Blog Template Theology of the Body: The Catholic's Biblical Problem with "Private Interpretation" of "All-Sufficient" Scripture

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Catholic's Biblical Problem with "Private Interpretation" of "All-Sufficient" Scripture

In the first place, those who promote the idea that the individual believer exercises sole authority over his own Bible fail to notice St. Paul's explicit statement to Timothy that it is the Church of the living God- not the Canon which it produced and protects- which is "the pillar and ground of the truth" (I Timothy 3:15).

Secondly, those who argue that St. Paul "commends himself to the conscience" of his audience fail to notice that Paul commends *himself,* and his repeated claims to personal apostolic authority, to the consciences of his audience (II Corinthians 4), while he continually rebukes them for adopting alternative teaching based on their private judgment. (I Timothy 1, II Peter 2, Colossians 2, etc.)

Thirdly, the proposal that St. Paul "encourages private interpretation" explicitly contradicts the mandate that there is NO private interepretation of/by the prophets (II Peter 1); rather, "the spirit of the prophets is subject to the prophets," within the apostolic community (I Corinthians 14)... and all of this within the Church, which the Holy Spirit inaugurated in the persons of the apostles, to the be the fullness of Christ which filleth all in all (Ephesians 1), wherein we submit to one another out of the fear of the Lord (Ephesians 5).

Finally, it is perhaps most important to keep in mind that if private interpretation is the order of the day, then Christians will never believe and confess the same thing, as Paul urges in I Corintians 1:10, nor will they ever be one as Christ Himself commands in John 17; and to presume that each and every Christian is sufficiently responsive to the Holy Spirit to make accurate and true interpretation of the Scriptures every time is to flirt with the heresy of Pelegianism (or Montanism, which is even more fun)

For the Protestant proposals that the believer stands as his own authority over his Bible, I Timothy 3 is pretty clear about the criterion for those who resist the authority which God has set in place. It is the "spirit of antichrist" described in I John which attempts to divide Christ (and His Scriptures) from the Church, His visible Body in the world, the fruit of His coming to us in the flesh, not between the covers of a holy book.

"As the depositary and guardian of Scripture (the Church) is the diffusion point for its illuminating power, which alone can make our history intelligible. And thus she leads us to Christ, by many ways which all converge. In her, God makes Himself continually visible to the eyes of those who see wisdom." - Henri de Lubac, Splendor of the Church 46.