The Roman Catholic Church holds itself up as the official interpreter of scripture.
But to claim such is for the Roman Catholic Church to assert itself into a position of standing over scripture. No longer would God and his Word serve as a supreme authority. Final appeal would not be made to the scripture itself, but to Rome and it’s interpretation of it.
In such a model, the Roman Catholic Church would, in essence, serve as the highest authority. But to make something other than God the highest authority is functionally to say that something has more authority than God himself, which is blasphemy Continue reading
In Hebrews 6, the author of Hebrews recounts God swearing an oath to confirm his promises to Abraham.
Now when people swear, they do so by appealing to some sort of authority higher than themselves in order to validate their promise. But what happens when God swears to confirm his promise?
For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself (Heb 6:13).
When God swears, he swears by his own authority, because there is no possible higher authority. There is no authority higher or equal to God himself to which he can appeal. He is the highest.
And so, by extension, God’s Word is the highest authority. No authority can possibly usurp it. The scriptures stand alone as our supreme authority.
Are We Together? A Protestant Analyzes Roman Catholicism by R.C. Sproul
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book is written to those who are Protestant, in an effort to help them sense the theological chasm between Protestantism and Rome. As such, it is not written as much with an eye towards Catholics, to help them understand Protestant convictions or arguments.
Almost all attention is given to unpacking Catholic thought. Protestant views are only mentioned occasionally in so much as to provide a contrast. But they are not expanded upon.
The above is not a critique of the book, just a clarification that if you are looking for a book that contrasts Protestant and Catholic belief, simultaneously making a case for Protestantism, for example, this is not your book. Sproul, rather, is detailing Catholic thought with an aim of depressing inappropriate ecumenical tendencies (i.e., blowing off differences with Rome) among protestants.
As he proceeds towards this aim, Sproul does a fair job presenting Catholic views. He is charitable, and avoids caricatures, which are all too common among protestants. He gives the needed nuance to Catholic views. He wants to help protestants genuinely understand Catholic theology, and to see it’s rationale.
This book is to be recommended for those looking to understand Catholicism better, specifically on those key subjects where it differs most significantly from Protestant thought.
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I have learned to yield this respect and honour only to the canonical books of Scripture: of these alone do I most firmly believe that the authors were completely free from error. And if in these writings I am perplexed by anything which appears to me opposed to truth, I do not hesitate to suppose that either the manuscript is faulty, or the translator has not caught the meaning of what was said, or I myself have failed to understand it. As to all other writings, in reading them, however great the superiority of the authors to myself in sanctity and learning, I do not accept their teaching as true on the mere ground of the opinion being held by them; but only because they have succeeded in convincing my judgment of its truth either by means of these canonical writings themselves, or by arguments addressed to my reason. … [Others are] not … to be read like those of prophets or of apostles, concerning which it would be wrong to doubt that they are free from error.
~ Augustine of Hippo
Yes, in the past the Church has reformed and has had reform movements, even leading to significant changes in once-held beliefs and practices.
But note: those reforms came by a return to the scriptures and were scripture-initiated movements, not changes that (not so coincidentally) happen to occur on the heels of cultural revolutions, following their beck and call.
Can aspects of culture progress? Absolutely. And can we as Christian’s learn from the surrounding culture? Certainly.
But don’t appeal to the former (reforming) when in reality what you’re doing is the latter (conforming). They’re not the same. Not all change is created equal.