Parables and Doctrine


#1

I am under the impression that some of you Catholics are aware of a common Protestant objection to some of your doctrines that you appeal to the Parables of Christ to explain. Like John 15 for the oneness of the Church and the possibility of leaving the Church that you were actually in. Also Matthew 18 for being actually forgiven, then punished for what you were forgiven from if you don’t forgive others. So those type things I’ve got in mind when asking this question.

As a Protestant, I was presented with the principle that "you can't try to get much doctrine from the Parables of Christ" first by a Reformed Baptist pastor, then a couple years ago it came up again in John Murray's "Redemption Accomplished and Applied" in the chapter on "Union w/ Christ" and discussing John 15.  Like, my pastor and everybody in my church believes that.  I used to, but now I'm like "Is that Biblical that we shouldn't get much doctrine from the Parables?"  I don't even know how much is "too much" in that system.  

So, understanding that Christ taught in parables and explained them to His disciples (Matt. 13:11 & Mark 4:11), but not all those explanations are included in Scripture, it seems like it would limit our understanding of the truth Christ taught, if we don’t take the parables seriously. Not that Reformed folks don’t take them seriously, but it’s like maybe we don’t get everything out of them that Christ intended.

**So, do you think it’s correct that we should not try to get much doctrine from the parables, since they are just “general teaching on topics?”


#2

[quote=Reformed Rob]So, understanding that Christ taught in parables and explained them to His disciples (Matt. 13:11 & Mark 4:11), but not all those explanations are included in Scripture, it seems like it would limit our understanding of the truth Christ taught, if we don’t take the parables seriously.
[/quote]

Christ Jesus’s explanations of his parables aren’t all recorded in Scripture, but, of course, Scripture itself developed from Tradition. There is a great deal of wealth to be mined from Tradition about the parables.

– Mark L. Chance.


#3

mlchance, I’m sure there is, as R. Sungenis remarks that the Church is the teacher, and the Bible is the Book. Because God has supplied both, neither now stands on it’s own.

How about the Protestant conception that we shouldn’t try to get much in the way of doctrine from the parables? Do they just say that because you would get Catholic doctrine from the parables?


#4

[quote=Reformed Rob]How about the Protestant conception that we shouldn’t try to get much in the way of doctrine from the parables? Do they just say that because you would get Catholic doctrine from the parables?
[/quote]

Got me. I grew up in Southern Baptist churches, and I’ve never heard such a claim about parables before. In fact, I even taught a five (six?) week adult Sunday school on the parables and how they relate to Christian doctrine for a Southern Baptist church.

One thing (among many) I did learn from growing up Southern Baptist is this: Never underestimate the lengths anti-Catholics will go to in order to demonize the Catholic Church.

Take, for example, Matthew Henry’s commentary on John’s Gospel…

– Mark L. Chance.


#5

Hence we may speak of the irony which must always be possible in devices adapted to human weakness of understanding, where heavenly secrets are concerned. Bacon has said excellently well, “parables are serviceable as a mask and veil, and also for elucidation and illustration” (De sap. vet.). Of Scripture parables we conclude that they illustrate and edify by revealing some Divine principle, with immediate reference to the hearers addressed, but with more remote and recondite applications in the whole Christian economy to which they belong. Thus we find two lines of interpretation, the first dealing with Our Lord’s parables as and when they were spoken – let this be termed critical exegesis; and the second bringing out their significance in the history of the Church, or ecclesiastical exegesis. Both are connected and may be traced to the same root in Revelation: yet they are distinct, somewhat after the fashion of the literal and mystical sense in Scripture generally. We cannot lose either out of sight. The parables of the New Testament refuse to be handled like Aesop’s fables; they were intended from the first to shadow forth the “mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven”, and their double purpose may be read in Matthew 13:10-18, where it is attributed to Christ Himself. :slight_smile:


#6

The Catholic Church teaches that the scriptures are an inexhaustible source of inspiration for us.

I often think about what Christians will believe 10,000 years from now, if, God willing, Jesus has not yet returned. And, I am bouyed that the Bible will still be there to guide us, no matter what happens. Christ will still be in our midst. I just don’t expect the outcome to be that the authentic church will reject the teachings of Christ. But, I expect many will fall away and reject them. In the end, the ‘wheat’ will be separated from the ‘chaff.’

I tend to agree with a former associate who graduated from Moody Bible Institute, who said that he always wanted to find himself agreeing with the Bible. I think that’s a good reality check, and it’s one that the Catholic Church is constantly focused on.


#7

I believe that it is absurd to seperate the words of Christ as relates to parables and direct doctrinal teaching. Mark, Matthew and Luke would have little to teach us from the mouth of the Lord if parables were deminished, and John would take a pre-eminent place in doctrinal teaching (which Martin Luther taught{for a different reason}). I would offer up the parable of the good Samaritan, the parable itself is the emphasis of teaching which the Lord follows with ‘Go and do likewise.’ Because many of the teachings of Christ were parabolic does not deminish their doctrinal certainty, for God does not bear false witness. To take any of the recorded words of the Lord Jesus Christ and put them in a lesser catagory than others would seem to me to undermine the protestant view of ‘sola scriptura’, which is exactly what Luther did by putting some scripture over other scripture.:rolleyes:


#8

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.