Is it a form of blasphemy to interpret the bible however you wish? I thought about it, each of us inherently has our own slants and biases. It is usually is not a big deal when people interpret the bible differently than the Church or disagrees with the church. If you honestly believe that people are free to interpret the bible as they wish, why become angry if people use the bible to spread hate, cause wars, etc? If to you the bible and Jesus are all about love and what if someone sees Jesus or God as all about justice and correction? We are each allowed to have our own opinions and our opinions are supposedly to be equally valid. I guess I consider it blasphemy to use the Lord’s name to cover for your own prejudices.
You are free to interpret scripture as you wish, provided it does not go against church teachings and doctrine…and not every verse of scripture is tied to either.
St. Augustine, on biblical interpretation, once commented that you may be wrong in your interpretation, but as long as your interpretation comes from charity, it is not a sinful act.
When we say “scripture is talking to me”, it probably is, but it is foolhearty and unfair to conclude precisely what it is saying to you at any given moment, it has to be saying to me.
Peace and all good!
Start with this - when is it an error to interpret Scripture?
You will never err if you interpret Scripture in light of the Church’s teaching.
You may err if you interpret it otherwise - for example to take it out of context, or in a way which is clearly not intended.
I would not go so far as to call it blasphemy unless it was done with the intent of dishonoring the Lord. That’s the purpose of blasphemy, to call upon God what is not God. To say He is evil, capricious, uncaring, such is blasphemy. To blame Him for wars, famines, plagues, such is blasphemy. To use Him as an excuse for hatred, enslavement, violence, such is blasphemy.
But to ask whether God saves us if we but believe in Him once for a second, or saves us only if we persevere until the end, that’s theology, and it’s approaching God in prayer.
You mention prejudice. Prejudice in the sense of judging someone unfairly is a sin. It is unfair to judge on intelligence or moral virtue based on a person’s race or skin color. When someone does it with reliance upon Scripture - the old argument that Moses’ curse upon his son Ham justifies slavery and disparate treatment of African-Americans, for example - this is blasphemy because it casts God as God is not (also, it was Moses, not God, who cursed Ham. Moses may have sinned in having done so).
We cannot have an opinion that is both correct and contrary to the teachings of the Church. We don’t have “equal” opinions in a moral sense. Catholics read the scriptures to reveal unerringly that the Eucharist is truly consubstantiation, for example. Any reading of the Bible that interprets the Eucharist as purely a memorial is never to be considered equally valid. We must be respectful of the beliefs and faith of others, but we do not accept incorrect interpretations that are contrary to our Church.
The Bible is the direct revelation of God to man. The Church is singularly charged with interpretation and it teaches morals and faith unerringly. Saying we can interpret scripture is not a license to interpret it in any way we wish.
You should read Dei Verbum from Vatican II: It is a guide to proper interpretation of scripture.
- However, since God speaks in Sacred Scripture through men in human fashion, (6) the interpreter of Sacred Scripture, in order to see clearly what God wanted to communicate to us, should carefully investigate what meaning the sacred writers really intended, and what God wanted to manifest by means of their words.
To search out the intention of the sacred writers, attention should be given, among other things, to “literary forms.” For truth is set forth and expressed differently in texts which are variously historical, prophetic, poetic, or of other forms of discourse. The interpreter must investigate what meaning the sacred writer intended to express and actually expressed in particular circumstances by using contemporary literary forms in accordance with the situation of his own time and culture. (7) For the correct understanding of what the sacred author wanted to assert, due attention must be paid to the customary and characteristic styles of feeling, speaking and narrating which prevailed at the time of the sacred writer, and to the patterns men normally employed at that period in their everyday dealings with one another. (8)
But, since Holy Scripture must be read and interpreted in the sacred spirit in which it was written, (9) no less serious attention must be given to the content and unity of the whole of Scripture if the meaning of the sacred texts is to be correctly worked out. The living tradition of the whole Church must be taken into account along with the harmony which exists between elements of the faith. It is the task of exegetes to work according to these rules toward a better understanding and explanation of the meaning of Sacred Scripture, so that through preparatory study the judgment of the Church may mature. For all of what has been said about the way of interpreting Scripture is subject finally to the judgment of the Church, which carries out the divine commission and ministry of guarding and interpreting the word of God. (10)
This is another great resource: “The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church”
Presented by the Pontifical Biblical Commission to Pope John Paul II on April 23, 1993
(as published in Origins, January 6, 1994)
Blasphemy is attributing something to God for which He is not responsible, or acting, speaking as if you are God. This is a simplified explanation, but I think it touches at the basic idea of blasphemy as I understand it.
It is a form of blasphemy to interpret the Bible contrary to the teachings of Tradition and the Magisterium as is found in non-Catholic groups, i.e., Protestants. If you are interpreting the Bible for your own life and how Christ is speaking to YOU personally, that is fine as long as no heresies are evident in your interpretation or it is contrary to the faith. But, of course, God can always speak to you personally through His Word, but this must be in line with the living tradition of the Church and the Magisterium since the Bible cannot stand apart from these two.