Can we correctly interpret the Scriptures?

It has often been argued that the further we get from a period of time the further is our understanding of what they wrote about. Is this a defendable position? I think it might be. Each generation passes on the linguistic changes of the previous one. It would seem that in order to understand that old Testament we would have to go through linguistic manuals for each generation all the way back to the beginning of Scriptural writing. This is far more of an issue for Protestants, but even Catholics must interpret their Councils and even the Bible as a historical document to defend the Councils. One example comes to mind. If I say “it has been reported that so-and-so said this before he died”, most of us would know I mean to say it is only probable that he said this. But years from some “reported” might be understood to mean something “very certain”. So with regard to the two most important Scriptures in defending Catholicism (Matt. 16:18 and 18:18), how can we be sure that we are understanding it correctly? I am very fascinated with this question today and hope for your best answers (maybe even a quote from Chesterton? :thumbsup: )

There is some truth in what you said. Linguistic changes and not only that but also the cultural thing, the background on what was being said.

In other word, what did the author mean?

That’s why the Bible must be understood in context rather than by verses in isolation, or even passages but the Bible as a whole. What did the author try to impart?

Thus it is important to know where the Bible came from because we want to know what the authors meant. The nearest best thing is the Church that compiled the Bible into a book.

The Bible’s content therefore has to be understood through the Church. And for that, we have to take the word or rather, the wisdom of the Church, that when she compiled or decided which books were to be in the Bible, that she was right. That God moved her to pick the right books of the Bible.

And the Church had her reasons for choosing the particular books. One of the reasons was that the content of the books supported her belief and practice. In other word, the Bible compliments the Tradition and the Teaching of the Church.

One can only look at the Bible from these aspects to come to the right interpretation instead of trying to interpret the book as if it fell from the sky and start to decipher its content. It is not as mysterious as that because we have the Church, its producer.:slight_smile:

Blessings Thinkandmull,

**CATHOLIC SENSIBILITY, DEI VERBUM 21

Quote: The Church has always VENERATED the divine Scriptures JUST AS she

VENERATED the body of the Lord, since, especially in the sacred liturgy, she unceasingly

receives and offers to the faithful THE BREAD OF LIFE from the table of BOTH of GOD’S

WORD and of CHRIST’S BODY.

For in the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven meets His children with great love

and speaks with them; and THE FORCE AND POWER IN THE WORD OF GOD IS SO

GREAT THAT IT IS STANDS AS THE SUPPORT AND ENERGY OF THE CHURCH,

THE STRINGS OF FAITH for Her (children), THE FOOD OF THE SOUL, THE PURE

AND EVERLASTING SOURCE OF SPIRITUAL LIFE.

“For the WORD OF GOD IS LIVING AND ACTIVE” (Hebr.4:12) and it HAS THE POWER

TO BUILD YOU UP and give you your heritage among all those who are sanctified. (Acts 20:32) End quote.

THE CATHOLIC CHURC UNDERSTANDING OF THE BIBLE by Fr. John Harden SJ.

Quote: “The Scriptures are holy because their main author is the all-holy God. But they

are also holy because they are able to sanctify those who READ the Bible as NO OTHER

LITERATURE in the world is capable of doing.

St. Thomas does not hesitate to speak of the Scriptures as a KIND OF SACRAMENT.

SIMULAR to what happens when we receive BAPTISM or the EUCHARIST.

The same Holy Spirit who first inspired the Bible CONTINUES TO ENLIGHTEN those who

now READ the Bible .” End quote.

[CCC 108]; Still, the Christian faith is not a “religion of the book.”

Christianity is a religion of the “Word” of God, “not a written and mute word, but incarnate and living.”

If the Scriptures are not remain a dead letter, Christ, the eternal Word of the living God,

must, through the Holy Spirit, “open [our] minds to understand the Scriptures.” End quote.

THE LAMB’S SUPPER by Scott Hahn Page 48

Quote: One of the great Scripture scholars of the early church, Origen (third century), urged

Christians TO RESPECT CHRIST’S PRESENTS IN THE GOSPEL as they RESPECT

HIS PRESENCE IN THE HOST.

“You who are accustomed to take part in the divine mysteries know, when you receive the

body of the Lord, how you protect it with all caution and veneration lest any small part fall

from it, lest anything of the consecrated gift be lost.

For you believe, and correctly, that you are answerable if anything falls from there by neglect.

But if you are so careful to preserve His body, and rightly so, HOW DO YOU THINK THAT

THERE IS LESS GUILT TO HAVE NEGLECTED GOD’S WORD THAT TO HAVE

NEGLECTED HIS BODY?” End quote.

Blessings

LatinRight.**

Yes, it is harder. No doubt this is why Jesus spent more time in teaching and formation than he did in writing Scripture. Founding a Church that would last had to take precedence over writing.

Yet it is not impossible. Sure language changes. This is why Scripture is not the only thing linguist read and reference. Other contemporary works are also critical. Now that we have mass printing, the progress of time does less damage. A lexicon is a work that does just this, separating the different ways a word was used at that time. I used to have one from A. T. Robertson that was like five volumes long, and even that was really just a summation of scholarship, but it gave an idea of how the language is viewed in the context of other contemporary writing. It seems like I remember another that actually gave percentages of know usages for each word.

As others have pointed out, it’s absolutely impossible to know the answer based on Scripture alone. Otherwise theology becomes a game of guess-work, or at best, ‘who has the latest/greatest hermeneutical methodology?’ *Only *an entity established at the beginnings of Christianity could answer that question. If no such entity exists, then no answer exists.

**Blessings Fhansen,

You are correct. I agree with you 100 %.

Scripture – Holy Spirit = Scripture alone.

Theology becomes a game of guess-work, or at best, 'who has the latest/greatest hermeneutical methodology.

Only an entity established at the beginnings of Christianity could answer that question.

If no such entity exists, then no answer exists.

The answer exists as follows.

The answer of the entity established at the beginnings of Christianity:

[CCC 108] "Christ, the eternal Word of the living God, must, through

the Holy Spirit, open [our] minds to understand the Scriptures.” End quote.

THE CATHOLIC CHURC UNDERSTANDING OF THE BIBLE by Fr. John Harden SJ.

"The same Holy Spirit who first inspired the Bible CONTINUES TO

ENLIGHTEN those who now READ the Bible.” End quote.

Blessings

LatinRight**

This is one of the reasons we keep the original Koine Greek and Ancient Hebrew texts. These are dead languages, so the meaning of the words and phrases do not change with fashion as a living language would (e.g. in English look at ‘gay’ or ‘worship’). We also have ancient translations to help us understand the meaning of the original. An example of this is the Vulgate of St Jerome, he lived in Rome, Greed, and Jerusalem and spoke the languages fluently and lived closer to the time of the authors. An example of this is Kecharitomene, used only once in the New Testament and he translated it as ‘gratia plena’ in latin (Full of Grace).

Having original writings is only helpful if we know how to interpret them

That’s only part of it. The entity is the Church, herself:

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"81).

Without Tradition we wouldn’t even* have* a Christian faith at this point, much less an accurate understanding of it. Strictly private interpretations of Scripture are always questionable; equally sincere folks believing they’re guided by the HS disagree as a matter of course.

85 "The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ."47 This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome.

**Blessings Fhansen,

113.2 and 85 can be easily misunderstand. – And some people misunderstand it and

never read the Scripture. Conclude, why should I read a book when I can’t understand a word of it.

If we understand 113.2 and 85 the way: For us to read the Scriptures is absolute useless

because we don’t understand even one word of it, causes incredible negative effect on

our spiritual development.

Please read again the following quotes and please meditate on them.

After meditation, do you conclude we shouldn’t read the Scripture but only an

INTERPRETATION of the Scripture?

CATHOLIC SENSIBILITY, DEI VERBUM 21

Quote: The Church has always VENERATED the divine Scriptures JUST AS she

VENERATED the body of the Lord, since, especially in the sacred liturgy, she unceasingly

receives and offers to the faithful THE BREAD OF LIFE from the table of BOTH of GOD’S

WORD and of CHRIST’S BODY.

For in the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven meets His children with great love

and speaks with them; and THE FORCE AND POWER IN THE WORD OF GOD IS SO

GREAT THAT IT IS STANDS AS THE SUPPORT AND ENERGY OF THE CHURCH,

THE STRINGS OF FAITH for Her (children), THE FOOD OF THE SOUL, THE PURE

AND EVERLASTING SOURCE OF SPIRITUAL LIFE.

“For the WORD OF GOD IS LIVING AND ACTIVE” (Hebr.4:12) and it HAS THE POWER

TO BUILD YOU UP and give you your heritage among all those who are sanctified. (Acts 20:32) End quote.

THE CATHOLIC CHURC UNDERSTANDING OF THE BIBLE by Fr. John Harden SJ.

Quote: “The Scriptures are holy because their main author is the all-holy God. But they

are also holy because they are able to sanctify those who READ the Bible as NO OTHER

LITERATURE in the world is capable of doing.

The same Holy Spirit who first inspired the Bible CONTINUES TO ENLIGHTEN those who

now READ the Bible.”

[CCC 108]; Still, the Christian faith is not a “religion of the book.”

Christianity is a religion of the “Word” of God, “not a written and mute word, but incarnate and living.”

If the Scriptures are not remain a dead letter, Christ, the eternal Word of the living God,

must, through the Holy Spirit, “open [our] minds to understand the Scriptures.” End quote.

THE LAMB’S SUPPER by Scott Hahn Page 48

Quote: One of the great Scripture scholars of the early church, Origen (third century), urged

Christians TO RESPECT CHRIST’S PRESENTS IN THE GOSPEL as they RESPECT

HIS PRESENCE IN THE HOST.

“You who are accustomed to take part in the divine mysteries know, when you receive the

body of the Lord, how you protect it with all caution and veneration lest any small part fall

from it, lest anything of the consecrated gift be lost.

For you believe, and correctly, that you are answerable if anything falls from there by neglect.

But if you are so careful to preserve His body, and rightly so, HOW DO YOU THINK THAT

THERE IS LESS GUILT TO HAVE NEGLECTED GOD’S WORD THAT TO HAVE

NEGLECTED HIS BODY?” End quote.

Blessings

LatinRight**

The point is that we need the bible in one hand, and Church teachings in the other, in order to accurately discern much of Scripture’s meaning. I’ve spent way too much time immersed in Scripture, as a Protestant, not to have come to understand this most important Catholic truth.

**Blessings Fhansen,

I wouldn’t go that far that one hand the Bible and other hand the Church teachings but I

know what you mean and in principle I agree.

Before I become a Catholic I was an Evangelical Christian.

In all my life I have read many parts of the Bible probably more then 200 times.

When I was an Evangelical Christian I believed (I’m not proud of it now) a Child of God

can lose his/her salvation.

When I read the following Catholic DE FIDE Dogma as a Catholic:

The Catholic Church affirms predestination as a *DE FIDE *Dogma (the highest level of binding theological certainty).

CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA

THE CATHOLIC DOGMA. – The predestination of the elect

Consequently, the whole future membership of heaven, down to its minutest details, has

been IRREVOCABLY FIXED FROM ALL ETERNITY. Nor could it be otherwise. For if it

were possible that a predestined individual should after all be CAST INTO HELL or that

one not predestined should in the end REACH HEAVEN, then God would have been

MISTAKEN in his foreknowledge of future events; He would NO LONGER be omniscient.

God’s unerring foreknowledge and foreordaining is designated in the Bible by the beautiful

figure of the “Book of Life” (liber vitæ, to biblion tes zoes). This book of life is a list which

contains the names of ALL THE ELECT and admits NEITHER ADDITIONS NO ERASURES.

End quote. Emphasize added.

I realized at the first time, a child of God/elect cannot lose his/her salvation.

The above teaching of the RCC has given me greater faith and greater peace.

I could tell other examples as well.

I’m greatly benefited that I become a Catholic for many reasons.

I also have to admit, there are in circulation among us some teachings which I believe,

are not genuine Catholic teachings and I don’t believe them.

I don’t believe teachings from some various writers which are in contradiction with genuine

Catholic teachings and with the Scriptures.

Many Catholics believe include myself, Christ prevents the Catholic Church from teach

doctrines which are not correct.

But because some Catholics don’t read the Bible, they don’t know; the above statement is

only half of the truth.

The other half of the truth:

The Scriptures throughout the whole Bible repeatedly warning us that the Church is

infiltrated from the very beginning and will be infiltrated until Christ comes back for the second time.

For example, please read the repeated warnings: Matt.7:15; Matt.13:24-30, 36-43;

Matt.24:11, 24; 2 Cor.11:13-15; 1 Tim.4:1-3; 2 Pet.2:1-3; etc.

Blessings

LatinRight**

The RCC teaches specifically against the idea that we can know with certainty whose names are written in the Book of Life and whose are not. That knowledge is God’s, alone. So while election may be an irrevocable state, Trent taught against the “vain confidence” of the reformed position on the matter of justification in session 6, chap 9, and the following from chap 12:

That a rash presumptuousness in the matter of Predestination is to be avoided

"No one, moreover, so long as he is in this mortal life, ought so far to presume as regards the secret mystery of divine predestination, as to determine for certain that he is assuredly in [Page 40] the number of the predestinate; as if it were true, that he that is justified, either cannot sin any more, or, if he do sin, that he ought to promise himself an assured repentance; for except by special revelation, it cannot be known whom God hath chosen unto Himself."

In humility we don’t presume to know with 100% certainty who are numbered among the elect.

Then let me ask you if you have noticed, as I have, that reading the New Testament makes more sense with an understanding of Catholic doctrine? For me, it has been an rather dramatic transformation.

**God bless Fhansen,

A crucial question: Can we know with absolute certainty that we are God’s children?

Canon from the Sixth Session of the Council of Trent:

CANON XVI.-“If any one saith, that he will for certain, of an absolute and infallible

certainty, have that great gift of perseverance unto the end,-unless he HAVE LEARNED

THIS BY SPECIAL REVELATION; let him be anathema.” Emphasize mine.

According to the Trent:

If we have learned it by from GOD’S SPECIAL REVELATION we can know it with

absolute certainty THAT WE HAVE God’s great gift of perseverance unto the end, this

means we have everlasting life right now.

So, we have a GREEN LIGHT to believe right now from God’s special revelation WITH

ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY that we are among God’s elect.

How can we have God’s special revelation?

If we are God’s children via our spirits we have a permanent open line communication

with God. – We permanently receive God’s leading instructions and his different special revelations for us.

Rom.8:14-16;
For as MANY AS are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

For you did NOT receive the spirit of bondage again to FEAR, but you received the

SPIRIT OF ADOPTION by whom we cry out “ABBA, FATHER.”

The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” End quote.

God puts his instructions and special revelations into OUR SPIRITS, via our spirits God’s

leading instructions and different special revelations goes into our hearts and to our brains.

Continue**

**We can receive God’s instructions and special revelations whichever way God wants to give them to us.

FOR EXAMPLE:

God puts his special revelation the SPIRIT OF ADOPTION via our spirit into our hearts and our brains.

We know God’s gift of special revelations, in our hearts and our brains.

We have “Unconditional BELIEF in what God says.”

We have “Unconditional TRUST in God.”

We have “Unconditional LOVE for God and for others.”

We have incredible power to proclaim the Gospel to everyone.

The Holy Spirit is burning in our hearts, we have incredible joy, we know we are God’s

children. – FROM GOD’S SPECIAL REVELATIONS.

We have a thanks-full heart for God for our salvation and we have faith to believe it.

Without faith it is impossible to please God. – I don’t believe faithlessness is humility.

We HAVE BEEN saved by faith. - How can we saved by faith if we don’t believe it?

The Gospel which was dry before comes alive and lives in our hearts.

We start to pray in the spirit, in a new tongues. – It is a spiritual gift, not a condition to have salvation.

Then we can be sure we have God’s special revelations many times over and we can be

certain of an absolute that we are God’s children.

Of course we can have God’s special revelation that we are God’s children many other

different ways as well.

AN IMPORTANT WARNING FOR ALL OF US! – 1 Cor.11:27;

God doesn’t want that the reprobates who are among us (1 John 2:19) to participate in the Eucharist.

We all should know our standing before we partake in the Eucharist! – There are two

possibilities: We are God’s children or we are reprobates among God’s children.

In 2 Cor.13:5-6 God has given us a COMMAND and we MUST obey it!

2 Cor.13:5-6; (Ignatius Catholic Study Bible)

“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are holding to your faith. TEST YOURSELVES.

Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you? – unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

I hope YOU WILL FIND OUT that we have not failed.

When God has given the command to his children to do the test, God has also

given his children the ability to do the test and TO KNOW THE TEST RESULTS.

For example of a test: – Test can be done many different ways.

TEST AS FOLLOWS

John 5:24; (Ignatius Catholic Study Bible)

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes him who sent me, HAS

EVERLASTING LIFE; he does NOT come into judgment, but has passed FROM DEATH to LIFE.”

1 John 5:13; (Ignatius Catholic Study Bible)

“I write this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may KNOW that

you have eternal life.”

Without being God’s children we could not believe the above word of God. – We would have

HUNDREDS EXCUSES WHY CAN’T WE BELIEVE IT.

If we believe the above word of God we are God’s children/His elect. We have not failed the test.

If we don’t believe the above word of God, (we have no faith in the word of God, the line of

communication between God and us is still broken) we have failed the test.

As you see Fhansen, the Trent has given us the green light that we can know who we are

by special revelation and God has given as a COMMAND to find out who we are by test it.

Blessings

LatinRight**

Yes, way more. And the disagreements between sola scriptura adherents also attest to the fact that such teachings are absolutely necessary. The Church received and proclaimed the faith before a word of the NT was written.

Spoken like a good Catholic Calvinist Pentecostal-still trying to figure you out. :slight_smile: Anyway, sorry but your descriptions of private or “special” revelations reveals a lack of depth of understanding of how God works in certain cases. What you describe are indeed gifts of grace: senses and promptings and understanding and faith itself. But the private revelations of which the Church speaks are of a different order, or on a whole different level.They are rare and incomparably profound, direct communications from God that leave no room for uncertainty about what specific knowledge was given and Whom it was given by. They are granted strictly at God’s discretion, for His purpose, and are not the kinds of experiences had by most believers in this life, even as we should all be open to and seek the deepest union and communication with God as possible, of course. Here’s chap 9, session 6 from Trent BTW:

Against the vain confidence of Heretics.
But, although it is necessary to believe that sins neither are remitted, nor ever were remitted save gratuitously by the mercy of God for Christ’s sake; yet is it not to be said, that sins are forgiven, or have been forgiven, to any one who boasts of his confidence and certainty of the remission of his sins, and rests on that alone; seeing that it may exist, yea does in our day exist, amongst heretics and schismatics; and with great vehemence is this vain confidence, and one alien from all godliness, preached up in opposition to the Catholic Church. But neither [Page 37] is this to be asserted,-that they who are truly justified must needs, without any doubting whatever, settle within themselves that they are justified, and that no one is absolved from sins and justified, but he that believes for certain that he is absolved and justified; and that absolution and justification are effected by this faith alone: as though whoso has not this belief, doubts of the promises of God, and of the efficacy of the death and resurrection of Christ***. For even as no pious person ought to doubt of the mercy of God, of the merit of Christ, and of the virtue and efficacy of the sacraments, even so each one, when he regards himself, and his own weakness and indisposition, may have fear and apprehension touching his own grace; seeing that no one can know with a certainty of faith, which cannot be subject to error, that he has obtained the grace of God.


**God bless Fhansen,

Hebr.11:6; (Ignatius Catholic Study Bible)

“And without faith IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO PLEASE HIM. …”

Eph.2:8;

“For by grace you HAVE BEEN SAVED THROUGH FAITH; …”

Rom.8:16;

“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit THAT WE ARE CHILDREN OF GOD.”

1 John 5:13;

“I write this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that YOU MAY KNOW THAT YOU HAVE ETERNAL LIFE.”

God bless

Latin Right**

Hi, LR. Your posts have served to prove the overwhelming need for an external Tradition-based, Spirit-led human entity-the Church-to settle these matters…because we can trade verses all day long. So remember that branches grafted in can be cut back off, Rom 11:17-21, soil where the seed (the Word) first takes root and flourishes can prove to be poor soil where the seedling later withers and dies, Matt 13. Believers can taste of the heavenly gift but later reject it, Heb 6:4,; they can fail to remain in Christ, John 15:6. Even Paul recognized that he hadn’t yet attained to eternal life, though he was striving for it, Phil 3:12.

And this is why believers are continuously admonished and warned in Scripture to strive, persevere, be vigilant, be holy, be perfect, remain faithful, refrain from sin, do good, love each other, invest ones “talents”, feed the hungry, cloth the naked, etc, etc, generally with the loss of place in the kingdom at stake. Again, anyone can believe themselves to be numbered among the elect, but God, alone, knows with certainty, and many will be surprised in the end according to Matt 7:22 and Matt 25:31-46, for example.

So now you know why the Church is such a critical part of God’s plan of salvation, and why we cannot necessarily “correctly interpret the Scriptures” on our own:

**2032 The Church, the “pillar and bulwark of the truth,” "has received this solemn command of Christ from the apostles to announce the saving truth."74 "To the Church belongs the right always and everywhere to announce moral principles, including those pertaining to the social order, and to make judgments on any human affairs to the extent that they are required by the fundamental rights of the human person or the salvation of souls."75

2033 The Magisterium of the Pastors of the Church in moral matters is ordinarily exercised in catechesis and preaching, with the help of the works of theologians and spiritual authors. Thus from generation to generation, under the aegis and vigilance of the pastors, the “deposit” of Christian moral teaching has been handed on, a deposit composed of a characteristic body of rules, commandments, and virtues proceeding from faith in Christ and animated by charity. Alongside the Creed and the Our Father, the basis for this catechesis has traditionally been the Decalogue which sets out the principles of moral life valid for all men.

2034 The Roman Pontiff and the bishops are "authentic teachers, that is, teachers endowed with the authority of Christ, who preach the faith to the people entrusted to them, the faith to be believed and put into practice."76 The ordinary and universal Magisterium of the Pope and the bishops in communion with him teach the faithful the truth to believe, the charity to practice, the beatitude to hope for.

2035 The supreme degree of participation in the authority of Christ is ensured by the charism of infallibility. This infallibility extends as far as does the deposit of divine Revelation; it also extends to all those elements of doctrine, including morals, without which the saving truths of the faith cannot be preserved, explained, or observed.77

**

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