Today’s reading: 2 Ptr 3
If there is a warning in scripture against Sola Scriptura this is it. Peter writes:
“…our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.” 2 Peter 3:15-16
There are some things that are remarkable about this verse. First, Peter is directly referencing Paul’s writing which he equates with, “other Scriptures”. Thus, we can see that from the beginning at least some of Paul’s writings were considered to be new scriptures.
Second, it is Paul’s writing in which our Protestant brother & sisters find most of their theology. How scary, that the Bible itself tells you that these are not easy to interpret and that doing so wrongly may lead to your own destruction. This has been a theme of Peter’s entire letter. Recall, in the previous 2 chapters he wrote:
“…knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation.” 2 Peter 1:20
“…just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies …” 2 Peter 2:1
Thus, the theme of Peter’s letter is that interpreting the Scripture on your own is fraught with peril. This doesn’t mean that we cannot or should not read and try to understand the scripture. To the contrary, it is vitally important that we do so. However, it does mean that we must do so under the guidance of the Holy Spirit who speaks through the Church. As classically understood the teaching of the Church does not prevent us from interpreting the scripture. Rather, it creates a standard by which other interpretations may be measured. If other interpretations are consistent with the Church’s interpretation then the other interpretation is potentially valid. If it is inconsistent with the Church’s interpretation then it is not valid. The easiest example is the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist. The Church teaches that the consecrated host and cup are the body, blood, soul, and divinity of our Lord. This and interpretation that reduces the Eucharist to “only a symbol” would be invalid, whereas an interpretation that said, “in addition to the real presence there are symbolic aspects” would be valid.
Tomorrow: Hebrews 1