[font=Arial][font=Arial](Sorry for the obnoxious length of this)[/font][/font]
[font=Arial][font=Arial]Authority is central to all other issues.
Even when we, as reasonable men with our wills fully desiring to know God’s truth and who have turned our lives over to Jesus’ care, study scripture as well as we are able, we come to mutually exclusive conclusions about what it means.
Because of the effects of original sin, our wills are weakened and our intellects are darkened. We are easily deceived by ourselves and by others. By definition, we are incapable of knowing whether or not we are self-deceived.
Thus, when we disagree on the meaning of Scripture, we cannot determine who is correct unless we have recourse to an authority who can tell us.
Scripture cannot tell us what it means because it cannot express itself in any words other than the ones written.
[indent]“Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and said, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ He replied, ‘How can I, unless someone instructs me?’ So he invited Philip to get in and sit with him.” (Acts 8:30-31) [/indent]Catholics believe that the task of interpreting the Word of God has been entrusted solely to the Magesterium of the Church (that is, to the college of Bishops in union with the sucessor of St. Peter), infalliblly guided by the Holy Spirit. [indent]“The Roman Pontiff and the bishops are “authentic teachers, that is, teachers endowed with the authority of Christ, who preach the faith to the people entrusted to them, the faith to be believed and put into practice… The supreme degree of participation in the authority of Christ is ensured by the charism of infallibility. This infallibility extends as far as does the deposit of divine Revelation; it also extends to all those elements of doctrine, including morals, without which the saving truths of the faith cannot be preserved, explained, or observed.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), pp. 2034-2035) [/indent]Jesus gave teaching authority to the Magesterium.
The Church is a divine institution: the Bride and Body of Christ. [indent]“And he put all things beneath his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way.” (Eph. 1:22-23) [/indent]The Church is the foundation and pillar of truth, perfect and holy. [indent]“But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.” (1 Tim. 3:15)
“…Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” (Eph 5:25b-27)
[/indent]The Church is forever visible, not hidden. [indent]“All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:3-5)
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house” (Matt. 5:14-15; see also Luke 8:16,11:33).
“If he refuses to listen even to the Church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector” (Matt. 18:17). Christ speaks of a visible Church when he recommends recourse to it for settling disputes among his followers.
[/indent]The Church will proclaim the true gospel continuously, forever. [indent]“This is the covenant with them which I myself have made, says the LORD: My spirit which is upon you and my words that I have put into your mouth Shall never leave your mouth, nor the mouths of your children, nor the mouths of your children’s children from now on and forever, says the LORD.” (Is. 59:21)
“I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” (Matt. 16:18b)
“And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20b)
“…but the word of the Lord remains forever.’ This is the word that has been proclaimed to you.” (1 Pet 1:25)