Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Is Scripture Self-Interpreting?: Part 2

"C-dero" agreed with everything I said in my last post except for the last paragraph. Here is my response to his thoughts on that section.
I think it when you even bring the issue that one's interpretation being authoritative over another is when you create more problems.
Having an authoritative interpretation of Scripture doesn't create problems, it solves problems. Now, whenever there is a question in the Christian community regarding what is true doctrine, we have a voice given authority by God to settle the matter, instead of everyone having to rely on their own abilities and their own perception of being "inspired" by the Holy Spirit. No contradiction in teaching. No democratic vote. Just the authority of God.
This is when I become a minimalist in Biblical interpretation. What I mean is that you have the Bible in its historical context, written to a certain type of people in particular times which meant what it meant to them and even within this understanding there is self-evidence in the Bible that even the process of interpretation in the Bible ( we tend to forget to examine the process within the Bible), is different from author to author. Contrary to what we learn about interpretation methods, there is not one rule of interpretation between the Biblical authors themselves and so it seems arrogant then to make one's individual interpretation or a a collective group's interpretation the absolute and infallible rule of interpretation.
Not when the community of believers authoritatively interpreting the Bible is the same community that provided us with the Christian Scriptures.

In another thread (or maybe it was this one), BC referred to the "analogy of faith" as a tool for interpreting Scripture. This means that, when you have a question about the interpretation of a passage, you compare it to (or read it in the light of) the faith of the community of believers out of which the passage grew. This community knows what the passage means b/c the passage is an expression of the very beleifs that they hold.

Since the Catholic Church is organically linked to the community of believers that produced the Christian Scriptures and that was responsible for safeguarding and passing on the teachings of Jesus Christ and the apostles, I have, as a Catholic, the proper context for Scripture. I know that no passage of Scripture can contradict the teaching of the Church b/c I share the faith of the apostles and my Church is organically linked to the community of believers that first expressed their faith in writing 2,000 years ago.

So, this isn't about arrogance or puffing up any particular group of Christians. It's about simply reading Scripture in the light of the faith of those who produced it.
So, is there no solution? Not quite. There is the one Author of scripture, YHWH, who does speak today and He speaks through His word but what we make the mistake in doing is that God has already spoken and does not have nothing more to say and that is a misfortune for those with such a mindset. So how does got still speak even though He has already spoken? God speaks through time and space, God speaks trans-generationally, God speaks, believe it or not, through the plurality of God's people with the penecal of that divine speech being Jesus Christ. He speaks not so that we can know truth as a formula or abstractness but so that we can walk in obedience to His divine precepts.
I do agree that God still speaks today. But, who is he speaking through? It's not enough to simply say that he speaks today without also telling us where to go to hear his voice.

We know that God spoke his final word in the being and Person of the Word, Jesus Christ. We also know that Jesus in turn passed on his word to his apostles, and granted them the authority to teach and discipline the Church in His name. The apostles in turn, went about the entire world, teaching to others what had been handed on to them by Christ and "entrusting to faithful men" (2 Tim 2:2) the task of safeguarding the truth in their place. And this cycle of teaching and entrusting has continued in the Catholic Church down to the present day.

And so, just as the apostles spoke with the voice of Christ, who said to them, "Whoever hears you, hears me" (Lk 10:16), so do the successors of the apostles speak with the same voice. And, just as the ancient community of believers heard this voice of Christ in the apostles and was instructed by it, so too are Catholics today instructed by that same voice heard in the successors of the apostles.

I know that this is a whole, whole lot to consider and that the implications of this can be vast and drastic for your own faith, but I really do believe that what I have presented here is the solution to the problem we are trying to resolve.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

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