Sunday, October 13, 2013

Was Jesus Speaking Metaphorically? Literally? Both? Who knows? Does it matter?

Concerning the Biblical teachings of Christ, who decides for you which ones Jesus meant literally and which ones were not literal?

That is a HUGELY important question. 

Let's take three phrases of Jesus


"Call no man Father"
"Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, you will not inherit eternal life"
"On this rock, I will build my Church"


Most protestants would classify the three phrases above in the following way:

"Call no man Father" - LITERAL
"Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, you will not inherit eternal life" - NOT LITERAL
"On this rock, I will build my Church" - NOT LITERAL


Catholics would classify the three phrases completely opposite:

"Call no man Father" - NOT LITERAL
"Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, you will not inherit eternal life" - LITERAL
"On this rock, I will build my Church" - LITERAL (Jesus meant to found an actual Church)



If you think about it, it all comes down to what things we believe Jesus meant literally, and what he didn't teach literally.


The question thus becomes..."Who helps you decide what Jesus taught literally and what He taught metaphorically?"


Catholics rely on the interpretation of the Apostles and early Church Fathers, those men who walked with Christ and served the Church from the outset.  Catholics rely on an unbroken tradition of understanding the teachings of Jesus, and which ones were literal and which ones were metaphorical.

Protestants rely on men from the 1500's, Martin Luther, John Calvin, King Henry VIII, etc. to help them decide which phrases Jesus meant literally and which ones he didn't mean literally. 


If a lot of our Faith comes down to such a crucial question, why do so many turn for help to men who came along 1500 years after Christ who all believed that they suddenly got Jesus right after people had been getting him wrong for 1500 years? 

I'm going to stick with the Church Fathers, the Apostles, St. Paul, etc. on this one. 

Who is your guide as to what Jesus meant literally?