Scriptural Application and Talking to Protestants


#1

Hi All,

I'm hoping some of you seasoned, informed Catholics can offer me a little advice. I'm on my way into the Church, coming from a Protestant background. Basically my entire family is still Protestant. In particular, my background in Baptist/Evangelical, and my parents are especially steeped in a type of theology called Dispensationalism. One of the common roadblocks I encounter when I have theological conversations with them concerns how Scripture is applied to their lives. For them, because their interpretation tends to be hyper-literal, anything that was written to Israel or said to a Jew in Scripture really doesn't apply to them as (Gentile) Christians. In practice, this basically means the whole Old Testament, and a large chunk of the Gospels, is out (by which I mean it doesn't apply to them directly), since that was "written to Israel, not the Church."

How can I overcome this type of objection when dialoguing with them? From the Catholic perspective, to what extent, or in what way, do portions of the Bible written to Israel apply to the Church today? Thanks for your guidance!


#2

The verses are many, but here are a few that immediately come to mind.

Romans 9.6-ff This identifies believers as the true descendants of Abraham.

Galatians 6.15-16 Here, Paul declares believers as, “the Israel of God.”

Matthew 21.33-43 Here, Jesus explains how Psalm 118 radically applies to the Jews.


#3

I came from the same background. I had a problem though because when I looked up the passages in the NT that said "this was to fulfil", and when I looked up those passages in the OT where they were cited from it was like the verse had been ripped from its surrounding context.

So either the writers of the NT were up to no good in their handling of Scripture or my approach to Scripture was not in line with theirs.:blush:

Last 5 chapters of Zechariah were a particular problem for me. So much of it seemed about some future golden age for Israel, but it was interspersed with citation in the NT implying it was fulfilled.


#4

[quote="Darryl_B, post:3, topic:327723"]
I came from the same background. I had a problem though because when I looked up the passages in the NT that said "this was to fulfil", and when I looked up those passages in the OT where they were cited from it was like the verse had been ripped from its surrounding context.

So either the writers of the NT were up to no good in their handling of Scripture or my approach to Scripture was not in line with theirs.:blush:

Last 5 chapters of Zechariah were a particular problem for me. So much of it seemed about some future golden age for Israel, but it was interspersed with citation in the NT implying it was fulfilled.

[/quote]

Oh, I love Zechariah! It's so rich with Messianic symbolism. I especially love the scene in Chapter 6 where the Lord commands Joshua the High Priest to sit upon a throne in the temple where he would be crowned to symbolize the future peace between the two offices of priest and king. Of course, we know this would be fulfilled through Christ the prophet, priest, and king of the church.


#5

Good one! I feel like the interpretation I’ve read of theirs is something along the lines of this being a reference to a remnant of Israel that will be preserved in the Millennium.

Galatians 6.15-16 Here, Paul declares believers as, “the Israel of God.”

That’s the typical understanding, yes, but unfortunately it doesn’t directly say, “THE CHURCH is the Israel of God,” so I have a feeling they wouldn’t get that and they’d just say it applies to righteous Jews or something.

Matthew 21.33-43 Here, Jesus explains how Psalm 118 radically applies to the Jews.

Explain this in further detail, please? I think they’d read the parable and say, “Yes, the kingdom of God was opened to the Gentiles because they Jews rejected Jesus.” I don’t see how it would force them outside of their interpretive paradigm. Good suggestions, though!


#6

Let me quote it:

"And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, on them there will be no rain. If the family of Egypt will not come up and enter in, they shall have no rain; they shall receive the plague with which the Lord strikes the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. This shall be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.

In that day “HOLINESS TO THE LORD” shall be engraved on the bells of the horses. The pots in the Lord’s house shall be like the bowls before the altar. Yes, every pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be holiness to the Lord of hosts. Everyone who sacrifices shall come and take them and cook in them. In that day there shall no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the Lord of hosts."

Can you tell me where this is fulfilled in the NT?

One place I have been able to go with my dad is Acts 15 where the Apostle James quotes Amos about the re-building of the Temple, and directly applies it to the foundation of the Church. But I went literally line by line through the text with him and was like he was reading it but not reading it. Like he read the words and they went right over his head. It was an odd experience because he’s normally very Biblically astute. Anyway, more reason to pray! :slight_smile:


#7

Paul’s point is to emphasize that from the time of Abraham, salvation belonged to those that believed. Ask your friends if, as protestants, do they really believe that God’s economy of salvation involves works or heritage?

That’s the typical understanding, yes, but unfortunately it doesn’t directly say, “THE CHURCH is the Israel of God,” so I have a feeling they wouldn’t get that and they’d just say it applies to righteous Jews or something.

Consider that this epistle is written to a church that was being seduced by a Jewish sect. This is why Paul is emphasizing to the Galatians that circumcision avails nothing. Not only for the Gentiles converting to Judaism, but circumcision avails nothing even for the Jews:
Romans 2.28-29, “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.”

Explain this in further detail, please? I think they’d read the parable and say, “Yes, the kingdom of God was opened to the Gentiles because they Jews rejected Jesus.” I don’t see how it would force them outside of their interpretive paradigm. Good suggestions, though!

Following this parable, Jesus explains to the Jews that not merely will the kingdom be given to the Gentiles, but, “the kingdom of God will be taken away from you.” Opened to the Gentiles, but closed to the Jews. Closed to the physical nation. The Jewish nation no longer exists as it used to. Just a few years after they crucified Jesus, Titus of Rome destroyed the temple and the GENEALOGICAL RECORDS with it. Therefore, no one today can rightly trace their lineage prior to AD 70. Besides, John the Baptist told the Pharisees in Matthew 3, "do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham’


#8

Me too. At first I was disgusted by what appeared to the NT writers being “up to no good” but it made me realize that a kind of sacred tradition, and not simply studying scripture “in context” (as I’d been raised to do), was heavily at work in how the scriptures were viewed by the early Christians; a little like how, in the Septuagint, a young woman giving birth to Emmanuel was not only the story of the child named Emmanuel born shortly thereafter, but was also seen as something that would be fulfilled in the future, and the “young woman” would actually be a virgin (as the Greek translation went). :shrug:


#9

NickInCali

Don’t have anything specific to offer…but I have a question about their thinking…
you said in the OP that they basically ignore much of the Gospels as only applying to Jews, is that correct?

Here is what I find odd about that approach…
Since ALL of the Gospels were written by Christians at least 20 plus years after the ascension - why do they think a Christian writer would use up so much precious paper and ink, hand writing and hand copying, a whole lot of stuff that is of no use to a Christian?

Seems to me that a Christian writer, in recording the teachings of Christ would only be interested in that which effects Christians…

Maybe that’s just me…

Peace
James


#10

[quote="JRKH, post:9, topic:327723"]
NickInCali

Don't have anything specific to offer....but I have a question about their thinking....
you said in the OP that they basically ignore much of the Gospels as only applying to Jews, is that correct?

[/quote]

In a nutshell, yes. John 15 about the Vine and the branches, and the Upper Room Discourse are about the only things they actually think apply to them as Christians.

Here is what I find odd about that approach...
Since ALL of the Gospels were written by Christians at least 20 plus years after the ascension - why do they think a Christian writer would use up so much precious paper and ink, hand writing and hand copying, a whole lot of stuff that is of no use to a Christian?

I think they'd say it's useful in the sense that the things recorded in the Gospels are true and they at least indicate to us how things used to be, or perhaps how they will be in the Millennium. And of course they record the death and resurrection of Christ, which they would agree is the central event of human history.

Seems to me that a Christian writer, in recording the teachings of Christ would only be interested in that which effects Christians...

Maybe that's just me....

I definitely see your point and it's one I've raised myself. I appreciate your thoughts!


#11

They would say that God’s economy of salvation for the nation of Israel is definitely connected with ethnic heritage. The plan of salvation is different in their minds for Israel and the Church.

Consider that this epistle is written to a church that was being seduced by a Jewish sect. This is why Paul is emphasizing to the Galatians that circumcision avails nothing. Not only for the Gentiles converting to Judaism, but circumcision avails nothing even for the Jews:
Romans 2.28-29, “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.”

Following this parable, Jesus explains to the Jews that not merely will the kingdom be given to the Gentiles, but, “the kingdom of God will be taken away from you.” Opened to the Gentiles, but closed to the Jews. Closed to the physical nation. The Jewish nation no longer exists as it used to. Just a few years after they crucified Jesus, Titus of Rome destroyed the temple and the GENEALOGICAL RECORDS with it. Therefore, no one today can rightly trace their lineage prior to AD 70. Besides, John the Baptist told the Pharisees in Matthew 3, "do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham’

These are good examples to show that the kingdom of God, or the Church, is open to the Gentiles and one doesn’t have to be a Jew or keep the Mosaic Law to be a child of God. That’s all well and good, dispensationalists would agree. But they don’t show, in and of themselves, that we as Christians should apply texts written to Jews, particularly Jews under the Old Covenant, to our own lives. That’s the obstacle I’m needing help to navigate.


#12

Does it matter to them what effect the teachings of Christ had on the early non-Jewish Christians who compiled the New Testament? If they wanted to know what the early churches really believed about what applied/ didn't apply to them, the Bible is not necessarily the place to start, but the testimonies of the churches themselves.


#13

Here are some passages from the epistles that speak of the Scriptures (Old Testament, since the New Testament did not yet exist) being for the purpose of “our instruction” (spoken by Church leaders after Jesus had risen and ascended).

Be sure your family understands that anytime the New Testament speaks of the “scriptures”, it is referring to the Old Testament. Some of the New Testament books had not even been written when Paul penned the passages below.
You can do a word search on “scripture” & “scriptures” and perhaps find some others you can use. I did not use any gospel passages since you say they don’t accept most of it as applying to the NT Church.

Romans 15:4 For whatever was written previously was written for our instruction, that by endurance and by the encouragement of the **scriptures **we might have hope.

2 Timothy 3:14-17 But you, remain faithful to what you have learned and believed, because you know from whom you learned it, and that from infancy you have known (the) sacred scriptures, which are capable of giving you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. **All scripture **is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

Here are a couple examples where Paul quotes a specific OT passage as authoritative in establishing a NT practice/teaching.

1 Tim 5: 17-18 Presbyters who preside well deserve double honor, especially those who toil in preaching and teaching. For the scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it is threshing,” and, “A worker deserves his pay.”

James 4:5 Or do you suppose that the **scripture **speaks without meaning when it says, “The spirit that he has made to dwell in us tends toward jealousy”?


#14

[quote="NickInCali, post:11, topic:327723"]
They would say that God's economy of salvation for the nation of Israel is definitely connected with ethnic heritage. The plan of salvation is different in their minds for Israel and the Church.

These are good examples to show that the kingdom of God, or the Church, is open to the Gentiles and one doesn't have to be a Jew or keep the Mosaic Law to be a child of God. That's all well and good, dispensationalists would agree. But they don't show, in and of themselves, that we as Christians should apply texts written to Jews, particularly Jews under the Old Covenant, to our own lives. That's the obstacle I'm needing help to navigate.

[/quote]

Ok, after rereading your original post, I realized I was indirect in dealing with the issue of the OT scriptures applying to the church. I was addressing a foundational point that your parents need to understand IN ORDER TO understand why the OT scriptures apply to the church. The point is this: OT Israel is the church! It is the church of the prophesied Messiah, Jesus Christ! God always couched Israel's economy of salvation in the Messiah.

Just like it is with the church today, national Israel had it's true members and it's hypocrites. Just like it is with the church today, the Gospel is central to salvation: faith in Jesus Christ was, is, and always will be God's economy of salvation.

The entire chapter of Romans 4 is a wonderful demonstration of this as Paul uses Abraham as a case and point of this essential truth. Just like Jesus explained to the Pharisees in John 8, "Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see My day."


#15

NickInCali #1
Basically my entire family is still Protestant. In particular, my background in Baptist/Evangelical, and my parents are especially steeped in a type of theology called Dispensationalism. One of the common roadblocks I encounter when I have theological conversations with them concerns how Scripture is applied to their lives…. the whole Old Testament, and a large chunk of the Gospels, is out (by which I mean it doesn’t apply to them directly), since that was “written to Israel, not the Church.”

As Christ wrote nothing and gave us His Church, and She gave us the Sacred Scriptures as the Word of God with the seven books missing from Protestant Bibles, the key surely is to identify what His Church has to teach us through Her Sacred Scriptures, Her Tradition, and Her Magisterium personally established by Christ – “He that hears you hears Me.” (Lk 10:16).

Her Saints Matthew and John were companions of Christ, and Saints Mark and Luke lived in constant contact with His contemporaries.

Jesus made all four promises to Peter alone:
“You are Peter and on this rock I will build My Church.” (Mt 16:18)
“The gates of hell will not prevail against it.”(Mt 16:18)
I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of heaven." ( Mt 16:19)
“Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven.” (Mt 16:19) [Later to the Twelve].

Sole authority:
“Strengthen your brethren.” (Lk 22:32)
“Feed My sheep.”(Jn 21:17).

Thus was His Catholic Church founded and She declared which books comprise the Word of God no more and no less.


#16

Another amazing proof-text is the entire book of Hebrews. It’s main point is God’s economy of salvation in Christ. This book is filled with quotes from the OT as they relate to Jesus Christ.
From beginning to end the author uses these quotes to set forth a progression of the superiority of Christ to angels and men, to Moses, to Joshua, to Aaron and his sons, and how that Jesus’ priesthood and sacrifice fulfills the Levitical priesthood and its sacrifices.

The author also teaches the Jews the true knowledge of the mysteries of their law; to point out to them the design, use, and abrogation of its ceremonies. He uses the examples of their forefathers who stand as their witnesses, emphasizing their faith in the inheritance of Messiah’s Kingdom.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.”

You could also demonstrate to them that this isn’t a distinctly Roman Catholic teaching. There were no reformers that separated OT Israel from the NT church. Dispensationalism is a fairly recent development.


#17

I’m not sure how to address the original post, in general. I think one has to slow the Protestants down and try to discuss a verse at a time.

We can only sow the seed of the gospel, it is God who brings his word back in abundance. We must avoid the sin of pride, in the first place, and then let God do one of the things he does best.

Blush: how can you argue with the Bible, itself? Yes, scripture does a lot of ripping things out of context, whenever it wants to. No one can deny that. The other criticism (Jewish origin) related to that, is that the NT spiritualizes the prophecies of the OT. For example, Jesus teaches that his kingdom is not of this world – which is not exactly what the Jews were expecting.

In a more general sense, the Jews were supposed to be a kingdom of priests, a light for all other nations. I think they have become that only in the Christian interpretation, where those baptized into Christ, Jews and Gentiles alike, are a nation of priests for all the world. The NT in general, and parts of Romans in particular, are the apologetic addressed to Jews.

Back to talking to Protestants: you’re always on the slippery slope of private interpretation, where you are conversing with people who actively resist an authoritative interpretation of scripture. In my case, talking to my evangelical cousin, she says that in the final judgment, it doesn’t matter what church you belong to. Really? I thought Jesus said “upon this rock I will build my church” – *not churches *-- so there is really only one true church – and I hasten to add that you must belong to it, as far as I can tell. It seems that a Bible Christian should want to belong to it. (Alternately, alas, we must ignore those words of Christ, I guess. I always keep asking people which verses I’m supposed to tear out of my Bible. I never get a response, by the way.)


#18

I blushed because I have realized the NT wasn’t ripping verses out of context, I realized I was not interpreting the OT through the same lens as the Apostles. I had been taught to look at the OT through a lens of nationalistic Israel still waiting for a king and a kingdom and a land and a temple and sacrifices and all the nations on the earth would come up to Jerusalem otherwise experience a curse all supposedly future.


#19

[quote="sirach2v4, post:17, topic:327723"]
I'm not sure how to address the original post, in general. I think one has to slow the Protestants down and try to discuss a verse at a time.

We can only sow the seed of the gospel, it is God who brings his word back in abundance. We must avoid the sin of pride, in the first place, and then let God do one of the things he does best.

Blush: how can you argue with the Bible, itself? Yes, scripture does a lot of ripping things out of context, whenever it wants to. No one can deny that. The other criticism (Jewish origin) related to that, is that the NT spiritualizes the prophecies of the OT. For example, Jesus teaches that his kingdom is not of this world -- which is not exactly what the Jews were expecting.

In a more general sense, the Jews were supposed to be a kingdom of priests, a light for all other nations. I think they have become that only in the Christian interpretation, where those baptized into Christ, Jews and Gentiles alike, are a nation of priests for all the world. The NT in general, and parts of Romans in particular, are the apologetic addressed to Jews.

Back to talking to Protestants: you're always on the slippery slope of private interpretation, where you are conversing with people who actively resist an authoritative interpretation of scripture. In my case, talking to my evangelical cousin, she says that in the final judgment, it doesn't matter what church you belong to. Really? I thought Jesus said "upon this rock I will build my church" -- *not churches *-- so there is really only one true church -- and I hasten to add that you must belong to it, as far as I can tell. It seems that a Bible Christian should want to belong to it. (Alternately, alas, we must ignore those words of Christ, I guess. I always keep asking people which verses I'm supposed to tear out of my Bible. I never get a response, by the way.)

[/quote]

I would also like to add something to what you said. The third most predominant religion in my country is "non-denominationalism". I always filled out my countries census with religion "Christian". That is because as far as I was concerned denominationism is not what God wants. The thing that kept me away from the Catholic church was premillenialism, the Plan A God's focus is Israel, but because they rejected Jesus as Messiah, God switched to Plan B, a parenthesis in history. That is what I had to overcome in order to consider the Catholic Church because I finally found that there was no Plan B, there only ever was a Plan A, and that Jesus Christ is King on the throne of David right now, and the kingdom is real right now, and therefore there can only be one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church and ... ooohhhh.

If all those non-denominational believers are anything like me, the only thing they need to overcome is the concept of what constitutes God's kingdom. Then the harvest is ripe for the Catholic Church.


#20

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