Sunday, December 19, 2010
Who Has the Authority To Teach the Scriptures?
"And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words: going forth out of that house or city shake off the dust from your feet. Amen I say to you, it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city." (Matthew 10:14-15)
Although we as Catholics do not believe the Scriptures are the only authority of God, the Catholic Church has always recognized them as 'an authority', since they are God's written Word. That being said, we also understand that they are never to separated from the authority of Christ or from the authority He gave to His Church on earth. The Protestant on the other hand thinks that Scripture is their only authority, while denying the Catholic Church's authority to preach and teach the Scriptures. I find this Protestant position problematic on many fronts, but I will address only one here. How can it be that each individual Protestant thinks each has the authority to interpret the Scriptures for themselves, yet they deny any possibility of the Church possessing that same authority? In other words, they deny the Catholic Magisterium, claiming that there is no such thing proclaimed in the Scriptures, yet they proclaim themselves each as their own magisteriums. The standard definition of a Magisterium is nothing more than 'a teaching authority.'
If we are to examine the Scriptures on a whole, which position holds sway as to how the Gospel is preached and understood in the New Testament? Is it up to each and every person to interpret Jesus' teaching on their own? Or did Jesus send particular individuals to whom He gave authority to teach? This answer is not hard to find. Quite simply, Jesus gave the apostles and those whom He sent to teach the Gospel, not just anyone who happened to come across the Old Testament, who decided on his own to teach it. Remember, there was no New Testament when the apostles taught the Gospel. So, could anyone interpret the Old Testament and truly understand what it meant? Or did it take Jesus, and the apostles He sent to correctly interpret it? The answer would be the later. We have two perfect examples in the book of Acts where St. Peter and the apostles taught new interpretations of the Old Testament by the authority Jesus gave to them. One regarding circumcision, in Acts 15, as well as when St. Paul goes to the Bereans in Acts 17. The Bereans were Hellenistic Jews, who by the way did not believe in Scripture Alone either, yet we see they were searching the Scriptures to understand who the Messiah was. Some only understood the passages correctly when St. Paul enlightened them with its proper interpretation, and even then many rejected his interpretation and left. The Scriptures tell us "And many indeed of them believed...", not all. We see the same today with Protestantism. They search the Scriptures but do not understand them, and when the Church that Jesus sent them tells them what the true interpretation is, they likewise leave rejecting the true interpretation.
So, when it comes to authority, the Protestant argument leaves much to be desired. They insist that no Church can have the authority or the divine command to interpret the Scriptures for them, yet they give that same authority to themselves, and they even allow their "pastors" to have some authority over them. How else do you explain the idiots who followed Jim Jones? He is another wonderful product Protestantism can add to its roster of blind, heretical anti-Christs along with Luther, Calvin and the like. Those however who are not gullible enough to follow their "pastors" blindly, go "church" shopping when they disagree on Biblical interpretation. How convenient! The Catholic on the other hand looks for the teaching authority that Christ gave to him through His appointed teachers, in His only Church which He established. Notice, the basic doctrines of Catholicism regarding salvation, baptism, the Eucharist, marriage, etc, are very firm, clear, and not up for negotiation. The Catholic Church is united its its official proclaimed doctrines and dogmas. Protestantism however has no unified position on any of these doctrines, despite the fact that they search the Scriptures.
One Protestant "church" allows divorce despite what the Scriptures tell them, while others do not allow it, yet they are all searching the Scriptures. Who is right? The Catholic Church however is united on this teaching, and understands the correct interpretation of the Scriptures regarding divorce. This pattern of division is repeated in virtually every major doctrinal teaching of Scripture in Protestantism. Yes, many in the Catholic Church do not believe what the Catholic Church teaches on marriage and divorce, but they do know what the Catholic Church officially teaches on the matter. This is a major difference in the way Scripture is handled in true Christianity. For the Protestors, they have only probability in their interpretations. At best its an educated guess for them, and is ultimately a false reliability on their own crippled intellects. They know not the end of the barrel from the stock of the rifle. Sometimes they get lucky and only shoot themselves in the foot, other times they kill themselves. Yes, the Protestants love to quote the Berean passage as a prooftext for their heresy of Sola Scriptura. What they do not realize however is that the Berean passage is a perfect example of what happens when people who search the Scriptures do not separate from the teaching authority of Christ and His Church. They hear the appointed teacher and obey. Those who did not listen searched the Scriptures till they were blue in the face, yet they never truly understood them, they only thought they did. Such is the plight of the Protestants. They search and never find because of their own pride in rejecting God's appointed teaching authority. So they commit spiritual suicide.