Matt asked:

A friend says one can always interpret scripture with scripture. I've heard that you can not always interpret scripture with scripture.

Jimmy Akin replied:

"The way I would tackle that is by saying that there is a sense in which you can interpret scripture with scripture. Scripture provides a lot of its own context. So if there's a particular thing in a particular book of scripture that's difficult to understand it's natural to look to other books of scripture to see what they have to say about the same topic...

But it sounds to me like your friend is going farther than that and making a claim that it is always possible to shed all the light you need on a particular passage just using other passages in scripture. That's a position that's sometimes called sola scriptura which is Latin for by scripture's problematic. There's nothing in scripture that says that you will always be able to shed all the light you need on a particular passage just using other verses of scripture...very often our friends in the Protestant community will advocate this idea using different language at times but it's fundamentally not what scripture teaches and that's a problem because if as they often claim we should be able to get all of our theology out of the bible alone, then we ought to be able to get this principle out of the bible alone and we can't...

...The Church has great respect for scripture it's inspired by the Holy Spirit... God has also given us an apostolic tradition. A tradition that comes to us from the apostles. So it's not merely a tradition of men, it's an apostolic tradition. And He's also given his guidance to the Church to guide us in the faith and make sure that we're not going wrong. And so it's true we should be looking to scripture for our theology and we can frequently shed light on it by looking at other passages... but we also can shed light on it by looking to the apostolic tradition and the teaching of the Church's magisterium."


Catholic Answers, "Open Forum" (San Diego: Catholic Answers, 2014)

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Show air date: September 4, 2014

Name of show: Open Forum

Guest comments by: Jimmy Akin

Question appeared in show: 4:10

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