The Scriptures Are Not Always Plain to Understand
Question: Thanks for the very insightful essay about Eastern spirituality. I've read several books on the subject and always felt that those Eastern "mystic" religions were so pagan, so nonsenscial, so contradictory and so man-centered that I have dismissed them for the paganism that they are. I especially am revolted about the concept of Karma (man-made, works salvation) and reincarnation (which I especially am revolted by).
I think your comments show plainly enough exactly my thoughts. Those pagan religions say you can have wealth, happiness etc., by "naming it and claiming itĒ, just like the "faith movement" of Kenneth Copeland and his ilk. If you've ever wondered if a religion has tremendous influence over people just look at the eastern religions and the Muslims. Wherever they are in the majority that country and people are living in abject poverty, spiritual darkness, and living like they haven't progressed past the 7th century.
This whole palm reading, miracle-working, healing etc., is nothing but utter delusion and in most cases plain fraud. Satan can appear as an "angel of light" and has keep millions and millions of people in his kingdom.
My problem is that the vast majority of so-called Christianity is also a deception. Many of the things you mention about the religions in the east are practiced in one way or another in fallen, pagan so-called Christianity.
Now as for me, well, you are going to think that I am absolutely insane but I must tell the truth. I'm back at Sovereign Grace Chapel, a Reformed Baptist Church. I've been to some local Orthodox churches, some local Catholic churches, some local so-called independent Baptist churches (until I found out that the ministers in a lot of these places are 32nd degree Masons) and I didn't just walk out, I ran out of the place.
I keep coming back to the simple, literal, grammatical interpretation of the scriptures. Did the scriptures try to convey meanings to the people in ordinary plain language of the time or did Israel mean the church, inheriting the land mean inheriting heaven, and on and on. I am sticking with the plain meaning of the texts of scripture and not, like the Catholic church insists, wading through 4 so-called "deeper" meanings of each passage that can only be interpreted by a "deeply spiritual" monk, priest, bishop etc.
I know we disagree about that but I feel that the scriptures mean what they say in the plain language used, and not "hidden" meanings, or bible codes, or meanings only discerned by a spiritual elite. Origen, and to some extent Jerome, Augustine and some of the fathers of the 4th century and thereafter picked up this idea that the scriptures have to be "spiritualized" for the "deeper" meaning and us poor common Christians, even though we are told to search the scriptures to see if what is being taught can be confirmed by those scriptures, are just lunk heads, ignorant and lost unless the "spiritual" person tells us what the scriptures mean. I've absolutely totally rejected that superior, condescending attitude.
So, I know you will be disappointed with me, but I wanted to let you know that after years of study and years of reading thousands of opinions and bible commentaries, attending many, many different churches in Christianity, Eastern Mysticism, The New thought movement and on and on, I'm back to taking the bible as the absolutely INFALLABLE WORD OF GOD, THE LIVING WORD, conveyed to us by the Holy Spirit and in such a way that all us ignorant, common Christians can understand.
But once again, thanks for the great essay on your trip to China. It reinforces my ideas on those pagan religions and I am going to save your essay for future reference.
God bless you, friend, Don
Answer: Iím glad you liked my article on Chinaís religions. I learned a lot & I thought that it would help others too. Thanky for the hermeneutics article. I was only generally familiar with certain official Protestant statements about interpreting Scripture; but now I can study them more effectively.
I completely understand your strong spiritual caution when it comes to the Faith. Caution is an admirable virtue that is necessary in the process toward spiritual perfection. So I donít at all find any fault with you in whatever youíre doing, especially when youíve given so much effort to understanding other forms of spirituality. Most people donít take Christ so seriously.
I want to examine more of what you mean about your opinions against searching for deeper Biblical meanings & the ancient purpose of an ecclesiastical hierarchy. I know weíve written about this before, but sometimes repetition can be a good teacher. Iím quite confused about what you mean because my studies from Scripture & its cultural context demand that the average Christian search the Scriptures to find both the simple AND the deeper meanings. Why assume that the command to search the Scriptures excludes finding deeper meanings? I consider that assumption to be not only forcing man-made assertions into the Bible, but also to be a method of extracting hidden meanings from it that are not obviously taught. In other words, I see such a view to be self-refuting or hypocritical. I guess I need more elaboration from you in order to understand what youíre doing with the Bible.
In the Confession of Dositheus, Patriarch of Jerusalem, for the Council of Jerusalem in 1672, in his case against Protestantism, he asks the question, ďAre the Scriptures plain to all Christians that read them?Ē Then he answers his own question, ďIf the Divine Scriptures were plain to all Christians that read them, the Lord would not have commanded such as desired to obtain salvation to search the same (John 5:39); and Paul would have said without reason that God had placed the gift of teaching in the Church (1 Corinthians 12:28); & Peter would not have said of the Epistles of Paul that they contained some things hard to be understood (2 Peter 3:16). It is evident, therefore, that the Scriptures are very profound, & their sense lofty; & that they need learned & divine men to search out their true meaning, & a sense that is right, & agreeable to all Scripture, & to its author the Holy SpiritÖ.It is not necessary, but rather impossible, that all should know what the Holy Spirit manifests to those alone who are exercised in wisdom and holiness.Ē
Dositheus makes some good points. In the first place, he assumes the command for us to search the Scriptures includes deeper meanings, which you assume does not. Even though both of you are reading the same Bible verses, one of you is interpreting these verses according to man-made premises that are being used to read into Scripture new ideas that were never Apostolic. So my question is this: Where in the Bible does it imply that we shouldnít search for the deeper meanings of Scripture but only the plain meanings? As I will prove to you in this email, the Apostles command us to search the Bible for the simple AND the complicated meanings, & that the Church was established for the sake of separating teachers from laymen.
Secondly, Dositheus quotes 2 Peter 3:16, which specifically states that the Scriptures contain deeper meanings that go beyond what they appear to say in their plain sense. This is why Dositheus raises the point that the Apostles had established teachers, since the Bible exhibits passages that require experts to explain.
Third, Dositheus at the end makes a great point that itís ridiculous to believe that every single Christian can know every single thing that the Holy Spirit has manifested to the Apostles, their disciples, the saints, the bishops, the Church Fathers, holy councils, etc. As the Bible implies & common sense dictates, the distinction between teacher & layman is an irrefutable reality.
Without inheriting the practice of spiritualizing texts, the Apostles wouldnít have discovered half the prophecies about Jesus & the Church in the Old Testament, nor would they have commanded us to follow such a practice. So maybe youíre not aware of how the Ancient Jews before & after Christ heavily relied on searching the Scriptures for deeper meanings, sometimes coming up with teachings that donít fit the context & contents of the plain, simple words of the texts. For instance, Genesis 22:6-8 states twice the phrase ďand the two of them walked togetherĒ, speaking of Abraham & Isaac. The Jewish thinkers before Christ were convinced that this was done to hint to the fact that Isaac was fully cognizant that he would be sacrificed. So the Targum Neophyti & the Fragment Targum for Genesis 22:8 says, ďAbraham says to Isaac, ĎThe Lord will provide a lamb for himself for the burnt offering, my son; and if not, you will be the lamb for the burnt offering.í And the two of them walked together with firm intention.Ē These two texts were written in the first century, capturing interpretations of Scripture that existed before Christ. And in case you donít know, a targum was an Ancient Jewish method of recounting Scripture for better understandings of it. St. Clement, the famous disciple of St. Peter, interprets Genesis 22 in the same way, saying in 1 Clement 31:2-4, ďWhy was our father Abraham blessed? Was it not because he acted righteously & truthfully through faith? Isaac, knowing full well what was to happen, was willingly led forth to be sacrificed.Ē All this was going on long before Origen & even before Christ, being so ingrained into the cultural context of Judaism that the Apostles themselves totally relied on seeking deeper meanings to Scripture as well. Anyone, scholar or hobbyist, who even casually looks into this subject will know as an irrefutable fact that Origen & the Church Fathers never invented or were erroneously influenced by a false doctrine of searching the Scriptures for deeper meanings. It was already a part of the Faith before Christ & sanctioned after Christ by the Apostles & their successors. There are also many books on this subject, though a good one that simply lists the Ancient Jewish (before & after Christ) & Apostolic extractions of hidden meanings from Scripture is called ďThe Bible As It WasĒ by James Kugel. The introductions to & the contents of all these books prove irrefutably what Iím saying here.
I can find lots more examples of this practice in Ancient Judaism, but it would take too long to write. If you are weak on knowing the spirituality of the Apostlesí Jewish heritage, then you should study this aspect of the Bibleís spiritual context. By doing this, you will learn how & why the Apostles themselves searched for hidden teachings from the plain texts of certain Old Testament passages in order to find prophecies of Jesus & the Church, all within a proper spiritual exegesis.
There are many examples in the Bible where the Apostles re-interpreted Scripture. The one that comes into my head right now is the prophecy of Judas being replaced by Matthias in Acts 1:20, which quotes Psalm 109:8 as being fulfilled by the Apostles. But the context of this psalm says nothing about what the Apostles say it says. Instead, it says many other things that donít relate to Judas & Matthias, specifically stating in verse 20 that verse 8 is a reference to King Davidís accusers, not just one man, but many theoretical wicked people, their families, their jobs in society, etc. during King Davidís reign. The Apostles literally extracted a hidden meaning from the plain meaning of the text in order to make it a future prophecy of Matthias. And there are so many other examples like this, where the Apostles sought & found hidden meanings in the textual & historical contexts of Old Testament passages that are not directly or even indirectly stated there. Matthew 2:16-18 is another good example, which is the passage about King Herod killing the innocents in & around Bethlehem. As St. Matthew says, Jeremiah 31:15 is a prophecy that became fulfilled by this event. But when you read the plain, simple text of Jeremiah 31, there is no direct or indirect message in there about a future king killing babies in the Bethlehem area. Instead, this chapter is about the exiled Jews returning to Israel. Though in verse 15 the land of Israel is personified as Rachel weeping for the exiles being gone, the next verses tell her to stop crying because the Jews are coming back to ISRAEL. Verse 18 also personifies Ephraim as an exile pleading for his return. So the only way for this passage to become a future prophecy of a small region within Israel that witnessed the killing of innocent babies is to discover in it hidden & deeper meanings that are not plainly taught in it, completely changing its context, its historical content, & its original meaning. And this is precisely what the Apostles did with Jeremiah 31. But what the Apostles did with this & other prophecies was not dubious or duplicitous in any way. The Apostles were only practicing what the Prophets had sanctioned the Ancient Jews to do- to spiritualize Bible verses, to extract from the plain meanings of various texts so as to discover new & truer meanings that are deeply hidden in them. They didnít do this in every case, but the Apostles did do this a lot. This is why there were rabbis or teachers, which Jesus Himself was called, as opposed to the laymen.
Since the Bible shows that the method which the Apostles used to search the Scriptures about Jesus includes interpreting hidden & deeper meanings into them, it follows that when the Bible tells us about searching the Scriptures to find that Jesus is Lord, it includes interpreting the Bible to see both obvious AND hidden meanings in them. Hence, Israel in the Old Testament can be interpreted as the Church because the Apostles told us to search for ourselves the Scriptures about Christ & the Church, which in their mind includes searching for the plain meanings & even the deeper meanings, within the Apostolic Tradition, of course. Thatís the Biblical context, thatís the historical context, thatís the cultural context, thatís the spiritual context, & thatís the Apostolic pattern of interpretation that weíre told to follow. So in this case the Bible explains itself as presenting two methods of Bible interpretation- understanding the plain meaning & searching for the deeper meaning. This is another reason why I canít understand what youíre saying.
Though the Apostles spiritualized Scripture, it was not regarded as dubious but as normal Biblical exegesis or hermeneutics in the Jewish Tradition. As anyone who researches this knows, all the Jews since the days of the Prophets before Christ sought to find hidden meanings in Scripture to elucidate its teachings, except the Sadducees. The Talmuds, the Targums, the Jewish Holy Tradition, mystical texts, & other sources representative of orthodox Ancient Judaism came from Ancient Jewish teachers, not laymen, who consistently searched through the Scriptures to find the obvious meanings of the Bible along with their deeper purports. So it should be expected that the Apostles practiced this same method of Biblical interpretation. Thus, the Old Testament tells us that God revealed to Moses the Law, yet the New Testament says that the Law was revealed by angels (Acts 7:54, Galatians 3:19). Where did this come from? St. Paul then spiritualized the Cross as though it were a living being. St. John also spiritualized the Word as though it were a living being, even though such a concept is said to come from Greek Paganism & Philo. Plus, the Epistle to the Hebrews spiritualizes Old Testament rituals, even though the plain reading of these Old Testament passages donít plainly require such interpretations. Indeed, the Old Testament contains no doctrine of life after death for mankind, & this deficiency is a fact that Jews openly & universally accept when they discuss this subject. So where did the Ancient Jews of Christís time get the idea from Scripture that there was life after death? Even Jesus taught this. Apparently, the people who believed in life after death were forced to extract from certain verses hidden meanings about this doctrine that is not PLAINLY taught. So Jesus too was involved in taking out hidden, mystical meanings from the Bible & the Apostles simply continued this devotion. Finding spiritualized, mystical, hidden, & deeper meanings to Scripture was not foreign to the Apostles; in fact, it was part of the Faith as a Holy Spirit inspired devotion.
This overwhelming acceptance & command of searching for deeper meanings explains why the Epistles of 1 Clement & Barnabas, who were disciples of the Apostles, practiced this method of Biblical interpretation as well, which the Early Christians in turn inherited as a Biblically & Apostolically sanctioned devotion, as long as it follows the Apostolic parameters of pedagogy. So when you emphatically tell me that Origen & certain Church Fathers erroneously picked up on this practice & somehow infected Christianity with it, youíre totally confusing me because you seem to have done your research, yet you go against the facts. Iím also more confused when I read that article that you referred to me, that one about hermeneutics. Article VII says, ďMeaning is also definite in that there are defined limits by virtue of the author's expressed meaning in the given linguistic form and cultural context. Meaning is determined by an author; it is discovered by the readers.Ē Evidently, the cultural context doesnít matter if something doesnít comport with Lutheristic doctrines. Thatís exactly what it looks like. Cultural context can mean anything that a Protestant wants it to mean. If he doesnít want to accept John 6 being a chapter about the Bread & Wine of Communion being the literal Body & Blood of Jesus Christ, despite a 2000 year old Christian cultural context believing this, then he can claim that the cultural context was corrupted by a false doctrine in some theoretical century. And how do you explain 1 Corinthians 15:29? Iím genuinely curious. Thatís the verse about baptism for the dead. The Early Church read this verse & considered it a perfectly normal Biblical practice that they inherited directly from the Apostles. If youíve observed an Orthodox Communion, youíve seen the baptism for the dead, though you had no idea that it was happening (unless you were told). But Protestants look at this verse & they say that itís all about literal baptisms done by heretics or Pagans. Thus, Protestants also invent new doctrines from the Bible, as well as search for & find hidden, deeper meanings to Bible texts that are not plainly taught in Scripture (though they sometimes are), yet conform to their extra-biblical expectations, like John 6. In other words, the hermeneutics article can be used against Protestant exegetes themselves, since they donít even obey their own rules of hermeneutics.
If Origen radically altered the Churchís approach to Scripture, where was the outcry? Where were the debates against such an alteration of Apostolic spirituality, an alteration as explosive as saying that Jesus isnít God? What factions appeared, splitting up the Church into separate groups of regions for & against Origenís idea of allegorizing Scripture? What happened to the supposedly original Apostolic way of reading the Bible? I see no Early Church battles over this issue, even though there are many issues of lesser purport that caused big disputes. Nor do I see any evidence that the Ancient Jews also incorporated this idea as a new dogma, thus causing major battles over this issue. Such silence speaks volumes.
So there is nothing that I can go by to make me see problems with spiritualizing the Bible. Itís not a new doctrine invented by men & itís perfectly Biblical to do, as long as it stays within the Apostolic Faith. Apostolically searching the Scriptures for deeper meanings doesnít alter the Faith; it doesnít add doctrines; it doesnít subtract doctrines; it doesnít weaken the spirituality; & so on. If you can demonstrate that Origen or Philo popularized this practice, then maybe I can construct a heretical heritage behind it, but there are voluminous facts disproving this presumption. However, I can demonstrate that the Baptist doctrine, which insists on Scripture alone for the answers to Scripture, is a man-made doctrine that can be traced to a certain modern man or group. It was begun in the Sadducees & it was reborn in Lutherism. It began nowhere else. So I have to ask again, why assume that the command to search the Scriptures excludes finding in them deeper meanings? The Bible doesnít say that searching the Scriptures requires only studying what it plainly says. Indeed, the Bible sanctions the practice of searching the Scriptures to find both their obvious & their mystical meanings. This is why Iím so confused by your insistence that the Church Fathers were erroneously using Scripture & thereby influencing the Church to go the wrong way. Thereís no evidence for this & in fact, it was the Church, or rather the Apostles, that put a fence around the Biblical interpretations of the Church Fathers while expecting all Christians to search the Scriptures for obvious & hidden meanings.
As the Bible, the Ancient Jews, & the Early Christians all relate, Scripture was used for analogies, parables, personal realizations, discussions of discrepancies, & mystical contemplation within the parameters of Holy Tradition. Even searching the Scriptures was understood to fit into this spiritual, historical, & cultural context because the Prophets & Apostles taught this.
I also can tell you that no matter how great you think you are in understanding Scripture, bishops & priests are the real experts. Iím constantly amazed at how good they are at knowing Scripture & exactly expressing the Gospel in ways that prevent anything they say from being spiritually distorted. I have to submit to this expertise because even the best laymen make slight spiritual errors in their explanations of the Gospel. From experience, I know how easy it is for laymen to make errors in reasoning & explaining spiritual things. But bishops & priests are exquisitely superb in what they teach & express. But at one time I used to think that I was full of wisdom & understanding of Scripture until I met bishops & priests & monks. So itís quite humbling & amazing to see them in action, & they prove to me more & more how wise the Apostles were in setting up an ecclesiastical elite, as you call it.
As you know, the Apostles established teachers & shepherds of the Faith, bishops & priests, to replace them because the Apostles understood that Scripture requires at times profound explications. If you study the detailed theological battles of old & the finely tuned concepts of the Ecumenical Councils, or of any council, the profundity & depth of reasoning & skill of Biblical awareness are exceptional. Itís just amazing how well trained the bishops, priests, & monks have been over the millennia & what they did in helping us to understand the Trinity, the natures of Christ, his two wills, figuring what is or is not Biblical, rooting out sin, subjecting the flesh to the spirit, etc. The expression of this sublime wisdom is why the Bible commands us to submit to an ecclesiastical hierarchy of teachers.
The Protestant assumption that bishops & priests are not spiritual experts & final doctrinal authorities of Truth is an idea that also defies the Bible & Sacred History. The Bible & their cultural context relied on a priestly elite structure, as the Prophets taught, & indeed the Apostles established one. Jesus said to His disciples that He would build His Church on them (Matthew 16:18), not on the laymen. And then He told them that they were to be the final authorities determining which sins to forgive & which sins not to (John 20:22-23), as opposed to the laymenís vocations. He also told them to feed His sheep & make disciples, which the bishops, priests, & deacons of the Apostles were also told to do, though not the laymen. And this is what they did by separating teachers from laymen. Wherever the Apostles established a church, they laid hands on specially trained men to be bishops & priests, not laymen, who were to replace the Apostles in succeeding generations forever as the Churchís teachers (1 Clement 40-44). But this laying on of hands also sent down Godís grace to those being ordained, so that, though mere men laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit blessed them as bishops & priests with special grace (Acts 14:23, 20:28, 1 Timothy 4:14).
These ecclesiastical men by a special grace of God, called a Sacrament, were trained to become the Apostles in authority & spirituality, & to pass this authority to a particularly special succession of bishops & priests, who would then transfer this Apostolic authority & divine grace to other worthy men by the laying on of hands through the Holy Spirit. By doing this, a particular dogma & spirituality & tradition & culture was created & preserved. Thus, this hierarchy is the Church that Jesus was talking about when He said in Matthew 18:17-18, expressing a distinction between laymen & the ecclesiastical authority, ďIf he neglects to hear the Church, let him be to you as a heathen man & a publican.Ē Such a statement of authority separating laymen from bishops & priests is for all generations. Then Jesus points out in this passage how the ecclesiastical order was to be the doctrinal & spiritual arbiters of the Truth, binding & loosing, which the context distinguishes from the laymenís link to God. It is this ecclesiastical order that St. Ignatius of Antioch, the famous disciple of St. John the Apostle, says in his Epistle to the Trallians, ďAll of you should revere the deacons, as a commandment of Jesus Christ, & the bishop as Jesus Christ, the Son of God the Father, & the priests as the assembly of God, as the choir of the Apostles. Without them there is no Church.Ē According to the spiritual context of the Apostles, we are expected to submit to our bishops & priests & deacons as ultimate authorities on doctrine, & to believe that they are the Pillar & Ground of the Truth, the Basis of the Church. Why does St. Ignatius say this? Because Christís Church for all generations is the ecclesiastical succession of the Apostles, working in their authority, as though they are the Apostles themselves. And the laymen, no matter how spiritually advanced, are meant to obey & submit to the teachings & authority of their shepherds. This has always been the teaching of the Church, so that any other interpretations of these passages come from extra-biblical opinions & from people finding what they assume to be the plain message, when in fact it is nothing but someone finding foreign or hidden meanings in them, as though Martin Luther or whoever rediscovered the long lost original teachings & sense of Scripture.
So when the Bible speaks about the Church, though sometimes applying different meanings to it, it refers more particularly to the ecclesiastical order, which is the doctrinal & spiritual essence of the Church, since all the other meanings of who & what the Church is rely on the bishops & priests for teaching the Truth & administering the Sacraments. This is why St. Paul said in 1 Timothy 3:15, ďYou may know how one should behave in the household of God, which is the Church of the living God, the Pillar & Bulwark of the Truth.Ē Though the Lord Jesus is more precisely the Pillar, so are the bishops & priests more precisely the Church, the Pillar of the Truth. This is the Church that Jesus says the gates of hades will not defeat. The bishops & priests are the receivers & transmitters of the purest & fullest Truth, not the corrupters of it, as history proves as well. So whatís the point of Hebrews 13:7, 17 telling us to submit to & obey the bishops & priests, if they are supposed to act like a bunch of good social club organizers & religious psychologists & if this submission isnít binding for later generations? Lutherism says, ďI am a spiritual authorityĒ, ďI am the ChurchĒ, ďI am a bishopĒ, ďI am equal to the ApostlesĒ, etc. But the Apostles & their successors say that the bishops & priests are the final determination of the Truth, & we are to humbly learn from them as our helpers & shepherds, with Jesus as the Chief Shepherd & Teacher. This is because no Apostolic succession ever laid hands on us & elevated us to such a distinction of grace. Yet Lutherism teaches people to conform to the sensual aspirations of this world, to elevate ourselves to a humanly contrived Apostolic status. But St. Paul says in Romans 12:3, ďFor by the grace given to me (which he passed on only to an ecclesiastical succession by the laying on of hands) I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you should think, but to think with sober judgement, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.Ē
Now Iíve demonstrated to you that searching the Scriptures for deeper meanings was an overwhelming feature of the Apostlesí spiritual Jewish context, that it was a commonly used function of Bible interpretation by the Apostles, & that they sanctioned this activity in the Church by telling us to do the same things, as witnessed by the fact that the Apostlesí disciples & their successors long before Origen relied on it as a natural feature of the Christian Faith. But anyone who casually studies this material knows this. Thatís why youíre confusing me here. So basically, what Iíd like to have explained to me is where the Bible teaches us to search the Scriptures ONLY for the obvious & plain meanings of texts, that it condemns post-apostolic Christians searching the Scriptures for deeper meanings, or even bans the Apostles from doing the same thing. Then I need to see from Scripture that bishops & priests are not meant to be our spiritual authorities or special teachers of truth, that they are meant to be equal to all other Christians in dispensing religious authority & doctrine. This of course means that I need to see Biblical & historical evidence that their roles were changed from being equal to laymen to being what the Apostolic disciples of the 1st to 2nd century tell us they are (that bishops & priests, not laymen, are the Pillar & Foundation of the Truth), & that this role change was caused by false doctrine. I need to see examples from Scripture & Sacred History.
Since this email is so long, a little summary might be good. The Bible doesnít teach that the command to search the Scriptures excludes finding deeper meanings about anything. In fact, the Apostles practiced this devotion & had this thought in mind when they told us to search the Scriptures for Godís truths, which was obeyed. This devotion of seeking deeper & mystical teachings in the Bible was a necessary part of the Jewish religion before & after Christ, even during Apostolic times & in the Early Church. Despite this widespread usage, & despite the Apostles practicing it, there should have been some warning about it or some objection to it, but Scripture doesnít do this. Indeed, 2 Peter 3:16 specifically mentions that there are some hard to understand Bible passages, which people can easily distort intentionally & unintentionally. This reality about Scripture requires the existence of teachers & students in the Church. As a result, the Bible reveals how the Apostles established a pedagogical hierarchy, as well as making a distinction between immature & mature Christians. The official pedagogical hierarchy is called ecclesiastical because of the laying on of hands, a distinct grace from the Holy Spirit, which is the essence of the Church & the Pillar of the Truth on earth. The Bible then tells all laymen to submit to these bishops & priests as the spiritual & pedagogical authority, the succession of the Apostolic mind, even though a few of these laymen are capable of being teachers themselves.
The existence of difficult Bible verses & the necessity for official teachers of doctrine is what St. Paul mentions in Hebrews 5:11-6:3, where itís said, ďWe have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you should be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of Godís word all over again.Ē He adds, ďTherefore let us go on toward perfection, leaving behind the basic teaching about Christ.Ē The Christian readers of this epistle were having a tough time understanding the sense of the Scriptures because the Bible isnít always readily understandable. Even though they had been Christians for so many years, long enough to become teachers, they still needed help in leaving behind the plain comprehension of the Bible & advancing toward its deeper meanings, both in study & in application. Thatís why the Epistle to the Hebrews spiritualized & allegorized so many Old Testament concepts, & then made a distinction between the basics of the Gospel & the deeper, hidden elements of it. This activity requires mature Christians, or teachers, especially an ecclesiastical hierarchy, to explicate correctly & fully what the Prophets & Apostles spoke about on many levels. Since the Bible is full of statements promoting & commanding that we search for deeper meanings from Scripture within the parameters of Apostolic Tradition in subjection to the Apostolic hierarchy of teachers & shepherds (1 Corinthians 12:28 & elsewhere), I donít know how youíre going to convince me that the Bible commands otherwise. But itís clear that the cause for us seeing opposite things in the Bible is because Scripture contains hard to understand passages that require an Apostolic mind as our authority & teacher (1 Corinthians 1:10), though in some cases itís also because of people distorting the original sense or submitting to authorities that do this. Again, I donít know how youíre going to prove to me otherwise, but maybe Iím missing something in Scripture & its historical context.