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Originally published at Faith Seeking Understanding. You can comment here or there.

Yesterday still has me not quite ready to talk politics. So in lieu of a political thought of the day, I thought I’d share a deep theological thought. Here’s a comment I posted on a friend’s post, laying out how church tradition affects the way I read the Bible as a Protestant.

“As a Methodist I grew up reading the Bible according to the Wesley Stool: the idea that the proper reading of the Bible was supported by Christian tradition, human reason, and personal experience. We believe that the Holy Spirit not only gave us the Bible and other writings worth studying (great Christian philosophers and theologians like Augustine, Aquinas, and on down to the modern day) but also guided the way these texts have been read by the community of believers, which includes all Christians from Christ’s day down to our own.

“I believe the difference [from how I understand Catholicism] is we don’t believe this historical reading is infallible. We view history as *guided* by God through His church but not unerringly so – meaning the overall arc of history is a good guide, but it is possible in any given instance that a particular move might be a misstep. So I’m not claiming to be perfectly in synch with Catholicism here. But we do believe that we can (and should!) learn deep lessons from the history of the Church, both the Roman Catholic Church and other offshoots like the Eastern Orthodox churches and the various Protestant sects.

“Being Protestant doesn’t mean sola scriptura in every case. At least in my case the proper hermeneutic means looking at the general thrust of the way the communion of saints (little-s saint, in the Protestant sense – that is, all Christians past and present) has read it, guided both by logic so far as it applies and our own experiences, moral intuitions and common sense. For some of us at least, church history is vitally important in this process.”

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