(The Claims of Romanism and the Issues They Present)
2) The Scriptures are complex and hard to be understood and, therefore, only the Church can interpret and explain them
In this view of Romanism, the RCC determines that the laity are incapable of reading and understanding the Scriptures and studying them apart from the authoritative direction of the hierarchy of the Church. They reject the interpersonal relationship of the believer and the Holy Spirit and the ability of the individual to grow in wisdom of the Scriptures through individual study and prayer. This literally denies the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives as promised by Christ and the apostles. (John 1:32-34; Acts 1:4-8, 2:37-39; 1 John 2:20-27; 1 Corinthians 2:6-16; John 14:26, 16:13)
And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and he rested on him. I didn’t know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The one you see the Spirit descending on and resting on – he is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ – John 1:32-34
While he was with them, he commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the Father’s promise. “Which,” he said, “you have heard me speak about; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit in a few days.” So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, are you restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” – Acts 1:4-8
When they heard this, they were pierced to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles: “Brothers, what should we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” – Acts 2:37-39
But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. I have not written to you because you don’t know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie comes from the truth. Who is the liar, if not the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This one is the antichrist: the one who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; he who confesses the Son has the Father as well. What you have heard from the beginning is to remain in you. If what you have heard from the beginning remains in you, then you will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he himself made to us: eternal life. I have written theses things to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you. As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you don’t need anyone to teach you. Instead, his anointing teaches you about all things and is true and is not a lie; just as it has taught you, remain in him. – 1 John 2:20-27
We do, however, speak a wisdom among the mature, but not a wisdom of this age, or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. On the contrary, we speak God’s hidden wisdom in a mystery, a wisdom God predestined before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age knew this wisdom, because if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written, What no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human heart has conceived – God has prepared these things for those who love him. Now God has revealed these things to us by the Spirit, since the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except his spirit within him? In the same way, no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who comes from God, so that we may understand what has been freely given to us by God. We also speak these things, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people. But the person without the Spirit does not receive what comes from God’s Spirit because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to understand it since it is evaluated spiritually. The spiritual person, however, can evaluate everything, and yet he himself cannot be evaluated by anyone. For who has known the Lord’s mind that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. – 1 Corinthians 2:6-16
But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you. – John 14:26
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth. For he will not speak on his own, but he will speak whatever he hears. He will also declare to you what is to come. – John 16:13
When discussing this idea often referred to as “papal interpretation”, it is important to note that it is believed in the RCC that, when speaking officially on a matter, the pope is infallible. Many people think this belief concerning papal infallibility is exhaustive. However, that is not the case. Also, we need to note that the infallibility of the pope is neither true in its exhaustive or in it’s limited “speaking officially” view. Evidence of this is easy to see in that popes have disagreed on matters of interpretation throughout the ages. If they were infallible, there would be consistent agreement throughout all papal interpretation as there is consistent agreement within the Scriptures themselves concerning all things.
In looking at this issue, we must firmly take a position that recognizes the failures so obviously contrary to the Bible that would declare any man infallible other our Savior Jesus. We must deny this idea as truth that we, as believers anointed with the indwelling Holy Spirit, are incapable of “rightly dividing the word of truth” as we are clearly instructed in 2 Timothy 2:15. We must reject that God has limited the understanding of His revelation to a hierarchical group of individuals who deny the individual working of the Holy Spirit in each of our lives to better know God through His revealed truth in His word. We must hold to the teaching of the apostles which command us to study and know the word as they declared unto us through the inspired writings of the Holy Scriptures and trust that God will fulfill His promise to teach us through His Spirit. This does not deny the importance of teaching from the church and discipleship, as we will discuss later. It only embraces the importance of individual study with the Lord our God and His Spirit guiding us as we seek to better know and worship Him.
- Who can understand the word of God?
- How can we know the truth of the Scriptures and the accuracy of teaching and preaching in our local churches apart from the oversight of the RCC?