation. The Old Testament prepares for the New and the New Testament fulfills the Old; the two shed light on each other; both are true Word of God.
141 "The Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures as she venerated the Body of the Lord" (DV 21): both nourish and govern the whole Christian life. "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" (Ps 119:105; cf. Is 50:4).