As a good Evangelical boy I had to memorize Bible verses, and one of those verses was, “No scripture is of private interpretation.” (2 Pt. 1:20)
In the context Peter is teaching that the prophets did not make things up, but were inspired by God. However, the church has extended the understanding of the verse to mean that not only are the words inspired by God, but the interpretation of the words is also not to be private. That the epistle was from St Peter–the primary apostle–Catholic religion has developed the teaching to mean that Scripture itself cannot be interpreted however you like.
The apostolic church through whom we have the Sacred Scriptures is also the proper interpreter of the Sacred Scriptures. Bible scholars and theologians would submit their interpretations to the final authority of the church for correction and instruction. This process ensured the defense of doctrine as well as the proper development of doctrine.
All this went out the window at the Protestant Revolution. The authority of the apostolic church was rejected in favor of private interpretation. For the last 500 years it has been every man with his Bible and tens of thousands of different churches.
It is easy to see that all the little Protestant churches with their preacher, their people and their Bibles are a manifestation of this, but it is also true that all the more respectable mainline Protestant churches are in the same leaky boat. Anglicans and Lutherans might dwell in marbled halls and sit at high table. They might occupy the places of power in Oxford and Cambridge and dominate the beautiful churches and bank accounts. They might enjoy the endowments and delight in their tenure, but their authority credentials, philosophically speaking, are not better than the snake handlers at the Mount Pisgah Holiness Church of God in Podunk.
Both houses are built on private interpretation of Scripture, so both are built on sand and not the Rock.
While this scenario has been part of Protestantism for the lasts five centuries, for the last century it has been a creeping cancer within the Catholic Church too. Bit by bit the timeless truths have been eroded by private interpretation combined with modern Protestant originated critical approaches to the Scriptures.
I am not suggesting that the scholarly and analytical study of the Scriptures is all wrong. Many new insights and understandings have been unlocked which have helped us interpret and understand the Scriptures, their context and their times much better. There are many fine, respectful and prayerful Biblical scholars in the business and their work is usually the most honored for its thoroughness and care.
In saying that, there has also always been the lunatic fringe–Biblical scholars who have long ago not only lost their faith, but also lost their senses. These are the ones, for example, who will do everything they can to undermine the historical veracity of the canonical gospels while, at the same time, doing everything they can to attempt to build up the authenticity of the obviously bogus and later gnostic gospels.
In addition to this chicanery we have those who read the gospels through a range of politically motivated criteria. Feminist theologians, Queer theology, Marxist readings, Prosperity gospel theology, New Age readings…you name it. Its out there, and its not only out there–it is enshrined in the Catholic colleges and universities that teach our kids.
Thomas Williams brings one such example to light today here at Breibart. At Jesuit run College of the Holy Cross, Professor Tat-Siong Benny Liew teaches that Jesus was a “Drag King” who was erotically attracted to both his disciples and had a kinky desire for his heavenly father.
We used to ask, “What new madness can we expect from the Anglicans today?” It seems the Jesuits have picked up the baton and not run with it, but marched off twirling it.
Turn away now if you are likely to be offended by some of the most outrageous stuff you’ve heard yet.
Williams reports from an article by Elinor Reilly–a Holy Cross student about Tat-Siong Benny Liew,
Letting the facts speak for themselves, Ms. Reilly suggests that “the centrality of sex and gender to his way of thinking about the New Testament” significantly colors the way that Professor Liew presents Jesus Christ to students at the Catholic College.
In a remarkable re-reading of the Bible, Professor Liew has argued that Jesus is not only “king of Israel” and “king of the Jews,” but “also a drag king,” as presented in the New Testament Gospel of John.
Saint John’s constant references to Jesus wanting water, giving water, and leaking water “speak to Jesus’ gender indeterminacy and hence his cross-dressing and other queer desires,” Liew contends.
Reading everything through the lens of gender, Professor Liew finds sex in the most unlikely places of the life of Jesus. The episode of Jesus washing the apostles’ feet at the Last Supper, for example, is “suggestive,” like “a literary striptease,” and “even seductive,” because it “shows and withholds at the same time,” he claims.
Liew’s sexualization of the sacred Christian texts goes beyond the reinterpretation of actions and extends to gender identity as well. For instance, Liew stated that in his Gospel, Saint John makes very clear that Jesus is a Jew but he is less clear about “whether Jesus is a biological male.”
In passages that would be considered blasphemous to devout Christians, Liew eroticizes Jesus’ relationship to his disciples and even to God the Father… “
That this idiocy is not only being taught in a Jesuit college, but is taught by a professor who has won a coveted secure position is unthinkable.
This is where private interpretation leads:”You have your truth and I have my truth…”
This is not something new. In fact it is very ancient–as ancient as a garden, a fruit tree, a commandment and a subtle reptile. “Did God say you would die? Yes, of course. But what did he mean by that??”
The private interpretation of Scripture is simply another example of relativism, and furthermore it is not only limited to the interpretation of Scripture. The principle of private interpretation has been part of moral decision making for a long time.
In the area of morality the private analysis of a moral decision comes down to intentions, circumstances and possible outcomes. In situational ethics any sense of objective morality is dismissed as untenable or non existent.
In the Catholic formulation of this, the objective morality is not dismissed. Instead it is subjugated to the individual situation. It is legitimate to use circumstances, intention and outcome to help determine the person’s culpability for an action, but it does not determine the objective sinfulness of an action nor the objective relationship the sinner has with Christ’s church.
Private moral interpretation puts all that on one side, however, and only considers the circumstances, intentions and outcomes.
The most troubling thing about the rise of private interpretation is not only that the Protestant world is awash with it–this is to be expected as it is part of the Protestant genetic code–the troubling thing is that it has taken such deep root not only within so-called Catholic colleges and universities, but also among the hierarchy of our church.
What else can we call Cardinal Parolin’s “new paradigm” that has come from Amoris Letitia except a form of private interpretation? The bishops of Argentina say “po-TAY-to” the archbishop of Philadelphia says “po-TAH-to”. The “new paradigm” is therefore not new at all. It is simply an open door to good old fashioned private interpretation.
When considering the big picture what this opens up is a “new paradigm” for Catholics indeed. If this takes root we will have an Anglican style church in which every opinion/interpretation will be tolerated for the sake of “unity”. This is not a new paradigm it is old latitudinarianism.
What is most insidious about this is that its purveyors always pretend to be faithful Catholics. The current crop of Catholic revolutionaries are extremely subtle. Consider the Jesuit gay activist who says, “I am a priest in good standing!” or “I never teach anything contrary to the Catholic faith!” or the radical feminist who campaigns aggressively for women deacons who says, “Of course I am not pushing for women priests! The church has spoken about that already!” Likewise the “new paradigmist” says, “We are not changing church teaching. That cannot change. We are simply adapting the pastoral practice.”
These emperors are not just naked, they are nudists.
Ironically, we can be thankful for people like Professor Tat-Siong Benny Liew because the extremists like him reveal the true colors of the others.