I’ve heard that there are about 8 passages of scripture that have been infallibly interpreted. Can you tell me which ones they are?
All of the following passages were definitively interpreted by the Church at the Council of Trent, for each has to do with justification or the sacraments, issues that divided Catholics and Protestants.
John 3:5 "Unless a man is born of water an the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God."
The Church condemned the denial that the words of Jesus mean that real (natural) water must be used for a valid baptism. At the time, the Anabaptists contended that water baptism was unnecessary because the mention of water was merely a metaphor. Other symbolic meanings in addition to the literal sense of real water can be found in the text, perhaps, but none are acceptable that deny the need for real water at baptism.
Luke 22:19 and
I Corinthians 11:24-- "Taking the bread, he gave thanks, broke it and gave it to
them, saying 'This is my body given for you: do this in remembrance of me."
The Church condemned the interpretation of these passages that denied that Jesus, in commanding his apostles to “Do this in memory of me” after instituting the Eucharist, conferred priestly ordination on them and their successors enabling them to offer His body and blood. More could be understood by the command to do this in remembrance, but that much could not be denied or contradicted by other interpretations.
John 20:22-23-- “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are
forgiven; whose sins you do not forgive, they are not forgiven,” and
Matthew 18:18-- "Whatever things you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and
whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
The Church condemned the denial that in these two passages Jesus conferred a
power exclusively on the apostles authorizing them and their successors in the priestly office to forgive sins in God’s name, and condemned the proposal that everyone could forgive sins in this sense.
Romans 5:12-- “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death
through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned…”
The Church condemned the denial of original sin to which all mankind is subject
and which baptism remits, citing this passage to be understood in that sense.
- James 5:14-- "Is anyone of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray
over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord."
Definitively interpreting these passages, the Church condemned the denial that the sacrament of the anointing of the sick was instituted by Christ and promulgated by the apostles against those who deemed it a human invention of the later Church.
• In addition, the decree of Vatican I about Christ establishing Peter as head of the Church - which cites Mt 16:18 and John 1:42 - is a defined doctrine, even though the phrasing about the use and interpretation of the scripture cited is more implicit than explicit, by comparison with the above Scripture passages.