Helping my non-Catholic sister who thinks that can interpret Scripture by herself

My sister believes that all she has to do is depend on the Holy Spirit and her interpretation of Scripture is correct. She believes that the Holy Spirit will reveal the correct interpretation of the meaning to her because she trusts Him. She has the idea that her interpretation is infallible.

Any thoughts as to what might be good way to deal with this issue? Because of this type of thinking, we have over 30,000 denominations.


Ask your sister, what of everyone else who holds the same belief os sola scriptora with the inspiration of the Spirit and comes up with a mutualy contradictory position? Is the Holy Spirit the author of confusion?

Also, from my posting on Amazon…

“Sola Scriptura” is NOT Scriptural!

That is right, the primary lynchpin of the Protestant movement (the other two being “Sola Fide” and “Private Interpretation”) is not only NOT supported in Holy Scripture it is flat out contradicted by Holy Scripture!

Sola Scriptura originates as a “tradition of men” in the life work of Martin Luther in the 16th century. In the deepening split between Luther and the Catholic Church, Luther proclaimed “by scripture alone” as the sole rule of faith for a Christian to be bound by, rejecting the other two basis of the Faith, namely Apostolic (Oral) Tradition and the Magesterium (Teaching Authority) of the Catholic Church.

Sola Scriptura fails on SEVERAL points (including, but by no means limited to):

  1. Sola Scriptura is not taught in the Bible

  2. The Bible says we are to accept Apostolic Tradition in addition to written scripture

  3. The Bible itself calls the Church (and NOT scripture) “the pillar and ground of truth” and Christ Himself called believers to submit to the authority of the Church (“Church” in the QUITE “singular”)

  4. Scripture states it alone is INSUFFICIENT as a teacher that it NEEDS an interpreter and private interpretation" is a route to false teaching.

Lion provided an excellent response. I might add that, although individual interpretation of Scripture cannot be supported by Holy Writ, it can be contradicted:

As also in all his [ie, Paul’s] epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable twist, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. [2Peter 2:16, KJV]

However, as Catholics, we must NEVER make the mistake of citing this passage in this context:

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. [2 Peter 1:20, KJV]

The phrase “private interpretation” in this passage has led some Catholic apologists to jump to the conclusion that it means we ought not privately interpret Scripture. But the intent of the passage is more accurately translated in the NIV:

Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things.

So, quote 2:16 all you like, but avoid 1:20, because there be monsters.

I would say to her if thats true then why did Jesus feel compelled to give Peter the keys to the kingdom with the authority to bind and loose things on heaven and in earth. Ask her to point to where scripture says thats how we should interpret scripture.

Does she read any one else’s intrepretations? Bible Studies? Does she read it in the original language?

If the answers are yes, yes and no, then she is relying on sources other than the Holy Spirit’s direct revelation.

Unfortunately, logic does not work when a person has decided to follow the path she is on.

You can pray for her. You may want to find out who/what else she is reading, just so you know where she is headed. She may be open to reading some Catholic writers. If she is, suggest books that are similar in writing style to the ones she has been reading. You may need to use a feather, not a hammer.

I have heard Calvary Chapel based ministers on Christian radio, talk about how straight forward the teachings of the Bible are. Just last week, one minister was completing his Bible study on the Book of Revelation, and he stated that Book of Revelation is so easy to understand that even a child can understand it.
This got me thinking of all the failed predictions that numerous Protestant denominations have made about the end of the world, over the last 150 years. The whole idea of the rapture is apparently so clear in their teaching (from the Book of Revelation) that they argue over whether it will be a pre-tribulation or a post-tribulation rapture. And then the numerous predictions of who is the Antichrist? Who will be the countries who will take part in the battle of Armageddon??? :hypno: It is all so clear!!!

Also from my Amazon thread:

:…current example of sola scriptura combined with private interpretation creating Christological heresy is the the “Oneness Pentecostal” (aka “Jesus Only”) movement that started circa 1950. While better known for his promotion of the “health and wealth gospel” (another heresy), Bishop TD Jakes is also a Oneness Pentecostal, which is essentialy a revived form of the 2nd Century heresy known as Sabellianism (from its founder), Modalism (descriptive in saying there is only one Person in the Godhead and that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit only being aspects, roles, or modes of the the Trinity), or Patripassionism (claiming the Father also suffered the Passion). Once again the fruit of Sola Scriptura is not only in visible division but flat-out seperation from historical Christian belief.

As long as a Trinitarian believing Baptist, Methodist, or even Pentecostal holds to sola scriptura they have NO grounds for reproving any error. All that results is a mutual “verse slinging” of by either side with both sides claiming “the inspration of the Holy Spirit” in support of mutualy contradictory interpretations."

On the assumption that she believes in Sola Scriptura, you should ask her, how can she “really” trust the bible?

The reason I say that is because the Church came before all the books in the Bible Canon were compiled. It was the Catholic Church authority that discerned which books were inspired by God and to be included in the Canon. I believe there were gospels of Thomas and Peter that are not in the bible. Because the Catholic Church compiled the Bible around 400AD, it would be contradictory to reject our Church’s authority but accept the Bible that it gave to us.

In short, the Church Authority is the reason Protestants have a bible at all.

I am guessing that at this point in time, the only source your sister will ‘listen to’ is Scripture. As others have pointed out, Scripture itself provides numerous examples of how she is in error. Phillip and the eunuch, Paul and the Bereans, the Church being the pillar and foundation of Truth, Peter being given the keys, etc., all point to an earthly interpreter for Scripture, outside of the words on the pages.

Paul and the Bereans is a wonderful example: the Bereans were a group of Hebrews who were not yet convinced that Jesus was Messiah. And what does Scripture tell us that they did? They combed over the existing (OT) Scriptures, searching for ‘proof’ in the writings. And they came up lacking. It wasn’t until Paul went and interpreted the Scriptures for them that they saw the Truth. They didn’t see it on their own; their personal interpretations did not lead them to Christ. But Paul’s interpretation for them did. And why did Paul’s interpretation matter? Because he had received his teaching directly from Jesus! He had been made an apostle after the Resurrection, and therefore carried authority with him. The same is true for all of the apostles: at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was breathed onto them; they were given the authority of Jesus. This is why we believe in Apostolic Tradition…because it comes from G-d Himself, and it was given to men. If we deviate from Tradition, we deviate from G-d. And if we rely solely on the Scriptures, we will come up lacking just as the otherwise well educated Bereans did.

I would follow the advice of others here and approach your sister with love, and I like the feather vs. hammer idea.

Peace in Christ

Challenge her on that. Have her prove that she trusts the HS. It’s like when James challenges the person who says they have faith. Where’s the proof?

Here’s just one example of trusting the HS

Does she go to mass faithfully, receive the Eucharist faithfully? That’s a command
Heb 10:25-29 is about the mass on Sunday (the day) CCC 2178

This is why deliberately missing mass on Sundays and holy days is a mortal sin?

Heb 10: (all emphasis mine)
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. 26 For if we **sin deliberatelyafter receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27* but a fearful prospect of judgment, and a fury of fire which will consume the adversaries. 28* A man who has violated the law of Moses dies without mercy at the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29* How much worse punishment do you think will be deserved by the man who has spurned the Son of God, and profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and outraged the Spirit of grace?


after receiving the knowledge of the truth
*]deliberately missing mass on Sunday, is already a very serious sin worthy of judgment, and a fury of fire which will consume the adversaries
*]because there is no sacrifice for sins as a result of one deliberately missing mass.
*]It is a profaning of the blood of the covenant for deliberately missing mass
*]It spurns the son of God and outrages the spirit of grace for deliberately missing mass

One will ask, where does one get all that, and why does missing mass do all that?
*]the sacrifice for sin and blood of the covenant refers to the Eucharist. The summit of our faith.
*]Matthew 26:26-28. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.Jesus the son of God said those words instituting the Eucharist the night before He died… Jesus further describes the importance of the Eucharist for the soul.
*]Jn 6:53 unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. Life of the soul is grace in the Eucharist.
[/LIST]Therefore, the one who after receiving the *knowledge of the truth *deliberately misses the Eucharist on Sunday, says in effect to Jesus, not your will be done but my will be done.

so for them, to recap
*]no sacrifice for sin is left for THEM.
*]they profane the blood of the covenant
*]they spurn the son of God & outrage the spirit of grace
*]judgment awaits them
[/LIST]the consequences for deliberately missing mass i.e. the Eucharist, on Sunday is HUGE, and describes committing a mortal sin. One who dies in mortal sin won’t be going to heaven as this scripture shows

Maybe you could share that with her.

To be honest, I don’t think the typical Catholic apologetics lines will convince her of anything contrary to what she believes. I don’t even think that she would believe a non-Catholic like Martin Chemnitz, a quote from him you’ll find in my signature.

That said, ISTM there is no reason to believe that the Holy Spirit will guide her in any way more effectively than He guided the early Fathers.


It seems to me that if the Holy Spirit is depended upon to reveal the correct interpretation of Scripture, then it is not Scripture but the Holy Spirit that is revealing the truth. So why bother with Scripture at all? It is not needed. Just pray directly to the Holy Spirit to tell you what is what.

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