Protestants are Cherry Picking the Bible


The issue of Bible interpretation is a point of contention among atheists as well as Christians. It is claimed that a man and his Bible is all that is needed. After all, the Holy Spirit will guide you into all truth (John 16:13). Yet, one won’t spend too long in Christian circles till he discovers that “a man and his Bible” will come up with extremely off-the-wall ideas. He always has a need to be corrected by others in the Church. He’s like a tree which needs stilts to hold it up or it will grow crooked. It is suggested that the way to correct these bad understandings of the Scripture, is to have the Bible reader research what the great men of faith have said about things. He is told to reach back to the early church fathers and use them to get a better interpretation of Scripture. However, this is just a more well read version of “a man and his Bible”, albeit a more humble one. The individual is still the final arbiter of what he reads. The Protestant will accept St Augustine’s ideas on grace and faith, but not on the Eucharist, and certainly not on the Pope. He is, for all intents and purposes, cherry picking, as the atheists are so fond of pointing out. And in this accusation, I think they are right. My dear Protestants, we are cherry picking.

Let me point out, though, that doesn’t mean we are all wrong. An accurate interpretation of Scripture does exist, and our cherry picking is bound to hit the mark at some point. But, it’s bound to miss it as well. So, how do we know when we get it right? It’s a hard question. And one can see that our problem exists because we address the problem at an individual level, i.e. “a man and his Bible.” We have a real need to refer ourselves to an authority. The only relevant authority available to us in these matters is the Church. So what does the Church say about the Scriptures? And therein lies the rub. Which Church is to be the authority? The Independent Fundamental Baptists?… The Southern Baptists?… The Methodists?… The Free Will Baptists?… The Nazarenes?… The Church of Christ?… The Assembly of God?… The Lutherans?… or (oh, the horror) The Catholics?

And do any of them actually have a list of doctrines that define their denomination? For instance, what does it mean to really be a Southern Baptist? In my own experience, I’ve learned that each denomination has disagreements within themselves, and a certain amount of that is OK, even healthy. But do the Southern Baptists have a list of core doctrines on which none disagree and therefore define the denomination? If they do, that is precisely what is meant by the much hated term “Church Tradition.” Each Church, if it is to be legitimate, must have a coherent Church Tradition or they are a denomination without a definition. And that is one thing I cannot stand. Whatever you are, you must know what you are.

Whatever the answer to these questions above, it cannot be that Church Tradition must be avoided. Each of us, as individuals, need Church Tradition to help us understand the Scripture. We need an authoritative arbiter of the truth. We need a Guardian of Orthodoxy. But, if one exists, there are serious implications for the many denominations out there. If there is a church that is right, then all the other churches are wrong. And some are more wrong than others. There would be elements of the true Church in the other denominations, but they would not be the fullness that makes up the Church.

I do not claim to have an answer for this problem, but I know one thing. I no longer abhor and reject Church Tradition. I have a real need for it. I am looking for a Guardian of Orthodoxy. I do have a direction I’m looking and I have real reasons for looking in that direction. But, I don’t feel comfortable sharing that yet. I only write this so that others may see the problem and begin the search themselves.

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11 thoughts on “Protestants are Cherry Picking the Bible

  1. The Bible was translated into Latin from its mother tongues (Hebrew and Greek) by the Catholic Church at the end of the 4th century AD.

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church is a tome that explains the meaning of the Bible.

    The latest edition of the Catechism was commissioned by Pope Saint John Paul II who assigned Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI, compile and publish it.

    The first Protestant, Martin Luther was a disillusioned Catholic priest who, with authority only granted by himself, to himself, redefined Christianity and the Bible.

    1. Thank you for the advice. There’s much in history that I still need to learn and come to terms with. The catechism is on my reading list. Luther is usually praised in Protestant circles, but somehow we’re not all Lutherans. It’s a funny thing. You’d think if we claimed to be part of his tradition then we’d at least agree with the Lutherans, but we don’t. Although, it’s my understanding that even Luther didn’t agree with the Lutherans.

      Anyway, if his reformation was real, it would have taken place within the Catholic Church and in line with the proper ecclesiastical authorities.

    2. this is the ignorance that is showing.. (silenceofmind)… (dan o’brian is simply … well admitting he is not as studied, … and I am not much better, but this Roman Catholic don’t tell you is … how many “editions of the Catechism” have been pinted? I am not a Luthern, but that is one characteristic of Luther that made him one of the leaders of the Protestant movement … and Luther was not the first, in the movement… all of them were “disillusioned Roman Catholic Priests) who made up the Reformation….

  2. Ever thought about letting the Holy Spirit be your “Guardian of Orthodoxy”? Why entrust your spiritual welfare to imperfect men?
    12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Philippians 2
    15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.2 Timothy 2
    and
    16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.2 Timothy 3

  3. God wanted there to be lots of churches. And yes, he even wanted there to be a Catholic Church. It is a heaven-sanctioned practice of idol-worship for people who need that sort of thing. Just kidding. The purpose of the Catholic Church was to hand down the faith to people of the latter days.

    And the reason Luther is so revered is because the Protestant movement he started was necessary to get people to believe that grace can come to man directly from God, not just by adhering to the doctrines of a few men in robes.

    Then came the Mormon Church, which believed in the spirit of Protestantism, that salvation is for all mankind, but also sees the necessity of the priesthood. All males are called to have the priesthood. This idea of a church whose entire male membership holds the priesthood is in-between Catholic and Protestant. Catholics believe only a few men should hold the priesthood. Protestants believe that Jesus makes us all priests unto God. Mormons believe that it is for all males, and females enjoy the blessings of the priesthood through their fathers and husbands. Furthermore, the Mormons believe in modern prophets who listen to God for all mankind and tells us His will. I think this is what you’re truly looking for. Latter-day prophets. Am I right?

    We thank thee, O God, for a prophet to guide us in these latter days.

    There is a prophet of God living on the Earth today. And his name is Thomas S. Monson. I pray that you look into this. You have an opportunity to find what you’re looking for.

  4. Sikatriz,
    I cannot reject the history and authority of the Christian Church, and therefore cannot accept a prophet who contradicts them, even a latter-day one. Beliefs ought to be grounded in history and truth and authority.

  5. sikatriz,

    I’m wondering if you would accept a challenge to your position on Mormonism. If you are a Mormon I’m guessing you’ve already had to deal with several people who would challenge you in that regard but I had something particular in mind. I will only offer it if you accept the challenge. I am not in the business of simply shouting a person down for their beliefs or dogmatically attempting to conform everyone to my thinking but I do believe there are a few things that might impress you. I may be wrong. So in the spirit of Lamentations 3:36 (if I understand it properly or perhaps poetically) I offer it only if you are willing.

    marciasettles,

    I think the last scripture you mentioned is perhaps a key to this issue. We the imperfect are instructed to reprove, presumably, our fellow imperfects. It is certainly possibly that two people of equal bible knowledge come to two different understandings of the bible to some degree. One would reprove the other in his understanding. The other would feel improperly reproved unless he followed humility. Obviously, only one can be right. In this case we must rely upon our spiritual superiors if they can make their wisdom available to us in giving us a better understanding than we currently have. Often, I think we find that bouncing our notions of scripture off respected peers and authorities keep us from heresy, though I think true heresy isn’t so easily come by. At least, I hope not.

    1. F.A. Buck —-> I am always up for a challenge. Though I am not a member of the LDS Church, my understanding of theology has been greatly influenced by Mormon theology. I believe it is a restoration of the fulness of the Gospel, but I am actually ineligible to join their church. I don’t attend any church services at this time. But I will accept your challenge, not representing Mormons, but defending the idea that they might be the true church.

  6. Cherry-picking? Of course they are. We all do it. Whatever idea or thought or scripture helps me today may not be what I need tomorrow. and the truth that helps me through tomorrow may not strengthen me next week. Manna must be gathered fresh each day. If you try to store it for another day it grows maggots!

    We are like the four blind men describing an elephant and refusing to admit that our blindness limits us. Or worse, we are like the citizens in the Valley of the Blind who set the sighted man and decide his eyes are a defect that makes him delusional. So they insist on removing them! The man escape, but does in the process.

    I think it’s a good thing we’ve stopped killing those who have eyes to see.

  7. Reblogged this on Bob's Opinion and commented:
    Just call me a “cherry picker”…. I am a Christian first, fundamental, evangelical, conservative Christian … just call me guilty of cherry picking .. it is what keeps me on course.

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