I have often heard evangelicals level the charge that Catholics do not really ultimately follow the Word of God. According to Catholic belief, the Church's Magisterium - the bishops led by the Pope - has the final authority in the Church to interpret the Word of God. Some evangelicals say that because the Magisterium gets to interpret the Word of God, the Magisterium is the one who is really in charge.
But such evangelicals forget that interpretation is always a part of the process of understanding the Word of God. Someone has to interpret, and if, according to their own reasoning, whoever makes the final interpretation has the real authority, let us see who has the ultimate authority for evangelicals.
I think most evangelicals are just following their pastors, and I think most of us can agree on that. Most evangelicals are unable to do the research necessary to even have a relatively informed opinion about whether what their pastor is teaching is accurately based on the Word of God. Now, they usually like their pastor, they trust him/her, they know that he/she is more educated than they are, and they are willing to listen to him/her. In fact, that's one of the main reasons they're going to church in the first place - to learn. So although evangelical pastors don't have absolute, never-to-be-revoked authority like the Catholic Church claims, in the very least many pastors have an incredibly great amount of influence over their congregants. The church pastors are the ones who are doing the interpreting and are therefore, by the reasoning used against Catholics, the ones who are really in charge. The argument that evangelicals sometimes use against Catholics comes right back at most of them.
Some of the more educated and passionate evangelicals out there will object. They pray over Scripture daily, vigorously study it, and think - perhaps rightly - that they have a decent handle on what Scripture teaches. They are certainly not just following their pastors, they check everything out for themselves.
But is such a position really better? For who then is making the final interpretation for such people? Themselves. They may consult pastors, theologians, books, study aids - but at the end of the day, they make their own final judgment. In fact, many such evangelicals take pride in the fact that they are not slaves to any church authorities, hierarchies, or pastors - that they are their own authority. Again, applying the reasoning used against Catholics, this means that these evangelicals are really just following themselves, not the Word of God.
But we have forgotten something: the Holy Spirit! Yes, evangelicals might say that they are not following themselves because they have the Holy Spirit and follow Him.
And that is exactly what the Catholic Church says about its Magisterium! Such evangelicals use the same reasoning to justify themselves as the Catholic Church does, except that the Church is even better: it provides a reason why we should trust the the Magisterium to follow the Holy Spirit accurately - its apostolic authority and succession from Jesus himself, and a history that shows continuity in teaching over a 2000 year period. Individual evangelicals have neither justification. In fact, the innumerable and widely divergent interpretations among individual Christians who are supposedly being led by the same Holy Spirit seems to undeniably point to the fact that unordained individuals attempting to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit in matters of belief are extremely inaccurate. So in all those cases that evangelicals are not following God (since God cannot contradict himself), they are following someone else, most likely simply themselves.