Everyone interprets Scripture in the light of the natural law

September 3, 2014 § 26 Comments

[2] You are our epistle, written in our hearts, which is known and read by all men: [3] Being manifested, that you are the epistle of Christ, ministered by us, and written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in the fleshly tables of the heart.

[15] But even until this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart. – 2 Corinthians 3:2-3,15 (Rheims)

Consider two different people reading and interpreting Scripture. We know that incorrect interpretations of Scripture are possible. In fact incorrect interpretations probably outnumber correct interpretations by an order of magnitude, as attested by myriad conflicts over interpretation.

Suppose one reader is a sociopath and has no conception of moral right and wrong.

The other reader is a deeply moral person, a follower of Christ who participates in the life of the Church and the Sacraments.

Who do you think is more likely to propose false and incorrect interpretations?

The idea that interpreting Scripture in the light of the natural law, Christian tradition, and the teaching Magisterium places those things ahead of Scripture is risible.  It is as risible as proposing that understanding the meaning of words is placing the dictionary ahead of Scripture.

There are people who claim that they do not interpret Scripture in the light of their understanding of the natural law: that their approach to interpreting Scripture does not come with any metaphysical baggage. This claim is false. They do interpret Scripture in the light of their understanding of natural law.

But because they are unaware that they are doing so, their whole approach is sociopathic.

§ 26 Responses to Everyone interprets Scripture in the light of the natural law

  • Peter Blood says:

    Yes, a lot of people just wing it. In fact, if I ever say, “I like this interpretation because I like it that way” people are appalled. It appears that every interpretation must be promoted as having (mostly) the full backing of God, or you’re some kind of crazy man. You can’t just have an opinion. I hope you catch what I’m trying to say here.

  • Zippy says:

    Peter Blood:
    I think folks tend to feel rudderless without an owner’s manual for life that tells them everything they should be thinking. At the same time, they don’t want some other actual human being telling them what to think. The Bible (or the Constitution, or what have you) provides the best of both worlds, because in a positivist-postmodern framework the text always magically means something amenable to the reader’s views and yet at the same time the text absorbs all responsibility for the particular conclusions.

  • Ita Scripta Est says:

    But because they are unaware that they are doing so, their whole approach is sociopathic.

    Indeed. I think this is Catholicism’s great strength in that it is at least honest in recognizing the essential and inescapable role of reason and philosophy and effective to attempting to “baptize” it. You can’t “do” theology without them and anyone who claims otherwise is a fraud.

  • […] First, Zippy responded, to others and possibly me, in two posts, here and here. […]

  • […] fruits of theological voluntarism as trump card over the natural law and the traditional understanding of the fifth commandment are on the front […]

  • jamesd127 says:

    If the Hebrews had not killed the Canaanite, children, would have would up killing their own children.

    Hebrew memes reproduced from parent to child, hence natural selection apt to result in pro survival memes.

    Canaanite memes, like progressive memes, reproduced through state sponsored religious practices and state sponsored evangelism, hence apt to be suicidal.

    The practice of sacrificing one’s infant children to Moloch by casting them into the flames in front of the congregation demonstrated one’s faith – and having done such a terrible thing (often to advance one’s career in the state apparatus) difficult to doubt the belief system that made it a good thing.

    Thus, an effective means of making people into canaanites. The Canaanite memetic system reproduced, while Canaanites did not, just as progressivism reproduces, while progressives do not.

  • Zippy says:

    Years ago I explained what happens when you start with modern liberalism and take away the lie of zero group differences. Now the neoreaction has shown up to prove my point.

  • JustSomeGuy says:

    @ jamesd127:

    Your analysis of how infertile ideologies advance themselves is very good. However, fighting evil with evil is evil. Do you think it would be morally licit to slaughter the children of every progressive in the world today?

  • Zippy says:

    The practice of sacrificing one’s infant children to Moloch by casting them into the flames in front of the congregation demonstrated one’s faith – and having done such a terrible thing (often to advance one’s career in the state apparatus) difficult to doubt the belief system that made it a good thing.

    Abraham fully expected to have to sacrifice his child to God, and was prepared to do so. That’s what gods were expected to expect. But Yahweh stayed Abraham’s hand, revealing Himself to be different from the pagan gods.

    The OT makes sense as a history of God revealing Himself over time to a stubborn, willful, wicked human race, through fallible prophets and patriarchs (who show their faults time and time again), in preparation for the Incarnation.

    It makes no sense read through some other lens, e.g. as a source of propositions from which doctrines can be constructed to build a self-consistent body of positive law which does not require interpretation.

  • Trying to talk about this with people who don’t get what natural law actually is (it’s a heresy to believe in natural law???) is like slamming your head repeatedly into a brick wall.

  • Zippy says:

    Malcolm:
    There is no natural law. There is only the will of Allah. /sarc

  • Outis says:

    Zippy:
    It would be risible to claim that all interpretation of Scripture through a framework necessarily places the framework “ahead of” Scripture, as there is no way to ‘objectively’ read Scripture without a framework. That, however, doesn’t imply that all such methodologies do not place frameworks the respective framework “ahead of” Scripture; some obviously do. If some do, it is not risible to claim that some do.

    Hence I don’t see what is so risible about claiming that ‘interpreting Scripture in the light of the natural law, Christian tradition, and the teaching Magisterium places those things ahead of Scripture’; it may be false but it is not obviously so.

  • Zippy says:

    Outis:
    If the characterization “ahead of” is sufficiently ambiguous it can mean whatever we want it to mean.

  • Mike T says:

    Years ago I explained what happens when you start with modern liberalism and take away the lie of zero group differences. Now the neoreaction has shown up to prove my point.

    While I am not keen on the idea of harming children, even of less civilized groups, for any reason, I am fully in favor of wholesale liquidating those more grown up members who show an inability to get along with people better than a feral dog.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:
    There is plenty of room for debate over the proportionate response to various crimes. I imagine my own approach to restraining and punishing the guilty, in the unhappy event that I were made King, would strike many modern people as ruthless. In particular, because criminals represent a constant threat to each other, significantly more confinement would be solitary – and prisoner-on-prisoner crime would be dealt with especially ruthlessly. As Pope JPII pointed out backhandedly, if they can’t get along in a modern prison without harming each other physically and spiritually the only remaining humane alternative is execution.

    But that is all completely beside the point in a debate over the intrinsic immorality of killing the innocent, that is, murder.

  • Mike T says:

    But that is all completely beside the point in a debate over the intrinsic immorality of killing the innocent, that is, murder.

    More or less, it is. At least in a moral sense. I posted something on W4 that got completely ignored about how a new genetic breakthrough seems to support “genetic memory” more as a model for “evolution” than natural selection. The theorists are saying that Lamarck may have been mostly right in that the habits of the parents get genetically encoded and passed on.

    So from my perspective, if that be true while we ought to do the right thing by the children it warrants increased scrutiny and diligence as they get older. Both science and religion seem to be converging on at least the concept of “inherited sin.”

  • Both science and religion seem to be converging on at least the concept of “inherited sin.”

    What in Hell does having genes that are like your parents’ genes have ANYTHING to do with the culpability of a child’s sin as opposed to the parents’ sin?

    That’s a really, really bizarre leap of logic, Mike.

  • Hrodgar says:

    The idea is not simply that children’s genes are like their parents. The idea is that the actions of parents during their lifetimes affect their children’s genes. For instance, if a man with no family history of alcoholism takes it up and then has a son, that son will have a genetic predisposition to alcoholism. If I recall correctly the Assassin’s Creed video game series operates off of a similar premise, albeit exaggerated to the point that the complete history of all your ancestors up until the relevant conceptions is literally written in your genes.

    At least, that seems to be the idea as best as I can understand it. Genetics and heredity are neither of them something I’ve studied in very great detail, and I don’t have any real basis for judging the plausibility of such a mechanism.

  • Zippy says:

    In any event the most a moral Lamarckian could say is that the children of terrible sinners are, other things equal and generally speaking, more predisposed to sin than the children of more upright people.

    But we already know that.

    So as with many claims of this sort (“gay gene”, anyone?) it strikes me offhand as much ado about nothing.

  • Mike T says:

    What in Hell does having genes that are like your parents’ genes have ANYTHING to do with the culpability of a child’s sin as opposed to the parents’ sin?

    Culpability isn’t the issue, it’s the predisposition toward sin. Generational sin is frequently mentioned in the Old Testament.

    The issue is that if you behave like a degenerate, you run the risk of actually passing a tendency toward degeneracy onto your kids which will make their cross that much heavier.

    But we already know that.

    By “we” I assume you mean the minority of Christians (Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox alike) and HBDers who actually take a sober view of this issue rather than clinging to (functionally) tabula rasa nonsense. For many people, including Christians, it’s a radical concept that doesn’t make sense.

  • So wait. Your argument here is now that if people are more likely to sin, even if they don’t, it makes it more acceptable to kill them?

  • Mike T says:

    So wait. Your argument here is now that if people are more likely to sin, even if they don’t, it makes it more acceptable to kill them?

    I never said anything about killing someone over this genetic finding. What I did say on W4 is that if true, it could provide some material defense for a particular judgment.

  • So, this has nothing to do with the Canaanite passages?

  • Mike T says:

    ** I never said anything here justifying killing someone. I merely offered it at W4 as a possible motivation for a particular judgment.

  • Mike T says:

    So, this has nothing to do with the Canaanite passages?

    Insofar as it changes moral rules, no.

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