of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ." - St. Jerome (4th century A.D.)
Is the Bible the "pillar of truth" in the Christian
religion? No. According to the Bible Itself, the Church is the
"pillar of truth" (1 Timothy ),
not the Bible. Some "Bible" Christians insist that a
"pillar" (the Church) was created to "hold up" another
structure (the Bible). They claim the Bible is the structure being held
up according to this passage. Well, if that is the case, how did the
early Church "hold up" the Bible for the first three to four hundred
years when the Bible Itself didn't even exist? Also, even if the Church
is only a "pillar" holding up the Bible, doesn't that mean that the
Church is the interpreter of Scripture rather than the individual?
Is private interpretation of the Bible condoned in the Bible Itself?
No, it is not (2 Peter ).
Was individual interpretation of Scripture practiced by the early Christians or
the Jews? Again, "NO" (Acts -35). The assertion that
individuals can correctly interpret Scripture is false. Even the
"founder" of Sola Scriptura (Martin Luther), near the end of
his life, was afraid that "any milkmaid who could read" would found a
new Christian denomination based on his or her "interpretation" of
the Bible. Luther opened a "Pandora's Box" when he insisted
that the Bible could be interpreted by individuals and that It is the sole
authority of Christianity. Why do we have over 20,000 different
non-Catholic Christian denominations? The reason is individuals'
"different" interpretations of the Bible.
Can there be more than one interpretation of the Bible? No. The
word "truth" is used several times in the New Testament.
However, the plural version of the word "truth" never appears in
Scripture. Therefore, there can only be one Truth. So how can there
be over 20,000 non-Catholic Christian denominations all claiming to have the
"Truth" (i.e., the correct interpretation of the Bible)? For
that matter, aren't ALL non-Catholic Christians as individuals claiming
"infallibility" when it comes to interpreting the Bible?
Catholics only believe in the infallibility of the Papacy as an office.
Which is more believable - one office holding infallibility or 400 million
non-Catholic Christians who can't agree on the interpretation of Scripture all
claiming "infallibility?" When it comes to interpreting
Scripture, individual non-Catholic Christians claim the same infallibility as
the Papacy. If one were to put two persons of the "same"
non-Catholic Christian denomination (i.e., two Presybterians, two Lutherans,
two Baptists, etc.) in separate rooms with a Bible and a notepad and ask them
to write down their "interpretation" of the Bible, passage for
passage, shouldn't they then produce the exact same interpretation? If
guided by the Holy Spirit as Scripture states, the answer should be
"Yes." But would that really happen? History has shown
that the answer is "No." Now, in the case of Catholics, the
Church which Christ founded and is with forever (Matthew 28:20)
interprets the Bible, as guided by the Holy Spirit, (Mark 13:11) for the
"sheep" (the faithful). The Church (not individuals) interpret
Scripture. In Catholicism, Scripture is there for meditation, prayer and
inspiration, not for individual interpretation to formulate doctrine or dogma.
Is the Bible the sole "teaching from God?" No. The
Bible Itself states that their are "oral" teachings and traditions
that are to be carried on to the present-day (2 Thessalonians ; 1 Corinthians 11:2; 2 Timothy
2:2; Romans ; 1
These teachings are what the Catholic Church considers "Sacred Apostolic
Tradition." This type of "Tradition" never changes because
it was passed down by the Apostles themselves. It is not the same as the
man-made traditions condemned in Scripture. The man-made traditions
condemned in Scripture were those of the Jewish Pharisees. In fact, as
Christians, we are suppose to disassociate ourselves from persons who do not
follow Apostolic Tradition (2 Thessalonians 3:6). If oral
tradition is not to be followed, why did St. Paul
state Christ said something that is not recorded in the Gospels (Acts )? St. Paul must have
"heard" this saying, not read it from any Gospel or
"Scripture," thereby, proving that some things Christ said were not
recorded in the Gospels (John 21:25) and were passed on orally among His
disciples instead, but were just as valid as anything written since St. Paul
himself used one of these oral passages in one of his own epistles.
Did the early Christians have the Bible as we know it? No. The
Bible as a whole was not compiled until the late 4th century and then it was
compiled by a Catholic saint (St. Jerome)
at the request of a Catholic pope (St. Damasus I). So how were the early
Christians saved if they did not possess the entire written "Word of
God" to follow His teachings? Well, naturally, they were the Body of
Christ and were taught through "oral" teachings by the Church, not by
Is the Bible to be taken literally - "word for word?"
No. The Bible doesn't state anywhere that It should be taken
literally. The Bible was written by different authors with different
literary styles at different times in history and in different languages.
Therefore, the writings should be interpreted with these circumstances in
mind. The Bible is a religious book, not a scientific or a history
Why do Fundamentalist Christians take certain books of the Bible very much
literally such as Genesis (creationism vs. evolutionism), but then claim that
the "whore of Babylon" in
the Book of Revelation is actually the "Catholic Church?" Why
would one book be taken so literally yet another not?
Did Jesus Christ write down any part of the New Testament with His own
hand? No, He did not. If the Bible was to be the sole authority of
the Church, shouldn't the Founder have written down His Own teachings?
Shouldn't He have at least stated something similar to the following:
"the written works of My disciples will be the authority upon which My
Church is based?"
Didn't Jesus Christ with His own mouth instruct His disciples to
"write down" His teachings? No. With the possible
exception of the Book of Revelation (Apocalypse) by St.
John the Apostle, Jesus Christ gives no such
instructions to any of His disciples or Apostles. In fact, only the
Apostles Sts. Peter, John, James, Jude and Matthew were
inspired by the Holy Spirit to write Scripture. Why were the other seven
not inspired of the Holy Spirit to "write" if the "written"
Word of God is the ONLY authority to be followed in the Christian religion?
Does the Bible state It is the sole or final authority of
Christianity? No. Neither this statement nor anything even close to
it appears anywhere in the New Testament. In fact, Christ said that the
Church is to resolve disputes among Christians, not Scripture (Matthew ).
What did Martin Luther, the Protestant Reformer, state about the
Bible? In his "Commentary On St. John,"
he stated the following: "We are compelled to concede to the Papists
that they have the Word of God, that we have received It from them, and that
without them we should have no knowledge of It at all." Regardless
of what non-Catholic Christians may think or say, according to secular,
objective historians, the Catholic Church alone preserved Sacred Scripture
throughout the persecution of the Roman Empire and during the Dark Ages.
All non-Catholic Christian denominations owe the existence of the Bible to the
Catholic Church alone. Why did God choose the Catholic Church to preserve
Scripture if It is not His Church?
The Catholic Church was the first Christian denomination to commission a
mass printing of the Bible by asking Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the
printing press, to do so in 1447. Non-Catholic Christians may accuse the
Catholic Church of not allowing the common people to read the Bible before the
Reformation, but what good would it have done for the Catholic Church to widely
distribute the Bible to "the masses" when over 90% of the common
people were illiterate and couldn't read anyway? The Catholic Mass has
always included Scriptural readings from both the Old and New Testaments and
Catholic priests have always "preached" the written Word of God
to the common people throughout history.
Which books of the Old Testament did the Apostles accept as
Scripture? Did they accept the 46 books as in the Catholic Douay-Rheims
Bible or the 39 books as in the King James version? The Septuagint was
accepted among the Hellenistic sect of Judaism (of which St.
Paul was a member) and this canon did indeed include
the same Old Testament books as the present-day Catholic Bible. In
addition, the entire New Testament was written in Greek (Hellenist) with the
exception of the Gospel of St. Matthew, which was written in Aramaic (the
language spoken by Christ). Over 85% of the quotes from the Old Testament
that are used in the New Testament are from the Septuagint. The
Palestinian Old Testament canon was not compiled until between 70-90 A.D. and
then, it was done so by the non-Christian Jews in violent reaction to early
Judeo-Christianity. The Palestinian canon was the one chosen by Martin
Luther based on the acceptance of it by the 16th century German-Jewish
community of Luther's time. This canon excludes the seven books that were
accepted by the Apostles as Scripture. Why was the canon of the
Protestant Old Testament decided by Jews and not Christians? In addition,
why did Luther attempt to eliminate the Book of St. James and the Book of
Revelation? Is it because the first contradicted his dogma of
"faith alone" as opposed to grace, faith and works
"combined?" And the second book proving the Catholic
Church's stance on nothing "impure" entering into Heaven therefore
"necessitating" purgation ?
During the Reformation, did the Protestants "re-evaluate" all the
deutero-canonical and apocryphal Christian writings such as the Gospel of St.
James, the Acts of St. Paul, the
Apocalypse of St. Peter, the Gospel of St. Mary Magdalene, the Gospel of St.
Thomas and the myriad of other writings from the first
and second centuries of the Christianity? No. The Protestants
accepted the New Testament as defined by the Catholic Church in the late 4th
century. Why accept the Canon as defined and preserved by the Catholic
Church yet not accept the other teachings of this same Church?
Are certain books of the New Testament exclusively directed to certain
peoples (i.e., Jews, Gentiles, the circumcised, the uncircumcised, etc.)?
No. Scripture states: "Where there is neither Gentile nor Jew,
circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian nor Scythian, bond nor free.
But Christ is all, and in all." (Colossians 3:11) And again -
"There is neither Jew nor Greek: there is neither bond nor
free: there is neither male nor female. For you are all one in
Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28) If it were true that certain
New Testament books only applied to Jews or to Gentiles, than wouldn't we all
have to scrutinize our ancestry (Jewish or Gentile?) to make sure which books
of the New Testament applied to us and which didn't? And then, what if we
can't do that, such as in the case of adopted children who don't know their
ancestry? Do we risk damnation if we don't know whether we are of Jewish
or Gentile descent so we can read the "correct" books of the New
Testament? All books of the New Testament apply to all Christians.
If this were not true, then why not discard the entire Old Testament which was
directed exclusively to the "chosen" (Jewish) people? Do
Christians of Gentile descent not have to obey the Ten Commandments because
they are not of Jewish descent? For that matter, since Jesus was speaking
to the Jewish people in the Gospels, do Gentile Christians not have to adhere
to the teachings taught by Christ Himself in those Gospels? Do Gentiles
only have to adhere to the teachings of the Pauline Epistles (excluding, of
course, the "Epistle to the Hebrews")? Why include any of these
books as the Word of God at all as most present-day Christians are of Gentile
descent? Also, why did Christ state He had "other sheep"
besides the Jewish people (John )?
If St. Paul was the exclusive
"Apostle to the Gentiles," why then did he indeed write an epistle to
the Hebrews (the Jews)? If St. Peter was exclusively the "Apostle to
the 'circumcised' (the Jews)," then why was St. Peter the first to allow
Gentiles into the Church (Acts -48)?
Christ directed His Apostles to preach to all nations, not just the Jewish
nation (Matthew 28:19) and that the Gospel will be proclaimed to all
nations (Matthew 24:14), not just the Jewish nation.
I hope the points I have made in regards to the Bible point out the
misunderstanding of non-Catholic Christians in believing that the Bible is the
sole authority of Christianity. The Catholic Church Itself states that
nothing that the Church teaches can contradict Scripture as the Bible is
the truth and is without error (CCC 107). Also, reading of the Bible is
encouraged by the Catholic Church (CCC 131-133) and always has been.
To have the Bible as the only and sole authority of Christianity is to
invite chaos into His Church. There are at least 5 Protestant
denominations created every year based on a different interpretation of the
Bible. Theoretically, anyone who owns a Bible can create their own
denomination based on their own interpretation of Scripture. Taken to its
logical conclusion, chaos is what happens when the doctrine of "Sola
Scriptura" is applied. And Christ stated "A tree is
recognized by its fruit" (Matthew )
and the doctrine of Sola Scriptura produces "bad fruit"
(disunity, confusion and separation).
The Bible Itself never states that It is the sole and only authority of
Christianity. The word "Bible" is not even mentioned in
Scripture. However, I totally agree that It is one of the authorities in
Christianity, but where does It state that It alone is the only authority?
The following are some excerpts from St. Vincent of
Lerins' excellent treatise which explains how Scripture should be interpreted
within the context of Apostolic Tradition and how heretics can distort
Scripture for their own ends.
FROM "A COMMINTORY FOR THE ANTIQUITY AND UNIVERSALITY OF THE CATHOLIC
FAITH AGAINST THE PROFANE NOVELTIES OF ALL HERESIES" by St. Vincent of
Lerins (early 5th century A.D.)
I, Peregrinus, who am the least of all the
servants of God, remembering the admonition of Scripture, "Ask thy fathers
and they will tell thee, thine elders and they will declare unto thee,"
and again, "Bow down thine ear to the words of the wise," and once
more, "My son, forget not these instructions, but let thy heart keep my
words:" remembering these admonitions, I say, I, Peregrinus, am
persuaded, that, the Lord helping me, it will be of no little use and certainly
as regards my own feeble powers, it is most necessary, that I should put down in
writing the things which I have truthfully received from the holy Fathers,
since I shall then have ready at hand wherewith by constant reading to make
amends for the weakness of my memory.
I have often then inquired earnestly and
attentively of very many men eminent for sanctity and learning, how and by what
sure and so to speak universal rule I may be able to distinguish the truth of
Catholic faith from the falsehood of heretical pravity; and I have always, and
in almost every instance, received an answer to this effect: That whether I or
any one else should wish to detect the frauds and avoid the snares of heretics
as they rise, and to continue sound and complete in the Catholic faith, we
must, the Lord helping, fortify our own belief in two ways; first, by the
authority of the Divine Law, and then, by the Tradition of the Catholic Church.
But here some one perhaps will ask, since the
canon of Scripture is complete, and sufficient of itself for everything, and
more than sufficient, what need is there to join with it the authority of the
Church's interpretation? For this reason,--because, owing to the depth of Holy
Scripture, all do not accept it in one and the same sense, but one understands
its words in one way, another in another; so that it seems to be capable of as
many interpretations as there are interpreters. For Novatian expounds it one
way, Sabellius another, Donatus another, Arius, Eunomius, Macedonius, another,
Photinus, Apollinaris, Priscillian, another, Iovinian, Pelagius, Celestius,
another, lastly, Nestorius another. Therefore, it is very necessary, on account
of so great intricacies of such various error, that the rule for the right
understanding of the prophets and apostles should be framed in accordance with
the standard of Ecclesiastical and Catholic interpretation.
Here, possibly, some one may ask, "Do
heretics also appeal to Scripture?" They do indeed, and with a vengeance;
for you may see them scamper through every single book of Holy
Scripture,--through the books of Moses, the books of Kings, the Psalms, the
Epistles, the Gospels, the Prophets. Whether among their own people, or among
strangers, in private or in public, in speaking or in writing, at convivial
meetings, or in the streets, hardly ever do they bring forward anything of their
own which they do not endeavour to shelter under words of Scripture. Read the
works of Paul of Samosata, of Priscillian, of Eunomius, of Jovinian, and the
rest of those pests, and you will see an infinite heap of instances, hardly a
single page, which does not bristle with plausible quotations from the New
Testament or the Old.
But some one will say, "What proof have we
that the Devil is wont to appeal to Holy Scripture?" Let him read the
Gospels wherein it is written, "Then the Devil took Him (the Lord the
Saviour) and set Him upon a pinnacle of the Temple, and said unto Him: If thou
be the Son of God, cast thyself down, for it is written, 'He shall give His
angels charge concerning thee, that they may keep thee in all thy ways: In
their hands they shall bear thee up, lest perchance thou dash thy foot against
a stone.'" What sort of treatment must men, insignificant wretches that
they are, look for at the hands of him who assailed even the Lord of Glory with
quotations from Scripture? "If thou be the Son of God," saith he,
"cast thyself down." Wherefore? "For," saith he, "it
is written." It behoves us to pay special attention to this passage and
bear it in mind, that, warned by so important an instance of Evangelical authority,
we may be assured beyond doubt, when we find people alleging passages from the
Apostles or Prophets against the Catholic Faith, that the Devil speaks through
their mouths. For as then the Head spoke to the Head, so now also the members
speak to the members, the members of the Devil to the members of Christ,
misbelievers to believers, sacrilegious to religious, in one word, Heretics to
But what do they say? "If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down;"
that is, 'If thou wouldst be a son of God, and wouldst receive the inheritance
of the Kingdom of Heaven, cast thyself down;' that is, cast thyself down from
the doctrine and tradition of that sublime Church, which is imagined to be
nothing less than the very temple of God. And if one should ask one of the
heretics who gives this advice, how do you prove? What ground have you, for
saying, that I ought to cast away the universal and ancient faith of the
Catholic Church? He has the answer ready, "For it is written;" and
forthwith he produces a thousand testimonies, a thousand examples, a thousand
authorities from the Law, from the Psalms, from the apostles, from the
Prophets, by means of which, interpreted on a new and wrong principle, the
unhappy soul may be precipitated from the height of Catholic truth to the
lowest abyss of heresy. Then, with the accompanying promises, the heretics are
wont marvellously to beguile the incautious. For they dare to teach and
promise, that in their church, that is, in the conventicle of their communion,
there is a certain great and special and altogether personal grace of God, so
that whosoever pertain to their number, without any labour, without any effort,
without any industry, even though they neither ask, nor seek, nor knock, have
such a dispensation from God, that, borne up by angel hands, that is, preserved
by the protection of angels, it is impossible they should ever dash their feet
against a stone, that is, that they should ever be offended.
But it will be said, 'If the words, the sentiments, the promises of Scripture,
are appealed to by the Devil and his disciples, of whom some are false
apostles, some false prophets and false teachers, and all without exception
heretics, what are Catholics and the sons of Mother Church to do? How are they
to distinguish truth from falsehood in the sacred Scriptures?' They must be
very careful to pursue that course which, in the beginning of this Commonitory,
we said that holy and learned men had commended to us, that is to say, they
must interpret the sacred Canon according to the traditions of the Universal
Church and in keeping with the rules of Catholic doctrine, in which Catholic
and Universal Church, moreover, they must follow universality, antiquity,
consent. And if at any time a part opposes itself to the whole, novelty to
antiquity, the dissent of one or a few who are in error to the consent of all
or at all events of the great majority of Catholics, then they must prefer the
soundness of the whole to the corruption of a part; in which same whole they
must prefer the religion of antiquity to the profaneness of novelty; and in
antiquity itself in like manner, to the temerity of one or of a very few they
must prefer, first of all, the general decrees, if such there be, of a
Universal Council, or if there be no such, then, what is next best, they must
follow the consentient belief of many and great masters. Which rule having been
faithfully, soberly, and scrupulously observed, we shall with little difficulty
detect the noxious errors of heretics as they arise.
Therefore, as soon as the corruption of each
mischievous error begins to break forth, and to defend itself by filching
certain passages of Scripture, and expounding them fraudulently and
deceitfully, forthwith, the opinions of the ancients in the interpretation of the
Canon are to be collected, whereby the novelty, and consequently the
profaneness, whatever it may be, that arises, may both without any doubt be
exposed, and without any tergiversation be condemned. But the opinions of those
Fathers only are to be used for comparison, who living and teaching, holily,
wisely, and with constancy, in the Catholic faith and communion, were counted
worthy either to die in the faith of Christ, or to suffer death happily for
And lest any one, disregarding every one else,
should arrogantly claim to be listened to himself alone, himself alone to be
believed, the Apostle goes on to say, "Did the word of God proceed from
you, or did it come to you only?"
We said above, that it has always been the custom
of Catholics, and still is, to prove the true faith in these two ways:
first by the authority of the Divine Canon, and next by the tradition of the
Catholic Church. Not that the Canon alone does not of itself suffice for every
question, but seeing that the more part, interpreting the divine words
according to their own persuasion, take up various erroneous opinions, it is
therefore necessary that the interpretation of divine Scripture should be ruled
according to the one standard of the Church's belief, especially in those articles
on which the foundations of all Catholic doctrine rest.
"And we know that the eunuch who was
reading Isaiah the prophet, and did not understand what he read, was not sent
by the Apostle to an angel, nor was it an angel who explained to him what he did
not understand, nor was he inwardly illuminated by the grace of God without the
interposition of man; on the contrary, at the suggestion of God, Philip, who
did understand the prophet, came to him, and sat with him, and in human words,
and with a human tongue, opened to him the Scriptures." - St. Augustine
of Hippo ("On Christian Doctrine" 4th century A.D.)
"Our faith receives its surety from
Scripture." - St. Thomas Aquinas ("Summa Theologica" 13th