Friday, May 10, 2013

Yet another reason Catholics are careful interpreting the Bible...

...is we must be consistent with the analogy of faith.

Before a word of what we know as the Bible today was written the apostles were traveling, preaching, establishing local churches, and teaching them. These traditions and the doctrinal decisions that have followed give us a framework of faith to operate within. Catholics have a great degree of latitude when reading and interpreting the Bible but there are lines that shouldn't be crossed.

For example, imagine discussing faith with a Jehovah's Witness who explains that they believe Jesus isn't the eternal begotten Son of God but that he was a normal human whom God adopted and that God will do the same for us. They may cite Matthew 24:36 which says the not the angels nor the Son know when the Second Coming is, only the Father knows or one of several other passages that seem to show Jesus having a lack of knowledge.

Of course we could reply that Jesus said “Before Abraham was born, I AM” (Jn 8:58) which is largely what got him killed. Jesus claimed particular divinity and eternal existence by claiming to be part of the divine name and existing before Abraham was even born.

Which interpretation is correct? Do we endlessly debate this verse and that verse? The beauty of tradition is that we can look to the “analogy of faith”. What has been believed from the earliest record and affirmed through the centuries? The Apostles' Creed affirms Jesus is God's “only Son our Lord”. The Council of Nicea in 325 says Jesus is part of the eternal Trinity, and the Council of Chalcedon in 451 spells out that Jesus is both 100% human and 100% divine. Jesus' eternal divinity is an enshrined and firm part of the Christian faith.

Rejecting one of these tenants of faith would be to reject the authority of the Church that defined them. Doing this, however, is to reject the authority of the very Church that discovered what books belong in the bible in the first place. If we believe the bible is absolutely true then we must believe it came from an infallible source (God working through the Church). If God worked through the Church infallibly to produce the Bible then there's no reason to believe God did not also work infallibly through the Church to produce the bits of faith we hold so dear.

This is yet another reason Catholics are so careful interpreting the Bible.


(Image Credit:  ElementOfPersuasion)

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