Monday, September 06, 2021

Is Protestant Knowledge of the Bible Really Superior to that of Catholics? I Don't Think So.

I've been doing virtual Bible study at my current parish. On the first day the priest-- who is a fine young man and I like him--- made the same shaming speech that we Catholics always hear. It's the line about how Protestants know their bible so much better than Catholics and how we should imitate them presumably because if you can't quote whole chapters then you don't really love God.  That speech increasing irritates me the older I get. I sat and listened to Father and thought, 'So what!'

Yes---So what! I wonder if the people who make that shaming speech know any Protestants. When Saint Jerome said, "Ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ," he was speaking to a world where most people were illiterate. Most people were hearing the Bible at Mass or at Vespers if they went to a monastery in the evening. St. Jerome was not saying pick up a Bible and twist the readings to whatever you want. Interpretation of the Bible without Tradition leads to heresy and disaster.


My  brother-in-law is a Jehovah's Witness. He can spit Bible verses like bullets from a machine gun but you know what? Ninety percent of the time he's wrong. The JWs interpretation of the Bible is flawed with horrifying results.  Think of all the JWs who have died because the JWs believe that blood transfusions are cannibalism and cause the victim who needed the transfusion to be damned. Think of all the JWs who lived and died believing that only exactly 144,000 people are going to Heaven and the rest will either live in Garden of Eden II or experience soul annihilation.  

Mormons are very serious about studying the King James Bible along with their Book of Mormon. A good Mormon can drop some quotes on you and expound on what they "really" mean. Their interpretation says that Our Lord and the Devil were brothers and that if you are a truly saintly Mormon you will be rewarded by God with being a god of your own planet. Their interpretation also forbids tea and coffee.

My mother's family are Baptists. Their interpretation of the Bible says that all you have to do is to accept that Jesus is Lord in your life and then you are saved forever. So you can go drinking and sin sexually on Saturday night but it's all good if you show up sober and embarrassed about the previous night on Sunday morning and pay your tithes. In fact, you don't have to go to church at all or just on holy days such as "Communion" First Sunday or just for Bible study as long as you pay your tithes. Oh, and divorce and remarriage is okay if the first spouse was not a godly person. I think St. Jadwiga, St. Monica, Blessed Elizabeth Leseur and St. Clotilda would laugh at that. My beloved uncle can quote the King James Bible at length. My cousin, his son  is the head deacon at his church and can do the same. 

Have you heard of the Scofield Bible? Millions of Evangelicals who devoutly study Cyrus Scofield's Bible's interpretation believe that the modern, secular state of Israel is holy and must be loved and unquestioningly defended on pain of sin. To put it bluntly, they believe that if you are not a Zionist you either need to get right with God or you are going to Hell.

Think of all the Protestants who believe in the Rapture. Their preacher's interpretation of the Bible tells them that they will be whisked away and avoid all the horrors of the End Times. 


I'm not writing this to mock these people but I think it's important that Catholics stop accepting constant demoralization in regards to formal Bible study.  If you are lucky the leader of your Bible study will keep referring to what St. Jerome and the other early Church Fathers said about the Bible and will point you towards Haydock's Commentary and/or St. Thomas Aquianas's Catena Aurea. If you aren't you'll get to hear about how Jesus choosing His apostles was like a quarterback choosing his team (I sat through that talk once) or how all of Salvation history is just some kind of feminist struggle. Bleech!