Monday, February 13, 2012

"Your Interpretation of" - a Common Objection Debunked

The Called to Communion clique is fond of replacing "Scripture" with "your interpretation of Scripture." This has the rhetorical effect of making the appeal to Scripture sound less authoritative. After all, "that's just your interpretation" is idiomatic of something that has little value. It's part of the culture of relativism, in which your interpretation is just as good as my interpretation is just as good as anyone else's interpretation.

Of course, Called to Communion uses this bait to try to plant the hook of "The Church's Interpretation" as a non-relativistic alternative to the sea of relativism. The sea of relativism, though, is not a true alternative. Not all interpretations are equally valid, and the fact that something is one's interpretation doesn't mean it has no validity or that it has equal validity with the interpretation of someone else.

In the case of a document, like Scripture, that has an intended meaning, the meaning is what the author intended, which is generally a single meaning - or in the case of certain genres a pair of meanings (the technique of double entendre is an example of the latter). And, of course, certain texts which employ figures of speech have multiple layers of meaning (depending on how one analyzes meaning - a topic really beyond this short article).

What makes an interpretation correct is it's correspondence to authorial intent. Things like majority vote of the people, or endorsement by the right number of credentialed and certified scholars, do not matter in this sphere. Instead, all that matters is alignment with what the author actually intended.

There are a variety of hypotheses about how we can determine what an author meant. If we assume that the book is incoherent or corrupted, so that it cannot convey its actual meaning itself, then we need to go to another source. This is what the Gnostics alleged, and what - in essence - each of Rome, Islam, and Mormonism have had to allege.

On the other hand, if we believe the book to be preserved and coherent, then the best way to determine the meaning of the book is from the book itself. If we want to know what some phrase or word means, we look to the context. When we read the Scriptures as a whole, we read them harmoniously - not discordantly. Paul's teaching of justification by faith apart from works doesn't contradict James' teaching on justification - even if the solution does not immediately smack everyone in the face with a two-by-four.

If we adopt the former hypothesis, we undermine Scriptural authority, if we adopt the latter hypothesis, we affirm Scriptural authority.

In a previous post, I made a comparison between the religion of Roman Catholicism and Islam (as well as Mormonism). The one particular comparison I made, which is significant, has to do with whether the Scriptures are themselves the rule of faith. Catholicism, like Islam and Mormonism, rejects this - along, I might add, with Gnosticism (see this more detailed discussion of Gnosticism's hermeneutic).

Islam makes the Qur'an (and the teachings and example of Mohammed) their rule, Mormonism makes the Book of Mormon, the Doctrines and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price (and the teachings of Joseph Smith and subsequent alleged apostles) their rule, while Catholicism makes the teachings of the Magisterium (the "universal and ordinary magisterium" but also and chiefly the teachings of the allegedly ecumenical councils and the allegedly ex cathedra statements of the bishops of Rome) their rule.

The analogy is very precise: these religions offer an authority that supersedes Scripture's authority. Rome doesn't call the decrees of their allegedly ecumenical councils and "ex cathedra" papal statements "scripture," but they give them superior authority to Scripture. (I should point out that the teachings of the "universal and ordinary magisterium" are also given authoritative weight. The only problem here is that it is far from clear what exactly that body of teachings is. While the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faithful sometimes appeals to the UOM on certain points, they themselves are not considered infallible.)

One objection that I received in response from "Ryan" is the sort of objection promoted at the "Called to Communion" blog. The objection is as follows: "I give statements of the Magisterium and ex cathedra papal statements superior authority to MY OWN interpretation, not to Scripture itself."

It may sound nice to those in the Roman communion to say "interpretation" but what they are really saying is that it doesn't matter to them how clearly Scripture contradicts the allegedly ecumenical councils and ex cathedra papal statements, they are going to believe the magisterium. That's just saying that Scripture has no authority to them - or at least no authority in matters on which the magisterium has also spoken.

The objection continued: "What you are really saying is YOUR INTERPRETATION of Scripture is more authoritative than the Catholic Magisterium."

I answer:

a) "The Catholic Magisterium" has very rarely actually interpreted Scripture. Try to find me any whole chapter for which there is an allegedly infallible interpretation (and this supposedly after almost 2000 years of existence).

b) What I'm really saying is that Scripture itself has more authority than the Roman magisterium. After all, you have to "interpret" the magisterium just as you have to "interpret" the Scriptures. So, compare apples to apples.

c) In other words, if you insist on pedantically inserting "interpretation of" into the discussion (as the Called to Communion crowd encourages folks to do), then the comparison is between "your interpretation of Scripture" and "your interpretation of the magisterium." But really, the comparison is between the Scripture and the magisterium. The "your interpretation of" or "my interpretation of" is just a needless insertion.

d) In some cases, the insertion of "your interpretation of" next to "Scripture" but not next to "magisterium" is part of the overall campaign of trying to supersede Scripture's authority. I don't assume that was Ryan's intent. Nevertheless, the result of adding "your interpretation of" next to "X" is rhetorically speaking to make the "X" sound less authoritative. "Scripture" sounds more authoritative than "your interpretation of Scripture," as well it should!

e) In some cases, the insertion of "your interpretation of" next to "Scripture" is just wrong. For example, our rule of faith in Christianity is not "my interpretation of Scripture" (which is something changeable) but Scripture itself (which is unchangeable). Scripture (like everything else, including the magisterium's writings) must be understood to be applied. Nevertheless, it is Scripture itself that is our rule of faith.

The objection continued: "Because you believe the Bible teaches monergism, and the Catholic Church does not believe the Bible teaches monergism, you are really comparing your interpretation to the Church's interpretation, whereas I submit my own interpretive authority to the Church."

I answer:

a) As I noted above, that's just another way of saying "no matter how clearly the Scripture teaches monergism, I will follow what the magisterium says to the contrary." It's not "submitting [your] own interpretive authority to [Rome]" it's failing to do your duty of discernment, for Scripture warns you that false teachers will arise, and it warns you about this eventuality quite clearly.

b) Your church may well insist by dogma that the Bible does not teach monergism, but she does not do so by interpretation of Scripture. Look at Trent, for example. There cooperation is defined dogma, but where is any interpretation of any particular scriptures provided? So you should see that she is not so much interpreting as just insisting.

The objection continued: "You might not think baptism regenerates us, but the Church has interpreted the Bible to mean we are indeed regenerated by baptism."

I answer: I think as you look more closely, you will find that this too is a matter of insistence, not interpretation, per se.

The objection continued: "The difference is not that the Church has superseded Scripture by daring to interpret it authoritatively; the difference is that you think your interpretation is better."

I answer:

a) Actually, I think that Scripture's meaning is truth and it is objective. So, in questions of interpretation, the question is who is right, not who is "better."

b) Your church has attempted to supersede Scripture by demanding that you understand Scripture only in ways that do not contradict what you understand your church to be saying is true. In other words, your interpretation of Scripture must be submitted to your interpretation of the magisterium, or to speak normally - Scripture's authority must be submitted to that of the magisterium.

The objection concluded: "If your analogy holds, YOUR own authority has also superseded Scripture."

I answer: Unlike your church, I don't purport to be infallible. What I insist is true is always open to correction from the authority of Scripture. What your church insists is true is not open to similar correction. She feigns to speak infallibly, I do not.

-Turretinfan

20 comments:

ChaferDTS said...

Hi TF. Your article very correctly points out what it all comes down to with Roman Catholics when it comes to Scripture. Basically it in the end the RCC has placed itself above Scripture in the level of authority for the Christian. The RCC claims that Scripture is " insufficient as a rule of faith " then it wants to add to it with so called tradition both claimed oral and written. But then turns around and claim that it gets to define Scripture and tradition. From a logical stand point since the RCC claims to define each of those then it itself must be Supreme above both in reality and in a functional stand point in the lives of Roman Catholics. The RCC magiserium is really their final authority hence Sola Ecclesia. The RCC will never subject itself to the Supreme authority of Holy Scripture. For this the Lord shall judge Roman Catholicism and every false system of religion.

Nick said...

First of all, the claim that "all appeals to Scripture are appeals to interpretations of Scripture" originated with Kieth Mathison, whom you've stood by. So this objection is somewhat of a straw man since Mathison has been the only person in recent memory who has written in defense of Sola Scriptura.

You said:
>>On the other hand, if we believe the book to be preserved and coherent, then the best way to determine the meaning of the book is from the book itself. If we want to know what some phrase or word means, we look to the context. When we read the Scriptures as a whole, we read them harmoniously - not discordantly.>>

It was precisely this method that convinced me Sola Scriptura and other Protestant distinctives were false. Time and again I measured various Protestant distinctives by Scripture and each time they fell short, often abysmally short.

The allegation that Rome is making an infallible interpretation is not the same as saying Rome is making a false interpretation of Scripture. Scripture's authority is superseded *anytime* someone alleges a false doctrine, so only upon demonstrating a false doctrine was taught by Rome does your charge hold up. Until then, it's a empty charge.

One needs to look no further than how Protestants unfairly interpret Romans 4 to see the plain double standard of attacking Rome as "superseding" and rejecting Scripture when the exact opposite is true. There are solid examples that refute the claim that Protestants rely principally on context and sound exegetical principles.

Nick said...

Chafer,

I deny this methodology and consider it a strawman. The impression give off is that Catholics are not concerned about what Scripture has to say while Protestants proudly stand by the plain teaching of the text. That's so far from the truth. The great Catholic minds throughout history have always taken Scripture at face value and sought to make a Biblical case for their claims.

I write passionately about this subject because I see a serious and offensive injustice being made with these kinds of posts. It is akin to a Catholic going around using the "30,000 denominations" number when that really distorts the picture.

Ron said...

"It was precisely this method that convinced me Sola Scriptura and other Protestant distinctives were false. Time and again I measured various Protestant distinctives by Scripture and each time they fell short, often abysmally short."

Yet you apparently don't feel that the Marian dogmas fall "abysmally" short?


"For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you..."

Natamllc said...

Excellent TF, needless to say!

Nick said...

(1) I have not seen any work that compares to Mathison's unique treatment and case for SS. The articles I have read from folks like White, Sproul, Godfrey, Webster, et al, are not convincing since they generally rehash the same question begging fallacies that are easy to refute (e.g. claiming 2Tim3:16f proves Sola Scriptura while simultaneously saying that Sola Scriptura did not become operative until the post-apostolic age).

(2) I agree it is laughable to compare the defense of Protestant distinctives to Catholic ones, but that's because the Protestant distinctives are easily overturned. For example, those who hold to Eternal Security must twist the "forgive us our trespasses" petition in the Lord's Prayer into absurdity. Now contrast that to the fact Peter is explicitly called "Protos" (chief) and had his name changed (a significant detail in Hebrew thought) and that his Epistle says he's writing "from Babylon" (with the Whore of Babylon meaning Rome) and that's a very decent Biblical foundation for the Papacy.

(3) I stand by my original claim that only upon demonstrating a false doctrine was taught by Rome does your charge that Rome "supercedes" Scripture have any merit.

(4) My appeal to Romans 4 as a double standard in exegesis seems to have been implicitly conceded. The Protestant exegesis of that chapter involves a lot of bending over backwards, resulting in a highly biased interpretation. How you can say "if this were true it would only reaffirm sola scriptura" is a mystery to me, since Protestants bet everything on Scripture being on their side.

Ljdibiase said...

"the comparison is between 'your interpretation of Scripture' and 'your interpretation of the magisterium.'"

Or you could take it a step further, so it's "our interpretation of scripture" against "their interpretation of the Roman bishop's interpretation of scripture." They're actually once more removed from the source than we are.

I'd also reject their caricature of "our" interpretation. We interpret our bibles in the context of the church and its Confessions and the historic faith. They don't get to claim "the church" for themselves, especially since theirs is apostate.

John Bugay said...

(4) My appeal to Romans 4 as a double standard in exegesis seems to have been implicitly conceded

Nick, how do you ever get your head through the door at night?

Nick said...

John,

There is a significant cover-up within Protestant apologetics and scholarship regarding more sound and honest exegesis of Romans 4.
For example, major theologians like James Buchanan admitted that imputation isn't even Biblical, yet Protestant Seminaries must continue to promote it to keep the tuition coming in.

Hebrew Student said...

That is the problem with footnotes; first of all, footnotes don't present arguments, they reference you to an argument of a particular author. Then, you have to depend upon the person citing the source as to whether they are fairly representing the argument of the author. That is why we should deal with arguments, not footnotes.

Secondly, I know of many people such as D.A. Carson and G.P. Waters who have defended the Reformed view of justification in the academic sphere. Also, I can only imagine the mockery that you would find in any scholarly institution [conservative or liberal] if you went in trying to argue that Mary was the Ark of the New Covenant or that Mary is the gate which opens and only God goes through. Compare that nonsense to the work that Carson, Waters, Piper, White, et al. have done on justification and, well, there is no comparison! One is a desperate attempt to find an unbiblical tradition in scripture, and the other is clearly seeking to accurately handle the text. One can be defended in an academic setting, the other cannot.

Hebrew Student said...

I think that the kind of language that these folks use also tells us that they believe that the only thing involved in interpretation is the interpreter. Hence, there is nothing to correct the interpreter's interpretation. The problem is that you also have the author, and the artifact of his intention within the text. It is *this* that can be used to test whether an interpretation is correct. It is *this* that can be used to correct an interpreter. Interpretation involves an interaction between the author and the interpreter through the medium of the text. Because of this dual nature of interpretation, replacing "scripture says" with "your interpretation of scripture says" requires proof that the person is not following the intent of the author. In essence, such a maneuver shows that these folks really do believe in the whole "death of the author" nonsense of Derrida.

And yet, folks like Bryan Cross don't live that way. As far as I know, Bryan Cross is getting a Phd in Philosophy. When you study Philosophy, you have to interpret the works of men like Plato and Aristotle. Of course, these are ancient texts, just as the Hebrew Bible is an ancient text. However, one can apply this method of skepticism to ancient writers of Philosophy as well. Every time he writes that "Aristotle said this" or "Plato said that," we should replace it with "*Bryan Cross' interpretation* of Aristotle says this" or "*Bryan Cross' interpretation* of Plato says that." Hey, there are different interpretations given to the writings of these Philosophers, right? Hence, we cannot really know what they said, and we are lost in a sea of relativism, since there is no infallible magisterium to infallibly interpret the ancient Philosophers.

Here is my challenge to Bryan Cross. Either give up this argument, or drop out of your graduate program in Philosophy. You cannot consistently both keep this argument, and believe that there is any value in studying Philosophy, since you will have thrown most of the great Philosophers in the history of western civilization into a sea of relativism, since there is no living magisterium to interpret their writings. The longer Cross continues to both be a student of Philosophy as well as hold to this argument, he will be a living, breathing, self-contradiction, and demonstrate that he really doesn't believe what he says about the scriptures. The fact that he can discuss the philosophy of Aristotle and Plato means that he *does* believe that the meaning of ancient texts is knowable.

As TF said, what is really behind this is the fact that traditionalist Roman Catholics do not want to submit to the scriptures. They don't want to have to believe that salvation is by Faith Alone. They don't want to believe that Mary was not a perpetual virgin, or that she is not the Queen of Heaven, and was not bodily assumed. They do not want to believe that salvation only depends upon the merits of Christ. Hence, they kill the author [God], and replace him with an idol [the church]. Hence, ironically, just as they accuse us of doing, they can turn the text of scripture into a pretzel, and mold it after the image of traditionalist Roman Catholicism.

Nick said...

Hi TF,

I don't consider it a dishonest summary because he is admitting to a 'bait-and-switch' approach to his theology. He is saying a concept is true while yet admitting the impute terminology is never used in those contexts. The result is that he gives the Protestant side the green light to imputation whenever he feels like it. That's not genuine exegesis but rather agenda driven.

And my point about seminaries, I don't deny they have access to such works, and more importantly lexical resources, my point is that they deliberately shy away from analyzing Logizomai in their lessons and allow glosses to suffice.

Natamllc said...

Adam/Hebrew Student,

you button holed it here with this sentence:

"... Hence, we cannot really know what they said, and we are lost in a sea of relativism, since there is no infallible magisterium to infallibly interpret the ancient Philosophers."

God solves the problem by moving on men and inspiring them to write the Truth about Him and our enemies so that we can embrace what is written by the same Spirit of Faith as those used by God to write the Words of Truth that bring about peace.

And then what does the Devil have to do with that?

Attack, attack, attack raising doubts in the minds of the weak of Faith among us.

He doesn't have to attack his own, no need; not until God intervenes and shows those under his spell that they are not his but His. Then, as the saying goes, Satan has to double down and attack, attack, attack, even more!

Act 26:8-20

Have you noticed that when men of God speak, have spoken, or, write or are now writing for God, they are always for Peace and for war?

Psa 120:1 A Song of Ascents. In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me.
Psa 120:2 Deliver me, O LORD, from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue.
Psa 120:3 What shall be given to you, and what more shall be done to you, you deceitful tongue?
Psa 120:4 A warrior's sharp arrows, with glowing coals of the broom tree!
Psa 120:5 Woe to me, that I sojourn in Meshech, that I dwell among the tents of Kedar!
Psa 120:6 Too long have I had my dwelling among those who hate peace.
Psa 120:7 I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war!

Natamllc said...

Chafer,

just a couple of points to make, one and one basis what you wrote, here:

"... The problem is this doctrine is no where to be found in the New Testament.

...

What you have is a doctrinal belief being formulated that is not only NOT apostolic at all but is something that is not taught in Scripture either. It must be believed by all Roman Catholics because the RCC says it must be believed. That is Sola Ecclesia at work. The church is the supreme authority in the final factor. ...".


It is remarkable these facts, isn't it? Yet, to fault someone for not being able to stand up against that is unwise. I am not saying this is your way. I am saying I cannot fault, even myself, anyone for not being able to comprehend what you have pointed out here. Our Faith is monergistic!

I remember as a young catholic boy trusting both my parents to go to church and to go to be taught the catechism. These were who were exposing me to the RCC and to the teachers who were teaching me the things they were teaching me about their faith. Even though, I was still constantly being nagged by an inner voice telling me these things are not so! That voice is still nagging!

After awhile I gave in to this voice and it is the truth, that both my sister and I, at separate times, on the same day, came to my dad to request we stop going to church because it was so annoying to go and listening to what was being taught!

How can this be?

It was some years later that I was given a Bible to read and after I went off and started reading it I came to Life in Jesus Christ being made alive by that very nagging Voice!

I realized I had always believed Jesus was who the RCC was telling me He was to be for me. He is the Savior, I was taught. It was the other stuff that was troubling me, this little boy, troubling me so much I had the courage to go and complain to my dad about it. I am so grateful to my dad to agree with me and to allow me to stop going to, both, St. Joseph's and to the school where one is being taught their catechism!

So, perhaps, even today, the Holy Spirit is troubling little boys and girls about their religious faith and filling them with the courage and Faith to object to what they are being taught? I hope so!!

Anyway, I don't expect a person who is devoid of the knowledge of the Scriptures and not even being encouraged to read the Word of God, as it is not necessary to really do that because they have a Pope and Cardinals and a process of truth telling whereby they come to know the truth.

The only good thing the RCC ever did for me is teaching me something about Jesus Christ! For that I am grateful.

God saves Who He will when He will and He is still building His Church through Christ, adding daily such as should be saved!

Some plant. Some water. God provides the increase increasing among men His True Living Body!

Heb 1:8 But of the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.
Heb 1:9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions."
Heb 1:10 And, "You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands;
Heb 1:11 they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment,
Heb 1:12 like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end."
Heb 1:13 And to which of the angels has he ever said, "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet"?
Heb 1:14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?

turretinfan said...

Nick: He's saying that the concept is there, whether or not the word is there. As to the rest, I think it's absurd to imagine that they are "deliberately" shying away from analyzing that particular word.

Natamllc said...

Adam,

Roman Catholicism produces about as much meaningless written paper annually as the United States Congress!

Bites and bits do no service to the whole but bites and bits tucked away in the whole come back to bite both, the United States Congress and the Roman See! How usual that is? Usual! And usually the bite comes after the dawning of the unintended consequences of the act! :)

One thing I know. I don't know anything as I ought! I wouldn't even know this if God hadn't revealed it to me! :))

Where does it leave one such as I am?

In this place as we read about the Apostle Paul writing about that reality about his own attention to knowing God and the Word of His Grace:

Eph 3:8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,
Eph 3:9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things,
Eph 3:10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.


As you have noted well, there are many layers of "knowing" after one takes the time to know the words they have read others have written, about some "thing", whether it be about a God thing, His Word, nature, her phenomenons discovered about her, history, math, physics or philosophy and I might add, art and politics, too, as well as the rule of kings, prime ministers, presidents and and and common folk stuff like the common folk stuff I enjoy!

Have you ever eaten acorn mush, hot with a lot of honey?

I will say this and affirm as much as this that the Apostle Paul also wrote when he wrote this to the Philippian church when we come to reading the writings of others in this way, that if, after reading what someone else has written, if I don't come away with the same "sense" of the Spirit of Grace and Truth, then the inspiration for the writing was either from the human well from which it was drawn or from the well of a demon?

Php 4:9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me--practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

By the way, how does one go about preaching the "unsearchable" riches of Christ? :)

Nick said...

In order to say a given term doesn't have to be used means one must establish that the concept is valid in the first place. This he has not done. He has assumed there is something called "imputation" and proceeded to project this major doctrine according to his own whims.

PeaceByJesus said...

Good article on a most important issue, that of authority.

"And they come again to Jerusalem: and as he was walking in the temple, there come to him the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders, And say unto him, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority to do these things? " (Mark 11:27-28)

Why should anyone have believed in Jesus of Nazareth, who claimed to be the Divine Son of God? He did not have the sanction of those who actually had positional authority (Mt. 23:2) and who presumed perpetuation and authenticity based upon formal decent of office, and thus in response to the officers who regarded Christ as holy after hearing Him speak, the Pharisees (who were with the chief priests) stated, " Are ye also deceived? Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him? " (John 7:46-48)

But the Lord established His authenticity and authority based upon what Scripture said and the manner of supernatural attestation which is affirms being given to Truth, esp to new teachings, Scripture, as it was progressively written, being the supreme standard for obedience and for testing truth claims. (http://peacebyjesus.witnesstoday.org/Bible/2Tim_3.html#Partial)

The claims of Rome leave every soul wandering in the wilderness, not being sure of anything until Rome showed up, and ignores the Scriptural means by which truth claims were established.

The objection is that relying on Scripture resulting in competing interpretations of it, yet Evangelicals,as part of a basic unity of the Spirit based on a shared Scripture-based conversion and relationship with Christ, manifest a common consent in core truths we basically agree with Rome (on as well as certain basic Protestant distinctives), and contend against those who deny them, as well as against teachings which are really based upon Tradition than Scripture, which is not the supreme authority of Catholics. Although attempts are made to enlist support for these Traditions (such as praying to departed saints, purgatory, etc.) the authority for such is really the self-proclaimed supreme magisterium.

In addition, under sola ecclesia (church being the sole supreme authority on earth) there is also division with competing interpretations, and the most critical heresies, SE being the mode under which cults effectively operate out of.

And as under SS (Scripture as the sole supreme and sufficient authority, providing the church, etc.) , under SE RCs only have widespread assent on basic core truths, while disagreeing on which statement are infallible, as well as the meanings of things which are not infallibly defined. The division which is realized under both authorities is only a matter of degrees, while unity realized under SS is superior in quality, if not quantity, to that of implicit assent of faith to decrees of an office of men presuming perpetual assured infallibility.

Soccerdude219 said...

I just discovered this post randomly, but it really rankled me. I assume you accept the authority of the Catholic Church to select the canon of scripture to begin with; i.e., to determine which of numerous so-called Christian texts that were circulating in the first couple centuries after Christ upheld the true faith of the apostles. If this authority didn't exist, we wouldn't have any Bible to be arguing over the interpretation of. So it seems to me that if you accept the claim of authority of the Church to determine the true texts, you should also accept its claim of authority in proper interpretation. The two go hand-in-hand. If you don't accept the Church's ability to judge what is canonical, what justifies the canon? Or do you only accept the Church's authority up to a certain point-- do you just draw some arbitrary line in the sand, some point in time beyond which the Church, through its corruption, abdicated its authority?

turretinfan said...

"I just discovered this post randomly, but it really rankled me."

Well, I'm glad you read it and thought about it.

"I assume you accept the authority of the Catholic Church to select the canon of scripture to begin with; i.e., to determine which of numerous so-called Christian texts that were circulating in the first couple centuries after Christ upheld the true faith of the apostles."

You assume incorrectly.

"If this authority didn't exist, we wouldn't have any Bible to be arguing over the interpretation of."

Jesus talked about "the Scriptures." Clearly, therefore, people had the Old Testament before you can even claim that the "Catholic Church" existed. Moreover, Paul refers to Luke's gospel as "scripture" and Peter refers to Paul's epistles as "Scripture." This shows that the Scriptures were recognized for what they were by the early Christians. There was no need for some kind of centralized authority.

"So it seems to me that if you accept the claim of authority of the Church to determine the true texts, you should also accept its claim of authority in proper interpretation."
I don't. If I did, I would accept the deuterocanonical books.

"The two go hand-in-hand."
How hand in hand do they go? Does it work the other way too? If they have the wrong canon, can we disregard their interpretation of the other books?

"If you don't accept the Church's ability to judge what is canonical, what justifies the canon?"
The fact that the books are, you know, the Word of God. They are authoritative because God is the author, not because a bunch of men got together in Trent, after the Reformation, and decided which books are in the canon.

"Or do you only accept the Church's authority up to a certain point-- do you just draw some arbitrary line in the sand, some point in time beyond which the Church, through its corruption, abdicated its authority?"
What your church claims to be is something that never existed. There was never an institutionally "one" universal church throughout the whole world. It has always been "churches" ever since the apostles established churches throughout the world, seemingly from India to, apparently, France.