This Facebook post with the accompanying commentary caught my attention.
“…In this passage Jesus loved that Simon didn’t need anyone else to tell him who He was; . . . Too often I found myself caught up in the interpretation that someone else told me to believe in. Now I look to my own spiritual autonomy for what I believe and it’s beautiful and freeing.
“It’s also freeing to know that others have the spiritual autonomy to make their own conclusions as well. We were told it would be chaos, but actually it’s beautiful.”
Does “spiritual autonomy” in interpretation really mean you’re free? Is the church built on spiritual autonomy?
Here’s what that verse actually says,
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.Matthew 16:16-18
(a) You should know that you are using a very free translation. You should be able to see this from the more word-for-word translation quoted here from the NASB.
From this rendering we can see that (b) “spiritual autonomy” is a concept imported into this text from somewhere else.
(c) The true text doesn’t snub pastors at all, but rather points its finger at “flesh and blood,” a reference to ALL men and women, which (d) is clear, because of the contrast with the actual source of Peter’s revelation: “My Father who is in heaven.”
(e) This revelation, contra the commentary given above, actually IS from someone else, namely God. This undoes the relativistic consequences of the interpretive method you’ve advocated for that looks to one’s own “spiritual autonomy” for what to believe.
It is better to say, as you have said here,
“…Simon could trust what the Holy Spirit had revealed to him.
“So often I have looked to leaders within the church to interpret the Scriptures or tell me how to live my life all the while what Jesus wanted was for me to trust that He would reveal Himself to me directly.”
The idea of the Holy Spirit speaking directly to you, confirming the revelation already established in the scriptures is correct, but the notion that this is done apart from the community of believers, without the guidance of tradition and the accountability of the church elders is unwise.
Further, (f) the revelation on which the church is built is specific (to who Jesus is, namely, the “Christ” a.k.a. the Messiah) rather than the non-specific (for “how to interpret the scriptures” or “what Jesus wants for my life,”) as you suggest.
I recommend freeing yourself from this translation of the Bible. It is clearly taking liberties where there are none. The freedom to believe that which your own internal witness affirms to be true, is no freedom at all. It is a shackle to your own desires. What the soul needs is an objective reality to break one out of the prison of relativism caused by the contradictory beliefs of others. Thankfully, we have one in Christ. No man’s internally-derived beliefs can outmatch the reality of the man Himself!
All the best,
Response (from memory)
There’s no need for a huge essay. This is my interpretation, so take it or leave it.
My own response
My reaction (an unheard response)
Wow! That is quite a comment. She led me to believe disagreement was actually beautiful. She needs to mansplain that to me. 😂
The unnecessary slur on gender by saying that I am “Manslaining” is one thing, but the inference that I was speaking of her spiritual journey is completely off. The target was her interpretation of Mat 16:16 and its consequences if correct.
Being cancelled is hilarious in one way, but also quite tragic in another. The reality is that comment was motivated not just from a love of the gospel, but for this person as well. This person thinks they’re rejecting me, but they’re actually rejecting the medicine that will make them well.