See: “Why Are Catholics So Deficient in Bible-Reading?” (National Catholic Register, 11-22-17).
Catholics have written to this blog in the past objecting to my repeated assertion that relatively few of them read the Bible. Well, they read the Bible, they protest, so therefore my claim is incorrect. Argh. But what do they say when Dave Armstrong, one of Catholicism’s most sectarian apologists bemoans the exact same condition, which is regularly confirmed by independent surveys? I would love it if every Catholic bought a Bible and read it. Many would have a crisis of faith regarding their church as they confronted the stark differences between Catholic teaching and God’s Word.
I agree with it till the last sentence. If Catholics read the Bible more, they’d be strengthened in their Catholic faith, as I have always been, in my emphasis on “biblical Catholicism.” But it should be studied in conjunction with Catholic study as well (the Catechism and other good Catholic magisterial sources).
The Bible wasn’t meant to be read in isolation or interpreted without any input from Holy Mother Church and Sacred Tradition. That’s how many cults begin. It’s not just Protestantism that isolated Bible-reading may possibly lead to, but also heretical non-trinitarian cults like Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormonism.
It’s precisely because such cults cling to “Bible Alone” and ignore the history of Christian doctrine (and or apostolic tradition), that they go astray. If they understood that trinitarianism had always been held from the beginning of the Christian Church, they could never deny it. But they are ignorant of Church history, and so pretend that trinitarianism was a late-arriving doctrine (like, say, sola fide and sola Scriptura, which began 15 centuries after Christ).
I’m not calling for Bible memorization, but simple reading, at least as committed as the effort that folks put into reading novels and any number of other things.
The problem with Protestant use of the Bible, too often (especially fundamentalists and anti-Catholics and hard-core Calvinists), is that they tend to simply cite “pet” verses, while ignoring the many passages that go against their view. So what at first seems impressive is actually highly selective, almost robotic citation. If you talk about faith, out comes John 3:16, etc., like a mantra. But that’s only one of a hundred or more relevant passages. It seems to fit in well with faith alone, so they use it.
“Why Don’t Catholics Read the Bible?” [6-26-02]
Catholic “Three-Legged Stool”: Scripture, Tradition, & Church: Dialogue with an Anglican on the Catholic Rule of Faith (vs. Jon Jacobson) [10-31-02]
Martin Luther on the Exact Nature of Being “Biblical” [11-10-14; revised and expanded on 1-5-20]
(originally 11-26-17 on Facebook)