Why do people read and interpret the bible the way they do? How do they get the meaning and interpretation they get? Why are there over thirty thousand denominations? Why do the saints so vehemently disagree as to the interpretation of certain texts? What is the source of all of the doctrinal dissention that exists today? To steal a question from Rodney King; why can’t we all just get along? The short answer to this is Biblicism. By that I mean reading the scripture literally and allowing it to interpret itself and be its own authority.
This method of interpretation came about in large part because of the Reformation *ideal* scripture alone, or sola scriptura. It came as a reaction to church doctrinal authority as it existed in the Roman Catholic Church. In Roman Catholicism, the magisterium, or *canon of church interpretation* is what is important in RC faith and practice. In other words, what has the Church said about the meaning of certain biblical texts? It is a doctrinal position which assumes that lay people have no business trying to interpret the scripture.
The Roman Catholic Church along with the eastern orthodox churches claim apostolic succession, and thereby maintain their authority. This apostolic authority suggests that since they can trace their origin to original apostles they have had handed down from one patriarch to the next the apostles’ doctrine.
I have known many evangelicals that have left the ranks of Protestantism and joined either the Roman Catholic Church or one of the eastern orthodox churches such as the Greek or Russian Orthodox. When you think about it… it kind of makes sense. However, I do not believe that the RCC or the OC has the apostles doctrine. I believe that they are the originators of the *strong delusion* of 2Thessalonians chapter two.
Here is the reason I believe this. If one accepts the idea that the New Testament documents were written prior to 70AD and I do, then, there is a awkward silent period of thirty- plus years. The first works of the early church fathers were written about 110AD at the earliest and it was in the 120’s that church writing really got going. Why the silence? Another thing is this… the early church father’s doctrine does not mesh well with the doctrine of the first century apostolic church.
For example, I have shown unequivocally that Jesus and the first century New Testament authors redefined the term word of God from the Torah to the gospel. He gave the scripture a solely redemptive emphasis, insisting that it be used to help find him and thereby enable finding eternal life. The early church fathers, much like the scribes and Pharisees, defined the scripture as the word of God and used it for the purpose of establishing faith and practice. While Jesus said “seek ye first the kingdom of God and HIS righteousness,” the early church fathers promoted seeking the kingdom of church and self-righteousness.
The New Testament authors awaited the destruction of the temple and the end of the age. They awaited Jesus enemies, unbelieving Jews, to be made his footstool. When the temple and Jerusalem were destroyed, thus making Jesus enemies his foot stool, the early church fathers ignored it. The early church father’s doctrine is definitely the leaven of the Pharisees and the strong delusion of 2Thessalonians chapter two.
Therefore, Biblicism is not the problem. The wrong hermeneutic is the problem. If one would go out and join the Roman Catholic or Greek Orthodox Church they would merely be embracing a more pure form of the strong delusion and the leaven of the Pharisees. Until we change the hermeneutic to line up with the one that Jesus and the New Testament authors used we cannot expect to get free from the error. The change must be radical and I hope to use the next few posts to begin to lay out a methodical plan for recovering the apostle’s doctrine. Only then will we truly begin to build the kingdom of God.