Catholics, in my opinion, indirectly undermine the authority of scripture, because:
- They teach errors, and claim exemption from the scrutiny of scripture. People are not allowed to look in scripture to find out if submission to the Pope is necessary for salvation.
- They subject scripture to another authority, the church. In practice they are not equivalent authorities. If you think scripture is telling you to do X and the church says do Y, you must do Y (and also unthink that the scripture said to do X).
- They use and teach the use of eisegesis (as opposed to exegesis). Instead of turning to scripture for the meaning of scripture, you must turn to the church and take it back with you to scripture.
- They deny scripture could be the only infallible teaching of the church as if God could not have done it that way.
- They say scripture is unclear, so for practical purposes we must look elsewhere for truth.
They forbid consulting scripture in the original languages.
- They have in the past discouraged the study of scripture by common people, including forbidding translations and requiring people to get approval from the church to read the bible.
So while Catholics see Protestants as rebellious teenagers, because we do not submit to the Pope, in reality this is a two way street, because they do not submit to the authority of scripture. So as rhetorically effective as the “rebellion” argument may sound, it ultimately lacks substance.
The evidence in favor of the authority of scripture far outweighs that of the Pope. Scripture is constantly and verifiably correct in its teachings, but the Pope is neither. Scripture’s authority is demonstrated through its own teachings, its impact on history and the witness of the Holy Spirit.
Consider the evidence for the authority of scripture. The scripture describes God as all knowing and all powerful, and God issues His commands based on one reason only “I am the Lord your God”, so either he is a lunatic or God. But scripture’s commands are pure, demanding the highest conceivable virtues from the heart, thus demonstrating God’s holiness and omniscience. The Gospel demonstrates God’s wisdom, love, justice and mercy in ways no man could ever dream up. Its internal consistency is astounding! How could people from all walks of life over such a long period of time and from such diverse reasons and backgrounds ever pull together the masterpiece we call scripture. Scripture has been accepted by the people of God through history, despite suffering and ridicule.
Now consider the evidence for the infallibility of the Pope. Popes don’t claim to be infallible in all things, but only in matters of faith and morals. Further, most Popes never even claimed infallibility, that claim seems to conveniently originate around the time of Reformation. So scripture is consistently infallible, and Popes are not. Yet Popes have erred on matters of faith and morals, contradicting themselves and going as far as teaching the Arian heresy. The scriptures don’t contradict themselves and have never taught the Arian heresy.
So there is good reason to trust scripture, but not so the Popes.