Catholic – Protestant Scripture Interpretation
One of the regular challenges to Protestantism from Catholic Apologists and faithful, is that Protestantism is hopeless when it comes to Scripture interpretation. At some level, there is ‘some truth’ to this. I have seen through the years numerous protestants stand on a peripheral issue as if they are defending Christ himself. Moreover, I have seen some pretty strange interpretations over the years.
That being said, I think it is important to point out that Catholicism has to work with the same sets of tools, and even given the Papacy, where some things are decided, they still have to do the hard work of Scripture interpretation.
In Peter Kreeft’s book “Handbook of Christian Apologetics” he gives advice for how to interpret Scripture. Later on, he added some sections to this book and titled it “Handbook of Catholic Apologetics.” The near identical book shows that Catholic readers or Protestant readers have to follow the same rules in interpreting Scripture.
Among those rules is CONTEXT CONTEXT CONTEXT! In other words, we have to be careful not to cherry pick our favorite verses in order to back something up that we already think is true. We have to read the verse in the wider context of 1) What came before and after it. 2) What was the aim of the whole book. 3) How does it fit in with the whole canon. There are certainly more rules, but context is a large!
At the end of the day, whether Catholic or Protestant, we all have to read what the Bible says, and look at it in context. Perhaps we should start some Protestant / Catholic study groups….?