Needing the Church’s Magisterium

Bryan Cross concludes a posting about why we need the Church’s magisterium over at Called to Communion with:

Faith, by contrast, “believes and professes all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God.” Because faith does not presume eccleisal deism, faith submits to the Church that has always been there, even before the sixteenth century and all the way back to the Apostles, in the humility that is the very opposite of the pride that takes to oneself an ecclesial and interpretive authority that has not been given to oneself by those already having that authority. This is what St. Thomas Aquinas explained about the relation between faith and the Church, namely, that faith in Christ is faith through the Church Christ founded.7 It should be of no small concern that one’s position is indistinguishable in principle from a case of the rebellion against divinely established authority. In order to justify separation from the already existing magisterium, one must have a principled basis for distinguishing rightful dissent from rebellion. And “following my own interpretation of Scripture” is no such principled basis, because it is common to all the heretical and schismatic sects and their founders.

We need a magisterium in order to have an ecclesial faith, rather than a me-and-my-Bible [along with whoever happens to agree with my interpretation] faith, and because otherwise Christ would not have established a magisterium in His Church, and enjoined us to “submit” to them and “obey” them as persons who keep watch over our souls (Heb 13:17). Christ chose and authorized Apostles not to force the early Church to choose between following the Apostles and following the Holy Spirit, but so that they could follow the Spirit by following the Apostles. Similarly, Christ’s promise concerning His Spirit leading men into all truth is not a promise that the Spirit will guide private interpretation or private bosom-burning into all truth. It provides no ground for certainty “that I am being guided into all truth” for those persons separated from the magisterium and following their own interpretation of Scripture along with others who share that interpretation. Christ’s promise that the Spirit will guide “you” into all truth has been understood in the visible Church as a promise that the Spirit will lead the Church through the magisterium He established. That is precisely how we can have confidence to know that we are being led by the Holy Spirit, and not co-opting the Spirit to sanction our own private interpretation or subjective bosom-burning.

As is often the case, comments to the article there are just as interesting as the article itself (see link above).

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