The things that you’re liable to read in the Bible…

When I first entered Protestant Christendom some eight years ago I decided that the way to proceed would be to read the Bible all the way through from beginning to end. I assumed that what I’d be doing would be putting into action the Protestant doctrine of Sola Scriptura or The Bible Alone. Although I’d read about that Protestant doctrine many years before, I’d never actually heard anybody at the Evangelical (Wesleyan) church I’d decided to join use that specific term in connection with reading the Bible – however, I had heard comments such as, “God speaks to people through His Word.” So it was with vague ideas about hearing from God in a personal way that I began to read the Bible.

I got as far as the Second Book of Chronicles (Paralipomenon), which is the fourteenth book of the Bible, before I gave it up. It was a rather disappointing and frustrating exercise. As I was reading, questions arose in my mind. But they had to remain unanswered as I ploughed on, becoming increasingly confused. Anybody with little or no knowledge of the Bible who has tried to read it from beginning to end will understand my predicament.

I didn’t realize it at the time but I’d run into the same difficulty as a guy named Max Anders. When Max Anders tried to read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation he got completely confused. Max Anders is a Protestant pastor. He’s written a really helpful book called 30 Days to Understanding the Bible in 15 minutes a Day (Thomas Nelson, 1998). In his opening chapter he explains why he wrote the book. He writes:

Many years ago, I decided I was going to master the Bible. I was going to begin with Genesis, read to Revelation, and I wasn’t going to put it down until I understood it. I soon became hopelessly entangled in a jungle of fantastic stories, unpronounceable names, broken plots, unanswered questions, and endless genealogies.

That pretty much described my experience. I daresay Max Anders’ book has been helpful to many. His assertion is this: If you want to understand the Bible, you must first learn how the Bible is put together.

As Max Anders discovered, the Bible doesn’t explain itself. That’s why he got confused. That’s why I got confused. And that’s why lots of people who pick up a Bible and who have little or no biblical knowledge get confused.

Because the Bible doesn’t explain itself, a process of learning about the Bible – which has to take place outside the Bible – is necessary. I think most Protestants would agree on this. Actually, it is difficult for them to disagree given that inside contemporary American Protestant Christendom more emphasis seems to be placed on books about the Bible than the Bible itself.

I suppose the only people who hold that the Bible does explain itself are those imperviously–minded Evangelical Protestants who are very familiar with the Bible but who have forgotten how they obtained that familiarity.

Perhaps that’s your impression, too?

Grace and peace,

Hi Mick. welcome to CAF.

i would like to know based on your discovery, what do you believe how is the Bible interpreted? and by whom it should be interpreted?


**"I should not believe the Gospel except as moved by the authority of the Catholic Church."
Saint Augustine (354-430), Against the Letter of Mani, 5,6, 397 A.D… **

Wow what a great post. I am a Catholic convert from Fundamentalism. Reading through the Bible raised questions in my mind about a particular doctrine, “the Rapture”, or “Left Behind” teaching. I still remember that summer afternoon when I came across a prophecy in Ezekiel that completely contradicted what I had heard from the pulpits of churches for decades. You can’t imagine what it feels like to have a core belief unravel before your eyes. To say that it put a dent in the credibility of my Protestantism as a whole is an understatement. Yet it was another 20 years before I discovered the Catholic Church. Thanks be to God! My suggestion to you is to find a good Catholic commentary to use as you read the Bible. Of course, I am assuming you are a Catholic because you posted here. If not, I suggest that you read the testimonies of Protestants who converted to Catholicism. You will find the issue of the Bible alone doctrine addressed. God bless you. :thumbsup:

Not all Protestants adhere to sola scriptura. Anglicans and Methodists have always read Scripture through the lenses of reason, tradition, and experience.

The Bible utilizes so much genré in its entirety: saga, history, mythological language, law, census… you get the idea. It takes more than a singular and casual reading to fully adopt and ermbrace the Word of God.

How refreshing it is to have a fellow Christian put this admission in writing!!

Hey Wisdom Seeker,

Thanks for your welcome and for taking an interest in me.

My conundrum is that if I continue to claim that I have the right to interpret the Bible for myself (based on nothing other than it’s the behavior that I learned) then I cannot dispute the right of anybody else to make exactly the same claim as that might also be his or her learned behavior. Since through my experience I’ve learned that I need outside help when it comes to interpreting the Bible I’m obviously not qualified to interpret the Bible for myself (or anybody else for that matter) until I’ve at least reached the point where I’m on the same level as Max Anders and can write a book detailing everything he adduced plus all the things I’ve come to realize that he omitted. If that happened then there would be evidence of some continuity and sharing of knowledge for the benefit of all.

But unfortunately the doctrine of Sola Scriptura (when it’s carried to its logical end) precludes anything like that. There can be no continuity or sharing of knowledge unless everybody involved agrees to it upfront. There is little agreement in Protestant Christendom about anything. In fact, once one enters Protestant Christendom the only requirement is to decide for oneself about what is true and what isn’t. And when the beliefs, interpretations and activities of the denomination one has joined appear to be no longer commensurate with one’s ever changing opinion (inside Protestantism it’s not called “changing one’s opinion,” it’s called “spiritual growth”) then one simply joins another church. I was a member of a Wesleyan church for five years. Then I joined a United Methodist Church (the Wesleyan Quadrilateral or Prima Scriptura understanding of Scripture) and remained there for two years. Recently, I moved to a Baptist Church. The pastor is a very nice guy. He’s a five–point Calvinist. But his Protestant theological identity makes no difference to me as I stopped taking any notice of the guy (or gal) in the pulpit long ago. I have my Bible so why do I need him (or her)? And yet I have to acknowledge that at least some and perhaps all of my own interpretations might be wayward.

The Bible says the truth will set you free. The huge flaw in Protestantism seems to me to be to have somehow mistakenly interpreted that counsel so that it reads, “The Bible will set you free.”

Well, I’m here to declare that it won’t do anything of the sort. It will certainly get you lost, though, if you come just as you are without any idea of how to understand Scripture (as evidenced by Max Anders’ book).

John 8:30–32 (NIV) states: Even as he spoke, many put their faith in him. To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

So, I’m coming around to the idea that the truth which will set me free is to be found in either the Eastern Orthodox Church or the Catholic Church. Both have held to the teaching that has been handed down over the generations and since they do not entirely agree with each other one of them must have held more closely to it than the other.

When it comes to holding to the teaching that has been handed down it’s becoming apparent to me that Protestantism comes in a very poor third.


Yes, you’re right. But are there any substantial differences between a Methodist and a Baptist in the way that each interprets Scripture? I respectfully submit that there are none. Both the Methodist and the Baptist are products of their respective religious environments (how could it be otherwise?) and both affirm that Scripture is to be the final arbiter although the Methodist will probably hasten to point out, as you did in your post, that Scripture is to be read through the lenses of reason, tradition, and experience. In saying this, the Methodist will be pointing out what he or she has been taught, which seems to be reasonable. But I feel sure that most Baptists would considerable themselves reasonable people so it seems reasonable to conclude that their reason would not desert them when they came to read Scripture. Is a Baptist less reasonable than a Methodist? And I would think that most Baptists, like most Methodists, are affected by their experience. Wouldn’t the Baptist be just as likely as the Methodist to be affected by his or her experience? When it comes to tradition, it has to be acknowledged that Baptists have learned different traditions from Methodists. However, a Baptist will be just as likely to look through the lens of tradition, wouldn’t you say? Admittedly, it will be a Baptist tradition but to expect a Baptist to view Scripture through the lens of a Methodist tradition would not be reasonable. In the final analysis the Methodist and the Baptist both use their own private judgment to arrive at the truth that they know is found in their respective Bibles (politically correct, gender–friendly NRSV for the Methodist and KJV, NKJV or HCSB for the Baptist).

Yes, you’re right, again. It is indeed totally confusing, which is why Max Anders wrote his book.


I can identify with your struggles to read the Bible. I picked it up in anticipation and put it down in frustration many times. I think part of the problem is the idea that we interpret the Bible. Rather than looking at it like that it’s wise to look at it as trying to understand what it means.

For example many people make the claim that there are many paths to salvation. Is that what Jesus meant when He said, “No man cometh to the Father, but by me?” Of course many things are much harder to understand, but it’s all about finding out what God meant.

I use commentaries, Greek and Hebrew dictionaries, and other resources. The Bible constantly instructs us to study the Scriptures. I really don’t think it was meant to be easy, but through our perseverance we show our love for God and our desire to be closer to Him.

*Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. *(2Ti 2:15 KJV)

i did poorly. i started reading genesis in OT and gave up, could not understand the message. what’s amazing God did not give up on me. one Christmas i found a little book sitting on our center table in the living room. there was no name on it and my wife and kids did not own it so it just sat there for two weeks. when i picked it up i saw it was the NT. i had no idea i was in for a life changing encounter with God. as soon as i read i could not put it down. i’d take it to work and read through my one hour lunch break and read again when i got home till i read everything. the words burnt in my heart and could vividly see how Jesus died for me, despite me, a sinner. it was only then i understood his love, how it became personal to me. tears freely flowed from my eyes as i read how Jesus was scourged, spat on and humiliated. and when he was carrying the cross and passed by me, his words were very alive in my heart as he asked; “how can you doubt my love?” i was a lost sheep and he found me. i was walking in darkness and saw his light. i was in the shadow of death when his great light shined upon me. Glory to him. my only point? He will find you and will show you his light.
God bless.

i praise you for such humility. you are not too far from the Kingdom of God.

here is a website which has helped me to understand more the Sacred Scripture and the Church.

it is worth reading it. i highly recomend to everyone.

may our Lord continue leading into His Truth.

**"I should not believe the Gospel except as moved by the authority of the Catholic Church."
Saint Augustine (354-430), Against the Letter of Mani, 5,6, 397 A.D… **

Wow. What an amazing thread. As someone who was raised Protestant in a single parent household (so I knew nothing else), I can definitely relate to this. My mother, God rest her soul, was a very faithful Presbyterian who took the Bible very seriously, read it constantly, and even undertook the project of reading it cover-to-cover as part of a year-long Bible study group, a journey on which I also joined her.

Well, what I can say now is I’m glad that this happened when I was 11-12, before I really had the voice (in a social sense) to speak up for myself. If I had voiced too many questions (as I did a few years later, like all teenagers will do), it might have made my mother very upset and concerned at a time when she certainly didn’t need to be and would’ve perhaps not been in the best physical and mental shape to deal with it. Heck, it might have even gotten me kicked out of the church. Scratch that, it DID get me kicked out of the church, shortly after she passed away. I guess there are limits to the freedom given to the individual by the doctrine of “Sola Scriptura”, and those limits are breached if you question its validity as a doctrine, or use it as a basis for questioning the validity of the churches founded upon it (though I didn’t realize that that’s what I was doing at the time at the age of 14; I just knew something stank to high heaven, but couldn’t quite put my finger on what that was until I experienced true Apostolic Christianity years later).

My journey led me to Catholicism, after several years of wandering in the spiritual desert. Whether yours leads you to Catholicism or Holy Orthodoxy, welcome home to true Apostolic Christianity! It’s nice to meet a fellow traveler, and I hope you’re enjoying your time on these boards.

what an amazing work of our Lord.

Glory be to our God from age through age.

**"I should not believe the Gospel except as moved by the authority of the Catholic Church."
Saint Augustine (354-430), Against the Letter of Mani, 5,6, 397 A.D… **

One thing about the Bible–it’s not always God’s words.

Sometimes it’s God’s records of mankind’s words and actions.

It depicts people they way they are, warts and all.

Thanks for coming alongside me.

I’m a Sunday school teacher so I do, too. But haven’t we alighted on the root of the problem? The commentaries that Protestants are encouraged to use are generally post–Reformation and frequently as late as the 20th century. And once you pick up a commentary and peruse it, you’re allowing yourself to be influenced by the opinion of another person who may or may not know what he or she is talking about. I mean, a guy could have enough letters after his name to make alphabet soup for a whole platoon of purpose–driven Pentecostals but that wouldn’t mean he is able to interpret Scripture aright, does it?

The fact is that Bible commentators differ widely in their beliefs and opinions. KJV adherents might well choose a commentator like J. Vernon McGee. He was a Calvinist. But popular with “the man in the street” is the late Church of Scotland minister, William Barclay. He was a Universalist. He didn’t believe in the divinity of Christ but he believed in the essential goodness and nobility of man (as evidenced by what he wrote in his autobiography – A Spiritual Autobiography, William B Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1975).

So, on the one hand, you have a Bible commentator who read his Bible and came to the conclusion that God predestines people for Hell. And on the other, you have a Bible commentator that read his Bible and came to the conclusion that nobody ends up in Hell. Both were Protestants, both had an equal right to state their respective opinions and both exerted influence inside Protestantism. Is the rest of Protestant Christendom better or worse off as a result? They can’t both be right, can they? But who has the authority to arbitrate within Protestant Christendom?

Who, indeed? No pope in Protestantism – and, sadly, no unity or submission to authority, either.


There is even disagreement among Catholic biblical scholars where exegetical examination of certain points of scripture is concerned, as well as historicity, authorship, and dates of writing.

So I’m not quite sure what your point is.


It seems to me that the first split with the Oriental Orthodox, up until 1054 with the Eastern Orthodox and continuing today involve interpretation of scripture and tradition.
Of course it continues today as well.
It is easy to see the division all around.:cool:

The is total pretzel logic. To explain something is to be absent from it? What is this leading to? I would be very afraid of those who continue to further this propaganda.

I’m sorry if I haven’t made clear my difficulty. It is that the Reformation doctrine of Sola Scriptura reversed the relationship between Scripture and Church, elevating the Bible above the Church. The variation of Sola Scriptura that is sometimes referred to as Prima Scriptura or the Wesleyan Quadrilateral does the same thing. That is why there is no doctrinal unity in Protestantism. And therein lies my difficulty.

I accept your assertion that there is disagreement among Catholic biblical scholars. However, since the mark of a true Catholic is to do as the Catholic Church teaches, both ordinary Catholics and Catholics who are Bible scholars follow the teaching of the Magisterium. This means that all Catholics, including Catholic Bible scholars, can fall back on the teaching authority of the Catholic Church.

Protestants, on the other hand, because they do not recognize any authority except for the Bible, have no teaching authority to fall back on so they often fall over. Tomorrow is another day, which means there’s every chance of a new doctrine being introduced into Protestant Christendom. This has happened, hasn’t it? Protestant Bible scholars aren’t answerable to anybody – no Protestant is – and the result is that error runs rampant within Protestantism. But within the confines of a protesting theological system that endorses every subjective interpretation of truth there can be no mechanism for authoritatively defining error let alone actually doing something about it. One can only protest about the problem to nobody in particular – and, sure enough, nobody listens. Surely Christ didn’t intend for this kind of inadequacy and confusion to prevail?

I daresay most ordinary Protestants would secretly like to have what Catholics and Orthodox Christians have. It is the certainty – the clarity. I feel sure that when those programs with titles like “Ask The Pastor” are aired, it isn’t Catholics or Orthodox Christians who are calling in desperate to get their Bible questions answered. It’s the Protestants.

So my point is that I’m fed up with being my own pope. That’s why I’ve joined this forum – to check out Catholicism. Why are you here?

Grace and peace,

Long posts…a lot to delve into.
Authority…it can give you final answers. Its a draw. Look at the groups that grow in Christianity…its the churches that play that card.
Whose authority? A lot of folks lay claim to having that authority, even outside of Sola Scriptura…

Hey Brian,

I daresay your last statement above is true but do the folks who lay claim to having Authority actually have the right to make such a claim? The people who most crave power are usually the least qualified to have it. The scenario in Protestantism seems to bear out that idea. In Protestantism, anyone can claim that just about anything is true and such claims necessarily go uncontested because there is no mechanism within Protestantism for combating error that is presented as truth. That isn’t the case with the Catholic Church, is it? It has a visible unity for everybody to see – unity of administration and unity of doctrine –and it has disciplinary procedures, too.

Perhaps you recall what Christ said when He prayed the prayer that is recorded in John 17? He said:

My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

Don’t you agree that the complete unity i.e. the oneness Christ prayed would be brought about is likely to be a continuing characteristic of the Church He founded?

So I’m slowly coming to the challenge of meeting this question:

Doesn’t the Catholic Church with its visible unity of organization and doctrine look much more like the Church Christ founded than any other since it appears to represent the fulfillment of the prayer He prayed in John 17?

Feel free to give an honest answer to that question if you feel so inclined (let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ be ‘No’). Apologies for the long posts, by the way – but I’ve a lot on my mind just now.

Grace and peace,

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