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Reflections: Scripture (Misinterpret./Script.)

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Holy Scripture:

Misinterpretation of Scripture

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Misinterpretation of Scripture




pretation of Scripture

"And consider the patience of our Lord as salvation, as our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, also wrote to you, speaking of these things as he does in all his letters. In them there are some things hard to understand that the ignorant and unstable distort to their own destruction, just as they do the other scriptures." (St. Peter, 2 Pt. 3:15-16)

"For heresies are not born except when the true Scriptures are not well understood and when what is not well understood in them is rashly and boldly asserted.'' (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"[We must be cautious of the danger that] through some faulty interpretation we make Christ's Gospel into man's Gospel." (St. Jerome, Doctor of the Church)

"But whoever understands Holy Scripture otherwise than according to the meaning of the Holy Spirit, by Whom it was written, although he may not withdraw from the Church, still he can be called a heretic." (St. Isidore, Doctor of the Church)

"Seeing that the same God is the author both of the sacred books and of the doctrine committed to the Church, it is clearly impossible that any teaching can, by legitimate means, be extracted from the former which shall in any respect be at variance with the latter. Hence it follows that all interpretation is foolish or false which either makes the sacred writers disagree with one another, or is opposed to the doctrine of the Church." (Pope Leo XIII) 

"For, the fifth Lateran Council, after it had decided that 'every assertion contrary to the truth of revealed faith is altogether false, for the reason that it contradicts, however slightly, the truth,' advises teachers of philosophy to pay close attention to the exposition of fallacious arguments; since, as [St.] Augustine testifies, 'if reason is turned against the authority of sacred Scripture, no matter how specious it may seem, it errs in the likeness of truth; for true it cannot be.'" (Pope Leo XIII, "Aeterni Patris", 1879 A.D.)

"Experience also shows that this is true, and aside from other Fathers, St. Augustine states it in the following words: 'Heresies and other wicked teachings which ensnare souls and cast them into the deep, arise only when the good scriptures are badly understood and when what is not well understood in them is affirmed with daring rashness.'" (Pope Leo XII, "Ubi Primum ", 1824 A.D.)

"...the great error of those others as well who boldly venture to explain and interpret the words of God by their own judgment, misusing their reason and holding the opinion that these words are like a human work. God Himself has set up a living authority to establish and teach the true and legitimate meaning of His heavenly revelation. This authority judges infallibly all disputes which concern matters of faith and morals, lest the faithful be swirled around by every wind of doctrine which springs from the evilness of men in encompassing error. And this living infallible authority is active only in that Church which was built by Christ the Lord upon Peter, the head of the entire Church, leader and shepherd, whose faith He promised would never fail. This Church has had an unbroken line of succession from Peter himself; these legitimate pontiffs are the heirs and defenders of the same teaching, rank, office and power. And the Church is where Peter is, and Peter speaks in the Roman Pontiff, living at all times in his successors and making judgment, providing the truth of the faith to those who seek it. The divine words therefore mean what this Roman See of the most blessed Peter holds and has held. For this mother and teacher of all the churches has always preserved entire and unharmed the faith entrusted to it by Christ the Lord. Furthermore, it has taught it to the faithful, showing all men truth and the path of salvation." (Pope Pius IX, "Qui Pluribus", 1846 A.D.)

"Among the special schemes with which non-Catholics plot against the adherents of Catholic truth to turn their minds away from the faith, the biblical societies are prominent. They were first established in England and have spread far and wide so that We now see them as an army on the march, conspiring to publish in great numbers copies of the books of divine Scripture. These are translated into all kinds of vernacular languages for dissemination without discrimination among both Christians and infidels. Then the biblical societies invite everyone to read them unguided. Therefore it is just as Jerome complained in his day: they make the art of understanding the Scriptures without a teacher 'common to babbling old women and crazy old men and verbose sophists,' and to anyone who can read, no matter what his status. Indeed, what is even more absurd and almost unheard of, they do not exclude the common people of the infidels from sharing this kind of a knowledge. But you know the aim of these societies. In his sacred writings, Peter, after praising the letters of Paul, warns that in these epistles 'certain things are difficult to understand, which the unlearned and the unstable distort just as they do the rest of the Scriptures, which also leads to their destruction.' He adds at once, 'Since you know this beforehand, be on your guard lest, carried away by the error of the foolish, you fall away from your own steadfastness.' Hence it is clear to you that even from the first ages of Christianity this was a skill appropriate for heretics. Having repudiated the given word of God and rejected the authority of the Catholic Church, they either interpolate 'by artifice' into the Scriptures or 'pervert its meaning through interpretation.' Nor finally are you ignorant of the diligence and knowledge required to faithfully translate into another language the words of the Lord. In the many translations from the biblical societies, serious errors are easily inserted by the great number of translators, either through ignorance or deception. These errors, because of the very number and variety of translations, are long hidden and hence lead the faithful astray. It is of little concern to these societies if men reading their vernacular Bibles fall into error. They are concerned primarily that the reader becomes accustomed to judging for himself the meaning of the books of Scripture, to scorning divine tradition preserved by the Catholic Church in the teaching of the Fathers, and to repudiating the very authority of the Church. For this end the same biblical societies never cease to slander the Church and this Chair of Peter as if We have tried to keep the knowledge of sacred Scripture from the faithful. " (Pope Gregory XVI, "Inter Praecipuas", 1844 A.D.)

"For some go so far as to pervert the sense of the [First] Vatican Council's definition that God is the author of Holy Scripture, and they put forward again the opinion, already often condemned, which asserts that immunity from error extends only to those parts of the Bible that treat of God or of moral and religious matters. They even wrongly speak of a human sense of the Scriptures, beneath which a divine sense, which they say is the only infallible meaning, lies hidden. In interpreting Scripture, they will take no account of the analogy of faith and the Tradition of the Church. Thus they judge the doctrine of the Fathers and of the Teaching Church by the norm of Holy Scripture, interpreted by the purely human reason of exegetes, instead of explaining Holy Scripture according to the mind of the Church which Christ Our Lord has appointed guardian and interpreter of the whole deposit of divinely revealed truth. Further, according to their fictitious opinions, the literal sense of Holy Scripture and its explanation, carefully worked out under the Church's vigilance by so many great exegetes, should yield now to a new exegesis, which they are pleased to call symbolic or spiritual. By means of this new exegesis of the Old Testament, which today in the Church is a closed source, would finally be thrown open to all the faithful. By this method, they say, all difficulties vanish, difficulties which hinder only those who adhere to the literal meaning of the Scriptures. Everyone sees how foreign all this is to the principles and norms of interpretation rightly fixed by our predecessors of happy memory, Leo XIII in his Encyclical 'Providentissimus Deus,' and Benedict XV in the Encyclical 'Spiritus Paraclitus,' as also by Ourselves in the Encyclical 'Divino Afflante Spiritu.' It is not surprising that novelties of this kind have already borne their deadly fruit in almost all branches of theology." (Pope Pius XII, "Humani Generis", 1950) 

"Nay, rather, [the Modernists] do in fact describe it with no hesitation, so that you would believe that they saw the very writers with their own eyes as they applied their hand in every age to amplifying the Sacred Books. Moreover, to support these actions they call to their aid a criticism which they call textual; and they strive to convince us that this or that fact or expression is not in its own place, and they bring forward other such arguments. - You would indeed say that they had prescribed for themselves certain types, as it were, of narrations and discourses, as a result of which they decide with certainty what stands in its own place or in a strange place. - Let him who wishes judge how skilled they can be to make decisions in this way. Moreover, he who gives heed to them as they talk about their studies on the Sacred Books, as a result of which it was granted them to discover so many things improperly stated, would almost believe that no man before them had turned the pages of these same books; and that an almost infinite number of doctors had not examined them from every point of view, a group clearly far superior to them in mind, and erudition, and sanctity of life. These very wise doctors indeed, far from finding fault with the Sacred Scriptures in any part, rather, the more thoroughly they investigated them, the more they gave thanks to divine authority for having deigned so to speak with men. But alas, our doctors with respect to the Sacred Books did not rely upon those aids on which the modernists did; thus they did not have philosophy as a master and guide, nor did they choose themselves as their own authority in making decisions. Now, then, we think that it is clear of what sort the method of the modernists is in the field of history. The philosopher goes ahead; the historian succeeds him; right behind, in order, works criticism, both internal and textual. And since it is characteristic of the first cause to communicate its power to its consequences, it becomes evident that such criticism is not criticism at all; that it is rightly called agnostic, immanentist, and evolutionist; and that so, he who professes it and uses it, professes the errors implicit in the same and opposes Catholic doctrine. - For this reason it can seem most strange that criticism of this kind has such weight today among Catholics. This obviously has a twofold cause: first of all the pact by which the historians and the critics of this kind are so closely joined, the differences of nationality and the dissension of religions being placed in the background; then the endless effrontery by which all with one voice extol whatever each of them prattles, and attribute it to the progress of science; by which in close array they attack him who wishes to examine the new marvel or his own; by which they accuse him who denies it of ignorance, adorn him with praises who embraces and defends it. Thus no small number are deceived who, if they should examine the matter more closely, would be horrified. - From this powerful domineering on the part of those in error, and this heedless compliance on the part of fickle souls, a corruption in the surrounding atmosphere results which penetrates everywhere and diffuses its pestilence." (Pope St. Pius X, "Pascendi dominici gregis", 1907 A.D.)

"By the doctrine of Jerome those statements are well confirmed and illustrated by which Our predecessor, Leo XIII, solemnly declared the ancient and constant faith of the Church in the absolute immunity of Scriptures from any errors... And, introducing the definitions of the Councils of Florence and Trent, confirmed in the Vatican Synod, he has the following: 'Therefore, nothing at all matters ... otherwise He Himself were not the Author of all Sacred Scripture'. Although these words of Our predecessors leave no place for ambiguity or evasion, We must grieve, Venerable Brothers, that not only were there not lacking some among those outside the Church, but even among the sons of the Catholic Church, moreover - which wounds Our soul more severely - among the clergy itself and the teachers of the sacred disciplines, who relying proudly on their own judgment, either openly reject the magisterium of the Church on this subject or secretly oppose it. Indeed, We approve the plan of those who, to extricate themselves and others from the difficulties of the Sacred Codex, in order to eliminate these difficulties, rely on all the aids of scholarship and literary criticism, and investigate new avenues and methods of research; but they will wander pitifully from their purpose, if they disregard the precepts of Our predecessor and pass beyond certain limits and bounds which the Fathers have set [Prov. 22:28]. Yet by these precepts and limits the opinion of the more recent critics is not restrained, who, after introducing a distinction between the primary or religious element of Scripture, and the secondary or profane, wish, indeed, that inspiration itself pertain to all the ideas, rather even to the individual words of the Bible, but that its effects and especially immunity from error and absolute truth be contracted and narrowed down to the primary or religious element. For their belief is that that only which concerns religion is intended and is taught by God in the Scriptures; but that the rest, which pertains to the profane disciplines and serves revealed doctrine as a kind of external cloak of divine truth, is only permitted and is left to the feebleness of the writer. It is not surprising, then, if in physical, historical, and other similar affairs a great many things occur in the Bible, which cannot at all be reconciled with the progress of the fine arts of this age. There are those who contend that these fabrications of opinions are not in opposition to the prescriptions of Our predecessor, since he declared that the sacred writer in matters of nature speaks according to external appearance, surely fallacious. But how rashly, how falsely this is affirmed, is plainly evident from the very words of the Pontiff. And no less do they dissent from the doctrine of the Church who think that the historical parts of Scriptures depend not on the absolute truth of facts, but only on what they call the relative and harmonious opinion of the multitude; and they do not hesitate to infer this from the very words of Pope Leo, because he said that the principles established regarding the things of nature can be transferred to the historical disciplines. And so they contend that the sacred writers, just as in physical matters they spoke according to what was apparent, so they related events unwittingly, inasmuch as these seemed to be established according to the common opinion of the multitude or the false testimonies of others; and that they did not indicate the sources of their knowledge, and did not make the narrations of others their own. Why shall we refute at length a matter plainly injurious to Our predecessor, and false and full of error? For what is the similarity of the things of nature and history, when the physical are concerned with what 'appears to the senses,' and so should agree with phenomena; while on the other hand the law of history is chiefly this, that what is written must be in agreement with the things accomplished, according as they were accomplished in fact? If the opinion of these men is once accepted, how will that truth of sacred story stand safe, immune from every falsehood, which Our predecessor declares must be retained in the entire text of its literature? But if he affirms that the same principles that have a place in physics can to advantage be transferred to history and related disciplines, he certainly does not establish this on a universal basis, but is only professing that we use the same methods to refute the fallacies of adversaries as we use to protect the historical faith of Sacred Scripture against their attacks... Nor is Sacred Scripture lacking other detractors; We recognize those who, if they are restrained within certain limits, so abuse right principles indeed that they cause the foundations of the truth of the Bible to totter, and undermine the Catholic doctrine handed down by the Fathers in common. Among these Fathers [St.] Jerome, if he were still alive, would surely hurl the sharpest weapons of his speech, because, neglecting the sense and judgment of the Church, they very smoothly take refuge in citations which they call implicit, or in accounts historical in appearance; or, they contend that certain kinds of literature are found in the sacred books, with which the whole and perfect truth of the divine word cannot be reconciled; or, they have such an opinion on the origin of the Bible that its authority collapses and utterly perishes. Now, what must be thought of those who in expounding the Gospels themselves diminish the human faith due them and overturn divine faith? For what our Lord Jesus Christ said, and what He did they are of the opinion did not come down to us entire and unchanged, although they are witnesses of all those who wrote down religiously what they themselves had seen and heard; but that - especially with reference to the fourth Gospel - part came down from the evangelists who themselves planned and added much, and part was brought together from the account of the faithful of another age. Now, Venerable Brethren, with the passing of the fifteenth generation after the death of the greatest Doctor We have communicated with you not to delay to bring these words to the clergy and your people, that all, under the patronage and leadership of Jerome, may not only retain and guard the Catholic doctrine of the divine inspiration of the Scriptures, but may also cling most zealously to the principles which are prescribed in the Encyclical Letter, 'Providentissimus Deus,' and in this Our own..." (Pope Benedict XV, "Spiritus Paraclitus", September 15, 1920 A.D.)

Also See: The Church's Traditional Interpretation of Holy Scripture Is Not Subject To Correction | Difficulty of Scripture | Literal / Spiritual Interpretation of Scripture | Modernists / Scripture | Private Interpretation / Twisting Scripture | Proper Interpretation of Scripture | Written / Oral Tradition

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