Roman Catholic Faith Examined!
Catholicism's SHOCKING attitude toward the Bible!
Not intended to be written.
Catholicism's true attitude toward the Bible
The modern approach of the Catholic Church is to emphasize great love and respect for the Scriptures. Present day Catholics want people to believe that the Catholic Church has faith in the Bible, is the church of the Bible, and encourages its members to read and study the Bible. However, when Catholics try to disprove the Bible as the only authority in religion, their true attitude toward the Bible is revealed. The Catholic Church opposes the Bible as the sole guide and standard in religion and whenever it tries to disprove it as such, its true attitude toward it is manifested. Accordingly, the Catholic Church makes the following accusations against the Bible:
Not intended to be written.
Not intended to be circulated.
Not intended to be gathered into one volume.
Not accessible to all.
Does not contain all truth.
Not a safe method.
Is a dead letter.
Does more harm than good.
In this study we will carefully examine the above claims of the Catholic Church concerning the Bible. All quotations will be from authorized Catholic books (books bearing the "Nihil obstat"-"nothing hinders" and the "Imprimatur"-"let it be printed"). All Scriptural quotations will be from authorized Catholic translations (from the Confraternity Version unless otherwise indicated). A complete bibliography is furnished at the end of this document.
1. Not Intended To Be Written.
Please notice the following quotations from Catholic sources:
"If Christ Himself had written the book and set it forth as a text-book, so to speak, of His religion, we would rest securely in it, and have no need to inquire farther. That the Bible is not a book, like the Koran for instance, set forth by the founder of the religion as its authoritative exposition, is in fact the fundamental weakness of Bible Protestantism.
If Christ had intended His religion to be propagated and preserved by means of a book, can any conceivable reason be urged why He should not have written one? Of His ability to do so there can, for the Christian, be no question." (Plain Facts for Fair Minds, p. 26).
"Is it not strange that if Christianity were to be learned from the Bible only, that Christ himself never wrote a line or commanded his apostles to write; for their divine commission was not to write but to preach the gospel." (Question Box, p. 70).
"Christ gave his disciples no command to write, but only to teach." (Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, p. 767).
The above arguments from Catholic writers are presented to establish that the Bible alone is not the standard of authority. Christ didn't actually take a pen in His hand and write the New Testament; nevertheless, it is His production. The Old Testament declares that God built the temple (1 Kings 8:16,20), but God did not actually come down and build it Himself. He built it through the agency of others. Likewise, the written New Testament is the will of Christ. He wrote it through those commissioned by Him. It contains His laws (1 Cor. 14:37) and produces the faith which brings life in His name (John 20:30-31).
Christ commanded the apostle John, "Write therefore the things that thou hast seen, and the things that are, and the things that are to come hereafter." (Rev. 1:19). Thus, the Catholic officials are incorrect when they say Christ never commissioned His apostles to write. In many books of the prophets of the Old Testament there are no commands to write, but it was God's will that they do so in order to preserve their words for all generations.
The Catholic officials have assumed that the command to the apostles to teach excluded written instruction. However, writing the inspired Scriptures was part of the work of the apostles and prophets in delivering God's message to man. Jesus said, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away." (Matt. 24:35). In John 12:48 Jesus taught that His word would be the standard of judgment in the last day. He said, "He that despiseth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him, the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day." (Catholic Rheims Translation). Companion verses show that men will be judged by "the gospel" (Rom. 2:16), "the law of liberty" (James 2:12), and "the books" (Rev. 20:12). All of these are similar and reveal that men will be judged by the New Testament of Christ in the last day.
In providing an eternal standard of judgment, Jesus could have easily given His own personal writings if that had been His will. Instead, He chose to give us His writings by means of those whom He commissioned as His ambassadors. He gave them the same words which He received from the Father (John 17:8). He did not leave them as ordinary men subject to the frailties and fallacies of human nature, nor did He leave them to their own memories to recall His deeds and teaching; rather, He gave them the Holy Spirit who guided them into all truth (John 16:13), and brought to their remembrance all that He had said to them (John 14:26). The written words of the New Testament were not the product of mere chance, but were divinely purposed and planned.
2. Not Intended To Be Circulated.
We mention again that present day Catholic officials would like people to believe that the Catholic Church loves and respects the Bible as ordained of God. However, in reality the Catholic Church does not love and revere the Bible, but is opposed to it as the only authority in religion. All of their claims of honor and devotion are smothered when they try to defeat the Bible as the sole standard. One such example is their assertions that the Bible was never intended to be circulated or gathered into one volume. Please notice the following from Catholic sources:
"The Apostles are never reported to have circulated a single volume of the Holy Scripture, but 'they going forth, preached everywhere, the Lord co-operating with them.' (Mark xvi. 20)." (The Faith of Our Fathers, p. 66).
"They owe their existence to lucky chance. For example, Paul's letters were written to a particular section of the country that he had converted, and some letters were written to personal friends. All of these were never intended to be circulated." (From a letter received from my older brother who was at the time a student at St. Meinrad Seminary, St. Meinrad, Ind.).
The inspired Scriptures were not written solely for the ones to whom they were sent. For example, 1 Cor. 1:2 says, "To the church of God at Corinth, to you who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be saints with all who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place--their Lord as well as ours." Eph. 1:1 says, "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God, to all the saints who are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus." (Catholic Rheims Trans.). Thus, the Scriptures were written to all the faithful--to all who call upon the name of the Lord in every place.
The apostles themselves put their writings into circulation. "And when this letter has been read among you, see that it be read in the church of the Laodicians also; and that you yourselves read the letter from Laodicea." (Col. 4:16). "I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read to all the holy brethren." (1 Thess. 5:27). The Scriptures do not owe their existence to mere chance, but to the power and providence of God for He declared that His word would abide forever (1 Pet. 1:23-25).
3. Not Expected To Be Gathered Into One Volume.
Again, notice the following from Catholic sources:
"But nothing was further from the minds of the writers, and of the Apostles generally, than that these writings be gathered together and made into a book, which would be accepted as a complete statement of the doctrine of Christianity. Any one of them would have been shocked had he known that his letters would in time be made use of by heretics in an attempt of usurping the place of the authoritative teacher, the Church of Jesus Christ." (The Faith and the Facts, p. 348).
"There is in them no evidence whatever to suggest that it was the expectation of the writers that what they had written would one day be gathered together to become a part of the New Testament." (Campaigners for Christ Handbook, p. 162).
There is evidence in the Scriptures that the inspired men looked forward to time when the written New Testament would be completed. They looked ahead to a time when the miraculous powers of the Holy Spirit would be done away. There are three chapters on the subject of spiritual gifts in the book of First Corinthians--12, 13, and 14. These chapters not only describe the kinds of gifts but also reveal that the gifts would cease when that which is perfect--the written New Testament--came. In Chapter 13, verse 8, Paul said, "Charity never fails, whereas prophecies will disappear, and tongues will cease, and knowledge will be destroyed." These were spiritual gifts which were given to the Christians at Corinth before the written New Testament was completed. They had "the word of wisdom" and "the word of knowledge" by the miraculous endowment of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:8).
Paul continued in 1 Cor. 13:9-10, "For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when that which is perfect has come, that which is imperfect will be done away with." Clearly, Paul looked for something to come that was perfect which did not exist at that time, and he expected something which was then in part to be done away. The written New Testament is that which is perfect. It is the perfect law of liberty (James 1:25). While the New Testament was being written, it was in its infancy but when completed, it was as a full grown man. Paul went on to say in 1 Cor. 13:11, "When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child. Now that I have become a man, I have put away the things of a child." Thus, the New Testament is "that which is perfect" and is "the full grown man" spoken of by Paul.
The inspired writers intended that their writings be circulated, and they knew that one day their efforts would constitute a "perfect" or "complete" work. We are not saying that every one of them fully understood God's purpose in providing the written New Testament, but they knew that the things they were writing were designed to produce faith (John 20:31), were to provide every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17), were the commandments of the Lord (1 Cor. 14:37), and would be the standard of judgment in the last day (Rev. 20:12).
4. Not Accessible To All
A priest by the name of John A. O'Brien in his book, The Faith of Millions, says that the Bible alone is not a safe guide because it is not now and never has been accessible to all. (See pages 152-155). He argues this by saying on page 152:
"First, the Scriptures were not accessible to the primitive Christians, for the simple reason that they were not all written until many years after the establishment of Christianity."
It is certainly true that Christianity had already been introduced before the New Testament Scriptures were written, but that does not prove the Scriptures alone are not the guide for Christianity today. Although God's word in written form was not accessible to the first Christians, they had His word as their only source of authority. They received it directly from infallible teachers rather than from infallible writings. The following chart illustrates this fundamental principle:
WORD OF GOD IN
WORD OF GOD IN
Apostles and prophets
directed to speak the word
of God, Acts 1:8.
Had miraculous powers
to confirm their word,
Heb. 2:1-4; 2 Cor. 12:12.
WORD OF GOD IN ORAL FORM ONLY, 1 Cor. 2:3-13; 1 Thess. 2:13.
BOTH ORAL & WRITTEN
Apostles and prophets
directed also to write,
Inspired writings put
1 Thess. 5:27; Col. 4:16.
WORD OF GOD BOTH ORAL AND WRITTEN, 2 Thess. 2:15; 2 Pet. 3:1-2.
Apostles and prophets
delivered the faith,
1 Cor. 13:8-9.
WORD OF GOD IN WRITTEN FORM ONLY, 2 Tim. 3:15-17.
There was a time when all of the word of God was given orally--by word of mouth of the inspired apostles and prophets. Christians during that period were guided solely by the inspired teachers who were present with them. Paul said, "And now, behold, I know that you all among whom I went about preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no longer. Therefore I call you to witness this day that I am innocent of the blood of all; for I have not shrunk from declaring to you the whole counsel of God." (Acts 20:25-27). The word of God given orally by the ambassadors of Christ was the guide and standard of authority in that early period. If an individual wished to be pleasing to God, he had to receive the word of the inspired men as coming from God Himself.
There was a period when the word of God was given both orally and written. The apostles and prophets began delivering God's will both by preaching and writing. 2 Thess. 2:15 says, "So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter." (Catholic Edition RSV). Thus, there was time when people were guided either by having inspired men in their presence or by epistles written by inspired men. Both of these had equal authority because both were the product of the Holy Spirit. Notice also that they were not to hold just any traditions, but "the traditions which you were taught by us." 2 Thess. 3:6 teaches the same; the traditions delivered by the apostles and prophets were to be held, not the traditions of men.
In all ages true Christians have been guided by the same source or standard--the word of God. The word was delivered at first in oral form only, then both orally and written, and now in written form only. When the apostles and prophets passed from the earth, their inspired writings became the only source of authority in religion. The apostles and prophets, and they alone, were the Lord's chosen ambassadors to deliver God's word to mankind (2 Cor. 5:20; Eph. 3:3-5). They were selected to deliver "the faith" and it has once and for all been delivered by them (Jude 3). We are to receive their word as the word of God (1 Thess. 2:13; 1 John 4:6); their message had the promise of God to remain forever (1 Pet. 1:23-25).
The inspired writings, therefore, are the only infallible succession that we have from the apostles and prophets. The written word of God is the guide to eternal salvation (2 Tim. 3:15); it contains the laws of the Lord (1 Cor. 14:37). It produces the faith which brings life in the name of Jesus (John 20:31); it is the means whereby we can know that we have eternal life (1 John 5:13). It was given to protect us from sin (1 John 2:1) and to show us how to conduct ourselves in the house or church of God (1 Tim. 3:14-15). It is profitable for teaching, reproving, correcting, and instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17). The written word is the standard by which men will be judged in the last day (James 2:12; John 12:48; Rom. 2:16; Rev. 20:12).
As we have shown, a Catholic priest by the name of John O'Brien tried to prove that the New Testament alone could not be the authority in religion by showing that the early Christians did not have it. A Catholic Cardinal by the name of James Gibbons on page 69 of his book, The Faith of Our Fathers, makes he same argument. He said, "The most perfect Christians lived and died and went to heaven before the most important parts of the Scriptures were written. And what would have become of them if the Bible alone had been their guide?"
As we have already mentioned, even though the early Christians did not have the New Testament Scriptures, it does not disprove the Bible as the only guide in religion today. The first Christians were guided by the same source as Christians today--the word of God. It was delivered first in oral form only, then both orally and written, and now all written. Thus, in the plan of God all men of every generation were to be made believers through the same source. "Faith then depends on hearing, and hearing on the word of Christ" (Rom. 10:17). "And not for them only do I pray, but for them also who through their word shall believe in me..." (John 17:20 Rheims Trans.). At first people were made believers through the word of Christ delivered through inspired men; today individuals are made believers through the word of Christ given through inspired writings. "These are written that you may believe..." (John 20:31).
In God's plan all men were to be guided by the same teaching, at first through inspired men, but now, "All Scriptures is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproving, for correcting, for instruction in justice; that the man of God my be perfect, equipped for every good work" (2 Tim. 3:16-17). In God's plan all men will be judged by the same standard. Those first individuals will be judged by the word of God which was spoken to them orally. "The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day" (John 12:48 Rheims Trans.). Those living afterward will be judged by the word of God spoken through inspired writings. "...And the dead were judged out of those things that were written in the scrolls, according to their works" (Rev. 10:12).
The Catholic Cardinal continues his argument that the Bible is not accessible to all. He does this in effort to prove that the Bible alone is not a safe guide in religion.
"The art of printing was not invented until the fifteenth century (1440). How utterly impossible it was to supply everyone with a copy of the Scriptures from the fourth to the fifteenth century!...It was well for Luther that he did not come into the world until a century after the immortal invention of Guttenberg. A hundred years earlier his idea of directing two hundred and fifty million men to read the Bible would have been received with shouts of laughter, and would inevitably have caused his removal from the pulpit of Wittenburg to a hospital for the insane." (The Faith of Our Fathers, p. 69; see also The Faith of Millions, p. 152).
The following passages demonstrate that people in the time of Christ had access to the Old Testament Scriptures:
"For Moses for generations past has had his preachers in every city in the synagogues, where he is read aloud every Sabbath." (Acts 15:21).
"Now after passing through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And Paul, as was his custom, went in to them and for three Sabbaths reasoned from the Scriptures..." (Acts 17:1-2; see also Acts 17:10-11).
"And from thy infancy thou has known the Sacred Writings, which are able to instruct thee unto salvation by the faith which is in Christ Jesus." (2 Tim. 3:15).
"And he arose and went. And behold, an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a minister of Candace, queen of Ethiopia, who was in charge of all her treasures, had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning, sitting in his carriage and reading the prophet Isaias." (Acts 8:27-28).
Everyone in those ancient times did not have a copy of the Scriptures, but those who were seeking to know the will of God had free access to them. The synagogues, even in remote places, had Scriptures in them (Acts 17:10-11) and some individuals had Scriptures which were carried with them (Acts 8:27-28). The same could have been true regarding the New Testament Scriptures if the people who lived during the fourth through the fifteenth centuries had wanted them. God will judge all men in the last day by the Scriptures (Rev. 20:12; James 2:12). Would one dare to say that God will judge men by something to which they could not have had access? The only time people do not have the Bible is when they do not want it and are opposed to it.
In the following, Catholic officials try to prove that the Bible has not been accessible to all by stating that some people are incapable of reading.
"But even if the Bible were at all times accessible to everyone, how many millions exist in every age and country, not excepting our own age of boasted enlightenment, who are not accessible to the Bible because they are incapable of reading the Word of God?" (The Faith of Our Fathers, pp. 69-70).
"Even at the present time, as in all previous ages and climes, there are millions who are unable to read, millions to whom the Bible remains a sealed book." (The Faith of Millions, p. 152).
There are many who are unable to read, but that does not discredit the Bible as the only authority in religion, nor does it imply that tradition, the pope, and the church are equal in authority with the Bible. How would a Catholic priest relay or transmit his belief to those who cannot read? He would simply teach them, either directly if they understood his language or through an interpreter if they did not. This is precisely how the word of God is transmitted to those who cannot read. "Faith then cometh by hearing; and hearing by the word of Christ." (Rom. 10:17 Rheims Trans.). Only by complying with the commandments of God contained in the Bible, do men have salvation (James 1:25; Rev. 22:14), and it matters not whether they learned them by hearing or reading, or by both.
By their arguments on the Bible not being accessible to all, the Catholic writers draw these conclusions:
"We must, therefore, conclude that the Scripture alone cannot be a sufficient guide and rule of faith because they cannot, at any time, be within the reach of every inquirer..." (The Faith of Our Fathers, p. 73).
"From all of which it must be abundantly clear that the Bible alone is not a safe and competent guide because it is not now and has never been accessible to all..." (The Faith of Millions, pp. 154-155).
As one can easily see, these Catholic writers make very bold efforts to destroy the Bible as the only source of authority. However, their denunciations against the Bible as the sole authority are found to be without foundation. They argue, "The early Christians did not have access to the Scriptures" (The Faith of Millions, p. 152). We answer, "By the plan and purpose of God, for a short time the people were guided by inspired men, but later by inspired writings." They argue, "Without the invention of the printing press all could not have free access to the Bible" (The Faith of our Fathers, p. 69). We answer, "At the time of Christ people had access to the Old Testament Scriptures without the printing press." They argue, "It is not accessible to all because all cannot read" (The Faith of Millions, p. 152), and we answer, "Faith then depends on hearing and hearing on the word of Christ" (Rom. 10:17).
We willingly admit that the Bible has not been freely accessible to all men in all nations at all times. The Bible, however, has been and will be assessible to those who want it. When men try in every way to weaken and destroy the Bible as the only guide in religion, though not able to completely annihilate it (1 Pet. 1:23-25), they greatly hamper it from being readily available both among their own and other nations. Likewise, when men believe and uphold the Bible as God's sole infallible rule of faith--which is exactly what the Bible claims for itself--they strive to the best of their ability to make it available to those of like precious faith and to all men of the world.
5. Does Not Contains All Truth
The Catholic Church teaches that the Bible does not contain all truth. This is another Catholic effort to prove that the Bible alone is not the standard of authority in religion. The assertion that the Bible does not contain all truth, and others like it, reveals the true attitude of the Catholic Church toward the Bible. The Catholic Church does not have love and respect for the Bible; otherwise, why raise such false claims? Please notice the following quotations from Catholic sources:
"The Bible does not contain all the teaching of the Christian religion, nor does it formulate all the duties of its members." (The Faith of Millions, pp. 153-154).
"Now the Scriptures alone do not contain all the truths which a Christian is bound to believe, nor do they explicitly enjoin all the duties which he is obliged to practice. (The Faith of Our Fathers, p. 72)
"Can you learn to save your soul just by reading the Bible? No...because the Bible does not have everything God taught." (A Catechism for Adults, Q. 1, p. 52).
Paul told Timothy, "For from thy infancy thou hast known the Sacred Writings, which are able to instruct thee unto salvation by the faith which is in Christ Jesus." (2 Tim. 3:15). Consequently, according to an inspired apostle, one can save his soul just by the Scriptures. 2 Tim. 3:16-17 says, "All Scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproving, for correcting, for instruction in justice, that the man of God may be perfect, equipped for every good work." Paul's own writings are included as "Scripture" as shown by Peter (2 Pet. 3:15-16). The Scriptures contain everything that is necessary to equip the man of God for every good work. There is not a solitary good work that the Christian can do which is not provided in the Scriptures. Furthermore, if men are doing things which are not revealed in the Scriptures, they cannot be good works in God's sight.
John 20:30-31 says, "Many other signs also Jesus worked in the sight of his disciples, which are not written in this book, but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name." The apostle John clearly shows that the things which he wrote were given to produce the faith which brings life in the name of Jesus. Life in the name of Jesus refers to eternal life and it is obtained by belief in the things written by the inspired writers.
We freely admit that the Scriptures do not contain everything Jesus did. John said, "There are, however, many other things that Jesus did; but if every one of these would be written, not even the world itself, I think, could hold the books that would have to be written." (John 21:25). Although we do not have everything Jesus did, we do have every necessary thing. We have enough to give us life in His name.
Luke said, "...It seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the truth concerning the things of which you have been informed." (Luke 1:3-4 Catholic Edition RSV). Thus, Luke said he wrote his book to Theophilus so he could know the truth concerning those things which he had heard. In other words, he would no longer need to rely on what he had heard by word of mouth, but could now prove them by the inspired writings. Luke said, "In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach..." (Acts 1:1 Catholic Edition RSV). What did Luke mean when he said he wrote of all that Jesus did and taught? We know he did not mean every detail of the life of Christ because John said if that was done the world would not contain the books. He meant, therefore, that he had written all necessary things Jesus did and taught. The following chart lists the things which Scriptures provide:
All necessary things which Jesus did - Acts 1:1-2
Certainty of His action and teaching - Luke 1:3-4
Life in the name of Jesus - John 20:30-31
Instructions to salvation - 2 Tim. 3:15
Commands of the Lord - 1 Cor. 14:37
The proper conduct - 1 Tim. 3:14-15
Every good work - 2 Tim. 3:16-17
Protection against sin - 1 John 2:1
An assurance of eternal life - 1 John 5:13
Standard by which teachers are tested - Acts 17:11
Standard which we cannot go beyond - 1 Cor. 4:6
Blessings from God - Rev. 1:3
Joy that is complete - 1 John 1:3-4
Standard of judgment - Rev. 20:12
If one reads and studies the New Testament and obtains all the things mentioned above, what else would he need? Do not men cast reflection on God when they imply that He failed to provide everything needful? God declared that man is equipped for every good work through the Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Who has the right to say that man is not equipped for every good work through the Scriptures?
Following are quotes from Catholic authorities who claim that the Bible is incomplete and fragmentary:
"I find that in no way are the teachings of the scriptures complete. Nowhere do they tell that they contain all that Christ taught." (I Believe, p. 148).
"Granting that the Bible as we have it is a faithful record...it is plain that this record and this picture are far from being as complete or as clear as they should be.
"...Our Bible record is fragmentary." (Plain Facts for Fair Minds, pp. 23-24).
The Catholic Bible, just as any other Bible, claims to be the perfect law of liberty (James 1:25) and to equip the man of God for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17). The apostles were guided into all truth (John 16:13; Acts 2:1-4). Paul says that he shunned not to declare the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27). The book of Jude says that the faith was "once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3). Thus, the revelation of the will of Christ was completed before all of the apostles died. It was duly confirmed and is absolutely infallible. God's word is truth (John 17:17). Though the Catholic Bible says of itself that it is perfect and complete, Catholic doctrine says that it is incomplete and fragmentary. We draw the following contrast to show that Catholic teaching openly contradicts the Scriptures.
"The Bible does not contain all the teaching of the Christian religion..." (The Faith of Millions, pp. 153-154).
"For indeed his divine power has granted us all things pertaining to life and piety..." (2 Pet. 1:3)
"Nowhere do they tell that they contain all that Christ taught." (I Believe, p. 148).
"...I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach." (Acts 1:1 Catholic Edition RSV).
"They do not contain all the truths necessary for salvation." (The Faith of Our Fathers, p. 73).
"These are written that you may believe...and that believing you many have life in his name." (John 20:31).
"Can you learn to save your soul just by reading the Bible? No..." (A Catechism for Adults, p. 52).
"For from thy infancy thou has known the Sacred Writings, which are able to instruct thee unto salvation..." (2 Tim. 3:15).
"I find that in no way are the teachings of the scriptures compete." (I Believe, p. 148).
"...Nor do they explicitly enjoin all the duties which he is obliged to practice." (The Faith of Our Fathers, p. 72)
"All Scriptures is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproving, for correcting, for instructing in justice, that the man of God may be perfect, equipped for every good work." (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
The Catholic Church insists that the Bible does not contain all truth and therefore it alone cannot be our rule of faith. Cardinal Gibbons said, "The Catholic Church correctly teaches that our Lord and His apostles inculcated certain important duties of religion which were not recorded by the inspired writers. (See John xxi. 25)." (The Faith of Our Fathers, p. 73). John did not say that certain important duties were not recorded by the inspired writers. The verse simply says, "There are however, many other things that Jesus did; but if every one of these should be written, not even the world itself, I think, could hold the books that would have to be written." (John 21:25).
John was emphasizing that his gospel was only a brief account of what Jesus did. To write every detail of every breath, thought, and move of the life of Jesus would take a world full of books. John through the power of the Holy Spirit, wrote only those things which are essential. In a parallel verse, John himself said, "Many other signs also Jesus worked in the sight of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name." (John 20:30-31).
Cardinal Gibbons said that "worship on Sunday" is an example of an important Christian duty that was left out of the inspired writings. He said, "But you may read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation and you will not find a single line authorizing the sanctification of Sunday. The Scriptures enforce the religious observance of Saturday, a day which we never sanctify." (The Faith of Our Fathers, pp. 72-73; see also The Faith of Millions, p. 154). By this argument, the Catholic officials reveal their ignorance of the Bible. Through such falsehoods they deceive the hearts of millions of people.
The Bible explicitly enjoins the first day of the week (Sunday) as the day of worship. "Now concerning the contribution for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, as you also are to do. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside..." (1 Cor. 16:1-2 Catholic Edition RSV). "And on the first day of the week, when we had met for the breaking of bread, Paul addressed them..." (Acts 20:7). Col. 2:14-16 and other passages clearly show that the law of Moses, Sabbath day worship included, was nailed to the cross.
The assertions that the Bible does not contain all truth by the Catholic writers reveal the true attitude of the Catholic Church toward the Bible. The Catholic Church does not have love and respect for the Bible; otherwise, why raise such false claims? The Catholic Church is not building men's faith in the Bible alone as the authority but is destroying it. It wants to place on equality with the Bible its own man made authorities; namely, Catholic human traditions, a human church, and the pope. However, those of us who truly love the Lord will follow only the Bible. It contains all truth, is a perfect and complete guide to eternal life, and is the only standard by which we will be judged.
6. Not Understandable.
Following are quotations from the Catholic Church which state that the Scriptures are not understandable:
"For the Scripture is not like other books, dictated by the Holy Ghost, it contains things of deepest importance, which in many instances are very difficult and obscure. To understand and explain such things there is always required the coming of the same Holy Ghost." (Great Encyclical Letters of Leo XIII, p. 227).
"Second--a competent religious guide must be clear and intelligible to all, so that everyone may fully understand the true meaning of the instructions it contains. Is the Bible a book intelligible to all? Far from it; it is full of obscurities and difficulties not only for the illiterate, but even for the learned." (The Faith of Our Fathers, p. 70).
"We must, therefore, conclude that the Scriptures alone cannot be a sufficient guide and rule of faith...because they are not of themselves clear and intelligible even in matters of the highest importance..." (Ibid., p. 73).
"Secondly, the Bible is not a clear and intelligible guide to all." (The Faith of Millions, p. 152).
As seen from the above, the Catholic Church claims that the Bible cannot be understood. It then declares that it alone is God's official interpreter to give the true meaning of the Bible. In this study we will examine the truthfulness of their first claim. We will discuss whether or not God made the Catholic Church the interpreter of His word under the heading, "Is the Catholic Church Infallible?"
The above statements of Catholic writers, calling the Bible an unclear and unintelligible book, clearly state the true attitude of the Catholic Church toward the Holy Scriptures. We state emphatically that their claim is false. The inspired writers declared that the things they wrote were understandable. "For we write nothing to you that you do not read and understand." (2 Cor. 1:13). "According to revelation the mystery has been made known to me, as you reading, may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ..." (Eph. 3:3-4 Rheims Trans.)
That which the word of God does and supplies to the hearts of men can be done only by an intelligible source. For example, "The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing to the soul..." (Psalm 19:8). "The revelation of your words sheds light, giving understanding to the simple." (Psalm 119:130). "And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified." (Acts 20:32 Catholic Edition RSV). "For the word of God is living and efficient and keener than any two-edged sword...and a discerner of the thoughts and intentions of the heart." (Heb. 4:12). These things could not be said of a word which cannot be understood by all who receive it.
God requires that we understand: "Therefore do not become foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is." (Eph. 5:17). Would God command something that is impossible? God wants all men to come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4). Is God desiring the impossible? God will judge all men by the Scriptures (Rev. 20:12). Will God judge men by a standard which cannot be understood? These things show that God's written word is indeed understandable. He wants us to understand it; moreover, He expects us to understand it.
The passages which compel us to study, search, and grow in knowledge imply that the Scriptures are understandable. "Carefully study to present thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth." (2 Tim. 2:15 Rheims Trans.). "Now these were of nobler character than those of Thessalonica and they received the word with great eagerness, studying the Scriptures every day to see whether these things were so." (Acts 17:11). "But grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ." (2 Pet. 3:18). (See also Heb. 5:11-14; 1 Pet. 2:2; James 1:21,25; Rev. 1:3). The fact that God commands us to do these things shows that God Himself considers His word understandable. God made the mind of man and is fully capable of addressing man in words which he can understand. His sacred volume which He delivered to man can be understood and to argue otherwise is to raise insult to Him and to impeach His wisdom.
Catholics often use 2 Peter 1:20 in effort to prove that one cannot have a private interpretation. Please notice the following:
"How can you get the true meaning of the Bible? You can get it only from God's official interpreter, the Catholic Church. 'This, then, you must understand first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is made by private interpretation' (2nd Peter 1:20)." (A Catechism for Adults, p. 10).
"No prophecy of scripture is made by private interpretation. This shows plainly that the scriptures are not to be expounded by any one's private judgment or private spirit..." (From a footnote on 2 Pet. 1:20, Douay-Rheims Version, p. 582).
"...St. Peter...declared against private interpretation of the Scriptures (2 Pet. 1:20..." (Father Smith Instructs Jackson, p. 153).
We call your attention to the fact that they want you to make a private interpretation of the above verse. What kind of rule is it that says we can make a private interpretation of a verse which says we can't make a private interpretation. Catholics are always inconsistent on this point. They quote Scripture to support their doctrine expecting us to understand and expecting us to make a private interpretation. However, when we quote a passage which refutes their doctrine, they tell us that it is wrong to make a private interpretation.
In the following we quote 2 Pet. 1:20 and the verse which follows it from two Catholic Versions. Please examine these verses carefully.
"This, then you must understand first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is made by private interpretation. For not by will of man was prophecy brought at any time; but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (2 Pet. 1:20-21 Confraternity Version).
"First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God." (2 Pet. 1:20-21 Catholic Edition, Revised Standard Version).
Catholic writers usually only quote the first verse (verse 20). However, when putting the two verses together, it is easy to see that Peter is not saying one cannot have a private interpretation of Scripture, but is teaching that no prophecy of Scripture ever came by private interpretation. W.E. Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words says the word "prophecy" denotes "the speaking forth of the mind and counsel of God...in the N.T. it is used...either of the exercise of the gift or of that which is prophesied..." (p. 211). Mr. Vine defines "interpretation," " To loose, solve, explain, denotes a solution, explanation, lit., a release...2 Pet. 1:20 '(of private) interpretation;' i.e., the writers of Scripture did not put their own construction upon the 'God-breathed' words they wrote." (p. 268).
Thus, Peter is saying that no prophecy of Scripture (divine utterance of a prophet in writing) is made by private interpretation (it was not made by the prophet's own interpretation) because no prophecy (divine utterance of a prophet) ever came by the impulse of man (it did not come from the mind of man), but it came as the prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit. The passage affirms the inspiration of the Scriptures. They did not originate from private interpretations or private wills of men, but came from holy men of God who were moved by the Holy Spirit.
Jesus expected the people of his day to privately interpret the Scriptures. He used such terms as "search the Scriptures" (John 5:39), "have you not read?" (Matt. 12:3,5; 19:4; 21:16,42; 22:31), "is it not written in your law?" (John 10:34; Luke 10:26) which show that the people were obligated to read and interpret the Scriptures. Furthermore, He quoted the Scriptures as the final source of authority (Matt. 22:29-32; Mark 7:9-13) and showed the consequences of failing to abide in them, e.g., "You err, not knowing the Scriptures..." (Matt. 22:29 Rheims Trans.), "Thus making void the word of God through your traditions" (Mark 7:13 Catholic Edition RSV). These things show that Jesus wanted and required a private interpretation of Scripture.
The apostles and prophets likewise required that people make private interpretations of Scripture (Acts 17:2-3; 18:28) and the people did that very thing (Acts 17:11; 2 Tim. 3:15). Actually, every passage in the Bible that is addressed to the individual shows that God wants and expects a private interpretation. We are commanded and exhorted: grow in knowledge (2 Pet. 3:18), study (2 Tim. 2:15), exercise senses (Heb. 5:14), search (Acts 17:11), receive (James 1:21), read (Eph. 3:3-4), desire it (1 Pet. 2:2), let it unfold (Psalm 119:130), meditate on it (Psalm 1:2), hear it read (Rev. 1:3), have it preached (2 Tim. 4:2-4), test what is said (1 John 4:1), prove all things (1 Thess. 5:21). All of these show that a private interpretation of Scripture is possible and necessary.
We have examined various quotes from Catholic authorities which affirm that the Bible cannot be understood. We now investigate their claims concerning the Bible not being clear and intelligible. As we have emphasized repeatedly, Catholic officials raise such accusations against the Bible in effort to prove that the Scriptures alone are not the standard of authority in religion. Their attempts to destroy the Scriptures as the sole authority reveal the true attitude of the Catholic Church toward the Bible. Notice, again, these quotes from Catholic sources:
"Secondly, the Bible is not a clear and intelligible guide to all. There are many passages in the Bible which are difficult and obscure, not only to the ordinary person, but to the highly trained scholar as well. St. Peter himself tells us that in the Epistles of St. Paul there are 'certain things hard to be understood, which the unlearned and the unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.' (II Peter, 3:16)." (The Faith of Millions, pp. 152-153).
"Second--A competent religious guide must be clear and intelligible to all, so that everyone may fully understand the true meaning of the instructions it contains. Is the Bible a book intelligible to all? Far from it; it is full of obscurities and difficulties not only for the illiterate, but even for the learned. St. Peter himself informs us that in the Epistles of St. Paul there are 'certain things hard to be understood, which the unlearned and the unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.' (II Pet. iii. 16)." (The Faith of Our Fathers, p. 70).
The passage quoted above by the two Catholic writers does not state that the Scriptures are not clear and intelligible to all. Peter simply said that in Paul's writings are certain things "hard" (not "impossible") to be understood. He said that the unlearned and unstable distort these, as they do the other Scriptures (the Old Testament ones) to their own destruction. In other words, their misuse (twisting, distorting, misapplying) of the Scriptures would cause their eternal destruction. Peter went on to say in the next verses, "You therefore, brethren, since you know this beforehand, be on your guard lest, carried away by the error of the foolish, you fall away from your own steadfastness. But grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ." (2 Pet. 3:17-18). Thus, Peter admonished Christians to grow in knowledge lest they, too, being led away by the error of the wicked fall from their own steadfastness or lest they, too, like the unlearned and unstable, twist and distort difficult passages, causing their own destruction. This instruction of the beloved apostle is far removed from the Catholic claim that the Scriptures alone are not a sufficient guide.
Everyone knows that it is possible to misunderstand certain passages of the Bible. This is especially true when one gets help from the clergy. Some get expert help to misunderstand the Bible and they in turn become ready experts to help others misunderstand. There is much misunderstanding and confusion when men try to harmonized Catholic teaching with the Bible for in many instances it is contrary to it. For example, the Catholic Church practices pouring water as a mode for baptism, but the Bible teaches immersion or a burial in water (Rom. 6:3-4; Col. 2:12; Acts 8:38-39). Thus, in such matters, instead of rejecting the false teaching of the Catholic Church, many conclude that the Bible is an obscure and difficult book.
No one would say that everything in the Bible is easily understood. If everything was easily understood, God would not have required study. However, men can easily understand what they must do in order to go to heaven. The plan of salvation is plain and simple. None will be able to stand before God at the judgment and say, "Lord, I just couldn't understand it." Everyone can understand if he so desires (John 7:17). The Scriptures will instruct one to heaven if he will only avail himself of them (2 Tim. 3:15). Isaiah prophesying of the coming New Testament Way, said, "This shall be unto you a straight way, so that fools shall not err therein" (Isa. 35:8).
We freely admit that many do not understand the Scriptures today. When men fail to do so, it does not mean that the holy writings cannot be understood. The written word of God forever remains the only guide which instructs to salvation (2 Tim. 3:15-17). When men do not understand it, the fault lies with them, not with the word itself. Many fail to understand the Scriptures because they do not study (2 Tim. 2:15). Many do not understand because they blindly follow religious leaders without investigation (1 John 4:1). A great number do not understand because they are prejudiced and closed minded (Matt. 13:15; 2 Tim. 4:3-4). Many do not understand because they twist and corrupt the word of God (2 Pet. 3:16; 2 Cor. 2:17). Many do not understand simply because they do not love the truth (2 Thess. 2:10-12). The holy Scriptures can be and are understood by those who love the truth. Those who do not love the truth declare that the Scriptures are not understandable.
Private Interpretation impossible for Catholic!
The case of the Ethiopian Eunuch!
Catholic officials sometimes refer to the case of the Ethiopian nobleman in which Philip asked if he understood what he was reading, and the reply, "Why, how can I, unless someone shows me? " and argue that every one must depend on an official interpreter. (See The Faith of Our Fathers, p. 70; The Faith of Millions, p. 153). However, the Eunuch only had the prophecy of Isaiah in his hands which words could not be understood without a knowledge of what had happened at Calvary. (See Acts 8:29 35). Of course, in this formative period when the gospel message had not been fully revealed and the story of the cross had not been told, one would have to be guided to the fulfillment of this dark prophecy to know who it was that "was led like a sheep to slaughter; and just as a lamb dumb before its shearer; so did he not open his mouth." However, now that we have the inspired record of the exact and literal fulfillment of this prophecy, we do not need interpretation to tell us what this means and to explain what the gospel requires of us.
Actually, there is no difference between the "private interpretation" argument and the one on understanding. To say that one cannot have a private interpretation of the Scriptures is the same as saying that one cannot have his own understanding of the Scriptures. The word "interpretation" means "1: to explain the meaning of 2: to conceive in the light of individual belief, judgment, or circumstance." (Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary). The inspired writers taught that man can privately interpret or privately understand the Scriptures. "How that, according to revelation the mystery has been made known to me, as I have written above in few words, as you reading may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ" (Eph. 3:34 Douay Rheims Version). "For we write nothing to you that you do not read and understand'' (11 Cor. 1:13). In spite of this, Catholic officials constantly ridicule the thought of private interpretations. Notice the following:
"Its roots must be traced back to the principle of subjectivism which Luther introduced into religion by making the private judgment of the individual autonomous and supreme. According to this principle, the subjective reaction of the individual, with its large core of feeling and emotion, constitutes the sole criterion of religious truth and error." (The Faith of Millions, pp. 35 36).
" 'Either my dear friend, you are infallibly certain that your particular interpretation of the Bible is the correct one or you are not. If you maintain that you are infallibly certain, then you claim for yourself and you cannot very well deny the same for every other reader of the Bible a personal infallibility which you deny only to the pope and which we claim only for him. " 'If you do not claim to be infallibly certain that your interpretation of the whole Bible is correct, then of what value is it to have an infallible Bible without an infallible interpreter? In either case your statement crumbles. The plain fact is that an infallible Bible without an infallible living interpreter is futile. Infallibility never gets from the printed pages to the one place it is needed: the mind of the reader.' " (Ibid., p. 138).
The reasoning of the above Catholic writer is worse than ridiculous. He argues that when one makes a private interpretation of the Scripture, he claims for himself a personal infallibility. When an individual reads and interprets the Bible, it no more makes him infallible than does reading of Abraham Lincoln makes him Abraham Lincoln! The individual with his feelings and emotions does not constitute an infallible authority; the word itself is the infallible authority. Infallibility gets from the printed page to the mind of the reader simply by the reader comprehending what he reads. Catholics raise tremendous opposition to private interpretation of the Bible; however, a study of the holy Scriptures plainly reveals that God requires and expects man to make private interpretations of his word.
The powers and blessings of the word of God comes only to those who privately interpret the word. For example: "refreshing the soul" (Psalm 19:8), "giving understanding to the simple" (Psalm 119:134), "which is able to build you up" (Acts 20:32 Catholic Edition RSV), ''a discerner of the thoughts and intentions of the heart" (Heb. 4:12), "I write to you in order that you may not sin" (I John 2:1), "that the man of God may be perfect, equipped for every good work " (11 Tim. 3: 16 17). These things are not received and are not accomplished unless one makes a private interpretation of the word; thus, showing that a private interpretation is required. Man must exercise his senses upon the word of God that he might be able to discern between good and evil (Heb. 5: 14).
Jesus expected the people of his day to privately interpret the Scriptures. He used such terms as "search the Scriptures" (John 5:39), "have you not read?" (Matt. 12:3; 12:5; 19:4; 21:16; 42; 22:31), "is it not written in your law?" (John 10:34; Luke 10:25) which show that the people were obligated to read and interpret the Scriptures. Furthermore, he quoted the Scriptures as the final source of authority (Matt. 22:29 32; Mark 7:9 13) and he always shows the consequences of failing to do so, e.g., "You err, not knowing the Scriptures..." (Matt. 22:29 Douay Rheims Version), "... Thus making void the word of God through your tradition" (Mark 7:13 Catholic Edition RSV). These things show that Jesus wanted and required a private interpretation of Scripture.
The common people readily heard and understood Christ's teaching without an infallible interpreter. Mark 12:37 says, "And the mass of the common people liked to hear him." Jesus said, "I praise thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou didst hide these things from the wise and prudent, and didst reveal them to little ones" (Matt. 11:25). In Matt. 13:51, Jesus said to his disciples, "Have ye understood all these things? They said to him, 'Yes. ' " If the common people could interpret Jesus' word, and much of the New Testament is simply the word which Jesus spoke to the people, so can we. Isaiah, prophesying of the New Testament Way, said, "A path and a way shall be there...and this shall be unto you a straight way, so that fools shall not err therein" (Isa. 35:8). God has endowed us with reason and the power to choose between good and evil, right and wrong, truth and error. These are all set before us and the responsibility rests upon us to function as intelligent free agents. God will judge every man in accord with his response to his holy word. Jesus said, "He that despiseth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him; the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day" (John 12:49 Douay Rheims Version). All these things show that a private interpretation is possible and necessary.
After the church was established, the apostles and prophets likewise required that people make private interpretations of Scripture (Acts 12:2; 18:28) and the people did that very thing (Acts 17:11; 11 Tim. 3:15).
When churches began to be established as result of the preaching of God's word and when the New Testament Scriptures began to be written, never in one instance did the apostles and prophets declare that private interpretation must now cease because the church was now the official interpreter of the Scriptures. They did not direct the people to an infallible interpreter of the word, but to the word itself.
7. Not A Safe Method.
Present day Catholics want people to believe that the Catholic Church has faith in the Bible, is the church described in the Bible, and encourages its members to read and study the Bible. However, when Catholics try to refute the Bible as the sole authority in religion, their true attitude toward the Bible is disclosed. All of their claims of love and respect toward the Bible are nullified when they attempt to destroy the Bible as the only guide and standard. An example of this is their assertion that the Bible is not a clear, safe method for learning the teaching of Christ. Please notice the following quotations from Catholic sources:
"The Bible does not pretend to be a formulary of belief, as in a creed or catechism. There is nowhere in the New Testament a clear, methodical statement of the teaching of Christ" (Question Box, p. 66).
"The very nature of the Bible ought to prove to any thinking man the impossibility of its being the one safe method to find out what the Savior taught." (Ibid., p. 67).
The above quotes are charges levied against the Bible regarding the way it was written. They claim that since the Bible is not like a creed or catechism which makes a systematic listing of things to be believed and practiced, it ought to prove that it is not a safe method. First of all, we deny their claim that the Bible does not have a clear, methodical statement of the teaching of Christ. Luke said that he wrote an orderly account of all that Jesus began to do and teach (Acts 1:1; Luke 1:1-4). One cannot read the books of Romans, Hebrews and others without seeing the systematic design of the writers. Furthermore, the fact that all of the Bible is not written in an orderly fashion does not prove that it is not the one and only guide. It only proves that God did not wish to do it that way. There are many possible reasons why God chose to have His word written in the way He did; e.g., it makes it less boring to read, men easily learn by the examples of others, putting forth effort in learning God's will is a way of serving God, etc. Whether we understand God's intended purpose or not, we dare not speak against His way and claim that it is not a safe method.
Again, quoting from Catholic sources:
"Again it has ever been practically impossible for men, generally, to find out Christ from the Bible only." (Question Box, p. 70).
"...The Bible nowhere implies that it is the only source of faith." (Ibid., p. 77).
"The Bible was not intended to be a textbook of Christian religion." (Catholic Facts, p. 50).
John the apostle said, "These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name." (John 20:31). Thus, John taught that men could find out Christ from the Bible only. Catholics claim that the Bible nowhere implies that it is the only source of faith and it was not intended to be a textbook of the Christian religion. However, the following passages demonstrate that the very opposite is true:
THE SCRIPTURES FURNISH:
All necessary things which Jesus did - Acts 1:1-2
Certainty of His action and teaching - Luke 1:3-4
Life in the name of Jesus - John 20:30-31
Instructions to salvation - 2 Tim. 3:15
Commands of the Lord - 1 Cor. 14:37
The proper conduct - 1 Tim. 3:14-15
Every good work - 2 Tim. 3:16-17
Protection against sin - 1 John 2:1
An assurance of eternal life - 1 John 5:13
Standard by which teachers are tested - Acts 17:11
Standard which we cannot go beyond - 1 Cor. 4:6
Blessings from God - Rev. 1:3
Joy that is complete - 1 John 1:3-4
Standard of judgment - Rev. 20:12
The above passages imply that the Scriptures were intended to be a textbook of the Christian religion. The Scriptures instruct us to heaven, provide the good works that are pleasing to God, give strength and comfort, etc. Furthermore, the above passages imply that the Bible is the only source of faith. For example, the Bible is the standard by which teachers are tested. It is the law of God which we cannot go beyond. Also, the fact that the Bible is the only standard by which we will be judged shows that it is the only source of faith. We will not be judged by the decrees of the popes, tradition, or the laws of the church, but by the Bible only.
8. Is A Dead Letter.
In order to sustain the claim that the Bible must have an infallible interpreter, Catholic officials argue that the Bible is a dead and speechless book. Please notice the following quotes from Catholic sources:
"The Scriptures indeed is a divine book but it is a dead letter, which has to be explained, and cannot exercise the action which the preacher can obtain." (Our Priesthood, p. 155).
"...A dead and speechless book." (Question Box, p. 67).
"The simple fact is that the Bible, like all dead letters, calls for a living interpreter." (The Faith of Millions, p. 155).
"Through Luther, although Calvin seems to have been the first to announce Monobiblicism clearly, the Bible became the arm of the Protestant revolt. A dumb and difficult book was substituted for the living voice of the Church, in order that each one should be able to make for himself the religion which suited his feelings. And the Bible open before every literate man and woman to interpret for themselves was the attractive bait to win adherents..." (A Catholic Commentary, p. 11).
As one can readily see, the above accusations against the Bible are made in effort to sustain the Catholic claim that the Bible needs a infallible interpreter. We have chosen to consider the arguments for the infallible interpreter under the heading, "Is the Catholic Church Infallible?" We wish to show here that the Bible is not a dead letter, a dead and speechless book, or a dumb and difficult book as Catholic officials claim. Such claims reveal their true attitude toward the Bible. It is one of utter disrespect for God's holy word. We quote the holy Scriptures to show that their claims amount to nothing more than man's word against God's word. We remind you that in spiritual matters, "God is true, and every man is a liar..." (Rom. 3:4).
"For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." (Heb. 4:12 Catholic Edition RSV).
"You have been born anew, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God." (1 Pet. 1:23 Cath. Edition RSV)
"Are not my words as a fire, saith the Lord; and as a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?" (Jer. 23:29).
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes, to Jew first and then to the Greek." (Rom. 1:16).
From the above passages, does it appear that the Bible is a dumb, dead, speechless book? Various Catholic writers refer to Rom. 10:17 as proof that we must hear a living voice and not the Bible to obtain faith (See Question Box, p. 79; The Faith of Millions, pp. 155-156). Rom. 10: 17 says, "Faith then depends on hearing, and hearing on the word of Christ." They seem to think that hearing cannot come from the written word; hence, one must hear the living voice of the Catholic Church to receive faith. However, many years after Moses and Old Testament prophets were dead, the rich man was told that his brothers had Moses and the prophets and "let them hear them." (Luke 16:31). They were to hear Moses and the prophets by hearing the written word of Moses and the prophets. John the apostle wrote letters to the seven churches of Asia and said to them, "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." (Rev. 2:7). They were to hear by reading what was written in the letters.
Consequently, acceptable faith comes by hearing the written word of God. Faith came by hearing the inspired men so long as the New Testament was in the inspired men, but it now comes by hearing the written word of the New Testament. The New Testament (the gospel) is the power of God unto salvation regardless if one receives it by hearing, or by personally reading it. It is living and active, quick and powerful, and needs only to be heard, learned and obeyed in order that one might come to Jesus (John 6:45), and be instructed to salvation (2 Tim. 3:15).
9. Does More Harm Than Good.
The Catholic Church occupies a very difficult position which makes it necessary to contradict itself continually. For the benefit of Protestantism, it presents the image of lover and defender of the Bible, for she knows that Protestants whom she hopes to convert into her fold, will not take seriously a religious body that scorns the Bible. Yet, at the same time, lest people are converted to the position of the Bible only and leave the Catholic Church, it presents the image of skepticism, antagonism, and contempt for the Bible.
Please notice the following quotes from Catholic sources:
"Since it is clear from experience that if the Sacred Books are permitted everywhere and without discrimination in the vernacular (in the common language of the people, D.R.) there will by reasons of the boldness of men arise therefrom more harm than good..." (Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent, p. 274).
"As it has been clearly shown by experience that, if the holy Bible in the vernacular is generally permitted without any distinction, more harm than utility is thereby caused..." (Great Encyclical Letters of Leo XIII, pp. 412-413).
"In early times the Bible was read freely by the lay people...New dangers came in during the Middle Ages...To meet those evils, the Council of Toulouse (1229) and Terragona (1234) forbade the laity to read the vernacular translations of the Bible. Pius IV required bishops to refuse lay persons leave to read even Catholic versions of Scripture unless their confessors or parish priests judged that such reading was likely to prove beneficial." (Catholic Dictionary, p. 82).
Our reply to the above is that the reading of the Bible does more harm than good to the Catholic Church! When men begin to study the Bible, they will come to respect it as God's only guide to heaven as it claims for itself (2 Tim. 3:15-17). This, naturally, puts them in direct opposition to the Catholic Church. No institution on earth has as much to fear from reading the Bible as does the Catholic Church. When men read it they begin to see that Catholicism is not in the Bible, and that the Catholic Church has discarded many things taught in the Bible.
Following is a list of twenty-one passages which condemn various teachings and practices of the Catholic Church.
Exodus 20:4-5 (Images).
Ezekiel 18:20 (Original sin).
Matthew 20:20-28 (Hierarchy).
Matthew 23:5-6 (Clerical dress).
Matthew 23:9 ("Father").
Matthew 28:19 (Infant baptism).
Mark 7:8,13 (Tradition).
Luke 11:27-28 (Adoration of Mary).
Luke 16:26 (Purgatory)
Luke 22:24-27 (Primacy of Peter).
Romans 6:4 (Pouring).
1 Corinthians 1:2 ("Saints").
Galatians 4:9-11 (Special days).
2 Thessalonians 2:4 (Pope has place of God).
1 Timothy 2:5 (Many Mediators)
1 Timothy 3:2 (Unmarried bishops).
1 Timothy 4:3 (Forbid marriage).
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (Many authorities).
Hebrews 8:12 (Indulgences).
James 5:16 (Confess to priest).
1 Pet. 2:5,9 ("Priesthood").
As we said, no religious institution on earth has as much to fear about its members reading the Bible as the Catholic Church. When Catholics study the Bible they learn that in order to please God, they must discard the many false doctrines which their church has accumulated over the centuries. Following is an excerpt from an address given by the Cardinals to Pope Pius III, and is preserved in the National Library in Paris, Folio No. 1068, Vol. 2, pp. 650-651:
"Of all the advice that we can offer your holiness we must open your eyes well and use all possible force in the matter, namely to permit the reading of the gospel as little as possible in all the countries under your jurisdiction. Let the very little part of the gospel suffice which is usually read in mass, and let no one be permitted to read more. So long as people will be content with the small amount, your interest will prosper; but as soon as the people want to read more, your interest will fail. The Bible is a book, which more than any other, has raised against us the tumults and tempests by which we have almost perished. In fact, if one compares the teaching of the Bible with what takes place in our churches, he will soon find discord, and will realize that our teachings are often different from the Bible, and oftener still, contrary to it.
Notice, again, the following quotes from Catholic sources:
"The hundreds of sects, with their divisions and subdivisions, which the Religious Census of the United States Government lists in our own country, offer grim evidence of the ceaseless dissension and havoc which the principle of the private interpretation of Scripture has wrought in our own day." (The Faith of Millions, p. 153).
"In sharp contrast with the sorry spectacle of Protestantism with its hundreds of warring sects and creeds, agreeing with one another only in their disagreement with all others, there is the Catholic Church with its 431,000,000 members--more than twice the total of all the sects of Protestantism combined--speaking every tongue and in every land under the heavens, all united in the strong bonds of a common faith." (Ibid., p. 156).
"The reformation produced indeed an exaggerated individualism, which by declaring every man equally competent to find out the doctrine of the Savior from his own private reading of the Scriptures, has led millions to the utter denial of Christ." (Question Box, p. 131; there is a similar statement from Archbishop Spalding in his book entitled, Miscellanea, p. 392).
What the Catholic writer above really means by the statement that "private interpretation has led millions to utter denial of Christ" is that Bible study has led millions to utter denial of the Catholic Church. Private interpretation of the Scriptures is not the cause of religious division. The word "interpretation" means "1. to explain the meaning of, and 2. to conceive in the light of individual belief, judgment, or circumstance." (Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary). The inspired writers taught that men could privately interpret or understand the Scriptures. "Therefore do not become foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is." (Eph. 5:17). "For we write nothing to you that you do not read and understand." (2 Cor. 1:13). "...The mystery has been made know to me, as I have written above in few words; as you reading my understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ." (Eph. 3:3-4 Rheims Trans.) Thus, God requires a private interpretation of the Scriptures.
Catholic officials would like men to believe that the Catholic Church has unity, whereas those who hold to the bible only have had utter division. However, the truth of the mater is that the Catholic Church is the mother of division. Every major division that is in Christianity originated with and came out of the Catholic Church. In 1050 the Catholic Church split and there was the great schism between the West and the East. A few hundred years later, there was a split and the Anglican Church was started. It claimed to honor many of the very same bishops and trace its lineage back to the apostles over much the same route. A division occurred in Catholicism when the Lutheran Church broke away; it was another branch or division within Catholicism. The bulk of Protestant denominations today are branches and sects of groups which originally broke away from the Roman Catholic Church. Even today those who have knowledge of the current trends know that the Catholic Church is not united.
The great disrespect that the Catholic Church has toward the Bible is the prime cause of division in the Religious world. In this study we have examined many of the charges it makes against the Bible. Such charges lead men away from the Bible and cause them to distrust it as the only rule of faith. It does this even in so-called Protestantism because many of the same charges are repeated by Protestants. Very few Protestants today truly respect the Bible as God's sole authority in religion. In fact, most of their doctrines originated in the Catholic Church rather than in the Bible, e.g., infant baptism, instrumental music in worship, observance of Christmas and Easter. The only authority they have for these and many others is the Catholic Church. Holding to the Bible alone does not cause division, but to the contrary, is the only true means of unity. The solution for overcoming division among us is to reject all the unscriptural practices which have been introduced by men and go back to the Bible. We must completely denounce all the decrees, doctrines, and traditions of men and fully return to the written word of Christ, the New Testament. This is the only way to please God and to be united in His name.
We have shown the true attitude of the Catholic Church toward the Bible. It's attitude vividly comes to light when it tries to prove that the Bible alone is not the standard of authority. It is an attitude of utter disrespect for God's written word.
The Catholic Church claims that the Bible was not intended to be written (Plain Facts for Fair Minds, p. 26), was not intended to be circulated (The Faith of Our Fathers, p. 66), was not expected to be gathered into one volume (Our Faith and the Facts, p. 348), is not accessible to all (The Faith of Millions, p. 152), does not contain all truth (A Catechism for Adults, p. 52), is not understandable (Great Encyclical Letters of Leo XIII, p. 227), is not a safe method (Question Box, p. 67), is a dead letter (Our Priesthood, p. 155), and does more harm than good (Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent, p. 274). These many accusations against the Bible reveal that the Catholic Church is not the friend of the Bible but the enemy, and is not building men's faith in it but is destroying it. They exemplify that the Catholic Church is not true and loyal to the Bible, but seeks to undermine, weaken and nullify it from its God ordained place.
In view of the foregoing, consider the absurdity of the following words from a Catholic priest: "The simple fact is the Catholic Church loves the Bible, reveres it as the inspired word of God, gives to it a loyalty and a intelligent obedience greater than any other religious body in the world" (The Faith of Millions, p. 143). The same priest at the same time was laboring under the caption at the beginning of the chapter, "Why the Bible alone is not a safe guide in religion" (p. 141). Within a few pages he concludes, "From all of which it must be abundantly clear that the Bible alone is not a safe and competent guide because it is not now and has never been accessible to all, because it is not clear and intelligible to all, and because it does not contain all the truths of the Christian religion." (p. 155).
I close by stating, as I have earnestly and sincerely labored to prove, and as I honestly and confidently believe, that the Bible alone is a safe and competent guide to eternal life. It is within the reach of every inquirer after truth, is clear and intelligible to all, and contains all the truths of the Christian religion.
A Catechism For Adults, William J. Conan, ACTA Publications, Chicago, Illinois, 1959.
A Catholic Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, Thomas Nelson & Son, N.Y., 1953.
Catholic Dictionary, Addis and Arnold, The Catholic Publications Society Co., N.Y., 1887
Catholic Encyclopedia, Knights of Columbus, (Fifteen Volumes), The Encyclopedia Press, Inc., New York, 1913.
Catholic Facts, John Francis Knoll, Our Sunday Visitor Press, Huntington, Ind., 1927.
Campaigners for Christ Handbook, David Goldstein, T.J. Flynn & Co., Inc., Boston, Mass., 1934.
Canons and Decrees of he Council of Trent, H.J. Schroeder, B. Herder Book company, St. Louis, London, 1950.
The Faith of Millions, John A. O'Brien, Our Sunday Visitor, Huntington, Ind., 1938.
The Faith of Our Fathers, James Cardinal Gibbons, John Murphy Co., Baltimore, Md., 1917.
The Great Encyclical Letters of Leo XIII, (Edited by John J. Waynne, S.J. Benziger Bros., New York, 1903.
I Believe, Wilfred G. Hurley, L.S.P.., LL.D., The Paulist Press, New York, 1935.
Miscellanea, M.J. Spalding, Webb, Gill and Levering, Louisville, Ky., 1855.
Our Faith and the Facts, Donovan, Patrick L. Baine Publisher, Chicago, 1929.
Our Priesthood, Joseph Bruneau, B. Herder Company, St. Louis, Mo., 1911.
Plain Facts for Fair Minds, George M. Searle, Paulist Press, New York, 1915.
Question Box, Bertrand L. Conway, The Columbus Press, New York, N.Y., 1913.
Question Box, New Revised Edition, Bertrand L. Conway, The Paulist Press, New York, N.Y., 1929.
CATHOLIC TRANSL ATIONS
Confraternity-Douay Version, Timothy Press, Chicago, 1959
Douay-Rheims Version, Catholic Book Publishing Co., New York, 1945.
Catholic Edition-Revised Standard Version, Published by Thomas Nelson & Sons Ltd for the Incorporated Catholic Truth Society, London, 1966.
By David J. Riggs
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