Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Infallible Interpretations

Why do so many people have different interpretations of the Bible? Does this mean that "Sola Scriptura" is a false, and misleading position for Christians to embrace? Do we need to allow an infallible man or an infallible authority to proclaim the final interpretation and official teaching of God's Word?

When Christ preaching the Gospel of the kingdom to Israel, He faced numerous factions within the Judaism of his day. The Pharisees, the Sadducees, and others held to different views about different things. No doubt they must have believed that they were interpreting the Word of God soundly, and that others were less reliable. Yet Jesus rejected their teachings as the "traditions of men". It seems there is a difficulty in holding to the highest view of the Word, and yet truly submitting to it's teaching. Human tradition gets in the way.

For those Roman Catholics, and especially for those evangelicals who are considering Catholicism as being biblical, some things need to be remembered. First, the authority is God Himself-period. All authority comes from Him. Second, his Scriptures are God-breathed. The Words of the Bible originate with God with the end result that they are "inspired" Words. Being so, that makes their authority "self-imposing" on the people of God.

The apostles recognized Paul's writings as "wisdom from God" and Scriptures, because they knew that Paul alone could not conceive of the things which he wrote to the churches. The Words of God, not the apostles are inspired. Such spiritual wisdom and power demanded submission and recognition of the inherent authority of God's Word.

This is why no Pope, no Bishop or "Magisterium", no scholar, etc., can be trusted to infallibly interpret the Bible. There is no "infallible" man, but there is an infallible Word of God.

So how then can we know what the Bible says? The one thing to remember is that God is not the author of confusion, and that we must allow the Word to speak for itself. That is, to interpret by context and proper exegesis what God has said. We know what God has said. There are some hard things. However, we should not go beyond Scripture in trying to explain the hard truths.

Nor does Sola Scriptura preclude the use of histories, language references and other sources of knowledge. In the end, we must work by the grace of the Lord, to put to death those sinful human tendencies to insert our pet human traditions into the Word, and to naively assume that we are teaching God's Word.

And to this, I am reminded of those "noble Bereans" who searched their own Scriptures diligently to test what they were being taught. It seems that Paul did not have infallibilty to speak of as an apostle of Christ. Nor did Peter, who we are told was the first Pope. It seems the first "Pope" found some of Paul's writings hard to understand, and that he erred more than once.

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