Friday, June 13, 2008

Guest Blogger - Bible Interpretation

Please welcome Deeny of Simple Joys as our guest blogger today.

I just want to point out a couple problems with Bible Interpretation.

First the only infallible Bibles- are the original manuscripts written in the original languages. Any copy or translation is subject to errors and linguistic problems. Languages do not translate neatly into other languages. Some languages don't have words that convey the same subtle meanings.

You not only have to know the language you are translating from, you have to know it in the context of the time it was written. Lets look at English: less than 100 years old, words that meant one thing at the turn of the century don't mean the same thing today. "Merry and Gay" means something different in 1900 and 2000.

You also have to know current events and the popular culture of the times to understand things. For instance the phrase, "I don't think we are in Kansas anymore", or "That's no moon that's a Space station". We know what these phrases mean because we share a common culture. 2000 years from now will a translator know what these expressions mean? Also lets look at expressions that really make no since, "break a leg", "easy as pie", "down under", " your goose is cooked", " A little bird told me". etc. We know what these expressions mean but will people in the future. There is also problems with hyperbole ie: "The ice cream sundae was as tall as a skyscraper". Hyperbole is the use of exaggeration for linguistic effect.

Now Luther thought that the Bible was perspicuous. Perspicuous means clear obvious. Luther believed one could read the Bible and everyone would come to the clear meaning. However reality has proven that it is not clear. There are thousands of Protestant denominations. I have seen a statistic as high as 33000+. Now out of those how many call themselves Bible Only or Bible Believing Churches? Almost all of them. When members of a congregation disagree with their Pastor over scripture interpretation they just split and start another denomination So the Bible is not Perspicuous.

The Bible itself says that it is a hard book to understand.
2 Peter 3:16 (New American Standard Bible)
16as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.

So you do need to be taught. Some will say, "All I need is the Holy Spirit." That is great until you disagree with your Pastor or someone else. Then which one has the teaching of the Holy Spirit? Of course you are going to assume yourself. I believe the holy Spirit guide us as a whole and does give us a measure of discernment. But we still need teachers.

1 Corinthians 1:28 28And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues

Second Problem. No one reads the Bible alone regardless of what they say. I am sure our friends have Bible commentaries on her bookshelf. Many a Fundamentalist has their King James version of the Bible with Scoffield Notes. They also get lots of Bible instruction from their Pastors. Where do their Pastors get their training? From Seminaries. Some big ones are the Dallas Theological Seminary, The Moody Bible Institute, Trinity College Theological Seminary. There are many more. Now all these guys don't agree with one another. So there is a Problem of Authority. And no they don't agree even on the basics.

Third Problem is a Historical one. First Individual reading of the Bible and personal Bible study is a very, very recent in History thing. It is only very recent in our history that People have access to Bibles in their own languages. It is only recently people can afford Bibles. And it is only recently the majority of people are literate and can read the Bible. We are talking less than 500 years. There was no Bible in the form we have it today with all the books compiled into the one Bible for the first 400 years of Christian history. So for 1500 years what did people do? Was God so careless as to leave Christians in the dark for 1500 years? No he gave us a Church. The Church is the Pillar and Foundation of Truth.

1 Timothy 3:15 (New American Standard Bible) 15but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.

So Now as a Protestant You have the daunting task of trying to figure out which Bible believing Church has the truth. If I want to understand the scriptures and know what they meant in the time of Christ I would go as close to the source as I could. What did the early Christian believe. How did they who preserved and wrote the Scriptures interpret them. Not only are there the canonized scriptures we have today. There are also many preserved Church documents by the early Christians that lived within the lifetime of the Apostles The Didache I believe was written about 70 AD. It is an amazing document. Read what the early Christians wrote. They didn't always agree and you can't take their word as 100 percent correct like you can't any Bible commentary. But if you read enough you will get a picture and a consensus of what that early church believed.

In Summary; The Church is universal but it is also visible. If the Church is the Pillar and foundation of Truth which Church is it? The Bible very clearly tells you how to discern correct doctrine. Know from whom you have been taught. If it is from Jesus and the Apostles that Jesus taught it is trustworthy. The whole problem is with Authority. I trust the Church that proves Apostolic Succession, that has a consistent history, and a consistent presence throughout History because I believe God's promise that the gates of hell will not prevail over the Church. There is a consistent rule of faith and standard for all Catholic Churches worldwide which is the Bible and the Catechism.

The Catechism is how those Scripture are interpreted and understood. Whether or not individuals within the Church espouse everything or not. The Individual Congregations are not deciding doctrine individually among themselves like Protestant Non-Denominational Churches. There are no contradictions of Scripture within the Catholic Church, Their is a unity that goes back 2000 years. It is awesome to read the ECF's and know it is the same faith of the Apostles. (Now the ECF's are not infallible and did not agree with each other on every single point but as a whole they are in agreement.) Not a faith that Protestants tried to re-create with just the Bible alone (trying to guess the mind of Jesus and the Apostles and what they might have meant in the many passages of the Bible) 1500 years after the fact. The Catholic Church doesn't have to guess. It had that knowledge and passed it down along with the Holy Scriptures protected by the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 16:18 (New American Standard Bible)18"I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.

Sincerely Deeny, New Catholic Convert (In full communion as of 11/07 ) from 20+ years fundamentalist/ Protestantism
AddThis Social Bookmark Button


Nancy Parode said...

What a great guest post, Deeny! You capture so many important points, and I especially appreciate your comments on the writings of the early Christians.

Tracy said...

Well done Deeny!!!!

Anonymous said...

It is refreshing to read a Christian point of view based on history and culture. I enjoyed reading your post.

Blondie said...

That was excellent! A whole lot of information in condensed version - and easy to understand!

KitKat said...

Great post!!

Deeny said...

Thanks for the nice comments guys. Just a quick disclaimer. I wrote this off the top of my head and hit the send button after typing. I didn't proof read it. So please ignore all the grammatical mistakes. I am really not that illiterate. I capitalize for effect so ignore the lack of capitalization rules. There is wrong verb agreement in some places and in a few places i used the wrong word. Hopefully the content comes through even if I rambled a bit. At least you can tell I didn't just cut and past lol.

I grew up Episcopalian and, on the surface anyway, the Catholic mass is almost identical. Hubby and I were married right out of college in the Episcopal church. He however grew up in a very fundamentalist/ evangelical church. Most of his side of the family is either Southern Baptist or Non-denominational Evangelical/Fundamentalist. For 13 years after we were married we attended protestant Evangelical/fundamentalist churches. The last being A Southern Baptist church which had a wonderful Special Needs ministry. It was started by a wonderful couple who both had Phd's in Special Ed and Psychiatry. He was also the head of the local Easter Seals for awhile. They were the most loving, caring, and inspirational people I had ever met. Incidentally it turns out (we found out recently) they have returned to the Catholic Church.
Anyway, we moved to a new neighborhood back in 2001 and visited most of the protestant churches in the area (The Southern Baptist, a Non-denominational, Pentacostal and Methodist church) but hubby wasn't taken with any of them. Anyway The next year my youngest started 1st grade and the closest Cub Scout Troop in our neighborhood was sponsored by the local Catholic Church. So we have been active in Scouts now for going on 6 years now. I was the Den leader for the first 5 years. Now he has moved on to boy Scouts. So many of our new friends went to the Catholic church. Well after not having a home church for awhile, I wanted to go back to church. I had some of my new Catholic friends invite me to church. I figured that was easier than just coming outright telling my husband that I wanted to start attending a Catholic church. Well anyway to make a long story short we started attending as a family. I started RCIA and started my oldest in the special needs ministry/religious ed. which I help out with. My oldest is blind and mentally handicapped. My youngest is in religious ed and the youth group. I was received into full communion this past November. Hubby is in RCIA and will receive confirmation and be in full communion in July. My daughter who is 18 and in college just started attending RCIA in January and is in the Inquiry phase. Anyway it has been a miracle. There is a guiding hand on the family. Everything in it's right time. 5 years ago hubby I know would not have been open to the Catholic church. I think his family has gotten over their initial shock and I could tell you stories about how my in-laws reacted but that would be too long of an email. Anyway that is my long introduction. Actually our conversion is more complex than that, and there really is a lot more to it, but I was trying to be short. I am working on a conversion story, but it is not finished yet. On my blog I am trying to stay religiously anonymous at the moment, but I have a feeling that is about to change Have a great day.
Deeny (Deeny is my nickname. My real name is Deana pronounced like Deena)
PS: Going to have a girls day with my daughter today. We are going to have lunch at Red Lobster and then are going to see the broadway Musical (Traveling Company) The Lion King
Thanks Again Elena for Publishing My Thoughts.

Elena said...

Deeny, I did lightly edit, fixed some grammar, made paragraphs etc. Good job!

kritterc said...

Deeny - What a great post!! I thoroughly enjoyed it. Sounds like you have a great day planned. "The Lion King will be coming to my area in a few months and I cannot wait!! Peace and Blessings.

Kelly said...

Great post Deeny, and thank you for sharing your story!

Clare said...

Thank you. That was very helpful, I'm very glad I have found this site and I have to acknowledge candys hand in that. In all things God works for the good...

Clare said...

Oh, by the way, Kelly, I'm SO glad you noticed my hat. It was a 1930's murder mystery party .I was lady Cholmondely-'Something'ton. My entire wardrobe even the coat, was supplied by my neighbour, a hairdresser who works in film ( he was recommended for a Oscar for his work on The Titanic apparently) He had a loft so replete with treasures of the dressing up kind that it made me hyperventilate with excitement. It still makes my nostrils flare just thinking about it.My husband was more than happy with his drawn on moustache and evening suit. I'm So glad I'm not a boy!

Deeny said...

Hi, I just wanted to say that on my blog i was having a discussion with another poster about my comments in this post. We discussed many things. However through this discussion, I finally finished my conversion story- My faith Journey to the Catholic Church is my new post, if anyone is interested. I wasn't initially going to post all of that, but after I finished I figured why not. I guess i am not religiously anonymous anymore. :-)