Thursday, May 9, 2013

Yet another reason Catholics are careful interpreting the Bible... our interpretation must agree with the whole of Scripture.

It’s very easy to read a passage of Scripture and immediately take away the meaning. It’s much harder to ensure that the meaning taken away agrees with the rest of Scripture. Take John 3:3-5 for example. Jesus says we must be born again; specifically born of “water and the Spirit”. How do we take this?

Many say we’re born again by making an altar call, saying a sinner’s prayer, or otherwise giving ourselves mentally to Jesus. Let’s see if we see birth and rebirth elsewhere in Scripture; maybe that’ll give us a clue.

Genesis 1 has both water and the Spirit and speaks of the creation (birth) of the world and all created things. Genesis 8 shows water flooding the earth and a dove (symbol of Holy Spirit) used to tell Noah the earth had been recreated (born again). Exodus 14 is yet another scene of the Spirit of God manipulating water to transform the Hebrew people into the Israelites.

In the New Testament, we see Jesus immediately after saying these words went to be baptized (Jn 3:22). St. Peter writes that the flood of Noah was a foreshadowing of baptism, and baptism saves us (1 Pt 3:21), linking the Old Testament passages of water and the Spirit above to baptism. St. Paul’s letter to Titus says that Jesus saved us through the “washing of rebirth” (Tit 3:5).

Catholics say we are born again and this happened at our baptism. We say this because every reference to how God births and rebirths has real water and the Holy Spirit and even the New Testament authors make it plain that baptism is the way we encounter a rebirth with real water and the Spirit.

That an interpretation must be consistent with the whole of Scripture is yet another reason Catholics are careful with biblical interpretation.

(Image Credit:  ElementOfPersuasion)

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