The Catechism and the Book of Mormon
Curry wrote on our Facebook page:
I am not Catholic, I love your show and listen as often as possible and have even won a couple of your contests. I am very interested on a Catholics opinion. Do you think the Catholic church pushes the Catacism the way Mormons push the Book of Mormon? Is there a difference? Both groups seem to hold the books higher than the Bible. IF God’s word was the most important thing, would both organizations push it first?
My response was:
Actually, I completely disagree with that idea entirely because the two books couldn’t be more different. The Book of Mormon includes additional books they’ve added to their cannon of Scripture. The Catechism, however, is an explanation of Scripture itself as understood and taught by the Catholic Church. If you were to look up any subject in the Catechism, you will most likely find links to other encyclicals and teaching, which in turn are teachings based upon Scripture and Tradition of the Catholic Church.
For example, today we quoted the Catechism in regards to openness to life. The Catechism referenced a document called Humana Vitae. If you drill down (http://www.kofc.org/un/catechism/getreftext.action?part=3&sec=2&chap=2&par=2557&fnote=159) you’ll see Humana Vitae references, among other sources, Romans 3:8 in explaining the teaching.
For Catholics, we trust the Catholic Church to help us interpret Scripture. Otherwise, we’d have 10’s of 1000’s of various interpretations of a given passage. The Catechism gives us a central resource to use in conjunction with Scripture to have the confidence that our own individual interpretations match that of centuries of Bible Study and teaching from the Church itself.
So again, when you hear us or someone else reference the Catechism, we’re merely referring to the Catholic Church’s explanation of Scripture itself.
Curry responded again:
thanks for your response Greg. However, so the Catholic church sees no use in the Holy Spirit in interpretation? From what I am hearing, when you as a Catholic read your Bible, you have to have the Catechism there to understand what you’ve just read. Those 10’s of thousands of interpretations belong to the millions of individuals trying to gain knowledge from God. IF there were to be one interpretation, wouldn’t the Bible just be that plain? I am not trying to create confusion, but rather gain insight to how the modern day Catholics utilize the tools that God provided. It as if the Catholic church has removed the need of the Holy Spirt, the Bible, and study all in one fail swoop “the Catechism”.
This is why I try not to engage in debates online. If you don’t pick the perfect words to create the perfect soundbite, it’s so easily to be misinterpreted. So I responded again:
Hi Curry. If you’re looking for an understanding of 2,000 years of teaching on Facebook, I think you’re going to be disappointed, especially if you’re looking to me to provide a suitable bite-sized nugget of information to explain Catholicism. But briefly, one fallacy in your approach regarding “tools that God provided” is [neglecting to realize] that the first tool He provided was the Catholic Church. It was the Catholic Church to whom He entrusted Scripture, and it was the Catholic Church at the Council of Hippo that decided which books belonged in the cannon of Scripture. That decision was Holy Spirit. So I am in no way inferring that the Catholic Church sees no use in the Holy Spirit in interpretation. I’m saying that the Holy Spirit interprets through the Catholic Church. You mention “confusion,” but what’s more confusing – an authoritative teaching from the Church (who was given such authority by Christ when He said “What you bind on earth, is bound in heaven, etc.”), or the mis-interpretations of millions of well-intentioned, but self-directed believers? Let me ask you this: If the Holy Spirit inspires you to interpret Scripture, and the Holy Spirit inspires me, and yet we come up with two completely different interpretations, are you suggesting that the Holy Spirit sows confusion? Certainly, the Holy Spirit guides us, but we rely on the Church (the first tool) establish by Jesus Christ to have a complete understanding of the Word of God. I would recommend you Google the Compendium of the Catholic Church or the Catechism itself and read what the Church says in particular about Scripture interpretation. I would also encourage you to check out books like “Catholicism for Dummies” or “What Catholics Really Believe” for better and more thorough explanations that what I’d ever be able to provide on Facebook.
Anything you’d add to the conversation?