Interpretation of Scripture
Note: We offer this example of debate over Scripture. Here you have a fair example how the Catholic and Non-Catholic approach the Word of God.
To whom it may concern.
This topic very probably has been on that Question Board but bear with me and help me out with an answer I got recently:
" You ask "How do you know that your interpretation is the right one? Other Christian denominations give different interpretations." To which I answer the Bible is sufficient. Compare scripture with scripture in context and the Bible interprets itself. Just because there are many different opinions that doesn't mean that we are left to fend for ourselves in an ocean of subjective speculation, at the mercy of "learned experts" like yourself. There is an objective basis for absolute truth. It is the written Word of God in the Bible."
To me this is a perfect logical circle: the button is red because it is red because it is red. Or am I wrong?
Please where is the absolute truth when one Church says that Mary was Virgin and other say she was not, to give an example.
urippaddd gave this response on 6/26/2000:
First of all, the Bible does interpret itself. However, to interpret it as perfectly as possible, a person cannot be content to take a popular English translation and base his/her eternity on a weltanschauung developed from any of these translations. That is why so many good pastors take you back to original languages when dealing with difficult Biblical issues. while most English translations give you most of the TRUTH, there are areas where judgment enters the picture in translation and as with Jewish midrash, there are several possibilities (see the Amplified version).
As for your example of the "virgin birth"; Original Hebrew is claimed to support the concept of "young maiden" as opposed to the idea of "a virgin"...I was bludgeoned with this information by a scholar from the Jewish Anti-Missionary movement who is a Semitic-language scholar. Also historically it is a fact that many of the greats of antiquity were called "sons of god" and purported to have been born of virgins; i.e. Alexander the Great.
I personally believe that Jesus was born of a virgin (but not literally "The Mother of God), just a wonderful little Jewish girl who YHVH chose in His omnipotence. Also I believe that the Semitic language scholar is incorrect in his deductions about what exactly Isaiah is saying, but I have not proven him wrong as of this writing.
If this is really an issue with you, I can probably dig up the supposed Jewish proof that was delivered to me several years ago. We must all remember that Jesus said to come as a child, not as a scholar (even if you are one). To come to Him any other way brings the baggage that develops into false doctrine.
We don't need to prove what we believe, we need to believe the TRUTH!
Please do. I wait impatiently.
But Sir, the truth who guarantees it? That is the question. I want to believe, but I want to be reasonably sure.
LeachHerald gave this response on 6/26/2000:
I present you with two scriptural dilemmas as to the "absolute" correct interpretation of scripture and I cannot trust any untried assertion that "the book says what it says."
In the gospel account of Matthew just before going to Jerusalem and being arrested, the temple authorities- image, IRS- come to Peter and ask him if Jesus pays the temple tax, a tax totally separate from the state taxation. When Peter arrives home Jesus asks him, "What do you think, Simon...?" He's asking Peter for his understanding and interpretation. Peter gives the expected answer and Jesus then responds with an unexplained but understandable statement, "Then the sons are free." And then he goes on, "However, so that we do not give offense to them, go to the sea...; take that and give it to them for you and me." Mt 17:24-27 Don't discard notice of the fact that Jesus asked Peter for his opinion(interpretation) of the truth.
"And the second is like unto it", to borrow the words of Jesus. In the epistle to the Christians at Rome Paul writes in the closing of his letter, "Let all be fully convinced in their own minds. ...The faith that you have, have as your own conviction before God. Blessed are those who have no reason to condemn themselves because of what they approve." Romans 14:5,22
That put forth, I, like others who have answered your question have answered without Scriptural citations, will answer with the words of Jesus in John 14. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in m name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you." vs.26
And lest you think I do not accept the authority of scripture, I hold inerrantly to a belief that the scripture "contains all things necessary for our salvation." That phrase, all things necessary for our salvation does not imply an unquestioning and non critical acceptance of everything in the written word as a separate statement of truth. A decent debate question to that would entail questioning why the three synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke, have Jesus saying basically the same thing in the same stories yet they are recorded differently with some pretty serious discrepancies in the different words used by the gospelers. The scripture does contain all things necessary for our salvation, because it presents us with a picture of a God faithful always to a promise of redemption, even when we cannot maintain our faithfulness to "him".
Truth is the absolute domain of God and, as one person has already responded to you, the Holy spirit, the source of the revelation of truth, may enlighten at any given moment a scripture you know very well by heart but seems to have a different interpretation in that moment. Again, it is the domain of God to do so and that is God's absolute right.
We may all learn from one another without discarding anyone’s understanding of scripture and without asserting the absolute correctness of our own understanding.
But the question remains. If different interpreters differ about elements necessary for salvation, what then?
locust_eaters gave this response on 6/26/2000:
The snippet that mscperu has cut and pasted was from one of my answers. My answer was addressing the fact that the Bible is a sufficient rule of faith - a belief which I hold dearly. A belief which mscperu, a Roman Catholic priest, denies. He holds to the belief that the Bible PLUS TRADITION is to be considered the rule of faith.
As soon as I said "the Bible is sufficient" he replies with "one Church says that Mary was Virgin and other say she was not." This is precisely my point. THE WRITTEN WORD OF GOD MUST BE THE FINAL COURT OF APPEAL.
This is not circular reasoning. I gave him a number of Biblical examples such as Luke 4 where Jesus resists the temptation of the devil by repeatedly using the scripture "It is written... It is written... It is written." And John 21:22-23 where the words of Jesus were spread abroad inaccurately but the written word of God in the Gospel according to John set the record straight.
Some of you are responding to this question with answers that support the idea that the Bible is a sufficient rule of faith and he is patting you on the back. Please understand what is at issue here.
As soon as I open my mouth with "There is an objective basis for absolute truth. It is the written Word of God in the Bible." He immediately twists the subject to "one church says this, while another church says that."
WELL DUH !!! THAT'S MY POINT. YOU NEED A FINAL COURT OF APPEAL. I SAY IT'S THE BIBLE. MSCPERU SAYS IT'S THE ROMAN CATHOLIC MAGESTERIUM.
This is the same M.O. as the devil himself. As soon as God had spoken, he approaches with "Yea hath God said...?" (Genesis 3:1)
Please, be objective.
All Churches base their interpretation on Scripture. What when the final court is interpreted differently?
That is my point.
The Roman Catholic Church has three elements that concur:
and Magisterium which is finally part of Tradition.
Please, where are your manners Sir?
I am sorry. The last observation is unwarranted. Being called a Satan is no reason for an answer like that.
Please forgive me. It won’t happen again, God helping.
cwsermons gave this response on 6/26/2000:
You are absolutely correct in your observation that one church teaches one thing and another church teaches another. That is a shame that it happens. We also need to understand that the Bible teaches against this practice. Why do they teach different things? Well, it is because they do not respect God's word for what it is.
Paul commended the Thessalonians because they accepted the gospel for what it was, "the word of God" and not a human doctrine or precepts of men.
The Bible warns us of following strange doctrines or doctrines different from what is written in the Bible.
Find a church that gives Bible answers to Bible questions, and you can narrow your search.
When churches appeal to reason, or have to vote to determine what they are going to believe, then you can cross them off your list.
Find a church that faithfully practices what it preaches, and you can narrow your search even further.
Find a church that encourages questions and investigation, and your search comes down even more.
Find the church that does bible things in bible ways, and its members are trying their very best to be the best Christians that they can be, any you can cease looking. You have found it.
The rule book for the church is the Bible.
The Bible is the blueprint and pattern that we should be trying to follow.
Keep studying God's word.
StephenBurch gave this response on 6/25/2000:
Thanks for taking time to ask this question. It is a very good one. I think that too many times man tries to prove the Bible by his own reasoning. This gets us into trouble and can taint our understanding of the scriptures. Man is basically evil and our human brains can not comprehend all of the ways of God. But the Bible does explain many things to us.
If we approach with an open mind I believe that the Bible will explain itself. When you read the Bible pray first and ask the Lord to explain it to you. He will open the Scriptures to you. Be careful about accepting all that you here about the Bible. Someone can tell you one thing and that is just their interpretation or what they think the Bible is saying. They have not meditated on the Words. Read the Word.
I have heard many pastors and preachers that don't know the Word. The only time they open the Bible is to hurry and get a sermon together. The best pastors and preachers that I have heard are the ones that get alone everyday and read and let the Lord speak to them. About Mary, there are many verses that back up her virginity. There is not one verse in the Bible that says different. I have looked.
If Christ had been born a regular person like you and I then he would be the world's biggest liar. We would not need him. But we know better. He died for our sins and rose again that third day. He conquered death for us. He was the perfect Son of God. One with the Father, that humbled Himself for us. That's how much that he love you and me and everyone that was ever born. Praise the Lord for his virgin birth.