How the Church has used the scriptures
What the church has done with the scriptures since the death of Jesus of Nazareth makes interpreting and understanding them confusing. The churches of one denomination after another have appropriated for themselves the job of interpreting what scriptures mean.
Over the centuries, there has been an accumulation of conflicting dogmas and doctrines that make the scriptures incomprehensible to most people who want to pick them up and read the words for themselves.
There are very good translations now. They are even available online, but so also are the people who want to sell their particular interpretation. They have their point of view, assumptions, ideologies, and theologies 107
for which they want to use the Bible in support. We have 2,000 years of other people’s interpretation, which the church drags along. These interpretations sometimes conflict, but somehow none of them ever get discarded. So my suggestion is to ignore them: don’t read books about what the gospels mean but read the text for yourself.
The Church didn’t mean to do it
I’ve been a priest for over fifty years. I have served in all kinds of roles, and have studied, read, and contemplated the church’s origins. In all these years I have never thought the church set out to deceive or misrepresent itself. The 2,000 years of dogma and doctrine is an accretion that we now drag behind us.
The problem is simple. We think we have to make it all agree. All those crazy medieval doctrines were the product of people, men exclusively, who were operating out of profound superstition and ignorance. Now we are stuck with what they came up with, and no one in the church is willing to throw it out. Their way of thinking is, “Somehow all this must be true if we were only able to see the larger picture.” No, the answer is to relegate it to history and for this to be the area of study by academicians. Poets like Dante and other writers might be viewed with curiosity and their thoughts seen only in the context of their environment.
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