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Thursday, October 22, 2015

"The Roman Catholic Church says that individuals are not allowed to interpret the Bible but that they must submit to the teaching authority of the Catholic Church."

“Love the Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul,     
and with all your MIND”--Matt 22:37

I saw this online, from an anti-Catholic Christian apologist named Matt Slick.

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"The Roman Catholic Church says that individuals are not allowed to interpret the Bible but that they must submit to the teaching authority of the Catholic Church."

This is incorrect in so many ways.

Firstly, he's really not talking about the ROMAN Catholic Church, but rather the (just plain) Catholic Church.  The Roman Catholic Church is simply one of the many rites in the Catholic Church.  

That's why our Catechism is called the Catechism of the CATHOLIC Church.  Not the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church.

There are Latin (or Roman) rite Catholics (which are, by far, the majority of Catholics); there are Chaldean Catholics (typically from Iraq, Lebanon), Coptic Catholics, Maronite Catholics. See this list of the numerous rites or "churches" which are part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church:

All of the above rites or "churches" are Catholic, but hold different traditions (little "t" traditions, meaning "customs"--not big "T", Tradition, as in Sacred Tradition, which is another channel of revelation from God).  They share the 7 sacraments, unity with the Vicar of Christ, Pope Francis, Apostolic Succession.  They may just celebrate the liturgy in a slightly different manner.

So Mr. Slick is really objecting to the Catholic Church's apparent teaching on individuals interpreting Scripture.  Not just the Roman Catholic Church.

Secondly, and more to the point, the Catholic Church does NOT teach that individuals cannot interpret Scripture.

Or, to put it without the double negatives:  the CC teaches that individuals can (and must!) interpret Scripture.  

For what is "interpreting" except "reading and understanding what is meant"?

We are commanded to read and study and use our reason and intellect to come to a love of God and knowledge of Him.

HOWEVER, we cannot interpret it in a way that is contrary to the kerygma.  That is, contrary to the message of Christ, the gospel, given once for all to the saints (Jude 1:3).

And even Matt Slick believes this.  I am certain that he wouldn't allow one of his fellow Christians to read the Scriptures and personally interpret it as saying, "I believe that the Bible says that there are 2 gods--one who created heaven and one who created hell!"

Slick would thwart this individual's right to personally interpret it in this manner with, "That is an incorrect interpretation of the Bible."

And what is Matt Slick doing here but being a magisterium to this individual.  He is serving as the final interpreter and guardian of biblical interpretation.

And yet, curiously, Slick objects to the Catholic Church's magisterium doing the exact thing to him.

The Catholic Church's magisterium professes that she serves as the final interpreter and guardian of this kerygma.

For that is all that the Church does--she says, "This is the correct way to interpret the Bible".  

So it's curious that he reserves for himself the right to do what he objects to in the Catholic Church.

At any rate, it's always a good thing, whenever you hear someone say, "The Catholic Church teaches...[fill in the blank]" to have a healthy skepticism about what is being proposed as Church teaching.

Look to the "sure norm" for teaching the faith--the Catechism of the Catholic Church, to see if what the individual posits is actually correct.  (And, of course, the context of the quote needs to be considered as well.  One can indeed cherry pick quotes from the Catechism and assert some nonsensical things about what the Church teaches. So context is always important.)

"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" - 1 Peter 3:15

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