The Protestant doctrine of private interpretation is caricatured by Catholics and some Protestants even think this caricature is the true understanding!  Catholics says that Protestants all think that God guides each of them in reading the Bible and they end up with different conclusions and only chaos.  Catholics say the solution is to submit to the Catholic Church as the only interpreter of scripture that gets reliable guidance from God.

The scriptures call on each reader to judge and interpret the scriptures for themselves.  This is sufficient proof that the Roman Catholic doctrine that divine tradition is the word of God and as authoritive as scripture is heretical.  Most Roman Catholic doctrine comes from this tradition.  Tradition is used to interpret the Bible but it is the top leaders of the Church who decide what belongs to this tradition.  They are endowed with infallibility for this purpose.  If the Bible agreed with the Catholic Church, it would tell its readers not to interpret the Bible for themselves but to go to the Church. 

Private interpretation does not mean you read what you want into the Bible.  It means allowing the Holy Spirit to see what God is saying.  It means you do your best using scholars and experts and thinking for yourself to see what the Bible says.  The view that the Holy Spirit will guide each individual to interpret the Bible does not mean you interpret the Bible as you feel the spirit is leading you.  The Holy Spirit guides experts as far as they let him and you must use them and he guides you as far as you let him.  Think for yourself for thinking is a gift from the Holy Spirit.  You can get the answers but it may be hard work.  You know you have no right to question anything the Holy Spirit says for what he says is true but you do have the right to question if what you think the Holy Spirit is telling you is really coming from him.  The closer you are to God and the more you try the more you will get from the guidance of the Holy Spirit in your bible study and your daily life.

Private interpretation means you use the tools such as scholars and experts and your English teacher provided by God for your enlightenment concerning what God has written in the Bible and you pray for light.  It only means you make your own decisions with a sincere desire to do God’s will.  After all, even if you believe the Catholic doctrine you have to decide to accept the Church as the only right interpreter.  You are interpreting that the Church is the interpreter.  You can’t get away from having to make a decision about interpreting.  In brief, you can’t get away from private interpretation! 

It is not private interpretation of the Bible that has led to all the splits and divisions in evangelical Christianity.  It is the pride and prejudices of humanity.   But these splits are physical but their spiritual communion makes them closer than any physical unity can for they are united to the one saviour and the one God.  It is better to have different churches that believe in learning for themselves what God says than to have one authority namely the Catholic Church telling you what God meant when he spoke in the Bible when that authority is not authorised by the Bible.  It not being authorised is bad enough but it is worse when it is contrary to the Bible.

THE TRUTH: The real reason for the troubles and problems is that there is no Holy Spirit guiding people.  The Catholic Church has only settled the meaning of seven or so short texts.  It is not really infallibly interpreting scripture.  Its doctrine is just weaponised against Protestantism.

The authority of the Bible and the fact that if God reveals it will be clear otherwise it is not a revelation at all are thought to put the brakes on what you think the Spirit is saying.  They give a framework and if your spirit agrees with scripture it is the real Holy Spirit and if it does not it is your own notion or even the Devil's.




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