Skip to comments."Have you not read?" The Authority behind Biblical Interpretation
Posted on 03/28/2008 3:55:36 PM PDT by annalex
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The author misses the interpretation given in the passage by the Lord Himself. One must go beyond John 3:5 and read all the way to John 3:6 to the interpretation of verse 5. Here they are together:
John 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
Born of water is physical birth: born of the flesh. Not washed by Scripture nor sprinkled with “holy water”.
Born of the Spirit is just that: born a new creature in Christ (2 Cor 5:17) by the power of the Holy Spirit, having been dead in sins (Ephesians 2).
No need to make it seem obscure nor allegorical.
This is spin; if Jesus wanted to say "physical birth" He would refer to "womb", just like Nicodemus does in his question. He would not respond with a riddle forcing Nicodemus to figure out that womb=water. The entire reference to borth of the water and spirit is a plain reference to baptism which combines these two elements precisely.
I see how you interpret the Bible - by imagining what words the Lord should have used. The context is quite clear. The fact the water baptism is not mentioned here and is not required for salvation make your position indefensible.
But I forget ye be RCC and that religion’s dogma requires you to ignore clear Biblical meaning.
Sorry about that.
Many thanks for the link.
But what your reverend thinks about John 3:5 is not even the issue on hand. This is what Sungenis writes:
But how can this radio Bible preacher be so sure that his exegesis and interpretation is the true one, that it should be trusted by his radio audience? What about the other interpretations given by both Protestant and Catholic scholars to this passage? The Catholic Church, along with many Protestant Churches, have taught constantly since the Early Church Fathers that the water of John 3:5 refers to water baptism, which is not a symbol but the very means to receive the grace of God to cleanse one from Original Sin.1 By what authority does one confidently determine which interpretation is true?
let us now go back to our radio preachers interpretation of John 3:5. If we could speak with him directly, we would ask him, as Jesus did to the Sadducees: "Have you not read where the prophet says, I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh" (Ezekiel 36:25-26). Now if the water of John 3:5 is merely symbolic, why does the prophet say that it is the water which is making the individual clean from impurities and providing a new spirit to rest in him?
The question may now arise, "Okay, I see your reasoning, but how do you know your interpretation is correct? How do you know for sure that the water of John 3:5 is not the word of God and that baptism is not merely symbolic? Youve only given me a possible interpretation from your defensible exegesis of the texts."
Ah! Now were getting to the essence of our issue, for we can begin to see what mere human interpretation does. It only gives plausible answers, but we can never know for sure if the plausible answer is the correct answer, unless we have help from another source. What is that source? That source is John the apostle. After discovering all the exegetical possibilities, we have to go back and ask John what he meant when he used "water" in John 3:5.10 But how does one ask John? Hes dead. Granted, but we know the people who knew John. They wrote down what John taught them. For example, Polycarp writes about knowing John the apostle personally, and Ignatius was a disciple of Polycarp. Justin Martyr also lived during that time. These Fathers said they received their teachings from the apostles and they passed them on to other Fathers.11 In fact, did you know that all the Fathers who dealt with John 3:5 understood the water as referring to water baptism and the means by which God infuses the grace of salvation? So, you see, we know our exegesis of John 3:5 is possible by using sound principles of exegesis, but we can only be sure that this interpretation is correct because we have the recorded testimony from those closest to John.
You interpret and I interpret. You interpret "water" meaning "womb" and I interpret "water" meaning "baptismal water". The issue is not even whose reading is more plausible, the issue is that I can back up my reading with patristics and you can't.
You cite a man I care not for (the radio preacher) and tout your foundation as the teaching of RCC men - which I also care not for. I rely on the text God gave John. Christ tells Nicodemus “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
Why would He speak of flesh and Spirit right after speaking of water and Spirit - while describing the same issue; unless He was explaining in verse 6 what He said in verse 5?
He says this right after Nicodemus asks about being born again in the flesh. The clear, plain teaching of this passage is flesh = water, Spirit = Spirit.
False teaching of men puts the weight of redemption from sins on water baptism. Nothing but the blood of Jesus can save anyone from sin. Trusting in the works of anyone else is false hope.
Paul makes this clear in Romans 4:1 What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?
2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.
3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
6 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,
7 Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.
In this case above, convoluted reasoning and out of context quoting succeeds in proving exactly nothing.
Being buried in water by baptism is the essence of the symbolism. The old man dies to sin and is buried in baptism and rises to walk in the spiritual life.
I understand that it is somehow difficult or impossible for many to grasp, but still, for some of my experience, the concept is simplicity itself.
Acts chapter 2 verse 38 pretty much demonstrates just what the symbolism of Peter being given the “keys” is all about. Most will not see this simple fact.
So go on and defend the practice of spiritually burying innocent babies, calling mortal men “Father”, redundant ritualistic prayers, and so on.
Meanwhile, the seven letters to the Church(es) in Asia will likely remain a mystery for all of your days.
Call me a cynic.
I forgot to mention, I’ll be back on FR.com on Tuesday.
Because the theme is two births, one of the womb and not under a question, the other is the second birth that Nicodemus is questioning. The response in v.5 wholly refers to the question, the rebirth.
But again, whether water=baptismal water, or water=womb, or water=fish on Friday is more plausible is not the issue; the issue is that I can both explain why I think that water=baptismal water and also point out that disciples of Christ thought so, just as Sungenis argues.
You also bring us the discourse of whether circumcision of Abraham was salvific, which is neither here or there, and you interpret it wrong, too.
Yes, that is the symbolism. What makes you think I disagree?
If you want to discuss some other scripture, make it relevant to the topic on hand, and I will discuss it.
Indeed, if there had been a single father of the Church not otherwise known as complete heretic, who believed that the water in John 3:5 is really womb, or if there were other scripture that said that water means womb, Sungenis's argument would disappear and the interpretation of John 3:5 as a reference to the necessity of baptism would have been speculative and not dogmatic. However, the water-means-womb interpretation is not supported by anyone till 15c at the earliest.
Incidentally, 1 Peter 3:21 "whereunto baptism being of the like form, now saveth you also" doesn't help the radio reverend's case either, although I am sure he got some spin to explain that away as well.
**The entire reference to borth of the water and spirit is a plain reference to baptism which combines these two elements precisely.**
Our priest has been saying all week that John does not put anything into his Gospel without a definite meaning. I think you have the meaning here.
Blessings for the 50 days of Easter!
My Journey of Faith [Marco Fallon]
My (Imminent) Reception into the Roman Catholic Church [Robert Koons]
Thousands in U.S. to Join (Catholic) Church - Many Feel They Have Found a Home
TURN ABOUT (Carl Olson, former Evangelical and Monday's guest on EWTN's Journey Home)
Former Southern Baptist Pastor Now a Traveling Crusader for the Catholic Church [Michael Cumbie]
All Roads Lead To Rome (A Southern Baptist's Journey into the Catholic Church)[John David Young]
Allen Hunt, Methodist Minister ...Journeys Home (Catholic, Re: Real Presence)
The Challenges and Graces of Conversion [Chris Findley]
An Open Letter...from Bishop John Lipscomb [Another TEC Bishop Goes Papist]
Unlocking the Convert's Heart [Marcus Grodi]
His Open Arms Welcomed Me [ Paul Thigpen}
Why I'm Catholic (Sola Scriptura leads atheist to Catholic Church)
From Calvinist to Catholic (another powerful conversion story) Rodney Beason
Good-bye To All That (Another Episcopalian gets ready to swim the Tiber)
Bp. Steenson's Letter to his clergy on his conversion to the Catholic Church
Bishop Steensons Statement to the House [of Bishops: Episcopal (TEC) to Catholic]
Bp. Steenson's Letter to his clergy on his conversion to the Catholic Church
Bishop Steenson Will Become a Roman Catholic
Married man considers turn as Catholic priest
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Searching For Authority (A Methodist minister finds himself surprised by Truth!)
Why I Returned to the Catholic Church. Part VI: The Biblical Reality (Al Kresta)
Why I Returned to the Catholic Church. Part V: The Catholics and the Pope(Al Kresta)
The Hail Mary of a Protestant (A true story)
Why I Returned to the Catholic Church. Part IV: Crucifix and Altar(Al Kresta)
Why I Returned to the Catholic Church. Part III: Tradition and Church (Al Kresta)
Why I Returned to the Catholic Church. Part II: Doubts (Al Kresta)
Conversion Story - Rusty Tisdale (former Pentecostal)
Why I Returned to the Catholic Church. Part I: Darkness(Al Kresta)
Conversion Story - Matt Enloe (former Baptist) [prepare to be amazed!]
THE ORTHODOX REVIVAL IN RUSSIA
Conversion Story - David Finkelstein (former Jew)
Conversion Story - John Weidner (former Evangelical)
12 Reasons I Joined the Catholic Church
Conversion Story - Tom Hunt
The Tide Is Turning Toward Catholicism: The Converts
John Calvin Made Me Catholic
Journey Home - May 21 - Neil Babcox (former Presbyterian) - A minister encounters Mary
Going Catholic - Six journeys to Rome
My (Imminent) Reception into the Roman Catholic Church
A Convert's Pilgrimage [Christopher Cuddy]
From Pastor to Parishioner: My Love for Christ Led Me Home (to the Catholic Church) [Drake McCalister]
Lutheran professor of philosophy prepares to enter Catholic Church
Patty Bonds (former Baptist and sister of Dr. James White) to appear on The Journey Home - May 7
Pastor and Flock Become Catholics
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From Calvinist to Catholic
The journey back - Dr. Beckwith explains his reasons for returning to the Catholic Church
Famous Homosexual Italian Author Returned to the Church Before Dying of AIDS
Dr. Francis Beckwith Returns To Full Communion With The Church
laetare (commentary on ordination of married Anglican convert to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles) Father Bill Lowe
Catholic Converts - Stephen K. Ray (former Evangelical)
Catholic Converts - Malcolm Muggeridge
Catholic Converts - Richard John Neuhaus
Catholic Converts - Avery Cardinal Dulles
Catholic Converts - Israel (Eugenio) Zolli - Chief Rabbi of Rome
Catholic Converts - Robert H. Bork , American Jurist (Catholic Caucus)
Catholic Converts - Marcus Grodi
He Was an Evangelical Christian Until He Read Aquinas [Rob Evans]
I am hardly comfortable denying the necessity of the Baptism, as Christ Himself said to “Go be baptized, and wait for the Holy Spirit”. But by the same token, there is something to be said for the radio pastor’s words.
While it is certainly best to be baptized, and to follow the prescription as laid out in Scripture, certainly there are times wherein baptism is not done, or is simply not possible.
By way of example, the OP lays a valid claim for the salvation of the Hebrew forefathers- That God is the God of the living, ergo, the Hebrew fathers are even now alive, and presumably saved- Even though it is unlikely that they ever experienced a baptism.
The criminal on the cross who was promised, “Today you will be with me in Paradise,” was probably not baptized, though admittedly that is a presumption on my part.
And one might further speculate that a soldier, mortally wounded on the field of battle, who truly finds his Savior in the final moments of his life would not be turned aside for wont of a bit of water and a priest to perform the duty.
In all of these cases, the symbolism of baptism is prevented by circumstance. But it is truly the Blood that saves. I cannot believe that in such a condition, the circumcision of the heart (which is undoubtedly the purpose behind the symbolism of baptism) would not suffice.
Water spirit feeling springing ‘round my head
Makes me feel glad that I’m not dead
Witchi-tie-tie, gimee rah
Whoa rah neeko, whoa rah neeko
Hey ney, hey ney, no way
I have always believed this was the best interpretation. All the other interpretations read into the text what they want to find, this explanation is purely inductive which is how all scripture should be interpreted.