Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 20, 1952
NUMBER 45, PAGE 10-11b

Roman Catholic "Interpretation" - No. II.

Robert F. Turner, Prescott, Arizona

In order to understand Roman Catholicism one must understand Roman Catholic doctrine concerning the "Interpretation of Scriptures". In a previous article quotations were given from authoritative Catholic sources showing their claim of divine assistance in rightly declaring the true meaning of the scripture "so that the world may believe with confidence." In a wide-spread tract, "The Bible An Authority Only in Catholic Hands", Catholics scoff at the studies of any man or group of men apart from their supervision, labeling all such as "private interpretation".

The Catholic Church is extolled as the great guardian of truth by means of her "infallible interpretation". In the midst of so many poor and contradictory interpretations by denominationalism this may seem a ray of hope to the student — until he learns how little these "interpreters" have actually produced. In correspondence with "Friar Virgil" of the Commissariat of the Holy Land; Washington, D. C. (published in previous article) we were told, "Very few texts have been infallibly interpreted; I believe only about eight." Then in later correspondence with the "Friar", whose name is Virgil Cordano, in a letter dated Apr. 19, 1948, he gives us a summary of those "infallible interpretations".

"In answer to your questions, the following texts have been authentically interpreted for the Catholic believer:

Romans 5:12 — St. Paul speaks of Original Sin. John 3:5 — The absolute necessity of Baptism for salvation.

Matt. 26:28ss; Mark 14:222s; Luke 22:19ss; I Cor. 11:24ss — The words of the institution of the Holy Eucharist must be understood in the literal sense and not metaphorically.

Luke 22:19 — "Do this in commemoration of me": the institution of the Catholic Priesthood.

John 20:23 — Christ granted to the Apostles and their successors the power to forgive and retain sins in the Sacrament of Penance.

James 5:14 — The promulgation of the Sacrament of Extreme Unction.

Matt. 16:16ss — The promise and the bestowal of primacy of universal jurisdiction over the universal Church to St. Peter and his successors."

Mr. Cordano adds, "Although there are few texts, whose sense has been directly determined, there are many others that have been indirectly defined, — ". If the above are "direct" "authentic" interpretations, by which the Roman Church recommends herself, we hesitate to imagine what the indirect, less authentic interpretations might be. We dare to examine these interpretations, with the text open beside us.

"This is my blood — " etc., must be understood literally, we are "infallibly" told. But following Christ's statement, Matt. 26:29, He continues by saying, "I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom." Are we to understand this literally? I Cor. 11:26 reads, (literally?) "For as often as ye eat this bread — ".

"Do this in commemoration of Me" refers to the institution of the Catholic Priesthood, we are told. Hmmmmmm! What rule of interpretation was used to get this answer? Certainly not the searching of context, parallel passages, etc., recommended by "Friar Virgil" in his letter of Jan. 26, '47; but another portion of the same letter contains a statement that may explain the above unproven assertion. He says, "Any interpretation opposed to the doctrines of the Church must be wrong". (By "the Church" he means "Roman Catholic Church" of course.) Examining the text, we note that Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, where individual members were making a feast of the memorial supper, not discerning the proper significance. If "priesthood" in any sense was under consideration, it was the "priesthood" of the whole church, certainly not priests in the Roman Catholic sense. Paul instructed the Corinthian brethren (vs. 20, 28, 33,) to eat the bread and drink the cup "in remembrance of" or "in commemoration of" Christ. Thus a truly inspired man, the Apostle Paul, interprets Luke 22:19 for us.

With reference to the Catholic interpretation of Jno. 20:23 two flagrant insertions of human doctrine are made, with absolutely no textual warrant. The text carries no hint of "successors" to the Apostles, nor does it offer the slightest hint of a system such as the "Sacrament of Penance". Even if the tradition of the early church "fathers" (which Catholics regard as equal in authority with the written word) should teach such doctrines. — (and they do not) — it is a complete violation of principles of interpretation to insert outside material into what purports to be the meaning of a given text.

James 5:14 teaches us to call for the elders (Bishops) of the church to pray for the sick, etc. The qualifications for elders, 1 Tim. 3:1-7, are such as to disqualify the unmarried Catholic priest from administering this "extreme unction", even if the passage warranted such a doctrine. As for Matt. 16; and John 21; it seems the desire to find passages that establish the primacy of Peter has been "mother" to this interpretation. Special significance has been attached to everything concerning Peter, while the passages that "exhale (7) James, or Paul, have been overlooked. It was James, Peter, and John who were reputed to be "pillars" (Gal. 2:9); James, who gave his "sentence" or "judgment" in the presence of the apostles and Jerusalem elders (Acts 15:); and Paul was not one whit behind the very chiefest apostle, (2 Cor. 11:5). Also, in these passages, as in John 20:23, the Roman church must read between the lines to find authority for "successors" to Peter or any of the apostles. The apostles were in the foundation of the church (Eph. 2:20) and are in the foundation now, just as Christ was and is the head of the church, Eph. 1:22. These neither have nor need successors.

It seems to me the Roman church has used the word, "interpretation" (to explain, tell meaning of, elucidate) when they should have used the word, "interpolation" (to alter or corrupt a text by inserting new or foreign matter). Statements, even though absolutely true in themselves, should not be given as the "interpretation" of a text unless that text supplies the facts of the statement.

It is difficult to understand how Roman Catholics could so completely overlook or ignore this basic principle in setting forth these so called "infallible interpretations". If Roman Catholics have found certain doctrines taught by Jerome — then let those doctrines stand or fall upon the authority (?) of traditional testimony. The issues in such cases is whether such traditions or testimonies have divine authority. No amount of logic will warrant an insertion of that doctrine into what is called the "interpretation" of a Bible text, where it is not mentioned.

Roman Catholics expect the world to look to them as the guardians and interpreters of the Bible. But if the individual student treats Catholic "interpretations" in the same way these "interpretations" treat the Bible text, there is little hope for any understanding. While Catholics decry "private" interpretation, the facts show them to be the worst offenders in wresting the scriptures "to their own destruction."