This blog post is a continuation of asking myself how a “Bible only” Christian would answer certain questions about his faith if all he relied on was the Bible to find the answers. Again, as a Catholic, I rely on the living teaching authority of the Catholic Church. The Church that was entrusted with the oral teachings (tradition) of Jesus and the apostles, along with the authority to interpret Scripture correctly. The “Bible Only” Christian would turn strictly to the Bible for his authority. So, with that said, I will now continue looking at the Bible and try to shed light on the authority of the interpretation of Scripture.
Question # 1
As a “Bible alone” Christian, do you interpret the Bible?
The correct answer is: Yes.
If I was being honest with myself, this would also be my answer if I were truly a “Bible Only” Christian. Doesn’t everyone interpret the Bible when they read it? In order to try and understand what the meaning, the thoughts, and the ideas the author was trying to convey, it must be interpreted. Wether it be the written word or spoken word, it needs to be interpreted. So, yes, when we read the Bible, we all interpret it.
So, if the answer to question #1 is yes, as a “Bible alone” Christian , is your interpretation infallible?
The correct answer is: No.
Not just “Bible Only” Christians, but for most Protestant Christians, this would seem to be a very tough one to answer. If I were them, I probable would not say yes, because most Protestants have been taught that no man (i.e., the Pope) is infallible. But, if I say no, I know that I would be opening the door to having to admit that my interpretation of any passage of the Bible could be wrong. So, as a “Bible Only” Christian, what should my answer be? Well, at this question, I would not answer directly, but would try to change the subject. If I were honest though, I would answer , “No.” But that would lead to me trying to talk myself around that admission, instead of trying to figure out how do I know truth, if there is no authority that can infallibly decide what is true.
As a “Bible Only” Christian, If the answer to #2 is no, then will you admit that your interpretations of the Bible could be wrong in one or more places?
The correct answer is: Yes.
How would I answer this question if I were in their shoes? Again, if my answer to #2 was no, then I would have to admit that I could be wrong in my interpretation of any number of passages in the Bible. I could always state that the Holy Spirit guided me to the correct interpretation of a certain passage. But, if the Holy Spirit cannot contradict himself, then why are their so many different interpretations of that same passage? If I look around, I see so many different “Bible Only” Christian denominations that might differ in their interpretation of a certain passage, but they would all claim the Holy Spirit led them to interpret it correctly. It just doesn’t make logical sense. So, if I answer “yes” to this question, then I would have to admit there has to be an authority outside of the Bible and myself to interpret Scripture correctly.
The correct answer is: Yes
As a “Bible Only” Christian, if I answer “yes,” then I would be saying that there is a final authority outside myself when it comes to interpreting the Bible. I would have to ask myself, did God set up some authoritative guide that we could rely upon to help us understand His Word? If I say “no,” then I would be agreeing with the fact that each individual on his own has the authority to interpret, which leads to chaos! So, do I have the ultimate authority to read and interpret Scripture to decide for myself what is true and what is false doctrine, without regard to any authority outside of myself?
As a “Bible Only” Christian, if the answer to #4 is yes, then who has the authority?
The correct answer is: The Church Jesus established and gave His authority to speak for Him until He comes back again, The Catholic Church.
As a “Bible Only” Christian, or for most Protestants, this question would point out that I claim to believe that everyone has been given the sole authority to decide for himself what is true and what is false when it comes to the Bible. But, the question I would then have to ask myself is, “Where in the Bible does it say that each and every person has such authority?” If I am honest with myself, the Bible is pretty clear that the church has such authority. But, which church. There are so many Christian churches claiming to have such authority. What about my own church I attend? It seems that each Pastor claims his interpretation of the Bible is correct and ultimately decides for himself and his congregation what the church teaches – he is, in essence, a church unto himself. For me, a “Bible Only” Christian attending my local Protestant church, if I agree that the church has the authority, then I would only be giving lip service. If I hold to my Bible alone theology, then when it comes right down to it, my church has no binding authority over me as an individual when it comes to teaching on faith and morals. So, what am I to believe? I would have to conclude that my theology is incorrect.
Until next time, God bless.