Today, let’s talk about the primary method used by the Roman Catholic Church for understanding the Bible.
The method used by the Roman church is called Allegorical interpretation. Allegorical can be as simple as reading a verse saying “do good unto those who curse you” and assigning names and places and dates to the “those who curse you…” to reading “Ye have a guard” and assigning a different meaning to every word.
A spiritualizing method of interpreting the prophetic portions of Scripture. In this methodology, the O.T. prophecies of a glorious earthly kingdom for the nation Israel are considered allegorical pictures of the existing church age. In other words, “Zion” is taken to mean the church instead of the city Jerusalem. The desert blossoming as a rose (Is. 35). is taken as a picture of the present fruitfulness of the gospel instead of a literal future condition on earth. The temple in Eze. 40-48 is taken as a symbolical representation of the church rather than a literal future temple. By this manner of interpretation the events recorded in Revelation—the judgments upon the earth, the wars, the Two Witnesses, the sealing of the 144,000 Israelites, the binding of Satan, and the 1,000 year earthly rule—are viewed symbolically rather than as literal future events. (David Cloud, Way of Life Encyclopedia, Way of Life Publishing)
This is a problem, in that Christians read their Bibles and (if they’re saved) understand them literally. We read “Jesus wept” and it means… Jesus wept.
When we read that we will meet the Lord in the air, we understand it to mean we will…. meet the Lord in the air. Really. That’s what it means. That’s what it says, that’s what it means.
Now here’s the issue. Allegorical understanding of the Bible quickly becomes illogical because of background noise. If we read a verse that says “we will meet the Lord in the air” and we interpret JUST THAT ONE VERSE allegorically, why, cannot the verse immediately before it be allegorical? What about Gen. 1:1? What about John 3:16? What about John 14:6?
As you see, the Bible would quickly deteriorate into a book of puzzles, a massive “search it to find the hidden answers!” trap. And trust me, many, many many false teachers have stumbled headfirst into that trap, like Ellen G. White, Joseph Smith, Charles Taze Russell, David Koresh, Jim Jones, etc, etc.
Origen popularized the allegorical method of Bible interpretation which foists every sort of fanciful meaning upon the Scriptures. In loosing himself from the literal meaning of the Bible, Origen found support for such heresies as universal salvation, the pre-existence of the soul, and the animation of the stars. (David Cloud, Way of Life Encyclopedia, Way of Life Publications)
Once you open the gate a little on allegorical interpretation, it is a flood, a one-way street. Like a leak in a dam, it can instantly turn into a flood of, “Well, it doesn’t mean what you read….”
The problem with this is, if you have ever read the Bible, you’ll notice one MAJOR problem with the Allegorical method.
1 At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat. 2 But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day. 3 But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; 4 How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? 5 Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless? Matthew 12:1-5 (KJV)
The Lord Jesus Christ demanded a literal understanding of the Bible. Why then would He ask, “have ye not read…?” If He never intended the Bible to be understood literally? Wouldn’t the LORD ask questions like, “Do ye not know the meaning of the parable?”
Now, her’s the catch… you cannot say that the verses that agree with your theology are the only ones we interpret literally, and the rest allegorical. If they’re allegorical, they ALL are allegorical.
If they’re literal, they’re ALL literal. There is some hyperbole in Scripture, some types, and some visions and parables. But these are all clearly IDENTIFIED for us.
If Scripture tells us an odd vision of a monstrous amalgamation of beasts is a vision, why, it’s a vision. Otherwise, King Ghidora would be a reality!
But if the Bible does not tell us it is a vision, or a parable, we should not call it that.
Now, here’s the kicker. If the RCC claims that parts of the Bible are to be interpreted allegorically, they cannot turn around and say, “Well, that one verse right there is literal, but all the rest are allegory.”
And that’s exactly what they do!
The major problems with this are…
Biblical prophecies are fulfilled literally. If Biblical Prophecy is fulfilled literally, then obviously God is showing us beyond a shadow of a doubt that he means for us to understand the Bible literally.
Yet, recently we have seen the Vatican calling a “literal belief in the Bible a mental illness”. Wow. In light of everything you’ve just read… doesn’t that scare you?
Another issue is… Israel. Allegorists ALWAYS try to dismiss Israel as referring to a universal church. Well… 1948 really cramped everyone’s style! Because Israel was reborn in a day. That’s bad news for allegorists.
The last major problem with the allegorical approach is – I can take YOUR proof texts and dismiss them as allegorical! Any attempt to shake believers off of a literal interpretation of the Bible is doomed to failure, as now EVERYTHING is fair game!
so.. how can you believe Rome’s interpretation of the Bible, when they don’t literally believe it?