Fortified by 500 years of experience, modern exegesis has clearly recognized, along with modern literature and the philosophy of language, that mere self-interpretation of the Scriptures and the clarity resulting from it do not exist. In 1928 Adolf von Harnack said, with typical bluntness, in his correspondence with Erik Peterson that “the so-called ‘formal principle’ of old Lutheranism is a critical impossibility; on the contrary, the Catholic one is better”. Ernst Käsemann has shown that the canon of Sacred Scripture as such does not ground the Church’s unity, but the multiplicity of confessions. Recently, one of the most important Evangelical exegetes, Ulrich Luz, has shown that “Scripture alone” opens the way to every possible interpretation. Lastly, the first generation of the Reformation also had to seek “the centre of Scripture”, to obtain an interpretive key which could not be extrapolated from the text as such. Another practical example: in the clash with Gerd Lüdemann, a professor who denied the resurrection and divinity of Christ, etc., it has been pointed out that the Evangelical Church cannot do without a sort of Magisterium. When the contours of the faith are blurred in a chorus of opposing exegetical efforts (materialist, feminist, liberationist exegeses, etc.), it seems evident that it is precisely the relationship with the professions of faith, and thus with the Church’s living tradition, that guarantees the literal interpretation of Sacred Scripture, protecting it from subjectivism and preserving its originality and authenticity. Therefore the Magisterium does not diminish the authority of Sacred Scripture but safeguards it by taking an inferior position to it and allowing the faith flowing from it to emerge.
Joseph Kardinal Ratzinger, “Answers to main objections against Dominus Iesus“ (22.11, 29.11 og 06.12.2000)