The question is centuries old. Since the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Church has split into factions. The Great Schism and the Reformation are the two most famous splits in church history, but they are the biggest ones. Today it is estimated there are over 30,000 different sects of Christians around the world. Every single time there have been splits — theological differences are at the root.
Whether it is disagreements over the language is spoken in a service, Jesus Christ’s humanity and divinity, what Holy Communion is or divorce, churches have bickered for centuries. Sometimes rupturing to the point of disrepair and inability to bridge the gap between theological opinions.
Sometimes people who aren’t even Christians will say bad things about the Bible or attempt to disprove it as the word of God. They can even seemingly make sense. Who is right? Who understands the true meaning of Christian Scripture, the Bible? The people most qualified to tell you what the Bible means are those who have studied it and made it their life’s work. The priests.
Let me phrase it this way, if you have a cavity who do you go to see? What about a broken bone? You see the specialist who has dedicated their life to understanding and fixing a particular type of problem or issue. A priest or church leader above the chain are no different. There is a commitment, time, and energy of years spent on understanding the Bible.
To better understand this, let’s look at both what is required for a priest to become a priest and how the Bible was translated.
What makes him an expert?
1. His education. A priest must complete eight years of schooling. First, he must obtain a Bachelor’s degree and is highly encouraged to become involved in campus or other ministries. Once he has completed his Bachelor’s he then must apply and be accepted into the seminary, where he spends an additional four years delving deeply into the understanding of Scripture and theological issues.
2. Become ordained. After completing his rigorous eight years of education, a ministerial candidate must then get ordained. This happens through the call of the Bishop to Holy Orders. If the Bishop feels a candidate is not up to the task or have a strong and firm understanding of the meaning of the Bible, he can be disqualified.
3. Spend six months as a deacon. The final step to the priesthood is six months as a deacon under an older priest who helps encourage and guide a new priest in his vocation and faith in God.
A priest is a highly qualified expert on religion and the Bible. They go through more rigorous training than many careers require. They are the experts in their field! But it is also important to understand the translation of the Holy Scriptures and how it comes into play.
The Bible was a grouping of various letters, texts, and books written over a span of a few centuries in a variety of languages (Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic). The Catechism describes the Bible as sacred and the infallible Word of God. That God inspired different individuals to write the story he wanted to be shared with humankind. During the fourth and fifth centuries, church leaders came together in councils (Hippo and Carthage) and carefully and with God-given direction put together the Canon (the books making up the Bible).
For many years, the Bible was in Latin, and the ordinary person could often not read. They relied on the priest. The translation of the Bible into English happened in parts and fragments by a variety of scholars and monks, most notably John Wycliffe, who translated the entire Bible into English in 1382. But other translation pieces date back to as early as the seventh century. Now the Bible is widely accessible and available in over 500 languages.
It remains the most famous book in the world throughout centuries. Despite disputes, it remains central to any Christian sect faith. It is both filled with mystery and attainable to all, but those, like the priests, who have poured over and studied the Scriptures are the real experts.