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There are many reasons why Catholics are reluctant to argue with Protestants about Scripture. The largest reason isn’t their ignorance of the text as such but their relationship to it. Private Scripture reading by Catholics is encouraged — you can get an indulgence for it — but the public proclamation of the Word is what’s important. The people stand when the Gospel is read and cross themselves three times, over their forehead, mouth and heart, out of respect and reverence. There is a sense, mistaken but understandable, that arguing about something so sacred would cheapen it.

Jeremy Lott is a contributing editor to Books & Culture and author of “In Defense of Hypocrisy.”