My response to a Catholic challenge


#1

In an email exchange I’ve been having with a Catholic apologist, I was given this challenge:

I challenge you to prove to me that each individual reader of the Bible has the authority, from God, to interpret the Bible for himself so as to come to an understanding of what is true and what is false on all matters of faith and morals.

To which I responded:

Glad to take up your challenge. Jesus operated on exactly that method in his dealings with everyone he was faced with:

  1. Matthew 12:3
    But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him:”

If Jesus’ hearers had held to your view of how we come to know what the canon is and its correct interpretation, they could have rightly objected, “But Lord, we have no way of knowing if 2 Samuel was Scripture and therefore authoritative for us. How could any of us know with infallible certainty what Scripture actually is without some infallible body of living men to make an infallible determination of it? After all, when I read Tobit, I don’t feel any different than when I read Esther. Besides, our teachers and friends differ widely on what that passages means.” To which Jesus would have to respond, “Yeah, I guess you’re right.”

  1. Matthew 12:5
    Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless?

According to your view, they could have rightly said, “What books are in ‘the law’ Lord? We have no way of having infallible certainty of this. Besides, everyone I know thinks it means something different…”

  1. Matthew 21:16
    and said to Him, “Do You hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, "Yes. Have you never read, “Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have perfected praise’?”

“But Lord, how could we have known with infallible certainty that what you quoted was really Scripture and inspired or what it really means? We have no infallible external guide to tell us.”

  1. Matthew 21:42
    Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures: "The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the LORD’s doing, And it is marvelous in our eyes’?

“But Lord, how could we have known that was Scripture without an infallible pronouncement and determination from an infallible body of teachers infallibly protected by the Holy Spirit from letting an un-inspired Psalm from getting into the canon?”

  1. Matthew 22:31
    But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying,

“Jesus, how could we have known what you quoted was ‘spoken to us by God’ without a perpetual body of infallible teachers to first give us certainty that it was indeed spoken by God and what its correct interpretation is?”

Thus, our Lord clearly operated on the assumption that each individual was responsible before God for not only knowing what the canon of Scripture was, but also its correct interpretation.
The fact that people come up with opposing interpretations says much more about human sin, pride, and blindness than it does for the need of an infallible interpreter.

BouleTheou

p.s. -

[Hey c0ach, it’s me, Patrick… someone stole my name here, so I picked: BouleTheou which is Greek for “plan of God”]


#2

[quote=BouleTheou]In an email exchange I’ve been having with a Catholic apologist, I was given this challenge:

To which I responded:

Glad to take up your challenge. Jesus operated on exactly that method in his dealings with everyone he was faced with:

  1. Matthew 12:3
    But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him:”

If Jesus’ hearers had held to your view of how we come to know what the canon is and its correct interpretation, they could have rightly objected, “But Lord, we have no way of knowing if 2 Samuel was Scripture and therefore authoritative for us. How could any of us know with infallible certainty what Scripture actually is without some infallible body of living men to make an infallible determination of it? After all, when I read Tobit, I don’t feel any different than when I read Esther. Besides, our teachers and friends differ widely on what that passages means.” To which Jesus would have to respond, “Yeah, I guess you’re right.”

  1. Matthew 12:5
    Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless?

According to your view, they could have rightly said, “What books are in ‘the law’ Lord? We have no way of having infallible certainty of this. Besides, everyone I know thinks it means something different…”

  1. Matthew 21:16
    and said to Him, “Do You hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, "Yes. Have you never read, “Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have perfected praise’?”

“But Lord, how could we have known with infallible certainty that what you quoted was really Scripture and inspired or what it really means? We have no infallible external guide to tell us.”

  1. Matthew 21:42
    Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures: "The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the LORD’s doing, And it is marvelous in our eyes’?

“But Lord, how could we have known that was Scripture without an infallible pronouncement and determination from an infallible body of teachers infallibly protected by the Holy Spirit from letting an un-inspired Psalm from getting into the canon?”

  1. Matthew 22:31
    But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying,

“Jesus, how could we have known what you quoted was ‘spoken to us by God’ without a perpetual body of infallible teachers to first give us certainty that it was indeed spoken by God and what its correct interpretation is?”

Thus, our Lord clearly operated on the assumption that each individual was responsible before God for not only knowing what the canon of Scripture was, but also its correct interpretation.
The fact that people come up with opposing interpretations says much more about human sin, pride, and blindness than it does for the need of an infallible interpreter.

BouleTheou

QUOTE]

Besides scripture, the Jews had Tradition. It was passed on to them by word of mouth.They couldn’t all read nor had the materials to read. They relied on the authority of their Rabbis. They relied on Tradition. So did the Church until it was written down. They relied on Paul and Peter and all of the apostles to set them straight. If private interpretation works so well, why are there over 25,000 different Christian denoninations?
[/quote]


#3

moira -

Besides scripture, the Jews had Tradition. It was passed on to them by word of mouth.

Indeed, they did, and Jesus rebuked them for it because it nullified the Word of God. Mark 7, Matthew 15.

They couldn’t all read nor had the materials to read. They relied on the authority of their Rabbis. They relied on Tradition. So did the Church until it was written down. They relied on Paul and Peter and all of the apostles to set them straight.

If your conclusion, “they relied on the authority of their Rabbis” is true, how could Jesus justly say the things he said to them in the passages I cited?

If private interpretation works so well, why are there over 25,000 different Christian denoninations?

In my dealings with Catholics on-line, I have heard that there are 20,000, 23,000, 25,000, 30,000, 35,000, 38,000, and even 80,000 denominations. What is the source of this number? And what does this have to do with anything I posted?

If the Catholic Magisterium is works so well, why are there sedevacantists, Traditionalists, Neo-Catholics, Pre-Vatican 1 Catohlics, Pre-Vatican 2 Catholics, the Society of Saint Pius X, etc… all of whom consider the others schismatic, and yet all of them hold fast to Papal primacy and to the Roman Catholic system?

moira - Nothing you posted here even begins to respond to my post. The passages I raised have not been addressed and the questions and points I raised about them have been ignored. Please respond to what I actually posted.

Thanks,

BouleTheou


#4

Or let’s just take the first century Jews. Not only did they disagree on interpretation, but they disagreed on the canon as well. The Pharisees accepted the Tanakh. The Sadducees accepted the Torah only. The Hellenists accepted the Septuagint. The Pharisees believed in angels (based on the writings of the Prophets). Not the Sadducees. The Pharisees believed in the resurrection. Not the Sadducees. All Jews, different opinions.

And don’t forget. They did need an infallible interpreter. He came in the person of Christ (you don’t get more infallible than God himself). While it was indeed ideal that the Jews knew both the canon (which hadn’t been set for the Jews till the Council of Jamnia c. AD 95) and proper interpretation, it’s clear they failed, as the first poster cites. That’s why Jesus gave them the infallible interpretation. The first post doesn’t disprove the need for an infallible interpreter. It reinforces it.

“The Church of the living God…the pillar and foundation of truth.” (1 Tim 3:15).


#5

[quote=BouleTheou]IfThe passages I raised have not been addressed and the questions and points I raised about them have been ignored. Please respond to what I actually posted.

Thanks,

BouleTheou
[/quote]

These questions have all been answered many times… search the posts by your coach friend… and you will see them.

You are spouting the “traditions of men” for your teachings… those are the ones condemmed by Jesus in His ministry.

Mr S


#6

Porthos11 -

Howdy.

If what you say is true, that Jesus was the infallible interpreter the Jewish people needed, why did Jesus, in the passages I cited, hold them accountable for knowing both the canon and its proper interpretation without Him?

Deal with that. That’s the point.

Patrick


#7

Jesus held different groups “accountable” to what they said they believed in… and they each had different sources for their beliefs. I will only advise you to be accountable to your beliefs that differ from those of the Catholic Church, or do your own study on the Truths Jesus left, in total, to only one Church.

God will open your eyes in His time… not mine or yours.


#8

Nice try, really. But a false argument.

We know, atleast from scripture, that the Jews were “intrusted with the oracles of God.” How they knew what those oracles were can best be answered by some else, but it wasnt each individual trying to figure out what was and wasnt, that ‘luxury’ wasnt possible.

Also, in each one of the Scriptures you just used, Jesus is addressing those to whom the oracles were intrusted, to those who would have actually READ them, both in and outside of the Jewish synagogues. He wasnt addressing the common lay people.

As for your speculation as to what they would have ‘said to Jesus’…still false in ur assumptions.

I hope to return to address, maybe, each one of your points, charitably.

but I ask, brother, for the sake of Our Lord, leave the sarcasm behind. Be charitable and this post can become fruitful.

In Christ Jesus
Ceph


#9

[quote=BouleTheou]moira -

moira - Nothing you posted here even begins to respond to my post. The passages I raised have not been addressed and the questions and points I raised about them have been ignored. Please respond to what I actually posted.

Thanks,

BouleTheou
[/quote]


#10

[quote=BouleTheou]moira -

moira - Nothing you posted here even begins to respond to my post. The passages I raised have not been addressed and the questions and points I raised about them have been ignored. Please respond to what I actually posted.

Thanks,

BouleTheou
[/quote]

Sorry, didn’t mean to make you mad. I guess I didn’t understand the question.


#11

Cephas -

I will look forward to your response to each individual point. You asserted it was a false argument, but gave no reasons to back that assertion up.

You said:

but I ask, brother, for the sake of Our Lord, leave the sarcasm behind. Be charitable and this post can become fruitful.

Having reread my posts, I have no idea what you could possibly be referring to by “leave the sarcasm” behind. I would ask you, Cephas, to leave baseless accusations behind so this thread can become fruitful.

BouleTheou


#12

[quote=BouleTheou]Cephas -

Having reread my posts, I have no idea what you could possibly be referring to by “leave the sarcasm” behind. I would ask you, Cephas, to leave baseless accusations behind so this thread can become fruitful.

[/quote]

I was refering to basically every one of your add-ons to each one of the scripture you used.

I will say that maybe I did read sarcasm into each one, and if that is truly the case, then I am sorry and ask your forgiveness.

But, they seem to have that tone in the way they are worded.

Ceph


#13

[quote=BouleTheou]moira -

In my dealings with Catholics on-line, I have heard that there are 20,000, 23,000, 25,000, 30,000, 35,000, 38,000, and even 80,000 denominations. What is the source of this number? And what does this have to do with anything I posted?

[/quote]

An article in the April 16, 2001 Newsweek magazine, that documents the rapid growth of separate, competing, and conflicting Protestant denominations in the world, reports the number of denominations as 33,820.

Newsweek’s source for this number is the World Christian Encyclopedia by David Barrett (2001 edition), where it appears on page 10 of Volume 1. (In 1970, a similar statistical study by Barrett gave the number of denominations as 26,350.) The 2001 figure is broken down as 11,830 traditional denominations and 21,990 paradenominations. He divides Christianity into (Roman) Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and Protestant (Barrett is an Anglican clergyman). So if an organization does not belong in one of the first three categories, it’s Protestant. Barrett has some statistical definitions and breakdowns which must be taken into account.

As for what does this have to do with anything:
the fact that there are so many different denominations means that private interpretations of Scriptures has led to schism after schism after schism within Christianity.
Since the Holy Spirit cannot be the author of this, it must be by man who takes the SCriptures and interprets them for himself.
There cannot be 33,000 versions of the truth.

There can only be One truth.


#14

[quote=BouleTheou]Porthos11 -

Howdy.

If what you say is true, that Jesus was the infallible interpreter the Jewish people needed, why did Jesus, in the passages I cited, hold them accountable for knowing both the canon and its proper interpretation without Him?

Deal with that. That’s the point.

Patrick
[/quote]

Sure. Jesus wasn’t holding them accountable for not knowing. In fact, they already knew, at least the best they could. Jesus himself acknowledged their authority (“The Pharisees hold the Chair of Moses, so do as they say”). He was holding them accountable for not living what they knew (“but not what they do” Matthew 23:2-3). In all your examples, the scribes and Pharisees were being condemned for their hypocisy and for their attempts to trap him.

So in fact, the Pharisees and scribes were fine as far as know-how was concerned (and remember, the Jewish priesthood still exercised legitimate authority; e.g. Caiaphas pronouncing a correct prediction about Jesus’ death by virtue of his High Priesthood). Jesus was therefore clearly reminding them of what they know and their not living what they know.

So the initial premise of Jesus holding the authorities responsible for not knowing the proper interpretation falls because he himself clearly acknowledges that they already did. His questions were used in the same sense we emphatically emphasize a point. Like “Have you never read Matthew 23:1-2, and 2 Timothy 3:16 and 2 Thes 2:15”?"

Moreover we Catholics are not forbidden from interpreting the Bible privately. We are ENCOURAGED to read the Bible and discern God’s message daily. What we can’t do is come up with an interpretation that contradicts the Church’s teaching authority. And we gladly follow that because the Bible gives the final word to the Church as the pillar and foundation of truth.


#15
  1. Matthew 12:3
    But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him:”

If Jesus’ hearers had held to your view of how we come to know what the canon is and its correct interpretation, they could have rightly objected, “But Lord, we have no way of knowing if 2 Samuel was Scripture and therefore authoritative for us. How could any of us know with infallible certainty what Scripture actually is without some infallible body of living men to make an infallible determination of it? After all, when I read Tobit, I don’t feel any different than when I read Esther. Besides, our teachers and friends differ widely on what that passages means.” To which Jesus would have to respond, “Yeah, I guess you’re right.”

By that logic, how do you know the Book of Matthew is inerrant? Without infallible assurance, I have no way of knowing that Matthew is scripture and therefore authoritative to prove your point. The fact is that 2 Samuel, was understood to be inspired by the oral Tradition of the Jewish people, just as Matthew is held as inspired by the Tradition of modern Christianity. In fact, Tradition is the *only *way we would know one way or another that a book is inspired, as any other claim would have to come from other written works, which may or may not be inspired.

  1. Matthew 12:5
    Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless?

According to your view, they could have rightly said, “What books are in ‘the law’ Lord? We have no way of having infallible certainty of this. Besides, everyone I know thinks it means something different…”

Christ made perfectly clear who had the authority in the Jewish faith to interpret the law, and it wasn’t everyone:

:bible1: “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you” Matthew 23: 2-3

  1. Matthew 21:16
    and said to Him, “Do You hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, "Yes. Have you never read, “Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have perfected praise’?”

“But Lord, how could we have known with infallible certainty that what you quoted was really Scripture and inspired or what it really means? We have no infallible external guide to tell us.”

  1. Matthew 21:42
    Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures: "The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the LORD’s doing, And it is marvelous in our eyes’?

“But Lord, how could we have known that was Scripture without an infallible pronouncement and determination from an infallible body of teachers infallibly protected by the Holy Spirit from letting an un-inspired Psalm from getting into the canon?”

“Jesus, how could we have known what you quoted was ‘spoken to us by God’ without a perpetual body of infallible teachers to first give us certainty that it was indeed spoken by God and what its correct interpretation is?”

Precisely. Luckily for the Jews, they had a constant oral Tradition, guided by the Holy Spirit, which affirmed the inspiration of most of their texts. The books that were still being debated at this time were not foundational books of law or faith, they were narratives or writings of possible prophets, the inclusion or rejection of which would not have changed the Jewish faith. The sense of the faithful, informed by Tradition, had the assurance it needed to trust that scripture was indeed inspired.

Thus, our Lord clearly operated on the assumption that each individual was responsible before God for not only knowing what the canon of Scripture was, but also its correct interpretation.
The fact that people come up with opposing interpretations says much more about human sin, pride, and blindness than it does for the need of an infallible interpreter.

Each individual is most definitely responsible before God for understanding His Word. But where would we learn this if not from others? Indeed, if Christ truly expected each person to be capable of interpreting Scripture themselves, why would He have spent the better part of His ministry explaining Scripture to the disciples?


#16

[quote=BouleTheou]In an email exchange I’ve been having with a Catholic apologist, I was given this challenge:

… see original post …

To which I responded:

Glad to take up your challenge. Jesus operated on exactly that method in his dealings with everyone he was faced with:

  1. Matthew 12:3
    But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him:”

If Jesus’ hearers had held to your view of how we come to know what the canon is and its correct interpretation, they could have rightly objected, “But Lord, we have no way of knowing if 2 Samuel was Scripture and therefore authoritative for us. How could any of us know with infallible certainty what Scripture actually is without some infallible body of living men to make an infallible determination of it? After all, when I read Tobit, I don’t feel any different than when I read Esther. Besides, our teachers and friends differ widely on what that passages means.” To which Jesus would have to respond, “Yeah, I guess you’re right.”

  1. Matthew 12:5
    Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless?

According to your view, they could have rightly said, “What books are in ‘the law’ Lord? We have no way of having infallible certainty of this. Besides, everyone I know thinks it means something different…”

  1. Matthew 21:16
    and said to Him, “Do You hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, "Yes. Have you never read, “Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have perfected praise’?”

“But Lord, how could we have known with infallible certainty that what you quoted was really Scripture and inspired or what it really means? We have no infallible external guide to tell us.”

… more of the same …

Thus, our Lord clearly operated on the assumption that each individual was responsible before God for not only knowing what the canon of Scripture was, but also its correct interpretation.
The fact that people come up with opposing interpretations says much more about human sin, pride, and blindness than it does for the need of an infallible interpreter.

BouleTheou

QUOTE]

Semi-random thoughts on this - typed while looking after a 3 year old so even more random and unchannelled than wanted.

  1. Perhaps Jesus believed that the individual knew what the canon of scripture was because they had been told by the Jewish authorities what that canon was.

The individual had not read the scriptures plus a whole wad of other books and then decided for themselves which books were scripture and which books were not. They knew which books were counted as scripture because they were informed of this by an external authority.

Many individuals in modern times think they CAN make a personal interpretation of what is scripture and what is not - regardless of what the church (the pillar and foundation of truth) tells them. So Luther dropped books. And the recent Good as New version drops books and adds a book through personal interpretation.

  1. If the listeners of Jesus had friends and teachers with differing views - all arrived at presumably by personal interpretation or by following someone elses personal interpretation - that proves, rather than disproves that we don’t always have the authority to interpret our own way to doctrine and morals Sometimes the interpretation is very obvious. Other times it is not and we need help and God has ordained an external authority to give us this help.

  2. The verses quoted are not relevant anyway. The scriptures referred to ARE true scripture. Jesus KNEW they are scripture. His listeners KNEW or at least believed them to be scripture. Which makes the hypothetical responses of the people Jesus talked to entirely nonsensical.

  3. We all have to read scripture, meditate on it, and learn from it. And often we can see the meaning all by ourselves. Other times we cannot - witness the Jehovah’s Witnesses on the Trinity finding the meaning for themselves.

  4. Many people do not have the academic skills or general intelligence to interpret all these difficult passages. Jesus cannot expect each of these individuals to know and find out, without help, the correct interpretations.

  5. Lots of other thoughts come to mind but I’ve just read Dr. Colossus & porthos11 (the last couple of posts) in more detail. And they cover most of the thoughts probably far more eloquently than I would. In any case, most of the catholics here will know far more than I do about catholic life/doctrine - so they’re probably more correct than me.

Blessings

Ashley
[/quote]


#17

asteriod -

Jesus’ statements presuppose that they already should have known what Scripture was, what it said, and its proper interpretation. Jesus begins with “have you not read… that which God said in the Scripture” which assumes that they should have known beforehand the canon, the text itself, and its interpretation.

I’m still waiting for someone to actually take up my original post.

BouleTheou


#18

[quote=BouleTheou]asteriod -

Jesus’ statements presuppose that they already should have known what Scripture was, what it said, and its proper interpretation. Jesus begins with “have you not read… that which God said in the Scripture” which assumes that they should have known beforehand the canon, the text itself, and its interpretation.

I’m still waiting for someone to actually take up my original post.

BouleTheou
[/quote]

The challenge was not did Jesus quote scripture. The challenge was to prove that the bible teaches that each individual has the right to interpret the bible freely.

You didn’t answer the challenge the Catholic made to you. None of those verses you mention say anything about every individual interpreting the bible as they feel is correct. Jesus did not say, “What do you think about Isaih 53 Peter?” He quoted the scriptures and told them what it meant. He is God he has the right to interpret the scriptures since he is the inspiration of all scripture. You do not have that same right. Jesus gave that right to his church, the Catholic Church.


#19

[quote=BouleTheou]In an email exchange I’ve been having with a Catholic apologist, I was given this challenge:

To which I responded:

Glad to take up your challenge. Jesus operated on exactly that method in his dealings with everyone he was faced with:

  1. Matthew 12:3
    But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him:”

If Jesus’ hearers had held to your view of how we come to know what the canon is and its correct interpretation, they could have rightly objected, “But Lord, we have no way of knowing if 2 Samuel was Scripture and therefore authoritative for us. How could any of us know with infallible certainty what Scripture actually is without some infallible body of living men to make an infallible determination of it? After all, when I read Tobit, I don’t feel any different than when I read Esther. Besides, our teachers and friends differ widely on what that passages means.” To which Jesus would have to respond, “Yeah, I guess you’re right.”
[/quote]

The Catholic Church does not say that the apostles did not know what the old testament scripture was. This does not mention anything about Tobit or Wisdom or any of the other deutero books not being scripture. Apparantly the protestants can’t figure out what is scripture because they reject whole books like Tobit and Wisdom and Baruch, etc. They also reject verses like Tim3;15

But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

You openly reject verses like this that refute your sola scriptura view.

Your response does not answer the challenge though. The challenge was to prove that you have the right to translate the bible on your own.

All your other quotes just reiterate what you said here, so my objection is the same for those.


#20

I challenge you to prove to me that each individual reader of the Bible has the authority, from God, to interpret the Bible for himself so as to come to an understanding of what is true and what is false on all matters of faith and morals.

I agree with the previous posters. By your long list of citations, you did not show that each individual has the right to interpret Scripture and thus you did not answer your friend’s challenge. At the most, you show that Jesus had authority to interpret Scripture, and this is not in dispute.The fact that he referred his listeners to the Scriptures proves nothing: Catholics also cite Scripture and hold it as authoritative (though not in a formally sufficient sense which the Bible does not even claim for itself), but they do not hold that it is open to individual interpretation.

Jesus and his contemporaries who were fellow Jews operated on the assumption that certain writings were inspired. Aside from the fact that the Pharisees and Saducees (his main Jewish opponents) accepted different canons, the fact of canonicity was not an issue for them, and has no bearing on the main issue, which is interpretation.

The reason the fact that there are scores of disagreeing Protestant denoms is important is because it demonstrates the failure of the perpiscuity of Scripture belief.

Give an adequate answer to your friend’s challenge. Then we’ll talk.


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