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The blessing and the curse of personal interpretation of scripture

Discussion in 'General Theology' started by Robert Fraser, Jul 14, 2021.

  1. Robert Fraser

    Robert Fraser New Member

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    Hi everyone, new poster here so please be kind!

    I have struggled for a long time with the balance between personal interpretation of scripture, and dependence on people in positions of authority (who may have greater knowledge).

    This is an even more acute issue in the current age, where the authority of traditional news sources is being challenged, and people are being encouraged to make up their own minds.

    How do we, as a community of Christians, find that balance between personal engagement with scripture, and relying on the people who understand it best to inform us?
     
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  2. GallagherM

    GallagherM Well-Known Member

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    Hello Robert,

    To check and test everything by the scriptures; you can also check for external evidences in accordance with scripture to; for example archeological evidence, sources that might have covered particular areas of interest. You can also ask God for wisdom and understanding as you are going along, and would suggest that even go back as far as to check out the Greek, and Hebrew words which also can help improve understand.

    Just the other day fount out that a wineskin is simply a leather bag used as a bottle. You can not put new wine in a old leather bag like that once it is used otherwise it will be destroyed. You can only put new wine in a new wineskin, because it is newer and more reinforced. This was from a study in Mark chapter 2, and it seems to me Yeshua the Anointed one was talking to the people who one can not mix the old ways with the coming new ways; in which Yeshua was coming to bring forth which was going to be living by the spirit where God writes his laws in their minds and write them on their hearts which was the coming new covenant. (Hebrews 10:6)
     
  3. Michael Collum

    Michael Collum Everything began with a voice, use yours Supporter

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    Jesus taught about false prophets and that by their fruit you will know them.

    Since so much time has passed since the beginning, all we can do is test out what is taught and observe the fruit of each teaching and keep to what has the best fruit.

    If churches hold to things that have been deemed to produce inferior fruit or even curses, there is no need to partake.

    For as it is written, a man is filled with his ways.
     
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  4. Fervent

    Fervent Well-Known Member

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    This is an excellent question, and not a simple one to resolve. As the Bible does take knowledge of the intertextual issues to get a full understanding there is a responsibility to interact with the rest of the community of believers. Yet we cannot rest on human authority, we must develop our own understanding. So the question becomes one of hermeneutics. Looking at the text for what the text says, allowing experts to inform our understandings. Not simply taking someone's declaration as truth, but not insisting on our own way.
     
  5. Lost4words

    Lost4words Jesus I Trust In You Supporter

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    Personal interpretation has caused chaos for the last 600 years or so. Causing thousands of new denominations.
     
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  6. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

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    Hello, Robert.

    I don't quite "get" why there is that tension between personal interpretation and the help of experts that you seem to be feeling so keenly. In my view, this should not be an "either-or" problem.

    The Bible is the word of God and should be available to everyone. That was one of the issues during the Reformation. Also, everyone should be allowed to believe in accordance with what he is convinced the Scriptures mean.

    None of that, however, means that a "personal interpretation" is preferable to accepting the help of people though the ages who have studied the Bible, the ancient languages, the pertinent history and geography, and everything else that goes with correctly understanding Scripture.
     
  7. SabbathBlessings

    SabbathBlessings Well-Known Member Supporter

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    This is how we should test scripture:

    Isaiah 8:20 To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

    If they go against God's law, we know it's not coming from God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit which is given when we obey God's laws. John 14:15-18. Acts 5:32

    I always like to pray for God's will to be my will and pray to help me obey God's Word which included His holy laws. Ask for the Holy Spirit to guide you in understanding. There is only one Truth and one Gospel so the devil has been really busy adding a bit of truth to a lot of lies confusing the whole world, but if you're willing to replace your will with God's He will lead you in all things....

    God bless
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2021
  8. pescador

    pescador Newbie Supporter

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    Yes, it's better to blindly follow the Pope, Cardinals, Bishops, and Priests. There has never been any infallibility or dogma by the RCC, right?

    The message of the New Testament is perfectly clear: we are to have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ via the Holy Spirit. The concepts of a separate priesthood between us and God is only to be found in the Old Testament and in the RCC.

    There is one church only: the body of Christ. Catholics and other denominations can claim that they alone are the true church, but that is contrary to Scripture.

    Romans 12:3-5, "For by the grace given to me I say to every one of you not to think more highly of yourself than you ought to think, but to think with sober discernment, as God has distributed to each of you a measure of faith. For just as in one body we have many members, and not all the members serve the same function, so we who are many are one body in Christ, and individually we are members who belong to one another.

    1 Corinthians 12:12-13, "For just as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body—though many—are one body, so too is Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body. Whether Jews or Greeks or slaves or free, we were all made to drink of the one Spirit."

    IMHO Catholics have lost the essential relationship between God and His children. There is no need for intermediaries, elaborate rituals, or a "holier then thou" attitude toward others outside of the RCC.

     
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  9. TheWhat?

    TheWhat? Well-Known Member

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    Catholics believe differently.

    You may be surprised to find out that many protestants are ex-catholics. Really, most of this comes from anti-catholic teachings that make no sense without catholicism, so ironically, catholicism is still the basis of your belief system.
     
  10. pescador

    pescador Newbie Supporter

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    If this is in reply to my post above...

    "catholicism" (small c) is by no means the basis of my belief system.

    Also I don't understand what "anti-catholic teachings that make no sense without catholicism" means. To me it's like saying that freedom has no meaning without slavery.
     
  11. Fervent

    Fervent Well-Known Member

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    I can see why there would be tension given the diversity of "expert" opinions that require some sophistication to discern between. The Bible can feel inaccessible to someone not initiate in it as it contains an unfamiliar cultural element, many translations have archaic language, there is a wealth of intertextuality. It all can get overwhelming.
     
  12. pescador

    pescador Newbie Supporter

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    Great post! Thanks.
     
  13. TheWhat?

    TheWhat? Well-Known Member

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    Oh, I dunno, something like prophecy seminars at grade-school level where all the kids are taught about how Roman Catholicism is the great harlot or something or other. There's a ton of it, none of which makes sense without Roman Catholicism
     
  14. bling

    bling Regular Member Supporter

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    Do you plain at Judgement on using the excuse "that is what ______ told me was right?
    You have the indwelling Holy Spirit that knows exactly what the scripture means so ask Him for help.
     
  15. pescador

    pescador Newbie Supporter

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    Ummm... okay. I'm not following you. "... prophecy seminars at grade-school level where all the kids are taught about how Roman Catholicism is the great harlot or something or other" is somehow relevant??

    How can one discuss the problems with Roman Catholicism without .. Roman Catholicism?
     
  16. TheWhat?

    TheWhat? Well-Known Member

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    You can't, obviously. You all can discuss whatever you want. I'm just saying, a belief system founded on the rejection of catholic teachings is founded on catholicism.
     
  17. Fervent

    Fervent Well-Known Member

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    Protestantism isn't founded on a rejection of Catholicism, it was an attempt to reform Catholicism by bringing it back to the Bible instead of relying so heavily on scholastic theology.
     
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  18. TheWhat?

    TheWhat? Well-Known Member

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    Anyways, as for the OP, my opinion is that one can only try their best, which is more easily said than done in christianity in its current state. Maybe that means submissively going to church and being spoon fed the word. There's nothing wrong with that and I think you can learn at least something.

    I understand the perspective that suggests that one should humble themselves and accept without question what they are taught. I am, however, a realist, and in reality I've experienced things that nobody has been able to help with, in that way. I can't count the number of times I wished that Paul or James or John or even Jesus were still physically present to explain such and such. Did I mention this isn't easy? What I'm left with is a slow, often painful process of carefully considering anything and everything available to me. Sometimes I find gems that solve my particular issues, and sometimes, that requires the operation of God's guidance.

    On reflecting on this further, I think, if one's study of the word takes them to a frame of mind where they are no longer willing to even consider the wisdom of others, such that your study is becoming about you and your greatness, this is a very dangerous path one is on.
     
  19. pescador

    pescador Newbie Supporter

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    I personally don't know of any belief system founded on the rejection of catholic teachings. It certainly has nothing to do with Protestantism, which is founded on the teachings of the Bible.

    Sola scriptura.
     
  20. Root of Jesse

    Root of Jesse Admiral of the Fleet/First Sea Lord Supporter

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    LOL. Where did he say anything about blindly following anyone? And yet, if you're going to have personal interpretation, isn't it good to have context? If you don't have context and the writings of the students of the apostles, you cannot know, in many cases, what was meant by the Scripture. For example, much of the OT accounts of historical events, like the Judges, Chronicles, Kings, and some of the Psalms, were written in the context of the Babylonian Exile. Knowing that would inform your understanding of why God seems so violent in the Old Testament. That's just one example.
    Where does it say we are to have a personal relationship? (I'm not suggesting that we should not, just wondering where it says that?) Also, that it's ONLY found in the OT is like saying there's only 50 states in the United States.
    Catholicism, the faith, is not a denomination. It is the fullness of what Jesus taught.
    You can opine that, but we believe you're speaking, in that last paragraph, of yourself. And no, I don't believe Catholics, in general, are holier than you. That's a matter of personal faith, as to holiness. But we know we will be working out our holiness until we reach the gate of heaven. You guys think, many of you, that you've already attained it. How 'holier than thou' art thou?
     
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