Long Response Part 1: Intro and Note on Interpretation

The next couple of posts are going to be dedicated to the responding to a response. This, of course, is part of what can eventually be a long drawn out discussion with a sometimes capable Protestant (I particularly enjoy Rhology’s posts when dealing with atheists).

That said my responses will remain in the default font so as to distinguish them from Rhology’s comments and his use of my quotes from my previous post which will be formatted in red. Crazy, I know.

Before I get to the direct responses the matter of terminology and concede one point to Rho. As a lay and an admitted Amateur Catholic apologist I may not always use the most proper or even appropriate terms in explaining aspects of the Faith.

As Rhology points out below, my use of the term “Holy Spirit-inspired” in reference to personal interpretation of scripture is not the most accurate. My misuse of “inspired” is something I picked up while I was a member of my wife’s Protestant congregation and is a term I hear repeatedly from Protestants of varying flavors.

That said, Rhology did me a favor in pointing this out and upon closer examination of the two terms I would like to make it clear that Rho’s use of “illuminate” is better word.

Now on with the shoe…;)

lozeerose has responded here to my earlier post and the post is quite long. That’s the way it goes sometimes, so let’s see what comes of it.

First, let’s recall that lozeerose told us earlier:

if there is only one God (in this case the Holy Spirit), then can there be various, differing (sometimes drastically) interpretations of Scripture? In addition, if you are inspired by the Holy Spirit and I as well, then how is your interpretation valid and mine not?

Don’t forget that this is a conversation-killer. Once we start talking about “well, that’s just your interpretation!”, there is nothing else to say, from either side.

That is exactly my point. We cannot genuinely say mine or yours when speaking of Scripture because must read and understand Scripture with the heart of the Church. We have every right to read and apply the text to our lives. Nevertheless, to keep us on the correct path, Jesus left the Church and imbued in her His authority to teach and interpret “infallibly.”

The writers of Scripture were, unbeknown to them, inspired by the Holy Spirit. We as readers of the Word are illuminated by the Holy Spirit. The Church, however, is under divine protection (which includes being inspired to act and guided by the Holy Spirit) in her illumination – we are not. Therefore, we, as individuals, are prone to error and misunderstanding the will of the Spirit. When the Church makes an infallible, dogmatic proclamation on something you can rest assured that the Holy Spirit is protecting her from teaching error and guided her to this Truth.

This type of authority is nothing new to Scripture as God already gave similar responsibility to Moses and the Jewish priesthood. Jesus affirms as much in Matthew 23:2-7:

“The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice. They bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by men; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues, and salutations in the market places, and being called rabbi by men.”

The difference is that the Church, established under the New Covenant, is not only protected but speaks on behalf of God with the confidence given her through the authority of Jesus via the Holy Spirit. This is part of Christ’s fulfillment of the Old Covenant, the bishops sit at the seats of the Apostles and in particular, the Pope sits on the seat of Peter (equivalent to the seat of Moses). Thus, when an infallible statement comes from the Pope it must be defined as such – ex cathedra – meaning from the seat. (This does not mean the Pope or the bishops, in an ecumenical council, must sit in a particular chair to make such a proclamation – it is a reference to the office.) “Jesus Christ [Who is God] is the same yesterday and today and for ever”  (Hebrews 13:8).

Either you admit that God is capable of revealing Himself in such a way as to be comprehensible to people or you don’t. Either you admit that people can speak in such a way as to be comprehensible to others or you don’t. Unfortunately this doesn’t cover the issue of human diversity and sin. It is not necessarily the author’s fault when a reader distorts, misunderstands, neglects parts of, ignores parts of, is ignorant of other parts of, or twists his text. Much less God’s fault.

First, there is an ongoing theme with many Protestants that requires everything to be an “either/or”  to the exclusion of “both/and.” This is ingenuous, often fallacious and usually limiting. God is fully “capable of revealing Himself in such a way as to be comprehensible to people.” Yet as Rhology clearly stated (and in doing so proved my point), the problem is with humans. Peter warns of the potential devastation to one’s salvation in 2 Peter 3:16-17 when, in reference to Paul’s letters, he states, “There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, beware lest you be carried away with the error of lawless men and lose your own stability.”

We, due to concupiscence, often misunderstand and/or misinterpret God making a general mess of things. For this reason God chose not to reveal Himself all at once but in a series of revelations over several thousand years. One of these final revelations was the established a Church, to which he delegated His own authority to teach infallibly to “tend [His] sheep” (John 21:16).

In addition, I deny the premise – neither of us are inspired by the Holy Spirit. And only one of us is illumined by the Holy Spirit, and it ain’t him.

How can Rhology even make the claim that “only one of us is illumined by the Holy Spirit?” Is Rho able to “search the minds and hearts” (Revelation 2:23) of men? This is the point of my entire argument against the Protestant notion of Sola Scriptura and individual interpretation and is exactly what Peter, John and Paul warned against.

Those who disagree with a Protestants particular view/interpretation of Scripture  is assumed to be in error and thus are not “illumined” by the Holy Spirit and somehow being led into heresy. They cannot see the log in their eye because they focus on the spec in the other’s.

This is a chief reason for the exponential divisions within Protestant faith traditions; they lack the mechanism – a divinely instituted authoritative body –  for fully understanding the fullness of truth. This makes many of these congregations susceptible to heresy as in the case the Anglican Seventh Lambeth Conference of 1930 where the use of contraception was approved. Shortly thereafter all Protestant congregations followed suit and eventually the horror of abortion was legitimized. (The Biblical evidence prohibiting contraception begins with the Sin of Onan found in Genesis 38:8-10.)

To further add to my example, simply ask Protestants to explain how the canon of Scripture came about. Does Scripture provide a guide or rule for discerning the Canon? Ask how they came to understand the Truth of the Triune Godhead, the divinity of Jesus or other “common” dogmas that are not explicitly revealed in Scripture. They may site some passages but cannot form these doctrines from the Bible Alone. They too relied on the Catholic Church to infallibly define and then teach these Truths.

As a Catholic, my faith in Jesus is such that I believe Him when He said to the Apostles, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come” (John 16:13).



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