Interpreting Scripture: What John Paul II Can Teach Evangelicals


[What John Paul II Can Teach Evangelicals](“ John Paul II Can Teach Evangelicals”)

by Francis Beckwith, former President of the Evangelical Theological Society and now on this side of the Tiber:

Although these traditionalists see themselves as upholding the creeds of Christendom… they rarely consult the Fathers or the Great Doctors of the Church and avail themselves of the reasoning that gave rise to the creeds they seek to protect…

… our predecessors read the same Bible that we read, and they confronted the same apparently disparate accounts of God’s actions and nature that we find in Scripture. Why, then, did they develop the view of God that they did?

They employed the resources of philosophy and did so in order to provide to the Church a coherent doctrine of God consistent with Scripture as well as reason.

Many Evangelicals may find themselves in disagreement with the pope’s critique of “biblicism,” which he defines as a perspective “which tends to make the reading and exegesis of Sacred Scripture the sole criterion of truth.”

However, he is not merely talking about the necessity of the church’s Magisterium in interpreting Scripture (where all Evangelicals will part ways with him), but he is also talking about the mistake of thinking that one can do theology without any reference to, or understanding of, philosophy…

…what John Paul will teach Evangelicals, and what will appear novel to some of us, is the careful manner in which he shows that the moral principles found in Scripture are consistent with a reflective understanding of the order and nature of things that one can know apart from the biblical text.

JP2 Faith can never conflict with reason
JP2 Fides et Ratio

My Return to the Catholic Church
My Resignation from the Evangelical Theological Society

On 5 Sept 07, Beckwith will be interviewed on Catholic Answers Live.

Beckwith says that JP2 said biblicism is a perspective “which tends to make the reading and exegesis of Sacred Scripture the sole criterion of truth.”

Do Evangelicals interpret Scripture by applying the claims of the Church Fathers and of philosophy?

If not, then how do you interpret Scripture?


OK. Let’s approach it from another angle:

Do Protestants have a teaching tradition?


Of course they do. The question is, from where do the teachers derive their authority? Ultimately that is a difficult one for them. Within the particular Protestant community you have of course senior and junior members, and most of the time the junior members won’t challenge for teaching places. If the community is established there will be some form of seminary or Bible college where preachers can be certified. However ultimately authority comes only from the text and personal ability, hence there is no defence against a schism.


Reformed theology certainly would qualify.


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