Dei Verbum paragraph 12
A mother, seeing her son make an ugly face at one of his friends pulled him aside and said, “Son, I want to tell you a story about a little boy who always made faces like the one you made. One day his face froze that way and he was looked on as ugly by everybody. Do you understand what I am trying to tell you?”
The little boy thought about it for a moment and said, “Okay, I’ll go play with him for a while if he doesn’t have any friends because of his face.”
Writings, stories, and the like are subject to interpretation and occasionally we can divine the wrong message; the author intends one thing, the listener receives another. (Just ask a priest how often that happens with his homilies.) Scripture is no less susceptible to this. Though it is God speaking to us, He is speaking to us through human authors. If we want to understand what Scripture is really saying we must first determine the medium that the author is using. The Bible is not a book. It is a collection of books – a small library containing books on poetry, history, stories, parables, music, and the whole lot. A parable cannot be read in the same way that a book on history is read. And sometimes history was recorded in a different (but no less accurate way) than modern history is recorded.
That being said, even though the Bible is many books, there must be unity among them. The message must be consistent from beginning to end. And interpretation of the Scripture (held firmly in check by Sacred Tradition among Catholics) must be consistent from first century to last. This is where the Church plays a vital role in interpreting Scripture. And by “Church” we do not mean three old men in Rome as the common fancy makes it out to be. Chesterton would refer to it as the democracy of the dead. It is the understood experience of the faith beginning with Apostles, the early Church Fathers, the lived faith of 2,000 years of Catholics, and how Catholics live the faith around the world. It will not be the case that Holy Spirit will suddenly tell the pope that it’s now Okay to have same sex marriage or that baptism should only be performed on adults. That is not the experience of the Church going back 2,000 years. To be able to do that as many Churches do, would be to say what was truth in 1592 is not true in 2004. It would be just as logical to say what is true at 2:00PM on Wednesday is not true on Thursday at 6:24AM. Truth is either truth or it is not. Modern culture says truth is subjective. (But then is it truth?) The Catholic Church holds that truth is always truth and it is universal (or it is not truth.)