Skip to comments.Unto What Shall We Liken the Roman Hermeneutic?
Posted on 02/19/2012 7:10:38 PM PST by RnMomof7
Unto What Shall We Liken the Roman Hermeneutic?
Rome insists that she is an authentic interpreter of Scripture. We can easily provide an example, within a document defining a dogma, of Rome making a clear blunder. But let's leave that aside for a second, and consider the effect of Rome's claims on a conversation.
Christian: We should reject Marian devotion because the Bible teaches us to trust in God alone. Roman apologist: You have wrongly interpreted the Bible. Only Rome can authentically interpret the Bible. Christian: That's not true, the Bible was written to be understood. Anyone can authentically interpret the Bible, and many do - some more, and others less, well than others. Roman Apologist: No, you cannot understand the Bible without the Roman Catholic church. Christian: That's not so. Roman Apologist: Look, it says so right here in Matthew 16:18.
Now, that appeal to Scripture looks an awful lot like the Roman Apologist conceding that people can understand the Bible without the Roman communion. But behind that appearance lies a question about what this Roman hermeneutic entails.
1) Is it like special decoder glasses?
Is the Bible simply incomprehensible on its own, and one needs the Roman church to provide spectacles to make the incomprehensible, comprehensible? If that were true, then it would make no sense to appeal to Scripture to anyone not already looking through the spectacles.
2) Is it like the answer key to a Rubik's cube?
Is the Bible simply highly complicated, and one needs the Roman church to show the map of the way through to get the solution? If this were the case, the appeal to Scripture might make sense. This is just the first breadcrumb along a trail that eventually leads to Rome. In fact, though, all of Rome's attempts to prove her distinctive doctrines from Scripture fail. When you get an answer key to a Rubik's cube, you can see the parts all come together to form the solved puzzle, even if you couldn't have done it on your own. But with Rome, you don't get satisfactory answers like that. You get alleged solutions, but even knowing the supposed solutions, one cannot arrive at these solutions from Scripture.
3) Is it like the person who showed you how to look at "Magic Eye" 3D pictures?
Sure, at first it was just a weird bunch of lines and patterns, but once you were taught how to change your focus, suddenly the beautiful stereoscopic patterns emerged. Some of Rome's converts stories make it sound like they feel Rome's hermeneutic is similar to this. The two problems are - first, they don't seem to be able to teach us how to see the butterfly amidst the squiggly lines - and second, until we see the butterfly, appeals to Scripture are just appeals to squiggle lines, and consequently futile.
4) Is it like Humpty Dumpty?
In Alice Through the Looking Glass, she encounters the character Humpty Dumpty who insists on making words mean what he wants them to mean, even when that meaning is quite distant from any conventional sense of the word. Some of the arguments from the Roman side favor this interpretation. After all, some Roman apologists try to approach the Bible as though it were the creation of the Church, rather than being God's word delivered to the churches (and CCC 111 and 113 seem to encourage them to take this approach). If the Bible were the product of the Church, then the authorial intent behind the words becomes important, and we need to let Humpty Dumpty use words like "only mediator" in a far from conventional sense. One problem with that is that it turns the text of Scripture into such a "living document" that the document itself has no particular significance. Matthew 16:18 might as well teach the papacy as it teaches the bodily assumption of Mary, so long as Rome says that is what it means. The fact that we don't see it in the actual meaning of the words doesn't matter.
Ultimately, no matter what we liken the Roman hermeneutic to, we should realize that the Roman hermeneutic boils down to sola ecclesia: what Rome says goes. If the Bible appears to say the same thing, and that convinces someone that Rome is right - great. If the Bible appears to say the opposite, the Bible's apparent meaning should be subordinated to what Rome teaches.
But if that's Rome's hermeneutic, then the appeals to Scripture as an authority are really disingenuous. Honest Roman apologists shouldn't argue that we should believe them because (to use their lingo) we interpret the Bible the same way they do. After all, when we interpret the Bible differently, we're supposed to just set that aside, no matter how clear the Bible is.
Yet, I welcome comments from Roman apologists, clergy, and even laity. To what do you liken the Roman hermeneutic, and to what shall I compare it? And when you try to quote the Bible to me, do you think I'm just unaware that your church teaches that "all that has been said about the manner of interpreting Scripture is ultimately subject to the judgement of the Church which exercises the divinely conferred commission and ministry of watching over and interpreting the Word of God" (CCC 119, quoting Dei Verbum 12, 3rd paragraph)?
P.S. Oh, and by the way - the alternative is that the Bible is the very word of God, and that God made it clear enough to serve as a rule of faith and life for his church. Not all parts are equally clear, however, and sin blinds the minds of some men so that even the most clear parts become dull. Nevertheless, core doctrines (like the contents of the Apostles' creed, for example) are plainly and unmistakeably set forth in the Scriptures, without the need for any special glasses, tricky eye techniques, or authoritative lexicography.
ps: I'm partial to the Humpty-Dumpty one myself.
Yes, I truly think it's THAT BAD.
I'd also like to mention, the Bible was not assembled into a complete volume until the 400's. Sola Scriptura rolled around much later. What were people supposed to do until then?
Whats more, sola scriptura is not in the bible. Its taking a doctrine that is not in the bible that states everything not in the bible is invalid. Wouldn't that make sola scriptura invalid?
This is Humpty-Dumpty verbage at its finest. You will not find this anywhere in the bible, but the Katholics spout it like it's gospel.
Well, boo-hoo. Is the Bible Gods Word or not? A simple yes or no will suffice.
And I reiterate, sola scriptura is not in the bible. That makes sola scriptura a self-contradiction.
The truth of the modern world:
Catholics throw out Sola Scriptura in an accusation against Protestants. Protestants throw out Sola Ecclisa against the Catholics.
A much more accurate view would be Prima (Primarily ...) Scriptura and Prima Ecclisa.
I liken it to any in-group seeking to protect its turf via jargon and complexity. Any IT department in a large corporation, defense contractors, lawyers, Congressmen. They all seek to baffle the people they ostensibly serve to some degree, in order to maintain control and to benefit themselves.
Does the network still work? Yes, but it’s needlessly complex and difficult to use. Do the jets and tanks still defend us? Yes, but they’re hideously complex and expensive, to the detriment of the people. Does the law still function? Yes, but it becomes more and more opaque, to the point that bad law is difficult to distinguish from good law, and lawyers themselves become ever more arrogant.
And then, we get to Congressmen, which is really the most apt comparison to the priesthood under this example. Corruption seeps in, self-serving vainglory comes to the fore, and it becomes increasingly difficult to ever root it out. At least Congressmen are putatively subject to losing an election, but in practice an incumbent is difficult to unseat.
That’s what I see, an intentionally elaborate set of interpretations that invariably benefit and empower the hierarchy, whenever such interpretations depart from Scripture. Are individual Catholics good Christians despite all this? No doubt many are, I know several personally. I just do not care for their priesthood, at all.
He gave the Hebrew's 10 simple commandments, and look what they turned that into!
Worthy IS the Lamb!
Both (a)”Sola Scriptura” and (b)”Sola Esslesia”... try to make the Holy Spirit a DOOFUS..
I reject the Catholic jurisdiction over my faith. So, no thank you to Prima Ecclisa. Or any other compromise. Just like no one can go to the bathroom for me, no man can be accountable for me in front of Gods Judgement Throne. I am accountable. I confess to God not a priest.
My post was not to imply any authority. I was mearly stating that both sides have the other’s positions over simplified. Most Protestants are accused of being Sola Scriptura by the Catholics. However, when I speak with Protestants, they will tell you that yes, they have traditions and yes they allow the holy spirit to move in their lives and yes, what they pastors or deacons say to them is important.
Most protestants also tell me that they will weigh what inspiration they receive, regardless of the source against scripture. So Scripture is not the only (sola) source of inspiration but it does have primacy over all others (prima). So my point is that if Catholics want to use proper labels, they should say Prima Scriptura.
Likewise, the opposite is true for the Catholic faith. They should be called Prima Ecclisa as they check all inspiration against what the priesthood has to say.
As to the discussion made in the posts regarding Catholic reverence for Scripture, I simply offer the following excerpt from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
86 "Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it. At the divine command and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it listens to this devotedly, guards it with dedication and expounds it faithfully. All that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed is drawn from this single deposit of faith.
Indeed. 2 Pt 1:20-21: "First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God." 2 Thes 2:15: "So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter." 2 Pt 3:16 speaks of uninstructed/unstable people twisting Paul's written word.
Jesus says in Mt 10:40 that whoever receives one of the apostles receives him and the one who sent him. He makes a similar statement regarding those he appointed in Lk 10:16. The Lord even told us in Mt 23:2-3 that he honored the Jewish magisterium's authority but criticized their hypocrisy.
Scripture is very clear that Jesus established a Church with binding authority and that it's heirarchical in nature. Nowhere does it state that the apostles were to put together a how-to manual for future generations. I understand the need of some folks to debate which is the true Church Christ established. But to claim that he didn't establish a Church with authority is simply not scriptural. And Paul tells Timothy (1 Tm 3:15) that the Church (not scripture alone) is the "pillar and bulwark of the truth."
As a former sola scriptura Christian, I understand the game. It's easy to debunk Catholicism when you claim freedom to interpret the Bible in any fashion you choose. Especially when you misrepresent what the Church really teaches. And you give yourself ample room to overlook verses you aren't willing to apply to your own congregation (teaching on divorce, for example).
I'm more than happy to converse on this topic with those of open mind and good will. But articles, such as the one referenced by the OP, that don't even refer to Catholics as Christian, don't pass the good will test in my book.
Peace, NakedRampage :) I appreciated your comment.
I’ve seen the light... Jesus did inspire Obama’s policies.
Because if any one can interpret the bible... ANYONE can interpret the bible.
Sola scriptura is the only logical answer if there is no authority on Earth that comes from God to dictate what each line means. The Catholic Church claims this authority, of course, but it obviously has not well used this authority through the centuries. What we see is a gradual decay from stage one, up to King Popes paying money for their Papal seats, and culminating today with impotent Popes who can barely even rule their own Papal Kingdom, let alone able to influence the socialist countries wherein they claim dominance. This Catholic Church has not shown itself infallible, and it has merely added on to the Bible constant doctrines that have led to the point that we now have Mary and a billion Saints who must mediate the way between us and God. They’ve been reduced to a bunch of pomp, funny hats, nice gold, but absolutely no power, but yet they expect us to worship in their churches and deify their Popes?
I am not a Catholic. However, I must say that compared to the literalist claptrap of most modern protestant “interpretations” the Catholic interpretation is great nourishment.
“Indeed. 2 Pt 1:20-21: “First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” 2 Thes 2:15: “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.” 2 Pt 3:16 speaks of uninstructed/unstable people twisting Paul’s written word.”
And yet, we have their letters, their speeches, their wisdom, all in the Bible.
If anyone had authority, it was those men who worked miracles wherever they walked. The Pope has no such power.
“Jesus says in Mt 10:40 that whoever receives one of the apostles receives him and the one who sent him. He makes a similar statement regarding those he appointed in Lk 10:16. The Lord even told us in Mt 23:2-3 that he honored the Jewish magisterium’s authority but criticized their hypocrisy.”
Is that what you would like us to do? Honor the Catholic Church’s self appointed authority but criticize their hypocrisy? But yet we also have Jesus debating with the Pharisees and demonstrating how they were wrong in their interpretation of scripture. In fact, He did not point to the authority of some Jewish rabbi in a Rabbanical decree printed 300 years prior in a Jewish Catechism. He pointed to the scripture itself to back up each and every point. Therefore, if Jesus did not appeal to some Jewish Rabbi to explain the scripture, why would you have us appeal to Catholic tradition to explain the scripture? The scripture should defend the scripture, and there are no examples of your Popish ways in the Bible.