I don't agree with all of your analysis. It sounds as though you are leaning to a Roman Catholic view that one must possess certain credentials and know the traditions of the Church in order to read the Bible. In the years before Vatican II, it was relatively easy to recruit Catholics b/c they had no idea what scripture was. The Reformation relied on scripture alone.
I don't believe one needs a PhD to have personal feelings concerning scripture. Some of the best preachers were illiterate. To say that unless one has a seminary degree, one must keep one's mouth shut is silly.
Frankly, though, I see class differences at play on this forum. The better educated people are more likely to be atheists, agnostics of progressive Christians. I don't believe the difference is education in the scriptures. I would rather here from a mentally ill homeless people than Liberty College Seminarians. Critical thinking skills relate to all knowledge, not only theology or scripture.
Leo is great but I am not chicken liver. I believe, too, that one can pursue a PhD in history and study Christianity in a neutral manner. Seminaries main purpose is to produce ministers. I wanted to study Gnosticism at Union Theological but was thwarted by a Greek requirement. Besides, what do you do in real life with such a degree?
God told me is not enough for me. Anyone can claim such revelation. I find it hard to see a just God favoring some people and not others. Besides we have both OT and NT heroes, such as Moses, David, Solomon, Isaiah and no one claimed such knowledge. Did God speak to DaVinci, Michaelangelo, Ralhael, Giotto? I think so.
After taking several academic courses in NT Studies during college, I feel that too often I have a cerebral focus. A person's good character seems more important than how many degrees they have. What was unique about NT Studies was that the prof. had to give us a bibliography so we do not read believers vs. nonbeliever slanted material.
From a literary viewpoint, the Bible is crucial to so much of literature that knowing your basic Bible stories is essential.
Autodidacts can be amazing.