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Jeremy wrote:

Hi, guys —

Jesus Himself said that he must go so that the Teacher could come; that being the Holy Spirit,
of course. I don't doubt that each individual church needs someone to lead it. That's delegation and it's important, but the reason for delegation is so the administrative duties are carried out.

What I am saying is that priests are not needed to interpret the Bible for us. Many of my Catholic brothers believe that only the priest can interpret the Bible for them. This type of situation is one of the main issues that Jesus dealt with in the form of the Pharisees. He didn't minister to the social elite. He ministered to the poor and uneducated with the idea that they didn't need someone to interpret the Scriptures for them. As a matter of fact, it was the Pharisees who didn't understand; they were to caught up in their "religious acts".

A Christian has the Holy Spirit to lead him, he does not need a priest to interpret anything. As a matter of fact, the idea that only a priest is able to interpret the Scriptures, is one of the main reasons for the terrible abuses and exploitations by the priesthood in past years. This is also the reason why the Bible was kept out of the common tongues, like Greek, and only written in Latin for hundreds of years. This "holy priesthood" knew they would be out of a job if the people were ever able to read it for themselves, and let me tell you, they weren't about to give up the tons of money that poured into their parishes.

The fact is, when you think that a priest has special powers of interpretation, you put yourself at the mercy of a sinful human being who is inundated with all kinds of:

  • jealousies
  • false motives
  • greed
  • etc.

Even the best Christian has them. A man should put his faith in Jesus Christ and depend on the Holy Spirit to be his Teacher, not another man who is no better off than he is. Paul refers to the body of the believers as a holy priesthood, and that's what we are, not because we're special, but because we are ordained by God with the Holy Spirit. Following a faith like the Catholic Church is one of bondage, not the freedom that Jesus spoke of.

  • Tell me, why did the Catholic Church keep the Bible in Latin when the New Testament was originally written in common Greek?

It is my belief that every Christian ought to have their Bibles out every time a pastor or a priest speaks so they don't get led astray by false teaching.

And they studied the Scriptures diligently to see if the things he said were true.

Acts 17:11

Jeremy
  { If the Christian has the Holy Spirit to guide him, why are priests needed to interpret the Bible? }

John replied:

Hi, Jeremy —

Let's start with those things we agree with. Those who are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, are priests by the virtue of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. This means that we have direct access to God, through Christ. Further, this means that, as priests, we can represent to, and intercede on behalf of the heathen. This last part is often overlooked by many Catholics. It is our duty to bring Christ to others and to be on our knees for their salvation.

As Catholics, we do not rely on an individual priest to interpret the Scriptures. We do rely on the Church to interpret the Bible when it comes to essential doctrine. For example, in the early Church around the year 325 A.D., there arose a dispute about the nature of Christ and the Trinity.

A certain heretic named Arius claimed that Jesus was a created being and was not fully God and fully Man. The Church drawing on the understanding of Scripture which had been handed down from the Apostles orally by Tradition, gave us the word Trinity and defined it as Three Persons of one substance, in one God. Each being a Person of the Trinity, fully God by themselves, yet only one God; this being a mystery.

This is a definition that most Bible believers still hold to today, yet their belief is only implicit. The word Trinity is not explicitly mentioned it the Bible.

Further, history tells us that the Canon of Scripture was not arrived at until 382 A.D.

Until then, there was some dispute over both the Old and the New Testament. In 382 A.D. the Catholic Church, in a general council of bishops at Rome, under the supervision and sanction of the Pope, discerned the list of books which belong in the Bible. Therefore, if the Church discerned which books are the Bible, as Catholics, we believe that the Church can rightly interpret the written Word of God.

This does not excuse any Catholic or non-Catholic Christian from studying and meditating on God's Holy Word. As David wrote in Psalm 119:

"Thy Word have I hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against thee."

Catholics, as all other Christians, ought to seek God's will for their individual lives by reading the Bible. Christ does speak to us through the Bible; He:

  • leads us
  • teaches us, and
  • strengthens our faith through His Word.

As Saint Paul wrote in Romans, Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.
(Romans 10:17)

Our Lord said that he would build a Church and the gates of Hell would not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:13-20) He told Peter feed my sheep. (John 21:15-17) St. Paul wrote to Timothy and told him to appoint bishops and elders. Presbyters is where we get the word for our New Testament Priest.

These priests would be responsible for feeding His sheep. He did not say go write a book and let every man figure it out for himself. There are 28,000 denominations, each of whom is claiming that the Holy Spirit has lead them to teach this or that. Jesus says Himself,

"He is The Way, The Truth, and The Light"

not

"the way(s), the truth(s), and the light(s)."

As for the use of Latin, you are gravely mistaken my dear brother.

The Church changed the Liturgy from Greek into Latin around the third century because most of the known world spoke Latin and not Greek. However all of the Eastern Catholics, such as the:

  • Melkites
  • Syriacs, and
  • Armenian Catholics

all translated the text into their respective languages. Further, in the West, where Latin wasn't spoken, it was taught in the schools. If you were going to be able to read, you were going to be able to read Latin. In fact, it wasn't until the twentieth century that Latin became a dead language. You can still find old medical books from American universities written in Latin, because it was a universal language and every one who went to high school studied it, therefore it was easier for the books to be printed in one language. Well, for a very similar reason the Church used Latin.

If you were Polish and you migrated to France you could still understand the Mass, because both the Polish and the French spoke Latin. So quite the opposite, the Church kept the Liturgy in Latin so people could understand it no matter where they went.

As for Bible translations into the vernacular, I hate to tell you but, the Catholic Church issued an English translation, long before King James thought of it. Yes, the Church, did restrict any
"Tom, Dick or Harry", from translating the Bible because some of the translations were heretical.

Case in point: Martin Luther took it upon himself to insert the word "alien" (the German for alone) in Romans 3:28. The original Greek does not have that word there, yet he took the liberty to insert it in his translation.

One last point in conclusion. There are many Catholic exegetes who are not priests or bishops. The Church does not prevent people from studying the Scriptures, nor does it discourage legitimate questions which come from a faith that seeks understanding.

Nevertheless, this must be tempered by the words of the Bible:

"No scripture is for private interpretation".

2 Peter 1:20

Jeremy, I admire your zeal for the Lord Jesus Christ. I once held the same views as a Protestant minister. It was the very fact that Scripture itself does not teach that Scripture is the sole rule of faith that lead me to leave my ministry and become a lay Catholic.

I wish you all the best and would love to continue this dialogue. I'd highly recommend that you study history a little more before making accusations about the Church and the way she has handled issues such as the use of language.

There is a lot of dis-information out there about the Catholic Church; if it were true, I would not be Catholic.

Under His Mercy,

John C. DiMascio

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