The Bible

"Ignorance 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 3:15), 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 1:20).  Was individual interpretation of Scripture practiced by the early Christians or the Jews?  Again, "NO" (Acts 8:29-35).  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 2:15; 1 Corinthians 11:2; 2 Timothy 2:2; Romans 10:17; 1 Peter 1:24-25).  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 20:35)?  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 writings.

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 "textbook."

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 18:17).

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 10:16)?  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 10:45-48)?  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 12:33) 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.

--- Chris                              


EXCERPTS 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 Catholics.

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 Christ.

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 century A.D.)


CHURCH BELIEFS & ISSUES

Abortion

Baptism

The Bible

 

Celibacy of the Clergy

The Church

Church Attendance

Contraception

Degrees of Sin

Divorce

The Eucharist

Fasting During Lent

Good Works

Homosexuality

Money for the Church

"Once Saved, Always Saved?"

The Papacy

Papal Infallibility

Pre-marital Sex

Purgatory

Quick & Easy Catholic Apologetics

The Reformation

Ritual Prayer

The Sacrament of Penance

The Saints

The Trinity

The Virgin Mary

 

 

 


WHAT THE EARLY CHURCH BELIEVED

BIOGRAPHIES OF THE CHURCH FATHERS QUOTED IN THIS SECTION

Abortion

Against Heresy

Apostolic Succession & Tradition

The Catholic Church

Contraception

Degrees Of Sin

Divorce

The Eucharist

Good Works

Homosexuality

Infant Baptism

The Mass

The Papacy

Old Testament Canon

Purgatory

Unity Of The Church

The Virgin Mary

 

 

 


Links

Reference Materials


Biblical quotations on this web site are either from the King James Version or the Douay-Rheims Version of the Bible.

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