Note: Gerald Soliman’s words are in blue while mine are in black.
GS: I'd like to pose a challenge to everyone who believes that their church is the one established by Christ. Without using PRIVATE INTERPRETATION (of Scriptures, Tradition, and History), please tell me how did you arrive at your judgment that the Catholic Church is church established by Christ.
RD: I'd like to clarify first to GS that I don't agree with the responses, which he has been familiar with, of Catholic apologists on this issue. My response will be based on Dogmatic Theology. The correct Catholic response, for his information, is that first we employ private interpretation (since there's no other means available) in our search for the true Church, but after we've decided on what Church to join, our faith must be a dogmatic faith (faith in the true sense of the word), that is, assent to a doctrine as infallibly true.
It is impossible for one to assent that a doctrine is infallibly true if one does not hold that the Church proposing the doctrine is infallible. John Henry Newman, the great Anglican convert to Catholicism, said that the person whose beliefs are based on private judgment doesn’t actually possess the virtue of faith. Why? Because faith is assent that a doctrine is infallibly true. Assent that a doctrine is infallibly true means that the person, when assenting, believes that a doctrine is absolutely true. If he entertains any doubt or if he entertains, no matter how imperceptible, the possibility that a doctrine might be proven wrong someday, then he has not really assented; then he really has not faith. But the person, who has private judgment only, knows that he is not infallible in his judgments; it follows therefore that he cannot assent to any doctrine, which he has arrived through his private judgment, with an assent of faith. It follows further that he has not faith. Thus, Newman concluded that the strongest beliefs of Protestants are merely an Opinion; and, as a matter of fact, many of them are merely a prejudice. They lack the virtue of Faith. Protestants do not really believe in their doctrines in the true sense of the word. What keeps them holding onto their beliefs is not faith but prejudice against Catholicism because of the many "horrible myths" and "diabolical and idolatrous superstitions" about the Catholic Church which were bombarded unto them by their pastors when they were yet young.
But if there is no Church which is infallible or if God did not gave us a living infallible guide, then it follows that Christianity is merely a religion of (personal) opinions and not really of faith. If a pastor's belief is only his opinion, then he cannot, with modesty demand from me an assent of (dogmatic) faith. If he will not tell me that he is infallible and that I should believe in everything he say as infallible truths, then I have no business listening to him at all. I'd be equally justified in making my own personal beliefs. If we should not believe with infallible faith that Christ is God, and that we should believe it only as a matter of opinion and conviction, then those who believe, with conviction as strong as ours, that Christ is not God are equally morally meritorious in their beliefs. Then there is really nothing wrong in false beliefs and false teachings; and God, if He is truly just, cannot punish us for holding them.
If there is no infallible Church, then there's no true church at all. Then there's no true teaching at all; there's nothing which is really true. We can only have an opinion of those "true teachings" or of what is true and of which is the true church, but we cannot really have faith on the true church.
If Christ is intelligent, that is, if he is truly God, then he will not allow his people to be in this faithless and truthless predicament. If teachings matter for salvation, then he must have founded an infallible Church. A Church which demands from us an assent of (dogmatic) faith, so that we can truly possess and exercise the true act of faith, without which it is impossible to please God.
GS: I don't think my question is relevant anymore to this discussion since you seemingly agree that private interpretation is involved in deciding which the true church is. Your argument now shifted to the necessity of an infallible interpreter. Do you wish me to proceed under this new premise? By the way, how is this going to end?
RD: Yeah, you're correct bro Gerald. Please proceed. The proposition now is "Christianity requires an infallible living teacher."
GS: By infallible interpreter you mean other than the Holy Spirit. Very well. My comments on Mr. De la Rosa's argument can be summarized in two words: false dichotomy. Either the church is infallible or we're doomed. That's how his argument works. There is no more opening for another option.
God already gave us an infallible guide, the Holy Spirit. He takes the place of Christ after the latter's ascension. Why does God need to make an infallible interpreter in person of the pope and his magisterium? Well to paraphrase the common response of Catholics: "We have no assurance that what we’re reading and hearing is the truth."
And I keep asking: How do you know that your magisterium is infallible? How sure are you if you have picked the right institution over the other institutions that also make the claim that they're telling the truth? At the end of the day, a Catholic relies on his/her fallible judgment to say that the church he/she belonged tells the truth. That's why it's useless to have an infallible interpreter in the form of people.
If we do have an infallible magisterium, it's useless to even read the Bible because we could be in danger of misinterpreting it. The solution of needing an infallible magisterium is just to keep taking their word for it without questioning. After Paul had preached to the Bereans, they had to verify what Paul said (Acts 17:11). Obviously the early church at that time do not believe that the apostles are infallible. Paul couldn't have told them: "Take my word for it because you're not capable of understanding Scripture infallibly."
Let's say a person who is presumed to be infallible interpreted John 11:35 as "Jesus is gay here because he is crying over a man." You may find it absurd but you're in no position to say that because you're not infallible. But does fallibility prevent anyone from arriving at the truth? Certainly not. Yes, teachers play a part in helping understand Scripture. We can rely on them not because they are infallible but because they are trained to study the word of God.
RD: Bro Soliman, sorry for this long reply.
//God already gave us an infallible guide, the Holy Spirit. He takes the place of Christ after the latter's ascension.//
This doesn’t make any sense at all. This statement completely misses the point of what we’re discussing. God (the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit) is our infallible teacher and guide – yes of course. But what does it tells us? It tells us nothing! This is completely irrelevant to the issue.
//And I keep asking: How do you know that your magisterium is infallible? How sure are you if you have picked the right institution over the other institutions that also make the claim that they're telling the truth? At the end of the day, a Catholic relies on his/her fallible judgment to say that the church he/she belonged tells the truth. That's why it's useless to have an infallible interpreter in the form of people.//
You’re correct here bro Gerald. At the end of the day, it is the private judgment of the person that tells him the Church he had chosen is the right one. However, you’ve missed again the point here. Actually, I am not yet arguing that the Catholic Church is the true Church. And I am not yet arguing that by establishing that the true church must be infallible, we can already know which is the true Church. What I’m arguing yet is that the nature of the Christian religion is an evangelical religion, that is, it demands from anyone who desires to enter it the assent of faith. Thus, it demands an infallible faith. In deciding which church to join, the individual, of course, should use his intelligence and private judgment. But once he had decided to join Christianity, he should at once, abandon his private judgments. He ought to believe in everything or else he had not believed at all. If he believes in one, but doubts another, then he has not really believed in Christ’s church, but has only believe in himself – on his private judgment of which is right and which is not. In that case, he had not really joined the Church.
If such is his mental disposition, he can never be said to have joined any church. He had not really faith in anything – he had only an opinion about everything. Again, I am not arguing here yet of which is the true Church. What I am saying only is that, if there is a true Church, then it must be claiming that it’s infallible. Hence, if there are many churches which claim to be infallible, then they are candidates for the true church. They would then be valid competitors of the Catholic Church. But we are not yet to discuss on that matter. What I’m arguing here first is that if there’s a true church, it must include in its official teachings the doctrine that it is infallible. The point here is that any churches or any preacher who does not claim to be infallible is, by default, not included in the candidates for the true church. This means that private judgment is immediately eliminated in the equation.
A person, of course, could be wrong in choosing this church which is claiming to be infallible over the other churches also claiming infallibility. However, he is not wrong in choosing a church claiming infallibility over others which do not. Again, the point here is to establish that private judgment is wrong.
//If we do have an infallible magisterium, it's useless to even read the Bible because we could be in danger of misinterpreting it.//
I see no argumentative value here.
//The solution of needing an infallible magisterium is just to keep taking their word for it without questioning.//
No argumentative value.
//After Paul had preached to the Bereans, they had to verify what Paul said (Acts 17:11). Obviously the early church at that time do not believe that the apostles are infallible. Paul couldn't have told them: "Take my word for it because you're not capable of understanding Scripture infallibly."//
They had to verify, yes. But they’re yet in the initial stage of choosing where private judgment is, of course, needed. But after they had confirmed Paul’s teachings and have also considered many other warrants, they are now ready to follow Paul. Once they are in this second stage, then they have to abandon private judgment. If some of them will still be verifying Paul’s teachings, and compare his teachings on their own inquiries about the truth and scriptures, then such persons have not really given an assent of faith yet to Paul’s teachings. They are really not Paul’s disciples yet. They are not yet Christians. One single doubt renders one incapable of giving the assent of faith. If they had assented to Paul’s teachings only because what he said coincide with their weighing of the truth, then they only have an opinion of the truthfulness of Paul’s teachings; and they have not really faith on his words as absolutely true. They have not really faith on Paul as being sent by Christ.
The early Christians did not explicitly talked about whether the apostles are infallible or not, but they considered them or their teachings to be so. The apostles themselves demanded from and commanded their hearers the assent of faith – so much so that they even insists that whoever hears them hears Him who sent them. Only a person who considers his words absolutely true, that is, infallibly true, can demand from his hearer an assent of faith. And no protestant preacher, unless if he is psychotic, can do the same. Thus, the apostles never said that they are infallible, but they believe that what they are preaching are infallibly true, and that they are infallibly correct in their teachings; and further, they infallibly believe that they were sent by God.
Thus, they acted as infallible teachers, except, of course, in cases where they expressly say that their followers are free to decide on their own. When the apostles teach something about Christ, they never ever entertained the idea that what they were saying was only a product of their private judgment and that their hearers should weigh them according to their own judgments and thus only accept them as true in so far as they see or judge them to be true.
An atheist, for instance will use his private judgment in deciding which Christian church he should join. This is the first step. Once he had decided to join a Christian church, he should already understand that since the church he is joining is Christian, his faith is being required. This immediately means that he has to give up his private judgment. He can investigate into the rationale of the church’s doctrines but he cannot inquire as to their truths. If he has not given up his private judgment, then by analysis of his mental constitution, he has not really given his assent of faith. He has only accepted some doctrines in so far as they coincide to what he saw as true. In this case, he had not really joined the Church yet. He had not yet become a Christian.
In the same way, we cannot really say that a pastor in your church, who has long been with you in communal worship, belongs to your church; and also, he cannot really be said to have faith in your church. Why? Because he had only accepted the opinions of his senior co-pastors as true in so far as he sees the (limited) evidences currently available to him supporting their opinions. He had not really faith in them. In order for him to have faith in his church and thus to belong truly in his church, he must abandon private judgment and accept the doctrines preached in his church as infallibly true, that is, as true because it has been proposed to him as true and as coming from God and not because he had seen or judge them to be true. The point here is that private judgment and faith, as mental acts, are mutually exclusive of each other.
//Let's say a person who is presumed to be infallible interpreted John 11:35 as "Jesus is gay here because he is crying over a man." You may find it absurd but you're in no position to say that because you're not infallible.//
Again, a preacher or church claiming infallibility doesn’t make him/it the true church. Nonetheless, they are the only valid candidates for the true Church. Any preacher or church preaching about private judgment is by default, eliminated.
//But does fallibility prevents anyone from arriving the truth? Certainly not. //
One can arrive at the truth yes; but one can do so only coincidentally. A person may happen to arrive at the truth; but he is not infallibly certain that he has arrived at the truth. In that case, he cannot, without losing modesty, demand from anyone to have a faith in him. Can any protestant preacher demand from me an assent of faith? Can you, Bro Gerald Soliman, demand from all of us here an assent of faith to your opinions? Can you tell us here, with no doubt absolutely, that you are sent by God or that your words should be taken as the voice and will of God Himself. The Catholic Church is doing that. But can you? If you cannot, then you really did not come from God and, hence, please stop already telling us about which opinion is true and which is not.
Do you really honestly believe Bro. Soliman that there is a single soul in your church who really has faith in your church as the true church? How about yourself? Do you honestly believe that you have faith in you church as the true church? Note that when we say that you have faith in your church, it means that you believe without doubt that all its official teachings are infallibly true. “Infallibly true” actually has no special meaning. It simply means “true”. Using a phenomenological analysis of our minds, when you say that a thing is true, it means you hold that its true until the end of time, and that it’s true because it’s simply true and not because you see it as true. Because if your basis of saying that it’s true is your intellectual weighing of it as true, then you have not really believed that it’s true, but has only an opinion of its truthfulness. Cardinal John Henry Newman called it “INFERENCE” and not “ASSENT.” Meaning, you have only inferred that it’s true, and did not really assented or believed that it’s true. Inference and assent are two distinct acts of the mind.
//Yes, teachers play a part in helping understand Scripture. We can rely on them not because they are infallible but because they are trained to study the word of God.//
I can’t see any argumentative value here. Let me go back to your first statement.
//My comments on Mr. Dela Rosa's argument can be summarized in two words: false dichotomy. Either the church is infallible or we're doomed.//
Actually you’re the one who’s making the false dichotomy. The options are not between “the church is infallible” and “we’re doomed.” If there’s no infallible church, Christ may still save us through other means. But that is not already Christianity; that’s already humanism. My argument is either the church is infallible or there’s no true church at all and no true preacher as well.
Even if we can arrive at the truth, still we can never have faith in ourselves. Why? Because we know that we're not infallible. Even in your own opinions, you cannot give an assent of faith - the virtue of faith often mentioned in Scriptures. Only to somebody who tells us that he is infallible, or at least, that his words are infallibly correct and that he infallibly believes that he is sent by God, can we give our assent of faith. Faith cannot be elicited by anyone who only shares their opinion. No matter how much we force our will, the act of faith can never occur if we know that that person is only proposing his opinion.
Can anyone here tell us to have faith in his words when he himself cannot say that he is infallibly correct?
GS: Excuse me but I'm really not comfortable with you saying there are no argumentative value in most of my arguments. Before we had this discussion, you are seemingly confident that the assertions that I made in my blog are answerable. Now, you're telling me that there is no argumentative value in my arguments.
Take for instance you asserted that there is no argumentative value in my argument: "If we do have an infallible magisterium, it's useless to even read the Bible because we could be in danger of misinterpreting it."
But in your response, you said: [Even if we can arrive at the truth, still we can never have faith in ourselves. Why? Because we know that we're not infallible. Even in your own opinions, you cannot give an assent of faith - the virtue of faith often mentioned in Scriptures.]
That's just it. If there is an infallible magisterium, it is useless for us to even read the Bible because of the reason you said ("we can never have faith in ourselves" and "because we know that we're not infallible"). That's the implication of having an infallible entity: you can't trust yourself so let the infallible entity do it for you.
I'm sorry but your opinion that my statements have no argumentative value is uncalled for.
//Take for instance you asserted that there is no argumentative value in my argument: "If we do have an infallible magisterium, it's useless to even read the Bible because we could be in danger of misinterpreting it."//
Do you really think this has an argumentative value bro Soliman? You're kidding me. If there's an infallible authority, does it mean that it's useless to read the Bible? Does it? I don't see any sense in that assertion.
//That's the implication of having an infallible entity: you can't trust yourself so let the infallible entity do it for you.//
Even if there's a person who is super intelligent and can arrive at the truth in all of his conclusions, still, if he is to become a Christian, he has to abandon private judgment and make an act of faith. Again, faith means, believing that a thing is true because it has been proposed to you as true and not because you have seen it to be true. Private judgment, on the other hand, is intrinsically contrary to faith. Private judgment means accepting (not believing) that a thing is true because you have seen it as true based on the evidences currently available to you. Again, a phenomenology of such a type of mental act tells us that it is not faith (assent) but only inference. And as an act of inference, it is merely opinion. The point of requiring infallibility is not because we can't trust ourselves but because Christianity is an evangelical religion. It is a proclamation! It is proposed for acceptance with absolute assent (faith). The response to the Christian message is not private judgment of the evidences but faith. It is a message to be proclaimed and its hearers are invited to have faith. It is not for anyone to judge whether it’s true or not; rather, it is for us to receive with faith. However, the Christian, after receiving the Gospel with faith, may study on the rationale, warrants, basis of his faith for him to understand and love them more. That's basically the meaning of "faith seeking understanding" (fides querens intellectum.") Theology is faith seeking understanding. It is studying the reason behind ones faith, not so that a person will believe, but in order that, by understanding his faith, he may love them more.
//The point of requiring infallibility is not because we can't trust ourselves but because Christianity is an evangelical religion. It is a proclamation! It is proposed for acceptance with absolute assent (faith).//
That's why you can't say that my argument of not reading the Bible is invalid. You're not infallible. You don't even have the competency to verify what the infallible authority tells you. Your infallible authority has defined it for you and there is nothing more you can do except say: "Yes master!"
While I may have an idea how you define private interpretation, for me it simply means how an individual understands the things he reads and hears. Our brains process whatever information fed to us and we come up with an understanding. That's private interpretation and it cannot be avoided.
Let me ask you: How do you validate the infallible authority?
//That's why you can't say that my argument of not reading the Bible is invalid. You're not infallible. You don't even have the competency to verify what the infallible authority tells you. Your infallible authority has defined it for you and there is nothing more you can do except say: "Yes master!"//
We're dealing already with the role of theologians here bro Gerald. This has been extensively discussed already in theology. Theologians, of course, have contributed in the development of Christian doctrine, in its articulation, understanding, in giving proofs, synthesis, and even in arriving at new insights. But at the end of the day, the theologian submits his research for consideration by other theologians until such time that a consensus is arrived. But it is not his or their role to teach and propagate to the faithful that his or their opinion should be accepted by all and that he or they should be believed over the Pope. They have to present their findings, debate on it, not only read but study seriously the bible and fathom its true and original meaning by reading the original language, doing historical and literary criticism, etc. Hence, reading the Bible is not only useful but even becoming a biblical scholar is necessary, as well as a lot more free and independent intellectual endeavor, research, scholarship, including the study of philosophy, theology, and other scientific disciplines. The infallibility of the Pope or the theologian's submission to the Pope's final and infallible authority, has never and will never interfere on the theologian’s independent intellectual endeavor. What is the laity's' role in the development of Christian doctrine has been also discussed by Newman. Actually, the Christian religion, based on its universal message and based on the intention of Christ, is a religion for the masses. And we cannot expect the masses to have the same intellectual interest in inquiring about the complexities of Christian faith? Their role, and what Christ required from them, is to be believers and to live their faith in charity. They are sheep and they have to listen to the shepherd.
//Let me ask you: How do you validate the infallible authority?//
You don't validate the infallible authority. You simply accept it. If that infallible authority is false, then you'll know that sooner if not latter - and you'll have to leave. But if it is authentic, then your faith will work and gradually you'll arrive at Certitude of your faith, just as I have arrived at the certitude that the Pope is infallible and is the true leader of the true Church. But in Protestant churches where private judgment is the paradigm, nobody will ever arrive at certitude, for in the first place their churches never told them, with infallible stress, that their church is really the true Church. What keeps them in their churches then? The answer is simple: 1) Prejudice against the RC because of the many Vatican myths, Popish legends, and superstitious idolatries told to them about RC. In other words, they sell their products not because they believe that their products are good, but by pulling down the products of others. 2.) Attachments. They remain in their churches because of emotional attachments, to their way of life, to their co-members, and to their properties.
We can of course use and read the bible for our own personal edification. During bible sharing, we can give our own reflection and interpretation of the Bible. We can be mistaken or we can be correct. But there's nothing wrong with that since you're not proclaiming your interpretation as the truth. You and your listeners understand that you are only sharing your reflection. You're not teaching; you're not putting yourself as the "Interpreter." Hence, your personal interpretation is not incompatible with your recognition that there is an official infallible magisterium. But you might say: "but that is only what I mean by "private interpretation." To this I will answer: No it's not. Protestants are putting private interpretation as the source of truth and the means at attaining it. Private interpretation is the basis of their beliefs and of teaching others.
By analysis, we can distinguish two kinds of reading or interpretation of the Bible which are allowed in the Catholic Church. 1) The true or correct interpretation, and 2) The "true interpretation for me" - or correct in as much as my reflection on it to my experiences is concerned. The first (1) interpretation or reading of the Bible is broken down into two: 1.a) Interpretation according to its Literal Sense, (1.b) Interpretation according to its Spiritual or Mystical Sense. 1.b or Spiritual Sense is further broken down into three: (1.b.i) Allegorical sense, (1.b.ii) Anagogical sense, (1.b.iii) Moral Sense. These four interpretations are subject to the final judgment of the Magisterium. The theologians and biblical scholars' role is to do exegesis (for unclear or controversial passages) in order to arrive at the best interpretations of Scripture according to these four senses. But it is the Church's authority to proclaim to the faithful. Sometimes, the Pope is an excellent theologian, so his opinion can count as a good theological opinion (by the way, the Pope can propose his opinions as a private theologian). Number two (2) interpretation is for private reading of the Bible - the one I mentioned just above this comment. We read the Bible as an act of personal devotion or share it with our church-mates as a matter of reflection. In this case, there is no right or wrong but only what is meaningful or edifying to you or to me.
GS: Based on my experience this is how Catholics define private interpretation: Any interpretation that contradicts the infallible magisterium. It doesn't really matter as to how many kinds of interpretation you can enumerate. As long as the interpretation is not supportive of Rome, it is private interpretation. I really appreciate your technical analysis on this one but the subject of private interpretation is really no rocket science.
When Paul said in 1st Corinthians 10:15
"I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say."
In order for a person to judge something he must analyze the word he read/heard and compare it with a standard. Doesn't that sound like private interpretation? Unlike what you told me: "You don't validate the infallible authority. You simply accept it."
RD: The Church has been doing the same. It depends on the audience. The audiences of the Gospel have different needs and personalities. The preacher, thus, needs to accommodate their differences. Again we're talking here of the initial phase of invitation of the gentiles. The Christian preacher has to present credibilities or warrants in order to attract the listeners and thus possibly consider the Christian message. For some people, a miracle done by the preacher is credible enough for him to consider Christianity; for another, the good example of the believers; for another, the happiness he sees in them; for another, he needs more intellectual arguments for the claims of Christianity like the moral superiority of Christianity, etc. An atheist for instance needs to be convinced first of the reasonableness of belief in a supernatural Being. Thus, the preacher has to address their needs. But again, once they accept Christianity, they already understand that they have to give an assent of faith. In this stage, they don't validate infallibility, they need to accept; otherwise, they remain a seeker and never a believer. If they accept baptism and yet after that, still question and weigh whether each doctrine proposed to them is correct or not, then in what sense they have become a believer? For instance, If I agree to your conclusions about the Bible, and then receive baptism in your church. Yet every day the pastor is teaching us, I am inquiring as to the truth of his teachings. Do you think I have become his disciple? Do you think I have become a Christian? Even if in the end I have concluded that all and each of the pastor’s teachings are correct, still I have not really believed in him since I only accepted his words only in as much I have judge them correct. Again, this is not faith or assent, but inference.
And what if at the course of my inquiry, I arrive at an opposing opinion about one particular thing? What do you think will I do? Either I remain for the sake of our friendship, attachment, etc., or I leave and found my own Church. If I leave, did I experience a new conversion? Did I lose my old faith to him? The answer is no. Why? Because I really never became a believer. Why should I lose a faith when I haven’t had it from the very beginning? If I found my own church, did I found a new faith? The answer is: Impossible! How can I have faith in myself when I know that I'm just making things according to my best judgments? I can only have an opinion of my correctness, but I can never have faith in my own self – in my own church. But I will do everything to build my church – for its material gain – and I will always want to argue and prove that others are wrong. Because that is the only way that I can keep convincing myself that I'm correct. Proving that others are wrong is my only means of escaping, avoiding, and hiding from the shadow of my restlessness and anxiety borne by my incapacity to arrive at certitude because deep in my heart, I know that I really don’t know and that I'm really unsure of myself and where I'm in –because I have not really possessed the virtue of faith – faith that rewards – without which, it is impossible to please God.
Sorry bro Gerald, but 1 Cor 10:15 is not private interpretation. Paul was simply saying that if they are to be wise or sensible, then they have to agree with his statements. I ignored this verse since it doesn't really say anything in favor of protestant private judgment of the Scripture. To be frank with you, you cannot trick me with cheap shots. I know what I am saying and I understand what I am reading. That verse doesn't have any consequence against my statement that you don't validate infallible authority. If the Pope, for instance, will say to other Bishops during meetings to judge for themselves what he say, it will not mean that they have become protestants relying on their private judgment on doctrinal matters. It only shows that the teachers/preachers, like Paul or the Pope or any authority may appeal to the sensibilities of their members in order to remind them of the wrong they had done. What Paul did was a charitable way of admonishing his listeners. His strategy was to let them reflect on the wrong they have done. We are not talking here of teaching a particular doctrine which needs to be accepted by faith.
Paul was not saying that they should put themselves as the judge of the truth of his preaching. What he meant is that they themselves can recognize that what they have done is wrong. In tagalog, ganito ang sinasabi ni Paul: "kayo mismo, nakakaintindi na tama ang sinasabi ko na mali ang nagawa ninyo."
GS: As far as I know the Greek construction of the grammar suggest an instruction. I read the text for what it is, especially its context. Your paraphrasing of Paul's statement is not supported neither by the Greek grammar nor context. Common sense will even tell us that wise men are capable of rendering judgment. Needless to say, Paul will never instruct foolish men to judge what he says. It is as simple as that, no rocket science involved. Therefore, how can they judge Paul if they don't analyze for themselves what they are saying? It definitely involves private interpretation.
I think the question that should be answered is: Does a person, be it a member of the church or a seeker of truth, have any right to analyze for himself the things he read and hear from an institution claiming to have the truth?
RD: Of course he was also instructing. But more than that he was reprimanding them; and he argued against them that they themselves actually understand that what he’s saying is true based on their common sense (as wise men) and on what they know already as the teaching of Christ. Paul was not proposing a new doctrine which he submits to their judgment; rather, he was reasoning from an already accepted doctrine to the evilness or wrongness of what they've done. And even if (which is not really the case) that it was an instance of private judgment, still, it does not in any way support a protestant private judgment - which is methodical and systemic. Of course any Catholic can analyze teachings proposed to them - they can debate about them. I have been doing that for many times; but when all debates have been done, and the Pope deemed it to settle the issue (based on the results of the debates and after years of listening, study, and discernment), proclaim an opinion as the true one, then all should submit. This is actually the meaning of "Rome has spoken, the case is closed."