In Saint Matthew’s Gospel Chapter 13 verses 24-30 we read Our Lord’s parable of the Wheat and the Weeds.
24 And he put before them another parable; Here is an image, he said, of the kingdom of heaven. There was a man who sowed his field with clean seed;
25 but while all the world was asleep, an enemy of his came and scattered tares among the wheat, and was gone.
26 So, when the blade had sprung up and come into ear, the tares, too, came to light;
27 and the farmer’s men went to him and said, Sir, was it not clean seed thou didst sow in thy field? How comes it, then, that there are tares in it?
28 He said, An enemy has done it. And his men asked him, Wouldst thou then have us go and gather them up?
29 But he said, No; or perhaps while you are gathering the tares you will root up the wheat with them.
30 Leave them to grow side by side till harvest, and when harvest-time comes I will give the word to the reapers, Gather up the tares first, and tie them in bundles to be burned, and store the wheat in my barn.
I have come across two interpretations of this parable:
*]It symbolises the Church in which both sinners and saints live together and are separated at the judgement
*]It symbolises “true Christians” (Wheat) among counterfeit ones (Weeds)[/LIST]
The former is — to my knowledge — the common interpretation, while the latter one is advanced by some of those who deny that either the Catholic Church or any of the mainline Protestant denominations are the “true Church”, some Baptists and Evangelicals, but also non-Christians such as Mormons and JWs would come to mind.
I see the point in the arguments for the respective interpretation, however I am currently facing the second one in preparation for a discussion with a JW friend of mine. They argue:
“Wheat” and “Weeds”
…] You may be surprised to learn that Jesus expected his congregation to disappear from view and that he would allow such a sad situation to continue for centuries.
Identifying his congregation with “the kingdom of the heavens,” he said: [Mt 13:24-30]
Jesus explained that he was “the sower.” “The fine seed” pictured his genuine disciples. His “enemy” was Satan the Devil. “The weeds” were counterfeit Christians who infiltrated the early Christian congregation. He said that he would let “the wheat” and “the weeds” grow together until “the harvest,” which would come at “a conclusion of a system of things.” (Matthew 13:37-43) What did all of this mean?
The Christian Congregation Corrupted
Soon after the death of the apostles, apostate teachers from within the congregation began to take control of it. They spoke “twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves.” (Acts 20:29, 30) As a result, many Christians ‘fell away from the faith.’ They were “turned aside to false stories.”—1 Timothy 4:1-3; 2 Timothy 4:3, 4.
By the fourth century C.E., says The New Dictionary of Theology, “Catholic Christianity had become the official … religion of the Roman Empire.” There was …] a merging of Church and State that was diametrically opposed to the beliefs of the early Christians. (John 17:16; James 4:4) The same source states that in time, the whole structure and nature of the church, as well as many of its fundamental beliefs, was changed radically …] As predicted by Jesus Christ, his genuine disciples were hidden from sight as counterfeit Christians flourished.
Jesus’ listeners knew how difficult it was to tell genuine wheat from weeds, such as poisonous bearded darnel, which during the growing season has an appearance much like that of wheat. So Jesus was illustrating that for a while, it would be difficult to distinguish true Christians from the counterfeit variety. This does not mean that the Christian congregation ceased to exist, for Jesus promised to continue to guide his spiritual brothers “all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.” (Matthew 28:20) …] But they no longer made up a clearly identifiable, visible body, or organization. They were certainly not identical with the visible apostate religious system that throughout history brought nothing but disgrace and dishonor to the name of Jesus Christ.—2 Peter 2:1, 2.
Watchtower 1 Sep 2003, pp. 5-6, One True Christian Faith — A Reality, bolded red mine
Since this interpretation is necessarily contrary to the Catholic position, how can it be answered? Do you see any inconsistencies, logical fallacies, statements contrary to Scripture?
To give you the context, this goes with two other threads I opened on the discussion with my JW friend, one on the Canon of Scripture and one on the authority to interpret Scripture.
Any thoughts are greatly appreciated.