Can a "normal Joe" interpret Bible passages/scripture?


#1

Is it the position of the Catholic Church that one cannot properly interpret the Bible?


#2

[quote=malachi_a_serva]Is it the position of the Catholic Church that one cannot properly interpret the Bible?
[/quote]

Malachi,

The answer is “yes, but not authoritatively.” If a regular Joe’s interpretation is in accordance with Catholic doctrine, then that’s fine. If it is in conflict with Catholic doctrine, then he’s mistaken. If Catholic doctrine is silent on the subject of the interpretation, then the interpretation is tentative.

  • Liberian

#3

[quote=Liberian]Malachi,

The answer is “yes, but not authoritatively.” If a regular Joe’s interpretation is in accordance with Catholic doctrine, then that’s fine. If it is in conflict with Catholic doctrine, then he’s mistaken. If Catholic doctrine is silent on the subject of the interpretation, then the interpretation is tentative.

  • Liberian
    [/quote]

Thank you, that seems to answer it.


#4

Test all things according to scripture:

Jer 31:31 "Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah-- 32 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, F23 says the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."


#5

[quote=malachi_a_serva]Is it the position of the Catholic Church that one cannot properly interpret the Bible?
[/quote]

I think it would be more accurate to say that there is no guarantee that an individual can properly interpret the bible. The Church, however, has received this guarantee from Christ, as well as the guarantee to safeguard the entire deposit of faith.


#6

[quote=SolaChristo]Test all things according to scripture:

[/quote]

You can’t test things according to scripure if you don’t know what scripture means. For example, when you test the doctrine of the Real Presence according to scripture, what result do you come up with? What result do Catholics come up with? Now what?


#7

The Church teaching on this is found right in the BIble:

Act 8:30 So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, "Do you understand what you are reading?"
Act 8:31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.

2 Peter 3:16 - …There are some things in [the Scriptures] that are hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.


#8

[quote=Lazerlike42]The Church teaching on this is found right in the BIble:

Act 8:30 So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, "Do you understand what you are reading?"
Act 8:31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.

2 Peter 3:16 - …There are some things in [the Scriptures] that are hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.
[/quote]

Which is why my standard reply to the Fundamentalist/Evangelical who likes to try to debate me with a barage of Scripture verses is this:

Your interpretations of the Scriptures are interesting, but do you claim them to be infallible? End of conversation. :wink:


#9

[quote=Lazerlike42]The Church teaching on this is found right in the BIble:

Act 8:30 So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, "Do you understand what you are reading?"
Act 8:31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.

2 Peter 3:16 - …There are some things in [the Scriptures] that are hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.
[/quote]

Malachi are you a believer? If so you have been given the Spirit of Truth which will lead you to all Truth. The Ethiopian eunich did not have that Spirit of Truth unlil after he came to believe, Dont be lead astray,

Are you unstable? Was Peter talking about you? If not these wcriptures dont apply to you.


#10

[quote=SolaChristo]Malachi are you a believer? If so you have been given the Spirit of Truth which will lead you to all Truth.
[/quote]

You are a believer. I am a believer. I believe something different than what you believe. So that means at least one of the following things.

  1. I am not a believer.
  2. You are not a believer.
  3. The promise to be led into all truth does not apply to individuals, at least not in this life.
  4. The promise to be led into all truth includes being led into the pillar and foundation of Truth, the Catholic Church.

Comments?


#11

[quote=SolaChristo]Malachi are you a believer? If so you have been given the Spirit of Truth which will lead you to all Truth. The Ethiopian eunich did not have that Spirit of Truth unlil after he came to believe, Dont be lead astray,

Are you unstable? Was Peter talking about you? If not these wcriptures dont apply to you.
[/quote]

If the Spirit of Truth will lead to all Truth, how is it there is only one Catholic Church, teaching a consistent message for 2,000 years, and yet in less than a quarter of that time the Protestants have fragmented, split, and re-fragmented into thousands of denominations?


#12

[quote=SolaChristo]Malachi are you a believer? If so you have been given the Spirit of Truth which will lead you to all Truth. The Ethiopian eunich did not have that Spirit of Truth unlil after he came to believe, Dont be lead astray,

Are you unstable? Was Peter talking about you? If not these wcriptures dont apply to you.
[/quote]

The difficulty with the idea of the Holy Spirit inspiring all believers lies in several areas. Firstly is the fact that the reformers disagreed substantially with one another. If the Holy Spirit inspired these men, then the Spirit inspired them each with doctrine that opposed one another. There is but one truth. If the Holy Spirit inspired the reformers, then it inspired one of them to truth and the others to error. This is not possible.

Therefore, we must conclude that if the Spirit inspired the reformation, It did one of two things. Either the Spirit inspired one of the reformers, whereas the others were actually pushing forth their own ideas, or the Spirit inspired all of the reformers but in different areas. For instance, perhaps the Spirit only truly inspired Calvin. This means that Luther and Zwingli were not inspired. Or, perhaps the Spirit inspired Luther’s understanding of original sin, whereas It inspired Calvin’s doctrine of predestination, and when it came to Zwingli It inspired his understanding of the atonement.

The difficulty here lies in the question of who is the one that the Spirit inspired, and how do we know? If the Spirit inspired each of them with regards to different doctrines, the question becomes even more complicated. Finally, if either of these events happened, then this also means that the Spirit did not inspire the Christians who lived for 1500 years prior. So the idea that the Spirit inspired the reformers presents two problems:

How does one determine which reformation doctrine of which reformer was inspired and which were not?

Why did God choose to allow His Church to teach error for 1500 years before inspiring anybody to teach the truth?

This same problem applies to all believers today. There are millions of Christians in the world today. Let’s just look at 2 denominations. Even if we assume that the vast majority of people in each denomination are not truly dedicated to Christ, it would be fair to say that at least 1 in each have true, deep faith and are completely dedicated to Christ. If that is true, then the Holy Spirit can only be guiding one, otherwise it would be guiding people into different truths, but there is only one truth, and it is God and all of His ways. What this gets down to is the idea that out of the entire world, there can only be one person who is a true believer, or one person whom the Spirit is guiding, otherwise the Spirit lies.


#13

I understand that for Roman Catholic’s the Magisterium has the final say on the interpretation of scripture.

The original receipients of the epistles determined for themselves the meaning of these/those letters. They did not have a Magisterium to tell them what they mean/meant. How is that in line with the teaching now?


#14

[quote=malachi_a_serva]I understand that for Roman Catholic’s the Magisterium has the final say on the interpretation of scripture.

The original receipients of the epistles determined for themselves the meaning of these/those letters. They did not have a Magisterium to tell them what they mean/meant. How is that in line with the teaching now?
[/quote]

The original recipiants had the enormous advantage of knowing what the background to the letters was. Let me give an example.

Let’s say that you didn’t know how to use your computer, so I came to see you and taught you how. Now assume I go home, and you go to download e-mail. However, you get an email with an attachment, and you don’t know how to download the attachment, because I never told you, or you forgot what I said. Say you write a letter to me asking how to download attachments. I write back, and say, “My dear Malachi, I am so thankful to hear from you. As far as the e-mail is concerned, all you need to know is to press the paperclip button.” You receive this letter and know what it means and are able to understand it completely.

This is the situation that the reciepiants of Paul’s letters were in. Now assume you put the letter on your desk, and then someone else finds it later. They read it, and think, “all I need to know about e-mail is that button! Great!” However, when they go to use the email, they don’t understand what it says and don’t use the e-mail right, thinking they only have to press one button when in fact they have to do a lot more. This is the position the Protestants are in. They lack the context, whereas the original reciepiants had the context.


#15

[quote=malachi_a_serva]I understand that for Roman Catholic’s the Magisterium has the final say on the interpretation of scripture.

The original receipients of the epistles determined for themselves the meaning of these/those letters. They did not have a Magisterium to tell them what they mean/meant. How is that in line with the teaching now?
[/quote]

But they did have the Magisterium. They had the Apostles themselves, and then their successors, who were the Magisterium. That is the point, the Church was never left without the Teaching Magisterium, from the very beginning.


#16

[quote=malachi_a_serva]Is it the position of the Catholic Church that one cannot properly interpret the Bible?
[/quote]

No, personal reading and interpretation for application in ones personal life is just that personal. It should however always be in accordance with the Church to who the public interpretation fo Scripture is entrusted…


#17

The promise that the Spirit will lead you into all truth is not the same thing as a promise that you will follow. The leading into all truth includes a leading into Catholicism and many people (including me for some decades) didn’t follow there.

  • Liberian

#18

[quote=Liberian]The promise that the Spirit will lead you into all truth is not the same thing as a promise that you will follow. The leading into all truth includes a leading into Catholicism and many people (including me for some decades) didn’t follow there.

[/quote]

Yes, I agree. If the Church is being led into all truth, as we believe it is, then any individual who is being led into all truth must also be led into the Church. It is in this sense that we can say that the Holy Spirit leads individuals into all truth, not in the sense of infallibly interpreting the bible.


#19

[quote=VociMike]Yes, I agree. If the Church is being led into all truth, as we believe it is, then any individual who is being led into all truth must also be led into the Church. It is in this sense that we can say that the Holy Spirit leads individuals into all truth, not in the sense of infallibly interpreting the bible.
[/quote]

And conversely, anyone who is being led away from the Church is being led away from the Truth.


#20

[quote=malachi_a_serva]Is it the position of the Catholic Church that one cannot properly interpret the Bible?
[/quote]

Unless all Catholics are rendered illiterate, and destitute of the Holy Spirit, by virtue of being RC, certainly not :smiley:


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