Scripture Authority


#1

Did the idea that the Church was the proper interpreter of the Bible only gain major consensus in the late Medieval period? I am currently reading a book by Alister McGrath called Christianity's Dangerous Idea where he states that "Although the problem of biblical interpretation was not insignificant for medieval Christianity, the extent of any difficulties was limited by the emerging consensus that the church itself was the supreme interpreter of the Bible."(30) I was under the impression that the idea of the Church as interpreter of the Bible dated back to the beginnings of the Church. And that the magisterium wasn't a medieval invention. Any thoughts?**


#2

[quote="davidabott33, post:1, topic:329321"]
I was under the impression that the idea of the Church as interpreter of the Bible dated back to the beginnings of the Church. And that the magisterium wasn't a medieval invention. Any thoughts?

[/quote]

Put away that worthless book. Christ established the Church and the Church alone has the authority to safeguard and interpret the Bible. It is not a development of the Middle Ages. Even the Bible itself records that the Church is the foundation and pillar of truth (1 Timothy 3:15).

So many well-intentioned authors have tried to rewrite Christian history. Many have succeeded only in profiting from those willing to close their ears and eyes to established truth.

Joe


#3

Considering it was members of the Church the wrote the NT, and that it was the Church that assembled the entirety of the Bible, and as the protector of Truth, that it would have the authority to interpret that which it put together. Not to mention that the people didn't have personal bibles to interpret from. It was the churches that had copies of the Bible, and even then, not all had them. So, the idea that before the medieval era that the laity interpreted the Bible for themselves is ridiculous.


#4

[quote="davidabott33, post:1, topic:329321"]
Did the idea that the Church was the proper interpreter of the Bible only gain major consensus in the late Medieval period? I am currently reading a book by Alister McGrath called Christianity's Dangerous Idea where he states that "Although the problem of biblical interpretation was not insignificant for medieval Christianity, the extent of any difficulties was limited by the emerging consensus that the church itself was the supreme interpreter of the Bible."(30) I was under the impression that the idea of the Church as interpreter of the Bible dated back to the beginnings of the Church. And that the magisterium wasn't a medieval invention. Any thoughts?**

St. Irenaeus (d. AD 200) writes:

But, again, when we refer [the heretics] to that tradition which originates from the apostles, [and] which is preserved by means of the succession of presbyters in the Churches, they object to tradition, saying that they themselves are wiser not merely than the presbyters, but even than the apostles, because they have discovered the unadulterated truth. For [they maintain] that the apostles intermingled the things of the law with the words of the Saviour; . . . It comes to this, therefore, that these men do now consent neither to Scripture nor to tradition.10

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#5

[quote="davidabott33, post:1, topic:329321"]
Did the idea that the Church was the proper interpreter of the Bible only gain major consensus in the late Medieval period? I am currently reading a book by Alister McGrath called Christianity's Dangerous Idea where he states that "Although the problem of biblical interpretation was not insignificant for medieval Christianity, the extent of any difficulties was limited by the emerging consensus that the church itself was the supreme interpreter of the Bible."(30) I was under the impression that the idea of the Church as interpreter of the Bible dated back to the beginnings of the Church. And that the magisterium wasn't a medieval invention. Any thoughts?**

McGrath as an educated Protestant understands the danger of sola scriptura as well as the falsity of the doctrine as is practiced by so many today (ie: every person with a Bible can interpret the Bible). But being Protestant he rejects the Magesterium and Pope and thus substitutes a strange idea of a sort of "Protestant Magesterium" which he calls a consensus of Protestant thought. He would basically reject the fringes and say the majority opinion of Protestants rule. There are a number of problems with this idea and it shows that at the end of the day even the best Protestant theologians are grasping for straws trying to avoid the Church's God given authority.

Why they believe an authoritative fatherly God as described in the Bible, would create a Church that is absent of a fatherly authority is beyond me.

Check out this video by Father Barron on this issue specific to McGrath. youtube.com/watch?v=RWYwBDqFsuE

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#6

[quote="davidabott33, post:1, topic:329321"]
Did the idea that the Church was the proper interpreter of the Bible only gain major consensus in the late Medieval period? I am currently reading a book by Alister McGrath called Christianity's Dangerous Idea where he states that "Although the problem of biblical interpretation was not insignificant for medieval Christianity, the extent of any difficulties was limited by the emerging consensus that the church itself was the supreme interpreter of the Bible."(30) I was under the impression that the idea of the Church as interpreter of the Bible dated back to the beginnings of the Church. And that the magisterium wasn't a medieval invention. Any thoughts?**

Scripture as the sole authoritie is a Protestant idea. The early church did what the bishop's said. Early heresies were started by bishops so it was which set of bishops were right. Scripture was for reading during mass. That is why a conanical list was developed. To say these can be read the rest can't. But no one for , say, the first 1000 years used scripture as the rule. It was always the bishops

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#7

I'm well versed in Catholic Apologetics 101. I certainly know the arguments for Church authority. I guess I was just surprised that this was coming from someone like McGrath. If anything it would seem that this would have been the time when a consensus was not growing-a time when there was actual significant debate, which showed itself fully with Luther and the beginning of the reformation. As someone said earlier, obviously most of the laity didn't even have Bibles for the first 1000 years and were illiterate anyway. But reading this made me think. This idea of the Church as sole interpreter was something that I learned from reading various Catholic Apologetics books. And is something I definitely believe by reason and fact. But I also had the idea from reading these same books that the idea of the pope as the head of the Church was also nearly universally believed by the Church, when in fact, if I am not mistaken, there was a strong conciliarist movement in the Middle Ages, and perhaps before, as well. I was just making sure the case wasn't he same here.
Now these people who questioned the authority of the pope, supreme authority that is, (perhaps taking the position that the pope and councils possessed equal authority, still not in the sense which I have been led to believe is Catholic) these people were not deemed heretics were they? Before I would have thought they were clearly heretical, but it seems that this was a major position of many bishops during the time before the Reformation. Now what I would have expected to find was that this position was an aberration, but it seems many felt this way. Which almost makes me think that the issue wasn't as clear as I have been led to believe. I find it odd that this was a question where there was debate when it was such an obvious fact that the pope had supreme authority over the Church. Of course over 80 percent of the bishops (wonder what it is today?) espoused heretical ideas during the Arian crisis, so debate over issues among bishops may mean little in speaking to the position of the Church. And incidentally is a good argument for the supreme authority of Peter.


#8

[quote="davidabott33, post:1, topic:329321"]
Did the idea that the Church was the proper interpreter of the Bible only gain major consensus in the late Medieval period? I am currently reading a book by Alister McGrath called Christianity's Dangerous Idea where he states that "Although the problem of biblical interpretation was not insignificant for medieval Christianity, the extent of any difficulties was limited by the emerging consensus that the church itself was the supreme interpreter of the Bible."(30) I was under the impression that the idea of the Church as interpreter of the Bible dated back to the beginnings of the Church. And that the magisterium wasn't a medieval invention. Any thoughts?**

It did date back to the beginnings of the Church. And there are a plethora of quotes you could pull from the ECFs regarding the importance of the Church. Heck, there are some verses in Scripture that refer to its authority.

In Medieval times the difficulties were indeed limited because most people already accepted the authority of the Church because of what was worked out by the Church Fathers. They moved beyond that and dealt with Scholastic disputes, because they could.

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#9

The Church is not so much the sole interpreter of Scripture, but is the sole interpreter of the Christian faith. There were many recognized expositors of the Bible with various interpretations. One can find various interpretations between St. John Chrysostom, St. Augustine, St. Jerome, St. Cyril of Alexandria, St. Ambrose, etc etc., and the Church has gleaned from many interpreters, but when it comes to defining Doctrine, this is where the Church is the authority. If the Church was the sole interpreter of the Bible then the Church would have given us a commentary on Scripture.


#10

[quote="COPLAND_3, post:9, topic:329321"]
The Church is not so much the sole interpreter of Scripture, but is the sole interpreter of the Christian faith. There were many recognized expositors of the Bible with various interpretations. One can find various interpretations between St. John Chrysostom, St. Augustine, St. Jerome, St. Cyril of Alexandria, St. Ambrose, etc etc., and the Church has gleaned from many interpreters, but when it comes to defining Doctrine, this is where the Church is the authority. If the Church was the sole interpreter of the Bible then the Church would have given us a commentary on Scripture.

[/quote]

Amen:gopray2:


#11

I believe Christ came to establish a Kingdom, as was foretold from the Old Testament. Interestingly enough, I haven't found any (please inform me if there are any) messianic prophecies speaking about Him establishing a book. Christ himself never wrote anything, except some scribbles in the sand. He left all that writing for His Kingdom to establish in time. I wonder how the first Christian's interpreted the New Testament? Except that is stupid thing for me to wonder about, because the Church was spread throughout the Roman Empire before even the first stroke of a pen was written in the New Testament. "The Kingdom of God is at hand." - That was, and is, the Good News of Christ. A Kingdom. Now what this kingdom is can be debated, but I would place my bet that Christ meant for it to be established well before the 1500's.


#12

Good point


#13

Nope, It goes directly to the New Testament in 1st Timothy 3:15
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.


#14

I want to respond to two points, here.

  1. In the OP: The argument of the Church being the sole interpreter of her own Scriptures can be seen as early as Tertullian in the late 2nd Century.

  2. As for most of the Laity not having Bibles in the first 1000 years, I don't know that I would back this claim up, as written. There is a sleu of factors are time periods to consider in the first millennium. Are we talking Laity including monks before religious orders were made? Are we including all territories from Britannia to China to South of Ethiopia? Are we talking Bibles as in All the books, including the legit apocrypha as provided in the Clementine Vulgate, or with cannons including Shepherd of Hermas, Letter of Clement, and Epistle of Barnabas? Do we count individuals having a Diatesseron, or even only certain books rather than an entire bible?

I think I understand the gist of what you were trying to say there, but I don't know if it actually paints a right or fair picture of history. Just because these people of those times were laity, does not mean they didn't have access to reading the Holy Writ. Likewise, let's not forget that people were trained to memorize the scriptures.


#15

davidabott33

But reading this made me think. This idea of the Church as sole interpreter was something that I learned from reading various Catholic Apologetics books. And is something I definitely believe by reason and fact. But I also had the idea from reading these same books that the idea of the pope as the head of the Church was also nearly universally believed by the Church, when in fact, if I am not mistaken, there was a strong conciliarist movement in the Middle Ages, and perhaps before, as well. I was just making sure the case wasn't he same here.
Now these people who questioned the authority of the pope, supreme authority that is, (perhaps taking the position that the pope and councils possessed equal authority, still not in the sense which I have been led to believe is Catholic) these people were not deemed heretics were they? Before I would have thought they were clearly heretical, but it seems that this was a major position of many bishops during the time before the Reformation. Now what I would have expected to find was that this position was an aberration, but it seems many felt this way. Which almost makes me think that the issue wasn't as clear as I have been led to believe. I find it odd that this was a question where there was debate when it was such an obvious fact that the pope had supreme authority over the Church. Of course over 80 percent of the bishops (wonder what it is today?) espoused heretical ideas during the Arian crisis, so debate over issues among bishops may mean little in speaking to the position of the Church. And incidentally is a good argument for the supreme authority of Peter.

Hi David!

Since no one else mentioned this, I thought I'd explain that the Catholic church inherited a belief in both written (scripture) and oral teachings (tradition) from the Second Temple Jews. And both were always part of the church, from the moment of its inception, and further, dating back to the earliest records of the Jews. If you like, I can give you the citations from Jewish and early Catholic sources.

As for all the different controversies, you seem to have some confusion over dogmas which have been declared, and dogmas which have not been declared part of the magisterium. The controversy over Arianism is an excellent example.

As far as those heretical bishops...sigh...you might enjoy a very, very old Catholic joke. What is proof positive that the Catholic church is the one, true church?

That it has survived 2000 years of Catholics.

I say, we all need to pray more, God bless, Annem


#16

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