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'Quick Help' Page: Who Has The Authority To Interpret Holy Scripture?

 

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Arrow Question / Issue:

Who has the authority to interpret Holy Scripture?

 

Arrow Answer / Resources:

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The Catholic Church alone has the authority to interpret Holy Scripture. As the Second Vatican Council states, "For all of what has been said about the way of interpreting Scripture is subject finally to the judgment of the Church, which carries out the divine commission and ministry of guarding and interpreting the word of God." [Ref.: Bible Facts: Q & A]

Some other relevant quotations...

"Know this first of all, that there is no prophecy of scripture that is a matter of personal interpretation, for no prophecy ever came through human will; but rather human beings moved by the Holy Spirit spoke under the influence of God." (St. Peter, 2 Pt. 1:20-21)

"If a man should doubt the knowledge and understanding of anything written in Scripture, he is not wise then to take upon himself the authority to interpret, boldly depending on his own mind. Instead, he should depend on the interpretation of the holy teachers an the saints of old, and on the interpretation that has been received and allowed by the universal Church. For it was the Church through which the Scripture has come into our hands and been delivered to us in the first place, and without the Church, as St. Augustine says, we could not know which books were Holy Scripture." (St. Thomas More)

"Furthermore, in order to restrain petulant spirits, It decrees, that no one, relying on his own skill, shall, - in matters of faith, and of morals pertaining to the edification of Christian doctrine, - wresting the sacred Scripture to his own senses, presume to interpret the said sacred Scripture contrary to that sense which holy mother Church, - whose it is to judge of the true sense and interpretation of the holy Scriptures, - hath held and doth hold; or even contrary to the unanimous consent of the [Church] Fathers; even though such interpretations were never (intended) to be at any time published. Contraveners shall be made known by their Ordinaries, and be punished with the penalties by law established." (Council of Trent)

"But, since the rules which the holy Synod of Trent salutarily decreed concerning the interpretation of Divine Scripture in order to restrain impetuous minds, are wrongly explained by certain men, We, renewing the same decree, declare this to be its intention: that, in matters of faith and morals pertaining to the instruction of Christian Doctrine, that must be considered as the true sense of Sacred Scripture which Holy Mother Church has held and holds, whose office it is to judge concerning the true understanding and interpretation of the Sacred Scriptures; and, for that reason, no one is permitted to interpret Sacred Scripture itself contrary to this sense, or even contrary to the unanimous agreement of the [Church] Fathers." (Vatican Council I, 1870 A.D.)

"...the great error of those others as well who boldly venture to explain and interpret the words of God by their own judgment, misusing their reason and holding the opinion that these words are like a human work. God Himself has set up a living authority to establish and teach the true and legitimate meaning of His heavenly revelation. This authority judges infallibly all disputes which concern matters of faith and morals, lest the faithful be swirled around by every wind of doctrine which springs from the evilness of men in encompassing error. And this living infallible authority is active only in that Church which was built by Christ the Lord upon Peter, the head of the entire Church, leader and shepherd, whose faith He promised would never fail. This Church has had an unbroken line of succession from Peter himself; these legitimate pontiffs are the heirs and defenders of the same teaching, rank, office and power. And the Church is where Peter is, and Peter speaks in the Roman Pontiff, living at all times in his successors and making judgment, providing the truth of the faith to those who seek it. The divine words therefore mean what this Roman See of the most blessed Peter holds and has held." (Pope Pius IX, "Qui Pluribus", 1846 A.D.)


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Other Resources:

[click link(s) below, as applicable]

Scripture Reflections [Incl.: Authority of Church Fathers / Scripture Interpretation, The Church's Traditional Interpretation of Holy Scripture Is Not Subject To Correction, Literal / Spiritual Interpretation of Scripture, Private Interpretation / Twisting Scripture, Proper Interpretation of Scripture, Etc.]

Against Private Interpretation of Holy Scripture (Apologetics)

Catholic Bibles (Topic Page)

 

  

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