Does the story of Shaphan and Josiah teach that we can understand the Bible without the aid of an ordained minister?
The "Iglesia Ni Cristo" teaches that one cannot understand the Bible without the aid of an ordained messenger. However, some narratives in the Bible, such as the narrative of Shaphan and Josiah seem to contradict this teaching of the INC. Does this narrative teach we do not need an ordained minister in order to understand the Bible?
When we examine the passage, we find that it does indeed teach that the words of God are sufficiently understood by themselves.
Josiah understood the scriptures as it was read to him by a secretary.
Josiah became the king of Israel when he was 8-years old. He was a righteous king who ruled well. One day, the high priest found the Book of the Law (the scriptures). However, it was not the high priest (the ordained messenger) that read them to the king, but a mere secretary named Shaphan. Additionally, the secretary did not do any special preaching of the scripture, but only read it to Josiah.
2 Kings 22:8-10 (ESV) - 8 And Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, "I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the Lord." And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it. 9 And Shaphan the secretary came to the king, and reported to the king, "Your servants have emptied out the money that was found in the house and have delivered it into the hand of the workmen who have the oversight of the house of the Lord." 10 Then Shaphan the secretary told the king, "Hilkiah the priest has given me a book." And Shaphan read it before the king.
When Shaphan the secretary read the scripture to Josiah the king, Josiah understood what they said and responded appropriately, calling Israel to repent.
2 Kings 22:11-13 (ESV) - 11 When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes. 12 And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Micaiah, and Shaphan the secretary, and Asaiah the king's servant, saying, 13 "Go, inquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found. For great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us."
Consider the following:
1. Because the book was lost, Josiah had never heard it before.
2. He didn't hear it specially preached, only read
3. He didn't hear it read by an ordained messenger, just by a secretary!
The story of Shaphan and Josiah makes it clear that we can understand the Bible without the help of an ordained minister. Josiah understood words that were merely read by a secretary. If the preaching of an ordained minister was necessary, then a priest or a prophet should have preached it to Josiah.
The word of God has power and authority on its own. It does not need to be specially preached by an ordained minister. It may be shared by anyone, or even simply read.
The INC's claim that scripture is not sufficient and can only be understood through the preaching of an ordained minister is false and should be rejected. They desire to replace or reliance on the words of God with reliance on men.