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Non-Catholics Section: Bible Interpretation

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Non-Catholics Section:

Bible Interpretation

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Do You Believe in Private Interpretation of the Bible?



Do You Believe in Private Interpretation of the Bible? 


* Do you reject the concept that the Catholic Church has the sole authority to interpret the Bible? Click here

* How can it be true that the Bible is subject to one's personal interpretation since Scripture shows that an instructor is necessary to properly understand the Bible (see Acts 8:30-31, Neh. 8:8)?

* How can it be true that the Bible is subject to one's personal interpretation since Scripture says that prophecy of Scripture is not a matter of personal interpretation (see 2 Pt. 1:20)?

* How can it be true that the Bible is subject to one's personal interpretation since Scripture itself says that Scripture can be difficult to understand and can be distorted to one's destruction (see 2 Pt. 3:15-16)? How is it that Scripture can be said to be difficult to understand if the Holy Spirit guided persons to a proper interpretation?

* How can it be true that believers are guided to a perfect understanding of Scripture by the Holy Spirit considering that St. Paul indicated that the Corinthians had only come to understand him "partially" (see 2 Cor. 1:13-14)?

* How can it be true that believers are guided to a perfect understanding of Scripture by the Holy Spirit considering that St. Paul tells his readers that they needed to have someone teach them again (see Heb. 5:12)?

* Where exactly does Scripture guarantee that you - personally - will be given an accurate understanding of the Bible?

* How can it be true that the Holy Spirit guides each person in the proper understanding of Scripture, since it is clear that those who believe in personal interpretation of the Bible so often disagree on the meaning of Scripture? Are we to believe that the Holy Spirit - the Spirit of truth and the remover of errors - guides people in a contradictory fashion? If persons were truly guided by the Holy Spirit, surely they would all interpret the same way!

* How can it be true that the Bible is subject to one's personal interpretation considering that human mind is so easily deceived?

* Why would the Holy Spirit use personal interpretation of Scripture as the means of bringing people to truth when Bibles weren't readily available for most of Christianity, until the printing press was invented? Note: Click here for more on this topic ('Bible alone').

* How can it be true that the Bible is subject to one's personal interpretation considering that persons are so easily led to believe that what they want a passage to believe is what it really means? 

* How can it be true that the Bible is subject to one's personal interpretation considering that persons are inclined to make any given passage fit their preconceived ideas? 

* How can it be true that the Bible is subject to one's personal interpretation considering that each competing interpretation would then have to be considered as equally valid?

* How can it be said that the Holy Spirit personally guides Protestants in the interpretation of the Bible when one Protestant comes to one conclusion and other Protestants come to contradictory conclusions? Clearly all but one of them must be wrong! One cannot accept contradictory conclusions as equally valid! Do you ignore the basic points of logic and continue to hold that all have been guided by the Holy Spirit - truth itself - in reaching these contradictory conclusions? As Pope St. Pius X has said, "In short, to maintain and defend these theories they do not hesitate to declare that the noblest homage that can be paid to the Infinite is to make it the object of contradictory propositions! But when they justify even contradiction, what is it that they will refuse to justify?" (Pope St. Pius X, "Pascendi Dominici Gregis", 1907 A.D.)

* If the Bible is rightly subject to personal interpretation under the Holy Spirit, why have the fruits of this practice been the separation of Protestants into 30,000+ denominations? Do not the demonstrated fruits of this practice show that those who rely on private interpretation of Scripture cannot come to a secure knowledge of divine truths? Do not these 30,000+ sects in fact prove the necessity of a authoritative interpreter if one really cares about truth? If the Holy Spirit directs you to all truth, why are there 30,000+ sects of Protestantism? Why does every person interpret Scripture differently?

* Considering that Scripture speaks of being one fold (Jn. 10:16), that Jesus prays for unity (Jn. 17:20-23), that Christians are called to think in harmony with one another (Rom. 15:5) and avoid those who create dissension, in opposition to the teaching they've learned (Rom. 16:17), that there should be no divisions, that Christians should be united in mind (1 Cor. 1:10), with unity, one faith (Eph. 4:3-6), united, of same mind, thinking one thing (Phil. 2:2), is it not clear that Protestant's claimed personal interpretation has failed miserably? Protestants have no unity, but rather division. Each thinks differently from the other. Further what they think is true may change from day to day, or as each new 'inspiration' comes. Not only is the "way of truth reviled" (cf. 2 Pt. 2:2), but many seem to deny that there is any objective truth. The rules of logic tell us there can only be one truth, that everything contrary is erroneous. The rules of Protestantism teach that each person's "truth" is just as good as another's. As Cardinal Newman states, "Truth is one; therefore...the multitude of men are wrong, as far as they differ; and as they differ, not about trivial points but about great matters, it follows that the multitude of men, whether by their own fault or not, are wrong even in the greater matters of religion." (Cardinal Newman) And, as Pope Leo XIII points out, "The heavenly doctrine of Christ, although for the most part committed to writing by divine inspiration, could not unite the minds of men if left to the human intellect alone. It would, for this very reason, be subject to various and contradictory interpretations. This is so, not only because of the nature of the doctrine itself and of the mysteries it involves, but also because of the divergencies of the human mind and of the disturbing element of conflicting passions. From a variety of interpretations a variety of beliefs is necessarily begotten; hence come controversies, dissensions and wranglings such as have arisen in the past, even in the first ages of the Church. Irenaeus writes of heretics as follows: 'Admitting the sacred Scriptures they distort the interpretations' (Lib. iii., cap. 12, n. 12). And Augustine: 'Heresies have arisen, and certain perverse views ensnaring souls and precipitating them into the abyss only when the Scriptures, good in themselves, are not properly understood' (In Evang. Joan., tract xviii., cap. 5, n. I). Besides Holy Writ it was absolutely necessary to insure this union of men's minds - to effect and preserve unity of ideas - that there should be another principle. This the wisdom of God requires: for He could not have willed that the faith should be one if He did not provide means sufficient for the preservation of this unity; and this Holy Writ clearly sets forth [namely, the teaching authority of the Catholic Church]" (Pope Leo XIII, "Satis Cognitum", 1896 A.D.)

* How is it that one can claim to be able to interpret all of Scripture infallibly, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, but then argue that the Pope is not infallible in the very limited area which the Church teaches that infallibility covers? "If you claim perfect personal interpretation for every passage of Scripture, you claim far more than any pope!" [Note: Click here for more on papal infallibility.]

* If it is true that the Holy Spirit infallibly guides individuals to a proper understanding of Scripture, why does the Bible so clearly warn of false teachers and heresies? For example, consider that Scripture instructs that heretics are perverted, sinful, and stand self-condemned and should not be associated with (Ti. 3:10-11), that destructive heresies will be introduced, bringing destruction (2 Pt. 2:1-3), and that to even greet those with strange doctrine makes one share in their evil works (2 Jn. 1:10-11). If Scripture is truly subject to one's own interpretation, how could anyone be a called a heretic or false teacher?

* Where does Jesus say that the Bible is subject to personal interpretation? 

* Where do the Apostles say that the Bible is subject to personal interpretation? 

* Where does any of Scripture say that the Bible is subject to personal interpretation? 

* How, specifically, can you separate your human opinion from your perceived inspiration of the Holy Spirit? How can you be certain any given 'inspiration' is actually from the Holy Spirit? How can you be sure that what you feel is an inspiration of the Holy Spirit is not just your own heart or mind telling you what seems to be true? What safeguards ensure that your interpretation is not a harmful distortion or misunderstanding? How can you be certain that you have not misapplied Scripture? What protection do you have against heresy? How do you know if you wander away from truth? How do you fight your natural inclination to go with whatever seems pleasing? "It is proper to a habit to incline a power to act, and this belongs to a habit, in so far as it makes whatever is suitable to it, to seem good, and whatever is unsuitable, to seem evil. For as the taste judges of savors according to its disposition, even so does the human mind judge of things to be done, according to its habitual disposition. Hence the Philosopher says (Ethica Nicomachea iii,5) that 'such as a man is, so does the end appear to him.'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church)

* Should the Holy Spirit inspire you to join the Catholic Church, would you reject this inspiration? "Do you believe only what you like and refuse to believe what you dislike?" (Pope St. Pius X)

* How is it that you discover truth? How is it that you even recognize truth? If it is really truth, why can you not agree with others who 'privately interpret' Scripture?

* If you rely on the Holy Spirit to direct you to all truth, ask the Holy Spirit how you got the Bible. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you read the ancient languages that the Bible was written in. Ask the Holy Spirit to tell you what the unwritten traditions are (2 Thes. 2:15) - or does the Holy Spirit only guide you to interpret what is already written by others?

* If you are being infallibly guided by the Holy Spirit in the interpretation of Scripture, would you dare ask the Holy Spirit why He seems to be guiding other people a different truth (is this not blasphemy?!). Do you suppose you have a monopoly on the guidance of the Holy Spirit? What if someone else thinks they are guided by the Holy Spirit and they disagree with you - are they automatically wrong and you automatically right? How do you know you are not misinterpreting this guidance of the Holy Spirit that you claim you have? How is it that you claim that the Holy Spirit guides people when interpreting the Bible considering that different persons interpret the same passages differently? Why would the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, guide you both differently? Would not all interpret the same way if they were being guided by the Holy Spirit?

* How, exactly, do you know - and how, exactly, can it be confirmed - that what you regard as inspiration is of the Holy Spirit? Is it a feeling? When was the first time you felt it? How were you guided before that? Is the Holy Spirit "on call" for you, whenever you wish to interpret Scripture? If you did not have this feeling, how would you know what is true? Why do you claim more guidance of the Holy Spirit than Catholics claim for the Pope? How do you know that you stand in truth? How do you avoid confusing opinion and feelings with truth? How do you avoid favoring 'truths' that are naturally pleasant and rejecting truths that are unpleasant. How do you really know what you believe is true and not just something that seems to be true? How do you separate your fallible intellect from the infallible assistance of the Holy Spirit? How do you know you are not being deceived? Are you never wrong? Have you ever changed your mind about anything? If so, didn't you think you were right the first time? How do you know you are right now? What do you think the consequences are if you are not really standing in truth? How do you know that your guidance is the Holy Spirit and not some other spirit? How do you know it is the Holy Spirit and not your imagination? Seriously, how? How do you REALLY know? Simply because you just feel it? Do you always trust your mere feelings on matters of critical importance? And further, since when is a 'feeling' an accurate determination of truth? Since when must one "feel" something is true for it to actually be true? Truth is truth - whether you 'feel' it or not! 

* If the Bible is subject to personal interpretation, how can persons be certain that they have kept their emotions and personal biases aside when interpreting a particular passage of Scripture? How can they be certain they have uncovered the truth, and not just what they want to be true? As Pope St. Pius X has said, "common sense tells us that emotion and everything that leads the heart captive proves a hindrance instead of a help to the discovery of truth." (Pope St. Pius X, "Pascendi Dominici Gregis", 1907 A.D.)

* If the concept of personal interpretation of Scripture is what Christ - truth itself - intended, why has the practice of private interpretation of Scripture so relativized truth? 

* Although it may be "pleasant to go with one's own inclinations", it does not matter what one thinks - it matters what is true. It does not matter what one person thinks is true, but what the author of Scripture has intended to say. How can one rightly forgo truth for one's subjective interpretation of Scripture? 

* If the concept of personal interpretation of Scripture is correct, give a single example from the Bible of where "heavenly doctrine was left to the arbitrary judgment of private individuals".

* If you substitute personal judgment for divine authority, do you think God is pleased? Do you take it lightly that Christ says that those who don't listen to the Church are to be avoided (Mt. 18:17) and that those sent act for Christ and those who reject them reject Christ (Lk. 10:16), and that Scripture says that those who resist authority bring judgment on themselves (Rom. 13:2)? Do you really think your personal feelings are superior to the God-given authority of the Church? 

* If the Bible is rightly subject to infallible personal interpretation under the Holy Spirit, why does Holy Scripture call the Church the pillar and foundation of truth (see 1 Tm. 3:15)?

* Why is it you accept the New Testament - which was codified, protected, and preserved by the Catholic Church - "from her hands", as it were, but refuse her the right to interpret Her own book? God didn't promise to give the Holy Spirit to each individual independently of the Church Christ founded. "For none but a Catholic can receive the Gospels as they were written" (Benson)

* When determining the meaning of a particular Scripture passage, how do you know it is the Holy Spirit and not your imagination? (Actually know, not think or feel, but know) How, specifically, do you discern the work of the Holy Spirit? How would you discern the work of the devil? And what happens if others more learned than you - persons who also claim to be guided by the Holy Spirit - disagree with you, saying they know the Holy Spirit guided them? How many 'holy spirits' do you claim there are? 

* How can it be true that the Bible is subject to one's personal interpretation since it is clear that the proper understanding of a single passage of Scripture may require much scholarship - scholarship which is beyond reach of the average person? As Pope Pius XII has said, "What is the literal sense of a passage is not always as obvious in the speeches and writings of the ancient authors of the East, as it is in the works of our own time. For what they wished to express is not to be determined by the rules of grammar and philology alone, nor solely by the context; the interpreter must, as it were, go back wholly in spirit to those remote centuries of the East and with the aid of history, archaeology, ethnology, and other sciences, accurately determine what modes of writing, so to speak, the authors of that ancient period would be likely to use, and in fact did use. For the ancient peoples of the East, in order to express their ideas, did not always employ those forms or kinds of speech which we use today; but rather those used by the men of their times and countries. What those exactly were the commentator cannot determine as it were in advance, but only after a careful examination of the ancient literature of the East." (Pope Pius XII, "Divino Afflante Spiritu") 

* You, who (most likely) cannot perform complex mathematical calculations and received, perhaps, grades ranging from 70-95% in basic schoolwork, actually believe you can properly interpret the most mysterious of divine things with 100% accuracy?

* If various individuals were to interpret a passage of Scripture in a different and contradictory way, all cannot be correct. Further, since each person has an "equal right" to their private interpretation, how can one ever come to know what is really true? When there is no authority, how can any such matter ever be settled? 

* "If you give credence to each person's subjective interpretations, do you deny that it is possible even for the learned to err?"

* Is it not troublesome that private interpretation of Scripture opens the door to mistaking opinion for truth? 

* Is it not troublesome that private interpretation of Scripture ignores the facts that persons may twist Scripture to suit their purposes and that "everyone can prove what they want using the Bible"?

* If you become the sole judge and teacher, you absolutely must be submitting to a number of errors. Does that not bother you? Or, do you really believe that you are infallible and others are not, that you have never been wrong before? Or is it that you do you really not care about truth? - even though Christ said that He came into the world, to testify to the truth (see Jn. 18:37).

* If you claim to love Christ, does it not bother you that "you are sometimes in the right, sometimes in the wrong; that your judgment is mere lottery"? 

* If private interpretation of Scripture was true, why didn't those in Biblical times also enjoy such a privilege (see 2 Pt. 3:15-16)?

* If you accept private interpretation of Scripture, do you deny any influence of Satan? Do you not know that the devil is the father of lies (Jn. 8:44), that struggle is with evil spirits (Eph. 6:12), that devil is prowling around looking for someone to devour (1 Pt. 5:8), that the whole world is under power of the evil one (1 Jn. 5:19), and that the devil wages war against those who keep the commandments and bear witness to Jesus (Rv. 12:17)? Do you consider yourself immune? "How fearful is the misery of our fallen race, when the darkness of hell can overpower the loftiness intellects!" (Liturgical Year) As your own judge, how can you guard against the fact that the "devil, however, since he is an apostate angel, is able, as he was in the beginning, to lead astray and to deceive the mind of man for the transgressing of God's commands. And little by little he can darken the hearts of those who would try to serve Him" (St. Irenaeus, 2nd century A.D.)

* If you believe the Holy Spirit leads you to all truth, think back to the first Christian Pentecost when it is known for certain that Christ's disciples received the Holy Spirit. Did they not all think the same thing? If you don't think the same thing as your fellows, what makes you think you have the Holy Spirit?

* If people were to be guided by the Holy Spirit in understanding Scripture, why does the Bible specifically warn that men will come forward perverting the truth to draw the disciples away after them (see Acts 20:30)?

* If people were to be personally guided by the Holy Spirit in understanding Scripture, why did Christ send the apostles to teach and not simply to deliver Bibles (see Mt. 28:19-20)? 

* Considering that the Bible is complex, how could Christ not leave an official, visible authority to interpret it? How long could a country stand on a constitution alone without courts to interpret it? How long could a business operate without a living authority? Surely God knew better than to leave the written 'manual' of Christianity without an authority to interpret it. Do not forget that another person's interpretation of Scripture can have a direct impact on you. Not only does Scripture need to be protected for its own sake, but you need protection since another's interpretation of Scripture may lead to actions and behaviors which can prove harmful to you.

* If you have no authority above yourself, how do you prevent against the eminent Biblical scholar St. Jerome's concern that "through some faulty interpretation we make Christ's Gospel into man's Gospel"?

* If you have no authority above yourself in interpreting Scripture, how do you guard against pride? How can you not interpret Scripture in accordance with your own inclinations if you don't have a supreme authority? Do you claim that you are not easily misled? Are you really not affected by your wants and desires? How can you separate truth from what you simply might want to believe? How can you be SURE that you have the truth? Or is it possible that truth really doesn't matter that much to you?

* Since when is public revelation subject to private judgment? "A man can no more possess a private religion than he can possess a private sun and moon." (Chesterton)

* If you claim that the Bible is easy to understand, why is it that Protestants still can't all agree on what it means, even in important matters?

* Why is it you reject the Pope's well-founded right to authentically interpret Scripture, but believe that you have this right? How do you refute the Catholics' charge that you have made yourself into a 'mini pope'? "Each [Protestant becomes] his own pope with his personal interpretation of the Scriptures as the final court of appeal in matters of doctrine." (cf. Davies)

* Does it not bother you that to really be an expert on the Bible, you would have to be an expert on ancient languages, ancient practices, history, archeology, etc.? You would have to look at who writings were directed at, what the circumstances were, what local customs were, and at all the subtleties involved. Are you also unaware that words used in Scripture may mean different things - and that they may have meant altogether different things in their original languages? That Scripture may be obscure, subtle, hard to grasp? Our would you pretend that Scripture is easy to understand, that you have a complete grasp of it, and that you have no bias whatsoever? And, finally, even if you did have such knowledge and learning, say that another person - with similar knowledge and learning - disagreed with you. If you both claim to be guided by the Holy Spirit, how could you know who was right or wrong?

* Has it ever occurred to you that Scripture was written at a time when the authors did not have to be as careful about wording, that they didn't have to go through painstaking effort to phrase their writing in such a way that it could not be taken any other way? At that time, they were speaking to a specific group of believers - as yet there were no 'protestants' attacking their teaching, necessitating a certain manner of expression that could not be so easily twisted. Have you ever taken this into consideration when interpreting Scripture?

* Have you ever considered that some things in the Bible may be beyond the ability of human reason to fathom? As stated by Pope Leo III, "[I]t must be observed that in addition to the usual reasons which make ancient writings more or less difficult to understand, there are some which are peculiar to the Bible. For the language of the Bible is employed to express, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, many things which are beyond the power and scope of the reason of man - that is to say, divine mysteries and all that is related to them." (Pope Leo XIII, "Providentissimus Deus", 1893 A.D.)

* Do you really, honestly believe you have a full and complete grasp of Biblical truths? That there is no question about the Bible you cannot answer correctly? That you understand everything which it contains - even those things which appear contradictory? If the Holy Spirit truly guided you as you claim, why can you not easily answer these three questions in the affirmative? Do you place limits on the inspiration of the Holy Spirit? Do you imagine that the Holy Spirit, who is God, cannot guide you fully in the book written under His inspiration?

* Does it not trouble you that no original manuscript of the Bible is available - that you are already relying one someone else's interpretation / translation of Scripture? How do you know that it is not already mistranslated before you even begin your 'personal interpretation? How can you be sure of the translation when there is no way to verify it? Furthermore, are you unaware of the great difficulties in correctly translating Holy Scripture? As St. Jerome notes, "It is difficult in following lines laid down by others not sometimes to diverge from them, and it is hard to preserve in a translation the charm of expressions which in another language are most felicitous. Each particular word conveys a meaning of its own, and possibly I have no equivalent by which to render it, and if I make a circuit to reach my goal, I have to go many miles to cover a short distance. To these difficulties must be added the windings of hyperbata, differences in the use of cases, divergences of metaphor; and last of all the peculiar and if I may so call it, inbred character of the language. If I render word for word, the result will sound uncouth, and if compelled by necessity I alter anything in the order or wording, I shall seem to have departed from the function of a translator." (St. Jerome, the Church's eminent bible translator, 4th century A.D.)

* If you believe Holy Spirit directs you in interpreting Scripture passages, ask yourself if this inspiration you believe you are receiving focuses only on what is in front of you or if it also directs you to passages you've never considered before. Surely you must know that to properly understand Scripture, you cannot isolate certain passages from the whole. "Hence those who take this or that text out of the Bible to prove something are isolating it from the historical atmosphere in which it arose and from the word of mouth that passed Christ's truth. If there are three persons in a room, there are also six legs and six arms - but they never create a problem because they are related to the physical organism. But if we found one arm outside the door, it would be a tremendous problem, because it is isolated from the organic whole. So it is with certain Christian truths that are isolated from the whole - for example, the doctrine of penance if it is isolated from Original Sin. It is only in the light of the circle of truth that the segments of the circle have a meaning." (Archbishop Fulton Sheen)

* If your enthusiastic car mechanic truly believes he is receiving inspiration from the Holy Spirit regarding whether or not your car needs some work, would you trust his judgment because he is so personally convinced the Holy Spirit is guiding him? Why is it you wouldn't trust this mechanic with your car, but you entrust your entire salvation on your own personal claim to receive personal inspiration from the Holy Spirit regarding Holy Scripture?

* If you were to attempt to accurately interpret the U.S. Constitution according to the original founder's intentions, would you fail to examine other writings of theirs? Would you fail to examine other writings from that time period? If not, why would you attempt to interpret the Bible without considering what those learned persons of Apostolic times said about Holy Scripture? Do you presume to be a better judge of Scripture than those who knew the Apostles or were very close in time to the Apostolic age?

* If thousands of Protestants who were given a mathematical problem to solve came up with thousands of different answers after praying for the Holy Spirit's guidance, would you consider them to be equally valid answers? Why is it you can see that a mathematical problem must be answered a certain way, yet allow a plurality of interpretations of a Scripture passage to all be equally acceptable, even if they are contrary to one another, simply by claiming that each was guided by the Holy Spirit? How can there be only one right answer to a mathematical question, but allow that a multiplicity of contradictory 'answers' concerning Holy Scripture (authored by the very Spirit of Truth!)?

* If you entered into a business arrangement under a written contract, would it be acceptable for each party to interpret the contract as they saw fit or would you rather expect that it should be interpreted in a certain manner? If there was a dispute, could you imagine a judge allowing each party to interpret it as they saw fit? Would you not expect there to be, ultimately, a supreme arbiter with the final say? Do you seriously expect that God left the Bible to the personal interpretation of each person without leaving a supreme arbiter? 

* When is it that Protestants supposedly have this guarantee of the Holy Spirit? Is it automatic?

* If the Holy Spirit personally guides Protestants to a proper interpretation of the Scripture, why is it that so many Protestants reject certain points of Scripture (click here for some examples - 'Is Your Faith Biblical?')

* If you deny that the truths of faith were deposited with the Catholic Church to be communicated to all men, but instead claim that the Holy Spirit guides each person personally and individually to truth, "from the ground up", do you realize you are implying that truth was not handed down for all generations by Christ, but must be discovered as if it did not exist by each person in each generation? Do you realize that you claim that Christ - rather than leaving a defined body of doctrine - has essentially left each person to start "from scratch" to be invisibly led by the Holy Spirit (rather than taught by men - contrary to what Scripture says - see Mt. 28:19-20) to His truths on their own? As Pope Leo XIII has said, "St. Augustine...justly complains: 'If there is no branch of teaching, however humble and easy to learn, which does not require a master, what can be a greater sign of rashness and pride than to refuse to study the Books of the divine mysteries by the help of those who have interpreted them?' The other Fathers have said the same, and have confirmed it by their example, for they 'endeavored to acquire the understanding of the Holy Scriptures not by their own lights and ideas, but from the writings and authority of the ancients, who in their turn, as we know, received the rule of interpretation in direct line from the Apostles.'" (Pope Leo XIII, "Providentissimus Deus", 1893) And further, can one not see how much time this would take for each person to learn "from scratch"? "In this matter, those also turn aside from the right path, who think that the deposit of truth such laborious trouble, and with such lengthy study and discussion, that a man's life would hardly suffice to find and take possession of it; as if the most merciful God had spoken through the prophets and His Only-begotten Son merely in order that a few, and those stricken in years, should learn what He had revealed through them, and not that He might inculcate a doctrine of faith and morals, by which man should be guided through the whole course of his moral life." (Pope Pius XI, "Mortalium Animos", 1928)

* If the Holy Spirit guided all persons in the proper interpretation of Scripture, why do even Protestant exegetes attempt to learn ancient languages? Surely the Holy Spirit could guide them no matter what language was used. Or do you mean to imply that the Holy Spirit only guides those who know how to read Scripture in the ancient languages?

* Considering that the most brilliant persons of previous generations have been unable to understand the whole of Scripture - even after spending entire lifetimes on it - does it not seem arrogant to think you can do so? As Pope Leo XIII has said, "Wherefore, as no one should be so presumptuous as to think that he understands the whole of the Scripture, in which St. Augustine himself confessed that there was more that he did not know, than that he knew, so, if he should come upon anything that seems incapable of solution, he must take to heart the cautious rule of the same holy Doctor: 'It is better even to be oppressed by unknown but useful signs, than to interpret them uselessly and thus to throw off the yoke only to be caught in the trap of error.'" (Pope Leo XIII, "Providentissimus Deus", 1893)

* Lastly, it may be fair to ask, "do you prefer a religion you can design for yourself to truth?" 

Closing Quotations...

"Woe to those who are wise in their own sight, and prudent in their own esteem!" (Isa. 5:21)

"Sometimes a way seems right to a man, but the end of it leads to death!" (Prov. 14:12)

"Tell us straight out that you do not believe in the Gospel of Christ; for you believe what you want in the Gospel and disbelieve what you want. You believe in yourself rather than in the Gospel." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church, c. 400 A.D.)

"The individual Protestant makes his own reason the ultimate arbiter of what the Christian faith does and does not entail. The individual Protestant decides for himself what God's will is. The next step is to make himself God." (Davies)

"But everyone can see to how many fallacies an avenue would be opened up and how many errors would become mixed with the truth, if it were left solely to the light of reason of each to find it out, or if it were to be discovered by the private interpretation of the truth which is revealed." (Pope Pius XI, "Casti Connubii", 1930 A.D.)

"And such clients, or rather devotees, of human reason, who set it up as their unerring teacher and promise themselves every success under its guidance, have surely forgotten what a deep and severe wound was inflicted on human nature through the sin of our first parent; for darkness has clouded the mind and the will has been made prone to evil." (Pope Pius IX, "Singulari Quadam", 1854 A.D.)

"For, once ascribe to human reason the only authority to decide what is true and what is good, and the real distinction between good and evil is destroyed; honor and dishonor differ not in their nature, but in the opinion and judgment of each one; pleasure is the measure of what is lawful; and, given a code of morality which can have little or no power to restrain or quiet the unruly propensities of man, a way is naturally opened to universal corruption." (Pope Leo XIII, " Libertas Praestantissimum") 

"In the case of those who profess to take reason as their sole guide, there would hardly be found, if, indeed, there ever could be found, unity of doctrine. Indeed, the art of knowing things as they really are is exceedingly difficult; moreover, the mind of man is by nature feeble and drawn this way and that by a variety of opinions, and not seldom led astray by impressions coming from without; and, furthermore, the influence of the passions oftentimes takes away, or certainly at least diminishes, the capacity for grasping the truth." (Pope Leo XIII, "Sapientiae Christianae", 1890 A.D.)

"If we read even in the divine Scriptures about hidden thing and things most removed from our eyes, it will be possible, saving always the faith which fills us, to formulate various opinions about these matters. Let us, then, not be too hasty in accepting any such opinions which, were the truth to be sought more carefully, might afterwards be found unsound, and lest we might be found in error by our attempting to establish what is but our own view and not that of the divine Scriptures, as if we would wish our view to be that of the Scriptures, whereas we ought to wish that the view taken by the Scriptures should become our own." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church, c. 407 A.D.)

"I prefer to say nothing of men who, like myself, have passed from profane [that is, secular] literature to Biblical study, but who, if they happen once to have caught men's ears by their ornate sermons, straightway begin to fancy that whatsoever they say is God's law. Apparently they do not think it worthwhile to discover what the Prophets and Apostles really meant; they are content to string together texts made to fit the meaning they want. One would almost fancy that instead of being a degraded species of oratory, it must be a fine thing to pervert the meaning of the text and compel the reluctant Scripture to yield the meaning one wants!" (St. Jerome, Doctor of the Church) 

"Wherefore, let the faithful also be on their guard against the overrated independence of private judgment and that false autonomy of human reason. For it is quite foreign to everyone bearing the name of a Christian to trust his own mental powers with such pride as to agree only with those things which he can examine from their inner nature, and to imagine that the Church, sent by God to teach and guide all nations, is not conversant with present affairs and circumstances... Quite to the contrary, a characteristic of all true followers of Christ, lettered or unlettered, is to suffer themselves to be guided and led in all things that touch upon faith or morals by the Holy Church of God through its Supreme Pastor the Roman Pontiff, who is himself guided by Jesus Christ Our Lord." (Pope Pius XI, "Casti Connubii", 1930 A.D.)

"[W]e may address the following words of St. Augustine to all who have not deliberately closed their minds to the truth: 'When we see the great help of God, such manifest progress and such abundant fruit, shall we hesitate to take refuge in the bosom of that Church, which, as is evident to all, possesses the supreme authority of the Apostolic See through the Episcopal succession? In vain do heretics rage round it; they are condemned partly by the judgment of the people themselves, partly by the weight of councils, partly by the splendid evidence of miracles. To refuse to the Church the primacy is most impious and above measure arrogant. And if all learning, no matter how easy and common it may be, in order to be fully understood requires a teacher and master, what can be greater evidence of pride and rashness than to be unwilling to learn about the books of the divine mysteries from the proper interpreter, and to wish to condemn them unknown?' (De Unitate Credendi, cap. xvii., n. 35)." (Pope Leo XIII, "Satis Cognitum", 1896 A.D.)

"Therefore, in that famous letter of his to the faithful of the Church at Meta, Our predecessor, Innocent III, quite wisely prescribes as follows: 'In truth the secret mysteries of faith are not to be exposed to all everywhere, since they cannot be understood by all everywhere, but only by those who can grasp them with the intellect of faith. Therefore, to the more simple the Apostle says: 'I gave you milk to drink as unto little ones in Christ... [1 Cor. 3:2].' For solid food is for the elders, as he said: 'We speak wisdom ...among the perfect' [1 Cor 2:6]; 'for I judged not myself to know anything among you, but Jesus Christ and Him Crucified' [1 Cor. 2:2]. For so great is the depth of Divine Scripture that not only the simple and the unlettered, but even the learned and prudent are not fully able to explore the understanding of it. Therefore, Scripture says that many 'searching have failed in their search'." (Pope Pius VII, 1816 A.D.)


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