Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Why do Catholics trust the Magisterium?

Did you know that most Protestants believe they can take the Bible, pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and interpret what they read in the Bible correctly? They believe that the Bible was meant to be interpreted by each person; not by some arbitrary ruling body. That sounds very freeing and liberating!

Did you know that Catholics are told what to do by the pope and the bishops in league with him? Did you know that this, Magisterium, can choose to interpret scripture and make statements on faith and morals, and as a practicing Catholic I’m obliged to accept whatever they say? Does that sound domineering and authoritarian to you?

I actually think that makes it a huge relief it is to be Catholic!

Why? Because now I don’t have the responsibility of figuring out what each and every passage in the Bible means! I don’t have to figure out what’s God’s will v. my own will. I have a trusted teaching office (which is what Magisterium translates to from Latin) who understand and respect tradition, understand how and why the books in the Bible are in there, and who have the best interest of the whole Church in mind. That’s an enormous relief.

Let’s take an example. Let’s say I’m thinking about using contraception. It would make my life easier. I wouldn’t have to bother with NFP and I wouldn’t have to worry about getting my wife pregnant. So I pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit and, low and behold, I find scripture passages that I interpret to allow contraception. Piece of cake!

Let’s say I ask the Magisterium. They will point to those passages that make it clear the Bible is opposed to contraception. They’ll point to Church doctrine from the Apostles on to today opposing contraception. They’ll point to the traditions of all Christian faiths, even after the Reformation that opposed contraception. They’ll point out that it wasn’t until 1930 that any Christian denomination accepted contraception. They’ll point out how contraception leads to acceptance of abortion and euthanasia. They’ll point out how contraception leads men and women to treat each other as toys, not images of God.

Hmm, was my personal interpretation inspired by the Holy Spirit or was it inspired by my desire to use contraceptives because they’re convenient?

In Mathew 16:18 Jesus gives the keys of the kingdom to Peter. He says he will build his church upon the rock of Peter. The Magisterium is founded on Peter and has succeeded from him to us today. That’s why I trust the Magisterium, because Jesus gave it, and specifically the pope, the keys of the kingdom. What you bind on earth will be bound in heaven. What you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

Having the Magisterium keeps my passions, greed, and human weakness in check. It brings decisions to the big picture and makes those decisions in light of the entire human family; not in light of my little family. The Magisterium is the exact reason that I trust the Church. It’s the reason we haven’t caved to contraception and the reason we won’t cave on abortion or anything else.

Without it I can believe anything I want. I can twist the Bible to say anything I want. This may be convenient, but it won’t make me more loving of my neighbor or bring me closer to salvation.

What do you think? Share your thoughts by posting a comment.

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